Unless you have studied art history before, you are likely to be unfamiliar with the demands of the field. If you have studied English literature, then the transition to art history will be fairly easy. In an English literature essay, when you want to make a point, you quote from the text. When you want to make a point in an art history essay, you refer to a specific detail in a work of art.


I would prefer you to type your essays and double space them, leaving wide margins at both sides.

Please number your pages and put your name on the front page.


Essays are an opportunity for you to show me what you understand about a topic. If your essays are waffle, they won't help you when it comes time to revise for exams. Get into the habit of clearly structuring your essays and only discuss one idea per paragraph. Its easy to think that long and complicated sentences mean that you're saying something really important. However, its much more important to be clear and concise than to sound important.

It is important to use works of art as examples to back up your statements. You need to be able to show that you can use images as evidence - and use them frequently. Place the titles of works of art in italics or underline the title.

When you use foreign words, like sfumato, it is important to use italics.

Please remember to write in the third person. The words I, me, you, my, us and we should not appear in essays.

Please do not use contractions in your essays - words like 'don't', 'doesn't' and 'can't' should not appear.

There is no need to describe images in your essays. Insteadm refer to details and connect them to ideas.

Try not to make sweeping generalisations about the whole of art history, medieval art or modern art - you really don't know enough about these things to make comments like that.


When you mention someone else's idea in your essay, you need to footnote it. The first time you footnote a particular book or article, you need to include the author's full name, the full title of the work, the place of publication, the date of publication, and the page numbers. If you refer to this work again in your essay, you only need to include the author's last name, a short title and the page number. Getting into the habit of using footnotes will help you in the future.


Every essay must include a bibliography. This should include a list of the works that you consulted in writing your essay. They should be arranged in alphabetical order by the author's surname.

An entry for a book would include the author's surname, the author's first name, the title of the book, the place of publication, and the date of publication.

EXAMPLE: Backhouse, Janet, The Illuminated Page, Toronto, 1997.

For an article, the entry should include the author's surname, the author's first name, the name of the article, the name of the journal it appears in, the volume number of the journal, the year of publication, and the pages on which the (whole) article can be found.

EXAMPLE: Dennison, Lynda, ‘The Apocalypse, British Library, Royal MS 19.B.XV: a reassessment of its artistic context in early fourteenth-century English manuscript illumination’, British Library Journal, v. 20 (1994) pp. 34-54.