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Degree type

BA

Course length

3 years full-time

Location

Durham City

UCAS code

VA01

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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
BTEC DDD
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

Combining still and moving images, advanced academic study and practical skills development, this BA is a degree like no other. It draws on staff research spanning historical periods from classical Rome to the present, and is global in its geographical reach. There is an emphasis not only on Western art, film and visual culture, but also those of the Middle East, Russophone Eurasia and East Asia.

The concepts of the ‘visual’ and the ‘image’ you will explore on this course are fundamentally shaped by this transnational perspective. With this scope in mind, the degree offers extensive language-learning opportunities, as part of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. You will have the opportunity to draw on the outstanding collections of the University’s internationally renowned Oriental Museum, its distinguished Western Art collections, and the curatorial expertise of its staff. No previous study of art is required, just a desire to explore the exciting world of visual art and film.

You will have the opportunity to study the art, film and visual culture of Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. As such, alongside the language-learning opportunities, you can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, increasing the course from three years to four.

There is a practical and professional focus too. Depending on your own module choices, field trips, placement opportunities and skills-based modules will give you insights into how art is made, exhibited, bought and sold.

Course structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Introduction to Visual Culture Studies examines the central issues in visual culture, film studies and the history of art, paying particular attention to the relationship between these three linked areas. Central to the philosophy of the module is an emphasis on global visual cultures and the role translation plays in the study of transnational phenomena.

The Art of the Moving Image (1): Key Concepts explores the moving image in a range of formats, genres, histories, media, national contexts, and styles. It will help to develop your ability to analyse and critique moving image texts. You will be familiarised with the complexity and specificity of the moving image by focusing on aspects such as audiences, auteurs, cinematography, editing, industries, performance, sound and staging. You will also be introduced to key theories in the fields of film and visual studies in the wider context of cultural studies. You will develop your research skills and methodologies in the field of visual cultures and the moving image. This may include animation, documentary film, narrative and short film, streaming platforms, television, video and video art.

Art- and Film-Writing in Context covers the numerous forms and venues in which people write about art and film. It will equip you with the understanding and skills required to be an effective communicator, able to write in a knowledgeable and medium-appropriate way for a variety of audiences.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • People and Cultures
  • Introduction to Middle Eastern Cultures
  • Cities in Antiquity
  • Medieval to Modern: An Introduction to the Archaeology of the Medieval to the Post Medieval World
  • Lives of Objects – Greek and Roman Antiquity
  • Introduction to Chinese Culture
  • Monuments and Memory in the Age of Augustus
  • Introduction to Japanese Culture: From Antiquity to the Present
  • Gallery 101: Designing an Art Exhibition.

Year 2

Core modules:

Digital Skills for Visual Culture Research develops your appreciation of the relationship between technology and different modes of aesthetic experience. You will explore digital technology and the digital revolution, reflecting on both the ‘therapeutic’ and ‘toxic’ dimensions. Alongside the technical skills for deploying digital methods you will consider the need for responsibility in the uses of technology..

The Art of the Moving Image (2): Theories and Contexts explores the moving image in a range of formats, genres, histories, media, national contexts and styles. You will develop your ability to analyse and critique the art of the moving image. You will also investigate how the evolution of the moving image has intersected with political, social and cultural developments across the globe.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Introduction to Curation
  • Thinking Through Art Objects
  • Middle Eastern Cinema
  • Violence in German Literature, Film and Visual Art
  • The Body and the Extremity of the Senses: Through Japanese Literature, Performance and Media Arts
  • Introduction to Anime: Aesthetic, Technology, Seriality
  • Renaissance and Baroque in Image and Word
  • Russian and Soviet Cinema
  • Chinese Cinema
  • Roman Buildings and their Decoration
  • Greek Art and Architecture.

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement or year abroad)

Core module:

Your 12,000-word Dissertation will cultivate your independent, research-led learning and in-depth knowledge by researching and writing about a particular area of interest, for which the department can offer research supervision. It will also enhance your employability by allowing you to demonstrate your independence and your project-management experience of planning, documenting and writing an extended piece of work.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Photography and Modernity Between the Wars
  • Performance and Topography
  • The Spanish Imaginary
  • Art, Nature, Ecology
  • Early Modern New Media
  • Photography and Modernity between the Wars
  • Advanced Curating: Theory and Practice
  • Filmmaking
  • Photography in East Asia
  • Religion and Film.

Additional pathways

Students on the BA in Visual Arts and Film can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year. Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.

Placement

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Learning

Seminars and presentations are the main form of delivery. Their small-group format is flexible, from formal presentations by the teaching team or yourself (individually or in groups), to informal group discussions.

Lecture-seminars combine the communication of new important information with the introduction of new fields of enquiry, while incorporating the interactive aspect of seminars.

One-to-one tutorials allow you to pursue your individual research interests with a subject specialist. You can develop, discuss, question and receive feedback on the full range of their subject-specific knowledge and critical understanding. Tutorials focus on preparing a research essay or your dissertation, and cover critical understanding of key theories of visual art and culture alongside advanced knowledge of visual objects of different kinds.

Practice-based workshops will help you develop a variety of practical skills.

Research trips / fieldwork to museums, galleries and heritage organisations allow you to engage first-hand with cultures of display. They offer you advanced knowledge of the theoretical and practical aspects of exhibition design, and of visual objects of different types, with opportunities to develop particular subject-specific skills.

Self-guided learning, supported by group discussions and feedback in seminars, is an essential element of this programme. You will undertake self-driven research, revision and critical evaluation on topics and concepts associated with seminars, workshops, site visits and assignments.

Assessment

Modules are varied in their assessment methods, and include essays, commentaries, portfolios, fieldwork reviews, projects, film production, examinations, and a dissertation.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAB. There is no language pre-requisite at GCSE or at A level.

Contextual offer – BBB.

We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD.

IB Diploma score36 with 665 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions team for more information.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

A degree in Languages and Cultures will provide you with an impressive portfolio of cultural knowledge, transferable skills and real-world experiences that is valued by employers worldwide. In particular, the year abroad which, as well as developing language abilities, can also greatly enhance your intercultural, problem-solving and communication skills.

With the UK as a whole producing fewer linguists, proficiency in languages coupled with the intellectual rigour and cultural understanding acquired during your degree will make you highly employable in a wide range of careers both in the UK and internationally. These include occupations such as interpreting, translation and teaching, media and the arts but also working across wider industry in research, administration, human resources, sales and business development, and the financial services.

Modern Languages and Cultures

A degree in Languages and Cultures will provide you with an impressive portfolio of cultural knowledge, transferable skills and real-world experiences that is valued by employers worldwide. In particular, the year abroad which, as well as developing language abilities, can also greatly enhance your intercultural, problem-solving and communication skills.

With the UK as a whole producing fewer linguists, proficiency in languages coupled with the intellectual rigour and cultural understanding acquired during your degree will make you highly employable in a wide range of careers both in the UK and internationally. These include occupations such as interpreting, translation and teaching, media and the arts but also working across wider industry in research, administration, human resources, sales and business development, and the financial services.

Visual Arts

The study of Visual Arts and Film will help you build up future-proof skills.

In a world that increasingly demands visual literacy and is rapidly changing through technologies like AI, it is hard to predict what specialised skills will be needed in future.

For this reason, our programme seeks to enable you to be a nimble thinker and writer, moving across disciplines and geographical areas while still being rigorous In your academic work.

You will cultivate new active learning strategies, understand how to work in teams in the more practice-related elements of the course, develop an ability to solve complex problems, and display creativity, originality and initiative in the range of outputs the course demands. All of these are the kinds of skills identified in the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs report in 2020.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 88% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 87% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £28,780

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)

Department information

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Spanning languages and society, the arts and cultural history – an in-depth understanding and appreciation of language and culture will give you a greater insight into communities and build deeper connections with people across the world.

In an era of increasing globalisation, a skill set that includes cultural understanding and proficiency in languages will help you view the world through a different lens while equipping you with the skills that global employers are looking for.

Our language-based courses offer the flexibility to specialise in one or two languages and the cultural worlds associated with them – choose from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic Studies, Italian, Japanese and Russian. You can study from beginners’ level or opt for a more advanced route if you already have an A level or equivalent qualification.

All of our language degrees include a year abroad, a valuable experience that will broaden your horizons, boost your skills and give you the confidence to adapt to different environments. You will return to Durham for the final year with a deeper understanding of language and cultures, and be better equipped to make meaningful connections with people around the world.

The BA in Visual Arts and Film includes optional modules in languages and an opportunity to apply for a placement year or a year abroad. Course content is almost global in geographical reach covering art, film, and visual culture from the Western world, the Middle East, Eurasia and East Asia.

For more information see our department pages.

Rankings

  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023

  • 6th for Italian and 5th for Asian Studies in The Complete University Guide 2024

  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Guardian University Guide 2024

Staff

For a current list of staff, please see the School of Modern Languages and Cultures pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 8th in the UK for research power (REF 2021).

Facilities

Our highly skilled academics share their expertise in languages, as well as in literature, cultural history, cinema and visual culture, and translation. Many of our language academics are native speakers, while others have lived experience of the culture and language of the country.

Our location on Elvet Riverside is close to the ancient Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the colleges, Students’ Union and the historic centre of Durham. Learning facilities include language laboratories, computer classrooms and a large study area. There are satellite and recording facilities for viewing programmes in all the major taught languages.

The University's fully equipped Centre for Foreign Language Study is housed in the same building, and Languages and Cultures students have access to its facilities.

Apply

Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:

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VA01

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