Art History and Visual Culture

VPHC72 class photo with Andrew McConnell in front of an Indigenous wall mural

Why study Art History? 

  • Art history at UTSC is a unique program that not only focuses on global and contemporary art, but also provides students with a solid grounding in approaches to visual materials produced across time, cultures, classes, gender and geography.  
  • Art history is a fundamentally interdisciplinary subject, and UTSC art history faculty are well placed to collaborate with colleagues in disciplines such as English, Women’s and Gender Studies, African Studies, Global Asian Studies, as well as our colleagues in the ACM Department.  
  • Opportunities for field trips are a significant advantage to UTSC art history courses, and our strong faculty background in curatorial studies along with a variety of teaching methods, from lectures and discussion-based seminars to field trips and guest speakers, allows a relatively small faculty to introduce students to a substantial range of art historical methods, theories and practices. 


Should you have any questions regarding the Art History program at the University of Toronto Scarborough, please send us an email.


Michael Gervers | Professor

Yi Gu | Associate Professor

Elizabeth Harney | Associate Professor, Program Director

Erin Webster | Associate Professor, Teaching Stream

Retired Faculty

Lora Carney | Associate Professor

Art History and Visual Culture FAQ

The A level in art history serves at least two main audiences: students who wish to go on to take further art history, curatorial, and/or studio courses, and those who might only take this single course but who want fundamental knowledge and tools to enhance a life-long interest in visual art. VPHA46 Ways of Seeing: Introduction to Art Histories is constructed and taught with this dual audience in mind.

B-level art history courses provide basic knowledge of artists and works of art, and of the social and cultural contexts that enable artistic production and reception. A number of these courses have no prerequisites, and are designed to accommodate students from other programs as well as art history program students. The B-level courses offer opportunities to see the diverse ways in which the discipline breaks its subjects down into fields, issues, themes, and methodologies. Faculty may introduce students to the specific areas and practices of research in which they themselves are engaged, and since these areas and practices are partly defined by the larger practices of art history, the dynamics by which art history sees itself are revealed. Some B-level courses have a strong gallery and museum focus, providing a window onto institution practices and more importantly, offering many opportunities to spend time with original works of art.

C-level art history courses often operate as seminars, and students learn quickly that their own level of participation will help determine how well they do and how much they gain from their experience. Usually these courses have small class sizes with tightly focused topics and intensive research opportunities. Students really begin here to develop their theoretical knowledge, competence at independent research, and ways of communicating results. Some C-level courses are based on work in galleries and museums.

D-levels: these courses are research-intensive and writing-intensive, and may also have a strong gallery and museum component. While the C-level courses help students to build competence in independent research, the D-levels offer them opportunities to hone these skills, possibly in preparation for graduate work. D-level courses are critical for students interested in graduate study or employment in an art history-related field.


As one student put it, “The program displays an array of perspectives for a student to go on into the world and pursue a career in law, education, politics, medicine, or even as an artist.” While art history students find work in a wide range of fields after graduation, those who complete the art history major may go on master’s programs in art history or to Canadian and international PhD programs, MFAs, curatorial internships, and graduate programs in such fields as development studies or to B.Ed. and M.Ed. programs. If you are interested in curatorial work, you will be glad to know that some UTSC art history instructors have had curatorial experience in museums, and this comes into their classrooms both through discussions with students and through certain courses. If you’re interested in curatorial work, please see and speak to your Program Director.

To learn more about the essay prizes and other merit awards available to UTSC students, please see

Should you have any questions regarding the Art History and Visual Culture program at the University of Toronto Scarborough, please send us an email

High school students: To find this program on the OUAC website, search under University of Toronto Scarborough (found under the University of Toronto entry) under the category "Visual and Performing Arts, Arts Management & Media" (program code TUC); you will then be able to choose this program under the 'Subject of Major Interest' drop-down menu. 

UTSC students: Declare your program on ACORN (see here for details)