Undergraduate Studies

The Department of Fine Arts offers courses in the history of Western and Asian art and architecture, from ancient times to the present day. Students can expect to study anything from ancient Greek sculptures and Han figurines to contemporary installations in Manhattan or Beijing.

The discipline of Art History is concerned with the understanding and interpretation of the vast body of images and visually expressive objects that human societies have produced to express their ideas, values, and concerns. Since visual expression through objects permeates virtually every human culture, art history touches on a vast range of issues and practices, including politics, social institutions, religion, philosophy, science, technology, and everyday life. A major or minor in Art History is an excellent complement to a specialisation in History, English Literature, Comparative Literature, Area Studies, and other humanistic disciplines.

Academic art history teaches the skills to understand the significance of works of art in their historical context. To this end, students can expect to learn how to look intensely and analytically at works of art; to read and interpret texts related to their production and reception; to study the practices that underpinned the making and viewing of images; and to become familiar with the range of methods and approaches of which art historians make use.

The Department of Fine Arts fosters experiential learning in many ways. Within our courses, these may include examining original works of art and architecture in museums and other sites in Hong Kong; training on handling works of art in class; working on an art exhibition or other curatorial project; and participating in a teacher-led field trip locally or overseas. We also offer a museum studies workshop (FINE2056) and a credit-bearing internship (FINE4005) for a limited number of students. Outside the formal curriculum, we support students who seek their own internships, temporary jobs at art galleries, auction houses, and art fairs, and summer travel to study art. The department has several grants that can help fund student travel.

Over the course of their studies, students who major in Fine Arts can expect to:

  • Apply skills of critical intellectual enquiry to the study of the visual arts.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of more than one area of the history of art.
  • Understand the visual arts to the point where further learning can be undertaken independently.
  • Critically evaluate works of art and art historical and theoretical writings.
  • Devise research topics and conduct independent research in the field of art history.
  • Use knowledge of art to reflect upon their own values and the assumptions underlying them.
  • Demonstrate a sensitivity to diversity through engagement with differing viewpoints and beliefs.
  • Demonstrate and articulate an awareness of the diversity of art of various time periods and cultures.
  • Develop effective oral and written communication skills.