The A Level may have been scrapped but the study of the subject must continueby Claire Coveney / October 18, 2016 / Leave a comment
On 13th October, the examining board AQA announced that it will drop History of Art as an A Level, as well as a host of other subjects including Archaeology and Creative Writing. AQA was the only remaining board to offer History of Art and thus the last sixth-formers will sit exams for this qualification in June 2018. The AQA has stated that this was a “difficult decision” made primarily because of a shortage of “experienced examiners.
As someone who not only studied History of Art at A Level, but also at degree level, and topped it off with a Masters in Visual Culture, you might assume that my starting point here would be my personal experience. I could explain that, before choosing the subject, I had never considered that History of Art could tell me so much about the world, about different cultures, histories and politics; that I could learn to write analytically on a subject just through what I had learned from an image. But although this is true, since the announcement there have been numerous well-written accounts like this (you can find many of them on Twitter via the hashtag #WhyArtHistoryMatters). Instead, I want to focus on what it is about art history that seems to get under people’s skin, and how we at the Association of Art Historians (AAH) are challenging these misconceptions.
Since the announcement, there has been a passionate outpouring of support for the subject, including from well-known artists and other public figures. Almost a third of UK universities offer art history as a degree, in…