Certificate in Art History and Visual Culture

This certificate is open to currently registered Dalhousie and King's students in all Faculties.

Contact/Coordinator:  Dr. Roberta Barker, Associate Dean Academic, FASS (roberta.barker@dal.ca)

The Certificate in Art History and Visual Culture is designed for students in the arts, social sciences, and sciences who are interested in advancing their visual literacy.  The ability to interpret meaning from images and objects is critical in our increasingly image-saturated culture.  This certificate program will provide students with solid training in visual analysis, art history methodologies, research, and communication.

A Certificate in Art History and Visual Culture would be most obviously beneficial to students considering graduate studies or careers in Art History, Museum Studies, Museum Education, Arts Administration, Conservation, Cultural Studies, etc. However, the importance of developing visual literacy is being recognized much more broadly in today’s digital, image-based world (for example, courses in art history are now required at several top medical schools). Indeed, in many fields visual thinking is considered as crucial as verbal thinking. A Certificate in Art History and Visual Culture would therefore provide a sound complement to any area of studies in the humanities, sciences, or social sciences.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will cultivate visual literacy - the ability to interpret works of arts & visual culture both as formal structures and in relation to social, political, and cultural contexts - and develop a working knowledge of the vocabulary of art history and criticism.
  • Students will learn to effectively use objects as primary sources and to articulate the relevance of art as both evidence of, and stimulus for, historical, social, political, and intellectual movements.
  • Students will develop the ability to communicate their knowledge of visual culture both orally and in writing by learning how to synthesize a wide range of primary and secondary sources.

Students will be able to count credit earned in these courses toward their undergaduate major, minor, or distribution requirements, unless otherwise specified in their program's regulations.


This certificate is a 12 credit hour certificate with one required 3 credit hour course (HIST 2900.03/GWST 2900.03). The remainder of the courses will be selected from a list of 3 credit hour electives. Students have the option to take one of their 3 credit hour electives at NSCAD University.

  • HIST 2900.03: Ways of Seeing: An Introduction to Art History and Visual Culture (Cross-listed GWST 2900.03)

And nine additional credit hours drawn from the following list of electives:

Department of Classics:

  • CLAS 3021.03: Ancient Art and Architecture from the Pyramids to the Forum

Contemporary Studies Programme:

  • CTMP 2316.03: The “Pictorial Turn” in Recent Thought, Art and Theory
  • CTMP 2340.03: Theories of the Avant-Garde

Early Modern Studies Programme:

  • EMSP 2215.03: Violence and Wonder: Baroque Art
  • EMSP 2230.03: Picture and Poetry in Early Modern Culture
  • EMSP 2510.06: Early Modern Art, Literature, and Politics in Florence, Italy (Summer Study Abroad)
  • EMSP 3280.03: Love, lust, and desire in Italian Renaissance Art (Cross-listed GWST 3280.03)
  • EMSP 3290.03: The Renaissance Print and Cross-Cultural Exchange
  • EMSP 4500.06: Aesthetic Theory Honours Seminar

Department of English:

Fountain School of Performing Arts:

  • THEA 2401.03: Cave to Castle: Dress from Prehistory to 1450
  • THEA 2402.03: Castle to Café: Dress from 1450 to 1700
  • THEA 3402.03: Baroque to Bustles: Dress from 1700 to 1900
  • THEA 3403.03: Bustles to Boardroom: Modern Fashion from 1900
  • THEA 2412.03: Language of Design

Department of History:

  • HIST 3215.03: Indigenous Textiles in Canada
  • HIST 3303.03: De-Colonizing Modernism: Critiquing the Legacy of Modern Art (Cross-listed GWST 3303.03)
  • HIST 4303.03: The Birth of Pop: How Victorian Visual Culture Makes Meaning (Cross-listed GWST 4303.03)
  • HIST 2042.03: Capital of Europe: Paris in the Nineteenth Century
  • HIST 4162xy.06: Advanced Seminar in Baroque Culture (taught in the Czech Republic)
  • HIST 4175.03: Bella Figura: Display Behaviours in Baroque Europe
  • HIST 4210.03: Museums, Archives, and Material Culture

History of Science and Technology Programme:

  • HSTC 4120.03: Artefacts: The Material Culture of Science and Technology

Indigenous Studies:

Department of Philosophy: