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Durham University


VA01 Visual Arts and Film BA Undergraduate  2021


Please note: 2020-21 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Summaries of course-specific changes resulting from the impact of Covid-19 will be provided to applicants during August 2020.

For the latest information on our plans for teaching in academic year 2020/21 in light of Covid-19, please see

UCAS code VA01
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications
Contextual Offers You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.
More information Still have questions?
Department(s) Website

Course Summary


Combining still and moving images, advanced academic study and practical skills development, the BA in Visual Arts and Film at Durham is a degree like no other. It draws on staff research spanning historical periods from classical Rome to the present, and is almost global in its geographical reach, with an emphasis not only on Western art, film, and visual culture, but that of the Middle East, Russophone Eurasia, and East Asia. The very conceptions of the visual and the image you will explore in this course are fundamentally shaped by this transnational perspective. With this transnational scope in mind, the degree offers extensive language-learning opportunities, while within Durham it draws on the outstanding collections of the University’s 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 vast world of visual art and film.

Course Structure 

The course is structured so that you:

  • acquire an appropriate breadth of knowledge of visual arts and film, considering historical and geographical range as well as the multifarious theoretical and critical approaches appropriate to the analysis of visual artefacts.
  • develop specialist knowledge of film history and theory.
  • pursue a programme of skills development in, a) public-facing applications of visual culture research, and b) digital research methods.

At the same time, it provides numerous opportunities for you to pursue your own interests, which may involve developing linguistic competence, or expanding the geographical of historical range of your subject knowledge.

Year 1

You will study three core modules that lay a broad foundation for the study of visual arts and film, and two optional modules from within or beyond the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. This may include a language.

Year 2

You will study three core modules that build on your knowledge and skills in film studies, exhibition display and curating, and digital research skills. Optional modules give you the opportunity to further develop your language skills or expand your knowledge of visual culture and film into more specialised areas, with a particular emphasis on historical and geographical diversity.

Year 3

You must undertake a dissertation project and special subject module. This gives you the chance to apply your existing knowledge in two distinct modules that encourage depth of research. Optional modules allow you to deepen your knowledge and understanding of exhibitions, to further extend your practical skills base in the filmmaking module, or to expand the geographical, historical, or thematic range of your studies.


Placement Year

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

Course Learning and Teaching

The course has been designed to be fully inclusive, and to this end uses a wide variety of learning and teaching methods. The forms of learning and teaching are:

  • Lecture-seminars
  • Seminars and student presentations (individually and in groups)
  • One-to-one tutorials
  • Research skills workshops and site visits
  • Research trips / fieldwork
  • Self-guided learning
  • Placements
  • Dissertation

Lecture-seminars are a hybrid mode of delivery, combining the ability to impart new important information and introduce new fields of enquiry quickly and economically, while also incorporating the interactive aspect of seminars.

Seminars and presentations are the main form of delivery on this course. Learning and teaching in the small group format of the seminar is flexible, ranging from formal presentations given both by members of the teaching team and by yourself (individually or in groups) to informal group discussion (chaired by members of the teaching team or, in the Special Subject particularly, students themselves).

One-to-one tutorials will be used in Level 3 Special Subject and Dissertation modules. They offer you an opportunity to pursue your individual research interests with a subject specialist. Tutorials enable learners to develop, discuss, question and receive feedback on the full range of their subject-specific knowledge and critical understanding. The tutorials will be focused on the preparation of a research essay or the dissertation and will cover, in particular, critical understanding of key theories of visual art and culture and advanced knowledge of visual objects of different kinds.

Practice-based workshops will develop your practical skills.

Research trips / fieldwork will be used in the level 3 'Advanced Exhibitions and Curating' module. Research trips to key museums, galleries and heritage organisations will offer you advanced knowledge of the theoretical and practical aspects of exhibition design. They will also offer you advanced knowledge of visual objects of different types and will afford opportunities to develop particular subject-specific skills.

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


Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

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

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 Selectors 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.


English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £21,730.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £21,730.00 per year

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 funding 

Career Opportunities

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

A BA in Modern Languages from Durham will provide you with an impressive and unique portfolio of cultural knowledge, transferable skills and placement experiences that is much valued by employers worldwide. The combination of linguistic ability, intellectual rigour and cultural understanding that you acquire during your course makes you eminently employable in a wide range of careers both here and abroad. These include specialist occupations, such as interpreting, translation and teaching, but also industry, business, marketing, finance, the civil service, the European Union agencies, law and the media. In fact, statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal that language graduates are on average 10-15% better paid than other arts graduates and have the lowest unemployment rates overall (only outdone by those in medicine and law). With the UK as a whole now producing fewer and fewer linguists, graduates in Modern Languages are increasingly sought after. As one employer put it, 'the ability to communicate internationally is becoming a pre-requisite for success'.

In particular, the Year Abroad, which is and will continue to be an integral part of all our degree programmes, will give you a headstart in the job market. There is significant evidence that the experience of working and studying abroad delivers not just improved language abilities and increased knowledge but also greatly enhanced intercultural, problem-solving and personal skills. These are a factor in landing first and subsequent jobs for over 70% of language graduates, a significant factor for over 30%, and the determining factor for about 10%. Employers are becoming increasingly aware that language graduates who have spent a year abroad are amongst the most mature, adaptable and independent people entering the job market.

For inspiring examples of where a Durham Modern Languages degree can lead to, read our MLAC Alumni Stories.

My placement during my year abroad and experience in Peru led to my return to work there after graduation, and promotion to regional manager within 5 months.

Of those students that left in 2017:

  • 90% are in employment or further study six months after graduating

Of those in employment:

  • 89% are in graduate level employment
  • Median salary £25,000

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2016/17 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found

Durham University Modern Language graduates enter a wide range of occupational areas including management; publishing; marketing; translation; teaching; business and finance. Our graduates find employment with a wide range of employers both in the public and private sector including the British Council; Barclay's Wealth; Deloitte; Ernst and Young; Goldman Sachs, Grant Thornton; Pharmacia; PwC; Proctor and Gamble; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; the NHS and Teach First. Roles our graduates progress into include copyright and marketing executive; banker; journalist; teacher; trainee tax advisor; research executive; buyer; live subtitler; trainee investment banker; translation checker; writer and translator.

Study and work abroad

MLaC students spend a year abroad after their second year of study. This involves studying and/or working abroad which enriches their cultural awareness and develops the essential employability skills sought by graduate employers.

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

School of Modern Languages and Cultures


In a world of increasing cultural and economic globalisation, the study of modern languages provides many opportunities.

Employers of all kinds are looking for ‘global graduates’: people with excellent communication skills, the ability to mediate sensitively between cultures, and the confidence to adapt to different environments. At Durham University, you can specialise in one or two languages and the cultural worlds associated with them – choose from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish (Hispanic Studies), Italian, Japanese and Russian.


  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2020
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2020.
  • Joint 3rd for graduate salaries five years after graduating (Government LEO data).
    3rd and 4th for all languages we offer in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.
  • 7th in The Guardian University Guide 2020.


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


We have over 110 teaching staff, including over 40 language teaching fellows and native speaker language assistants. The recently refurbished language laboratories have excellent audio-visual facilities and both main lecture rooms and small group teaching rooms are equipped for the increasing integration of film and other audio-visual material. The School’s Open Access Centre is situated in the same building, offering further self-access resources. Durham has first-class library facilities, with the main University collections supplemented by those of college libraries.