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Visual and Critical Studies (Honours BA)

Pursue the study of art history in the creative and dynamic environment of Canada’s premier art and design university.

Photo by Ansel Schmidt.

Honours BA in Visual and Critical Studies

The Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Visual and Critical Studies offers students the opportunity to pursue the academic study of art history in the creative and dynamic environment of Canada’s premier art and design university.

The unique features of this Honours BA program include:

  • An emphasis on the expanded field of modern and contemporary art history, which includes design, photography, architecture, performance and new media, as well as painting and sculpture.
  • Integration of select studio courses into the core program of study, which provides students with the opportunity to pursue studio minors.
  • A range of innovative interdisciplinary minors to choose from, such as Indigenous Visual Culture and Digital Futures, as well as minors in English, Creative Writing and Social Science.
  • Access to international study opportunities, including OCAD University’s flagship Florence Program.
  • Fourth-year honours seminar, which provides students with the opportunity to research and produce a major research paper.

View the admission requirements for more information.

Core faculty members in the BA in Visual and Critical Studies are internationally recognized scholars in the fields of art, design and new media art histories, and are professionally active in the fields of curating and publishing. The range of their scholarly expertise in Asian, Latin American, African, Islamic, Indigenous, Canadian, mediaeval, renaissance and modern European visual culture ensures that the study of art history at OCAD U is genuinely global in scope.

The exceptional educational experience offered by the Honours BA in Visual and Critical Studies prepares graduates for careers in curating, arts management, arts journalism and criticism, publishing and digital industries, such as writing for websites and gaming. The program’s academic specialization and breadth — with more than 90 visual culture courses and more than 80 breadth courses in English, humanities, social sciences and science/ technology to choose from — also provides a thorough foundation for post-graduate study in art history and related fields.

The program accepts applications for direct entry into the first year of the program, and for advanced second-year entry from students wishing to transfer from OCAD U studio programs or other universities.

Visual and Critical Studies Theses



Victoria Girard, "You Are What Eats You: Maternal Perversion of Consumption"  

Won Jeon, "Certainty, Conscious Purpose, and the Creative Act"

Matthew Mancini, "Vain Utopia's in The Preservation of Rodin's Thinker at the Cleveland Museum of Art"

Anthony Masucci, "The Broken Telegraph: Godzilla and WWII Japanese-American Relations"

Yana Rydzevskaya, "Outsider Art: A Redefinition"

Vanessa Tadman, "Representing the Female Body in the Work of Jenny Saville, Ishbel Myerscough, and Aleah Chapin"

Megan Van Capelle, "The Constructed Situation and the Collection: My Point is just as Intangible as the Art"

Sammy Van Herk, "A Swarm of Misconceptions: Bees as Propaganda in Rome during Urban VIII's Pontificate"

Maya Wilson-Sanchez, "Giuseppe Campuzano's Living Museum: Travesti Methods and Performing History in the Andes"


Sylvia Evans, "On Historical Time and Redemptive Practice: A Philosophical Reading of Walid Raad's The Atlas Group"

Ginette Guidi, "Cripping the Arts with Judith Scott: A Celebration of Difference and the Gift of Creation"

Chantelle Hope, "Contextualizing Atrocity in the Image: Understanding the Recognized and the Unrecognized in Anti-Semitic Holocaust Propaganda Photography"

Claire Van Doornik, "Rethinking Craft: A Study of the Value of the Handmade"


Moon-kyoung Cho, "Expressivity of Superflat: Flat, Syncretic, and Limitless"

Rob Oswald, "It Is, as It Is, Not: Abstraction and Material Necessity in Art and Society"

Laura Thipphawong, "Erotic Death Symbolism: The Docile Maiden and the Mad Scientist in Gabriel Von Max's The Anatomist"

Contact information

For admission-related inquiries, contact:

Admissions & Recruitment
416-977-6000, Ext. 4869

For program-related inquiries, contact:
416-977-6000, Ext. 372

This program is offered under the written consent of the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for the period from 26 June 2012 to 26 June 2020. Prospective students are responsible for satisfying themselves that the program and the degree will be appropriate to their needs (e.g., acceptable to potential employers, professional licensing bodies or other educational institutions).

Journal of Visual and Critical Studies

The Journal of Visual and Critical Studies is a student-driven publication showcasing work produced by current and graduating students in the Visual and Critical Studies BA Honours program. For more information, please visit the Journal of Visual and Critical Studies page.

2018 Journal of Visual and Critical Studies

Cover of the Journal of Visual and Critical Studies 2018


Keith Bresnahan

Associate Professor

Ananda Chakrabarty

Assistant Professor

  • Modern & Contemporary Art & Theory Interdisciplinary Studies (Improvisational Music - Visual Art - Literature), South Asian Visual Culture

Heather Coffey

Associate Professor

  • Medieval Mediterranean Art and Architecture, Islamic Art and Architecture, Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture

Jim Drobnick

Associate Professor, Graduate Program, Director

  • Contemporary Art and Postmedia Practices, Curating and Criticism, Performance, Design and New Media Art History

Julian Haladyn


Kate Hartman

Associate Professor

Selmin Kara

Associate Professor

Caroline Langill


  • Curatorial Studies, Digital and Electronic Media, Art, Science and Technology

David McIntosh

Associate Professor

Sarah McLean-Knapp

Assistant Professor

Gerald McMaster


  • Curatorial Studies, Indigenous Visual History and Aesthetics, Contemporary Indigenous Art (First Nations, Inuit, Métis)

Gabby Moser

Assistant Professor

Eric Nay

Associate Professor

  • History and Theory of Architecture and Design, Critical Vernacular and Indigenous Design

Soyang Park

Assistant Professor

Michael Prokopow

Associate Professor

  • Material Culture / European and North American History 1600 onwards, Design History, Craft History, Aesthetic and Cultural Theory, Museum Practice / Curatorial Practice

Charles Reeve

Associate Professor

  • History of Modern/Contemporary Art, History of Art Criticism, Artists' Autobiographies

Ryan Rice

Chair, Indigenous Visual Culture

Marie-Josée Therrien

Associate Professor

  • Canadian Architectural History and Design, Architecture in the Canadian Arctic (Inuit culture), Museum Administration

Dot Tuer


  • Art of the Americas (specific expertise in new media, photography and performance), Latin American Colonial History, Postcolonial and Cultural Theory

Emma Westecott

Assistant Professor

Ryan Whyte

Chair, BA (Honours) Visual and Critical Studies, Assistant Professor

  • 18th/19th-century Art History, Critical Theory, Criticism, Print Culture, History of Art Exhibitions