The MLitt in History of Photography offers a unique opportunity to study the history of photography as a specialised field of research.
The MLitt degree requires two semesters of full-time (or four semesters part-time) coursework, normally equivalent to four modules. Each module has a minimum contact time of 16 hours. The modules are taught as small group discussion seminars, with an average size of four to eight students in each group. Additionally, there may be class trips where relevant to the taught modules.
The assessment for the taught modules is based on coursework including:
The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2017–2018 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2018 entry.
The History of Art MA at UCL draws on the world-leading research and teaching expertise within the department, and is designed to enable students to acquire specialised knowledge pertaining to the field of art history and to develop independent research skills.
Students develop skills for engaging with visual materials and gain historical knowledge, enabling them to interpret artefacts in relation to their social and cultural contexts. They are introduced to current methodological debates in the field and encouraged to define their own position through reasoned historical and theoretical arguments.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of a core module (30 credits), two optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).
Options may include the following:
All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 13,000 words.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, as well as gallery and museum visits. Assessment is by two essays for each of the taught modules (six essays in all), the dissertation and a viva.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: History of Art MA
UCL's History of Art graduates have an excellent record of success in entering PhD programmes, careers in museums and galleries, the art trade, the heritage industry, art publishing, and art conservation. The unique combination of visual analysis and intellectual rigour offered by the MA has also proven valuable in diverse careers including journalism, publishing, and advertising. For those aspiring to an academic career, the MA is a requirement for a PhD, and many former MA students have successfully received funding for research degrees, and subsequently obtained academic positions, at prestigious institutions in the UK, North America, and elsewhere.
Recent career destinations for this degree
Our History of Art MA provides focused training in the history of art and its methodologies. It encourages students to develop original critical thinking on all aspects of visual culture, and promotes a serious engagement with historical and contemporary cultural debates. You will learn how to work collaboratively as well as independently to develop your skills in written and oral communications. The MA is an excellent starting point for a career in academia, curating, for working in the heritage industry, commercial art galleries, and other sectors of the cultural industries.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
UCL History of Art is one of the most dynamic centres for the study of art history and visual cultures in the world. It is one of the leading departments in the UK for research; and all staff are active researchers in a range of specialist fields. Our teaching and research move beyond traditional forms of art history to address visual and material cultures more broadly, and we are committed to a wide range of critical and historiographical enquiry.
The MA in History of Art is a challenging and versatile degree; you will study in a community of approximately 40 graduate students; at the same time you will work in smaller groups and in close contact with tutors in your special subject courses.
The department is located in Bloomsbury, close to the Warburg Institute, the British Library, and the British Museum. The National Gallery, Tate Galleries, and the Victoria and Albert Museum are also within easy reach. UCL's own Art Museum holds many rare and important works.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: History of Art
85% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
The Photography Arts MA offers a dynamic mix of photography practice and research to support your development as an artist. In an open-minded educational environment you will expand the boundaries of your photography, advancing your own distinct visual and conceptual approach. Students are fully supported by our internationally renowned photography staff and inspired by an exciting range of prominent visiting photographic artists and thinkers.
Situated in Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, you will have access to extensive photographic facilities and a wealth of inter-disciplinary expertise. You will be part of a world-famous centre for photography research.
The Photography Arts MA is a recently revalidated course, which builds on the former Photographic Studies MA (1996-2016). The course champions a long, proud tradition of cutting-edge photography pioneered at the University.
The course has an open definition of photography, encompassing a wide range of approaches and forms. We encourage free experimentation in the development of ideas. You will advance your practical work choosing new or traditional techniques, digital or analogue forms, in work that may extend beyond the traditional boundaries of wall, page or screen into other modes including moving image, installation and performance.
The research components of the course are tailored for the needs of the contemporary artist photographer, and allow you to focus on the lines of inquiry that will be most productive for your own development. Your progress through the course will be supported with one-to-one tutorials with a personal tutor.
This is the right course if you are highly motivated and excited to develop your independent practice alongside critical research within a rapidly changing field. Working with our experienced staff and a group of peers drawn from all over the world, you can discover your own future working with the most contemporary approaches to photography.
The course is structured to develop your practice, informed by research. Throughout the course, students make work with great attention to how it will be presented in a range of modes including exhibition, book and/or screen. The practice modules provide a framework for developing and testing new approaches and establish a foundation for your future independent work. Students write three short research essays during the course, each aimed at broadening knowledge of photography, contemporary art and related histories, theories and criticism. Content for these assignments is led by the student’s own research interests. The course is unusually flexible in that a dissertation is not required, but can form an optional part of the final master’s project.
The course enables students to become independent practitioners, generating up-to-date, informed work. You will be empowered with visual, critical and practical skills that culminate in the Masters Project, exhibited in a central London degree show at the end of the course.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.
Option modules from Documentary Photography and Photojournalism MA
An MA in Photography Arts is an unusually versatile qualification that prepares you to be an artist/photographer working at the highest level of ambitious contemporary art, and also gives you a range of transferable skills vital to twenty-first century creative industries.
Graduates of the course work as independent artist/photographers and also as writers, educators, critics, publishers, curators, gallerists, picture editors and researchers. A number of graduates go on to pursue their research at doctoral level.
Alumni from the course (under the former title Photographic Studies MA) now work all over the world in a range of careers requiring creativity, research skills and critical analysis of visual images
The MA in Visual Arts and Culture at Durham is a distinctive interdisciplinary programme that invites students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the visual arts and of visual culture. To study visual arts and culture is a way of paying attention to phenomena that are literally everywhere. The concept of ‘visual culture’ acknowledges the pervasive nature of visual phenomena, and signals openness towards both the breadth of objects and images, and the range of theoretical and methodological perspectives needed to understand them adequately. Drawing upon research strengths across the departments that contribute to the programme, the MA in Visual Arts and Culture encourages you to take a broad view of geographical and chronological scope, while allowing you to engage with a wide range of visual phenomena, including fine art, film, photography, architecture, and scientific and medical imaging practices.
The importance of critical visual literacy in the contemporary world cannot be exaggerated. ‘The illiterate of the future’, wrote the Bauhaus artist and theoretician László Moholy-Nagy, ‘will be the person ignorant of the camera as well as of the pen’. This observation was made in the 1920s, when photography was first used in the periodical press and in political propaganda. The rich visual world of the early twentieth century pales in comparison with the visual saturation that now characterises everyday experience throughout the developed societies and much of the developing world. But the study of visual culture is by no means limited to the twentieth century. Turning our attention to past cultures with a particular eye to the significance of visual objects of all kinds yields new forms of knowledge and understanding.
Our programme facilitates the development of critical visual literacy in three main ways. First, it attends to the specificity of visual objects, images and events, encouraging you to develop approaches that are sensitive to the individual works they encounter. Second, it investigates the nature of perception, asking how it is that we make meaning out of that which we see. Finally, it investigates how our relationships with other people, and with things, are bound up in the act of looking.
The course consists of one core module, two optional modules and a dissertation. The core module sets out the intellectual framework for the programme, offering a broad overview of key conceptual debates in the field of Visual Culture, together with training in analysis of visual objects of different kinds, an advanced introduction to understanding museum practice, and key research skills in visual arts and culture. The optional modules provide further specialised areas of study in related topics of interest to individual students, and the 12,000-15,000 word dissertation involves detailed study of a particular aspect of a topic related to the broad area of visual culture.
Previously, optional modules have included:
The Centre for Visual Arts and Culture (CVAC) brings together scholars from across and beyond Durham University in order to provide a dynamic setting for wide-ranging interdisciplinary research and debates about visual culture, a field that entails the study of vision and perception, the analysis of the social significance of images and ways of seeing, and the attentive interpretation of a range of visual objects, from artworks to scientific images.
The Centre brings together scholars from across and beyond Durham University in order to provide a vibrant and dynamic setting for wide-ranging interdisciplinary research and debates about visual culture. The Centre provides a focus for cutting-edge research on visual arts and cultures: it aspires to train new generations of scholars through innovative postgraduate programmes, it fosters informed debate both nationally and internationally, and it offers an engaging, open environment for researchers at all levels.
CVAC takes a generous view of what constitutes visual culture and it is broad in both geographical and chronological scope, encouraging debate about the range of approaches, methods and theories that are most generative for research on visual phenomena. Durham’s current visual culture research includes the study of word and image, art and religion, medicine and visual representation, film, the history of photography, architecture, urban culture, heritage and philosophical aesthetics. It also includes the development of pioneering visual research methods and the study of vision.
Durham’s location itself provides a rich and inspiring environment for this field of research. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes Durham Cathedral; its acclaimed Oriental Museum is a significant asset which houses three Designated Collections, recognised by the Arts Council as nationally and internationally pre-eminent; alongside an outstanding collection of twentieth-century and contemporary art. CVAC has many established relationships with major national and international cultural organisations, and aims to develop further its links with museums, galleries and heritage sites.
For further information on the Centre see http://www.durham.ac.uk/cvac
The course explores documentary practices and photojournalism as exciting and developing mediums, through a combination of practice-based teaching and discussion of critical contexts.
We take each applicant on their own merit. This can include students of documentary photography or photographers in general who are interested in specialising in this area. Also welcome are artists who wish to focus their activities on a more social practice, and individuals from other disciplines, who wish to explore the subject area at post grad level.
The course builds on the international stature of the photographic and journalism departments of the University and is designed to equip you with an awareness of contemporary documentary and photojournalism, drawing on a variety of related media.
The course can be taken in full-time or part-time mode.
The Documentary and Photojournalism MA allows students to explore ideas of society through photographically related practice and within critically informed ways that maintain connections with the issue, yet also consider fresh visual approaches to the subject matter.
We approach photography as a social practice, situated within its own history, but also drawing on various discourses. We explore the idea that documentary practice and photojournalism may take many forms in the 21st Century.
Importantly, from your arrival, we emphasise the development of your own practice, through experimentation, critique and theory, and encourage analysis of practice through contemporary perspectives.
The course leads towards the Final Major Project, which is a consolidation of student learning into a high profile event in a central London exhibition space.
You will be taught by practising professional photographers, artists and writers, within a supportive course atmosphere. Technically, the course resources are equipped to the highest professional standards for both analogue and digital production of still and moving image.
All modules involve classroom teaching, tutorials, seminars, workshops, group work and your own fieldwork and are designed to equip you with advanced ways of working and negotiating your practice. We take the view that the work you make from the beginning of your studies with us is potentially valid currency for external use.
We encourage you to explore production of a body of documentary/photojournalistic works through the development of personal practice in the real world by:
Students take the first four core modules below and choose from either Final Major Project or Dissertation as their fifth core module. Students choose one option module from those listed below.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.
The emphasis of the course is on the development of your practice, through experimentation, and knowledge creation as understood within contemporary approaches to documentary, as well as many related practices such as critical and journalistic and collaborative practice.
In addition to the Skills acquired of photographers enabling the production of works this will also involve competent use of a variety of hardware, software, social media, presentation and production skills.
The MA will involve the development of various hard skills such as management of large and small scale projects, direction (either within film or theatrical modes) facilitatory methods (such as in educational or community roles), advocacy, effective social networking and experience of group and collaborative working. We intend that the student will be able to function as a still photographer, documentary film-maker, activist, artist and writer. We would imagine our graduate to be well rounded and confident individual with adaptability facilitating new ways of seeing.
The course is taught by experienced and practising photographers, publishers and writers whose extensive network of contacts in all areas of photography is accessible to students. We actively encourage work experience during the course and will advise on possible limited time internships and placements, providing these do not interfere the course work. Any internships or placements will be arranged by the students.
The History of Design and Material Culture MA focuses on both objects from everyday life and representations of them since the eighteenth century as a basis for research and analysis.
The course allies theory and practice in seminar-based discussions that embrace various methodological issues and perspectives, including Marxism, discourse theory, phenomenology, semiology, museology, gender, race, class, memory and oral testimony. Depending on the material you analyse in your essays and seminars, as well as the dissertation topic you choose, you can also emphasise your own intellectual and subject-specific interests.
Since its inception in the late 1990s, the MA has garnered a national and international reputation as one of the pioneering and most successful programmes of its kind. As a research-led course, it harnesses the academic expertise of staff with a recognised wealth of teaching and research excellence in subject areas such as fashion and dress history, the history and theory of advertising, photography and the mass-reproduced image, and heritage and museum studies.
Under guidance, you will be encouraged to explore the relationship between theory and practice and to develop your own skills as an independent researcher, thinker and writer.
The History of Design and Material Culture MA draws on the wide-ranging academic expertise of staff in the fields of the history of decorative arts and design, dress history, material culture, museology and social history.
It stimulates innovative and interdisciplinary study in the history of design and material culture in both their western and non-western contexts, considering the relationship between local, national and international patterns of production, circulation, consumption and use.
The course is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, study visits and tutorials. Considerable emphasis is placed on student involvement in the weekly seminar readings and discussions within the two thematic core modules, Exploring Objects and Mediating Objects.
Based at Pavilion Parade, a Regency building overlooking the famous Royal Pavilion, teaching takes place close to the seafront and city centre amenities.
The Exploring Objects module introduces you to a series of different research methods and historiographical approaches, as you interrogate and make sense of designed objects in terms of how they are designed, produced, circulated, consumed and used in everyday life. It covers the period from the late eighteenth century to the present time and typically involves discussion and debate on the following themes, theories and methods: Marxist and post-Marxist historiography; production and consumption; gender and taste; phenomenology; object-based analysis; the use of archives; and 'good writing/bad writing'. It also introduces you to the academic rigour of postgraduate dissertation research.
This module complements Exploring Objects by focusing on the mediation between 'this one' (the object itself) and 'that one' (the object as represented in word and image). On one level, it examines how objects are translated in various texts and contexts, from museum and private collections to photographs, advertisements, film and fiction. On another level, it examines how objects are transformed through the embodied processes of everyday rituals such as gift-giving and personal oral and collective memories. The module therefore deals with the idea of intertexualities and how the identities of things and people are phenomenologically bound up with each other. By extension, you examine objects in relation to ideas concerning sex, gender, class, generation, race and ethnicity.
The centrepiece of your MA studies, the dissertation is a piece of original writing between 18,000 and 20,000 words on a research topic of your own choosing. It allows you to pursue a specific research topic related to your own academic and intellectual interests in a given area of the history of design and material culture, for example fashion and dress, textiles, ceramics and glass, product design, interior design and architecture, graphic communications, advertising and photography, film, museums, collecting and curating, and design pedagogy. The dissertation is largely based on primary research, often using specialist archives and surviving historical material.
This course makes use of the University of Brighton Design Archives, which include the archives of the Design Council, Alison Settle, FHK Henrion and the South of England Film and Video Archive.
Close professional contact with national institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as with local collections and centres of historical interest (such as Brighton’s unique Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, with its internationally famous collection of decorative art from the 1890s onwards), present research opportunities for students registered on the course.
The course is closely linked to our arts and humanities research division through a joint research lecture series, and we have successfully encouraged high achievers to register for the MPhil/PhD programme.
The student environment also includes the thriving postgraduate Design History Society as well as opportunities for conference presentation, professional contact and career development in the field.
The course has an extremely healthy track record in helping students to take up careers in related areas of employment and further study. Many of our postgraduates have succeeded in finding work as lecturers, curators, journalists, designers and design consultants, while many others have pursued doctoral research, most often also securing prestigious funding from the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council).