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Art History: Technical Art History, Making and Meaning - MLitt

Course content

Through object-based, interdisciplinary research, this Masters programme focuses on the act of making and everything that entails. We study studio practices from a variety of disciplines, their materials and techniques, but also intentions and concept. We examine art technological sources to register the artist’s voice, and other testimonies on artistic practice, make reconstructions of historical recipes and modern techniques to understand practices, ageing and its consequences as well as other changes artworks go through. Researching this all-inclusive story of an artefact is known as technical art history. It is an exciting and rapidly growing field involving (technical) art historians, scientists, conservators while also reaching out to other disciplines such as economic and social history, history of science, anthropology and aesthetics.

Why this programme

  • You will work with objects and benefit from staff contacts including those at: the City Collections, Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery, Glasgow Museums, National Museums and National Galleries of Scotland, National Trust Scotland and Historic Scotland.
  • You will take a study trip to Amsterdam or Munich, visiting major museums and their conservation studios and research labs as well as research institutions working in the field of technical art history.
  • You have the opportunity to take part in a project-based work placement engaging in interdisciplinary research, where you can explore a possible future career while meeting professional practitioners and developing your skills and experience.
  • You will benefit from guest speakers from the technical art history field, broadening your horizon and offering you network occasions and research contacts.
  • You will participate in two reconstruction workshops of historical painting techniques, as well as workshops on the reconstructions of pigment recipes and scientific examination techniques.

Programme structure

Drawing upon the expertise of an interdisciplinary team, the programme will include taught and research components as well as practical workshops and work placements.

This MLitt develops your skills in object-based research, as well as examining the authenticity, attribution and dating of art works – and their change and survival. You do not need any background in science or conservation. We will provide you with the right tools to understand what science can deliver, what conservators can do, and what role you can play in this truly interdisciplinary field.

You will take five core courses and one optional course. This is followed by a period of self-study towards a dissertation 15,000 words in length (including footnotes but excluding bibliography) and will be on a topic chosen in consultation with the tutors and the programme convenor.

Core courses

  • Research methods in practice
  • Art in the making: historical techniques
  • Art in the making: modern and Avant-Garde techniques
  • The authentic art work
  • Testimonies on painters' practice: documentary and visual sources

 Optional courses

You may choose from the following options

  • Work placement
  • Independent study

Career prospects

Career opportunities include curatorial positions in museums and galleries, working with collections within cultural heritage organisations, or in the commercial environment of auction houses performing object-based research including technical investigation. The programme will also prepare you for a further postgraduate education in conservation or academic research.


Visit the Art History: Technical Art History, Making and Meaning - MLitt page on the University of Glasgow website for more details!

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