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Course content

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.

About this degree

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).

Core modules

  • Methods, Debates and Sources in History of Art

Optional modules

Options may include the following:

  • Human and Non-Human in Medieval Art
  • Transformations of the Body in Early Modern Cabinets of Display
  • Vision, Tourism, Imperialism: Art and Travel in the British Empire, 1760-1870
  • American Media: Publicity and the Logics of Surveillance
  • Politics of the Image: Germany 1890-1945
  • Art as Theory: The Writing of Art
  • Art and Technology in Nineteenth-Century France
  • Photographic Cultures: Photography's Publics and the Production of Politics
  • On Sex and Violence
  • Race/Place: Exotic/Erotic
  • Tracing the Body: Technologies of Representation in 18th and 19th-Century France
  • Seeing Through Materials: Matter, Vision, and Transformation in the Renaissance

Dissertation/report

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

Careers

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

  • Assistant Curator, Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Gallery Co-Ordinator, Frith Street Gallery
  • PhD in History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Museum Intern, Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • Exhibitions Assistant, Whitechapel Gallery

Employability

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.

Why study this degree at UCL?

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.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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.


Visit the History of Art (MA) page on the University College London website for more details!

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