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Full time & Part time October MA Full-time: 1 year

About the course

Our MA Art History and Theory is ideal if you are interested in working in academia, the art world or any other field in which visual, written and analytical skills are essential.

At Essex, you have the freedom to study what most interests you. Some of the topics you may choose to explore include Early Modern art and architecture; the history of photography; modern and contemporary art; curatorial practice and exhibition design; as well as more vernacular forms of visual culture, such as body art and activist placards.

Regardless of the topics you pursue, we are committed to research-based teaching, with a particular emphasis on bringing the approaches of art history into contact with other disciplines and discourses. In so doing, we seek to facilitate a critical engagement with artworks

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Entry Requirements

A 2.2 Degree or equivalent in any discipline. Your Degree must contain at least three modules relating to visual culture.

Visual Culture modules include, but are not limited to: Aesthetics, Archaeology, Architecture, Art History, Curatorial/Museum Studies, Design Studies, Digital Imaging, Fashion, Fine Art, Film Studies, Film and Literature, Graphic Design, Advertising, Landscape Design, History, Media Studies, Photography.

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Course Content



Where is University of Essex


Student Profile(s)

Maxwell Stevenson

“I chose to study art history at Essex because of the breadth and strength of the professors in my department, and also because of its close proximity to London and links to the continent.

It was very easy to settle into life at Essex. Everyone in the School is really friendly and supportive, which
makes it so much easier to get good work done. The other students were great too. It must be something about the University – I felt right at home since the first day.

The School is great, especially for a research student. The staff are amongst the best in their fields and are always approachable and helpful. All of the modules I took were useful but the research skills seminar that I took in the first year of my PhD particularly stands out, as it provided me with many of the skills necessary to commence work on my own project.

Socially, Essex caters for every type, offering a wide range of clubs and societies to get involved in. I joined
the jazz band which was great fun, and living in campus accommodation meant that I made lots of new friends. Having not known anybody from the UK beforehand, I thought it would be the perfect way to meet people, and it really was!

I knew I wanted to pursue a career in academia before I arrived at Essex but my time spent at the University
focused my interests even further. This was aided by the practical experiences I gained whilst studying, such as working for the Department so I taught classes, delivered lectures and gave guided tours of the Colchester Campus. I worked on a major research project, and helped to promote the Department to prospective students. Each of these experiences were invaluable additions to my CV.”


Jann Marson

"I am a US-UK Fulbright and Vanier CGS scholar, and PhD student from the University of Toronto, currently enrolled at Essex as a visiting PhD student. Fulbright Fellowships require you to affiliate with a university abroad and I chose Essex for its top scholars in my field and proximity to London. In addition, as an international student, the University's ability to attract students from around the world was important; I was impressed by Essex's emphasis on maintaining a diverse student body, as well as students' enthusiasm for promoting mutual cultural understanding.

Essex was my first choice as it is one of only two places to partner the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and its Legacies, which boasts the highest concentration of Surrealist scholars in the world. Studying here has presented me with opportunities that I would not have experienced otherwise; I co-taught an MA module and expanded on this by organising and co-chairing a research-intensive workshop with other art history scholars.

Easy access to London enabled me to commute twice a week for research at the British Library, the British Museum, Tate, and other British cultural institutions, which are among the finest resources in the world for humanities students. This has significantly advanced my research.

After completing my studies at Essex, I will begin a one-year fellowship at the Getty Research Institute in LA, where I hope to expand my knowledge of the ways humanities scholarship helps us understand cultural expression of all kinds. My time as a Fulbright Scholar has enabled me to engage a broader audience in my work, which addresses the complex relationships between visual art, literature, politics, protest, and revolt. These are as crucial to understanding the challenges arising in current localised struggles to promote awareness of intangible cultural heritage, as they are to navigating today's global climate of international political unrest.

The highlight of my time at Essex has been my new friendships and opportunities for intellectual and cultural exchange. I was delighted to find PhD students eager to form extracurricular study groups and create meaningful discourse beyond our departments. Essex students have a real sense of community and waste no time discovering the valuable resource that can be found in each other, which I believe is a product of the University's emphasis on interdisciplinary exchange. I’ve made a lot of friends with whom I plan to stay in touch."


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