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MA in Art History

Course Description

MA in Art History

The MA in Art History draws upon the exciting research and outstanding teaching expertise of the department. Studying art history at postgraduate level will deepen your understanding of art, architecture and visual culture, build your analytical and critical skills, and develop the skills needed for independent study and research. You will start by exploring the core concepts and recent developments that have shaped art history from Renaissance Italy to the contemporary Caribbean, before building on these foundations to expand your understanding of visual and material objects – incorporating architecture, art and design. You will complete the degree by researching and writing a dissertation on an agreed topic of your own devising.

Key features of the course

• Engages critically with key theories and approaches developed to interpret and explain works of art and architecture
• Examines critical debates both within the academic discipline of art history and in the 'real world' contexts of heritage, curating and museums
• Prepares and inspires you to confidently develop and articulate your own standpoint within the discipline
• Concludes with a substantial piece of independent research and a dissertation on a topic of your choice

This qualification is eligible for a Postgraduate Loan available from Student Finance England.


To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits from the following compulsory modules:

• MA Art History part 1 (A843)
• MA Art History part 2 (A844)

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.

Credit Transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

Visit the MA in Art History page on the Open University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Sophie Hearn

I chose The Open University to study with as I have two young children. When my youngest was almost one I decided to take the plunge and fulfill a long held ambition to do a Masters in History. Studying with the OU meant there was a lot more flexibility about when, where and how to study. I have always been an admirer of the OU, I like its inclusive ethos.

My tutors were very helpful and supportive, they were always available for advice or last minute essay crises! The materials were very good and, perhaps because it’s distance learning, more thorough than other course materials that I have come across at conventional universities. The support system at the OU is also very good, for example, support for study skills and the careers service.

My main challenge whilst studying was combining it with looking after my children. Sometimes I wondered how on earth I could fit all my commitments into the time available. I would say that the most important thing an OU student needs is supportive family. Being an OU student requires great time management skills and a certain amount of sacrifice; you have to learn to prioritize effectively. It is certainly not an easy option, the standard demanded of students is extremely high. However, this means that when you get your qualification you know just how much of an achievement it is.

The relief I felt when I handed in my final piece of work was immense. Sometimes I’d thought I’d never get there. After an anxious wait for my results, I felt the most incredible sense of achievement and pride when I got them. I had started the course very nervously, worried that I didn’t have what it takes to do a Masters, when I saw that I had got a distinction I was utterly delighted. Going to the graduation ceremony was great and marked the end of the journey beautifully, it was the cherry on the cake.

Getting my Masters has given me a tremendous amount of confidence and I am actively starting to job seek. I think that my MA will stand me in good stead with prospective employers, show them that I have gained and not lost skills in my time out of the workplace. I hope that it will enable me to get the job I have always wanted, working in a museum or archive.


Entry Requirements

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in Art History course. Although a degree in art history is not a compulsory requirement, you stand a far greater chance of success if your existing qualifications are in art history or a closely-related subject. The part 1 module brings you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches, but it does not offer remedial undergraduate training if your qualifications and/or experience are inappropriate – if you’re in any doubt, please contact us before you enrol.

Last Updated

01 December 2016

Course Fees

UK £5,762 (fees can vary depending on which modules you choose to make up your qualification).

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