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Course content

The study of the history of art at Leeds has an international reputation for its innovative, rigorous, diverse and critically engaged approaches. Previously called MA History of Art, the name has been changed for 2018 to highlight the established strengths of this course with its emphasis on social and political approaches to art history.

At the cutting edge of the discipline, the MA in the Social History of Art builds on a unique legacy of dynamic and challenging scholarship, and continues to test the parameters of the discipline and shape wider debates in the field.

Around a shared commitment to understanding art as central to the production and reproduction of the social worlds we inhabit, our key research strengths lie in feminist, gender and Jewish studies, on questions of materialism and materiality, the postcolonial and the ‘non-Western’, as well as in provocations of those fields of art history considered more ‘established’, from Medieval and Renaissance up to the contemporary.

We combine an exceptional range of optional modules, core modules on methodology and advanced research skills, and self-directed research leading to a dissertation on a topic of your own choice.

Specialist facilities

The School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies offers a modern and well-equipped learning environment, complete with professionally laid out studios and versatile exhibition spaces in a beautiful listed building, fully redesigned and refurbished, at the heart of the University campus.

The University incorporates world-class library resources and collections, the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Treasures of the Brotherton, the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles and the [email protected] performance venue.

The world class Brotherton Library holds a wide variety of archive and early printed material in its Special Collections which are available for use in your independent research. Our other library resources are also excellent, and the University Library offers a comprehensive training programme to help you make the most of them.

Course content

Across both semesters, you’ll take core modules. These will enable you to develop practical skills for advanced-level research, and to engage critically with key debates in art history from the foundations of the discipline up to contemporary approaches.

Alongside this, you’ll work in depth on specialist topics, with choices from an array of optional modules covering a considerable chronological and geographic range with diverse critical and methodological approaches.

The development of your research skills and specialist knowledge will ultimately be focused in the writing of your dissertation – an independent and self-devised research project, which you will undertake with the guidance of your supervisor.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Compulsory modules

  • MA History of Art Core Course 30 credits
  • Advanced Research Skills 1 5 credits
  • Advanced Research Skills 2 5 credits
  • Art History Dissertation 50 credits

Optional modules

  • Reading Sexual Difference 30 credits
  • The Margins of Medieval Art 30 credits
  • Unfinished Business: Trauma, Cultural Memory and the Holocaust 30 credits
  • Movies, Migrants and Diasporas 30 credits
  • Aesthetics and Politics 30 credits
  • Intersecting Practices: Questioning the Intersection of Contemporary Art and Heritage 30 credits
  • Encountering Things: Art and Entanglement in Anglo-Saxon England 30 credits
  • Anthropology, Art and Representation 30 credits
  • Unmaking Things: Materials and Ideas in the European Renaissance 30 credits
  • Individual Directed Study 30 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Social History of Art MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information on typical modules, read Social History of Art MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching methods including lectures, online learning, seminars and tutorials. However, independent study is crucial to the programme ― it allows you to prepare for classes and assessments, build on your skills and form your own ideas and research questions.

Assessment

Our taught modules are generally assessed through essays, which you will submit at the end of the semester in which you take each module.

Career opportunities

This programme will develop your visual, critical and cultural awareness and expand your subject knowledge in history of art. In addition, it will equip you with sophisticated research, analytical, critical and communication skills that will put you in a good position to succeed in a variety of careers.

Our graduates have pursued careers as curators and education staff in museums and galleries and worked for national heritage organisations, as well as in journalism, publishing, arts marketing, public relations, university administration and teaching. Others have transferred the skills they gained into fields like the insurance industry, independent style editing and freelance writing on fashion, arts and culture.

Many of our graduates have also continued with their research at PhD level and secured external funding to support them – including AHRC scholarships. A large proportion of our former research students are now developing academic careers in the UK, Europe, Asia, USA and Canada.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.


Visit the Social History of Art MA page on the University of Leeds website for more details!

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