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MA in Art History

Course Description

MA in Art History

The MA in Art History builds on your existing knowledge of art history to equip you with the critical skills necessary for independent research in the field.

You begin your studies by exploring core concepts and current concerns of art history. You will then examine critical debates both within the academic discipline of art history and in the 'real world' contexts of heritage, curating and museums. The taught component of the degree provides you with research training which will enable you to carry out a more substantial piece of independent research on a topic of your choice for the final dissertation module. You need a substantial background in art history at undergraduate level to succeed in obtaining this qualification.

Compulsory modules

Part 1 (A843) (60 credits)

Explores the foundational concepts and recent developments that have shaped art history, with reference to subjects ranging from Renaissance Italy to the contemporary Caribbean.

Part 2 (A844) (120 credits)

Builds on Part 1, extending your understanding of the types of visual and, particularly material objects and the 'context' in which the subject area operates, preparing you for your dissertation.

You must complete this qualification within ten years.

Career relevance

This degree will provide you with a foundational knowledge of British and Irish local history as well as practical skills in the use of print and online primary source material. It will also give you experience of project planning, research methods and writing a dissertation. It will be valuable if you are, or are planning a career as, a teacher, librarian, museum or heritage professional, or have an interest in local history and want to develop your historical research skills. Careers where history would be useful include journalism, writing, the civil service or public administration. History can open up options to a wide range of careers.

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 be accepted for the MA in Art History. Your bachelors degree need not be in art history but you need a substantial background in art history at undergraduate level to succeed in obtaining this qualification. The Part 1 module brings you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches but does not offer remedial undergraduate training for those who have an inappropriate bachelors degree or inadequate experience.

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