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MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture

Course Description

The MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture is offered by the Warburg Institute in collaboration with the National Gallery, London. The purpose of the programme is to provide high level linguistic, archive and research skills for a new generation of academic art historians and museum curators. The art historical and scholarly traditions of the Warburg Institute are linked to the practical experience and skills of the National Gallery to provide an academic programme which will equip students either as academic art historians with serious insight into the behind the scenes working of a great museum or as curators with the research skills necessary for high-level museum work.

This twelve-month, full-time programme provides an introduction to:

Museum knowledge, which covers all aspects of curatorship including the technical examination of paintings, connoisseurship, materials and conservation, attribution, provenance and issues relating to display.
Art history and Renaissance culture to increase students’ understanding of methods of analysing the subjects of works of art and their knowledge of Renaissance art works and the conditions in which they were commissioned, produced and enjoyed.
Current scholarship and professional practice in these areas as well as new and emerging areas of research and scholarship.
The programme will be taught through classes and supervision by members of the academic staff of the Warburg Institute and by National Gallery curatorial and archival experts. The teaching staff of the Warburg Institute are leading professors and academics in their field who have published widely and are involved with research related to the topics they teach.


All students will take three core modules and two optional modules. The core modules include language and paleography classes, which will be selected following an individual language audit for each student, and are spread over two terms. The optional subjects will vary from year to year and students must select at least one in an art historical field.

Core courses:

Art History – Iconology – Dr Paul Taylor
Language, Paleographical and Archive Skills – Various tutors for language and palaeography classes; Dr Claudia Wedepohl (The Warburg Institute) and Mr Alan Crookham (National Gallery) for archive skills
Curatorship in the National Gallery – Curatorial, conservation and scientific staff of the National Gallery, including Dr Ashok Roy, Dr Susanne Avery-Quash, Mr Larry Keith and Ms Rachel Billinge
Optional courses (two to be chosen):

Artistic Intentions 1400 - 1700 – Dr Paul Taylor
Islamic Authorities and Arabic Elements in the Renaissance – Professor Charles Burnett
Music in the Later Middle Ages and the Renaissance - Professor Charles Burnett
New Worlds, Ancient Texts: Renaissance Intellectual History and the Discovery of the Americas - Dr Philipp Nothaft
Renaissance Art Literature – Dr François Quiviger
Renaissance Philosophy – Dr Guido Giglioni
Renaissance Material Culture – Dr Rembrandt Duits and Dr François Quiviger
Sin and Sanctity in the Reformation – Professor Alastair Hamilton

Students will also be encouraged to attend the Director’s weekly seminar on Work in Progress and any of the other regular seminars held in the Institute that may be of interest to them. These at present include History of Art and Maps and Society. The third term and summer will be spent in researching and writing a dissertation, under the guidance of a supervisor from the academic staff of the Warburg Institute or a member of staff from the National Gallery.


The usual format for classes is a weekly seminar. All students are required to submit three essays of 4,000 words, one at the beginning of the second term and the remaining two at the beginning of the third term. A dissertation of 15,000 words, on a topic agreed by the student and supervisor, has to be submitted by 30 September. The course is examined on these four pieces of written work, a catalogue entry (submitted at the end of the first term), and examinations in language, paleographical and archive skills. Students are allocated a course tutor and, in addition, are encouraged to discuss their work with other members of the staff at the Warburg Institute and the National Gallery. Because of the small numbers involved (places are limited to 12 per year), students have unusually frequent contact, formal and informal, with their teachers.

Mode of study

12 months full-time only.

Visit the MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture page on the School of Advanced Study website for more details!

Student Profiles

Arts and Humanities Research Council (LAHP) studentships - No. of awards TBC

The LAHP studentship competition will open for applications on 1 December 2015, and the closing date is Friday 15 January 2016. Studentship candidates are advised to apply for a place to study well in advance of the closing deadline for LAHP studentship applications to ensure that they have the opportunity to consult with proposed supervisors in preparing the LAHP studentship application form. It is suggested that candidates make their applications for a place to study in the School by 29 January 2016. AHRC scholarships cover fees and, in all but exceptional circumstances, maintenance allowance (stipend). Overseas students are not normally eligible for AHRC funding. The primary criterion on which applications are judged is academic merit.The 2015 maintenance rates for doctoral students are £15,863 (full-time). Rates may be subject to change.

Value of Scholarship(s)

£15,863 (full-time)


To be eligible to apply for a LAHP studentship in the forthcoming round, candidates must either be applying to start a programme of postgraduate study in the 2016-17 academic year, which starts in October 2016; or, if they have already commenced doctoral study, they may apply for funding for the remainder, provided that, at the start of the AHRC award, they have at least 50% of the period of study remaining.

Application Procedure

The closing date for applications is Friday 15 January 2016.

Further Information



SAS Studentships (Coffin Fund for Promising Students) - 2 Awards

The School is able to provide two SAS Studentships via the Coffin Fund for Promising Students. In 2015-16, the awards are £12,500 to cover tuition fees and contribute towards maintenance costs (where applicable) and will be awarded to two students who have demonstrably excelled in their undergraduate degree.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The primary criterion on which applications are judged is academic merit. The successful applicant will be of exceptional quality, evidenced by previous academic achievement at undergraduate level, with an outstanding mark achieved in the final-year project/dissertation. Successful applicants will have a genuine and demonstrable interest in undertaking a master’s degree at the School of Advanced Study. In addition, awards are open to students who are:
• self-funded and domiciled in the UK, European Union (EU) or overseas;
• studying full-time or part-time for a maximum of two years;
• undertaking masters courses in any subject (excluding MRes, Distance Learning, PGDip and PGCert)

Application Procedure

In order to apply for a SAS studentship (Coffin Fund) at the School, you must have applied to study here. For further information on SAS postgraduate studies, please see Master’s degrees or the Institute websites, and then the information on how to apply. The SAS studentship (Coffin Fund for Promising Students) competition for 2016-17 closes spring 2016.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

The normal minimum entry requirement is an upper second-class honours degree from a British university, or an equivalent qualification from a foreign institution, in any discipline in the humanities which is related to the course. A reading knowledge of one European modern language apart from English and of Latin is required. An understanding of Italian is particularly useful. All students whose first language is not English must provide recent evidence that their written and spoken English is adequate for postgraduate study.

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