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MA in History and Business of the Contemporary Art Market

Course Description

Contemporary art is currently the most buoyant and dynamic segment of the art market yet due to the constant changes and developing markets, it is one of the least well-known. This MA is intended to give you the tools to understand and analyse the structures and practices of this market so that you can make your way within this international and competitive field. The MA in History and Business of the Contemporary Art Market is the only MA on the Contemporary Art Market in the world to include the study of both history of art and business practice, making it the right choice for you who want to be unique and ahead of your peers.

The course is set in Paris and London, with study trips to Berlin the Venice Biennale and ArtBasel as well as to Liverpool and Glasgow, meaning that you have a unique opportunity to examine these important sites and events, getting to know them from the ground up. In Paris you see how the art market began at the beginning of the century when Paris was the artistic centre of the world: in London you see how the market works today, studying the various elements that make up this complex and inter-related world of dealers, auction houses, galleries and museums. Throughout the course, you will be given the business and professional tools to understand contemporary marketing techniques, legal issues, gathering and analysing data, as well as the theory and knowledge in art history and theory.

Our MA is specifically designed over the course of two years. It will teach you what all the other universities and institutes normally teach in two different programmes. IESA UK wants to give you the right time to mature, understand and question. It’s only like this that, after two years at IESA, you will become a mature professional, prepared to face the challenges that are ahead of you.

This MA is validated by the University of Warwick and is run with White Cube as educational partner. The exceptional collaboration with top institutions is a guarantor of the quality and originality of the programme. The modern and independent programme is offered in a small and boutique environment with classes limited to 25 students to nurture interaction and discussion. Our standards, underlined by the quality of our partners, the value of our faculty and, more importantly, by the success of our students in the job market, are set to the top.


YEAR ONE: the first semester takes place in Paris and the second one in London. Study trips will bring you to Berlin, Liverpool and Glasgow and to ArtBasel.

During the first year two strands are developed and investigated into: the Development of the Contemporary Art Market from the early twentieth century to the present day; and the Practices of the Contemporary Art Market. Here again is recognizable the interesting intertwine between theory and practice that characterizes the programme and makes it peculiar. The first semester in Paris is aimed at giving firm roots in both the subjects, levelling all the students coming to various backgrounds and cultures, and starting to have them to formulate research questions, investigating the Parisian art market. In London these questions and topics will be further developed and applied to the contemporary artistic production and to the most recent market trends and analysis.

Lectures by our core team of teachers, guest lecturers and specialists, experts and professionals of the art world are complemented by regular weekly visits to galleries, museums, dealers, auctioneers, insurance companies and private art collections.

Various and different assignments develop the professional and academic potential of each student, offering flexibility and innovation in the learning experience. Group works, presentations and essays will allow each student to research onto different themes and to be constantly updated and ready for discussions.

SUMMER: compulsory PT or FT Internship

Internships: Students are strongly advised to take an internship during the summer between Year One and Year Two as this will allow them to get a better understanding of the mechanisms of the art market. Click here for examples of past internships.

YEAR TWO takes place in London (Semester 3)

Students develop their critical and research skills through a special subject from a choice of options. Lectures supplement their knowledge in methodology and on key areas of the contemporary art market, which will lead to the writing of a business plan.

Semester 3 is divided into two modules. The first one is dedicated to the specific special subjects from a choice of options. The special subject Investigating the emerging market in an age of globalization covers the cultural background and approaches to investigating the relevant factors that shape a specific emerging market, while the special subject Art and Urban Development will develop strategic approaches on community engagements and cultural policies.

Teaching ends with an individual presentation by the student and one essay is handed in a week later to allow for suggestions at the presentation to be researched. The second part of the programme is dedicated to the professional needs of working within a new market, understanding legal and investment requirements, considering risks being taken. Teaching ends with an individual presentation by the student.

Semester Four is dedicated to writing the dissertation on a subject touching on the historical development of the contemporary art market, or its current practices. Sessions are organized monthly in London to supply with methodology and seminars on interview techniques, but students are free to do research on the field in the country on which their dissertation is focused on.

Our Validating Body: The University of Warwick

The course is validated by the University of Warwick, internationally recognised as one of Britain's most-respected universities. The Department of History of Art at Warwick has a long-standing reputation for its excellence of its teaching programmes, with a strong emphasis on British and Italian painting. Its onsite semester programme in Venice is a unique opportunity for students to discover the rich Italian artistic heritage. The Department was recognised by the award of a 5A in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The Quality Assurance Agency also rated the teaching of the Department as excellent.

Visit the MA in History and Business of the Contemporary Art Market page on the IESA - School of Arts & Culture website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have received at least an upper second class BA degree with honours (2.1) or equivalent. Students in their final undergraduate year may apply for admission and will be required to provide proof of graduation prior to full registration.Applicants should have a knowledge of art history

Course Fees

£10.300 for year 1 2015-2016, £5.900 for year 2 2015-2016

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