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MA in History and Business of Art and Collecting

Course Description

The history of collecting is a new and exciting area of expertise drawing from a wide range of academic subjects: history, cultural history, art history, social sciences and economics.

Traditionally viewed in opposition to the market, it is now widely acknowledged that the collecting is very much tied to the art market, one feeding into the other. The collecting of art carries a special aura, which forbids its treatment as a mere commodity. At the same time, sales of art collections yield billions of pounds every year at auction houses and in galleries. It is a vast and new field of learning, which creates exciting professional profiles.

This MA programme is designed for students who wish to get a comprehensive historical understanding of collecting patterns from the Renaissance till the beginning of the twentieth century as well as a clear vision of how these patterns influence today’s practices in the art market, both in the UK and in Continental Europe. The MA in History and Business of Art and Collectingis the only MA on the subject in the world to include the study of both history of art and business practice, making it the right choice for the one who wants to be unique and ahead of their peers.

This 2-year MA is taught in Paris and London, with study trips to Italy and Belgium. Historically, Paris played a major role in the art world both from a collecting and a business perspective. London rose as an art centre from the eighteenth century and has remained at the heart of the art trading industry until today. Students are shown how to compare and contrast the practices and customs in both countries and consequently sharpen their understanding of it. The study trips are intended to further their acquaintance with major private and public collections, as well as current art business issues.

This MA is offered in partnership with the Sir John Soane’s Museum, and validated by the University of Warwick. Our research profile is underpinned by our longstanding relationship with the Wallace Collection. 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 Florence and Brussels.

There are two principal strands studied throughout the year: the History of Collecting 1500-1900 and The Art Market Today: theory and practice. 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 French trends of collecting. In London these questions and topics will be further developed and applied to the English tradition, analysing the most recent market trends.

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: semester 3 takes place in London, while semester 4 is a semester completely dedicated to the dissertation.

During 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 art market, which will lead to the writing of a business plan.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 history of collecting, the historical art market or today’s art market. 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.

Visit the MA in History and Business of Art and Collecting 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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