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MA Art History and Theory

Course Description

The University of Essex is one of the UK's leading academic institutions, ranked ninth nationally for research excellence following the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE, December 2008).

Our School of Philosophy and Art History was founded in August 2011, born out of the merger of two long-standing departments at Essex – the Department of Art History and Theory and the Department of Philosophy. We offer courses in both philosophy and in art history, plus opportunities for exploring interdisciplinary themes at the intersection of art and philosophy. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE, December 2008), our research placed us among the top ten departments in the UK for both subject areas.

This flexible scheme is suitable if you are seeking employment in the art world or elsewhere, or are interested in further research and an academic career. With options covering European and Latin American art, architecture from the Renaissance to the present day, museology, contemporary art, and photography, you can pursue your own interests in choosing taught modules that appeal to you.

MA Art History and Theory contains a strong research element, normally culminating in a 20,000 word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Visit the MA Art History and Theory page on the University of Essex website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Maxwell Stevenson

“I chose to study art history at Essex because of the breadth and strength of the professors in my department, and also because of its close proximity to London and links to the continent.

It was very easy to settle into life at Essex. Everyone in the School is really friendly and supportive, which
makes it so much easier to get good work done. The other students were great too. It must be something about the University – I felt right at home since the first day.

The School is great, especially for a research student. The staff are amongst the best in their fields and are always approachable and helpful. All of the modules I took were useful but the research skills seminar that I took in the first year of my PhD particularly stands out, as it provided me with many of the skills necessary to commence work on my own project.

Socially, Essex caters for every type, offering a wide range of clubs and societies to get involved in. I joined
the jazz band which was great fun, and living in campus accommodation meant that I made lots of new friends. Having not known anybody from the UK beforehand, I thought it would be the perfect way to meet people, and it really was!

I knew I wanted to pursue a career in academia before I arrived at Essex but my time spent at the University
focused my interests even further. This was aided by the practical experiences I gained whilst studying, such as working for the Department so I taught classes, delivered lectures and gave guided tours of the Colchester Campus. I worked on a major research project, and helped to promote the Department to prospective students. Each of these experiences were invaluable additions to my CV.”

(Student Profile)

Jann Marson

"I am a US-UK Fulbright and Vanier CGS scholar, and PhD student from the University of Toronto, currently enrolled at Essex as a visiting PhD student. Fulbright Fellowships require you to affiliate with a university abroad and I chose Essex for its top scholars in my field and proximity to London. In addition, as an international student, the University's ability to attract students from around the world was important; I was impressed by Essex's emphasis on maintaining a diverse student body, as well as students' enthusiasm for promoting mutual cultural understanding.

Essex was my first choice as it is one of only two places to partner the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and its Legacies, which boasts the highest concentration of Surrealist scholars in the world. Studying here has presented me with opportunities that I would not have experienced otherwise; I co-taught an MA module and expanded on this by organising and co-chairing a research-intensive workshop with other art history scholars.

Easy access to London enabled me to commute twice a week for research at the British Library, the British Museum, Tate, and other British cultural institutions, which are among the finest resources in the world for humanities students. This has significantly advanced my research.

After completing my studies at Essex, I will begin a one-year fellowship at the Getty Research Institute in LA, where I hope to expand my knowledge of the ways humanities scholarship helps us understand cultural expression of all kinds. My time as a Fulbright Scholar has enabled me to engage a broader audience in my work, which addresses the complex relationships between visual art, literature, politics, protest, and revolt. These are as crucial to understanding the challenges arising in current localised struggles to promote awareness of intangible cultural heritage, as they are to navigating today's global climate of international political unrest.

The highlight of my time at Essex has been my new friendships and opportunities for intellectual and cultural exchange. I was delighted to find PhD students eager to form extracurricular study groups and create meaningful discourse beyond our departments. Essex students have a real sense of community and waste no time discovering the valuable resource that can be found in each other, which I believe is a product of the University's emphasis on interdisciplinary exchange. I’ve made a lot of friends with whom I plan to stay in touch."


Entry Requirements

2.1 or above in appropriate discipline; IELTS 7.0.

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