History of Art with Photography (MA)

Year of entry

2017

Start date

October 2017

Location

Central London

Status

Fully Approved

Duration

1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Attendance

2-3 evenings a week full-time or 1-2 evenings a week part-time, October to September

Photography has become the major form of image-making and visual communication since its development in the nineteenth century. Its importance has been recognised in many areas of scholarship: history of art, media and cultural studies, literature, memory and memorialisation, gender and identity, philosophy and law. Its role in all fields of the arts and sciences, including those most personal, is being expanded, renewed and questioned by the mushrooming of digital culture.

This programme enables you to learn about - and to negotiate your individual path through - historical and contemporary photographic cultures, in order to develop your interests, whether your engagement with the medium is academic, artistic, personal or vocational. You will be taught by a team of research-active lecturers, including Professor Steve Edwards, author of Photography: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Martha Rosler: The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems (Afterall - MIT, 2012); and Dr Patrizia di Bello, author of The Photobook: From Talbot to Ruscha and Beyond (I.B. Tauris, 2011) and Women's Albums and Photography in Victorian England: Ladies, Mothers and Flirts (Routledge, 2007).

After an initial introductory core module, and with tutorial guidance, the programme allows you to specialise through your selection of option modules and topics for your research project and dissertation, which will focus on photography. Options cover a wide range of photographic practices and cultures, past and present, and allow you to explore diverse methodologies and internationally 'local' practices. Your learning opportunities are enhanced by attending seminars at the History and Theory of Photography Centre and by work placement opportunities in the library and archive of the Jo Spence Memorial Library. The course also offers opportunities for work placements with London museums, galleries and archives.

You will develop subject-specific and transferable research, critical and writing skills that will enhance your career opportunities in the field and beyond, whether in academia or teaching, photography as a practice, galleries and museums, or in the media. The programme is also ideally suited to preparing students with a practice-based background considering a PhD, academic or practice-based.

As well as regular museum and gallery visits, the department offers an exciting study trip every spring.

In addition to the core teaching and individual research support, students benefit from many events in the department of History of Art at Birkbeck, including: events organised by the Architecture, Space and Society Centre; the postgraduate Research Seminar, which brings art historians from all over the UK and beyond to speak at Birkbeck; the biennial Murray lecture; and the programme of exhibitions and displays at the Peltz Gallery, the School of Arts' purpose-built exhibition space. Students are also welcome to attend other seminars and events across the School of Arts and at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

If you have any questions please email our Admissions Tutor, Dr Patrizia di Bello.

We offer taster events and information evenings for prospective students interested in our history of art programmes throughout the year.

Funds are available to support research expenses for your coursework on this MA.

Find out more about why you should choose Birkbeck and about studying with us.

Read more

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Art and Design at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • Unique international coverage of photographic cultures, making use of modules offered across the School of Arts.
  • Taught by renowned research-active academics and writers from a variety of disciplines, including history of art, media and cultural studies, journalism, modern languages and the humanities.
  • Cross- and interdisciplinary approach to the study of photography in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  • Research culture and networking opportunities offered by the Birkbeck History and Theory of Photography Research Centre.
  • You will have access to the Birkbeck Library and an in-house slide library and self-access centre (including the Vasari Digital Media Research Centre).
  • You will also have access to the Jo Spence Memorial Library and Terry Dennett Archive.
  • There are opportunities for you to become involved in curating and organising exhibitions in the Peltz Gallery in the School of Arts.
  • Our location in Bloomsbury offers excellent access to specialist libraries and archives in the University of London. These include the University of London Library, Institute of Historical Research, Warburg Institute and School of Oriental and African Studies, together with the major national resource of the British Library.
  • Exclusive visits to photographic archives, and group visits to exhibitions, talks and events.
  • You will also have easy access to specialist libraries and photographic archives, including the Courtauld Institute of Art, the National Art Library and the photographic collection in the Prints and Drawings Study Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London, the National Portrait Gallery (Heinz Archives), the Photographers’ Gallery and the Tate Gallery. We are also near many commercial galleries, photography book specialist dealers and exhibition spaces such as the Barbican, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Hayward Gallery, INIVA and the many other places that exhibit photographs from time to time.
  • The School of Arts offers a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.
  • Find out more about our world-class research resources, as well as our specialist resources.
  • Keep up-to-date with our research on the Birkbeck History of Art blog.
  • Watch videos of our postgraduate students discussing their experience of studying at Birkbeck.
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Course structure

You begin with a compulsory core module, Current Approaches to History of Art, which introduces methodologies and debates involved in the study of the histories of art, visual culture and photography.

You then choose two option modules, which vary from year to year. The option modules listed below are indicative and may change. Please contact the Admissions Tutor for further information.

The research project offers you the chance to undertake independent research and to reflect on the process of research, or you choose to undertake a work placement.

You will complete the programme with a 15,000-word dissertation.

These assessed elements are supported by a series of research skills workshops.

Part-time students take the compulsory module, choose one option module and undertake a research project or work placement in Year 1. You then choose a further option module and undertake your dissertation in Year 2.

Read more about modules

Core module

Indicative option modules

Research project/work placement option modules

Dissertation

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