History of Art with Photography (MA)

Year of entry

2017

Start date

October 2017

Location

Central London

Status

Fully Approved
Applications for this course will open in September

Duration

One year full-time or two years part-time

Attendance

Two to three evenings a week full-time or one to two evenings a week part-time, October to September

Other entry years for this course

2018

Photography has become the major form of image-making and visual communication since its development in the 19th 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 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

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 13th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2016-17 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.
  • The School of Arts offers a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.
  • Research culture and networking opportunities offered by the Birkbeck History and Theory of Photography Research Centre. Keep up-to-date with our research on the Birkbeck History of Art blog.
  • 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. There will be 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.
  • Watch a video about the MA History of Art with Photography.
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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

  • Entry Requirements We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.

    Entry requirements

    Good honours degree in a relevant subject or equivalent (for example, professional experience).

    For students with a degree in a subject other than history of art, the 1-year, part-time Graduate Certificate in History of Art and Architecture can be used as a conversion course. Students who successfully complete the Graduate Certificate with merit will normally be guaranteed a place on this programme and do not need to complete an admissions exercise.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees We offer advice on all the options for financing your studies. You can pay your fees interest-free by direct debit and postgraduate loans are available for all Home/EU students.

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa
    Part-time overseas students: £ 7225 pa
    Full-time overseas students: £ 14450 pa

    Additional costs

    As well as fees, you should expect to pay other study-related expenses, for travel to and from College, books, stationery, etc. Birkbeck provides advice and financial support for students who experience hardship in meeting the travel costs of essential fieldwork or study visits.

    On this programme, you will also have to pay for the following additional costs:

    An optional field trip is available as part of this programme, for which the Department does not charge a fee for attendance. Students are, however, responsible for paying all other costs, including travel, accommodation, food and drink and other subsistence costs, gallery fees, etc. The Murray Bequest offers a limited number of bursaries every year to students who would not otherwise be able to take the field trip. Details on how to apply are usually circulated to students in December or January.

  • Teaching and assessment Our innovative, engaging teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments.

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.

    Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures and seminars, combining structured as well as open debate, the analysis and presentation of visual material, group discussions and individual tutorials. Research workshops and option modules may include visits to relevant galleries, museums, archives and libraries.

    Staff teaching on this programme

    • Suzannah Biernoff
    • Dorigen Caldwell
    • Annie Coombes
    • Mark Crinson
    • Patrizia di Bello (Programme Director)
    • Steve Edwards
    • Isobel Elstob
    • Tag Gronberg
    • Laura Jacobus
    • Gabriel Koureas
    • Robert Maniura
    • Luciana Martins
    • Kasia Murawska-Muthesius
    • Lynda Nead
    • Sarah Thomas

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.

    Academic support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Three essays (one for each core course and option module) of 5000 words each; a research project, which can take the form of a visual submission; and a 15,000-word dissertation, which may include a visual component.

    Feedback

    As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.

    Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.

    Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.

    Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.

  • Careers and employability To help you get ahead in your career, we offer free advice and training and our recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, can connect you with employers.

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in academia/teaching, the creative arts, media and photography. Possible professions include higher education lecturer, museum/gallery curator, or photographer. This degree may be useful in becoming a community arts worker, advertising art director, or press photographer.

    Read how undertaking our MA History of Art helped one student secure her dream job at Tate Britain.

    Find out more about these professions.

    Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    We ask all applicants to submit a piece of written work, which takes the form of a critical appraisal, in not more than 1000 words, of a recent exhibition in a major public or commercial gallery.

    You may also be asked to attend an interview.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    Early application recommended, but later applications also considered.

    Application to all September/October-start programmes at Birkbeck closes on Monday 16 October.

    In addition to the online application, you will need to complete and submit a written exercise, or submit a sample recent undergraduate essay.

    Interviews January to September.

Visit the Department of History of Art

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