History of Art (MA)

Year of entry

2017

Start date

October 2017

Location

Central London

Status

Fully Approved

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

History of art is a rich and dynamic discipline, combining the rigorous investigation of the visual arts with the creative exploration of their connections to culture, politics and society. Postgraduate study in this area trains you at a high level in looking at, thinking about and researching art and its histories.

Birkbeck's MA History of Art offers the opportunity to study with internationally recognised experts. Our teaching staff are defining the field, conducting ground-breaking research in periods from medieval to contemporary, focusing on painting, sculpture, print culture, architecture, photography, digital art and museology.

The MA History of Art exposes you to key art historical approaches, and allows you to focus in depth on areas and periods of particular interest to you, in early and modern (including contemporary) periods, through taught options (see an indicative list of modules on the 'course structure' tab) and independent research. The course also offers opportunities for work placements with London museums, galleries and archives.

The course develops your visual acuity and your understanding of art's histories, while stimulating critical debate and stretching your research skills. In addition to independent written work, you will take part in group discussion, give oral presentations and engage with the Department of History of Art's research culture.

In all of this, you will work closely with our staff while also benefiting from our diverse and vibrant student body of all ages and backgrounds. The teaching programme is enriched by museum and site visits, visiting speakers, screenings and opportunities to get involved as volunteers in research and community outreach activities. The department also offers an exciting study trip every spring.

Students are encouraged to become involved in the lively research culture of the department through the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre, the Architecture, Space and Society Centre and the Vasari Research Centre, which has pioneered the field of digital art history.

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: the postgraduate Research Seminar, which brings art historians from all over the UK and beyond to speak at Birkbeck; the biennial Murray Lecture; the Murray Seminar on Medieval and Renaissance Art; 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 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 to study history of art and about studying with us in the Department of History of Art.

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.
  • You will have access to the Birkbeck Library and an in-house resources centre. In addition, our location in Bloomsbury offers excellent access to specialist libraries 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. You will also have easy access to specialist art libraries not far from Birkbeck, including the library of the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Royal Institute of British Architects library and the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), as well as the great visual resources of the British Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern and V&A, commercial galleries and salesrooms. Temporary exhibition galleries like the Barbican Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Hayward Gallery and Royal Academy also make London a particularly good place in which to undertake research.
  • You can participate in the rich research culture of the Department of History of Art.
  • Keep up-to-date with our research on the Birkbeck History of Art blog.
  • Watch a video about the MA History of Art.
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Course structure

The programme consists of a compulsory module, a choice of option modules, a research project or work placement, and a dissertation. These assessed elements are supported by a series of research skills workshops.

The compulsory module, Current Approaches to History of Art, is designed to explore methodologies and issues involved in the current study of the discipline (around such topics as exhibition, reception and interdisciplinarity).

Option modules allow you to pursue specific interests and areas of research in selected topics from the medieval period to the present.

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.

As a part-time student, you 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.

The option modules listed below are a selection of those offered in past years. Please get in touch with Admissions Tutor Patrizia Di Bello with any queries about option modules for the current academic year, which term and evening each option is offered, and the process for choosing your option modules.

Read more about modules

Core module

Indicative option modules

Research project/work placement option modules

Dissertation

Visit the Department of History of Art