MA History of Art - The Courtauld Institute of Art

MA History of Art

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MA History of Art


Postgraduate Taught Courses

MA History of Art
courtauld students
courtauld students

The hallmark of the MA History of Art at The Courtauld is its intensive and specialised nature.  Studying for the MA History of Art at The Courtauld is a rewarding experience and an excellent gateway to working in the art sector or undertaking further study in the discipline.

The Courtauld’s strength lies in it being a small, single-subject academic institution, providing students with an intimate environment in which to participate, develop their knowledge and gain skills for employment in the Arts sector and beyond.

The MA History of Art programme is designed around the study of specific Special Options and is taught by leading academics. The programme frequently incorporates new Special Options, with recent additions ranging from medieval architecture to early modern Persianate painting to contemporary Chinese art.

Key facts

Status Full-time
Duration 9 months
Language skills English
Fees 2017/18 Home/EU: £9,150
Overseas: £19,320

The online versions of our prospectuses contain all of the information from our printed prospectuses. You can download a pdf version below or order a print prospectus.

Apply Now Prospectus

At its core is the Special Option, which gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in one particular area of the discipline under the guidance of a leading expert in that field. This specialist focus is supplemented by a core methodology seminar which explores the intellectual foundations of our subject. These taught components lead to an independent research project, which is closely supervised by the Special Option tutor.

Each MA Special Option group consists of no more than ten students, whose shared commitment to an in-depth investigation of the topic adds immeasurably to the learning experience. Every year, The Courtauld welcomes approximately 140 -170 students from all over the world on to the MA History of Art programme.

Students follow one Special Option during their MA year. When applying, you are asked to select three from the range of twenty or more Options that are offered annually, stating your order of preference. We hope that most students whom we accept are able to follow one of their preferred Options, but as many are oversubscribed this may not be possible.


The MA History of Art is assessed on the following:

  • Two 4000 word essays on aspects of special option (one each in terms 1 & 2)
  • A virtual exhibition (term 2)
  • A dissertation of approximately 10000 words (completed in term 3)

The virtual exhibition complements the other elements of the coursework and involves the selection and presentation of works of art that you would include in an exhibition addressing a particular theme.

The dissertation is researched and written over a period of approximately three months with full supervision from a member of staff. It forms a complete induction into primary research methods and all aspects of the presentation of research. The topic generally arises from the previous two terms’ study, and the supervisor is usually the member of staff who taught the special option.

Bachelor’s Degree – Students will normally have achieved a good 2.1, considered to be an overall average 65% or above.

We accept overseas qualifications equivalent to a 2.1 in a UK first degree (e.g. US applicants should have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above).

If you hold a qualification from outside of the UK, please feel free to contact the Academic Registry; however, please be aware that our staff are unable to confirm whether you will be invited to interview, as candidates are judged on the strength of their applications as a whole.



All applicants are expected to have an effective knowledge of English, both spoken and written. For applicants whose first language is not English, we require proof of English proficiency – for details, please see the English Language Requirements page.

Fees 2017/8

Home/EU fee: £9,150
Overseas fee: £19,320

Fees are subject to change each academic year. Fee info, including what qualifies as home, EU, and overseas fees, can be found here.

Financial support for your studies

Find information about loans, grants, and bursaries to support you during your  studies at The Courtauld here.

Please note that once the initial application deadline of 09 January 2017 passes options are subject to close at any time. Late applicants will not be able to apply for closed options. Please check the ‘Availability’ tab for a list of which options are closed.

Please also note that option leaders may be on sabbatical in the Autumn term, in which case the Autumn term will be a taught by a visiting lecturer.  We will note this on the Option’s page itself when/if confirmed.

The following options are open to all applications

Modernity and Antiquity in British Architecture, 1615-1815

Bodies of Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands, c.1540 – c.1660

Continuity and Innovation: Reframing Italian Renaissance Art from Masaccio to Michelangelo

Early Netherlandish Art c. 1380-c.1530. Reinterpreting the Object

Art, Object, Sense: Crossings in the Anthropology and Art History – the case of Eighteenth-century France


The following options are accepting applications for wait list only

Early Netherlandish Art c. 1380-c.1530. Reinterpreting the Object

Experiencing Modernism: German Architecture, Art and Design, 1900-1930

Arts of Intimacy? Jews, Christians and Muslims in Medieval Spain

Seeing Sienese Art: Responses to the Works of a Medieval City

Byzantium and its rivals: Art, display and cultural identity in the Christian and Islamic Mediterranean


The following options are closed, and no longer accepting applications

Countercultures: Alternative Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America 1959-1989

Baroque Classicism: Style and Society in 17th-c Italy and France

Documenting Fashion: modernity, films and image in America and Europe, 1920-1960

Global China: Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art and Geopolitics

Documentary reborn: Photography, film and video in global contemporary art

Global Conceptualism: The Last Avant-Garde or a New Beginning?

Making the Modern: art and visual culture in Britain 1890-1970

Modernism After Postmodernism: Twentieth Century Art and its Interpretation

New York-London-Paris, 1880-1940  

The Sixties: Eccentric, Erotic, Psychotic

The Supernatural Middle Ages: Images of the Extraordinary from Late Antiquity to the Reformation

Victorian Science and Aesthetic Movement Art

The Male Body in Nineteenth-Century European Art

Apply for this course

Apply for this course or download a prospectus for more information.

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