MA Art History and Conservation of Buddhist Heritage

Course Overview

Location

Teaching in Conservation will be at Somerset House and at our Vernon Square campus.

Duration

Full-time: 12 months

Awarding body

University of London

Intake

12 per year

Affiliated with the Robert H. N. Ho Foundation Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation at The Courtauld, the MA is focused on the study and preservation of cultural heritage created and connected to the beliefs, practices, and diverse traditions of Buddhism. Unique in its concept and content, this interdisciplinary programme—which harnesses the combined perspective of both art history and conservation—aims to expand the ways in which Buddhist material culture is researched, engaged with, and preserved, in order to build knowledge and critical thinking abilities in the next generation of heritage and museum professionals.

In this programme, you will gain an understanding of Buddhist heritage through the study of diverse objects and sites from the Buddhist world, in collections and in situ, spanning wide geographies, cultures, and temporal landscapes. Students will learn about current topics in the research, preservation, and protection of Buddhist heritage and the economic, socio-political, and environmental contexts in which they exist. You will also be introduced to the ethical and sustainable challenges of these pursuits from both a theoretical and practical vantage point.

The degree is taught by leading specialists in Conservation and Buddhist Art. Teaching in the first semester begins with foundational courses in Buddhist art history and conservation; in the second term, a jointly taught class integrates these disciplines through case studies and key themes; and finally, an independent research project is undertaken with the writing of a dissertation. Experiential learning is an important component of this program that exposes students to a rich body of Buddhist material culture through site visits to UK-based collections as well as a study trip abroad to develop appreciation for and to provide first-hand experience of conservation and management challenges.

Learning outcomes include providing students with a specialized knowledge of diverse Buddhist art worlds along with analytical and writing skills; approaches to conservation and an understanding of the ethical, technical, and administrative contexts, philosophical underpinnings, and decision-making processes in the preservation of Buddhist material culture. The broader learning outcomes for this course will provide transferable skills that have wider applicability beyond just the Buddhist context to other religious and spiritual cultures and traditions. The course also serves to prepare students for further specialist education in art history or conservation and for roles in museums or within the cultural heritage sector.

The Courtauld MA provides you with outstanding tailored support and supervision to help you to realise your full academic potential and to go on to flourish in your career. A graduate of The Courtauld recognizes art history, and conservation as inclusive, interdisciplinary, trans-historical, and global practices. Upon completion of the programme you will have obtained broad knowledge of the relationships between Buddhist art history and conservation enabling the pursuit of PhD education in art history, conservation, curating, or heritage studies. The programme prepares you for careers in arts, culture, and heritage roles, including in galleries, museums, archives, and sites.

Join our in-person or online Open Day.

Entry requirements

UK qualifications: Students will normally have achieved a good 2.1 in their Bachelor’s degree, considered to be an overall average 65% or above.

Overseas qualification: Equivalent to a good 2.1 in a UK first degree (e.g. US applicants should have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above).

Please note that applicants are invited to interview on a case-by-case basis.

Applications: Please see ‘How to Apply‘ page for information.

English language requirements: If your first language is not English, we require proof of English language proficiency –please see the English Language Requirements page.

Programme structure

The programme is structured in research-led modules taught over two terms that introduce the History of Buddhism, Approaches to Conservation and Art History, and concludes with an independent research project during the summer.

In semester 1 and 2 you will take modules on Buddhism, a substantial module on Art Historical Survey of Buddhist Art, and modules in Principles and Ethics of Conservation, Materials and Making and Preventive conservation and collection care.

In semester 2 you will focus on modules devoted to Art History and Conservation of  Buddhist Paintings and Sites and Art History and technical study: Understanding Buddhist art through the close study of Objects. During summer you will complete a 10,000 word dissertation.

Teaching and assessment

The degree is taught by leading specialists from the Department of Conservation and Department of Art History and delivered in lectures, workshops, and research-based seminars.

Skills are developed through lectures, tutorials, seminars and preparation for seminars, field trips, and private study.

Assessment is based on coursework and your research dissertation.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees are subject to change each academic year. Fee information, including what qualifies as home, EU, and overseas fees, can be found on our fees & funding pages.

Financial support for your studies:

Postgraduate Master’s Loan: Please visit the Student Finance England website for further information and to apply online.

Courtauld Institute of Art Scholarships: Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit combined with financial need. The average postgraduate scholarship awarded in 2022/23 was £3,000. Applications are welcomed from Home, EU and Overseas students.

Generously funded scholarships are available from the Robert H. N. Ho Centre at The Courtauld – details to be added in due course.

Alumni Loyalty Scheme: This scheme is open to any graduate of The Courtauld Institute of Art admitted to a taught postgraduate programme of study. Recipients will receive a 10% loyalty discount off their tuition fee for the duration of the course.

Further information about loans, grants, and bursaries to support you during your studies at The Courtauld can be found here.

Careers and employability

The degree will provide you with the ability to integrate, present and contextualise research related to the history of Buddhist Heritage and its conservation and effectively summarise research and use it to support an argument made in a small-group or team setting.  The course is designed to allow you to pursue further specialist conservation education, or related fields such as art-historical research, curating, or site-management. Graduates of the course have gone on to study Wall Painting Conservation, and have leading roles in collections and museums.

Support

To support you through the degree, we offer:

Wellbeing: We have a dedicated Wellbeing team, with counsellors and advisors.

Academic and Practical Skills: You will have academic support from your tutors in Conservation and Art History, which will include mentoring and supervision as well as guidance for your research project.


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