Postgraduate Study

MA History of Art

Study at the Courtauld

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. 

course overview

course resources

career prospects

On graduating students will be:

  • be equipped with specialist knowledge in a particular field of art or architecture from late Antiquity to the present
  • be experienced in a range of methodological skills and research techniques
  • possess a sophisticated understanding necessary for employment, particularly in the Art and Heritage sectors

Following completion of your MA History of Art, you will be aware of and able to present your own analysis in relation to a range of interpretative methods employed in the discipline. This will involve:

  • familiarity with a substantial body of visual material and associated texts
  • an understanding and knowledge of relevant historical and intellectual contexts
  • a sophisticated and in-depth grasp of a specific period or field of art history, and the intellectual issues raised by its study
  • the experience of having undertaken supervised independent research and dealing with primary materials

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Key Facts

  • Full time
  • circa 170 students
  • 1 year
Language skills:
  • English
Study at the Courtauld

The taught section of the MA History of Art is made up of two elements:

  • One which focuses on art historical methods and techniques, and their application to the area of specialisation. This section is taught to all MA students together and accounts for 10% of teaching time.
  • Two, a special option in which one particular area is studied in considerable depth in groups of up to 10

Special Options 2014/15 academic year: we will be accepting applications from 15 October 2013 via our new online application system. (A full list of Special Options 2014/5 will be available on the website shortly)

All options are subject to demand and The Courtauld reserves the right to make changes if and when they are necessary. Note also that some options have special language requirements.

Detailed information about the aims and objectives of the course can be found in the programme specification below:

MA History of Art Programme Specification


The MA History of Art at The Courtauld is built around special options which provide in-depth knowledge of a particular period. This specialist focus is supplemented by a core methodology course which provides an excellent grounding in art historical methods.

Special options are taught in small class sizes of 5-10 students, which encourages focussed discussion between students and academics who are leaders in their field.

In any year there are approximately 140 -170 MA students from all over the world.

The special option constitutes the major component of the MA course and each student follows only one throughout the year of study.

When applying, you are asked to make three choices for your special option, stating the order of preference. Choices are considered in order of preference. We hope that most students can follow their preferred option, but as some courses are oversubscribed this is not always possible.

All options are subject to demand and The Courtauld reserves the right to make changes if and when they are necessary. Note also that some options have special language requirements.

Study at the Courtauld


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.

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Entry requirements

Please select your Country of Study

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.

Other Requirements

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.

We accept the following English language proficiency tests if taken within 2 years of the start of the programme:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall bandwidth of 7.0 or above, with no less than 6.5 in Reading and Writing.
  • Trinity College London – ISEIII

We will accept the following tests if taken on or before 5th April 2015, and if taken within 2 years of the start of the programme, up until 5th November 2015.

  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE) with a minimum grade of B
  • Pearson Test for English (PTE) Academic with a score of 75 or above
  • CPE (Cambridge English: Proficiency) with minimum grade of C

Please note that we will not accept institutional test results.

You may be exempt from providing proof of proficiency if either of the following applies to you:

  • You are a national of a majority English speaking country*
  • You have an academic qualification (not a professional or vocational qualification), which is equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree and the qualification is from an education provider in a majority English speaking country, including the UK and Republic of Ireland but not Canada.

*Majority English-speaking countries are defined by the Home Office as:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

If you are unable to book a test at a centre in advance of the application deadline, you may submit your application without an English proficiency result and it will be passed on for consideration. You should send your test result when it becomes available to you.

Foreign language requirements
A small number of the special options require students to be able to study texts in their original language. Where this is a requirement, the special options list the languages needed.

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Fees 2015/16

Home/EU fee: £6,600
Overseas fee: £16,000

Fees are subject to change each academic year. You can find out what qualifies as home, EU and overseas fees here.


Funding & Scholarship opportunities

Study at the Courtauld


Applications for the 2015/6 MA History of Art programme are still open – please click here to apply

Applicants to the MA History of Art are asked to make up to three choices from the specialist options in order of preference. The list of options available for the 2015/6 academic year can be found here.

The initial deadline for applications is 7 January 2015 and we strongly encourage prospective students to submit their application by this date, especially if they are also making an application for a Courtauld scholarship.  Applications received by the deadline have the best chance of getting the specialist option of their choice. Applications received after 7 January will be considered subject to the availability of Special Options, and will be considered only after on-time applications have been reviewed.

At this time, we are accepting Late Applications. Please see the Options page (here) to see which options are still accepting applications.

As we are currently in the midst of our Application Cycle and reviewing on-time applications, we cannot guarantee your choice of Special Options will still be accepting applications by the time you apply.

Before starting your application, please ensure that you read:




Applicants are asked to list their three selected MA options, with Option 1 being the first preference, Option 2 as second preference, etc. Choices will be considered in order of preference.  Some tutors interview and others do not.  Therefore, you may or may not be contacted for an interview anytime between the beginning of February and middle of March.  If you do not live in London, Skype interviews can be arranged.

Please do not contact to check on the status of your application. We will contact you when there is a change in the status on your application. Please note that we do not contact students after each option decision, but at the end of the entire application process.

You will be asked whether you wish to be considered for MA Clearing options. If you indicate that you wish to take part in Clearing and are unsuccessful in all three of your choices, you will be contacted before the end of March with a final decision about your application.

Unfortunately, due to the large volume of applications we receive, we are unable to provide feedback for unsuccessful applications.


Scholarship Applications will be completed separately to the Online Admissions Application, will be sent via hardcopy in the post, and must be received within a week of submitting the Online Application. More information can be found here.

Scholarship Applications received after 27 February 2015 will not be considered in the first instance.