Our MA Art History and Theory is ideal if you are interested in working in academia, the art world or any other field in which visual, written and analytical skills are essential.
At Essex, you have the freedom to study what most interests you. Some of the topics you may choose to explore include Early Modern art and architecture; the history of photography; modern and contemporary art; curatorial practice and exhibition design; as well as more vernacular forms of visual culture, such as body art and activist placards.
Regardless of the topics you pursue, we are committed to research-based teaching, with a particular emphasis on bringing the approaches of art history into contact with other disciplines and discourses. In so doing, we seek to facilitate a critical engagement with artworks and forms of visual culture, both within and beyond the traditional canons of art history.
To supplement what you learn in the classroom, frequent staff-led visits to London museums and galleries will expose you to the some of the world’s best museums and galleries, and you will be strongly encouraged to apply for a placement in order to gain experience in the museum and gallery world. On campus, ESCALA, one of Europe’s most significant collections of contemporary art from Latin America, will provide an invaluable resource for studying art and curatorial practice first-hand.
We are 6th among art history departments in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).
This course is available on either a full-time or part-time basis.
Essex Art History features a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environments, across cultures and media from the early modern period to the present. Our staff are experts on topics as diverse as activist art, 19th-century medical photography, the art of Latin America, urbanism, exhibition design and body art.
We also have significant experience in curation and public engagement. Recent projects include:
At Essex, you have the best of both worlds: on the one hand, you are part of a tight-knit, campus community with close ties to several small but excellent museums in the nearby town of Colchester; on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums and galleries at your fingertips.
Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience and engage in object-based learning, a cornerstone of our approach when teaching the history of art and its modes of display:
The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and art history graduates leave Essex with the skills to take advantage of this growing opportunity.
Graduates from our programmes are ideally prepared for roles in the media, in advertising, in museums and galleries, in education (in schools, universities, and cultural institutions), as conservators, as auctioneers, dealers and antiques specialists, in charities, in publishing, as specialist arts lawyers, as PR agents, in fashion, or to run their own galleries.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of roles including:
We also offer research supervision for students who wish to continue their studies with a PhD or an MPhil. We cover the major areas of European art, architecture and visual culture from 1300 to the present, as well as the art and architecture of Latin America.
We work with the university’s Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
A 2.2 Degree or equivalent in any discipline. Your Degree must contain at least three modules relating to visual culture.
Visual Culture modules include, but are not limited to: Aesthetics, Archaeology, Architecture, Art History, Curatorial/Museum Studies, Design Studies, Digital Imaging, Fashion, Fine Art, Film Studies, Film and Literature, Graphic Design, Advertising, Landscape Design, History, Media Studies, Photography.
if you do not hold a degree which includes relevant modules, then we can still consider you. You should be able to show that you have relevant professional experience. If you do not have a relevant degree or relevant experience, then we may ask you to provide a sample of written work which demonstrates your interest in this field.
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.
Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
The example structure below is representative of this course if taken full-time. If you choose to study part-time, the modules will be split across 2 years.
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing email@example.com and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.
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