Postgraduate Course

Graduate Diploma Art History and Theory

Graduate Diploma Art History and Theory

Overview

The details
Art History and Theory
October 2018
Full-time
9 months
Colchester Campus

If you do not have the appropriate undergraduate preparation to embark on one of our MA courses, you may apply for our nine-month Graduate Diploma in Art History and Theory, which can constitute a qualifying year for the relevant MA course.

Our Graduate Diploma consists of eight modules at 3rd-year undergraduate level (up to two of these can be at 2nd-year level). You must complete the appropriate coursework and examinations, and can also write a project on a topic of your choice if this is agreed with your course director.

At Essex, you have the freedom to study what most interests you. Some of the topics you may choose to explore include 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.

On campus, the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA), Europe’s largest collection of contemporary art from Latin American, 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).

Why we're great.
  • We're 6th in the UK for our art history research, which covers everything from the Renaissance to body art
  • Gain experience working with the Royal Academy of Arts, the V&A Museum, and Firstsite Gallery
  • Our campus is home to the most important collection of contemporary Latin American art in Europe

Our expert staff

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:

  • Dr Gavin Grindon curated a section of Banksy’s Dismaland show and co-curated the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, which was one of the most well attended shows in the museum’s history. He recently co-curated a Museum of the Occupation at Banksy's Walled Off Hotel in Palestine.
  • Dr Matt Lodder has recently curated two exhibitions on the history of tattooing: Tattoo London at the Museum of London (August 2015-January 2016) and British Tattoo Art Revealed at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall (March 2017-January 2018).
  • Dr Natasha Ruiz Gómez co-organised a major conference on Collect, Exchange, Display: Artistic Practice and the Medical Museum at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London.

Specialist facilities

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:

  • Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
  • Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an on-going programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks and workshops by curators and artists, as well as exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students
  • Enjoy regular visits to London galleries, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as many independent and alternative spaces
  • Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery features an exciting programme of contemporary art exhibitions, film screenings and talks, and exhibitions organised by our students

Your future

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:

  • A member of the valuation team at Sotheby’s (New York)
  • Head of Learning at firstsite (a contemporary arts centre in Colchester)
  • Visual Merchandising Manager at John Lewis (Oxford Street, London)

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 our university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A degree with an overall 2.2.

International & EU entry requirements

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.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here.Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.0 in writing

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.

Structure

Example structure

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.

Art and Ideas III (optional)

New, exciting, and unconventional practices call for new, exciting and unconventional theories. This module deepens your existing thematic and historiographical knowledge, concentrating on contemporary art and philosophical responses to it. You’ll find out why contemporary art forced a new beginning in the way we theorise art, examine the connection between the new and the museum, and learn more about viewer participation and the role of the spectator.

View Art and Ideas III (optional) on our Module Directory

Art, the Law and the Market (optional)

When artworks or artefacts have been looted, should finders really be keepers? What causes an artwork to fetch £100 million at auction? And when is it (il)legal to reproduce another artist’s work and claim it as one’s own? Study how issues of property rights, valuation, market transparency and digitisation have shaped -- and continue to reshape -- the field of art across different media.

View Art, the Law and the Market (optional) on our Module Directory

Contemporary Art: 1980 to the Present (optional)

Thai curry for gallery-goers, and the aftermath of a monster attack – just two examples of how contemporary artists are pushing techniques, processes and media to the limit. Explore how the attitudes and approaches to art have evolved over the last 30 years, and the crucial precursors who influenced them, whilst always considering how the context in which art is made and received – be it geographical, sociological, political, or philosophical – affects its production, reception, and interpretation.

View Contemporary Art: 1980 to the Present (optional) on our Module Directory

Inventing the Future: Early Contemporary 1945-1980 (optional)

The period from 1945 to 1980 marked one of the most explosive and dynamic moments in the history of art. Discover how the specter of the Holocaust and the ideological divisions of the Cold War shaped the production and reception of art in the two decades following World War II. Also learn how major political developments of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Stonewall, student protests and the feminist movement, transformed the practice, theory and history of art, ultimately providing a hyper-politicised foundation for the emergence of postmodernism.

View Inventing the Future: Early Contemporary 1945-1980 (optional) on our Module Directory

Photography in History (optional)

From mementos on the walls of our homes to perfume ads in glossy magazines, from selfies to forensic imaging – photographs are everywhere. In this module, explore how the birth of the camera changed the way people saw themselves, their nation, and their world, and how it continues to do so. Learn about the history of photography, interpreting and analysing both photographs and texts, and see how the photograph’s status shifted over time from document to artwork.

View Photography in History (optional) on our Module Directory

Study Trip Abroad (Final Year) (optional)

Rome is a multi-layered, palimpsestical city with an extraordinarily rich artistic, architectural, and archaeological heritage. The trip will explore the varied life and afterlife of classical Antiquity in Rome from the time of the city’s foundation to the twentieth century. Taking in sites within the city, it will also include tips to places that are further afield. As part of this module you have the opportunity to go on a 7-10 day study trip to visit museums, key building and cultural sites. The department provide a subsidy for Art History students for this trip, but you will be responsible for covering any additional costs outside of this. Any students who do not study Art History will be required to cover their own costs. Costs will differ each year depending on the destination and details for the trip.

View Study Trip Abroad (Final Year) (optional) on our Module Directory

Study Trip Abroad (Year 2) (optional)

Rome is a multi-layered, palimpsestical city with an extraordinarily rich artistic, architectural, and archaeological heritage. The trip will explore the varied life and afterlife of classical Antiquity in Rome from the time of the city’s foundation to the twentieth century. Taking in sites within the city, it will also include trips to places that are further afield. As part of this module you have the opportunity to go on a 7-10 day study trip to visit museums, key building and cultural sites. The department provide a subsidy for Art History students for this trip, but you will be responsible for covering any additional costs outside of this. Any students who do not study Art History will be required to cover their own costs. Costs will differ each year depending on the destination and details for the trip.

View Study Trip Abroad (Year 2) (optional) on our Module Directory

Art and Power (optional)

Explore the vibrant artistic culture of the Renaissance court, an environment where magnificence and splendor served to justify rule, neutralize dissent, and enforce hierarchies of power. In the courts of Milan, Ferrara, and Florence, among others, we will encounter famed artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Titian. Paying particular attention to gender, this module examines the role of visual culture in shaping conceptions of ruling authority, chivalry, courtly love, virility, fecundity, and beauty.

View Art and Power (optional) on our Module Directory

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Film, New Media, Software and the Internet (optional)

This module follows on from AR321, and presents the artwork of the post-mechanical age. Uncover how new media, such as film and video, cybernetics, robotics, video games and the internet have been used to create art from the 1960s to the present day. Investigate the issues of production, reception, display, the acceptance of new media into the art world, whilst attempting to link the issues raised by new media artists to your own experiences of life in an increasingly digital world.

View The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Film, New Media, Software and the Internet (optional) on our Module Directory

Visualising Bodies (optional)

Some of the most realistic and vivid representations of the human body were produced in northern Italy after the Protestant Reformation. From Titian’s painterly evocation of flesh to Caravaggio’s theatrical bodies, these moving images made the body come to life before the eyes of the beholder. This course focuses on these incredibly lifelike artworks, asking students to reconsider familiar ‘masterpieces’ of Renaissance and Baroque painting as well as introducing them to intriguing genres such as miraculous imprints and wax sculptures.

View Visualising Bodies (optional) on our Module Directory

Picturing the City I (optional)

Do our urban surroundings influence our behaviour, or is it our behaviour which affects our surroundings? This module explores the art, architecture and urbanism of Constantinople/Istanbul, Rome, and Tenochtitlán/Mexico City between 1400-1800, a period of massive change in each of these metropolises. By examining these cities we can begin to understand how urban identity is affected by art and architecture, and vice versa.

View Picturing the City I (optional) on our Module Directory

After Impressionism: European Art From Van Gogh to Klimt (optional)

In this module, we will explore the diverse responses by individual artists working at the end of the nineteenth century to the legacy of Impressionism as the quintessential art of modern life. We will attempt to discover what it really meant to be 'modern' in turn-of-the century Europe and how artists responded to the dramatic political, social and technological changes that we call modernisation.

View After Impressionism: European Art From Van Gogh to Klimt (optional) on our Module Directory

Becoming Modern: European Art From Futurism to Surrealism (optional)

This module seeks to answer the thorny question ‘What makes art modern?’ by considering different strands of European modern art from the 1900s through 1945, including Futurism, Constructivism, and Surrealism. Some key issues addressed include the birth of abstraction; the relationship between art and politics; and intersections between art, mass media, and consumer culture.

View Becoming Modern: European Art From Futurism to Surrealism (optional) on our Module Directory

Art in Latin America (optional)

Come face-to-face with over 750 original artworks from 19 countries in the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America. This major, unique, and internationally recognised collection, with works dating from the 1960s to today, is yours to make the most of. Investigate the themes of religion, identity, human rights, and money, which permeate many of the works and reflect the historical and contemporary challenges faced by the region, and debate the role Latin American art has in the wider art world.

View Art in Latin America (optional) on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art (optional)

Some of the most captivating artworks in European art history have come to be known as ‘Baroque’, but what does this term mean? When did it emerge and what is at stake in calling an artwork Baroque? Originally introduced as a derogatory term, recently the stylistic and theoretical notion of the Baroque has been of much interest in art history. This course introduces these debates to students through writings that discuss key seventeenth-century artworks such as the dramatic paintings of Caravaggio, the voluptuous sculptures of Bernini, and the dynamic architecture of Borromini. 'More Art, More Ideas: Baroque and Neo-Baroque' solidifies and deepens students' understanding of the reception, theorisation and critique of art, as well as the developments and shifts of art history as a discipline over time.

View Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art (optional) on our Module Directory

Collect, Curate, Display (optional)

Beginning with the cabinets of curiosities and ending with the challenges of collecting and curating new media art, you’ll take a journey through the history of display. You’ll identify paradigm shifts in the history of collecting and curating, and gain a clear understanding of the interconnectedness of these practices. You’ll discuss the socio-economic conditions in which different methods of collecting and displaying emerged, developed, and in some cases, came to be seen as obsolete. You’ll analyse the emergence of the so-called contemporary curator, gain a firm grasp of current debates in the curatorial discipline, and will look at contemporary practices that allow us to analyse collecting and curating under a new light.

View Collect, Curate, Display (optional) on our Module Directory

PICTURING THE CITY II: “Do Android Crows Fly Over the Sky of an Electronic Tokyo?” (optional)

Roam the streets, salons and cafés of the city Walter Benjamin described as the capital of the nineteenth century, and encounter the people who lived there. Discover why Paris was considered so modern and revolutionary; immerse yourself in the rich mythologies of the city; and learn how it became the cultural hub of the west between the French Revolution and the Second World War.

View PICTURING THE CITY II: “Do Android Crows Fly Over the Sky of an Electronic Tokyo?” (optional) on our Module Directory

Teaching

  • Gain practical experience in curating, such as handling and installing artworks
  • Prepare a portfolio of exhibition proposals
  • Frequent visits to museums and galleries
  • Two hour seminars with discussion based on a programme of reading
  • We run a number of mini-courses, research seminars and conferences that our postgraduates are encouraged to attend

Assessment

  • Assessment for our courses is normally on the basis of coursework and your supervised dissertation

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£4,990

International fee

£10,710

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

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:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2018 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, June 23, 2018

Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

We want you to throw yourself in at the deep end, soak up life and make the most of those special Essex moments.

Home to over 13,000 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.

 

Virtual tours

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.

Exhibitions

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.

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