MA History of Art

"The interdisciplinary nature of the graduate programme in the School is unparalleled"

In their words

Lisa Binder, Associate Curator, Museum for African Art, New York

Key facts

(Reseasech Excellence Framework 2014)

Expand and deepen your understanding of art history with this MA course, which centres on the advanced study of key issues in art’s relationship to modernity from the Middle Ages through to the late 20th century, and which challenges you to consider art in critically sophisticated ways.

Through intensive seminars on current topics in the study of art, this course will provide you with the intellectual grounding and research skills required to make your own contribution to art history as a discipline. Whether your aim is to pursue PhD research or to work in the museum, gallery or commercial art worlds, this course offers you the academic experience and expertise needed to take that next step.

We are one of the leading centres in the world for the study of art history and material culture, and the only one in the UK concerned with the study of art worldwide. The impact of our research was rated second-highest in the UK for art history (REF2014).


This MA considers the ways in which art has been fundamentally shaped by modernity, from the late Middle Ages through to the late 20th century and across a range of cultural contexts. Through four in-depth modules, consisting of blocks of seminars led by individual members of faculty from Art History and World Art Studies, you will consider topics such as art’s relationship with the body, dress, graffiti, satire, migration, everyday life, optical science and technology, as well as the imagination, aesthetic theory and the landscape. Each module will consider these topics across the period from 1400 to 2000 while providing you with the methodological and research skills needed to pursue your studies at an advanced level. You will also write a dissertation, on a topic of your choice, supervised by a member of the Department’s academic staff.

Teaching takes place in small groups, with regular opportunities for individual supervision as well as field trips. The course is designed to equip you with the art-historical expertise, critical insight and intellectual experience required to pursue doctoral research or a career curating, researching, interpreting or writing about art. You will be taught by highly qualified and experienced researchers and lecturers, as well as having the guidance of individual tutors and a personal academic supervisor who will support you throughout your MA degree, and advise you about your next steps.

Course structure

You will take four core taught modules on this course (two per semester): Art, Identity and the Body; Art, Everyday Life and the City; Art, Science and Technology; and Imagining Worlds. These modules address topics central to advanced-level studies in the history of art between 1400 and 2000, and take a transhistorical and transcultural approach, focusing on a number of different moments and locations in that history. You will therefore be able to explore the period as a whole while developing your expertise in your preferred area, including through written assignments and your dissertation. 

Each module will be taught by a select number of academic staff, who will lead dedicated blocks of seminars in which particular issues, critical theories and research skills relevant to the study of art’s relationship to modernity will be addressed. Topics addressed might include art and civic identity, the artistic status of photography, art’s relationship with commerce, still-life painting, contemporary art and environmental change, and the macabre.  

Seminars take the form of small group discussion and presentations in which you will be encouraged to evaluate a range of images, artworks and critical approaches to art. Each module is overseen by a faculty member who will hold individual tutorials to offer assistance with your assessed coursework and your success on the module as a whole. 

Finally, you will write an independently researched dissertation of 12,000 words on an art-historical topic of your choice. You will have the support and guidance of an academic supervisor throughout the research and writing process. This is a chance to make your own contribution to the discipline through an extended and focused piece of original art-historical research.

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Skills and experience

As a postgraduate student you can attend our weekly meetings in which staff and students discuss aspects of their research as it develops, as well as hear from visiting speakers from around the globe in our regular World Art Research Seminar series.

You will be based in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, meaning you will also be able to participate freely in the life of this internationally renowned museum, which holds works by artists such as Francis Bacon, Edgar Degas, Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso, and which hosts a variety of educational events, work opportunities and major exhibitions. It’s an inspiring and dynamic environment in which to study art’s relationship to modernity.


The four taught modules are worth 30 credits each and are assessed through written coursework essays as well as class presentations. Your dissertation, due in September, amounts to 60 credits.

Course tutors and research interests

Staff research interests include: medieval and early Renaissance art; 18th- and 19th-century art and architecture; modern and contemporary art; art in the Mediterranean, northern and southern Europe, Britain and the USA; as well as prehistoric/ancient art and archaeology; museum and heritage studies; and the arts of Africa, Asia, the Pacific and South America.

Course Modules 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 180 credits:

Name Code Credits

Art, Science and Technology

Whereas art and science are frequently seen as opposite ends of the spectrum of knowledge and enquiry, their histories, images and methods are closely intertwined. You will explore the important but frequently overlooked relationship between art and science. You will assess the interactions between scientific investigation, technical innovation and artistic practice, beginning with the technical analysis of artworks, before moving to consider the status of 'scientific images' and finally charting the impact of scientific enquiry on art itself .



Art, Everyday Life and the City

'The city is art's habitat' (Martha Rosler, 'Fragments of a Metropolitan Viewpoint', 1989). Throughout the modern period, artistic practices and identities have been profoundly shaped by the cities in which they developed - and vice versa. Cities have provided artists with their audiences, their networks and their livelihood, whilst art has transformed the economy, the self-image and the very fabric of cities. You will consider the past, present and future of the city as a crucible for artistic expression and meaning. You'll explore art's fundamental relationship with the city and with urban experience from the 15th century through to the modern day. Through phenomena such as streets, crowds, public transport, civic symbols, advertising, markets, ghettoes and suburbs, urban life has played a central role in the history of art. By studying and researching the city's role as subject matter, as impetus and arena for art, and as that which art should transcend, you'll gain a firm grounding in one of the most productive yet problematic relationships in modern culture. You'll learn through weekly seminars in which you'll discuss key texts and artefacts with tutors and fellow students. You'll also benefit from field trips, which will enable you to study relevant artworks and urban environments up close. Throughout the module, you'll engage directly with the theoretical and methodological models for analysing urban experience and everyday life offered by writers such as Walter Benjamin, David Harvey and Michel de Certeau. You'll consider their application to a wide range of visual examples, such as Renaissance chapels, William Hogarth's graphic satire, Le Corbusier's urban designs or the activist art of Martha Rosler herself. As you study, you'll also develop two research essays on relevant topics of your choice (each contributes 50% to formal assessment for this module). On successful completion, you'll have gained advanced theoretical insight and wide-ranging art-historical expertise concerning the relationship between art and the city in modern culture. This module will also help you to develop advanced skills of research, writing and presentation required for successful completion of your MA dissertation.



Art, Identity and the Body

The human body and its changing actions and reactions offer art historians a gateway into understanding the cultures of the modern world. You will address changing representation of the body in a wide range of artistic moments and media: painting, sculpture, prints, photography, and performance art. You will also consider the process of making and experiencing art as forms of embodied experience, and the human body itself as a site for artistic intervention. Engaging with a wide range of interdisciplinary and theoretical approaches, you will explore the complex and knotty connections between bodies and the identities - gender, race, class, sexual orientation - that have shaped narratives of modernity.




The Dissertation will provide you with an opportunity to undertake detailed investigation of a topic relevant to the practice and theory of your degree programme. You will choose your own topic and devise your own line of enquiry, subject to the approval of the Course Director. You'll research and write your dissertation independently, though with the support and guidance of an appointed supervisor.



Imagining Worlds

The 2009 Venice Biennale of contemporary art was entitled 'Making Worlds'. You will, however, explore longer histories of the relationship between art and world-making. How have artworks and other cultural artefacts like maps and diagrams been used to visualize real, historical and imaginary worlds? How might we conceive of artworks themselves as kinds of worlds, with their own resources and conventions? How have more recent artists intervened directly into the landscape to figure pressing concerns regarding environmental change and possible futures? Drawing from a variety of temporal and geographical moments, you'll explore both capacities specific to art and its relationship to the changing world in which we live.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

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    Since 2011, researchers from UEA’s Sainsbury Research Unit have been conducting yearly archaeological field trips to the banks of the Niger River in northern Benin, West Africa, as part of the Crossroads of Empires research project.

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  • Medieval Parish Churches of Norwich

    Fifty-eight parish churches are known to have stood within the walls of medieval Norwich. Despite damage and loss, thirty-one remain today, which is the largest concentration of urban medieval churches north of the Alps.

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  • Spirits of Clay

    Dogu – the enigmatic, beautifully-sculpted clay figurines found abundantly throughout Japan – have fascinated archaeologists for over a century.

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  • Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

    The Sainsbury Centre is one of the most prominent university art galleries in Britain, and a major national centre for the study and presentation of art.

    Read it Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
  • The Mummy: what our obsession with ancient Egypt reveals 

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    Your University questions, answered

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    Whether you want to diversify or specialise – explore your options.


Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Art History Preferred
  • Degree Classification UK BA (Hons) 2.1 or equivalent

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 62 (minimum 55 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact


Interviews are required for students applying to the MA in History of Art. If you are living overseas, these may be undertaken by telephone/Skype at a mutually convenient time. Please note that applicants who have not yet met the English Language requirement will still be expected to conduct an interview in English.


This course's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the university directly for further information.


All applications for postgraduate study are processed through the Admissions Office and then forwarded to the relevant School of Study for consideration. If you are currently completing your first degree or have not yet taken a required English language test, any offer of a place will be conditional upon you achieving this before you arrive.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees for the academic year 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,550 (full time)
  • International Students: £15,800 (full time)

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for Home/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

There are a variety of scholarships, studentships and other awards available to those applying for places on our taught postgraduate degrees.

Click on the link below to see what is currently available.

Funding for Masters Degrees and Diplomas

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online, or by downloading the application form.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515