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

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), UEA was ranked third in the UK for its research impact in Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory (Times Higher REF 2014 Analysis).

Art has the ability to challenge and sustain world views, cultures and identities. On this Master’s course you’ll explore that ability, delving into the rich and complex relationship between art and human experience throughout the modern period, from the 15th to the 21st century.

Your studies will draw on conceptual tools derived from a number of disciplines, including anthropology and philosophy as well as art history. In this wide-ranging programme, you’ll gain a deep understanding of art’s fascinating role within the long history of modernity.

You’ll have opportunities to study the world-famous collection of art held in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, itself a celebrated icon of modern museum architecture.


On this course you’ll study artistic production, visual representation and modern cultural experience. At the same time you’ll develop crucial skills in imaginative looking, critical thinking, robust writing and fluent, confident communication. You’ll expand and deepen your understanding of art in the modern period, develop your intellectual and professional skills, and study with outstanding students and academics.

Your studies will comprise four taught modules and a dissertation. In each module you’ll pursue a central theme in the art of the modern period. These include art’s relationship with identity and the body, the intersections between art, everyday life and urban experience, and the lively exchanges between art and scientific innovation. Your supervised dissertation will allow you to develop your specific areas of interest in a sustained way.

You’ll experience close and imaginative encounters with artworks and critical engagements with some of the most crucial aspects of modern art history and cultural theory. For instance, how have cultural practices responded to the waves of change brought about by the development of modernity? How does art connect with wider social, political and cultural forces? What is the role of art in allowing us to discover who we are, both as individuals and as communities? What are the most rewarding ways to think and write about art? The course takes a distinctive approach to the study of these questions, with the content of each module spanning centuries, yet cohered by a central theme.

Course Structure

You’ll take four taught modules, each led by a team of academics within the department.

In Art, Identity and the Body you’ll consider issues of representation, identity, and the very process of interacting with art as an embodied experience.

In Art, Everyday Life and the City you’ll discover art’s relationship to the urban environment, both in terms of how the growth of cities has shaped art’s development, and how artists have addressed the energy, exhilaration and, indeed, painful inequalities that characterise everyday experience.

In Art, Science and Technology you’ll focus on developments in scientific enquiry and naturalistic representations in the arts to explore interactions between technical innovation and artistic practice. 

And in Imagining Worlds you’ll explore the history of the relationship between art and world-making, discovering how artworks and other cultural artefacts have been used to visualise real, historical and imaginary worlds. Each of these themes will be studied through a range of artistic moments and media, with examples drawn from a variety of geographical contexts.

All modules are taught in small-group seminars, where you will have the chance to engage in focused discussion and intellectual exchange.

You will also write an independently researched dissertation on a topic of your own choosing, supported by an academic advisor. Your dissertation is your opportunity to investigate in detail those questions and objects that have most stimulated your interest, resulting in a substantial and innovative piece of research.

Through the course you will develop advanced transferable skills in written and verbal communication and argumentation. You will also acquire detailed subject knowledge and an awareness of the complexity of relationships between art and human lived experience.

Teaching and Learning


In taught sessions you will engage with moments of key cultural and art historical significance, combining close attention to specific artworks with the analysis of art historical and theoretical texts.

You will learn to critically examine examples of academic writing, and form your own arguments based on both rigorous thinking and creative engagements. You will be taught in small, lively seminar groups, supported by a variety of learning tools and guided by experienced lecturers, also expert researchers in their respective fields. Where appropriate, modules will also include field trips and gallery visits.

You’ll also receive study skills and research methods training.

Independent study

Study beyond the classroom is vital to success at postgraduate level. For each module you’ll be given reading lists which act as your starting point. You’ll also be encouraged to engage with museums and heritage sites by visiting exhibitions, installations and festivals and reading newly published professional and academic literature. You’ll be given research methods training and discipline-specific support skills to support you in your independent study.


You’ll be assessed exclusively on coursework. Formative work is used to help prepare you for submission of summative coursework. Most of your coursework will be essay-based, requiring fully referenced academic prose. For some assessments you might need to deliver an in-class presentation, a project, or piece of reflective writing.

After the course

By the end of the course you’ll have acquired a balanced combination of practical experience, theoretical and historical knowledge, and critical awareness. This will make you attractive to arts and heritage organisations, cultural heritage sites, historic properties management, museum curation, collections care, learning, and development.

Career destinations

  • Academic teaching and research
  • Gallery or museum curating
  • Museum education and engagement
  • Arts journalism and media work
  • Publishing, commissioning and editing
  • Gallery or production management

Course related costs

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of other course-related costs.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 180 credits:

Name Code Credits

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.




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.



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.




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.




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

  • At A Crossroads

    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.

    Read it At A Crossroads
  • 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.

    Read it Medieval Parish Churches of Norwich
  • 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

    Your University questions, answered

    Read it #ASKUEA

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 5.5 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 42 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 2020/21 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,850 (full time)
  • International Students: £16,400 (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.

To apply please use our online 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