MA The Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas

"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).

On this unique programme you’ll study the historical and contemporary arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. You’ll benefit from teaching that emphasises museum anthropology and material culture. At the same time you’ll engage with the issues involved in the analysis and display of these works of art, both in their original contexts and in museums and exhibitions.

This MA is cross-disciplinary. That means you’ll engage with regional developments and shared themes across anthropology, art history, archaeology and museology. Throughout the programme you’ll encounter contemporary theories and current methods of research.

You’ll also have the opportunity to study the world-famous collection of art held in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, itself a celebrated icon of modern museum architecture. UEA’s Art History department is a world-leading art history department.


This flexible programme offers you a range of topics for your own essay-writing and dissertation. You’ll have the opportunity to take a research tutorial option, allowing the course to be tailored to your interests. Your dissertation also allows you to study a topic of your choice intensively, possibly as a precursor to PhD research.

Our department is one of the leading centres in the world for the study of art and material culture. It’s also the only centre in the UK concerned with the study of art worldwide. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), UEA was ranked third in the UK for the quality of its research impact in Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory (Times Higher REF 2014 Analysis).

Course Structure

Your programme will consist of two main strands; three region-focused modules and the Core Course.

Your Core Course runs across your Autumn and Spring semesters, leading up to a museology timed essay and your dissertation. This is complemented by your region-focused modules, The Arts and Archaeology of Africa, The Arts of Oceania, and The Arts of the Americas.

In your Autumn Core Course, you’ll examine key topics and contexts regarding theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of art and material culture. You’ll focus on assembling, organising, documenting, disseminating and analysing collections.

Then in your Spring Core Course, you’ll delve deeper into these theoretical and methodological approaches. You’ll place special emphasis on curating collections, conceptualising exhibitions, and conservation. You’ll also become fluent in key concepts of agency, sociality, materiality, heritage, past, style, and analogy.

During your autumn and spring semesters you’ll go on several stimulating study visits to museums in the United Kingdom and France. These visits are an intensive learning experience, in which you’ll discuss and debate theoretical and practical aspects of museology in situ. You’ll also gain in-depth knowledge of museum exhibitions and develop your critical reasoning.

From early May to late July you’ll dedicate your time exclusively to the readings and research that will lead to your dissertation. Your dissertation is your opportunity to delve deeper still into the area or question which interests you most. You’ll complete a unique and substantial piece of research, supervised by two Sainsbury Research Unit (SRU) faculty members.

Teaching and Learning

Places on this course are restricted to a maximum of ten. As a result, you’ll benefit from an unusually high degree of regular individual supervision and tutorials.

Over the autumn and spring semesters you’ll attend a series of weekly lecture-discussions. You’ll cover Africa, Oceania and The Americas in three distinct modules. This is where you’ll develop the background against which you will write your pieces of coursework.

In addition to the three regional units, you’ll also cover diverse topics, broadly centred on material culture and museums. These will include display, the anthropology of art, style, value systems, looting and cultural property, the history of collections, authenticity, and the art market.

As well as having access to the Sainsbury Art Collection, you’ll travel to museums for guided study visits. When possible, these will also include temporary displays and auctions of ethnographic materials.


You’ll be assessed across eight separate elements. These include, three short written presentations on an object or set of related objects in The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, three longer written presentations on each of the three regions, a 72-hour timed essay on a general museology theme, and your dissertation.

Your dissertation will be a significant effort of independent, supervised, research. It will represent the culmination of your programme of study.

After the course

You’ll graduate ready to take up posts in universities, museums, and the cultural and heritage sector across the world. You could also go on to work in art publishing and journalism, the media and photographic research, auction houses and private galleries, and the travel industry.

Career destinations

  • Museum curator / assistant curator
  • Collections and research manager / assistant
  • Lecturer
  • Education and outreach manager / assistant
  • Postgraduate researcher

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


A dissertation on a topic relevant to the practice and theory of your degree programme. You'll choose your own topic, subject to the approval of the Course Director. You'll research and write your dissertation independently, with the support of a supervisory team.




This assessment, based on a timed written essay, reflects on course content (e.g., seminars, core sessions, field trips, readings) on museum anthropology, exhibitions, and curatorial practices.




This section of the Sainsbury Research Unit MA course provides you with detailed knowledge of the visual arts of Africa - both contemporary and historical, while also focusing on the methodological and theoretical issues involved in their analysis and display, both in their original contexts and in the contexts of museums and exhibitions.




This section of the Sainsbury Research Unit MA course provides you with detailed knowledge of the visual arts of the Pacific/Oceania, contemporary and historical, while also focusing on the methodological and theoretical issues involved in their analysis and display, both in their original contexts and in the contexts of museums and exhibitions.




You'll examine the distinctive arts and cultures of the Americas. Lectures, discussions, readings and assignments are to provide an overview of selected indigenous traditions of the New World - both ethnographic and archaeological - with a focus on their remarkable achievements and material things, including architecture, sculpture, ceramics, metalwork, basketry and textiles. We will examine how scholars have interpreted them as 'arts,' using a range of approaches and viewpoints. The SCVA and its assemblage of objects from different parts of the Americas are crucial in the teaching of the module. There will be special focus on how Amerindian cultures can be studied on the basis of shared dimensions in cosmology, organisation and aesthetics. We will highlight ways that objects inform about the people and societies who produced them, particularly in terms of negotiating identity, ritual practices and socio-political status. We will also have documentary films to illustrate and analyse the close relations between art, performance and socio-cosmological meanings.




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 Humanities or Social Sciences
  • 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 The Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. 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.


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

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