The Art and Visual Culture MA is part of the Cultural and Literary Studies Suite, a cluster of four MAs that bring together academics, curators and practitioners who share a commitment to investigating modern and contemporary culture from aesthetic, critical, literary, and experiential perspectives. You'll share classes with students from the Cultural and Critical Studies MA, the English Literature: Modern and Contemporary Fictions MA, and the Museum, Galleries and Contemporary Culture MA, joining a fruitful and intellectually-rigorous environment designed to facilitate the sprouting of interdisciplinary thinking. As part of our Suite, you may also choose an option module from the other three MA programmes (what is referred to as an ‘elective’ module), a fantastic opportunity to explore a facet of culture outside of your chosen MA programme.
The Art and Visual Culture MA is an interdisciplinary, visual theory-based course established around the belief that visual literacy and the impact of visual forms of thinking and working play significant roles in our society. In the course, we interrogate visual perception and representation in high and popular culture, explore how these produce meanings, and how such meanings shape societies and individuals.
The course introduces you to a wide range of historical and contemporary debates that inform the theories and practices of visual culture and supports you in developing a conceptual framework within which to evaluate the role of the visual arts, and other forms of visual production, in contemporary society and culture. The course gives you a solid grounding for careers in the art and cultural sectors as well as academia, and it is also suitable for practising artists wishing to further their research.
This MA balances historical and theoretical debates in the field of visual culture studies with a rigorous interrogation of cultural practices across a range of topics, including contemporary visual arts; the visual and material culture of the city; modernism in art and architecture; popular and avant-garde cultures; fin de siècle visual culture; digital culture and new media technologies; migration, identity and gender as represented in cultural practices; activism and popular politics; theory and practice of archive research; and critical theories of modern and contemporary culture.
Many of our modules include class visits to leading museums, galleries and archives in London: this provides a fantastic opportunity to engage directly with the city’s cultural institutions and intellectual resources, in doing so providing you with sophisticated critical thinking skills as well as practical knowledge of how the cultural sector operates.
Westminster is a leading provider in this academic discipline and is ranked first in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2022 for Research Quality in Art and Design.
Top reasons to study with us
London museums and galleries on our doorstep – based at our Regent Street Campus in the heart of central London, we're able to incorporate the fantastic nearby museums and galleries into our teaching and learning
Work experience in the cultural sector – you have the option to gain practical experience through our Work Placement in Cultural Institutions module, benefitting from our proximity to London's cultural sector. Recent work placements have included institutions from the Victoria and Albert Museum to the British Film Institute
Institute of Modern and Contemporary Culture – as a postgraduate student, you'll become a member of our interdisciplinary Institute of Modern and Contemporary Culture, and enjoy the opportunity to engage with a rich and diverse programme of events.
Why study this course?
Institute of Modern and Contemporary CultureThrough our Institute, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy events including research seminars, symposia, guest lectures, conferences and screenings.
Our teaching is informed by research at the cutting edge of modern and contemporary arts and culture. You'll be taught by expert staff, including practising artists, from a number of different disciplines, giving you the flexibility to follow the themes that most interest you.
Active and engaging learning environmentMany of our classes are seminars and a number of modules also include hands-on workshops engaging with primary materials, including archival sources, exhibitions, and cultural artefacts.