MA in Art History

The Open University

Program Description

MA in Art History

The Open University

MA in Art History

This MA degree will build on your existing knowledge of art history to equip you with the critical skills necessary for independent research in the field. You begin your studies by exploring core concepts and current concerns of art history. You will then examine critical debates both within the academic discipline of art history and in the 'real world' contexts of heritage, curating and museums. The taught component of the degree provides you with research training which will enable you to carry out a more substantial piece of independent research on a topic of your choice for the final dissertation module. You need a substantial background in art history at undergraduate level to succeed in obtaining this qualification.

Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in art history (which comprises the postgraduate foundation module (A840), the subject module (A841) and the dissertation module (A847)) will:

  • encourage you to develop your undergraduate knowledge and understanding of art history in higher level and more focused work
  • introduce you to a range of significant scholarly debates among historians of art and architecture
  • provide you with an advanced academic training in research methods, with regard to different media and periods, using both traditional methods and those employing new technologies
  • enable you to make effective use of primary sources, both artistic and archival, in developing and completing a research project.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are gained and developed through the study of published study materials in the postgraduate foundation module (A840) and a subject module (A841). Teaching materials supporting the first two of these include set books, study guides and offprints, supplementary illustrations, assignment booklets, and access to a large number of online resources through the Art History MA website. Learning outcomes are assessed primarily by means of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). The foundation module also has an examination, which provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to compare and contrast the different approaches deployed in the set books. In A841, there is a final long assignment, or ‘project’, which allows you to develop knowledge and understanding of a topic of your choosing and prepares you for the dissertation (A847). For the dissertation you will choose a topic relating to the themes studied earlier in the programme, and write this up in 16,000–18,000 words. Tutors provide feedback on draft chapters, but the dissertation itself forms the assessed component of this final module.

Career impact

Studying art history at postgraduate level will deepen your understanding of art, architecture and visual culture. Through a critical engagement with some of the key theories and approaches developed to interpret and explain works of art from the Renaissance to the present day you will learn to study independently and undertake appropriate research. An MA in Art History will provide you with a range of skills, including visual and textual analysis and critical thinking and writing, which can be successfully transferred to a variety of careers in the professional and educational sectors.


The Arts Faculty was rated by a Times Higher Education survey as one of the best 100 institutions in the world for the study of the arts. Noted for the strength of our interdisciplinary approaches, our scholars of international standing also teach and research a very wide range of topics and themes in specific subject areas. These include art history; classical studies; creative writing; English; history; music; philosophy; and religious studies. The Faculty also has validated partnerships with several important institutions in the UK and other parts of the world. The head of the Faculty is the Dean, Professor David Rowland.

Read more about this programme on the Open University website here

This school offers programs in:
  • English
The Open University
Duration & Price
This course is Online
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
2 years
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Full time
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Start date Aug. 2017
United Kingdom
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Duration 2 years
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