Postgraduate study
You will get a close analysis of art and visual culture across a broad chronological period and from a range of theoretical and historical approaches.
MA Art History
1 year full-time; 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent)
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
£7,290 - Terms apply
International fees
£17,910 - Terms apply
University Park



MA Art History fosters close analysis of art history across a broad chronological period from the Renaissance to the present day and from a range of theoretical and historical approaches. You will be encouraged to develop a rigorous critical approach that engages with the issues and debates that surround the production, display, and reception of art and its historical and social context.  

Postgraduate teaching draws directly on the current research of staff in the department and reflects an engagement with the latest art-historical scholarship. You will develop independent research and critical thinking skills in order to produce original work on topics in your chosen field. 

MA students are part of the lively research community which links the department to the wider art-historical community across the university and beyond. MA Art History is supported by the Centre for Research in Visual Culture (formerly Nottingham Institute). The Centre is concerned with all aspects of contemporary art and visual culture, and reflects the research interests of staff and students in the department. In addition to their timetabled classes, students attend regular seminars and symposia hosted by NIRVC. They also take advantage of events and exhibitions at local art museums and galleries. 

Key facts

  • This course has been designed to foster critical thinking and to develop your analytical skills – this is achieved by addressing a broad range of material
  • You will be offered sessions devoted to research and presentation skills; these sessions are designed to offer you practical support as a postgraduate student
  • When appropriate, seminars are held in the Djanogly Art Gallery, in the Castle Museum and Art Gallery in Nottingham or Nottingham Contemporary
  • MA Art History is supported by the Centre for Research in Visual Culture

Full course details

The MA Art History course consists of 180 credits.

Core subject modules x2 - 20 credits each

These provide you with a range of theoretical and methodological tools for the study of art history and visual culture, and encourage you to examine the production, display, reception and criticism of art as well as its historical and social context.

Optional subject modules x3 - 20 credits each

You will choose three further subject modules from within the Department of History of Art worth a total of 60 credits.

These adopt a broad thematic approach across a range of periods, locations, and types of cultural production.

You will be encouraged to apply ideas to specific case studies in order to situate art and visual cultural production within a broader historical and theoretical context.

Core faculty module - 20 credits

You will choose one of two non-subject specific modules provided to all across the Faculty of Arts.

Dissertation - 60 credits

The course culminates in a 15,000 word dissertation.



Options include:

  • Critical Approaches to Art History and Visual Culture (Autumn semester)  
    This module explores a range of theoretical issues relating to the study of art history and visual culture. The module helps prepare you for the philosophical questions we need to address in order to undertake a historical analysis of images.  
  • Exhibition Histories and Practices (Spring semester)
    This module examines key issues relating to both curatorial and critical practices in the visual arts. In addition to classes examining the history of criticism and display, you will have the opportunity to develop exhibition ideas and critical writing skills in response to gallery visits and sessions led by curators.
  • Landscape, Space and Place
    This module explores the diverse ways in which art and visual culture engage with landscape and environment. It will consider how various modes of representation and performance shape our understanding of place and space, in a variety of periods and geographical contexts, ranging across urban and rural, frontier and heartland, scenic routes and hinterlands, national parks and non-places. Themes to be investigated might include the role of art and images in the creation of national, regional and private mythologies around place, nostalgic or expansionist conceptions of landscape, or how competing interests over space, access and property are revealed or obscured.
  • Image and Identity
    This module investigates the complex and often contested interactions between identity and visual culture across multiple periods, places and perspectives. It explores the many ways in which works of art and visual culture reflect, shape or challenge identity. Sessions will consider topics such as collective versus individual identity; narratives of self and other; the politics of local, national and global identities; and race, class, gender and sexuality.
  • Visualising Conflict
    This module will explore the ways in which conflict has both informed and been shaped by visual culture across a range of periods from the early modern period to the twentieth century. Among the themes we will explore are the relationship of visual imagery to narratives of uprising, revolution, and war; the art and visual culture of propaganda and activism; the politics of trauma, memory, and memorial; rebellion, identity politics, and visual culture; and conflict within the sphere of art and its institutions.
  • Art and Spectatorship
    Alongside the art object, broadly defined, its requisite counterpart, the viewing subject and the act of viewing are central topics of investigation in art history and visual studies. This module looks at the major themes in the study of the viewer, viewing positions, ways of seeing and spectatorship, whose varied terms point to the multitude of approaches in the scholarship. The module’s sessions will include historically grounded studies of a range of media, times and places. You will examine gender, class, race and other positionalities in connection with spectatorship. Throughout the module we will investigate the historiographic traditions of art history, cultural history and visual culture. Thus you will explore the ways in which viewing and spectatorship have been variously conceptualised.
  • Dissertation
    In preparation for researching and writing a 15,000-word dissertation, you undertake a series of focused workshops to support their project throughout its development, from defining a research topic through to planning and writing the dissertation. You will be assigned an academic supervisor who will advise on the development of your project in a series of individual tutorials.


Professional Development modules

All students will take one of the following two modules:

Research Methods: The Laboratory of the Arts

This module builds on the research skills that students will have already developed during their undergraduate degrees and on discipline-specific MA modules. The emphasis in this module is both on ensuring students are possessed of a whole range of practical ways to approach research, and on making students think about the nature of their discipline-specific approaches within a context of growing interdisciplinarity. Students will have the chance to consider topics as varied as academic publishing, digital transformations, and the use of illustrations in dissertations. They will also have the opportunity to hear academics from across the Faculty talk about the problems they have confronted and how they overcame them. The module's primary goal is to engender both confidence in dealing with original research, and a recognition of the huge range of approaches that can be used to address research questions.

Arts in Society

The aim of the module is to prepare students for applying their arts MA across society to enhance their careers and to contribute to wider society. It will demonstrate how the arts can be used to transform society, politics and culture but also to enhance the careers of arts and humanities MA students. Students will be able to explore, explain and then detail how their disciplinary skills can impact upon wider issues to emphasise the applicability of the arts and humanities. From the role of the scholar activist to understanding ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘public engagement’, the module will support the development of professional skills in preparation for careers within academia or across a range of employment sectors. Students will harness the ways in which the arts and humanities enable us to think differently and to innovate. As such, students will be able to work on issues of research, networking, grant-writing and cultural exchange. Students will also learn how to engage, communicate and create. 


The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and support from a trust or charity.

However, financial support and competitive scholarships are available and we encourage applicants to explore all funding opportunities at least a year in advance of the start date. Get information about:  

The information on these pages provides basic details about funding available from the University of Nottingham and external sources. The Graduate School also has a list of funding opportunities. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.


Careers and professional development

By studying art history, you will gain valuable transferable skills, an advanced qualification in the discipline and a rigorous foundation for further research and progression to PhD research, all of which will leave you ideally equipped for a range of careers.

Typically, our students are in great demand for their extensive knowledge of the subject and go on to employment within art galleries and museums.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

In 2016, 96% of postgraduates from the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,370 with the highest being £30,000.**

The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.  
** Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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Claire Croal
The Department of History of Art
The University of Nottingham
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