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MA Art History part 2

This module aims to broaden understandings of ‘Art History’ in terms of methods, materials, spaces and sites of practice. It explores relationships between visual arts and the public realm by examining contexts within which art, architecture and design are situated and mediated, ranging from consideration of the professional practice of art historians, within and outside academia, to exploring public realms of print media and the built environment. Central to the module is the development of subject specific research skills and practices which build throughout the module towards the dissertation. 

Vocational relevance

This module offers excellent preparation for applying an art historical training to various areas of employment, as it explicitly addresses issues surrounding the public role and presentation of the visual arts in the context of contemporary art and heritage policy and practice. When combined with the art history part 1 module, the qualification provides the skills, knowledge and awareness not only for scholarly research but also for employment in the creative arts and in the area of cultural policy. 


A844 is a compulsory module in our:

Postgraduate Loans 

If you study this module as part of an eligible qualification, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan. For more information, see Fees and funding.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
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Module cost
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Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

The first part of this module is structured around the following four blocks, each utilising clusters of texts, images, and sound and vision in a similar way to MA in Art History part 1 (A843). The second part involves proposing, researching and writing the dissertation. 

Block 1: Putting Standpoints into Practice

  • ‘Saved for the Nation?’: Heritage, cultural policy and arts funding
  • Issues of exhibition and display in professional practice
  • Conservation challenges in the built environment
  • Research section - Taking a stand: framing and debating a position.

Block 2: The Image and its Publics

  • Historical images and their publics
  • Images and ideology
  • Images and narratives
  • Research section - Constructing an argument: Images as sources.

Block 3: Inhabiting Space

  • Landscape design and art history
  • Urban space
  • Interior space
  • Research section - Researching architecture.

Block 4: Research in the Visual Arts

  • Towards an inclusive art history
  • The research process.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. The module will be taught by means of online forums and tutorials. You will also receive tuition for your dissertation in the form of support with formulating your topic and comments on a draft chapter.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Course work includes

6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

MA Art History part 2 starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2022.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    In order to study this module you must have successfully completed MA in Art History part 1 (A843)

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

    The following texts are recommended as preliminary reading for this module:

    • Anderson, Benedict, (2006) Imagined Communities, London & New York, Verso  (E-book, online via the OU Library)
    • Aynsley, J. and Grant, C. (eds) (2006) Imagined interiors: representing the domestic interior since the Renaissance, London: V&A Publication. 
    • Boswell, David & Jessica Evans, eds., (1999) Representing the Nation: A Reader, London and New York, Routledge in association with The Open University
    • Conway, H. and Roenisch, R. (2004), Understanding Architecture, An introduction to architecture and architectural history, London, Routledge. 2nd ed.
    • Elkins, J. & Naef, M. (eds.) 2011. What is an Image?, University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press.
    • Moxey, K. (2013). Visual Time. The Image in History, Durham and London, Duke University Press.
    • Mumford, L (1961, 1987), The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations and Its Prospects, London, Penguin. 
    • Schama, S. (2004) Landscape and Memory, London : Harper Perennial.


    Start End Fee Register
    05 Oct 2019 Oct 2020 Not yet available

    Registration closes 19/09/19 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2022.

    Future availability

    MA Art History part 2 starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2022.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Ways to pay

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    All the necessary teaching is included in the study material, which is delivered online. Links to appropriate online journals and research databases are also provided via the OU Library. The Library provides access to a wide range of materials including some e-books.

    You will need

    You will need access to a research library, whether a university library or a good public library.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader (and where applicable: musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future. 

    One of the learning outcomes for this module is for you to develop the ability to exercise powers of visual discrimination by direct engagement with works of art. If you are blind or severely partially sighted, you will experience difficulty in achieving this learning outcome. However, if you have a background in art history gained whilst usefully sighted you will be able to draw upon this experience. Reproductions of works of art will be available in electronic format. You will be able to magnify these reproductions within the limits of standard computer applications, but no textual descriptions or alternative formats of reproductions will be available and the use of a sighted assistant to interpret the works of art would conflict with the required learning outcome. If you are blind or partially sighted you are encouraged to contact us for advice before registering for this module.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.