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MA in Art History

The MA in Art History draws upon the exciting research and outstanding teaching expertise of the department. Studying art history at postgraduate level will deepen your understanding of art, architecture and visual culture, build your analytical and critical skills, and develop the skills needed for independent study and research. You'll start by exploring the core concepts and recent developments that have shaped art history from Renaissance Italy to the contemporary Caribbean, before building on these foundations to expand your understanding of visual and material objects – incorporating architecture, art and design. You'll complete this degree by researching and writing a dissertation on an agreed topic of your own devising. 

Key features of the course

  • Engages critically with key theories and approaches developed to interpret and explain works of art and architecture
  • Examines critical debates both within the academic discipline of art history and in the 'real world' contexts of heritage, curating and museums
  • Prepares and inspires you to confidently develop and articulate your own standpoint within the discipline
  • Concludes with a substantial piece of independent research and a dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Masters degree

Course code
F33
Credits

Credits

  • 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.
180
How long it takes
2–10 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Modules

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
MA Art History part 1 (A843)

This first part of the MA will teach you the research methodologies and theoretical concepts of Art History.  

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018
MA Art History part 2 (A844)

Building on part 1, you will consider art history and art and design in their intellectual, institutional and professional contexts. before writing a dissertation
 

See full description

Register
120 06 Oct 2018

Or 180 credits from the discontinued modules A840, A841 and A847 if you started before 2014.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.


We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded the Master of Arts in Art History entitling you to use the letters MA (Art Hist) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

If you leave the programme before you qualify for a degree you can be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Humanities after successfully completing MA Art History part 1 (A843).

Regulations

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

Entry requirements

You should have an undergraduate honours degree, ideally, but not necessarily, in Art History. Part 1 of the MA (A843) assumes that a suitable candidate for this masters degree already has the knowledge and skills usually acquired by pursuing the subject at undergraduate level. You should be aware that a good degree (at least a 2.1 or equivalent) will greatly increase your chances of successfully completing the MA.  

The part 1 module brings you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches, but it does not offer remedial undergraduate training if your qualifications and/or experience are inappropriate – if you’re in any doubt, please contact us before you enrol. 

To study successfully for this MA, you need to be able to:
  • write clear, concise, accurate prose
  • read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
  • classify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliability
  • argue logically, consistently and sceptically
  • marshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument.

How long it takes

Modules on this MA are studied during a fixed period each year. The minimum overall time in which it is possible to complete the qualification is two years, studying the modules consecutively. If you do not study the modules consecutively, you must have completed them by a maximum of 10 years to qualify for the degree.

Career relevance

An MA in Art History will provide you with a wide 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 MA in Art History will teach you to think critically about historical and contemporary cultural debates around works of art and will provide you with an awareness of art history’s professional contexts. The MA is an excellent starting point for a career in the heritage and cultural sectors, from educator to curator to art critic. If you’re interested in an academic career, the MA is an essential step towards embarking on a PhD.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.