MA Art & Material Histories

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Our MA Art & Material Histories course champions and promotes the study of Art Histories centred on the combined knowledge of academic and heuristic study, providing you with a curriculum that meaningfully interrogates historical, critical, cultural, ethical, professional and technical contexts.


Through a series of carefully structured live, online lectures, seminars and tutorials, as well as in-person visits, the course takes you through the history of material thinking from antiquity to the present day. You will explore, interrogate and discuss key ideas from within the history of philosophy, art and cultural theory, creative practice and conservation ethics. With a focus on critical thinking around the material turn, you will examine the physical, historical, psychological and socio-political narratives of case studies, objects, artworks and collections, in terms of the ethics and ideas surrounding their modes of preservation and display.


The focus of the course is largely theoretical but you will also develop your material literacy and understanding through a range of hands-on workshops. Material Matters, the Art School’s research platform that interrogates a different material on a biennial basis, informs the course and we encourage you to contribute to the Material Matters’ microsite. We will introduce you to innovative and exciting ways of researching, writing and presenting research findings and you’ll explore these through direct engagement in presentations.

The course offers you the opportunity to engage in a detailed and thorough exploration of a particular material, object or issue. You will be closely supported by tutors who will guide you through the process of researching, writing and presenting specialist interests to others. This aspect of the course will enable you to prepare and present a portfolio of work, in the format of your choice, exploring a particular theme of your own choosing.


This MA leads to a range of employment opportunities, including freelance writing practice (which may involve working within a team), working to commission, and/or working across a range of different contexts.

Our aim is to provide you with the resilience, flexibility and confidence you will need in order to tackle the challenges of a portfolio or academic career in the arts and heritage both now and in the future. We set out, therefore, to equip you with the important lifelong learning skills that will enable you to continue to develop as a practitioner and professional for the rest of your career.

Recent graduates have gone on to employment in a range of areas as well as develop academic creative and curatorial practices independently. For example, graduates have gained funding from Arts Council UK for specific materials-based curatorial projects, found employment in London-based Fine Art Galleries, are writing books on Pigment, have been awarded scholarships to work at Bild-Werk Franenau in Germany, and developed sustainable creative craft and social practices in the UK.

The full time MA Art & Material Histories course runs throughout a full year, from September to September. The part time from September to June (Year 1) and September to September (Year 2).



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