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MA Contemporary Art

About the Programme

The MA in Contemporary Art is the longest running specialised Master’s programme of its kind in the world. Established in 1991, it focuses on art in the period from 1968 to the present, with strands on global art history, curatorial studies, photography and critical theory. There is a strong emphasis throughout on developing skills relevant in the art world, and students are introduced to a broad professional network of artists, curators, critics, museum directors, gallerists and auctioneers. The MA has a longstanding, proven track record of academic excellence and high-level graduate employment worldwide.

About Our MA Students

The MA in Contemporary Art programme welcomes prospective students who have an interest in gaining a strong understanding of historical developments, critical debates and institutional networks in the world of contemporary art. Students graduate from this intensive year-long programme with the in-depth knowledge and professional preparation to work in any area of the expanding contemporary art world. Our graduates are subsequently employed in private galleries, auction houses, museums and foundations, private and public collecting, art publishing, art investing and consulting, visual archives, charities and not-for-profits, art services and e-commerce, and academia.

Core Curriculum

All of the MA programmes are enhanced by a core curriculum, Navigating the Art World, which introduces students to the global art world and provides them with a comprehensive knowledge of art business principles and professional skills as well as critical understanding to mobilise at the completion of their degrees.

Programme Structure

The programme runs from September to September. Following the institute-wide core curriculum, students move on to the specialist study of contemporary art, focusing on the period between 1968 and 1990 during Semester 1. Throughout Semester 2 we look at the period between 1990 and the present, concentrating on a small number of topical issues and debates.

Students then choose two optional units, either pursuing further specialisation in contemporary art or undertaking options that will broaden and enhance their understanding of other areas of study, such as fine and decorative arts and design, modern and contemporary Asian art, or art business.

The first semester also includes regular gallery visits and extended study visits to Paris and Northern Germany. The second semester includes an extended study visit to the Venice Biennale or to Holland and Belgium, and artists’ studio visits. In Semester 3, students prepare for a dissertation under the supervision of their tutor.

Click here to download MA structure 2016/17.


ACADEMIC YEAR 2016 - 2017

Units of Study

Core Units
  • Navigating the Art World – Core Curriculum
  • Contemporary Art Histories
  • Debates in Contemporary Art

Optional Units
  • Photography: Image and Power (1968–Now)
  • Curating Contemporary Art
  • Performance Art
  • Photography and its Markets
  • Art and Authentication
  • Contemporary Design and its Markets
  • The International Art World: Public Sectors
  • The Market for Antiquities and Old Masters
  • Strategic Management and the Art World
  • Emerging Markets
  • Ethics, Law and the Art Trade
  • Contemporary Chinese Art
  • Court and Literati Painting in East Asia
  • East Asian Ceramics
  • Curating Asian Art
  • Dissertation projects (MA only) 

Course fees

Course Fees for 2016/17 will be announced here shortly, please email to be notified when they are available.

Fees for 2015/16 (illustrative)

UK & EU Nationals
Deposit: £500
Semester 1: £ 9,450
Semester 2: £ 9,950
Semester 3: £4,800
Total: £24,700

Non-UK/EU Nationals
Deposit: £500
Semester 1: £10,600
Semester 2: £11,100
Semester 3: £5,500
Total: £27,700

These fees are exclusive of the cost of travel for study visits.

Travel costs: £1,960

How to Apply

Click here to learn how to apply.


Click here to download the full programme prospectus.

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