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Program Overview

About the Program
The MA in Contemporary Art is the longest running specialized Master’s program of its kind in the world. Established in 1991, it focuses on art in the period from 1968 to the present, with strands on art history, curatorial studies, and critical theory, and a strong emphasis throughout on professional career development. We have a longstanding, proven track record of academic excellence and high-level graduate employment worldwide.

The program covers developments in contemporary art from around the world, concentrating on the most recent practices and on changing institutional structures.  An intensive program of lectures by faculty members and guest speakers of international standing, guided visits to major London venues including Tate Modern and Frieze, small group seminars, workshops, and individual presentations, help students gain confidence in reflecting and speaking on all forms of contemporary art – from painting and sculpture to video and installation as well as the most recent web-based, collaborative, and multidisciplinary practices.

During the first semester, following the institute-wide shared core curriculum, Navigating the Art World, students move on to the specialist study of contemporary art, focusing on the period between 1968 and 1990.  Semester 1 also includes regular gallery visits and extended study visits to Paris and Northern Germany. In Semester 2 we look at the period between 1990 and the present, concentrating on a small number of topical issues and debates. The second semester includes an extended study visit to the Venice Biennale or to Holland and Belgium, and studio visits.  The flexible structure of the Master’s program allows students to concentrate their studies on a chosen field by selecting two elective units, either pursuing further specialization in contemporary art or undertaking options that will broaden their understanding of other areas of study, such as fine and decorative art and design, modern and contemporary Asian art, or art business. In Semester 3, students prepare and write their dissertations under the supervision of their tutors.

About Our Students
The MA in Contemporary Art program welcomes prospective students who have an interest in gaining a strong understanding of historical developments, critical debates, and institutional networks in the increasingly global world of contemporary art. Students graduate from this intensive year-long program with in-depth knowledge and professional preparation to work in any area of contemporary art. 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.

Our Curriculum
Access a copy of the 2019-20 London Master's degree curriculum and course descriptions.

Explore our Viewbook, click here to receive a copy.

MA Contemporary Art Meet Juliet Hacking, Director of MA Contemporary Art, London
The Details
  • Curriculum-at-a-Glance


    ACADEMIC YEAR 2019-2020

    Units of Study
    Core Units

    • Navigating the Art World – Shared Core Curriculum

    • Contemporary Art Histories

    • Debates in Contemporary Art

    Elective Units
    (Choose any two of the below)

    • 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

    • Modernism and its Markets

    • Art World Logistics and Operations

    • Work Placement (accredited internship)

    Dissertation or Practice-Based Dissertation (MA only) 

    Click here for the program electives summary.
  • Faculty


    Dr. Juliet Hacking, Program Director
    Dr. Marcus Verhagen
    Dr. Pierre Saurisse

    Consultant Lecturers
    Dr. Tom Snow
    Dr. Mike Cooter
  • Course Fees & Application

    Course Fees & Application

    ACADEMIC YEAR 2019-2020

    Deposit: £500
    Semester 1: £10,050
    Semester 2: £10,550
    Semester 3: £5,200
    MA total: £26,300
    PG Dip total: £21,100

    Deposit: £500
    Semester 1: £12,000
    Semester 2: £12,500
    Semester 3: £6,100
    MA total: £31,100
    PG Dip total: £25,000

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

    Travel costs: £2,250

    Click here to apply.

    Click here to read Terms and Conditions.

    Click here to find out about Scholarships, Grants and Loans at Sotheby's Institute - London.

  • Program Prospectus

    Program Prospectus

    Click here to download program prospectus.

    For further information, please contact: or Request Information
    T +44 (0)20 7462 3219
  • Contact And Request Information

    Contact And Request Information

    For further information, please contact: or Request Information
    T +44 (0)20 7462 3219
  • Field Trips

    Field Trips

    Students in the MA in Contemporary Art program visit a variety of art spaces in London--public and commercial galleries, auction houses, art colleges, project spaces, and artists' studios. They also go on three study trips during the program. Past trips have included a stay in Northern Germany, where students visited a number of particularly strong public collections as well as smaller spaces and private foundations, including one entirely devoted to contemporary video and film. The second semester includes a trip to Paris, which has in recent years become a vibrant contemporary art center with the opening of new spaces with ambitious programs.  The final trip includes Holland and Belgium, where the focus is on curating; students visit both well-established galleries and smaller institutions that have pioneered new curatorial developments. The purpose of these trips and visits is to gain a more fine-grained and responsive understanding of artistic and curatorial practices while also developing firsthand knowledge of the different roles played by various institutions in the art world.

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