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MA Fine and Decorative Art and Design


MA Fine and Decorative Art and Design

Fall 2024

Hone your visual, critical, and research skills through an integrated study of fine art, decorative art, and design from the Renaissance to the late Twentieth Century.

The MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design established the model for Sotheby’s Institute’s rigorous and teaching intensive MA programs. Tracing its origins back to the Works of Art course founded in 1969, it offers an in-depth exploration of connoisseurship and the integrated study of fine and decorative art and design, based on case studies drawn from the late Renaissance to the late twentieth century. Issues examined include style, materials and techniques, copies, and revivals, but also investigation of patterns of patronage, collecting, and a consideration of the historical and contemporary art market for a range of fine and decorative art and design objects. The program is aimed at students who seek an immersive object-based approach to the study of a wide range of artworks, and who intend to pursue a career within the professional art world whether as an auction house expert, dealer, art advisor, curator, or academic. Download the Master’s prospectus.


  • Experiential learning Visits and international study trips are significant learning events, with the travel, seeing the art in situ and informal access to tutors serving to intensify the experience.

  • Opportunity to step into the shoes of specialists Learn how to attribute and write about works of art in our auction project.

  • Privileged access to the Art World Behind the scenes tour of Burghley House stately home, examining world-class collections and royal furnishings, and an out-of-hours visit to examine modernist art at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge.

  • Renowned and inspiring speakers With previous talks being delivered by Dr Mia Jackson, Curator of Decorative Arts at Waddesdon Manor, the Rothschild Collections; Dr Rachel Sloan, Curator of Drawings at the Courtauld Gallery, James Butterwick, dealer in Ukrainian and European art, Robert Upstone, dealer, former Tate curator and member of the UK government’s Acceptance in Lieu Panel.

  • Advice from experts Regular visits to Sotheby’s auction house to preview auction sales followed by reflective sessions and tailored advice on students’ projects from Sotheby’s experts.


Bernard Vere

Program Director, MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design / Historic Art and Design

Bernard Vere specializes in art from the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. His work explores the connection between technological advances and the rise of the metropolis in modernist art, particularly in its implications for the individual subject. Learn more...

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Barbara Lasic

Faculty, MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design, London

Barbara has published on the subject of French decorative arts, the history of taste and the history of collecting, and museum architecture. Learn more...

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Elisabeth Bogdan

Faculty & Subject Leader: History of Design, Decorative Art and Design, London

Elisabeth Bogdan has been a lecturer in decorative art and design history at the Institute since 2003. She has taught in the visual arts and on art world education since 1992 at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, previously at Southampton Solent University, Oxford Brookes University and the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. Her specialist teaching includes eighteenth to twentieth century European and American design, decorative art and architectural history.

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  • Academic Structure

    Academic Structure

    The Master’s degree is awarded for 120 taught credits across two semesters, as well as the completion of a 60-credit dissertation over the course of an additional semester. In the first semester, Art Futures (15 Credits) brings students from different MAs together for an exploration of the art world of the future, with particular emphasis on technology, sustainability, inclusion, and the politics of cultural property (restitution). In Professional Practice (15 credits) students are introduced to professional art world skills and career options and to a variety of research methodologies within the field of fine and decorative art and design.

    During the program, specialist electives can be chosen from across all Institute Master’s programs, allowing a student to build a personalized Master’s profile. Students take two 15-credit electives across a variety of offerings for deeper expertise or to develop specialties. Core units (60 credits) for the Fine and Decorative Art and Design degree include Fine and Decorative Art, and Art and Design: Modernity and Modernisms.

    The program aims to develop critical understanding of the terms: “fine art,” “decorative art,” and “design,” as well as the synergies and divergences between art objects across a range of media and periods. Through detailed study of objects, students will also gain an understanding of the consumption of artworks, examining patterns of patronage and collecting, and the historical and contemporary art market. For the MA degree, students must complete the 60-credit dissertation in their third semester.

  • Program Dates

    Program Dates

    SEPTEMBER 2024 ENTRY: September 2024 – December 2025


    • Early Action Deadline: December 1, 2023
    • Priority Decision and Scholarship Deadline: March 1, 2024
    • Regular Decision Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Tuition & Fees

    Tuition & Fees

    Note: Fees are subject to annual review


    Semester 1: £10,000 (includes deposit of £3,000.00) plus travel fee (see below)

    Semester 2: £9,960

    Semester 3: £4,990



    Semester 1: £16,000 (includes deposit of £3,000) plus travel fee (see below)

    Semester 2: £15,970

    Semester 3: £8,000

    *Circumstances that may entitle you to a “home” fee status include:

    • you have settled or pre-settled status under the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme
    • you are from the Republic of Ireland and living in the UK prior to December 31, 2020
    • you are British but live in the EU
    • you hold dual citizenship with the UK and live in the UK


    Travel Fee: £3,000

    Travel fees are mandatory. They cover all mandatory study trips outside of London, including transportation from the departure hub (airport or train station) to the destination, and all transportation, entry tickets and 3 or 4 star accommodation at the destination during the trip. Where the accommodation includes breakfast, this is covered by the fee. Otherwise all expenses for meals and other costs are the responsibility of the student.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Frequently Asked Questions

    From visa information for international students to course credits, find answers on our FAQ page. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, contact an Admissions counselor.

  • Student Policies

    Student Policies

    Explore our library of academic and campus policies here. All students who enroll for graduate study must agree to the Terms and Conditions upon accepting their offer of admittance.

  • Prospectus


    Download the Master’s degree prospectus for an in-depth look at the curriculum and what to expect this academic year.

  • Enterprise Studio

    Enterprise Studio

    The Enterprise Studio was created as an extra-curricular program for Master’s students to receive training and support for new business ventures, culminating in a start-up pitch competition, the Gavel. Through close access to mentors, students have the chance to shape their plans from ideation to execution with the winning Gavel team receiving significant seed funding for their future business.