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Get a 360-degree view of the art world and develop a foundational understanding of modern and contemporary art history with this accelerated and comprehensive course.

This intensive, interactive, remote-learning course is designed to demystify the art industry by introducing students to its key players, its infrastructure, and its vast cultural and economic history. Through lectures, seminars, and intensive virtual visits to auctions, art fairs, specialist museums, and collections, and many key commercial galleries, students witness first-hand what it takes to make a business successful in today's rapidly evolving art market.

Equal parts business and art, the course devotes one unit to art history and a second to art business. In the art history unit, students explore the history of modern and contemporary art and design and the ways in which art has been made, sold, and collected. In the art business unit, students will examine established art markets in the developed world and emerging art markets in the developing world, together with legal and management issues related to global art business practice, with a particular emphasis on the international auction house system. Designed to encourage the kind of entrepreneurial thinking on which the art world thrives, the course culminates in a final project in which students develop a new art business and pitch it to investors. In collaboration with their globally diverse cohort, students will work and present virtually, gaining essential skills tailored to an evolving art world.

The course prepares students for a wide range of careers in the art world —both commercial and not-for-profit sectors — or for further study on one of our postgraduate programs. Students learn practical skills connected to accessing and analyzing art market data, and to evaluating market value for art works across key sectors. Students are introduced to contemporary management models for commercial and non-commercial practices through theory, case studies and practical work. Today’s rapid art market transformations, and the prime business opportunities that they produce, are explored via leading art industry-focused faculty and guest speakers, from key sectors of the global art arena.

Branding and marketing issues and essential art market professional roles (e.g. art advisor, curator, gallerist, collector, journalist, art fund manager, etc.) are investigated, together with innovative art business models, including dynamic online initiatives.

The Details
  • Dates & Fees

    Dates & Fees

    September 21 – December 11, 2020

    12 weeks | Tuesday - Friday
    (Orientation on September 21)

    Online Accredited Courses are developed in London by Sotheby's Institute faculty, programming staff, and industry experts.
    Download the Accredited Courses Booklet
  • Curriculum


    STRUCTURE: This course is divided into two units, one in art history and one in art business. View sample schedule.

    • The business unit, entitled Foundations of Art Business, contains a further two components: Foundations of the Global Art Market, and The Art Market in Practice. These classes are taught on two days per week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Topics covered in this unit may include: the Contemporary art market, Innovation in public and private patronage, Art Valuation and analysis, Emerging art markets (focus on China, India, Russia, Middle East), buying and selling art online, international legal and business frameworks, and much more.

    • For the art history unit, students focus on modern and contemporary art. These classes are taught on the remaining two days per week (Thursdays and Fridays). Topics covered in this unit may include: Fauvism, Abstract Expressionism, performance art, Modernism in architecture and design, Cubism, and more.

    TEACHING: The remote learning experience includes lectures, seminar participation, and highly interactive virtual visits to auction previews, key art fairs, private museums and foundations, public museums, and a full spectrum of commercial galleries, both established, and cutting-edge. The course provides unique opportunities for direct student engagement with faculty and leading art world guest speakers, as well an extensive array of discussion forums and one-to-one tutorials. Concentrated talks with experienced faculty and international visiting speakers will focus on exploring experienced perspectives on the major developments in the art industry of the future: the essential new directions and priorities emerging, and the key opportunities to be discovered.
    The teaching is intensive and supportive, with an emphasis on individual and small-group learning, and on developing a broad range of entrepreneurial skills, highlighting the rapid development of the online art world. It also focuses on the acquisition of valuable practical skills enabling students to gain confidence in analyzing and identifying a wide range of artworks. Students will meet museum curators, auction specialists, art dealers, online entrepreneurs, and leading art world figures across all sectors in the art market, helping to create a highly valuable global network.
    Students also gain valuable practical experience in engaging in dynamic group projects with fellow students across the globe. They will deliver virtual visual presentations and prepare business plans, develop key online art world business expertise and essential skill sets to meet the needs and opportunities in the rapidly evolving global art market.
    ASSESSMENT: Students are assessed in the art history unit by a combination of visual analysis tests, essays, and oral presentations. In the business unit they are assessed by group presentations providing collector advice on the purchase of key artworks, an examination on international art law and business, and a detailed, comprehensive, and innovative group business proposal.
  • Virtual Site Visits

    Virtual Site Visits

    A variety of faculty led virtual visits to museums, galleries, auction houses, and other locations forms an integral part of the learning experience. Virtual visits allow for a global array of destinations and perspectives to be experienced. These intensive sessions provide a uniquely valuable depth of student engagement, combining faculty insights and discussions, a close-up exploration of key works in the particular exhibition or collection, as well private interactive talks with the art world experts.
    Sample venues include:

    • Contemporary commercial galleries: ranging from established to cutting edge

    • Tate Britain/Tate Modern

    • Sotheby’s auction house

    • The National Gallery

    • Victoria and Albert Museum

    • Royal Academy of Arts

    • Delfina Foundation

    • Whitechapel Gallery

    • Zabludowicz Collection

    • Frieze Art Fairs

    • 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

    • Photo London Fair

    • Plus a range of global art world locations.

  • Faculty


    Jeffrey Boloten (Course Leader) is Co-Founder and Managing Director of ArtInsight Ltd., the education partner of art market research firm, ArtTactic. With a business and law background, he was a director with several leading international publishers, including Penguin Books, and has held posts at the Tate and as General Manager of a London art college. Boloten is a frequent speaker and lecturer at international art fairs and conferences on topics including the global art, photography, and art investment markets. He is a Founding Member of PAIAM, Professional Advisors to the International Art Market.
    Guest Lecturers
    Designed to introduce students to art world's many career paths, this course features a wide range of top-level guest lecturers who provide a wide variety of perspectives on the industry. Previous lecturers have included: Brendan Mitchell (Head of Sotheby's Bids Department), Alia Al Senussi (Curator, art advisor, and patron), Louisa Buck (Art critic, author, and contemporary art correspondent for The Art Newspaper), Sylvain Levy (Co-Founder of the DSL art collection), James Willington (International Finance Director, Gagosian Galleries), and Kirsten Dunne (Senior Cultural Policy Officer, Mayor of London’s Office).
  • Credits & Validation

    Credits & Validation

    The course is validated by The University of Manchester, one of the UK’s leading universities. Students who complete the course successfully will gain 60 University of Manchester undergraduate credits.
    This generally translates to 16 undergraduate credits or 12 graduate credits in the US system and 30 credits in the European (ECTS) system. Students currently enrolled at other colleges or universities should be aware that transfer of credit is always made at the discretion of the accepting institution. Therefore, applicants should confirm the feasibility of credit transfer with faculty advisors at their home school in advance of registration.
    Students completing this course also receive a certificate from Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
  • Part-Time Option

    Part-Time Option

    September 21 – December 11, 2020

    The part-time option allows students to study one unit in this course: Art Business or Art History. Students will attend classes twice per week on the days their chosen unit meets.

    Students who complete one unit of the course successfully will gain 30 University of Manchester undergraduate credits.
    Note: Students may take the second unit of this course in Spring 2021 at our London Institute (circumstances permitting). Spring 2021 tuition rates apply.
  • FAQs


    Is this course also offered on the Sotheby’s Institute London campus?
    Yes. In Spring 2021, this course will be offered in-person on our London campus, circumstances permitting.
    Do Sotheby's Institute faculty have experience teaching remotely?
    Sotheby’s Institute of Art has been delivering courses online for many years and draws on a great deal of experience and in-house expertise. Our faculty also successfully delivered almost two months of entirely remote teaching in Spring 2020. The Institute is confident that its teaching excellence is maintained in the online format.
    How will remote courses take place? What technology is required?
    Students will require a computer and broadband access. Remote courses will be delivered via Zoom Meetings inside the Institute’s regular Learning Management System, Canvas. Teaching will mix a variety of modes, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, small group work, project work, student presentations and discussions as well as guest speakers. Delivery will mix live with recorded teaching so as to cater to different global time-zones. Peer to peer learning will be fostered via online and social media student discussion boards and communities, as well as online social activities. The Institute’s Library offers a comprehensive and specialized digital collection and full online student support by experienced art librarians.
  • Admissions


    Students in our Accredited Courses come from a range of educational and professional backgrounds, from current students visiting from other institutions to career professionals looking to develop new areas of knowledge. As such, each application is assessed on an individual basis, and takes into account a variety of factors.
    For non-native English speakers, a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 or TOEFL score of 78 IBT is required.
    No prior art history or subject-matter knowledge is required.
    Click here for terms and conditions.
    For further information, please contact: or +44 (0)20 7462 3229