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MA in Art History

The MA in Art History is a two year part-time qualification consisting of modules A843: MA Art History Part 1 (which runs October to June) and A844: MA Art History Part 2 (which runs October to October). Part 1 is a 60 credit foundation module and Part 2 a 120 credit subject and dissertation module combined.

Both modules are delivered entirely online, so you can study wherever you are. Online study materials include required readings, discussion forums, podcasts and videos. You will have a tutor who will mark and assess your written work and organise online tutorials.

Taster material from the MA is freely available on OpenLearn. Artists and authorship: the case of Raphael (from MA part 1) takes the life of Raphael as a case study, exploring past and current approaches to the artist in terms of authorship, identity and subjectivity. You will investigate sixteenth-century sources to consider the creation of artistic authorship and look at issues such as the relationship between the artist's life and work, the enduring notion of 'genius' and the artist as a source of meaning. This material will give you an idea of both the content and the style of our online teaching.

Watch our short 2-minute video below for a quick overview of the MA in Art History.


Studying art history at postgraduate level will

  • encourage you to develop your previous undergraduate knowledge and understanding of art history in higher level and more focused work
  • introduce you to a range of significant scholarly debates among historians of art and architecture
  • provide you with an advanced academic training in research methods, with regard to different media and periods, using both traditional methods and those employing new technologies
  • enable you to make effective use of primary sources, both artistic and archival, in developing and completing a research project.

Through fascinating and ground-breaking case studies from Raphael to the London skyline, the MA in Art History will allow you to engage with fundamental questions that relate to famous works you encounter in art galleries as well as the everyday images appearing in the world around you. In the first year (A843), you will explore the core concepts and recent developments that have shaped art history. In the second year (A844) you will build on these foundations to expand your understanding of visual and material objects by considering art history and art and design in their intellectual, institutional and professional contexts. In this final year, you will also plan, research and write an extended piece of work based on your own interests.

Students attending an Art History study day in October 2015

Students attending a study day in October 2015

The MA is all online and you will contribute to a community with students all over the world studying the same materials through our online forums. In addition, many of our students get together independently and arrange visits to galleries and exhibitions. Furthermore, OU Art History usually organises at least one postgraduate study day a year, allowing you to meet members from the discipline and module authors as well as fellow students. 

For some of the types of activities that go on, check out twitter and instagram with our hashtags #ouarthistma.