About the modules

Part 1 A843

The purpose of this module is to build on your existing knowledge of art history and develop your analytical and research skills. It explores both the foundational concepts that have shaped art history and recent developments in the discipline, with reference to subject areas ranging from Renaissance Italy to the contemporary Caribbean. Studying it will prepare you for the subject and dissertation module MA Art History part 2 (A844) where you will have the opportunity to plan, research and write an extended piece of work based on your own art-historical interests.

A843 is divided into four blocks, each of which provides a theoretical and methodological introduction to a key area of investigation and debate within art history. These blocks are:

  • Block 1 Artists and Authorship
  • Block 2 Style and History
  • Block 3 Interpretation and Reception
  • Block 4 Institutions and Geographies

The set book is:

Michael Hatt and Charlotte Klonk, Art History: A Critical Introduction to its Methods, Manchester University Press, 2006.

For further information see the full module description.

Part 2 A844

The aim of the module is to broaden students’ understanding of what ‘Art History’ might be not just in terms of methods and concepts, as in A843, but also with regard to materials, spaces and sites of practice. Part 2 of the MA takes as its focus the relationship between the visual arts and the public realm. It does so by examining a number of contexts within which art and architecture are situated and mediated. These range from the arena of professional practice to the public realms of print media and the built environment. A844 strategically builds practical and research skills into the postgraduate curriculum allowing students to develop both their academic and transferrable skills within an integrated model devised to be relevant to current developments in the professional sphere. The module is divided into four blocks:

  • Block 1 Putting Standpoints into Practice
  • Block 2 The Image and its Publics
  • Block 3 Inhabiting Space
  • Block 4 Research in the Visual Arts

The four blocks will be followed by the completion of a dissertation of 12,000 words. Our students write dissertations on a wide range of topics such as Elizabethan portraits, Garnier’s Opéra, the exhibition of contemporary art in Anglican churches, and Vietnamese Lacquer Painting.

The module is 120 credits and runs for 12 months with an October start date, with the dissertation component continuing over the summer and into the autumn.

For further information see the full module description.

Vocational relevance

The MA will be of particular relevance to students who wish to pursue a career in art history, academic institutions, museums, galleries, heritage and the wider arts sector. Students who have completed our MA have gone on to:

  • pursue PhD level study at the OU and other universities, in the UK and elsewhere
  • lecture adult learners (WEA, U3A etc.)
  • contribute their knowledge of an artist or collection to relevant archives
  • become museum guides
  • lead art study holidays
  • campaign for art history as an A level in state schools
  • sit as a trustee of a professional body
  • become professional artists where their MA studies have informed their artistic practice.


You should have an undergraduate honours degree, ideally in art history or a closely related subject. MA Art History part 1 assumes that a candidate for a master’s degree already has the knowledge and skills usually acquired by pursuing the subject at undergraduate level. In addition, you should be aware that a good degree (at least a 2.1 or equivalent) will greatly increase your chances of successfully completing the MA. If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service. Please see our FAQs for more details and the Am I ready? page.

Preparatory work

Follow this link to find out about suggested preliminary reading that you might do before the start of A843 MA Art History part 1.