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MA in the History of Art (taught programme)


About the taught MA programme

Skills and experience

York's taught MA in the History of Art provides a stimulating transition from undergraduate study to postgraduate work. It will train you in advanced methods of art-historical research, raise your level of intellectual engagement, instill an awareness of your own scholarly procedures, and improve your writing skills. The MA exposes you to the latest scholarship in your areas of interest and equips you to pursue independent research at the highest level.

Building your degree

Our flexible degree structure enables a great degree of choice in how you construct pathways through your taught MA in the History of Art.

You can pursue:

  • A general MA programme

This ranges widely across the History of Art, choosing modules that deal with very different periods, regions, themes and topics. This provides a well-rounded training in the History of Art, and is designed to cater to those students who come to the degree with a wide range of interests.

  • A specialized MA programme

For this, you would select a coherent set of modules on related topics. Such a pathway can provide a comprehensive foundation for PhD research in a particular area, or a specialized career, and is enabled by the world-class expertise we offer in particular areas of art-historical study. We offer designated MA degrees in:

Degree structure

Degree structure


Taken full-time, the one-year taught MA consists of:

  • Autumn and Spring Terms: A core module focusing on Research Skills and Methods in History of Art.
  • Autumn Term: Two taught modules of your choice; an option is always offered on historiographical and theoretical approaches to art history.
  • Spring Term: Two further modules of your choice.
  • Summer Term and vacation: A dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words.


Taken part-time over two years, you would do one option in each of the Autumn and Spring terms, and work on your dissertation during the Summer terms and summer vacation.

Teaching and assessment

Each option is taught by weekly two-hour seminars and assessement is in the form of a 4,000 word essay. Field-trips to view art and architecture are included in the programme, as appropriate.

The Research Skills and Methods in History of Art module, which is taught on a fortnightly basis across the Autumn and Spring Term, culminates in the production of a dissertation synopsis, on which the module is assessed.

The programme culminates in the production of a 15,000-20,000 dissertation, produced under the supervision of a member of staff. The work accounts for 50% of the final degree mark.


Option modules

Our aim is always to generate a diverse, innovative and stimulating range of options, covering art history and architecture from the early medieval period to the contemporary. The list of options offered each year will vary according to staff availability, but will include modules to which curatorial or research staff from Tate will contribute.

2017-18 Modules

Please note that the following is a provisional list of the modules the department is hoping to offer in 2017-18 and may therefore be subject to change.  Where suggested preliminary reading is provided please be aware that this is entirely optional.

Autumn 2017

Spring 2018



Tate's contribution may vary from module to module. Each of the modules listed [Tate] will typically include a trip to a Tate gallery, including exclusive access to collections and curatorial or research staff.


As well as choosing from the many modules run by the History of Art department, you can also choose up to two options from those offered by other humanities departments at York and by our world-class Interdisciplinary Centres in the Humanities:




We welcome students who have previously studied history of art, but also those from other backgrounds.


We expect applicants to have a good 2.1 or 1st-class undergraduate degree, or equivalent.

Exceptions may be made for mature students or applicants without formal academic qualifications but with substantial related experience, who may be called for interview.

English Language requirements

If your first language is not English you will need to show evidence that you meet our English Language requirements. The table below lists some popular tests which we accept but please consult the full list of accepted tests and proficiencies.

IELTS Pearson (PTE)  Cambridge English Scale Score CAE  CPE 
7.0, with a minimum of 6.0 in Writing 67, with a minimum of 55 in Writing 185, with a minimum of 169 in Writing 75, with 'Very Good' in Writing


General enquiries are welcome at any time to our Admissions Team or, if you have queries specifically about the programme content or admissions, please direct your query to the Director of MA programmes.


A wide range of funding opportunities includes AHRC-funded studentships offered via the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities, departmental studentships, overseas scholarships, travel fellowships, and funding for students with specific research interests.


How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application system. If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.


Application guidance

Full guidance information about the process of applying can be found on the central web pages for postgraduate admissions:

Sample of writing

Online applications

Files uploaded to online applications cannot exceed 1MB. You may therefore need to remove digital images from your work so that the file size does not exceed this limit.

We will read art-historical writing samples without images as long as your text indicates which images were originally included.

All applicants for the taught MA should submit one sample of academic writing, max. 1500 words in length. Where possible the subject matter should concern art history, but if your background lies in other areas, we would welcome work in another field such as literature or history.

If you have any questions or concerns about the writing sample, contact our Admissions Team for advice.


Normally we expect to receive applications for the taught MA by late Spring, although we may consider further applications until mid-August, and sometimes later in special circumstances.

The deadline for many scholarship competitions is early Feb, and many require applicants to have applied for, and in some cases secured a place on, their preferred course before they are eligible to apply for funding. We find that the process of reviewing an application, following up references, conducting an interview (where necessary), arriving at a topic for research and completing the different sections of the scholarship application form can take fully two months, so those planning on applying for a scholarship should submit their course application as early as possible.

Admissions enquiries


For information on applying, please see individual programmes pages and the university's central admissions pages.

For questions specific to the History of Art courses, please contact:

01904 322978

York offers a really engaging, exciting and encouraging experience for postgraduate Art Historians, full of opportunities both within the department and beyond.

MA graduate, Emma Double

The course is well organised and stimulating; it makes the most of the city's rich history, and provides the opportunity to study its buildings and their contents first hand.

MA graduate, Alexandra Beresford

As an MA student in History of Art at the University of York, my expectations were fully met! That’s why I continue my studies as a PhD student at York.

Current full-time PhD student, Aikaterini Georgoulia

As a mature student I approached the course with some trepidation, however, the support and encouragement given by staff and fellow students has been superb.


MA graduate, Marti Hall

The Department of History of Art offers so much more than I had ever dreamed of when I was applying. It is an amazing academic community to be a part of. 


MA graduate, Nina Sipova

I relished the chance to choose modules from a diverse range of fascinating topics, which allowed me to angle my studies towards areas I particularly wanted to pursue.

Current PhD student, Beatrice Bertram

Further information: