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MA History of Art (Modern and Contemporary Art)

Interpret art and forms of cultural production in the modern and contemporary era​

2018/19 entry

Length

1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

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Modern and contemporary art has great cultural significance-numerous galleries and museums globally specialise in these works, and offer diverse definitions of modernity and the contemporary era.

Our Masters in Modern and Contemporary Art will develop your ability to analyse images, art and architecture in a conceptual way; a valuable skill in a contemporary society with innovative technologies of visual research and communication.

Our flexible programme enables you to study a wide variety of works ranging from painting, sculpture and architecture, to photography, installation, performance and contemporary works engaging with new media and the digital world. You can study modules that are jointly designed and taught in collaboration with the Tate.

You’ll go on field trips for practical experience, and benefit from Yorkshire’s strong modern and contemporary art presence with the Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Henry Moore Institute all within easy reach.

We have developed successful partnerships with a range of modern art museums and galleries, which will enrich your studies and may offer you placement opportunities and privileged access to collections.

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The faculty are encouraging, understanding, and patient, and they get excited with you about your projects. I’ve been introduced to approaches I’d never considered before, which has really invigorated my studies. Luckily, I get to apply these ideas to my work as a graduate student partner with Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a funded placement offered through the History of Art department.
Kat, MA History of Art (Modern and Contemporary Art)

Read more from Kat. Read Kat and Becca's blog.

Course content

You play an active role in building your degree, furthering your established or emerging specialisms and designing exciting research projects. You can study works of art from the nineteenth century to the contemporary, or focus on a specific period, issue, or media.

The course enables you to develop advanced skills in verbal and written communication, and effective project management. You’ll acquire a high level of expertise in visual analysis and art historical research through object-focused study and an intensively researched MA dissertation.

You also have the option to develop your interdisciplinary interests by taking modules in related academic disciplines such as history, literature, archaeology, philosophy, sociology and via the Centre for Modern Studies.

Our expert academic staff support you every step of the way through personalised, small-group teaching, individual tutorials and field trips.

James Rosenquist F-111

Modules

You’ll study artworks from geographically diverse regions. You’ll engage with the international rise of pop art in the 1960s, to the arts of the Americas, and western and eastern European art from the early twentieth century to the present day. You’ll develop a heightened methodological awareness, helping you to forge a more sophisticated understanding of how artworks create meaning and why some artworks have been deemed culturally more significant than others.

You'll study one core module and four option modules. Further information about the degree structure.

Core module: Research Skills and Methods in History of Art (10 credits)

You'll study archival, bibliographic and art-historical resources, and you'll be introduced to a range of significant methodologies. You'll learn how to apply and adapt methodologies appropriate to your own research and to develop your own independent research skills.

Option modules (20 credits each):

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. Read more about your choice of option modules.

You can choose up to two option modules from those offered by other humanities departments at York and by our world-class Interdisciplinary Centres in the Humanities.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Dissertation

You'll complete your dissertation during the Summer Term and summer vacation with the support of your academic supervisor. The dissertation will be 15,000-20,000 words. You'll submit this in September, and it will account for 50% of your final degree mark.

Recent dissertation topics have included:

  • Spatial Politics of Display in Art in the Late 20th Century
  • Romanian Art of the Early 20th Century and Inter-war Years: constructing and transforming national identity?
  • Richard Wright: Contemporary Wall-Painting and the Depiction of Space
  • Interaction and Interpretation in the Branded Museum in the Twenty-First Century: A critical analysis of the presentation of Barbara Hepworth and her works and the Construction of Visual Identities in Contemporary Museum Practice
  • Resistant to representation: Queer desire and the enslaved subject in the work of Glenn Ligon and Isaac Julien
  • Mapping the works of Beatriz Milhazes and interpreting her practice with styles from Brazil, North America and Europe
I am always interested in art and I was fascinated by the discussion of modernity during undergraduate study as an English major. I chose York because I really appreciated the flexibility to combine modules from different paths and different departments together.
Yayi, MA History of Art

Read more about the course from Yayi.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2018/19

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
£3,790
year 1 fee
£8,390
year 1 fee
Full-time (1 year)£7,580£16,780

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Department scholarship information

A wide range of funding opportunities includes placements with funding from the Department's partnership studentships with museums and galleries, 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.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

Each optional module is taught by weekly two-hour seminars, and the core module is taught on a fortnightly basis. You'll have the opportunity to go on field-trips organised by the Department to view art and architecture, these will be an integral part of your learning.

You'll be taught with lectures, seminars and one-to-one meetings with your lecturer or supervisor. You'll have between seven and nine hours on average per week of classes.
You'll study independently for 31-33 hours per week on average. This time gives you space to read widely and develop your thoughts on specialised topics.

We offer an extensive programme of research seminars and events which are an invaluable way to engage with different aspects of your subject, along with discussing module themes with your peers, and the staff weekly office hours.

Facilities

You'll be part of the vibrant interdisciplinary Humanities Research Centre and as a History of Art student you'll also have access to extensive resources. You'll be able to attend related lectures, conferences or site visits offered by the Modern and Contemporary research group, and you'll benefit from our close links to the Centre for Modern Studies.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of History of Art on Campus West.

Most of your contact hours will be in Vanbrugh College, with some additional teaching on Campus West and King's Manor in the city.

Course location

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll submit a 4,000 word essay per optional module. For the Research Skills and Methods in History of Art module, you'll produce a dissertation synopsis as your assessment. You'll also complete a dissertation.

Dryad sculpture Austin Wright
MIMA

Careers and skills

Watch our video to find out more about your career and placement opportunities. 

We offer amazing partnerships and placements with numerous museums and galleries that will help you in your future career. We work with the National Gallery, Tate, the V&A, and York Museums Trust. We have excellent relationships with regional museums, galleries and country houses— including the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Castle Howard, the Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and the Henry Moore Institute. Our collaborations will support your learning and research through modules jointly designed with the partnership institution, and with opportunities for exclusive partnership studentships, work experience and privileged access to collections. The course prepares you for higher research degrees and a range of possible careers. Read about some of our alumni and where their degree has taken them.

Career opportunities

  • Museums, galleries and auction houses
  • Cultural management
  • Heritage and conservation
  • Journalism and media
  • Teaching
  • Academia
  • Education
  • Art administration

Transferable skills

  • The ability to analyse and interpret information from different sources
  • Intellectual independence and autonomy
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Applying and adapting methodologies appropriate to your own research
  • You'll be familiar with principal archival, bibliographic and art-historical resources
  • Delivering projects to meet time constraints

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade
Degree

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

You should have, or be about to complete, a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification.

We will consider applications from mature students or applicants without formal academic qualifications if you have substantial related experience. We may ask you for an interview in this instance.

If you are unsure about your eligibility, or want an informal chat about whether this course would be suitable for you, please contact us.

The international equivalents of UK qualifications are shown on our country-specific pages. You can also contact the international team for guidance.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability.

  • IELTS: 7.0, with a minimum of 6.0 in Writing and no less than 5.5 in all other components
  • PTE: 67, with a minimum of 55 in Writing and no less than 51 in all other components
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 185, with a minimum of 169 in Writing and no less than 162 in all other components
  • TOEFL: 96, with a minimum of 21 in Writing, 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading and 20 in Speaking
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Distinction in all requirements

Applying

You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Next steps

Contact us

Contact our admissions team if you have any questions

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Department of History of Art