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MA Islamic Art and Cultures

Discover the vast range and variety of the art and cultures of the Islamic world, from the seventh century to today.

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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Through a range of interdisciplinary approaches, this programme will provide you with the skills to pursue further study of a wide range of aspects relating to the art and culture of the Islamic world, from the seventh century to today.

A basic grounding in Arabic will be accompanied by a core interdisciplinary module that will present the wide range of approaches that can be taken to the vast area and chronological scope of the field.

You will be taught by leading figures in the field, and have access to both the library resources and a large global network of partner institutions with large collections of Islamic art. The programme will give you a broad understanding of the material culture of the Islamic world from a wide range of times, places, and methodological perspectives.

Course content

Develop an understanding of the general concepts and some specific case studies related to the study of the arts and culture of the Islamic world, and some of the main scholarly approaches to the material.


Core modules

If you have no prior knowledge of Arabic, you will study Arabic for Medievalists. If you already have a grounding in the language, you will study Research Skills in History of Art.

Option modules

You will study four option modules:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


The dissertation will provide the opportunity to investigate a single aspect of the art and cultures of the Islamic world at an advanced level. Object based learning is embedded into the programme, through the use of a representative teaching collection to facilitate hands-on experience for students. You will write your dissertation in the summer after semester two.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Identify and analyse a wide range of objects produced and used across the Islamic world (knowledge of the field)
  • Show an understanding of the content, and how to critically evaluate the changing scholarship in the field (critical reading)
  • Demonstrate abilities to engage with a wide range of different disciplinary approaches to the study of the art and cultures of the Islamic world (research)
  • Demonstrate an ability to read classical Arabic at a basic level and identify key passages and phrases on monuments and in manuscripts (language)
  • Show a variety of assessments that demonstrate specialist knowledge in a range of different aspects of the history and cultures of the Islamic world (understanding)
  • Demonstrate their ability to formulate and complete a piece of independent original research and synthesise complex arguments (employability)
Art history is a mentally and intellectually demanding subject. The coursework requires a great deal of analytical work and independent research. It questions and strengthens your academic writing style
Alice, MA History of Art

Read more on Alice's blog

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Funding information

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

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

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 additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

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.

Teaching format

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects.


You'll be part of a lively research community at the Humanities Research Centre which includes staff, postgraduate students, postdoctoral scholars and academic visitors from across the arts and humanities. 

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.

About our campus

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

All of your assessments will be through essays, and written feedback for each will be delivered to you both procedural and graded work. Feedback for other assessments will be delivered in-person.

The main assignment consists of a dissertation which you will write in the summer of semester two.

Careers and skills

You will be equipped with the necessary skills to work in a wide range of galleries, museums, art dealers and auction houses as a result of the experience this programme offers.

The interdisciplinary nature of the programme will give graduates a diverse set of research and comprehension skills. The skills associated with navigating unfamiliar regions and concepts, along with the research skills developed while writing the dissertation, will allow them to be employed in a wide range of research analyst roles.

The programme will include exercises to identify skills within the curriculum that are useful in non-academic contexts, and there will also be talks by industry professionals integrated into the programme.

Career opportunities

  • research analyst
  • collections consultant
  • curator
  • gallery assistant
  • auctioneer
  • museum outreach officer
  • civil service researcher

Transferable skills

  • time-management
  • independent research skills
  • critical evaluation
  • cultural awareness
  • knowledge of the Arabic language
  • ability to understand specialist research

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
Cambridge CEFR B2 First: 176, with 169 in each component
Oxford ELLT 7, minimum of 6 in each component
Duolingo 120, minimum 105 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 70 with a minimum of 65 in each component
KITE 459-494, with 426-458 in all other components
Skills for English B2: Merit overall, with Pass with Merit in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation online. 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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Department of History of Art

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