We offer high quality, traditional Oxbridge-style teaching, which leads to our degrees being recognised around the world. The standards of degrees and awards are safeguarded by distinguished external examiners – senior academic staff from other universities in the UK – who approve and moderate assessed work.
The Programme Director is Dr Adriano Aymonino.
Preliminary reading list
Please click here for the preliminary reading list.
Teaching and course structure
The programme comprises two introductory weeks on principles and methodologies followed by three 4-week taught components delivered in the Winter and Spring Terms.
Part A – Collectors and Collecting
This module examines the history of collecting in Europe and America from the Renaissance onwards. Topics include the origins and development of the Studiolo, the development of the Kunstkammer and of the Wunderkammer, the development of Royal collections, the Grand Tour and collecting of classical antiquities, American plutocratic collecting, and trends in contemporary collecting.
Teaching will be based mainly in London with visits to Windsor Castle, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the archives of the Paul Mellon Centre. This module also includes an on-site Country House Study Week.
Students discussing objects in the Kunstkammer of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Part B – The Art Market: Dealers and Auctioneers
The module focuses on the European and American Art Markets, primarily in London, New York, and Paris, from circa 1760 to the present day. Case studies, based on the Colnaghi Archive at Windmill Hill/Waddesdon Manor and on other London based archives, will give students the opportunity to examine in depth particular art market transactions, drawing upon primary sources material such as letters, cables, account books and historic photographs. The module includes practical training in provenance research.
Part C – The Rise of the Museum: Study Trips to Florence and Vienna
This module explores the origins of London museums, with a focus on the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, and their European counterparts. Capitalising on two week-long study trips to Florence and Vienna, students will be able to engage with objects in the National Museum of Bargello in Florence and in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, meet the museums’ directors and curators and engage with aspects of display and exhibitions.
Methods of teaching and learning
These modules will provide a combination of lectures, gallery visits, workshops and seminars on the history of collecting. Additionally the MA will offer training in research, online archival research and archival study skills, including sessions on palaeography, provenance research, the reading of account books, statistical analysis and interpretation of art market price trends.
The teaching takes place in London, one day a week over two terms (with additional compulsory class trips). A typical day of teaching will involve lectures, student-led seminars, and in-gallery teaching. During the third term, students research a dissertation under supervision, which is written up over the summer for submission at the end of September.
Subject to the agreement of the Programme Director, there are some options for part-time study, over two years, or by deferral of the dissertation.
Students will be required to submit and pass three preliminary pieces of work – a provenance research exercise and two essays, each carrying 20 credits out of the overall 180 credits. They also need to provide a research plan and critical bibliography, which will need to be approved by their supervisors, before progressing to the dissertation. These are designed to prepare students for undertaking a 20.000-word dissertation worth 120 credits out of the overall 180 credits. Submission of the dissertation will be at the end of the Summer Term (late-September) for students commencing their studies in the Autumn term (September); and at the end of the Autumn Term (late-December) for students commencing their studies in the Winter Term (January).
Preparation for work
All our degree courses combine academic challenge with the transferable skills that will stand you in good stead for future employment.