MA in Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors
Full or Part-time: Full-time, Part-time
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This unique MA in French and British Decorative Arts and Interiors focuses on the development of interiors and decorative arts in England and France in the “long” eighteenth century (c.1660-c.1830) and their subsequent rediscovery and reinterpretation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
A key element of the course is the emphasis on the first-hand study of furniture, silver and ceramics, where possible in the context of historic interiors. Based in central London, it draws upon the outstanding collections of the nearby Wallace Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The MA is designed to appeal to those wishing to pursue careers in heritage organisations, antique-dealing and auctioneering, museums, conservation, interior design or university teaching and research. However, those with a strong personal interest in studying the subject for its own sake are also very welcome.
With its focus on first-hand study of decorative arts within historic interiors, the programme provides a vocational and academic training which has enabled students to pursue careers in museums, interior design, antique dealing, and auctioneering. Some of our past students now work at the Royal Collection, the National Trust and English Heritage (see What our students and alumni say).
The MA also provides an excellent spring-board for students wanting to do a PhD in art history or related disciplines.
The Buckingham MA was featured in an article in The Guardian on 4 March 2014: “Finding a graduate job in fine art can be tough, but a master’s could help”
UK Study Trips
There are frequent trips to collections in and around London, and a study week at Buckingham exploring local country houses such as Woburn Abbey, Waddesdon Manor, Boughton and Blenheim Palace, with their important decorative arts collections.
Paris Study Week
In the second term there is a study week in Paris, where students are granted privileged access to some of the private apartments at Versailles not normally accessible to the public, as well as a number of very important eighteenth-century private houses in Paris, open by special permission.
Professional Practice Projects and Placements in Museums and Galleries
Students also have the opportunity, through the Professional Practice Project to plan an exhibition in a museum, research a project to restore an historic interior, or undertake a part-time museum placement, thereby acquiring useful vocational skills and experience. Some of our students are currently doing placements at English Heritage and Strawberry Hill.
The course starts each September and finishes the following September. During the first term students study the development of the decorative arts and the interior in France and England between c.1660 and the end of the eighteenth century. In the second term students examine revivalism and the practical and historical problems of reinterpreting eighteenth-century interiors and objects. This is combined with a professional practice project designed to equip students with skills and experience applicable to careers in museums and built heritage.
Teaching takes place two days a week (excluding class trips) over two terms, or one day a week for part-time students. During the third term, students research a dissertation under supervision, which is written up over the summer for submission at the end of September. Assessment is by means of coursework and the dissertation.
Subject to the agreement of the Programme Director, there are some options for part-time study, one day a week over two years, or by deferral of the dissertation.
Modules available on this course
- British Decorative Arts & Historic Interiors 1660-c.1790
- British Decorative Arts & Historic Interiors from c.1790
- French Decorative Arts & Historic Interiors 1660-c.1790
- French Decorative Arts & Historic Interiors from c.1790
- Professional Practice Project
The University would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for this MA programme.
The minimum entry level required for this course is as follows:
- a first or second-class honours degree from a recognised university or,
- a recognised professional qualification with relevant work experience
Age is no barrier to learning and we welcome all applications from suitably qualified students. Due to their flexibility, our London-based MAs by research attract a wide variety of applicants from a range of backgrounds, including people in full-time employment and retirees. Our current students range in age from 21 to 75.
We are happy to consider all international applications and if you are an international student, you may find it useful to visit our international pages for details of entry requirements from your home country.
The University is a UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor.
If English is not your first language, please check our postgraduate English language requirements. If your English levels don’t meet our minimum requirements, you may be interested in applying for our Pre-sessional English Language Foundation Programmes.
Candidates apply online, sending in their supporting documents, and will be assessed on this basis by the Programme Director.
The Programme Directors and the Admissions Administrator would be happy to answer any questions you may have:
Terms and conditions for prospective students
When you are offered a place at the University you will be notified of the terms and conditions between the University and students on our courses of study. When you accept an offer of a place on the course at the University a legal contract is formed between you and the University on the basis of the terms and conditions outlined in your offer letter. Your offer letter and the terms and conditions contain important information which you should read carefully before accepting any offer. Read the admissions terms and conditions > >
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.
High calibre staff
Most of our academic staff teach for three terms out of four, with the remaining term used for research. Because of this, we have no difficulty in attracting high calibre, highly respected lecturers, many of whom also have a background in business or industry and can offer networking opportunities for students.
Teaching is carried out through a combination of lectures supported by seminars and tutorials. A key feature of the Buckingham teaching method is the use of small tutorial groups which provide the most effective means of ensuring that the students benefit from the academic expertise at their disposal. It is also the philosophy of Buckingham’s faculty to be available to students outside the scheduled tutorial times and to encourage good working relationships between staff and students.
The MA is taught by staff from the University of Buckingham, with the participation of outside experts from the Wallace Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, English Heritage, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Soane Museum. There are also a number of renowned independent scholars who give lectures and lead some of the seminars and class trips.
The assessment of individual modules within each course varies according to the subject. Assessment is usually by examination, assessed coursework, or a combination of the two. Please check module information for more details.
Preparation for work
All our degree courses combine academic challenge with the transferable skills that will stand you in good stead for future employment. Many of our more vocationally-focused degrees offer the opportunity of work placements and experience in industry.
Our graduates have gone on to further study at most of the world’s leading universities, including Harvard, London, Oxford and Cambridge and secured jobs in senior positions around the world. Among our alumni we have a graduate who became the head of his country’s civil service and one who became a leading Formula One motor-racing driver. Another secured a position as the Minister of Sabah and one female law graduate became the first British lawyer to become a French Advocate.
The programme provides a vocational and academic training to a new generation of decorative art historians and museum curators.
The placements in museums and heritage institutions are designed to help students find jobs in the art world. The focus on first-hand study of decorative arts within historic interiors gives a connoisseurial training which has enabled students to pursue careers in museums, interior design, antique dealing, and auctioneering. Some of our past students now work at the Royal Collection, the National Trust and English Heritage (see What our students and alumni say).
The tuition fees quoted above are for the degree (e.g. if you start an MBA at Buckingham in January 2018, you will pay the same termly fee for the duration of your degree – you will not be affected by the price increase in September 2018). Fees are normally paid in termly instalments.
Scholarship and Bursaries
Subject to the agreement of the Programme Director, there are some options for part-time study, one day a week over two years, or by deferral of the dissertation. Some scholarships and bursaries are available: contact the Admissions Office for details.
Postgraduate first class scholarship
A first-class scholarship is available to both home and international students studying a taught postgraduate degree at the University. The scholarship will reduce tuition fees by 33%. The scholarship will be automatically awarded to applicants who already have a first class honours degree that is recognised to UK standard.
Details of other scholarships can be found on our main Bursaries and Scholarships page. You should make an application to study at the University and receive an offer letter confirming our acceptance of your application before applying for a scholarship.
You may also find it useful to visit our External Funding page.
Postgraduate loan scheme
A new system of postgraduate loans for Masters degrees in the UK was introduced in August 2016 with support from the UK Government. The loan will provide up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both. Find out more >>
Due to the mode of study on this course you will not normally need a room in University accommodation during your degree.
However, if you require short-term accommodation in Buckingham we would be happy to provide a list of local bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation. Alternatively, please contact our Accommodation Office for advice.