MA Decorative Arts and Historic InteriorsSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences
The MA in French and British Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors is offered by The University of Buckingham in partnership with The Wallace Collection.
A key element of this unique course is the emphasis on in-gallery teaching and the hands-on study of furniture, silver, textiles and ceramics, where possible in the context of historic interiors. Based in central London, it draws on the outstanding collections of the nearby Wallace Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the expertise of the Wallace Collection curatorial staff and other leading specialists who participate in the teaching. See our dedicated Academic Staff Page.
With its focus on first-hand study of decorative art within historic interiors, the programme provides a vocational and rigorous academic training which has enabled our students to pursue careers in museums, interior design, antique dealing, and auctioneering. Some of our past students now work at the Royal Collection, the Wallace Collection, Rienza MFA Houston, the National Trust, English Heritage and Christie’s. The MA also provides an excellent spring-board for students wanting to do a PhD in Art History or related disciplines. (see What our students and alumni say).
The MA is designed to appeal to those wishing to pursue careers in heritage organisations, antique-dealing and auctioneering, museums, conservation, interiors design or university teaching and further research. However, those with a strong personal interest in studying the subject for its own sake are also very welcome.
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 the Country House Study Week in the first term exploring local country houses such as Burghley, Waddesdon Manor, Ditchley, Boughton and Blenheim Palace, with their important decorative arts collections. The visits include some handling sessions and the opportunity to meet with curators, conservators and other museum and heritage professionals.
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. We visit some of the most important public and private collections of decorative arts from the time of Louis XIV and up to the Second Empire, and students meet with curators and archivists.
Professional Practice Projects and Placements in Museums and Galleries
Students acquire valuable vocational skills and experience through the Professional Practice Project in the second term, when they plan an exhibition in a museum, or research and present a proposal to restore a historic interior.
Alternatively, each year there is a limited number of part-time placements with museums or heritage organisations for high-performing students. Some of our students have recently completed placements with Bonhams, English Heritage and Strawberry Hill.
The course starts each September and finishes the following September. In the first term, we study the development of the decorative arts and the interior in France and Britain between c. 1600 and the end of the eighteenth century. In the second term, students examine the nineteenth century and focus on revivalism, collecting, and the practical and historical problems of re-interpreting eighteenth-century interiors and objects. This is combined with the Professional Practice Project, which is designed to equip students with research skills and experience applicable to careers in museums and built heritage.
The teaching takes place in London, two days 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, one day a week over two years, or by deferral of the dissertation.
Modules studied 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
- Country house study week
- Study week in Paris
- What our students and alumni say
- Academic staff
- MA The Art Market and the History of Collecting by Research
Find out more
If you would like to find out more about the course and/or discuss your eligibility, please complete the short form below and we’ll contact you as soon as we can:
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 or 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 Student 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. Additionally, most students are interviewed, either in person or via Microsoft Teams, What’s App or by telephone.
The Programme Directors and the Admissions Administrator would be happy to answer any questions you may have, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Contract for prospective students
When you are offered a place at the University you will be notified of the student contract 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 student contract in your offer letter. Your offer letter and the student contract contain important information which you should read carefully before accepting an offer. Read the Student Contract.
Dr Lindsay Macnaughton was appointed tutor for French decorative arts in 2020 on the University’s MA in Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors which is taught collaboratively with the Wallace Collection and other subject specialists.
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.
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, the curatorial staff of The Wallace Collection and experts from institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum and the Soane Museum. There are also a number of renowned independent scholars who give lectures and lead some of the seminars and class trips.
Assessment of individual modules within each course is by a combination of written examinations, essays, oral presentations and the dissertation.
Preparation for work
The MA in Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors is a hands-on course that combines academic challenge with the transferable skills from research and practical projects that will stand you in good stead for future employment. (See What Our Students and Alumni Say).
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 fees for this course are:
|Start||Type||1st Year||Total cost|
Full-time (1 Year)
Part-time (2 Years)
The University reserves the right to increase course fees annually in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering educational services. If the University intends to increase your course fees it will notify you via email of this as soon as reasonably practicable.
Course fees do not include additional costs such as books, equipment, writing up fees and so on. Where applicable, these additional costs will be made clear.
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.
You can apply directly using our online application form – all you need to do is click the ‘apply’ button at the bottom of this page.