View full details in the curriculum handbook
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”.
Private visit to Windsor Castle, 2022
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.
Visit to Chantilly, 2022
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.
Sèvres handling session at Waddesdon Manor
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
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: