MA The Art Market and the History of Collecting by ResearchSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences
The MA is offered by The University of Buckingham in association with Waddesdon Manor (Rothschild Collections).
Investigating European and American art markets and cultures of collecting, the MA is both academic and vocational. There is a strong focus on research tools and first-hand studies of collections within museums. The course is taught by staff from the University of Buckingham and Waddesdon Manor with participation from outside experts.
A unique MA
A unique feature of the course will be access to two of the greatest surviving art dealers’ archives: Agnew’s, acquired by the National Gallery in 2014, and the archive of Colnaghi’s, London’s oldest commercial art gallery, housed since February 2014 in the Windmill Hill Archive, Waddesdon Manor. It is the first MA in the UK to offer, under the guidance of experts, practical training on how to use, unlock and analyse these rich holdings.
Country House Study Week & Study Trips to Florence and Vienna
The course will include a Country House Study Week, as well as week-long trips to Florence and Vienna, where students will have the opportunity to study several key European collections. Workshops will be organised in partnership with the National Museum of Bargello in Florence and with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
The course includes also frequent study trips to the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Wallace Collection, the Sir John Soane’s Museum and Waddesdon Manor.
The course will start in September and will finish the following September. It comprises two introductory weeks on principles and methodologies followed by three 4-week taught modules delivered in the Autumn and Winter terms. During the third term, and under supervision, students research a dissertation which will be submitted at the end of September.
Subject to the agreement of the Programme Director, the course can be taken part-time over two years by deferral of the dissertation.
A pathway to a career in the art world
Aimed at art historians, would-be curators, art market professionals, collectors and individuals with a general interest in the arts, the programme provides a pathway to a career in the art world or as a step towards further postgraduate research, but we also welcome applications from students who are interested in the subject for its own sake.
The Buckingham MA featured in a survey of postgraduate degrees focusing on the art market in The Guardian (23 March 2016).
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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 two preliminary pieces of work – a provenance research exercise and one essay, 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 140 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.
The course provides a vocational and academic training to a new generation of art historians, museum curators and archivists, art dealers and auctioneers as well as providing a stepping-stone towards further postgraduate research. However, we also welcome enquiries from those students wishing to pursue the study of the History of Collecting and the Art Market for its own sake.
The fees for this course are:
|Start||Type||1st Year||Total cost|
Full-time (1 Year)
Part-time (2 Years)
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 are for the degree (e.g. if you start a degree at Buckingham in September 2022, you will pay the same termly fee for the duration of your degree – you will not be affected by the price increase in January 2023). Students will pay the same termly fee for the duration of their studies, unless studies are interrupted and resumed later. The tuition fee quoted is therefore the total cost of the degree.
Unless specifically stated otherwise, postgraduate degrees are normally studied over four terms (one year).
Postgraduate loan scheme
A system of postgraduate loans for Masters degrees is available in the UK with support from the UK Government. The loan is for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both.
You may also find it useful to visit our External Funding page.
Although there are is accommodation available on campus, most students on London-based programmes choose to find accommodation in London in order to be close to the research libraries.
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.
Goodenough College in Mecklenburgh Square and International Students House in Great Portland Street both offer high-quality and reasonably priced accommodation in central London for postgraduate students.
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.