MA in the Art Market and the History of Collecting

Entry requirements: First or second class honours degree or relevant experience Full or Part-time: Full-time, Part-time
School: School of Humanities Search all courses
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Course outline

Flemish, Cognoscenti in a Room hung with Pictures(c) The National Gallery, London

Flemish, Cognoscenti in a Room hung with Pictures (c) The National Gallery, London

The MA is offered by the University of Buckingham and the National Gallery in association with Waddesdon Manor (Rothschild Collections).

Investigating American and European art markets and cultures of collecting from the Renaissance to the present day, it is taught by staff from the University of Buckingham, the National Gallery and Waddesdon Manor.

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 Colnaghi’s, 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.

Study trips to Paris and Florence

The course will include study trips to Paris and Florence where students will have the opportunity to study a number of key European collections such as the Edmond de Rothschild collection in the Louvre and the Stefano Bardini collection in Florence as well as visiting important local archives.

Course structure

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, there are some options for part-time study, one day a week over two years, or 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.

The Buckingham MA featured in a survey of postgraduate degrees focusing on the art market in The Guardian (23 March 2016). Click here to read the article.


Full and partial scholarships are available, generously funded by P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd and the Tavolozza Foundation.  For more information, please contact Barbara Lasic (email: or Jeremy Howard (email:

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:

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Full details in the Curriculum Handbook


Entry Requirements

Entry requirements

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

Mature students

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.

International students

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.

English levels

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.

Selection process

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 > >


Teaching & Assessment

Quality teaching

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.

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 – Private Collectors and Collecting

This module examines the history of private collecting in Europe and America, with a focus on Britain, from the Renaissance onwards. Topics include the origins and development of the Royal Collection, the Grand Tour and collecting of classical antiquities, the seventeenth-century Kunstkammer and its nineteenth-century revival, le Goût Rothschild and Gilded Age American plutocratic collecting. Teaching will be mainly based in London with introductory days in the National Gallery and Windmill Hill archives and study sessions based around the Rothschild Collections at Waddesdon Manor. It includes visits to Windsor Castle, the British Museum and the archives of the Paul Mellon Centre in London.

Students looking at items from the Colnaghi Archives at Windmill Hill

Students looking at items from the Colnaghi Archives at Windmill Hill

Part B – The Art Market: Dealers and Auctioneers

This module draws upon two great London-based dealer archives: the Agnew’s archive at the National Gallery and the Colnaghi archive at Windmill Hill/Waddesdon Manor 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 Agnew’s and Colnaghi archives, will give students the opportunity to examine in depth particular art-market transactions, drawing upon primary source material such as letters, cables, account books and historic photographs. The module will also include visits to other art market archives such as those at Christie’s.

Part C – Institutional Collecting in the Public Sphere: The National Gallery and its Contexts

This module examines the origins of the National Gallery, its European counterparts (the Louvre and the influential museums in Vienna, Berlin and Munich) and its most important British precursors (the Ashmolean, the British Museum and the Dulwich Picture Gallery). It will trace its origins in earlier traditions of private collecting and analyse how it was influenced by museological theories emanating from continental Europe in the nineteenth century. This module will also use the National Gallery’s paintings collection and related archival and bibliographical holdings to highlight certain themes relating to the history of private collecting and provenance, the art market, and aspects of display within both private and public collections.

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.

All the London-based teaching, spread over two terms, will be based at the National Gallery in London.


Students will be required to submit and pass two preliminary pieces of work – an essay and a research exercise each carrying 20 credits, which will be linked to the topics and methodologies covered in the preliminary modules, and to provide a research plan and critical bibliography, which will need to be approved by their supervisor before progressing to the dissertation. These are designed to prepare students for undertaking a 25,000-30,000 word thesis worth 140 credits for submission at the end of the December term following the beginning of the course (for January entrants) and the end of the Summer Term (mid-September) for those commencing their studies in the Autumn Term (beginning of October).

Preparation for work

All our degree courses combine academic challenge with the transferable skills that will stand you in good stead for future employment.

See the Humanities Curriculum Handbook for further course details.


After Your Degree

Graduate employment

Our graduate prospects are excellentOur graduates have gone on to further study at most of the world’s leading universities, including Harvard, London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Career prospects

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.


Fees & Scholarships

The tuition fees quoted are for the degree (e.g. if you start a degree 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). 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 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 >>


Full and partial scholarships are available, generously funded by P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd and the Tavolozza Foundation. For more information, please contact Jeremy Howard (email: or Barbara Lasic (email:

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.

Fees may increase annually in line with inflation. For details, please see our Fees and Finance 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.