MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture

Overview

The MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture is offered by the Warburg Institute in collaboration with the National Gallery, London. The purpose of the programme is to provide high level linguistic, archive and research skills for a new generation of academic art historians and museum curators. The art historical and scholarly traditions of the Warburg Institute are linked to the practical experience and skills of the National Gallery to provide an academic programme which will equip students either as academic art historians with serious insight into the behind the scenes working of a great museum or as curators with the research skills necessary for high-level museum work.

This twelve-month, full-time programme provides an introduction to:

  • Museum knowledge, which covers all aspects of curatorship including the technical examination of paintings, connoisseurship, materials and conservation, attribution, provenance and issues relating to display.
  • Art history and Renaissance culture to increase students’ understanding of methods of analysing the subjects of works of art and their knowledge of Renaissance art works and the conditions in which they were commissioned, produced and enjoyed.
  • Current scholarship and professional practice in these areas as well as new and emerging areas of research and scholarship.

The programme will be taught through classes and supervision by members of the academic staff of the Warburg Institute and by National Gallery curatorial and archival experts. The teaching staff of the Warburg Institute are leading professors and academics in their field who have published widely and are involved with research related to the topics they teach.

More information about the degree

Structure

All students will take three core modules and two optional modules. The core modules include language and paleography classes, which will be selected following an individual language audit for each student, and are spread over two terms. The optional subjects will vary from year to year and students must select at least one in an art historical field.

Core courses:

  • Art History – Iconology – Dr Paul Taylor
  • Language, Paleographical and Archive Skills – Various tutors for language and palaeography classes; Dr Claudia Wedepohl (The Warburg Institute) and Mr Alan Crookham (National Gallery) for archive skills
  • Curatorship in the National Gallery – Curatorial, conservation and scientific staff of the National Gallery, including Dr Ashok Roy, Dr Susanne Avery-Quash, Mr Larry Keith and Ms Rachel Billinge

Optional courses (two to be chosen):

Artistic Intentions 1400 - 1700 – Dr Paul Taylor
Islamic Authorities and Arabic Elements in the Renaissance – Professor Charles Burnett
Music in the Later Middle Ages and the Renaissance - Professor Charles Burnett
New Worlds, Ancient Texts: Renaissance Intellectual History and the Discovery of the Americas - Dr Philipp Nothaft 
Renaissance Art Literature – Dr François Quiviger
Renaissance Philosophy – Dr Guido Giglioni
Renaissance Material Culture – Dr Rembrandt Duits and Dr François Quiviger
Sin and Sanctity in the Reformation – Professor Alastair Hamilton

Students will also be encouraged to attend the Director’s weekly seminar on Work in Progress and any of the other regular seminars held in the Institute that may be of interest to them. These at present include History of Art and Maps and Society. The third term and summer will be spent in researching and writing a dissertation, under the guidance of a supervisor from the academic staff of the Warburg Institute or a member of staff from the National Gallery.

Assessment

The usual format for classes is a weekly seminar. All students are required to submit three essays of 4,000 words, one at the beginning of the second term and the remaining two at the beginning of the third term. A dissertation of 15,000 words, on a topic agreed by the student and supervisor, has to be submitted by 30 September. The course is examined on these four pieces of written work, a catalogue entry (submitted at the end of the first term), and examinations in language, paleographical and archive skills. Students are allocated a course tutor and, in addition, are encouraged to discuss their work with other members of the staff at the Warburg Institute and the National Gallery. Because of the small numbers involved (places are limited to 12 per year), students have unusually frequent contact, formal and informal, with their teachers.

Mode of study

12 months full-time only.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entry requirement is an upper second-class honours degree from a British university, or an equivalent qualification from a foreign institution, in any discipline in the humanities which is related to the course.
In addition to a good knowledge of Art History, especially related to the Renaissance, a reading knowledge of one and preferably two European modern languages, apart from English, is required. All students whose first language is not English must provide recent evidence that their written and spoken English is adequate for postgraduate study. Applications should be submitted by 31 July 2015.

More information about the degree

Careers

As this MA was first introduced in 2013/14 we do not yet have information available about the career paths of our graduates. This twelve-month, full-time programme provides valuable skills to a new generation of academic art historians and museum curators and provide an introduction to:

  • Museum knowledge, which covers all aspects of curatorship including the technical examination of paintings, connoisseurship, materials and conservation, attribution, provenance and issues relating to display.
  • Art history and Renaissance culture to increase students’ understanding of methods of analysing the subjects of works of art and their knowledge of Renaissance art works and the conditions in which they were commissioned, produced and enjoyed.
  • Current scholarship and professional practice in these areas as well as new and emerging areas of research and scholarship.

More information about the degree

What our students say

"I came to the Warburg Institute from a Fine Art background, as a painter with interests primarily in the aesthetic qualities of Early Italian Renaissance painting. To my mind, the relationship between the Institute and the National Gallery allowed me to bring together the analysis of paintings from two different approaches. Firstly, the Institute, which is still arranged in accordance with Aby Warburg’s thematic index, persuades the reader to approach a work of art imaginatively and widely, considering aspects of iconography, religion, economics, philosophy, magic and so on. While students are encouraged to read broadly, the first core module ‘iconology’ is designed to enable you to filter out those speculative thoughts and to always check the sources. Importantly, studying at the National Gallery is an apt reminder to not be consumed by the minutiae of art literature, with an emphasis on the examination of the pictures visually, making use of the Gallery’s unrivalled technical department. For me, this year culminated in the study of Crivelli’s paintings at the National Gallery, where I was lucky enough to write my dissertation under the close supervision of the curator of 15th century paintings at the gallery. Here I considered the iconography in relation to sensory aspects of the Renaissance, Franciscan devotional literature, botanical manuals and art theory; something that I would not have been able to do without this course at the Warburg Institute."

William Gharraie, UK, MA student in 2013/14

More information about the degree

MASTER'S DEGREES

Three graduates wearing robes and mortarboards on graduation day

We offer Master's degrees in culture, language and literature, history, human rights and law.

FIND OUT MORE

RESEARCH DEGREES

Man studying in library using his laptop surrounded by books

We offer research degrees in Commonweath, English, History, Law, and Germanic and Romance Studies.

FIND OUT MORE

SHORT COURSES

Section of Book of Kells illumination featuring angel and calligraphy

We offer a range of engaging short courses in palaeography, literature, book studies and protection of refugees.

VIEW COURSES

CONTACT US