register interest (oct 2022) 

The MA in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture aims to train a new generation of art historians and museum curators by combining the art historical and scholarly traditions of the Warburg Institute with the practical experience of the National Gallery. All of our graduates are awarded a University of London degree.

The programme is 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 academics in their field who have published widely and are involved with research related to the topics they teach. 

This programme will provide you with an introduction to: 

  • Museum knowledge, which covers aspects of curatorship including the technical examination of paintings, connoisseurship, materials and conservation, attribution, provenance and issues relating to display and exhibitions.
  • 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 equip you with the skills required to become either an academic art historian with a serious insight into the behind-the-scenes working of a pre-eminent museum, or a curator with the research skills necessary for high-level museum work.

This programme is also available as a Master of Research (MRes) programme, suitable for those students who wish to undertake a substantial piece of original academic work, or a Postgraduate Certificate, ideal for students who wish to undertake further study but cannot commit to a full time master's degree.  

Contact the institute

If you have specific questions about this degree, please make an enquiry.


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Degree overview

The MA programme aims to:

  • Foster and develop student knowledge of and research into art, art history and curatorship. 
  • Provide linguistic, archive and research skills to enable graduates of the programme to research, catalogue and curate works of art held in collections of national and international standing.
  • Build understanding of and ability to comment on primary source materials, both visual and textual. 
  • Enable students to read academic papers and publications in European languages, and to undertake scholarly research at a high level and write up the results in an accurate and rigorous way.
  • Help students to acquire a familiarity with the principal sources of information in a variety of historical disciplines.

To find out more about the course, download our programme specification

Degree structure

Full time (one year)

Three core modules and two option modules chosen from a range of topics, plus a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Part time (two years)

Year 1: one core module, one option module, one of your chosen languages and palaeography;

Year 2: one core module and one option module, and your second chosen language.

You will work on your dissertation over both summers, with one-to-one supervision during each summer.

Part time plus (two years)

Year 1: one core module, one option module and your chosen languages. Part one of the unassessed Techniques of Scholarship core module;

Year 2: one core module, palaeography and techniques of scholarship part two. You will be allocated your dissertation supervisor and begin work on it;

Year 3: one option module and your dissertation. Students will work on the dissertation over the summers of Years 1 and 2, with one-to-one supervision during each summer.

Mode of study

12 months full-time |  24 months part-time | 36 months part-time plus

How will this course benefit me?

As a student at the Warburg Institute, you will have unrivalled access to the best resources and expertise for academic study in London. Alongside our official programme we organise visits and training sessions at neighbouring institutions, such as the British Museum, Government Art Collection, Wellcome Collection and British Library, and further afield the Victoria & Albert Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Courtauld Gallery. You will have the opportunity to speak with artists, curators and academics, many of whom are Warburg alumni, to enrich your learning experience and develop research projects.

In addition to the MA programme, there is a varied and exciting range of public lectures, conferences, events and talks available to students at the Warburg Institute and National Gallery. You will have the opportunity to consult and exchange ideas with the community of academic art historians who use the Warburg Institute as their base and provide access to networks which will support you in your future profession. 

Modules and structure

Modules are taught by academics at the Warburg and museum professionals at the National Gallery, giving you the opportunity to combine your academic study with behind-the-scenes training on a range of curatorial practices.

All students take three core modules and two option modules. The core module on Language, Palaeographical, Archival, and Curatorial Research includes training at all levels in one language which can be Latin, Italian or French. You will have the opportunity to conduct an independent research project through the dissertation, which is completed in the summer term under the guidance of a supervisor from either the Warburg or the National Gallery.

The programme is supported by an unassessed Methods and Techniques of Scholarship module that will introduce you to the nuts and bolts of the historiography and methods of scholarly work in early modern cultural history and prepare you, through a term of workshops, to choose, develop, and research the topic that forms the subject of your dissertation.

The course is examined as follows:

  1. Art history and Renaissance culture: Image to Action: 4,000-word essay
  2. Curating at the National Gallery: 4,000-word catalogue entry on a painting held in their collection
  3. Language, Palaeographical, Archival, and Curatorial Research: an archive skills class test and examinations in paleography and languages
  4. Two option modules: 4,000-word essays
  5. Dissertation: 15,000 words


Core moduels: terms 1 and 2

  • Art History and Renaissance Culture: Image to Action
  • Curating at the National Gallery
  • Language, Paleographical, Archival, and Curatorial Research 
  • Methods and Techniques of Scholarship (unassessed)

Optional modules: term 2 (two to be chosen)

  • Classical Disorders: Architecture, Painting and the Afterlives of the Renaissance
  • Cosmological Images: Representing the Universe
  • Global Objects in Western Modern Discourses
  • Mapping Worlds: Medieval to Modern
  • Renaissance Painting and the Workshop Tradition
  • Renaissance Political Thought from Erasmus to Campanella
  • Religion and Society in Italy

Option modules are subject to change. Additional modules may be offered, depending on both student numbers (a minimum of three students required per option) and teaching staff availability.

See the Warburg website for more details on modules and the selection process. The availability of optional modules will depend on student numbers (a minimum of three students required per option).

Dissertation: term 3

The opportunity to conduct an independent research project utilising the world-renowned resources at both the Institute and the National Gallery, under the guidance of an academic from the Warburg or a museum professional from the National Gallery.


About the institute

The Warburg Institute is renowned across the world for the interdisciplinary study of cultural and intellectual history, particularly the role of images in culture. It is dedicated to research on the history of ideas, the dissemination and transformations of texts, ideas and images in society, and the relationship between images, art and their texts and subtexts. Its work is historical, philological and anthropological.

The Institute houses a research Library of international importance, a photographic collection organised according to a unique iconographic classification system, and the archive of Aby Warburg, which also holds the papers of other major thinkers of the 20th century who were connected to the Institute. Situated in the heart of Bloomsbury, the Institute is a stone’s throw from the British Library, the British Museum, the Wellcome Institute and the National Gallery, providing students with access to a wealth of academic and cultural resources. 

The National Gallery houses the UK’s national collection of over 2,300 Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Its collection contains famous works, such as The Wilton Diptych, Leonardo’s Madonna of the Rocks, van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus and Turner’s Fighting Temeraire. The gallery’s aim is to care for the collection, to enhance and to study it, while encouraging access to the pictures for the education and enjoyment of the widest possible public now and in the future.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement would be a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from a recognised university in the UK, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in any discipline in the humanities that is related to the course. In addition to a reading knowledge of one European language, applicants should have the desire to begin studying another. 

Applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience, could be considered.

English is the language of instruction and applicants are required to demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency.

Find out more about entry requirements here

How to apply

For more information on how to apply, including deadlines and the documentation you will need to provide on the application form, visit our How to Apply page. 

Fees, funding and scholarships


The School of Advanced Study is a unique environment in which to study the humanities.  The School strives to reflect the latest developments in thinking across the humanities disciplines it supports and to ensure that its programmes reflect this.   We are also aware that the needs of our students are constantly changing.  With that in mind, the School continually reviews the its programmes and, as part of that process, reserves the right to alter or discontinue them. 

We assure you that we carry out these exercises at no detriment to any enrolled students. Students enrolled on any programme that we discontinue will be able to complete that programme within a reasonable timeframe and with all the necessary resources at their disposal. The School will communicate any anticipated changes with students as early as possible.