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The MRes in Cultural, Intellectual and Visual History gives students with strong language skills for academic research the opportunity to study the survival and transmission of culture across time and space (with an emphasis on the afterlife of antiquity). The programme also equips students with advanced theoretical and methodological research skills to enable them to undertake and complete a substantial piece of original academic work.

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Degree overview

This full-time or part-time programme aims to:

  • Give students comprehension of the current methodological and theoretical approaches to understanding the cultural, intellectual, and visual history of Western Europe
  • Train students to recognise, critique and articulate complex ideas about the history of philosophy, science, literature, the arts and visual culture, rooted in the Renaissance and the early modern period but embracing material from the middle ages to the advent of modernity
  • Draw on already established language skills that are relevant to their chosen area of academic research
  • Provide the advanced methodological skills required to enable the reading, understanding and critical analysis of primary source materials.
  • Enable students to undertake a significant piece of research in cultural, intellectual and visual history and to develop skills including: designing research questions, selecting appropriate advanced methodological approaches while critically evaluating their effectiveness, undertaking their own analysis of historical evidence and generating their own arguments.

How will this course benefit me?

As a student at the Warburg Institute, you will have access to the best resources for the study of Renaissance art and culture in London. Unparalleled staff contact hours are combined with access to the Warburg Library, with its unique cataloguing system specifically designed to aid research, and the National Gallery’s collection and archives.

This course is ideal for students who wish to research and write on a complex, specialised area of cultural, intellectual, and visual history that interests them, while still having the support of taught modules to help develop the theoretical and methodological skills necessary for such a project.

Through the Institute’s research projects, fellowship programmes and events, and its informal collegiate atmosphere, students have extensive opportunities for networking with an international community of scholars, which significantly enriches the learning experience and can provide ideal connections for the future careers.

Modules and structure

Modules on this programme are taught by experienced, research-active academics at the Warburg Institute. Students will be required to take one core module and one optional module. The programme is also 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. This module will support you through workshops to develop and research the topic that forms the subject of your dissertation.

The study of palaeography is not required for this degree; however, any student whose chosen research project would benefit from such study can undertake the Institute’s module in palaeography.

Throughout this programme, students will undertake an intensive independent research project (the dissertation), which is completed under the supervision of a Warburg Institute academic. Dissertation supervisors are allocated at the start of the academic year.

The course is examined as follows:

  1. Core module: Reviving the Past – 4,000 word essay
  2. Optional module – 4,000 word essay
  3. Dissertation – 30,000 words

Optional modules

  • Cosmological Images: Representing the Universe
  • Islamic Authorities and Arab Elements in the Renaissance
  • Mapping Worlds: Medieval to Modern
  • Renaissance Painting and the Workshop Tradition

Additional modules may be offered depending on student numbers (a minimum of three students required per option) and teaching staff availability.

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 twentieth 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.

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entry requirement is an upper second-class honours degree from a British university, or an equivalent qualification from a non-UK institution, in any discipline in the humanities which is related to the course. Reading knowledge of any European language that is required to facilitate the completion of the proposed research project is also expected.

All students whose first language is not English must provide recent evidence that their written and spoken English is adequate for postgraduate study.

Find out more about our entry requirements

How to apply

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

 apply now (oct 2021)

Fees, funding and scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees here.

Find out more about funding opportunities here

The Warburg Institute accepts applications from taught master’s degree students for bursaries that offset some or all of the cost of student fees and, occasionally, maintenance costs. There is no fixed award and applications are considered by the Bursaries Committee of the Institute on the basis of individual student financial need. The bursaries are funded by the generosity of the American Friends of the Warburg Institute, the Saxl Fund, and the Warburg Charitable Trust. Learn more about the Warburg bursaries.

The American Friends of the Warburg Institute Scholarship is available for citizens of any country in North America and is judged on academic merit at undergraduate level, with an outstanding mark achieved in the final-year project/dissertation. Find out more about the American Friends scholarship.

The Peltz Scholarships are open to students who have applied to study on either of the Warburg Institute’s MA programmes and who are self-funded and domiciled in the UK or European Union (EU), judged on exceptional quality and academic merit.  Learn more about the Peltz 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.