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The Postgraduate Certificate in Art History, Curatorship and Renaissance Culture is offered by the Warburg Institute in collaboration with the National Gallery, London.

This course is ideal for students who have an interest in art history and Renaissance culture, and who are looking for an intellectual challenge but cannot commit to a full MA. The course focuses on complex ideas and arguments related to the production and understanding of works of art and Renaissance cultural history.

This seven-month programme aims to:

  • Give students an understanding of current methodological and theoretical approaches to art history rooted in the Renaissance and early modern period
  • Encourage students to recognise, critique, and articulate complex ideas about the production and understanding of works of art and Renaissance cultural history
  • Develop advanced research and analytical skills that are highly valued transferrable skills as well as good preparation for further academic study
  • Provide a stepping stone for those who wish to progress to further postgraduate study, as students will gain 60 credits towards a master’s degree

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Key Information

Degree overview

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.

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.

Studying in Bloomsbury at the centre of an academic and cultural hub, you’ll also benefit from visits and training sessions at neighbouring institutions including the British Museum, the Government Art Collection, the Wellcome Trust, and the British Library, and further afield the V&A, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Courtauld Gallery. 

How will this course benefit me?

• You'll get access to the best resources for the study of Renaissance art and culture in London. Our open-stack Library, Photographic Collection and Archive is of international importance in the humanities. One of 20 libraries that changed the world, and with over 300,000 specialist volumes, it serves as an engine for interdisciplinary research and study.

• Behind-the-scenes access to one of the leading collections of European paintings and to the work that goes into the care of these artworks, from conservation to framing and display. 

• Unparalleled staff contact hours with internationally renowned academics and curators. With approximately 20 - 40 graduate students admitted each year, you'll join a tight-knit community of peers that benefits from close discussion with expert tutors and museum professionals, and small-group teaching.

• You'll have the opportunity to join students come from a wide range of backgrounds and areas of study, from art history to literature, philosophy, history, anthropology, classics, and more, making for a dynamic and interdisciplinary learning environment.

• 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.

• Located in Bloomsbury, you will be placed at the centre of London’s academic and cultural hub. You'll benefit from visits and training sessions at neighbouring institutions including the British Museum, the Government Art Collection, the Wellcome Trust and the British Library, and further afield the V&A, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Courtauld Gallery.  

• This programme at the Warburg Institute offers both an intellectually stimulating and rigorous programme of study and because we are a relatively small institute we are able to provide a welcoming and supportive academic community. Learning and research is a pleasure, and we are dedicated to ensuring that you are at home and are able to advance in, and enjoy, your area of study.

Modules and structure

Students on this course will study one core module and two optional modules. The modules selected are taken from those on offer on the MA programme. The course is examined as follows:

  1. Core module: Art History and Renaissance Culture: Image to Action – 4,000 word essay
  2. Two optional modules – 4,000 word essay

The programme is also supported by the compulsory 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. 

Optional modules

  • Classical Disorders: Architecture, Painting and the Afterlives of the Renaissance
  • Cosmological Images: Representing the Universe
  • Curating Renaissance Art and Exhibitions
  • Mapping Worlds: Medieval to Modern
  • Religion and Society in Renaissance Italy
  • Renaissance Political Thought from Erasmus to Campanella
  • Renaissance Sculpture in the Expanded Field
  • The World of the Book in the European Renaissance

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 related to the course.

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 deadlines and the documentation you will need to provide on the application form, visit our How to Apply page.

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.