HELP - Cambridge, Oxford and Courtauld offers - which to choose?

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pyramidas
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Hello all!

I have offers to study a Masters in History of Art from Oxford, Cambridge and the Courtauld. I'm absolutely delighted and still quite stunned, but now find myself in the tricky position of having to turn two of these places down.

I'm over the moon about the Courtauld offer, but I've lived in London for the past year working to save up for further study, and am getting quite tired of the noise and pollution of city life, so for that reason am leaning more towards Oxbridge.

I was offered a place at Homerton College at Cambridge, which as I understand is less prestigious and quite far away from the town centre. However, I've heard that people who study at Homerton generally really enjoy it. The Cambridge course is a research-based MPhil, which really excites me.

On the other hand, I was offered a place at Corpus Christi College at Oxford, which is smack bang in the centre, very old, academically prestigious, and steeped in history. It seems to be a very traditional college, and I get the idea that if I went here I'd get the quintessential 'Oxbridge experience'. The History of Art course here is a taught Masters, so I'd have less opportunity to deeply research my field of interest than I would at Cambridge. I also read that the Oxford History of Art department is relatively young - does this make it worse somehow?

Officially, it seems that Cambridge and the Courtauld are ranked higher for History of Art... but Oxford has just been ranked as the #1 university in the world.

I visited Cambridge recently and thought it was nice but agree with it's reputation as a town that pretty much relies on the presence of the University to be worth a visit. This was before I'd received my Homerton offer so didn't visit that college - I mean to check it out ASAP. I've heard that Oxford feels much more like a town in its own right, and I really loved it there the two times I visited in the past.

Oxford, Cambridge or Courtauld? Homerton or Corpus Christi? What to do? My mind is running in circles...

If you have any experience or advice I'd really appreciate your input!
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Tea2345
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(Original post by pyramidas)
Hello all!

I have offers to study a Masters in History of Art from Oxford, Cambridge and the Courtauld. I'm absolutely delighted and still quite stunned, but now find myself in the tricky position of having to turn two of these places down.

I'm over the moon about the Courtauld offer, but I've lived in London for the past year working to save up for further study, and am getting quite tired of the noise and pollution of city life, so for that reason am leaning more towards Oxbridge.

I was offered a place at Homerton College at Cambridge, which as I understand is less prestigious and quite far away from the town centre. However, I've heard that people who study at Homerton generally really enjoy it. The Cambridge course is a research-based MPhil, which really excites me.

On the other hand, I was offered a place at Corpus Christi College at Oxford, which is smack bang in the centre, very old, academically prestigious, and steeped in history. It seems to be a very traditional college, and I get the idea that if I went here I'd get the quintessential 'Oxbridge experience'. The History of Art course here is a taught Masters, so I'd have less opportunity to deeply research my field of interest than I would at Cambridge. I also read that the Oxford History of Art department is relatively young - does this make it worse somehow?

Officially, it seems that Cambridge and the Courtauld are ranked higher for History of Art... but Oxford has just been ranked as the #1 university in the world.

I visited Cambridge recently and thought it was nice but agree with it's reputation as a town that pretty much relies on the presence of the University to be worth a visit. This was before I'd received my Homerton offer so didn't visit that college - I mean to check it out ASAP. I've heard that Oxford feels much more like a town in its own right, and I really loved it there the two times I visited in the past.

Oxford, Cambridge or Courtauld? Homerton or Corpus Christi? What to do? My mind is running in circles...

If you have any experience or advice I'd really appreciate your input!
how did you get an offer from oxford AND cambridge???? you can only apply to one i swear
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Cherub012
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Pretty sure the Cam college you study at doesnt matter.
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06moca1
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(Original post by Tea2345)
how did you get an offer from oxford AND cambridge???? you can only apply to one i swear
Because it's a masters degree. Not undergraduate.
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pyramidas
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(Original post by Cherub012)
Pretty sure the Cam college you study at doesnt matter.

Really? Could you explain why? I've read that your college experience is one of the most important things about your time there, but then again I've only spoken to people who studied at undergraduate level. I'd assumed it would be the same for postgrads too.
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Cherub012
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(Original post by pyramidas)
Really? Could you explain why? I've read that your college experience is one of the most important things about your time there, but then again I've only spoken to people who studied at undergraduate level. I'd assumed it would be the same for postgrads too.
I meant it won't add to your prospects. Your experiences there can vary though.
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Pleiades15
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(Original post by pyramidas)
Hello all!

I have offers to study a Masters in History of Art from Oxford, Cambridge and the Courtauld. I'm absolutely delighted and still quite stunned, but now find myself in the tricky position of having to turn two of these places down.

I'm over the moon about the Courtauld offer, but I've lived in London for the past year working to save up for further study, and am getting quite tired of the noise and pollution of city life, so for that reason am leaning more towards Oxbridge.

I was offered a place at Homerton College at Cambridge, which as I understand is less prestigious and quite far away from the town centre. However, I've heard that people who study at Homerton generally really enjoy it. The Cambridge course is a research-based MPhil, which really excites me.

On the other hand, I was offered a place at Corpus Christi College at Oxford, which is smack bang in the centre, very old, academically prestigious, and steeped in history. It seems to be a very traditional college, and I get the idea that if I went here I'd get the quintessential 'Oxbridge experience'. The History of Art course here is a taught Masters, so I'd have less opportunity to deeply research my field of interest than I would at Cambridge. I also read that the Oxford History of Art department is relatively young - does this make it worse somehow?

Officially, it seems that Cambridge and the Courtauld are ranked higher for History of Art... but Oxford has just been ranked as the #1 university in the world.

I visited Cambridge recently and thought it was nice but agree with it's reputation as a town that pretty much relies on the presence of the University to be worth a visit. This was before I'd received my Homerton offer so didn't visit that college - I mean to check it out ASAP. I've heard that Oxford feels much more like a town in its own right, and I really loved it there the two times I visited in the past.

Oxford, Cambridge or Courtauld? Homerton or Corpus Christi? What to do? My mind is running in circles...

If you have any experience or advice I'd really appreciate your input!

I have completed an MA History of Art at the Courtauld, within living memory.

The advantages of the Courtauld include small class sizes and the opportunity to build close collegiate relationships with your designated teaching staff and class members. As a nine-month, full-time M.A., it is very intensive. You submit work almost on a weekly basis, and receive individualised feedback and supervision from your teaching staff.

Coming from a large inter-disciplinary university, the Courtauld presented many challenges to me in terms of its physical environment, demography and culture. The student body is mainly female. Despite having access to rooms throughout Somerset House, the locus of the Institute is concentrated within a relatively small area and space is at an utter premium. There is one lecture theatre, and at times the library and cafe seem occupied by the entire student body 'competing' for resources (400+ people!). Apart from a formal theoretical subject, there is little 'organised' cross-communication between students of the various MA Options, who tend to identify as 'Modernists,' 'Early Modernists,' 'Renaissance' and 'Medievalists' etc.; you do, however, get the opportunity to attend the fantastic Research Forums, which feature expert art historians and curators from diverse periods, and the in-house PhD student Forums. The teaching staff differ in terms of their direct input to classes; some use weekly student presentations in classes throughout the course, whereas others lead classes with their own presentations, ably reflecting their scholarship and expertise. I was lucky enough to be taught by a staff member in the latter group.

I have occupied the workaday world for some time, and observed that what people achieve and where they 'get to' in life can be influenced by many factors, with choice of university and course being one element only. I would encourage you to reflect on the course option and institution that really inspires you deep down, and that you feel comfortable with. I'm completely in agreement on the rigours of London life! That city is a tough call!
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Suki77
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(Original post by Pleiades15)
I have completed an MA History of Art at the Courtauld, within living memory.

The advantages of the Courtauld include small class sizes and the opportunity to build close collegiate relationships with your designated teaching staff and class members. As a nine-month, full-time M.A., it is very intensive. You submit work almost on a weekly basis, and receive individualised feedback and supervision from your teaching staff.

Coming from a large inter-disciplinary university, the Courtauld presented many challenges to me in terms of its physical environment, demography and culture. The student body is mainly female. Despite having access to rooms throughout Somerset House, the locus of the Institute is concentrated within a relatively small area and space is at an utter premium. There is one lecture theatre, and at times the library and cafe seem occupied by the entire student body 'competing' for resources (400+ people!). Apart from a formal theoretical subject, there is little 'organised' cross-communication between students of the various MA Options, who tend to identify as 'Modernists,' 'Early Modernists,' 'Renaissance' and 'Medievalists' etc.; you do, however, get the opportunity to attend the fantastic Research Forums, which feature expert art historians and curators from diverse periods, and the in-house PhD student Forums. The teaching staff differ in terms of their direct input to classes; some use weekly student presentations in classes throughout the course, whereas others lead classes with their own presentations, ably reflecting their scholarship and expertise. I was lucky enough to be taught by a staff member in the latter group.

I have occupied the workaday world for some time, and observed that what people achieve and where they 'get to' in life can be influenced by many factors, with choice of university and course being one element only. I would encourage you to reflect on the course option and institution that really inspires you deep down, and that you feel comfortable with. I'm completely in agreement on the rigours of London life! That city is a tough call!
What option did you study at the Courtauld? Do you know anything about the teaching of Sheila McTighe?
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Reality Check
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(Original post by pyramidas)
Really? Could you explain why? I've read that your college experience is one of the most important things about your time there, but then again I've only spoken to people who studied at undergraduate level. I'd assumed it would be the same for postgrads too.
College choice is really not that important. Whilst it might be true that grad students generally find graduate colleges better insofar as they're set up for graduate students and their needs, and you're with similar students rather than overexcited 18/19 year olds, generally the vast majority of people end up happy whatever college they end up at. For graduate students, this is even more relevant because your main place of study is the department, rather than the college.
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Camilli
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(Original post by Reality Check)
For graduate students, this is even more relevant because your main place of study is the department, rather than the college.
In case that got missed. While there are some post-grad courses not offered at some colleges, I have really not figured out why. All the teaching and examining happens at the department level. The college covers your living arrangements and social life, to the degree that you let it. That would include dining room, college rowing team, choice of tie/scarf, etc.
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Pleiades15
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(Original post by Suki77)
What option did you study at the Courtauld? Do you know anything about the teaching of Sheila McTighe?
I took one of the early Western art options. I don't know anything about the teaching of Sheila McTighe. The reality of the Courtauld MA HoA is that your Option teaching staff and class members set the reality and parameters of your 'learning' experience. Even with the Research Forums taken into account, and these tend to feature 'visiting' experts, there are few opportunities to hear other academics talk about their areas of expertise.
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Suki77
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(Original post by Pleiades15)
I took one of the early Western art options. I don't know anything about the teaching of Sheila McTighe. The reality of the Courtauld MA HoA is that your Option teaching staff and class members set the reality and parameters of your 'learning' experience. Even with the Research Forums taken into account, and these tend to feature 'visiting' experts, there are few opportunities to hear other academics talk about their areas of expertise.
What was your general workload for a week?
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Pleiades15
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(Original post by Suki77)
What was your general workload for a week?
Prior to the final 'dissertation term,' you had a lot of reading to do, probably at least twelve hours per week, which involved navigating and negotiating a number of libraries, as the Courtauld library is heavily contested. At best, the teaching staff sometimes downloaded texts for easy access, and there are online options such as JSTOR. For my course option, the reading formed the basis for writing papers of around 1,500 words, which were submitted on a weekly or fortnightly basis and constituted practice runs for the assessed work. When you wrote a paper for assessment, you would first submit it in draft and receive feedback, which was a great help. In the dissertation term, you'd start with literary summaries to set your topic, and keep on reading and writing, submitting drafts of your dissertation as you went - this took about eight hours a day over five days per week. My experience is that you can't really cut any corners with this course; there's no 'fast-track' approach. To ensure you have adequate time up your sleeve, you probably need to keep any student employment to a minimum, or have very flexible work hours.
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Suki77
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(Original post by Pleiades15)
Prior to the final 'dissertation term,' you had a lot of reading to do, probably at least twelve hours per week, which involved navigating and negotiating a number of libraries, as the Courtauld library is heavily contested. At best, the teaching staff sometimes downloaded texts for easy access, and there are online options such as JSTOR. For my course option, the reading formed the basis for writing papers of around 1,500 words, which were submitted on a weekly or fortnightly basis and constituted practice runs for the assessed work. When you wrote a paper for assessment, you would first submit it in draft and receive feedback, which was a great help. In the dissertation term, you'd start with literary summaries to set your topic, and keep on reading and writing, submitting drafts of your dissertation as you went - this took about eight hours a day over five days per week. My experience is that you can't really cut any corners with this course; there's no 'fast-track' approach. To ensure you have adequate time up your sleeve, you probably need to keep any student employment to a minimum, or have very flexible work hours.
This is very helpful, thank you
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