Which Universities in England are good for an MA. Art History or MA. Curation?

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mia.b25
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Hi there,
I'm an international student currently doing my bachelor's in Graphic Design.
I plan on applying to the UK in September 2022 for a Master's degree in Art History and Philosophy or Curatorial Practices. I have shortlisted several universities that are offering these programs (MMU, University of London, Warwick, University of Birmingham, University of Leeds, Leeds Arts, University of Essex, University of Southampton, Warburg Institue UOL, and the University of Kent) but get really confused every time I read certain comparison reviews, etc. Could anyone please tell me which Art school is actually good and worth getting a Master's degree from? I'd really appreciate all the help!
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McGinger
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Courtauld Institute : https://courtauld.ac.uk/
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2500_2
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(Original post by mia.b25)
Hi there,
I'm an international student currently doing my bachelor's in Graphic Design.
I plan on applying to the UK in September 2022 for a Master's degree in Art History and Philosophy or Curatorial Practices. I have shortlisted several universities that are offering these programs (MMU, University of London, Warwick, University of Birmingham, University of Leeds, Leeds Arts, University of Essex, University of Southampton, Warburg Institue UOL, and the University of Kent) but get really confused every time I read certain comparison reviews, etc. Could anyone please tell me which Art school is actually good and worth getting a Master's degree from? I'd really appreciate all the help!
Are you particularly interested in a specific sort of art?
And are you looking at doing this masters as a stepping stone to a curatorial career? In the UK or back in your home country?
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mia.b25
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(Original post by McGinger)
Courtauld Institute : https://courtauld.ac.uk/
Yes I've heard Courtauld is good. But as an international the fee is a bit out of my budget which is why I didn't start with it. Are there any other you could recommend? :')
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mia.b25
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(Original post by 2500_2)
Are you particularly interested in a specific sort of art?
And are you looking at doing this masters as a stepping stone to a curatorial career? In the UK or back in your home country?
I'm actually interested in interdisciplinary programmes. The reason i want to do art history with curating particularly is because i want to study both theory and practice studio as well. Thus the Master's degree is basically to learn and gain more knowledge about art since im from a graphic design background, so that i can teach art and pursue a career as an educator or lecturer in the art education sector.in the future. And I plan to do my Master's from the UK and I'll be an international student there:')
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2500_2
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(Original post by mia.b25)
I'm actually interested in interdisciplinary programmes. The reason i want to do art history with curating particularly is because i want to study both theory and practice studio as well. Thus the Master's degree is basically to learn and gain more knowledge about art since im from a graphic design background, so that i can teach art and pursue a career as an educator or lecturer in the art education sector.in the future. And I plan to do my Master's from the UK and I'll be an international student there:')
So you're looking for a broad art history content at a uni that will be recognised in your home country? And curatorially you're interested in contemporary artists but not in museum curation (things like conservation)?
If that's where you're coming from, Warwick is probably your best fit.

If you've a different interest, say and I can give you more info. Leeds, for example, is famous for its groundbreaking research into women's art history - that's not the sort of thing attracting you to that course? York is definitely one of the best depts but it's very focused on British Art which doesn't sound that useful to you.
Last edited by 2500_2; 7 months ago
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mia.b25
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(Original post by 2500_2)
So you're looking for a broad art history content at a uni that will be recognised in your home country? And curatorially you're interested in contemporary artists but not in museum curation (things like conservation)?
Leeds, for example, is famous for its groundbreaking research into women's art history - that's not the sort of thing attracting you to that course?
Yes I guess that's one way to put it. I'm not passionate about conservation and museum studies specifically. I do feel like I'll be interested in it. But my core focus is contemporary art. Like you mentioned about Leeds, I dont think women's art history is what would be my ideal choice or interest. But for example studying renaissance, mannerism, romanticism etc that are core art history concepts is what I want to study ideally. I've been through the programme modules at the universities and they are what I want to do. Like I mentioned before I really plan on pursuing a career in the art education sector rather than museums and curating. I hope I'm being clear about this .-. So the University selection is where I'm confused because being from another country I don't want to rely on just the rankings :/
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2500_2
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(Original post by mia.b25)
Yes I guess that's one way to put it. I'm not passionate about conservation and museum studies specifically. I do feel like I'll be interested in it. But my core focus is contemporary art. Like you mentioned about Leeds, I dont think women's art history is what would be my ideal choice or interest. But for example studying renaissance, mannerism, romanticism etc that are core art history concepts is what I want to study ideally. I've been through the programme modules at the universities and they are what I want to do. Like I mentioned before I really plan on pursuing a career in the art education sector rather than museums and curating. I hope I'm being clear about this .-. So the University selection is where I'm confused because being from another country I don't want to rely on just the rankings :/
sorry, I edited my last message while you were writing
Hope the updated version helps.
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2500_2
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(Original post by 2500_2)
So you're looking for a broad art history content at a uni that will be recognised in your home country? And curatorially you're interested in contemporary artists but not in museum curation (things like conservation)?
If that's where you're coming from, Warwick is probably your best fit.

If you've a different interest, say and I can give you more info. Leeds, for example, is famous for its groundbreaking research into women's art history - that's not the sort of thing attracting you to that course? York is definitely one of the best depts but it's very focused on British Art which doesn't sound that useful to you.
After Warwick, probably Birmingham, but you might find the straight History of Art more useful than the Art & Curating MA which is very much aimed at those wanting careers in galleries.
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mia.b25
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(Original post by 2500_2)
So you're looking for a broad art history content at a uni that will be recognised in your home country? And curatorially you're interested in contemporary artists but not in museum curation (things like conservation)?
If that's where you're coming from, Warwick is probably your best fit.

If you've a different interest, say and I can give you more info. Leeds, for example, is famous for its groundbreaking research into women's art history - that's not the sort of thing attracting you to that course? York is definitely one of the best depts but it's very focused on British Art which doesn't sound that useful to you.
Oh okayy! So apart from Warwick, is it okay to apply to the others that I've mentioned above? Are they good enough art schools? Like I've heard that Manchester school of art is really good or that the Essex Art History department is really good as well. So I just want to know other options as well. I really appreciate you helping me a lot out here! Means so much. I hope I'm not that of a bother :/
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2500_2
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(Original post by mia.b25)
Oh okayy! So apart from Warwick, is it okay to apply to the others that I've mentioned above? Are they good enough art schools? Like I've heard that Manchester school of art is really good or that the Essex Art History department is really good as well. So I just want to know other options as well. I really appreciate you helping me a lot out here! Means so much. I hope I'm not that of a bother :/
If you wanted a career in public galleries or museums, Manchester (and I mean Manchester rather than Man Met) would be your best choice (or Leicester if museums), but it won't give you a broad enough art history background to be able to teach it. I'm not trying to put you off a curating degree but if you don't want to be a curator you might find them lacking in the academic content you may need if you're coming from an art practice background and you're trying to move across to teaching. Curating is still mostly practical.
Essex is a good Art Hist dept but it's not particularly well known as a uni outside the UK.
Is UCL on your list? Goldsmiths? They and Courthauld mentioned above are the main London ones.
Consider Sussex too.
Look for unis with good arts centres/art galleries as well as good courses.
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mia.b25
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(Original post by 2500_2)
If you wanted a career in public galleries or museums, Manchester (and I mean Manchester rather than Man Met) would be your best choice (or Leicester if museums), but it won't give you a broad enough art history background to be able to teach it. I'm not trying to put you off a curating degree but if you don't want to be a curator you might find them lacking in the academic content you may need if you're coming from an art practice background and you're trying to move across to teaching. Curating is still mostly practical.
Essex is a good Art Hist dept but it's not particularly well known as a uni outside the UK.
Is UCL on your list? Goldsmiths? They and Courthauld mentioned above are the main London ones.
Consider Sussex too.
Look for unis with good arts centres/art galleries as well as good courses.
Yes I checked all of these but like I mentioned before the fee for all these unis because theyre mainly in London is a bit too much for me. So I was going for options that were a bit more affordable. As an international the fee for me is twice as for the home/ EU applicants. The reason I was going for Manchester Met, Kent or UOL is because they're more affordable than the rest even if I don't secure a scholarship. It's not about if the university is good outside UK, I just think as long as the academics are good and I'm getting to learn stuff that'll be a good experience. Living in London is far more expensive that other cities towards the north which why I'm considering those.
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2500_2
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(Original post by mia.b25)
Yes I checked all of these but like I mentioned before the fee for all these unis because theyre mainly in London is a bit too much for me. So I was going for options that were a bit more affordable. As an international the fee for me is twice as for the home/ EU applicants. The reason I was going for Manchester Met, Kent or UOL is because they're more affordable than the rest even if I don't secure a scholarship. It's not about if the university is good outside UK, I just think as long as the academics are good and I'm getting to learn stuff that'll be a good experience. Living in London is far more expensive that other cities towards the north which why I'm considering those.
No need for the high expense of London uni for Art History at all.
I'd ask all your potential choices what their weekly contact hours are - humanities MAs are often very low and you might find that frustrating given your aims for the degree.
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mia.b25
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(Original post by 2500_2)
No need for the high expense of London uni for Art History at all.
I'd ask all your potential choices what their weekly contact hours are - humanities MAs are often very low and you might find that frustrating given your aims for the degree.
Well I'll definitely check it out! Thank you for all the help it really means a lot :'D
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elamle
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I'm at University of Birmingham and the history of art department is really great! It does sound like you might prefer a straight History of Art course instead of including curating though, as it would really limit what you can study. In the straight History of Art masters, Birmingham really has a range of great modules from renaissance to contemporary. The tutors get to teach models based on their personal research interests, so they really know their stuff. Its also good for people relatively new to art history since the first term module 'Criticism and Methods' covers a different aspect of art history every week. It can be a hard course, so make sure you can handle the workload before applying, or just apply for part time study (which would take two years) so that you can manage the workload better - especially as you might need to work alongside the course, for rent etc. I've been studying it part time and the pace has really suited me - and I've heard from other full time students that they wish they were studying part time too, especially during the pandemic.

Leicester and Warwick also have great art history departments. Honestly I'd recommend applying to all of them to get better chances of getting into one!

Another thing to do would be to check out the offered modules for each course, and the personal research areas of the department tutors. Depending on the professors, each university can have several very unique classes, so if you've got your heart set on learning a particular thing, definitely research those in advance. (Plus talking about which classes you want to take specifically from that university and why will look great on your application). Since I'm part time, I've had the extra time to audit other art history classes just because I'm interested in the subject matter (that means, getting to attend seminars/lectures for extra classes without having to submit any work for that class). You have to ask the tutors personally if they'd be OK with you sitting in, but so far I've been able to do it with three different classes no problem! You can probably do this at any university too.

Postgraduate open days will be coming up soon, maybe next month, so see if you can register for the online events at the different universities, to get a feel for what the vibe is at each place and get your questions answered. Good luck!
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mia.b25
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(Original post by elamle)
I'm at University of Birmingham and the history of art department is really great! It does sound like you might prefer a straight History of Art course instead of including curating though, as it would really limit what you can study. In the straight History of Art masters, Birmingham really has a range of great modules from renaissance to contemporary. The tutors get to teach models based on their personal research interests, so they really know their stuff. Its also good for people relatively new to art history since the first term module 'Criticism and Methods' covers a different aspect of art history every week. It can be a hard course, so make sure you can handle the workload before applying, or just apply for part time study (which would take two years) so that you can manage the workload better - especially as you might need to work alongside the course, for rent etc. I've been studying it part time and the pace has really suited me - and I've heard from other full time students that they wish they were studying part time too, especially during the pandemic.

Leicester and Warwick also have great art history departments. Honestly I'd recommend applying to all of them to get better chances of getting into one!

Another thing to do would be to check out the offered modules for each course, and the personal research areas of the department tutors. Depending on the professors, each university can have several very unique classes, so if you've got your heart set on learning a particular thing, definitely research those in advance. (Plus talking about which classes you want to take specifically from that university and why will look great on your application). Since I'm part time, I've had the extra time to audit other art history classes just because I'm interested in the subject matter (that means, getting to attend seminars/lectures for extra classes without having to submit any work for that class). You have to ask the tutors personally if they'd be OK with you sitting in, but so far I've been able to do it with three different classes no problem! You can probably do this at any university too.

Postgraduate open days will be coming up soon, maybe next month, so see if you can register for the online events at the different universities, to get a feel for what the vibe is at each place and get your questions answered. Good luck!
Thank you so much! Birmingham was definitely on my list because I really liked the modules being offered there. And I am relatively new to Art History, I have studied minor modules in my bachelors but it wasn't anything major. The reason I wanted to do curating because i wanted to continue studio practices or some practical work as well. But after reading all these threads it feels like curating won't be a great idea after all. But I'll definitely check other places as well for open days. Is the workload in a full-time MA really too much though?
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elamle
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(Original post by mia.b25)
Thank you so much! Birmingham was definitely on my list because I really liked the modules being offered there. And I am relatively new to Art History, I have studied minor modules in my bachelors but it wasn't anything major. The reason I wanted to do curating because i wanted to continue studio practices or some practical work as well. But after reading all these threads it feels like curating won't be a great idea after all. But I'll definitely check other places as well for open days. Is the workload in a full-time MA really too much though?
I'm studying the curating course and I really like it, but also my career goal is more curating oriented rather than straight teaching. Its practical, but only really useful for working in galleries/museums. Plus you seem more interested in what academics you can learn, and the module choices for that are really limited when you go the curating route (hence why I had to audit classes to study what I was interested in). in the curating route Birmingham does offer the opportunity to work on a contemporary exhibition, but that one has been really hard for students to navigate in the pandemic.

I will say its not the only way to get practical experience - a lot of students volunteer at the Barber or other galleries alongside their studies. Getting an internship will likely be the most useful practical experience.

Some people find the workload ok, but particularly in the pandemic people are struggling with it. If stuff is back to normal by the time you study hopefully it won't be as much of a problem. I don't know about other courses, but at Birmingham In the first term, by mid January the work due is about, 2 or 3 x 4,000 word essays, a marked presentation, and your dissertation proposal and dissertation presentation. (Plus minor presentations within all the modules you are taking). If you're planning to work part time alongside the course, I would recommend also switching to part time study, just for peace of mind so you don't burn out and get overwhelmed.
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mia.b25
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(Original post by elamle)
I'm studying the curating course and I really like it, but also my career goal is more curating oriented rather than straight teaching. Its practical, but only really useful for working in galleries/museums. Plus you seem more interested in what academics you can learn, and the module choices for that are really limited when you go the curating route (hence why I had to audit classes to study what I was interested in). in the curating route Birmingham does offer the opportunity to work on a contemporary exhibition, but that one has been really hard for students to navigate in the pandemic.

I will say its not the only way to get practical experience - a lot of students volunteer at the Barber or other galleries alongside their studies. Getting an internship will likely be the most useful practical experience.

Some people find the workload ok, but particularly in the pandemic people are struggling with it. If stuff is back to normal by the time you study hopefully it won't be as much of a problem. I don't know about other courses, but at Birmingham In the first term, by mid January the work due is about, 2 or 3 x 4,000 word essays, a marked presentation, and your dissertation proposal and dissertation presentation. (Plus minor presentations within all the modules you are taking). If you're planning to work part time alongside the course, I would recommend also switching to part time study, just for peace of mind so you don't burn out and get overwhelmed.
Oh okayy! This helps a lot. Thank you so much. I don't really plan on working part time but yet this does seem like a lot of workload but I hope I can do it. I'll try to attend some open days to get to know more about it. Thank you for all the help!
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elamle
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(Original post by mia.b25)
Oh okayy! This helps a lot. Thank you so much. I don't really plan on working part time but yet this does seem like a lot of workload but I hope I can do it. I'll try to attend some open days to get to know more about it. Thank you for all the help!
Good luck! I will say, I know people who started out full time and then switched to part time because the workload was too much, so that's always a possibility
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mia.b25
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(Original post by elamle)
Good luck! I will say, I know people who started out full time and then switched to part time because the workload was too much, so that's always a possibility
Alright I'll definitely consider it! Thank youu.
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