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MA Art History & Visual Culture One-to-One Consultation

Learn more about our Postgraduate degrees, scholarship opportunities and career prospects.

  • Tuition Fee

    £9,000 (UK)
    £13,250 (EU/INT/US)

  • Duration

    1 Year or 18 months (Full-time)
    2 Years (Part time)

  • Location

    High Street Kensington

Programme Overview

Based at our Kensington campus in the heart of London, our MA in Art History and Visual Culture programme will prepare you for an exciting creative career in the art world or more study in the visual arts. This programme puts a spotlight on intercultural issues in art history and visual culture, and professional practice in the visual arts.

It’s a fantastic location in Kensington where you’ll be based studying this programme, so close to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Design Museum, Saatchi Gallery, and many more art galleries and institutions are located right in the centre of London. Having such ease of access to London’s world- class art galleries, museums, libraries and art institutions is vital to the foundation of this course.

Study one Master’s programme and you’ll gain two degrees, one from the UK and one from the US. The choice is yours, it can be taken in one year full-time or over two years, part-time.

Our programme combines theory and practical skills, beginning in the first semester with an exploration of the history of art and a comparative exploration of art around the world. This is combined with an investigation of research methods, developing skills which are invaluable to a future employer.

The second semester focuses on contemporary arts, using London as the backdrop to bring these alive in a vivid way. The programme continues with a study of visual cultures, with the option to choose specialisms from such topics as Curating, Art Education and the International Art Market.

You’ll have the choice in the final semester of doing either an internship with a dissertation or an extended research project, both great opportunities to provide hands-on experience to increase your employability.

London will be your inspiration. World class art and creative institutions, internationally renowned auction houses, dealers and critics, all combine to make up the unique London art scene. Added together with our small classes which are taught by highly qualified Professors, it’s an unparalleled opportunity.

Top 5 reasons to study this programme:

  • Central London provides excellent location, at the hub of the arts world, attracting the best creative talents in the arts and design industries
  • Gain practical skills that will prepare you for future employment and allow you to excel in the workplace
  • Truly international: global cohort of students enhances perspectives and gaining a UK and US degree improves career chances
  • Benefit from small classes (average 10–15 students) and full academic support from faculty engaged in leading research and professional practice in the creative and cultural industries
  • Gain a competitive advantage with an accredited optional internship and research opportunity

Modules Breakdown

Fall Semester (12 Credits)

Art and Its Histories

World Arts

Research Methods

Spring Semester (12 Credits)

Contemporary Arts

Visual Cultures

Plus one of the following:

Professional Digital Media Skills


Art Education

International Art Market

Summer Semester (12 credits)

Internship with dissertation


Extended Thesis Research

* subject to availability

Research Methods:
Introduces students to the process of research, including the ability to work from libraries, exhibitions and institutional archives, and developing skills in visual literacy and academic writing. Students are encouraged to develop independence of thought by discovering, evaluating and making appropriate use of a wide range of approaches to research and writing. Complimenting the courses on theory, this course assists students with the identification of their own interests as they move towards choosing a thesis topic.

World Arts:
Addresses issues that relate to the interpretation, perception and representation of the visual arts in other (‘non-western’) cultures, globally, with a focus on indigenous (‘ethnographic’) and prehistoric (‘archaeological’) art, known as ‘World Art’. Students are encouraged to investigate issues that relate to engaging with art across cultures, and consider critically colonial/neocolonial encounters and the representation and display of other cultures. A range of case studies will be examined, which may include the representations and interventions of indigenous peoples and prehistoric art in the Americas, Africa, Oceania and Europe.

Art and Its Histories:
Explores a range of theories and methods which situate art in its historical context, from the more traditional methods associated with formal analysis and connoisseurship (formalist, biographical, and iconographic) to more recent theoretical approaches (such as semiotics, feminism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, Foucault). Students examine a variety of texts as strategies for determining and analyzing different theories and methods, and their application to visual examples with a focus on the twentieth century: situating the modern and postmodern precursors to art of the twenty-first century.

Contemporary Art:
Engages students with the diversity of contemporary artistic practice in an international setting, situating this historically, conceptually and theoretically. Students will consider critically the diversity of and interface between contemporary visual practices on a global scale, situating these within current theoretical concerns, and examining a wide range of case studies and the social, cultural and political issues emerging from these. Extensive use will be made of London’s galleries and thriving multicultural contemporary art scene, with examples drawn from such case studies as the Middle East, Africa, India, China, Russia, Europe and the USA.

Equips students with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge necessary for making exhibitions in a museum or gallery. The course will trace the history of curating from the Salons in Paris through key exhibitions produced by the avant-gardes in the 20th century. Students will become familiar with current topics in curating, including the concept of the ‘universal’ museum, the ‘artist as curator’, new institutionalism and the ‘educational turn’ in curating, alongside issues to do with museum collections, including the ethics of ownership. Students will also explore practical aspects of curating, such as transport, insurance, installation and object handling. The course will make use of London’s many arts institutions.

International Art Market:
Provides students with an overview of the international art market, including its history and current dynamics. Specific attention will be paid to emerging markets in China, Russia, India and the Middle East. The course analyses the structure, theory and practice of the constituent components of the ‘for-profit’ arts sector, including commercial galleries, auction houses, art fairs and consultancy organisations. Qualitative and quantitative research methods for art business and investment will be discussed.

Art Education:
Engages students with current discourse on the educative, social and regenerative potential of the arts, and how these potentials are activated in museum programming and public policy. Students will explore the practical application of learning theories in the gallery; access, outreach and audience development in the museum and case studies of the success and failure of the arts as instruments of urban renewal, both through capital projects and community engagement. As well as studying local and international contexts, the course will draw upon case examples of regional museums and galleries in the UK.

Professional Digitial Media Skills:
The module is designed to enhance students’ skills in the use of online media. It is split between two main assessments, one focused on research and development, the other on online media practice. For their practical assessment, students have to create an individual media project that sets out to use the potentials of the net and new media technologies in an informed and innovative way. Students will be able to focus on PR, advertising and/or journalism but will be expected to display an understanding of all these disciplines. For the more conceptual assessment, students have to do research and development work, coming up with an idea for an innovative online media product/strategy which they then sell via a short presentation. Students on this module are also required to keep a log documenting the work they do on their assessments. At the end of the module, they draw on the notes kept on their blog for a summary critical report, which evaluates the work done on the module and summarises the main things learnt.

For students working independently on their Masters thesis. The dissertation encourages students to study intensively a topic agreed with a supervisor, and so develop skills and experience which can be applied in work placements or further graduate work. The course is comprised of independent research and writing, overseen by a thesis supervisor, resulting in production of a 10-12,000 word thesis. Collaborative and supportive dialogue with the supervisor and fellow ‘junior research colleagues’ will involve advice on the research and writing process, suggestions for resources and research directions, and comments on draft chapters of the thesis.

Extended Thesis:
For students working independently on their Masters thesis. An extended thesis of 15,000-
20,000 words is offered as an alternative to the mandatory internship. The dissertation encourages students to study intensively a topic agreed with a supervisor, and so develop skills and experience which can be applied in work placements or further graduate work. The course is comprised of independent research and writing, overseen by a thesis supervisor, resulting in production of a 15,000-20,000 word thesis. Collaborative and supportive dialogue with the supervisor and fellow ‘junior research colleagues’ will involve advice on the research and writing process, suggestions for resources and research directions, and comments on draft chapters of the thesis.

  • After you graduate

    Career Paths
    Pearl Lam Galleries, Beijing Museum Educator, Musée de Louvre, Saatchi Gallery, Halcyon Gallery, October Gallery, White Cube, Windsor Castle, Aon Private Risk Management, Victoria & Albert Museum, University of Wisconsin-Madison, JPMorgan Chase, Seattle Art Museum, Guggenheim Museum – New York, Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Sotheby’s – New York, Christies – New York, MANA Contemporary – New York
    Further Education
    PhD, Art History, University of York, University of the Arts, Florida State University, Harvard University, University of Illinois, American Art History, University of Iowa, University of Texas, University of Washington

  • 2018 Internship Placements

    Pearl Lam Galleries Beijing, Saatchi Gallery, Wallace Collection, National Trust, Barbican Centre, Artnet, Black Dog Publishing, Musei Civici Fiorentini, South London Gallery, Orleaans House Gallery, Lots Road Auctions, Sarah Myerscough Fine Art, October Gallery, Crow Indian Museum

  • Career support

    We offer career support and advice through our Careers & Internships Office that will assist and guide you in your study choices to make sure you stand out from the crowd when you graduate. Through internships you will gain business acumen, beneficial work experiences and transferable skills which will give you a competitive advantage in a fast-paced working environment. Work while you study across 5 continents through our partners Connect123 and CRCC Asia with destinations in Spain, Argentina, South Africa, China, Japan, Vietnam and Australia.

Entry requirements

A first degree in any discipline with a minimum classification of 2.2 (Lower Second Class Honours) or its international equivalent

English Language Requirements (Non Native English Speakers)

Please refer to our Postgraduate How to Apply page for details on English Language requirements.

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Research-led teaching from the IVAC (The Centre for International Visual Arts and Cultures)
IVAC logo

All MA Art History and Visual Culture and MA Visual Arts Management and Curating students, and members of the Art Appreciation Society are automatically entitled to membership of the IVAC free of charge. Richmond students enrolled on other Masters programmes and undergraduates with an interest in the visual arts are welcome to all IVAC events free of charge.

Programme Fact Sheet

Useful Links

For further information, please contact the Programme Leader:

Dr Nicola Mann

Dr Nicola Mann

Professor of Communications and Visual Cultures

What our students say

“Richmond’s graduate campus in Kensington places students well within reach of some of the most important art institutions in the world. Encouraged to take advantage of the invaluable resources at our disposal, we are constantly exposed to the archives, artefacts and people driving the discipline forward.

Since my arrival, I’ve collaborated with Dr Wallis on a blog for ‘Aesthetica: The Art & Culture Magazine’, and taken on a position with the Research Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum where I assisted curators in preparation for the major Fall 2011 exhibition on Postmodernism.”

“I feel very fortunate to have been part of the Richmond community. The relationships I developed with my professors, who were always willing to go the extra mile, were invaluable to me as a student. The small, interactive classes meant that we were able to ask questions and engage in vigorous debate. The individually tailored research projects advanced my understanding of the global art scene and helped me to explore and expand my own interests.

After my MA, I worked as Exhibitions Assistant in photography at the National Portrait Gallery and then moved to the architecture department at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I am currently working as Artist and Client Registrar at White Cube, London.”

“The MA program was instrumental to my education as an art historian. The concentrated course of study at Richmond made it possible for professors to really challenge students to approach art in new ways.

The program emphasis on intercultural art is particularly relevant to its location in London, which allows first-hand interaction with art and international perspectives. At the same time, the classroom focus on methodologies helped students with a wide variety of interests develop the tools necessary to conduct sophisticated research and an individual style. Kensington is centrally located to major museums and cutting-edge galleries, as well as incredible research libraries, all of which enriched classroom studies and provided opportunities to interact with curators and other professionals. The emphasis on practical applications of studies, multi-cultural approaches, and modern/contemporary art really puts students at the forefront of current developments in the field of art history.”

“The graduate experience at Richmond proved vital for my success as an art historian and museum professional. The MA in Art History and Visual Culture programme places students on the pulse of the art world, ensuring that they have access to premier institutions, world-renowned museum collections, and highly anticipated exhibitions. Graduate students are encouraged to participate in critical analysis and discussion with professors and peers, resulting in a positive and respectful learning environment.

While at Richmond, I obtained an internship with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Conservation, which solidified my interest in collections management. I had a central role in documenting historic collections at five properties across the southeastern United Kingdom, including Ham House and Gardens, Rainham Manor, Red House, Two Willow Road, and Fenton House and Gardens. Through my internship and the Richmond community, I now have professional connections around the world.

Since graduating, I have become the Registrar for Collections at the Arkansas Arts Center. I have also been invited to speak at the annual American Alliance of Museums conference about my role in the museum.”

Postgraduate Prospectus 2021

Where to find us


37 High Street Kensington
W8 5ED