Madonna and Child

MA Modern and Contemporary Art

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Fees: £23,500.00


This unique programme thrives in the heart of London’s art scene, offering unrivalled access to works of art and professional practice. It is designed for individuals with ambitions to become modern and contemporary art specialists. Graduates have gone on to become gallerists, auction specialists, dealers, writers, curators and art consultants for example. You will move between the lecture and seminar room and exhibitions, artists’ studios, art fairs, museums, auction houses and private collections in London and abroad. Sessions are led by a wide range of art professionals and include extensive object handling and analysis, curating workshops and critical writing.

Assessed work takes different professional and creative forms on this programme. In our unique cataloguing examination held at Christie’s auction house at King Street, for example, you will have the opportunity to handle, analyze and interpret several original works of art in different media, positioning them in terms of art historical contexts and the current art market.

Leading art world professionals share detailed insights into international markets for modern and contemporary art throughout the year. The art market is explored as a complex and varied historical phenomenon, inextricable from the dynamics and practices of the wider art world, on this programme.


Course dates

Course Calendar 2017 - 2018
19 September 2017 - 22 June 2018

Programme Information
Status: Full Time
Duration: MA 12 Months

Programme Fee:

Dr. Mike Ricketts Programme Director (Modern and Contemporary Art)
John Slyce Senior Lecturer 
Tom Morton Programme Director (Curating Contemporary Art)

International study trips have included:
Berlin • Venice • Amsterdam and Rotterdam • Kassel and Münster 


Modern and Contemporary Art is currently validated by The Open University*

The programme is structured around a number of interrelated modules:   

An ambitious art history seminar supported by lectures will significantly boost your critical and contextual understanding of modern and contemporary art. Working in small groups, you will study a selection of specific art movements and practices, from 1900-the present day. You will significantly enhance your research, analytic, presentation and writing skills in the process.    

Working with the art object is central to the programme and its distinctive reputation. You will study works of modern and contemporary art in a variety of media closely, at first hand, throughout the programme. Through handling sessions and classes, you will learn to catalogue works of art to international auction house standards. You will also learn to assess the condition of art works and to analyse issues that impact art market valuation.    

Curatorial studies will provide you with a practical and theoretical understanding of exhibition making. You will analyze exhibitions in situ, exploring institutions such as Tate Modern, established and emerging commercial galleries, non-profit spaces, and the London Frieze art fairs. You will work with leading curators and artists and develop new curatorial proposals. Two fully-integrated study trips to continental Europe will enable you to experience and analyse major exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale and Documenta.    

An engagement with influential theories of art and culture will provide you with the confidence and critical skills to interrogate and make creative use of major intellectual arguments and cultural positions.   

You will explore the function and variety of art criticism today, studying respected art journals and publications. Developing your own critical writing, you will have the opportunity to participate in the development and production of a student art magazine.   

You will have the opportunity to undertake work experience within Christie’s auction house in London during your year of study.   

Your Master’s thesis will take the creative form of an exhibition catalogue, which you will conceive and present to museum/gallery standards.   

The programme’s structure is developmental. Students’ own research interests and creative projects are given space to come to fruition in the later stages of the academic year.


The programme aims to provide a stimulating and challenging context in which students develop the knowledge, experience and specialist skills that are directly relevant for careers working directly with modern and contemporary works of art and artists in the international art world.  

Graduates go on to work in a wide range of roles. In addition to the specific careers listed above, our alumni work for collections, foundations and art fairs. Others work as writers and researchers. Many have set up their own independent initiatives and projects.


The programme attracts individuals hoping to work with modern and contemporary art, and more specifically directly with works of art, and artists, in their future careers.    

Our unique commitment to working extensively with individual art objects has proved especially valuable for aspiring auction house specialists, gallerists and curators.   

We receive a large number of applications from those who hold an undergraduate degree in art history, fine art, or a humanities or social science subject. Applications are also encouraged from those with alternative academic backgrounds and/or those wishing to change career. An impressive number of our graduates have moved into the art world after previous successful ca­reers in areas such as law, finance, business and architecture.   

As a postgraduate student, you will be keen to demonstrate curiosity and initiative, indepen­dence and professional ambition. You will be looking to drive your own intellectual and cultural development through your proactive and deter­mined exploration of modern and contemporary art, and London’s many art worlds. You will look forward to participating in seminars, workshops, discussion and debate, developing your art world practice within a varied international cohort. You will welcome the prospect of constructive feedback on your work from a range of leading professional voices.   

Candidates should expect to show a high level of motivation, and the capacity to manage their time for the sustained and intense programme of study.

Admissions Requirements
  • Completed application
  • A university degree, normally at 2.1 level
  • Applicants whose first language is not English should normally have IELTS 7
  • Applicants must also provide a 1,000 – 2,000 word writing sample on an art related subject.
  • CV/Resume
  • Personal Statement
  • Two academic letter references on institutional letterhead (or equivalent professional references for mature students)
  • Scanned colour copy of passport photo page and previous UK visas if applicable.

As a small institution, places are limited. Applicants are advised to submit an application as soon as possible from the October of the year before they wish to study. There is a priority deadline of 13 January, 2017 but applications will be accepted after that date until a programme is full.

19–23 September 2017

Term 1
25 September – 1st December 2017

Term 2
8 January – 16 March 2018

Reading Week
12–16 February 2018

Term 3
16 April – 22 June 2018

Bank Holidays
7 May & 28 May 2018

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