Master's Programme in Art History and Art World Practice
Note on Higher Education from 2020-2021
Christie’s will cease providing higher education programmes in London and New York from 2021. This means that we will not be taking new students for the Master’s programmes from September 2020. Further information can be found in the press release.
Christie’s Education will remain committed to its current students until they successfully complete their studies, and maintain its lifelong commitment to alumni. The alumni association and global alumni services will continue to be made available through the normal channels and platforms.
The information below refers to the current 2019-2020 programme (Closed for Admissions)
The MA in Art History and Art World Practice is a 15-month taught postgraduate programme which equips students with the knowledge, skills and understanding of art and current art world practice to enable them to launch a professional career in the art world.
The MA programme focuses on studying works of art first hand and understanding their production, histories, conservation, display, and their commercial and cultural contexts. The programme examines the evolving meanings and status of artworks, both historically and today.
It offers a high level of academic and critical interpretation of art, including a grounding in the methodologies of art history and contemporary thought. Emphasising art produced since 1800, the MA leads students to a thorough knowledge of how artworks are identified, described and catalogued; a critical awareness of the theory and realities of museum and gallery curating; and an understanding of key aspects of the art market and global art world practice. The programme includes a substantial thesis and a work placement of up to 12 weeks at Christie’s or other notable art institutions.
In addition to lectures and seminars, the programme provides direct access to important works of art at Christie’s auction house, in major collections, curated exhibitions, art fairs and art world events in the UK and overseas. Teaching is carried out by Christie’s Education staff as well as by invited distinguished art world professionals and scholars.
On completion of this programme students will be able to combine advanced skills in research and writing with a sophisticated awareness of the interrelated structures of art world professions. They will be highly literate and able to interpret specific artworks using accurate terminology. Students will also be skilled in the practical application of art-historical scholarship in solving of the kinds of problems encountered by art professionals.
Our graduates are well placed to work in either the commercial or public-sector art worlds through a wide range of possible entry points. These might include, but are by no means be restricted to auction houses (as specialists or client-service professionals),art dealerships, art consultancies and advisory practices, companies providing tax and legal services to the art world, public museums and galleries (as curators but also in many other potential roles such as development and learning), academia (PhD studentships, teaching and other roles within schools, colleges and universities).
Study trips enabling first-hand experience of international art world practice are integrated into the programme, including residential trips to significant centres of study outside the UK such as study trips to Venice, Paris, Vienna, Marrakesh, Hong Kong, Istanbul and Sydney. The study trips are confirmed at the start of the year and the cost of these are included in the programme tuition fees.
The teaching methods employed at Christie's Education consist of small-group seminars and tutorials. A key feature of our programmes is object-based learning through study trips and an integrated work placement. In addition to this, students are expected to conduct their own independent study and research. This programme is validated by The Open University.
The Professional Development Programme that is available for all of our Master’s students is designed to complement their study. Our Career Services Officers strive to provide students with the necessary skills and exciting opportunities to find a meaningful career following graduation.
Approximately 90% of our graduates progress to a commerce career.
For further information please contact our London campus
Tel: +44 (0)207 665 4350
Banner, photo of students on study trip to the Punta della Dogana – Palazzo Grassi, Venice. Installation view of Roni Horn’s Well and Truly, 2009-2010, © Roni Horn.
Art Methodology and Theory
This module provides a toolbox of ideas and approaches to the study of art. The module develops a critical awareness of art history as a broad field of study, enabling students to understand how artworks become carriers of meaning and value and to discriminate between alternative interpretations. Through direct and discursive engagements with artworks, the module provides students with an opportunity to take a critical stance in relation to vital issues at the forefront of cultural debate in a globalised art world.
The Interior provides a compelling intellectual setting for the study of design and the decorative arts. The history of the domestic experience of the arts is now a central question in art history, sparking debates of both a connoisseurial and theoretical nature. Students will study a range of iconic homes and interiors, learn the language of design, and understand how artworks shift, gather and lose their meanings as they are transferred from one location to another.
Topics covered include: types and forms of the decorative arts; the Romantic period and the idea of an interior; the decline and dispersal of London’s aristocratic collections; the Aesthetic Movement and the influence of Asian interior design; modernist aesthetics and the reform of the decorative arts; the interior as museum; the preservation and curation of iconic houses; contemporary interior design.
This module delivers a framework for the close and precise study of works of art. The Cataloguing module examines how art is analysed and classified in professional contexts, including museums, galleries, private collections, art fairs and heritage sites. It gives students a broad and detailed knowledge of material objects themselves – their materials, techniques, histories and contexts. It requires the intimate observation and detailed analysis of a wide range of objects of both fine and decorative arts.
The Cataloguing module teaches students how to research and produce professional reports and catalogue entries, including appropriate presentation and language. It aims to familiarise students with relevant ethical and legal considerations, and furthers research skills and professional practice. Students will learn to implement a range of professional cataloguing methods as appropriate for distinct groups of objects, such as an antique vase, a medieval manuscript, a Renaissance bronze or an Old Master painting.
Curatorial and Gallery Studies
The Curatorial and Gallery Studies module investigates the ways in which the meanings of art have always been inextricably bound up in questions of display. It introduces a wide range of issues in the theory and practice of curating, understood as an activity that is at once scholarly, professional and creative, from historical museum displays to twenty-first-century biennales, the work of established public and commercial galleries, to new voices that push the limits of curatorial practice.
Students will have the opportunity to take part in guided visits to a range of museums and private galleries across London, the UK and overseas. Adopting the programme’s strong focus on object based study, this module also covers acquisitions (collection-building), exhibition programming and museum ethics.
Art Market Studies
This module interprets the global art market from a historical perspective up to the present day, allowing you to develop a thorough grasp of the structures of today’s markets through an understanding of their history. Art Market Studies takes advantage of Christie’s position as an institution that has been central to that market since the eighteenth century. Students will study the development of the auction process, of the dealer system and of international art fairs, the inter-relationships between the market and museums, and the impact upon international art market of digital technologies and emerging economies. The module also covers some key current legal aspects of the art market.
The Thesis follows the taught components of the programme and is the opportunity for students to become true experts in a chosen field of specialist study. Supported throughout by Christie’s Education faculty and external experts, the Thesis is an extended piece of research developed over a series of formal stages across several months. Building directly upon the skills and knowledge gained during the programme, students are helped to find research subjects which will lead to significant finished dissertations. Topics of all kinds are possible and different types of approaches are encouraged.
The Work Placement offers an excellent opportunity to commence an art world career by taking up a position with companies and institutions both in the UK and overseas, for up to 12 weeks, towards the end of the programme. Destinations might include a department at Christie’s auction house, a museum, gallery, auction house, archive, foundation or other appropriate arts related organisation. It is designed to give students new practical and professional experience while building upon the knowledge and skills already developed during the programme. The work placement also feeds into the research report as it provides insight into the dynamics of the art market. Students are expected to demonstrate professional behaviour over the course of the taught programme to prepare and qualify for this placement.