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Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in art history (which comprises the postgraduate foundation module (A840), the subject module (A841) and the dissertation module (A847)) will:

  • encourage you to develop your undergraduate knowledge and understanding of art history in higher level and more focused work
  • introduce you to a range of significant scholarly debates among historians of art and architecture
  • provide you with an advanced academic training in research methods, with regard to different media and periods, using both traditional methods and those employing new technologies
  • enable you to make effective use of primary sources, both artistic and archival, in developing and completing a research project.

Learning outcomes

The programme provides you with opportunities to develop and demonstrate knowledge, understanding, and skills in the following areas.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree, you will have a sound knowledge and understanding of:

  • different kinds of art-historical methods and approaches
  • a range of major scholarly debates influencing the practice of art history today
  • a detailed knowledge and understanding of two fields selected by yourself: one minor topic (the short project in A841) and one major field (the dissertation in A847).

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to:

  • compare and assess different methods and approaches to art-historical research
  • analyse and describe works of art and architecture
  • analyse and evaluate different types of source material
  • apply art-historical methods and approaches to the analysis and interpretation of works of art and architecture
  • understand how to select the appropriate research methods for a specific enquiry.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to:

  • use research libraries, their archives and their contents efficiently
  • make discriminating use of specialist online databases and other online resources
  • construct sophisticated arguments and defend these in substantial pieces of writing using proper academic conventions
  • apply visual discrimination to the analysis and interpretation of images.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to:

  • write extended pieces of prose based on your own research
  • use internet resources efficiently and discriminatingly
  • deploy visual and textual sources in support of these arguments.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are gained and developed through the study of published study materials in the postgraduate foundation module (A840) and a subject module (A841). Teaching materials supporting the first two of these include set books, study guides and offprints, supplementary illustrations, assignment booklets, and access to a large number of online resources through the Art History MA website. Learning outcomes are assessed primarily by means of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). The foundation module also has an examination, which provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to compare and contrast the different approaches deployed in the set books. In A841, there is a final long assignment, or ‘project’, which allows you to develop knowledge and understanding of a topic of your choosing and prepares you for the dissertation (A847). For the dissertation you will choose a topic relating to the themes studied earlier in the programme, and write this up in 16,000–18,000 words. Tutors provide feedback on draft chapters, but the dissertation itself forms the assessed component of this final module.

Cognitive skills

The case studies contained in A840 and A841 are designed to provide you with opportunities to learn through the analysis and comparison of secondary sources and progressively to encourage independence in research. The use of ICT is an inherent element of the learning technique, which is developed in both the foundation and subject modules as an aid to learning (rather than as a skill that is taught and tested in its own right). The programme’s online facilities form an extension of the techniques that are taught, for example, in respect of library research, and the assessment of these skills is manifest throughout the TMAs.

Practical and/or professional skills and attributes

The formation of arguments and the employment of critical and evaluative skills are taught in the foundation and subject modules, and assessed in these and the dissertation module. The use of research libraries is taught in the foundation module and developed at each stage of the programme. Similarly, the use of online facilities is taught in the module material at foundation level and developed through the programme. These skills are assessed throughout the programme.

Key skills

The foundation module sets up the learning-centred approach for the whole programme. After studying the set book in relation to the study guide, you will be given a week to carry out some independent study based on what you have read followed by another week to work on the TMA. The key skills developed in A840 are deepened in A841, both in the level of difficulty of the materials and the progression towards an independent research topic. Progression towards independent study is completed in the dissertation module.