Postgraduate study

Modern and Contemporary Art: History, Curating and Criticism MSc

Awards: MSc

Funding opportunities

This programme will deepen your knowledge and understanding of the history and theory of modern and contemporary art, and prepare you for further research and/or a range of careers in the art world. The programme focuses on academic study and is taught by research-active staff who specialise in a range of subjects that shape the field internationally.

Core courses

There are two compulsory courses:

  • Research, Theories and Methods (Semester 1)
  • Cultures and Politics of Display (Semester 2)

Option courses

There is a selection of option courses that address contemporary art theory and attend to the complexities of modern art. Option courses allow you to acquire specialist knowledge on a subject among those on offer in each semester.


Your work culminates in a supervised dissertation of around 15,000 words on a subject of your choice that relates to the focus of the Masters.

Learn from specialists

An external Fellow in Contemporary Art Theory and Curating, a leading voice in the field, shares his/her experience with students as part of the Semester 2 core unit classes in March. There are also optional Internships in the cultural sector in Scotland. Moreover, extracurricular research seminars will introduce you to emergent trends and world-class researchers.

The programme is delivered through a mix of large and small group teaching, individual tutorials, and supervision, while research seminars enhance the student experience.

You will be taught by research-active staff, including leading experts in their fields. You are also expected to undertake independent study and research.

Assessment and progression

Formal assessment is by means of academic essays, a dissertation, and project work where appropriate.

Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of the field of modern and contemporary art, as well as transferable research skills. The possibility of an internship in a museum, gallery or comparable work environment can provide useful experience in a changing art world. Our aim is to provide you with the knowledge and understanding necessary for your intellectual development in ways that prepare you for your future contribution to the field.

The comprehensive nature of this programme, including its specialised option courses, will equip you for a confident start in a range of art-world and related work contexts and will be invaluable if you are interested in further academic study, such as a PhD, or a career in an art-world setting.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your residency status.

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

Your application's personal statement should answer the following questions:

  • How have your first degree and work experience prepared you for post-graduate study in the discipline of art history?
  • Where do your specific interests lie within this broad field?

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU