Undergraduate study - 2022 entry
Open to the world

MA History of Art

UCAS code: V350

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA History of Art

History of Art will introduce you to art from different periods and world cultures.

On this programme you will:

  • learn how, and for whom, works of art were made
  • situate artworks within visual and material culture more broadly
  • explore the meanings of works of art and visual culture and the ways they continue to be interpreted

In Years 3 and 4 you will have the opportunity to specialise in particular aspects of the field, and develop independent research projects and a dissertation. In Year 3 you will have the opportunity to study abroad.

Why Edinburgh

We aim to produce graduates with:

  • an informed and nuanced understanding of artistic practice and visual and material culture at different historical periods
  • an extensive and well-based knowledge and understanding of art history and its methods of study

Many of our academic staff curate, or exhibit in, major international art exhibitions.

You will also have access to Edinburgh's renowned art galleries and museums.

Year 1

You will study History of Art 1. This covers the period from the fall of the Roman Empire until the end of the Counter-Reformation and will include non-western material.

You will also choose up to four option courses.

Year 2

You will study History of Art 2, which covers the 18th century to the present day.

As with Year 1, you will be able to choose up to four option courses. These can be from related fields such as architectural history and classical art, or from other subjects across the University.

Year 3

You will take:

  • a core course on methods and approaches to art history
  • a choice of specialist options, including courses from architectural history.

You'll largely be taught in groups of 15, with the focus on discussion and debate.

You will have the opportunity to complete a work placement in a local cultural organisation. There are also a variety of project-based tasks.

In Year 3 you will really start to develop your independence as a scholar.

Year 4


The main focus of Year 4 is a dissertation.

This is an 8,000 to 10,000-word piece of original research on a topic of your choice.

With guidance from a teaching staff member, you can use your dissertation:

  • to refine interests you develop from Years 1-3
  • as a springboard for something completely new


In your final year you will also take more options courses. These further your area of specialisation and develop your skills.

Like Year 3, your courses are taught in small groups. These offer opportunities to take your writing and debating skills to a very high level.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2021/22)

Our facilities

History of Art is one of five Schools in ECA. We are based in the heart of Edinburgh, within the University's Central Area.

You will have access to specialist facilities in the art college and a range of study spaces, computing facilities and libraries.

You will be taught in lecture theatres and seminar rooms within the School and across the University's Central Area. Many of our courses also involve visits to the city's museums and art galleries.


In Year 3, if you do not study abroad, you will have the option of a work placement.

This involves a supervised position in one of Edinburgh's:

  • museums
  • galleries
  • special collections
  • heritage management institutions

Entry to the work placement is competitive, based on your CV and an interview with the host institution.

Study abroad

You can apply to study in Europe and North America through international exchange schemes.

See the Student Exchanges section of the Edinburgh Global website for details.

Student Exchanges

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

In Years 1 and 2 formal teaching involves lectures and tutorials. Lectures are delivered by experts in the field, and provide an overview of key themes, concepts and questions relating to the week's topic.

In tutorials the emphasis is on student discussion in small groups. Some courses also incorporate small student study groups, which help you learn from each other in preparation for tutorials.

You will also study independently, with a focus on reading in preparation for lectures and tutorials.

Years 3 and 4 involve more seminars and independent study, with individual supervision of the final year dissertation.

How will I be assessed?

Our courses use a variety of assessment methods, including:

  • exams
  • essays
  • primary source analyses
  • oral presentations
  • podcasts
  • online discussion forums
  • participation in tutorials and seminars

This programme prepares you for a range of careers in the art world, including:

  • curatorships in galleries and museums
  • art journalism
  • publishing
  • art dealing
  • tourism
  • graphics
  • advertising
  • heritage management
  • auctioneering

Some graduates use their skills and experience for careers in management or teaching, while some choose to go on to further study.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB-ABBB by end of S5 or AAAA-AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 36 points with 665 at HL - 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree 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.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA History of Art

Additional costs

You will cover the costs of printing. There may also be small costs associated with travel to visit exhibitions, but these are usually limited to £10 to £20 per visit.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding