Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA History of Art and English Literature

UCAS code: VQ33

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA History of Art and English Literature

Study the History of Art and English Literature in equal depth with this joint honours programme.

History of Art

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

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
  • develop independent research projects
  • develop a dissertation
  • study abroad (Year 3)

English Literature

Studying English Literature will develop your:

  • critical skills
  • analytic skills
  • linguistic skills
  • creative skills

You will:

  • study a broad range of texts and different approaches to reading
  • gain an understanding of the cultural contexts of all major periods of English literature, from the late middle-ages to the present

You will also choose research-led courses based on your interests. These will help you develop a detailed knowledge of specific topics, periods or genres.

Why Edinburgh

We are oldest department of English Literature in the UK and one of the longest established in the world. We are proud to be based in the heart of the first UNESCO World City of Literature.

History of Art and English Literature complement each other well. Many ideas and movements are shared across the visual arts and literature, in particular historical periods.

Both subjects benefit from shared methodologies and historical contexts.

Year 1

In Year 1, you will take:

  • History of Art 1, covering the period from the fall of the Roman Empire until the end of the Counter-Reformation, including non-Western material
  • two Literary Studies courses, which will introduce you to the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of poetry, drama and prose
  • option courses offered by the University

You will read works of literature written in English from around the world and encounter a range of ideas about the nature, and purpose, of literary study.

Year 2

In Year 2, you will:

  • study History of Art 2, which covers the 18th century to the present day
  • be introduced to the study of English literature in its cultural and historical contexts, focusing on a selection of major periods
  • choose option courses from a wide range offered by the University

Year 2 courses will explore the relationship between literary texts and the construction of national, international and imperial cultures.

Year 3

In Year 3, you will:

  • choose from a selection of History of Art and English Literature courses
  • complete a History of Art independent project

Study abroad opportunities are also available in Year 3.

Year 4

You will select courses that build on your subject choices in Year 3.

You will also write a dissertation in either History of Art or English Literature.

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 (2022/23)

Our facilities

Most of our teaching takes place in the University's Central Area or within Edinburgh College of Art (ECA).

Based around the Main Library, the Central Area has excellent:

  • computing and audiovisual resources
  • support services, social spaces and collections

Museums and literary venues

You will be able to take advantage of Edinburgh's galleries, museums and literary venues, including:

  • the four National Galleries of Scotland
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Writers' Museum
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • National Library of Scotland

Creative arts community

We have multiple student societies for art, literature and drama enthusiasts.

Our large creative arts community has lots to offer, including:

  • reading and writers' groups
  • poetry slams
  • publishing opportunities
  • peer-assisted learning
  • a fantastic Writer-in-Residence
  • annual student writing prizes

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at Edinburgh College of Art and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the Edinburgh College of Art

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?

You will be taught through a mix of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • individual supervisions
  • museum and gallery visits

We will expect you to undertake substantial reading each week in preparation for English Literature classes.

In Year 3, you will have the opportunity to pursue supervised independent projects that aim to develop pragmatic skills and experience directly relevant to careers in areas such as:

  • galleries
  • museums
  • heritage management
  • auction houses
  • art journalism

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by coursework and exams.

In Years 3 and 4, you will complete at least one independent project and a longer dissertation.

This programme prepares you for a range of careers, including:

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

Some graduates use their skills and experience for:

  • careers in management or teaching
  • further study

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA-AABB by end of S5 or AAAA-AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 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: English at B.
  • A Levels: English Literature or combined English at B.
  • IB: HL: 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
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at 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: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

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, PTE Academic, 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 and English Literature

Additional costs

You will cover the costs of printing. There may be other costs associated with travel to visit exhibitions. 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