Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
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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

You will 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 writing in English from the late Middle Ages to the present

In Years 3 and 4 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 the 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.

From the University's special collections to the National Library and Galleries of Scotland, the city's resources for studying art and literature are exceptional.

The history of art and English literature complement each other well. Both subjects benefit from shared methodologies and historical contexts, and many ideas and movements are shared across the visual arts and literature.

Our programme is extremely flexible. In Years 1 and 2, in addition to your core subjects, you will choose optional courses from a broad list of disciplines, then specialise as you progress through your honours years.

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.

You will take two literary studies courses exploring the nature and purpose of literary study. You will read works of literature written in English from around the world, and develop the skills needed for the critical close reading of poetry, drama and prose.

You will also choose optional courses offered by the University. For example, you can choose to learn a language that complements the art and literature you are most interested in. We offer one of the widest range of languages of any UK university - the majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

Year 2

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

You will be introduced to the study of English literature in its cultural and historical contexts through a survey of literature from the late Medieval period to the mid-20th century. These courses explore the relationship between literary texts and the construction of national, international and imperial cultures.

You will also choose optional courses from a wide range offered by the University. You can opt to continue studying a subject you took in Year 1, or choose to do something completely different.

Year 3

In Year 3 you will:

  • choose from a selection of honours-level history of art and English literature courses
  • complete a history of art independent project

Skills development options include two courses in reading theory, which will help you prepare if you choose to do your dissertation in English literature in Year 4. Between them, the courses will introduce you to:

  • key issues
  • concepts
  • developments in literary theory and criticism

You will be encouraged to reflect on the critical reading skills you have gained in your pre-honours years, and given the concepts and vocabulary to develop these further.

You will also have the opportunity to study abroad 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 (2024/25)

Our facilities

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

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

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

Museums and literary venues

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

Take a virtual tour of 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:

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

In addition to classes, and to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

In Year 3 you will have the opportunity to pursue supervised independent projects that aim to develop practical 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 through:

  • coursework
  • exams
  • final assessments

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams and assessments take place at the end of a teaching block.

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: AABB by end of S5 or AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6. (Revised 18/04/2024 to lower entry requirements from AAAB by S5, or AAAA by S6.)
  • A Levels: AAB. (Revised 18/04/2024 to lower entry requirements from AAA.)
  • IB: 36 points with 665 at HL. (Revised 18/04/2024 to lower entry requirements from 37 (666).)

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

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


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
  • 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.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

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

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

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 pay for the costs of printing.

There may be other costs associated with travelling to exhibitions. These are usually limited to £10 to £20 per visit.

There are likely to be additional costs if you choose to study abroad in Year 3.


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