Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

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, and why
  • understand the place of 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. You will also develop independent research projects and a dissertation.

In Year 3 you will have the opportunity to study abroad or to undertake a work placement with one of our industry partners in the creative and cultural sector.

Why Edinburgh

As a University of Edinburgh History of Art student, you will gain an informed and nuanced understanding of the artistic practice and visual and material culture at different historical periods. Our graduates have extensive knowledge and understanding of art history plus its methods of study, and the necessary skills to demonstrate this.

You will be taught by experts in specialist subjects. 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

In Year 1 you will:

  • study History of Art 1, covering the period from the fall of the Roman Empire until the end of the 17th century, including the unique focus on non-Western material
  • choose up to four optional courses, subject to availability and discussion with relevant course organisers. This offers you the flexibility to construct a group of courses that reflects your interests and enhances your main study.

You will also practise the core skills of an art historian and humanities scholar, including:

  • visual analysis
  • critical reading
  • information literacy
  • communicating complex ideas clearly and accurately

Year 2

In Year 2 you will:

  • study History of Art 2, which covers the period from the year 1700 to the present day
  • choose up to four option courses from related fields such as architectural history and classical art, or from other subjects across the University

Year 3

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

You will take a core course on methods and approaches to art history. You will also have a choice of specialist options, including courses from architectural history.

You will largely be taught in groups of 15 students with a focus on discussion and debate.

You will have the opportunity to complete a work placement in a local cultural organisation, or study abroad.

Year 4


The main focus of Year 4 is a dissertation.

This is a 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 to 3 or
  • as a springboard for something completely new


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

Similar to 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 (2024/25)

Our facilities

On campus

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

You will have access to:

  • specialist facilities at ECA and the wider University
  • a range of study spaces and specialist classrooms
  • computing facilities and creator labs
  • libraries and special collections

You will be taught in lecture theatres and seminar rooms within ECA and across the University's Central Area.

Many of our courses also involve visits to the city's museums and art galleries.

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


In Year 3, if you do not study abroad, you will have the option to complete 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 and is based on your CV and an interview with the host institution.

Study abroad

You can apply to study at a partner university through international exchange schemes.

Visit 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 learning and teaching involves:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • independent study, with a focus on reading in preparation for 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.


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: 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: 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

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

Additional costs

You will pay for the costs of printing.

There may also be small 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