Social History of Art MA

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
24 months part time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons)
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£10,750 (total)
International fees
£22,250 (total)

Course overview

social history of art

The study of the history of art at Leeds has an international reputation for its innovative, rigorous, diverse and critically engaged approaches, and the emphasis of this course is on social and political approaches to art history.

The MA Social History of Art builds on a legacy of dynamic and challenging scholarship, and continues to test the parameters of the discipline and shape wider debates in the field.

Around a shared commitment to understanding art as central to the production and reproduction of the social worlds we inhabit, our key research strengths lie in feminist, gender and Jewish studies, on questions of materialism and materiality, the postcolonial and the ‘non-Western’, as well as in provocations of those fields of art history considered more ‘established’, from Medieval and Renaissance up to the contemporary.

Drawing on the School’s community of researchers, and with our links to internationally important research institutions such as the Henry Moore Institute, as well as with an abundant and growing array of arts institutions in Leeds and nearby, this postgraduate course will equip you to develop your own critically informed research.

Specialist facilities

Housed within a single central campus location, the School offers a modern and well-equipped learning environment with several studio and exhibition spaces.

Project Space is the School’s multi-purpose space designed for the development of curatorial practice and visiting exhibitions.

The Brotherton Library holds a wide variety of manuscript, archive and early printed material in its Special Collections - valuable assets for your independent research.

In addition to the wide range of museums and galleries in the city and beyond, the University campus features:

Course details

You will study compulsory modules and optional modules.

In your first semester, a compulsory module will cover theoretical and practical work in the history of art. You will develop your specialist knowledge by selecting from a range of optional modules.

Through both the rigorous development of complex descriptive and analytical skills central to the discipline of art history, and engagement with wider theoretical and historical frameworks, you will be given the opportunity to develop your own interests and a distinct critical voice.

Compulsory advanced research skills modules will equip you to undertake assessments and ultimately develop your own research project. The modules build to a symposium in semester two where you can present initial research findings towards a dissertation on a research topic of interest.

The skills you develop, combined with knowledge from your optional modules, will ultimately be focused in your dissertation ― an independent and self-devised research project, which you will undertake with the guidance of your supervisor.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Social History of Art MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Social History of Art MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
MA History of Art Core Course 30
Advanced Research Skills 1 5
Advanced Research Skills 2 5
Art History Dissertation 50

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Africa Displaying / Displaying Africa 30
Derrida and Deconstruction 30
Reading Sexual Difference 30
Making Sense of Sound 30
Jewish Museums and the Display of Cultural Difference 30
The Margins of Medieval Art 30
Independent Directed Study 30
Unfinished Business: Trauma, Cultural Memory and the Holocaust 30
Intersecting Practices: Questioning the Intersection of Contemporary Art and Heritage 30
Postcolonial Feminisms 30
Art & Money: the modern and contemporary art markets 30
Procuring Representation: Contemporary Art, East Asia, Gender 30
Anthropology, Art and Representation 30
Humanity, Animality and Globality 30
Unmaking Things: Materials and Ideas in the European Renaissance 30

Learning and teaching

You will benefit from a variety of teaching and learning methods including lectures, seminars, online learning and group critiques and tutorials.

Independent study is crucial to the degree ― it allows you to prepare for classes and assessments, build on your skills and form your own ideas and research questions. The University Library offers free classes and resources on topics such as academic integrity and plagiarism, public speaking, searching for information and structuring essays.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Our taught modules are generally assessed through essays, which you will submit at the end of the semester in which you take each module. Some optional modules may be assessed by other methods including group work, reports and presentations.


Entry requirements

You’ll need a bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or equivalent qualification, for example (though not exclusively) in a humanities or social science subject, such as History, Literature, Languages, Art History, Philosophy or Sociology, or in a practice-based Arts subject where your degree included a significant proportion of historical and theoretical studies.


Our admissions team are experienced in considering a wide range of international qualifications. If you wish to discuss whether your qualifications will meet the necessary entry criteria, contact the School’s admissions team.

You can also check the accepted qualifications for your country or region.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you need

  • Your degree certificate and transcripts, or a partial transcript if you’re still studying

  • Two academic references

  • Evidence of your English language qualifications if English is not your first subject.

  • A personal statement. Please answer the following questions within your statement:

    • Please explain your reasons for applying to this particular course.

    • What specific fields within the history of art most interest you, and why? Have you studied any of these topics already? If so, you might provide some details of what you studied and to what depth.

    • Which approaches to the study of art history (i.e. methods, theories) most interest you, and why?

    • In your academic experience to date, what has prepared you to embark on postgraduate-level study of art history? If you are coming to art history from another discipline, feel free to explain this experience in terms of cognate issues.

    • What particular challenges and opportunities do you think postgraduate study will offer compared to undergraduate study?

Next steps

Applicants may be invited for an interview as part of the application process.

The Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures receives very large numbers of high-quality applications and regrets that it cannot make offers to all of its applicants. Some particularly popular schools may have to reject many that hold the necessary academic qualifications.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

Contact us

Taught Postgraduate Team



UK: £10,750 (total)

International: £22,250 (total)

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Part-time fees
Fees for part-time courses are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans, scholarships and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.

The School offers a Head of School Excellence Scholarship (International) for international applicants.

Career opportunities

This postgraduate degree will develop your visual, critical and cultural awareness and expand your subject knowledge in history of art. In addition, you will graduate equipped with sophisticated research, analytical, critical and communication skills that will support you to succeed in a variety of careers.

Our graduates have pursued careers as curators and education staff in museums and galleries and worked for national heritage organisations, as well as in journalism, publishing, arts marketing, public relations, university administration and teaching.

Others have transferred the skills they gained into sectors such as the insurance industry, independent style editing and freelance writing on fashion, arts and culture.

Many of our graduates have also continued with their research at PhD level and secured external funding to support them – including AHRC scholarships. Some of our former postgraduate researchers are now developing academic careers in the UK, Europe, Asia, USA and Canada.

Reach your potential

Hear more about the School and Faculty support you can access from our employability lead, Anna Douglas.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.