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Art History and Theory MA

Key information

Qualification type

MA - Master of Arts

Subject areas

Art History Art Theory

Course type


Course Summary

This course is ideal if you are interested in working in academia, the art world or any other field in which visual, written and analytical skills are essential. At Essex, you have the freedom to study what most interests you. Some of the topics you may choose to explore include Early Modern art and architecture; the history of photography; modern and contemporary art; curatorial practice and exhibition design; as well as more vernacular forms of visual culture, such as body art and activist placards. Regardless of the topics you pursue, we are committed to research-based teaching, with a particular emphasis on bringing the approaches of art history into contact with other disciplines and discourses. In so doing, we seek to facilitate a critical engagement with artworks and forms of visual culture, both within and beyond the traditional canons of art history.

The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and art history graduates leave Essex with the skills to take advantage of this growing opportunity. Graduates from our programmes are ideally prepared for roles in the media, in advertising, in museums and galleries, in education (in schools, universities, and cultural institutions), as conservators, as auctioneers, dealers and antiques specialists, in charities, in publishing, as specialist arts lawyers, as PR agents, in fashion, or to run their own galleries.

Different course options

Full time | Colchester Campus | 1 year | OCT

Study mode

Full time


1 year

Start date



This module examines the relationship between visual culture and 'supernatural' phenomena (divine acts, visions, miracles, magic, sorcery) in late medieval and early modern Europe. In this period, conceptions about the causes and effects of divine and diabolical acts, miracles, magic, and witchcraft were rooted in visual culture and the sense of sight. In order to better understand the power of images in the lived experience of late medieval and early modern Europeans, we will explore how distinctions between 'natural' and 'supernatural' phenomena were negotiated through various kinds of engagement with the visual (e.g. interpreting visions, witnessing miraculous acts, performing rituals focused on images). We will consider a variety of artistic media and genres: narrative paintings, prints, miracle-working images, ex-votos, relics and reliquaries, incantations, and prayers. Topics will include: the relationship between social problems and images of saints' miracles; the supernatural in Dante's Divine Comedy; the visual culture of miracle-working shrines; conceptions of the monstrous; the witches of Drer and Hans Baldung Grien; and the 'miraculous' work of the 'Divine' Michelangelo.

Tuition fees

UK fees
Course fees for UK / EU students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


International fees
Course fees for non-UK / EU students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


Entry requirements

Students need to have a 2.2 Degree or equivalent in any discipline. Your Degree must contain at least three modules relating to visual culture. Visual Culture modules include, but are not limited to: Aesthetics, Archaeology, Architecture, Art History, Curatorial/Museum Studies, Design Studies, Digital Imaging, Fashion, Fine Art, Film Studies, Film and Literature, Graphic Design, Advertising, Landscape Design, Media Studies, Photography.