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The University of Edinburgh: Modern and Contemporary Art: History, Curating, Criticism

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department Edinburgh College of Art
Study type Taught


This programme will deepen your knowledge and understanding of the history and theory of modern and contemporary art, and prepare you for further research and/or a range of careers in the art world. The programme focuses on academic study and is taught by research-active staff who specialise in a range of subjects that shape the field internationally.

Core courses There are two compulsory courses:

  • Research, Theories and Methods (Semester 1)

  • Cultures and Politics of Display (Semester 2)

Option courses There is a selection of option courses that address contemporary art theory and attend to the complexities of modern art and contemporary art theory and practice as well as of the contexts where art is experienced.

Option courses allow you to acquire specialist knowledge on a subject that relates to the focus of this Masters. Normally, the optional internship is available as an option course in Semester 2.

Option courses vary annually depending on the availability of staff and/or the update of the material following research in the field.

Dissertation Your work culminates in a supervised dissertation of around 15,000 words on a subject of your choice that relates to the focus of the Masters.

Learn from specialists The School of History of Art, where the Masters is based, is one of the largest in the UK and covers an extraordinary range of subjects in art history. Academic staff teaching on the Masters are research-active and, in many cases, present substantial work in their field and/or lead their fields. An external Fellow in Contemporary Art Theory and Curating, a leading voice in the field, shares his/her experience with students as part of the Semester 2 core course classes in March. External theorists and curators may also be invited to teach on their specialism in specific courses.

Moreover, extracurricular research seminars organised by History of Art will introduce you to emergent trends and world-class researchers in the field. These are held weekly during term time. In addition, talks and events held across ECA and the University can contribute to advancing your knowledge of the arts and humanities.


Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 22nd in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Our position as one of Britain’s leading research universities was reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, ranked 4th in the UK for research power (Times Higher Education, Overall Ranking of Institutions), with 90% of our research activity classified as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

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