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Semester Programme in London

Art and Business

This intensive one-semester programme is designed for those who are interested both in art history and the business practices of the art world.

Through lectures, seminars and visits to specialist museums and collections, students are introduced to the history of art and design and the ways in which art has been made, sold and collected. Students choose to focus either on the period from 1600 to 1900 or on Modern and Contemporary art.

In the business component of the programme, students examine established art markets in the developed world and emerging art markets in the developing world, together with legal and management issues related to global art business practice, with a particular emphasis on the international auction house system.The programme offers practical skills connected to accessing and analyzing art market data. Students are introduced to contemporary management models for commercial and non-commercial practices through theory, case study and practical work. Branding and marketing issues are explored, and essential art market professional roles (eg, conservator, curator, gallerist, collector, journalist, art fund manager, etc.), and innovative new art business models, including online initiatives, are investigated.

The teaching approach emphasizes the acquisition of practical skills from an object-based perspective, enabling students to gain confidence in analyzing and identifying a wide range of art objects, both in a classroom setting and in numerous study visits to London’s world-class art collections. Students meet museum curators, auction specialists and art dealers. The unique opportunity to learn about objects close-up, enhances students’ critical and visual skills, while immersion in the art world offers them an insight into a booming 21st century industry. The teaching is intensive and supportive, with an emphasis on individual and small-group learning. Students also gain valuable practical experience in delivering visual presentations and preparing a business plan.

The programme equips students with knowledge and skills appropriate to a wide range of careers in the art world or for further study on one of our postgraduate programmes.


The programme is divided into two units, one in art history and one in art business. The business unit, entitled Foundations of Art Business, contains a further two components: Foundations of the Global Art Market, and The Art Market in Practice. These classes are taught on two days a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) across the entire semester. For the art history component, students in the Spring semester are offered the choice of focusing on the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, or on Modern and Contemporary Art. In the Autumn semester only the Modern and Contemporary Art option is offered. Each choice involves classes taught on two days a week (Thursdays and Fridays) across the entire semester. Part-time students can choose to study one unit only during the semester, or two units over more than one semester.

Credits and Validation

For students interested in acquiring credits, the programme is validated as Continuing Professional Development by the University of Manchester, one of the UK’s leading universities. Students who complete the programme successfully will gain 60 University of Manchester undergraduate credits.

This generally translates to 16 undergraduate credits or 12 graduate in the US system and 30 credits in the European (ECTS) system. Students currently enrolled at other colleges or universities should be aware that transfer of credit is always made at the discretion of the accepting institution. Therefore, applicants should confirm the feasibility of credit transfer with faculty advisors at their home school in advance of registration.

Credit summary:

Unit 1: Foundations of Art Business

1. Foundations of the Global Art Market
(25% of programme – 15 UK credits; 4 US undergraduate credits; 3 US graduate credits; 7.5 ECTS credits)
2. The Art Market in Practice
(25% of programme - 15 UK credits; 4 US undergraduate credits; 3 US graduate credits; 7.5 ECTS credits)

Unit 2: Art Histories
3. 17th and 18th Century Art and Culture
(25% of programme – 15 UK credits; 4 US undergraduate credits; 3 graduate credits; 7.5 ECTS credits)
4. 19th Century Art and Culture
(25% of programme – 15 UK credits; 4 US undergraduate credits; 3 US graduate credits; 7.5 ECTS credits)
5. The Modern Period 1900-59
(25% of programme – 15 UK credits; 4 US undergraduate credits; 3 US graduate credits; 7.5 ECTS credits)
6. Contemporary Art and Design
(25% of programme – 15 UK credits; 4 US undergraduate credits; 3 US graduate credits; 7.5 ECTS credits).

Note: In the Spring semester students take nos 1 and 2 above, and choose between nos 3 and 4 OR 5 and 6; in the Autumn semester only nos 1, 2, 5 and 6 are offered.

Foundations of Art Business Sample Topics

  • Auction and Art Market History
  • The Rise of the Contemporary Art Market
  • Analysing the Art Market
  • The Role of Art Fairs in the Global Art Market
  • The Old Master Art Market
  • The Impressionist and Modern Art Market
  • The 19th Century Art Market
  • Indian Modern and Contemporary Art Market
  • Middle-Eastern Modern and Contemporary Art Market
  • Chinese Modern and Contemporary Art Market
  • The Photography Art Market
  • Innovations in Public & Private Patronage
  • Art Finance and Investment
  • Non-art Commodities at Auction (e.g. wine)
  • International Business Frameworks
  • Contractual Relations: Legal and Management Issues
  • Consumption of Fine Art
  • An Analytical Framework for Understanding the Art Market
  • Analytical Tools: Seeing the Art Market Through Numbers
  • Management and Strategy
  • Galleries, Museums and Collections: Business and Legal Structures
  • Intellectual Property
  • Stakeholders in Management, including ‘Investor’s Briefing’
  • Marketing for the Arts: Marketing campaigns / Social Media case studies
  • Branding and the Art Market
  • Art Business Enterprise Case Studies
  • Art Business Strategic Development/Planning
  • Presentation Skills
  • Art Business Proposals: Feasibility Study
  • Artwork Commissioning
  • Curatorial Issues & operational processes
  • Conservation Issues
  • The Exhibition Process

Study Visits

London is a major centre for the art world. A wide variety of faculty-led visits to museums, galleries, auction houses and other locations forms an integral part of the learning experience. Sample venues:

  • 20/21 Art Fair (Royal College of Art)
  • British Museum
  • Christie’s Auction House
  • Contemporary commercial galleries
  • Estorick Collection
  • Zabludowicz Collection
  • Tate Britain/Tate Modern
  • Saatchi Gallery
  • Frieze Art Fair
  • ART14 Art Fair
  • Sotheby’s Auction House and Warehouse
  • The National Gallery
  • Victoria & Albert Museum
  • The Courtauld Galleries
  • Barbican Gallery
  • Hayward Gallery
  • Artist studios
  • Whitechapel Gallery


Students are assessed in the art history unit by a combination of visual analysis tests, essays and oral presentations. In the business unit they are assessed by seminar contributions, an examination on international art and auction law, and a detailed and comprehensive group business proposal.

Admission to the Programme

There are no formal admission requirements except a good level of English language competence (a minimum IELTS score of 6.0). Applicants are interviewed in person or by telephone. Our students are of all ages and come from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. The international make-up of the student body at Sotheby’s Institute of Art generates a rich and dynamic learning environment.

Course dates

8 September - 18 December, 2014


Jeffrey Boloten – Course Leader
Antonia Gatward Cevizli
Nadia Berri
Jane Gardiner
Angus Haldane
Henry Lydiate
Anders Petterson
Helena Pickup

Visiting lecturers have included:

Alia Al Senussi – Curator, Art Advisor and Patron.
Martin Barnes – Senior Curator of Photographs. Victoria & Albert Museum.
Penny Bendall – Ceramics and contemporary sculpture Conservator.
Camilla Brown – Independent photography curator and writer.
Louisa Buck – Art critic and contemporary art correspondent of The Art Newspaper.
Kirsten Dunne – Senior Cultural Policy Officer – Mayor of London’s Office.
Anne Ceresole– Decorative arts expert and former director of Sotheby’s Institute.
Anne Field – Visual art project manager and writer.
Martin Harrison – British arts and photography curator and writer.
David Isaac – Dealer in antiquarian prints.
Ruth Knowles – Director of Global Marketing and Business Development, The Art Fund Group Ltd.
Ezra Konvitz – Co-Founder of the art-based social media site ArtStack.
Sylvain Levy – Co-Founder of the major Paris-based Chinese contemporary art collection DSL.
Catherine McCormack – Art historian and writer.
Julie Molloy – Managing Director- National Gallery Company (London).
Dr. Catherine Morel – Associate Professor, Audencia Nantes School of Management.
Laura Noble – Gallerist and author of 'The Art of Collecting Photography'.
Daniel Packer – Silver expert.
Virginie Puertolas-Syn – Founder of the ART SYN (art advisory).
Freya Simms – Managing Director of Gong Muse.
Tina Rackham – Fine art consultant and valuer, Canterbury Auction Galleries.
Tot Taylor – Co-founder of Riflemaker Gallery in Soho.
Damian Tillson – Director of Sotheby’s wine department.
Gilbert Winfield – Wine educator.

Course fees

Full-time: £7,650
Part-time: £3,900

Programme Prospectus

 Download Art and Business prospectus. 

Further Information

For more information on Semester Programmes or if you have any questions, please e-mail Carrie Woodrow, Admissions Assistant, at or call +44 (0) 20 7462 3255.

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