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Develop your expertise in art since 1968, examining the key movements, artistic tendencies, practices, and debates that have informed all aspects of contemporary art.

The MA in Contemporary Art is the longest running specialized Master’s program of its kind in the world. Established in 1991, it focuses on art in the period from 1968 to the present, with strands on art history, curatorial studies, and critical theory, and a strong emphasis throughout on professional career development. The program covers developments in contemporary art from around the world, examining a broad range of artistic practices and institutional structures, from the highly established to the most innovative. The program is designed for those who are fully committed to the study of contemporary art and who intend to pursue careers in the field. Graduates of this program have gone on to work at museums, commercial and not-for-profit galleries, auction houses, consultancies, journals, international art fairs, and universities.

Academic Structure

This twelve-month-long program is unique in combining rigorous academic study of contemporary art with the acquisition of skills of professional practice. The course runs across three semesters, beginning in September. The first two semesters are intensively taught on four (occasionally five) days per week. In the second semester, specialist electives can be chosen from across all Institute Master’s programs, allowing a student to build a personalized Master’s profile. During the third semester (June through September) there is no formal teaching. In this semester, students research and write their dissertation with the guidance of an individual supervisor.

Students complete a range of assignments during the program that are designed to help them become sophisticated graduates with high caliber academic and vocational skills and knowledge, preparing them for success in their career. Object-based assignments foster students’ skills of observation, description and interpretation. Other assignments, such as essays, develop skills of research, analysis, contextualization, and criticism, promoting students’ ability to present material in different written and spoken modes. Students are encouraged to consider the networks in which art is created, exhibited, and collected. All students will be involved in assignments that simulate “real world” tasks, projects, and scenarios; for example, exhibition reviews, collection/catalogue entries, and planning for a hypothetical exhibition or journal.

Lectures are given by both members of the faculty and consultant lecturers, many of whom are active in the art world, facilitating ample networking opportunities. Study visits (both local and international) are an integral part of the program.

The Details
  • Curriculum

    Curriculum

    The Master’s degree is awarded for 120 taught credits across two semesters, as well as the completion of a 60-credit dissertation over the course of an additional semester.
    In the first semester, Navigating the Art World (30 credits) brings students from all MAs together for an introduction to the art world and to a variety of postgraduate research skills and methodologies within the disciplines of art history and art business.
    Core units (60 credits) for the Contemporary Art degree include Contemporary Art Histories and Debates in Contemporary Art. Students take two 15-credit electives across a variety of offerings for deeper expertise or to develop specialties. This completes the taught Postgraduate Diploma element of the degree. For the MA degree, students must complete the 60-credit dissertation in their third semester.
    Download the Curriculum
    Note: Course offerings subject to change
  • Faculty

    Faculty

    Dr Juliet Hacking (Program Director) began her academic career as a visiting lecturer. She joined Sotheby’s Institute-London in 2006, and was the Program Director of the MA in Photography for 10 years. In 2016, she became a member of the MA in Contemporary Art faculty and was appointed its Program Director in 2018. She is the author of Photography and the Art Market (2018), Lives of the Great Photographers (2015), and general editor of Photography: The Whole Story (2012).
    Working primarily on contemporary art since 2002, Dr Marcus Verhagen has written more than seventy articles and reviews for art magazines such as Art Monthly and Frieze. He has published in several periodicals, including Representations, New Left Review, Third Text and Afterall. Much of his recent work revolves around globalization. His book Flows and Counterflows: Globalisation in Contemporary Art was published in 2017.
    Dr Pierre Saurisse taught contemporary art at the Universities of Aix-Marseilles and Rennes. In 2007, his book on chance in European and American art of the 1960s, La Mécanique de l’imprévisible, was published by L’Harmattan. Since he wrote a chapter in a book on performance in 2010, his research has focused on this field. Saurisse has reviewed exhibitions and books for Beaux-Arts Magazine, Critique d’Art, and Parachute, and has had articles published in Territoires Contemporains and Visual Culture in Britain. He recently wrote a chapter in the book The Mediatization of the Artist.
    View all faculty
  • Admissions

    Admissions

    Now accepting applications for MA programs starting in fall 2020. For admissions requirements and an overview of the application process, please click here.
    Space is limited so we strongly encourage qualified candidates to submit their applications as early as possible.
    Deadlines for Fall 2020 MA program:

    • Early Decision Deadline: January 15, 2020

    • Regular Decision/Final Financial Aid Deadline: March 2, 2020


  • Tuition

    Tuition

    Semester 1: £10,850 (UK/EU citizens) or £13,000 (other countries)
    Semester 2: £11,350 (UK/EU citizens) or £13,500 (other countries)
    Semester 3*: £5,500 (UK/EU citizens) or £6,700 (other countries)
    Fees:
    Deposit: £1,000
    Field Study Trip fee: £2,350 (to be paid in Semester 1)
    *Students pursuing a two-semester Postgraduate Diploma do not incur Semester 3 tuition.
    For more information on tuition and program fees, click here.
  • Field Study Trips

    Field Study Trips

    In the first two semesters of the program, students participate in three international study visits. Previous destinations have included Venice (for the Biennale and other venues, such as the Prada Foundation), Germany (e.g. the Ludwig Museum, Kolumba Museum, Langen Foundation, Museum Abteiberg, Kunsthalle Köln, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf), Paris (e.g. Centre Pompidou, Musée d'art Moderne, Palais de Tokyo, Jeu de Paume, Cartier Foundation), and Amsterdam/Brussels e.g. Stedelijk Museum, Oude Kerk, Foam, De Pont Museum, Wiels).
  • Questions?

    Questions?

    Some of your questions may be answered in the frequently asked questions section of our website. If you do not see your question, we are happy to help. All prospective students are encouraged to contact our Admissions Office to schedule a one-on-one information session to learn more about the program, the application process, tuition, financial aid, and more.
    Email us: admissionslondon@sothebysinstitute.com
    Call us: +44 (0)20 7462 3219
MA Contemporary Art Meet Juliet Hacking, Director of MA Contemporary Art, London

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