The MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design established the model for Sotheby’s Institute’s rigorous and teaching intensive MA programs. Tracing its origins back to the Works of Art course founded in 1969, it offers an in-depth exploration of connoisseurship and the integrated study of fine and decorative art and design, based on case studies drawn from the late Renaissance to the late twentieth century. Issues examined include style, materials and techniques, copies, and revivals, but also investigation of patterns of patronage, collecting, and a consideration of the historical and contemporary art market for a range of fine and decorative art and design objects. The program is aimed at students who seek an immersive object-based approach to the study of a wide range of artworks, and who intend to pursue a career within the professional art world whether as an auction house expert, dealer, art advisor, curator, or academic. Download the Master’s prospectus.
Experiential learning Visits and international study trips are significant learning events, with the travel, seeing the art in situ and informal access to tutors serving to intensify the experience.
Opportunity to step into the shoes of specialists Learn how to attribute and write about works of art in our auction project.
Privileged access to the Art World Behind the scenes tour of Burghley House stately home, examining world-class collections and royal furnishings, and an out-of-hours visit to examine modernist art at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge.
Renowned and inspiring speakers With previous talks being delivered by Dr Mia Jackson, Curator of Decorative Arts at Waddesdon Manor, the Rothschild Collections; Dr Rachel Sloan, Curator of Drawings at the Courtauld Gallery, James Butterwick, dealer in Ukrainian and European art, Robert Upstone, dealer, former Tate curator and member of the UK government’s Acceptance in Lieu Panel.
Advice from experts Regular visits to Sotheby’s auction house to preview auction sales followed by reflective sessions and tailored advice on students’ projects from Sotheby’s experts.
Program Director, MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design
Bernard Vere specializes in art from the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. His work explores the connection between technological advances and the rise of the metropolis in modernist art, particularly in its implications for the individual subject. Learn more...Read More
Faculty, MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design, London
Barbara has published on the subject of French decorative arts, the history of taste and the history of collecting, and museum architecture. Learn more...Read More
Field study is a hallmark of the Master’s programs, taking graduate students around the globe to explore established and emerging markets during key events and with an itinerary ranging from art fairs to visits to artist studios and private collections. Upcoming, field study destinations for MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design are Madrid, Paris, the Netherlands, including TEFAF art fair.
With its outstanding museum collections spanning centuries and continents, its vibrant commercial art scene, and its rich tapestry of history, London is the ideal place to experience an object-based, ‘hands-on’ program like Fine and Decorative Art and Design, where so much emphasis is placed on visits and the first-hand examination of art works. From luxurious royal palaces to intimate modernist gems, students will discover the rich relationship between the metropolis and its artists.
An MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design student is fascinated by the art object, visually inquisitive, intellectually rigorous and a creative team-player. Former students have successfully pursued careers in auction houses, art dealerships, art fairs, museum and gallery curation, academia, or interior design. However, those with a strong personal interest in studying the subject for its own sake are also very welcome on the program and age is no barrier to learning.
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, Art Futures (15 Credits) brings students from different MAs together for an exploration of the art world of the future, with particular emphasis on technology, sustainability, inclusion, and the politics of cultural property (restitution). In Professional Practice (15 credits) students are introduced to professional art world skills and career options and to a variety of research methodologies within the field of fine and decorative art and design.
During the program, specialist electives can be chosen from across all Institute Master’s programs, allowing a student to build a personalized Master’s profile. Students take two 15-credit electives across a variety of offerings for deeper expertise or to develop specialties. Core units (60 credits) for the Fine and Decorative Art and Design degree include Fine and Decorative Art, and Art and Design: Modernity and Modernisms.
The program aims to develop critical understanding of the terms: “fine art,” “decorative art,” and “design,” as well as the synergies and divergences between art objects across a range of media and periods. Through detailed study of objects, students will also gain an understanding of the consumption of artworks, examining patterns of patronage and collecting, and the historical and contemporary art market. For the MA degree, students must complete the 60-credit dissertation in their third semester.
September 2023 – October 2024
Note: Fees are subject to annual review
Semester 1: £13,000 (includes deposit of £3,000.00) plus travel fee (see below)
Semester 2: £12,500
Semester 3: £6,100
Semester 1: £16,000 (includes deposit of £3,000) plus travel fee (see below)
Semester 2: £15,500
Semester 3: £7,690
*Circumstances that may entitle you to a “home” fee status include:
Travel Fee: £3,000
Travel fees are mandatory. They cover all mandatory study trips outside of London, including transportation from the departure hub (airport or train station) to the destination, and all transportation, entry tickets and 3 or 4 star accommodation at the destination during the trip. Where the accommodation includes breakfast, this is covered by the fee. Otherwise all expenses for meals and other costs are the responsibility of the student.
From visa information for international students to course credits, find answers on our FAQ page. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, contact an Admissions counselor.
Explore our library of academic and campus policies here. All students who enroll for graduate study must agree to the Terms and Conditions upon accepting their offer of admittance.
Download the Master’s degree prospectus for an in-depth look at the curriculum and what to expect this academic year.