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Program Overview

About the Program

The Master’s in Fine and Decorative Art and Design derives from the oldest program at the Institute, the 'Works of Art' course, which started in 1969. It offers an integrated study of fine and decorative art and design based on case studies drawn from the late Renaissance through to the late Twentieth Century. These studies are used as lenses through which to examine the production and materiality of art objects, and to consider aspects of consumption, including patronage and collecting and the historical and contemporary art market. Students are equipped with sophisticated visual, critical and research skills, enabling them to work in all areas of the international art world.

About Our MA students

The program welcomes students from a variety of backgrounds who are motivated by an object-based approach to the study of the fine and decorative arts, and who wish to pursue a career working closely with art works, whether in an auction house, commercial gallery, art fair, museum, or as a consultant or independent researcher. Students are able to specialise in areas of particular interest within the fine and decorative arts. In addition, students take two focused options which complement the core teaching, choosing from a range offered across the MA programs.

Navigating the Art World

All of the MA programs are enhanced by a shared core curriculum, Navigating the Art World, which introduces students to the global art world and provides them with understanding of art business principles, professional skills and critical understanding to mobilise at the completion of their degrees.

Program Structure

The program is of twelve months’ duration from September to September. In Semesters 1 and 2, students follow two core units: Fine and Decorative Art: Production and Patronage and, Art and Design: Modernity and Modernisms. These intensively-taught units comprise workshops, seminars and lectures given by faculty and visiting experts.

This teaching is supported by regular visits to museums, houses, galleries and the auction houses, and is further enhanced by a European study tour in each semester: possible venues include Paris, Venice, the Netherlands and Maastricht (TEFAF).

Students complete a range of assignments which are intended to develop both academic and professional art world skills. In Semester 2 students also take two elective units, choosing either from those offered by (Art and Authentication, Contemporary Design and its Markets) or from the other MA programs in areas such as Asian ceramics, photography or an aspect of art business. In Semester 3 students prepare a dissertation under the supervision of their tutor.

Build Your Concentration

The flexible structure of the Master’s program allows students to concentrate their studies on a chosen field by selecting 2 elective units. Specialist subject areas in which Sotheby’s Institute of Art - London faculty have high level of expertise include Contemporary Design, Photography, East Asian Art and Curating.

Access a copy of the MA structure 2019/20 and explore our Viewbook, click here to receive a copy.

MA Fine and Decorative Art and Design Meet Bernard Vere, MA Fine and Decorative Art and Design Program Director at Sotheby’s Institute of Art - London
The Details
  • Curriculum-at-a-Glance


    ACADEMIC YEAR 2019-2020
    Units of Study
    Core Units

    • Navigating the Art World – Shared Core Curriculum

    • Fine and Decorative Art: Production and Patronage Fine Art

    • Art and Design: Modernity and Modernisms

    Elective Units
    (Choose any two of the below)

    • Art and Authentication

    • Contemporary Design and its Markets

    • The International Art World: Public Sectors

    • The Market for Antiquities and Old Masters

    • Strategic Management and the Art World

    • Emerging Markets

    • Ethics, Law and the Art Trade

    • Curating Contemporary Art

    • Performance Art

    • Photography: Image and Power

    • Photography and its Markets

    • Contemporary Chinese Art

    • Court and Literati Painting in East Asia

    • East Asian Ceramics

    • Curating Asian art

    • Modernism and its Markets

    • Art World Logistics and Operations

    • Work Placement (accredited internship)

    Dissertation or Practice-Based Dissertation (MA only) 

    Click here for the program electives summary.
  • Faculty
  • Course Fees & Application

    Course Fees & Application

    ACADEMIC YEAR 2019-2020

    Deposit: £500
    Semester 1: £10,050
    Semester 2: £10,550
    Semester 3: £5200
    MA total: £26,300
    PG Dip total: £21,100

    Deposit: £500
    Semester 1: £12,000
    Semester 2: £12,500
    Semester 3: £6,100
    MA total: £31,100
    PG Dip total: £25,000

    These fees are exclusive of the cost of travel for study visits.

    Travel costs: £2,250

    Click here to Apply 

    Click here to read Terms and Conditions.

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  • Program Prospectus

    Program Prospectus

    Click here to download the program prospectus.

    For further information, please contact: or Request Information
    T +44 (0)20 7462 3219
  • Contact And Request Information

    Contact And Request Information

    For further information, please contact: or Request Information
    T +44 (0)20 7462 3219
  • Field Trips

    Field Trips

    Many of the sessions on the MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design take place in London’s major galleries, whether it is the National Gallery with its collection of Old Masters, Tate Modern for modernist art, the Victoria and Albert Museum for decorative arts, or the newly reopening Design Museum. Students also visit smaller museums, as well as commercial art fairs, auction houses, stately homes and commercial dealers, allowing them to understand works in a variety of contexts, from private collections to public sales. In the first semester we visit Venice, a centre for production of fine and decorative art since the Renaissance, where we study works not only in museums and galleries, but also in churches. For much of the twentieth century Paris was the undeniable heart of the art world and a trip to the city in the second semester has a greater emphasis on modernist art and design. Our schedule of study visits concludes with a visit to TEFAF Maastricht in The Netherlands, the largest and most prestigious fine art, antiques and design fair in the world.

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