Master of Arts in Art History and Theory

The University of Canterbury
2–3 years
Master's degree
On campus
Contact school for start dates

About this program

The Master of Arts (MA) degree consists of coursework followed by a thesis. It provides the opportunity to make a contribution to knowledge while also demonstrating understanding of the principles of research.

MA students within the College of Arts benefit from:

  • a lively and supportive postgraduate culture
  • numerous master's scholarships
  • access to world-class research centres in the humanities and social studies.

The Master of Arts degree consists of two parts:

  • Part I: Coursework (1 year)
  • Part II: A thesis (2 years)

Honours may be awarded if the student completes within the timeframe. Distinction or Merit may be awarded if the student completes an MA by thesis-only in the timeframe and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours.

We are constantly surrounded by objects and images: these things have meanings, and affect our experiences. Art History and Theory helps you to find messages encoded within the visual world, and to think about the effects they have in and on society. In our courses, we study a range of artworks and objects – including paintings, moving images, crafts, and everyday things – and these provide insights into a variety of places, histories, and cultures.

The ‘visual literacy’ Art History and Theory courses promote is an extremely useful skill – highly applicable to many other subjects of study, and to a range of different career paths. Studying Art History and Theory also offers students the chance to develop expertise in how to look at things in detail, and to get the most out of what can be seen.

Why study Art History and Theory at UC?

At UC we take a particularly broad view of Art History and Theory as a subject; this is reflected in the variety of objects we look at and the ways we discuss them. We also consider the mechanics of the art world, as practices such as collecting, display, patronage, art education, art criticism, and community engagement all affect how we understand art and objects.

Our courses reflect the lecturers' specialism’s, which include contemporary art, East Asian art, and European art and material culture. All our lecturers cultivate research interests that extend beyond Art History and Theory and connect to other disciplines, ideas and fields such as literature, cultural studies, aesthetics. This interdisciplinary aspect is woven into a number of Art History and Theory courses at UC.

Further study

Doctor of Philosophy

Career opportunities

Graduates from Art History and Theory often go on to work in museums, galleries, auction houses, educational institutions, libraries and heritage conservation.

However, many seek careers beyond the art and heritage world, and professional possibilities are diverse (for example, in industries such as publishing, journalism, information services, marketing, tourism, and more).

Careers across a range of sectors offer ample opportunities for our graduates to draw on skill sets developed by studying Art History and Theory, such as aesthetic awareness, attention to visual cues and sources, developed analytical and research skills, and strong verbal and written communication.

Start date: Monthly by arrangement with supervisor

Admission requirements

For more information about this program, please contact the school directly.

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About this institute

University of Canterbury are proud to offer the foundation of an excellent education and holistic learning experience, while ensuring our students are prepared to succeed and make a positive difference in the world around them. The University of Canterbury has...

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