M.A. Art Business - London

Sotheby´s Institute of Art

Application deadline: EU: Applications received on a rolling basis. Non EU: May 31
Tuition fee:
  • € 27,800 / Year (EEA)
  • € 27,800 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: September  2015
Duration full-time: 14 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Full-time

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For over forty years Sotheby´s Institute of Art has been preparing students for careers in the international art world. Our vision is to be universally acknowledged as the premier provider of advanced object-based art education, whose graduates combine passion for the visual arts with scholarship, connoisseurship and market sophistication in order to flourish as leaders in the global art market.

The MA in Art Business at Sotheby´s Institute is not a business degree but a degree in the business side of art and is designed for students who already have an art history degree but want to understand business theories and practice, as well as the technical and structural elements of the art market.

The art and antiques market is a EUR25 billion plus industry, and London is at its centre. It employs hundreds of thousands of professionals in small and medium-sized businesses as well as in a number of large enterprises. There are also signs that art is now entering the mainstream financial markets. Interest in art as an alternative investment has recently attracted the attention of prestigious banks.

Working in the art market brings an altogether different set of challenges from the conventional business world, and a standard business degree is not necessarily the best training for a career in the trade of unique, historical objects where there are legal and ethical issues that apply specifically to the art world.

Most MA in Art Business students are interested in careers in the private sector, including galleries, insurance and art advisory services. However, an increasing number are using the business skills learned in the course to prepare them for art-related jobs in the public sector, including fund-raising and marketing. Graduates of the programme emerge as confident of operating within the art market, or in developing new professional roles as that market changes and grows in the future.

For more information:


In Semester One students study five core units: art markets; business planning and financial analysis; art business research methodology; and art marketing. The Art Markets unit includes a history of the development of connoisseurship, collecting and art at auction, with the major focus on the dynamics of contemporary global art markets. Art and Law introduces students to the variety of legal issues which they are likely to encounter in running a private gallery, such as copyright laws and contracts between artists and dealers; Business Planning & Financial Analysis develops essential mathematical skills for the successful everyday running of art businesses, and teaches students to construct sound business plans. Research Methodologies engages with both the pragmatic and academic tools and strategies essential for the successful study of the emerging discipline of art business. Art Marketing introduces basic marketing theories and practices necessary for the successful running of art galleries both large and small.

In Semester Two students study three more core units. Ethics & the Art Market investigates ethical issues on both national and global levels, and introduces students to those areas of heritage and conservation which affect the art market. Art Valuation & Investment looks at art as an alternate investment asset and the development of art portfolios. It also explores the criteria employed in valuing objects from different art market sectors; it includes sessions on the art insurance industry and the strategies of public and private art investment. Art Business Management & Strategy introduces a number of key strategic management theories, principles and practices which are applicable to the international art business world. It equips students with the appropriate skills for leading and managing both commercial and not-for-profit businesses. There is also an Interdisciplinary Group Project which runs throughout this semester: this enables students to apply skills learnt from the other programme units to the assessment and valuation of a fictional art collection.Students seeking the award of the Postgraduate Diploma in Art Business complete their studies at the end of semester two.

Semester Three is given over to research and writing the dissertation, for those students seeking the Masters award in Art Business. Students should see this substantial piece of written work as a platform from which to launch into the art world. Students can apply for permission to study outside of London according to the demands of their research area. Assessment is by means of a variety of written assignments, group projects and presentations and for the Masters students, a dissertation.Postgraduate Diploma students must achieve a total grade of 40% or above in the eight core units of semesters one and two in order to pass.

Masters students must achieve a total grade of 50% or above in both the eight core units of semesters one and two and the dissertation unit (semester three) in order to pass.

The faculty maintains strong links with the international art and business worlds, as demonstrated by the network of industry professionals who visit the Institute as guest speakers to share their insights and experience. In addition to the many commercial art events which take place in London throughout the year which students are encouraged to attend as complementary to the course, visits are also arranged to dealers and Sotheby´s auction house. Aside from London, Europe is home to a number of other significant centres for the art market. Study trips to these centres provide a parallax view of the London-based market. Past European visits have included: Paris (for the FIAC contemporary art fair) and Maastricht (Netherlands) for the TEFAF art and antiques fair, with its cutting-edge displays and high-end sales.


Dr. Iain Robertson, Head of Art Business Studies
David Bellingham, Programme Director


Enrolment is taken on a rolling basis throughout the year, but we do encourage you to apply at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure sufficient time for processing your application.

Entry Requirements

All postgraduate programmes (Master´s Degrees and Postgraduate Diplomas) require the completion of a BA degree or equivalent, with a major or minor in Art History. Exceptions to the undergraduate art history requirement can be made, based upon an applicant's experience in the visual arts or the relevance of other areas of study.

Transcripts. Transcripts are required for entry onto one of our Master´s Degrees or Postgraduate Diplomas. Transcripts are not required for entry onto one of our Semester Programmes. Please forward your official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate-level programmes attended directly to the Institute's Registrar from your college or university.

Letters of Recommendation. You will need to designate 2 referees in your application form. These can be both academic references or, in case you have working experience, one can be a professional reference.

Sample of Written Work. You will be required to include in your application a marked paper (from your BA course) or a newly-written 1000-word review of an art exhibition or artist that you like

English Language. If your first language is not English please send us documentation of appropriate English proficiency test scores. Unfortunately, we are not able to give you a full offer on a postgraduate programme until we have received your English Language test scores. The minimum requirements for all postgraduate programmes are fluent written and spoken English to British Council IELTS level 7 or TOEFL 250 (computer-based test) or TOEFL 100 (internet-based test) or equivalent. Interviews. All full-time applicants for postgraduate programmes and semester courses will be invited to schedule an interview with a member of the Institute's staff after receipt of all required application materials. Interviews will be scheduled by the Admissions Manager. You will be contacted at the appropriate time to make such arrangements. The interviewer will assess the candidate's aptitude for the programme, level of English skill and commitment to study. Interviews are held in London throughout the year and can also be conducted by telephone. The Institute's Admissions Manager will contact you to arrange your interview.

UK Visa Applications. In line with the new UK Border Agency rules all non-EU students must now apply for a Tier 4 Points Based System General Adult student visa, details of which can be found at: Students from non EU countries are strongly recommended to submit their application as early as possible and BEFORE May 31st. Please note that new visa requirements mean that after a student is enrolled the visa process may take up to 10 weeks. Visas must be applied for in your home country and NOT once you have arrived in the UK.

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 7
TOEFL iBT® test: 100

IMPORTANT NOTE: Per 6 April 2015 only the English language tests from IELTS and Trinity College London are accepted for Tier 4 Visa applications to the United Kingdom. Other tests (including TOEFL, TOEIC, Pearson, City & Guilds) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. Since the Trinity College London language tests must be taken in one of their exam centres in the UK, IELTS is now the only language test accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK that can be taken worldwide.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.



Our degrees are awarded by the University of Manchester in the UK and combine professional training with academic study.

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