M.A. Contemporary Art

Sotheby´s Institute of Art | London, United Kingdom
The MA in Contemporary Art is for those who plan careers as gallery owners, curators, dealers, consultants or critics. This programme emphasises engagement with the actual artwork itself and how we critically approach and interpret contemporary art.

Description of Contemporary Art


The Contemporary Art programme in London covers the period from 1960 to the present and is directed at students who wish to develop an in-depth understanding of contemporary art while honing their professional skills. It focuses on the art object itself, which is examined in relation to its cultural, institutional, and political contexts. From the beginning, students study canonical figures and major movements in the history of contemporary art alongside artists and tendencies that have in the past received less attention in the traditional centres of the art world. Students participate in seminars, lectures, and study travel around London and other European cities where they visit major collections, galleries and biennials. In the gallery and in the classroom, attention is paid not just to art works but to the curatorial strategies that direct our experience of them and the institutional contexts in which they are displayed. Graduates benefit from the global scope of the programme and pursue a variety of careers in the world of contemporary art.

London is an historic nucleus of the international art and antique markets. It is a global centre of learning and is known world-wide for the importance of its visual and performing arts. Here, dealers trade in art and antiquities from Asia alongside British, American and European painting, sculpture, design and classical antiquities.

With an historic address at 30 Bedford Square, the Institute’s London campus is located in the heart of Bloomsbury as part of the broader “academy” that includes the British Museum, the Architectural Association, and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art. The Institute is within walking distance of Sotheby's Auction House, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy, and the University of London. Other major galleries and museums are within easy reach such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Wallace Collection, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Kensington Palace, and Hampton Court Palace. The capitals and art centres of Europe are easily accessible from London, making their vibrant art markets and legendary cultural resources readily available to the Institute’s students and faculty.

Detailed Course Facts

Application deadline Rolling Admissions
Tuition fee

Course fees


UK & EU Nationals

Deposit: £500

Semester 1: £ 9,450

Semester 2: £ 9,950

Semester 3: £4,800

Total: £24,700

Non-UK/EU Nationals

Deposit: £500

Semester 1: £10,600

Semester 2: £11,100

Semester 3: £5,500

Total: £27,700

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

Travel costs: £1,960

Not specified
Start date September  2016 September 2015
Duration full-time 14 months
Delivery mode On Campus
Educational variant Full-time

Course Content

Curriculum-at-a-Glance for 2015 - 2016


September – December 2015

•Navigating the Art World [Part I]

•Contemporary Art 1960-1990

•Global Networks and Curatorial Studies

•Critical and Theoretical Perspectives I

•Navigating the Artworld I

Semester I will also include regular gallery visits and extended study visits to North of England and Northern Germany.


January – May 2016

•Navigating the Art World [Part II]

•Contemporary Art 1990-present day

•Professional Practices and Research Methodologies

•Critical and Theoretical Perspectives II

•Contemporary Art and its Practices

•Navigating the Artworld II

Semester II will also include an extended study visit to the 56th Venice Biennial and artists’ studio visits.


May – September 2016

Dissertation (MA only).

Students prepare a dissertation under the supervision of their tutor.

English Language Requirements

TOEFL iBT® test (read more)

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.

Requirements for Contemporary Art

All MA, Postgraduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate applicants are required to have completed a BA degree or its equivalent. Students in their final undergraduate year may apply for admission and will be required to provide proof of graduation prior to registration.

Applicants should demonstrate the following skills:

·The ability to perform at a postgraduate level, as indicated by academic achievement and recommendations.

·Knowledge of art history. This generally requires an undergraduate art history major or minor. In special cases, art-related work experience or exceptional exposure to art making and/or collecting will satisfy this requirement. (Applicants with insufficient art history background may be required to take coursework at the Institute or an institution of their choice that is approved by the Institute’s faculty.)

·The ability to speak, write and analyze required subject matter fluently in English.

Required Documentation:

·Academic transcripts/marksheets.

·Two letters of reference.

·Personal Statement (max 1000 words). Please tell us about your reasons for your choice of program, any relevant academic or art related experience, and your future career goals.

·A writing sample.

·A CV/resume that includes all relevant art related background.

·English language proficiency exam. The Institute does require an English language Proficiency Exam for non-native English speakers. We require the following exam score for Masters and Postgraduate Diploma programmes: IELTS level 7

·An Interview.

·A non-refundable application fee of £50 (GBP).

Work Experience for Contemporary Art

No work experience is required.

More Information


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

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Sotheby´s Institute of Art, United Kingdom

United Kingdom 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.

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