M.A. Fine and Decorative Art

Sotheby´s Institute of Art | London, United Kingdom
The MA in Fine & Decorative Art is taught from the point of view of an art expert rather than an academic art historian and prepares students for a wide variety of careers in the art world. Based on Sotheby's original curriculum, The Works of Art Course, and concentrating principally on Old Master paintings, modern art, furniture and ceramics, the MA in Fine and Decorative Art teaches connoisseurship, a skill rarely featured in other academic settings.



The Fine and Decorative Art programme in London is taught from the perspective of an art expert, with attention paid to the history and practice of connoisseurship. This programme has been offered in London for over forty years and is based on the Sotheby’s auction house’s original training scheme. The programme’s approach is object-based and often object-specific. Case studies in Old Master paintings, modern art, furniture and ceramics from the Renaissance to the present day form the core curriculum, along with the development of professional skills for attributing and cataloguing works of art, culminating in the House Sale project, which closely mirrors the auction house environment. The defining characteristic of this programme is its frequent and regular visits to museums and galleries, the auction house, and country-house collections for first-hand observation of art objects. The visual and hands-on approach, supported by a thorough grounding in materials and techniques, gives a firm foundation for postgraduate research and the excitement of exploring the material culture of the past.

Additionally, 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 feesfor 2015-2016

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: £1,750

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

Course Content

Curriculum-at-a-Glance for 2015-2016

SEMESTER 1: September – December 2015
  • Navigating the Art World [Part I]
  • Old Master paintings and connoisseurship
  • Modern art and collecting
  • Ceramics and trade
  • Furniture and interiors
  • Cataloguing and professional practice
  • Techniques and materials
  • The historical art market
  • Country-house and collection studies

January – May 2016

  • Navigating the Art World [Part II]
  • Old Master paintings and connoisseurship
  • Modern art and collecting
  • Ceramics and trade
  • Furniture and interiors
  • Cataloguing and professional practice
  • Techniques and materials
  • The historical art market
  • Country-house and collection studies

Semester 3:
May – September 2016

  • Dissertation (MA only).
    Students prepare a dissertation under the supervision of their tutor.

English Language Requirements

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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

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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