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Art and Design History MA

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year 2 days a week (Tuesday and Wednesday) September 2017
Part time 2 years 1 day a week (Tuesday or Wednesday) September 2017

Choose Kingston's Art and Design History MA

This course provides an interdisciplinary study of the history of both art and design. As well as advancing your knowledge of developments that have occurred in these vibrant areas of practice in modernity - and, in particular, the last 50 years - the course will also provide you with transferable skills in history, theory and research.

Key features

  • The dissertation or major project allows you to develop your own interests and gain valuable research skills.
  • Field visits and activities supplement your lectures and seminars. Possible destinations include New York, Barcelona, Berlin and Paris.

What will you study?

You will study a series of dedicated taught modules that are concerned with issues of research methodology, subject-specific case studies and creative practice. You will be expected to conduct research around the broad themes and subjects addressed by each module. This will enable you to tailor your own path of study according to your particular interests and aspirations. You can also take part in activities and study trips organised by the School of Art & Design History.

Assessment is by a unique combination of essay, presentation, dissertation and optional project-led research, enabling you to develop your understanding and application of art and design history in ways that are relevant to your research and career aims.


Seminar presentations, essays, dissertation (12,000-15,000 words), and major project (5,000+ words).

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Core modules

  • This module comprises a series of lectures and seminars to engage critically with the methodologies and research methods relevant to the disciplines of art and design and their histories. It examines how both fields of intellectual enquiry might relate to each other through in the context of social, cultural and economic processes and their interrelation. The module is delivered by researchers and practitioners to show how research, academic context and outcomes develop and interrelate between and within disciplinary contexts and examine how research challenges, critiques and extends the boundaries or works at the interface between disciplines. The module includes interrogation of the canon, and art and design research methods; study of the technological, sociological, and economic discourses of art and design history; and methods, processes, and documents of evidence and history in the context of creative practice.

  • This module combines study of the history and theory of the avant-garde and modernism, postmodernism and after to provide a critical examination of the dominant features of the art and design movements and tendencies in the context of nationalism, internationalism and globalisation. It presents case studies to appraise critically historical and emerging debates on art and design in the modern context, emphasising political and social dimensions of art and design cultures and the methodological approaches involved.

    Indicative content includes the role of the artistic avant-gardes of Europe before 1940; the role and character of cubism as a principal vehicle for the consolidation of this formation/network in the inter-war decades; and the subsequent history of the avant-garde post-World War II. 

  • This module interrogates the history and theory of specific creative and cultural formations with reference to art, design, their markets, publics and institutions. It addresses questions of cultural,  economic and social value in a historical and contemporary context, and incorporates delivery by researchers, practitioners and professionals within the creative and cultural economies. The module is delivered in one teaching block to enable an intensive engagement with the subject. It leads to an assessment by presentation and essay.

  • This module examines the political aspects of design and craft from the perspective of their role in fashioning and being fashioned by specific identities – political, social, religious and gender – in national and international contexts. It presents central themes in field of art and design, and draws on critical debates to examine the historical and contemporary relation between design and craft, mass consumption, nationalism, corporate capitalism and sustainability. It focuses on a set of case studies drawn from global sources to examine the political character of design and craft processes, and their role in constructing, promoting and resisting formations of identity. The content includes the analysis of the design in the context British colonial and post-colonial identity; Eastern European and Asian design; protest and activism; the politics of the handmade; and critical and speculative approaches to design.

  • The Major Project is the capstone module of the MA and most significant piece of work that you will deliver on a masters programme. It enables you to synthesise and apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired throughout the course and it provides you with the opportunity to craft your own approach to the field through critical-theoretical and/or creative, practice-based research. The Major Project can accommodate research projects developed through a range of academic and professional contexts depending on your motivation and interests. It can be presented either as a dissertation or as a portfolio comprising a chose medium or media with a critical commentary. The Major Project can also provide a platform from which you can launch the next stage of your careers. Based on ideas of material thinking and creative practice the taught elements of the module provide you with a strong understanding of different aspects of contemporary practice of value to both academic and professional environments.


You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

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This course is taught at Knights Park

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Contact us

Admissions team


This course is taught at Knights Park

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