1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

Art History and Museum Curating with Photography

Learn to speak and write confidently about museums and curatorship, with a focus on photography, together with hands-on experience in a museum setting. You consider the future of museums and how you can contribute to it.

You visit museums in Sussex and in London, allowing you to learn first-hand about institutional histories, collections, permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions. You’re taught by Sussex tutors and external specialists. In the past,
these have included senior staff from the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, the V&A, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Photography occupies diverse, expansive and high-profile spaces across the contemporary museum landscape – our MA prepares students for work in this exciting and expanding field.”Dr Ben Burbridge
Senior Lecturer in Art History

Key facts

  • 100% of our research was rated world leading, internationally excellent or internationally recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).
  • You will be taught by academics who have long-standing relationships with museums across the UK and direct experience of curating exhibitions and permanent collections in the museums and galleries sector.
  • You will benefit from our long-standing partnerships with local and national museums and collections – including the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery, Historic Royal Palaces, the National Trust, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and Charleston – providing access to expertise, art objects and research materials.

How will I study?

In the autumn and spring terms, you take museum skills modules and an option based on photography at Sussex. You also visit local and national collections. With your tutors and classmates, you debate a range of ethical concerns facing museum curators. The summer term is taken up with a work placement.

This MA introduces you to:

  • curatorial scholarship and its methodologies
  • the histories of museums and their collections
  • the ethical and legal frameworks within which curators and museums work
  • the nature and politics of museum displays.

Assessed work includes term papers, practical assignments, a learning journal (written during the placement as a reflection on that experience) and a 12,000-word dissertation.

Work placement

In the summer term, you undertake a work placement in one of our partner museums or galleries, working with photographic collections. You'll gain vocational skills and practical experience.

Full-time and part-time study

You can choose to study this course full time or part time. Find the modules for the full-time course below. 

For details about the part-time course structure, contact course co-ordinator Sophie Heath at

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Art History Research Seminar

      0 credits
      All Year Teaching, Year 1

      This is a non-credit research seminar class.

    • Art History Research Skills and Methods

      0 credits
      All Year Teaching, Year 1

      This is a non-credit research skills class.

    • Critical Issues in Art History and Curating

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module covers some of the central topics and methods of current art historical practice as applied to a wide range of specific geographic and historical contexts. Engaging with some of art history's historiographical and methodological approaches, you will evaluate diverse interpretive approaches, such as feminism, iconology, agency, gift giving, and post colonialism. The module develops your the ability to interpret, critique and apply a range of methodological positions and highlights the position of art history as a discipline both responding to and acting upon problems of understanding cultural practices. The module material may be contradictory or even explicitly oppositional, and you will be expected and encouraged to develop an independent position on it.

    • Museum Skills I: Objects

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      The module sets out to equip you with a range of core museum skills, above all in familiarity with the objects of display.  Skills you will develop include how to describe an object in various ways depending on audience, how to handle an object, and how to look after an object. You will deal with issues such as materials and visual appearance such as style analysis, iconography/subject matter, describing an object, and thinking about where visual appearance of an object comes from. You will also cover issues relating to the practical interpretation of objects in museums, including catalogue entries of different sorts, web materials, labels, and exhibition publications.

    • Museum Skills II: Contexts and Display

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module builds on the work from Museum Skills I. It introduces you to a range of further skills and issues in museum practice, both through seminar teaching and site visits and discussion. Areas to be covered will include exhibitions (how curators put an exhibition together, the role of an Education Department in disseminating different learning styles); the historical and political contexts of museums and how this affects display; how museums work on a practical level; and the museum as a research resource (collection databases, archives and stores, and accessions and policies).

    • Photography and 20th Century Visual Culture

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module is based on seminar analysis of material examples, such as photographic prints, albums and publications from across a range of formats. They have been drawn from the collection of The Archive of Modern Conflict (AMC), London, and the module is a joint project in development between the University of Sussex and the AMC to encourage a first-hand critical engagement with photography at a post-graduate level. Our seminars take the form of discussions supplemented by short presentations and explications considering issues around producers, contexts and methods, and strategies of picture-making in relation to social function, for example, the question of the relationship between anthropology and documentary.

    • Placement (Art History & Museum Curating)

      60 credits
      Summer Teaching, Year 1

      This placement offers you the chance to put the practical and conceptual skills learnt throughout the programme into practice. You will be assigned a placement at a museum or gallery, in discussion with your tutors, where you will work for a minimum of 120 hours between the end of the spring term and the end of August.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above in art history or another relevant humanities or social science discipline.

English language requirements

Standard level (IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?


Home: £10,250 per year

EU: £10,250 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £10,250 per year

Overseas: £21,000 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Arts Scholars MA Award (2017)

Two £10,000 awards for outstanding students on the Art History and Museum Curating MA

Application deadline:

30 June 2017

Find out more about the Arts Scholars MA Award

Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


The Department of Art History provides a dynamic and stimulating environment for postgraduate study. We have particular strengths in Byzantine, Renaissance and Eighteenth-century art; modern and contemporary art and visual culture; photography, feminist art history, postcolonial discourse and curating. 

The Department of Art History plays a part in the:

  • Centre for Photography and Visual Culture
  • Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies
  • Centre for Byzantine Cultural History.
  • Faculty profiles

    Dr Benedict Burbridge
    Senior Lecturer in Art History

    Research interests: Art History, Art Theory & Aesthetics, Critical Theory, cultural politics, Digital Culture, Museum And Gallery Studies, Photography art and politics, Photography History, Theory and Practice

    View profile

    Dr Meaghan Clarke
    Senior Lecturer in Art History

    Research interests: 20th Century Visual Culture, Art History, british art, Gender Studies, history of collecting, Imperial/Colonial History, Print Culture, Victorian studies

    View profile

    Dr Flora Dennis
    Senior Lecturer In Art History

    Research interests: Art and design, Domestic interiors, Early modern Italy, History of sound, material culture, Music

    View profile

    Prof Liz James
    Professor of History of Art

    Research interests: Byzantine art, Byzantine culture and society, colour, gender, mosaics, sensory perceptions

    View profile

    Prof David Mellor
    Professor of History of Art

    Research interests: Sixties artists

    View profile

    Prof Geoffrey Quilley
    Professor of Art History

    Research interests: Art History, british art, British Empire, Eighteenth-century culture, Imperial/Colonial History, maritime history, Post-Colonial Studies, Slavery, Travel

    View profile


Graduate destinations

100% of students from the Department of Art History were in work or further study six months after graduating. Our students have gone on to roles including:

  • archaeologist, Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA)
  • exhibition director, Soka Art Centre
  • project curator, British Museum.

(HESA EPI, Destinations of Post Graduate Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

You gain knowledge about objects and collections, specifically in the context of photography, and develop a critical awareness of museum practices.

 You develop communication and project management skills. These skills provide the practical and theoretical foundation for careers in:

  • museums
  • galleries
  • heritage at curatorial level
  • the cultural sector more broadly.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work

Contact us