MA Art History, Collections & Curating

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

The MA in Art History, Collections and Curating offers advanced postgraduate academic training in the history of art, with a special focus on collections and curatorial practice.


• Delivered by academics and practitioners from across the university and the larger Dublin community.

• Offers the opportunity to hone skills in the interpretation, critique, and analysis of works of art and architecture.

• Combines academic scholarship with an introduction to the theory and practice of curation in museums and galleries.

Careers & Employability

Numerous graduates from the School of Art History and Cultural Policy occupy leading positions in cultural institutions in Ireland and across the world.  Its graduate programmes develop those skills essential to a wide spectrum of careers involved with the arts, visual culture and the media.  UCD graduates have occuplied directorial and curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Ireland, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the Chester Beatty Library and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, while a UCD graduate is currently Head of Education at the Wallace Collection, London.

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

This course will primarily appeal to applicants with an undergraduate experience of art history, or a cognate discipline, and who wish to be introduced to the challenges and rewards of the subject at a more ambitious, research-intensive level. Our aim is to equip students with the knowledge and skill to develop their own individual enthusiasms as art historians and to extend, question, and reflect upon the critical approaches which shape the subject. The MA comprises a supervised research thesis on a subject of the student’s choice, and a series of small-group taught courses which offers advanced postgraduate academic training in the history of art, with a special focus on collections and curatorial practice. Via a stimulating mixture of thematically-linked lectures, seminars and site visits, including an international study trip to a major European city, the course is designed to make the best use of the rich art collections and research resources in Dublin and elsewhere, and to encourage an adventurous, first-hand engagement with works of art - whether in painting, sculpture, architecture, the decorative arts, photography or other visual media. 

The School of Art History and Cultural Policy is committed to creating a supportive, collegial atmosphere, where MA students can be directly inspired by the excellence and diversity of its research activity (which strongly engages with, but also extends well beyond Irish art). While the course therefore provides a first-rate platform for students to go on to research at MLitt/PhD level, many of our MA graduates have pursued their art historical development in a more immediately vocational context as curators, guides, writers, educators and administrators. The School is also very keen to promote interdisciplinary approaches and instil in our MA students the kind of transferable, critically-aware skills which are sought after in a variety of scholarly and professional contexts, and which naturally arise within a discipline that is so uniquely and intellectually engaged in the act of looking. 

    • A specialised understanding of art historical styles, subjects and schools - both in terms of a general familiarity with visual culture, and with regard to a connoisseurial ability to recognise the forms, techniques, functionality and authorship of works of art throughout history.
    • An understanding of the theory and practice of curating, including the social, political and cultural functions of museums and galleries.
    • Students should be conversant with the extensive range of methodological and interdisciplinary approaches embraced by art history, including current research trends, and how these inform and can be applied to the candidate's own research thesis and assignments.
    • Students should have developed the skills relevant to a well-written, analytically rigorous and original research-based thesis on an art historical subject.  While this should be a discrete, self-contained project, we encourage theses that offer scope for further development beyond the MA.
    • The ability to give concise, visually aware and engaging oral presentations on specific works of art/ art historical sites, and to articulate a personal and individually critical response to the subject in question.
    • Students should be familiar with, and have made use of, a wide range of research resources and art collections and sites in Dublin, and in other locations relevant to the course's field trips and the student's own individual research.
    • A clear understanding of the value and integrity of original, independent thinking, and the type of research questions which can expand and shape an understanding of art historical topics and themes.
    • A range of transferable skills - including the ability to think analyticallyand imaginatively - which would facilitate not only advancement in the field of art history and its cognate disciplines, but also within a wide range of professional contexts.

    MA Art History, Collections & Curating (Z344) Full Time
    EU          fee per year - € 7055
    nonEU    fee per year - € 19200

    MA Art History, Collections & Curating (Z345) Part Time
    EU          fee per year - € 4235
    nonEU    fee per year - € 9600

    ***Fees are subject to change

    Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website.  Please note that UCD offers a number of graduate scholarships for full-time, self-funding international students, holding an offer of a place on a UCD graduate degree programme.  For further information please see International Scholarships.

    Graduate Profile
    Lindsay Schiller, USA,

    When my undergraduate advisor suggested I go abroad for my masters, I was hesitant to make such a bold step. However, the UCD Art History faculty were so welcoming and open to meeting with students regularly; I always felt comfortable having a chat with them. Bonding with the other students was really encouraged by the faculty, which made the international transition a bit easier and provided for some great nights out. From the onset, students were trained to use the vast resources in the many libraries and online journals UCD have access to – making research more manageable.  Through this programme, I realised that I still have a strong desire to continue my graduate coursework and pursue a doctorate in Art History in order to become a college professor myself.

    The following entry routes are available:

    MA Art History, Collections & Curating FT (Z344)
    1 Years
    Full Time
    Rolling *
    MA Art History, Collections & Curating PT (Z345)
    2 Years
    Part Time
    Rolling *

    * Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised

    The programme is directed at postgraduate students of art history and of cognate subjects such as art, architecture and geography. It is also intended for those with experience in the art world and in the cultural heritage sector looking for an opportunity to hone their skills in the interpretation, critique, and analysis of works of art and architecture, developing the knowledge and capacity to pursue careers in academia, research, writing, and curatorship.