Slade School of Fine Art



Joy Sleeman - Head of Taught Courses

The History and Theory of Art programme of the MA involves both coursework and individual research. The taught component comprises a series of weekly seminars in the autumn and spring terms of the first year.

In the taught component students are expected to:

  1. participate in discussions on a wide range of historical, theoretical and philosophical approaches to art which both add to their general understanding of contemporary debates and contribute to their approach to their research project;
  2. develop an ability to read a philosophical or theoretical text in depth and develop their ability to articulate their ideas in writing;
  3. consider the various possible relations between history, theory and practice, and develop the relation between their studio work and their research.

In the research component students are expected to:

  1. pursue independent research in depth;
  2. develop an individual perspective, supported by thorough research and argued with clarity and coherence;
  3. develop an ability to relate ideas to specific works and cultural phenomena with vividness and accuracy;
  4. achieve a high level of quality in presentation, including proper use of footnotes, bibliography and illustrations.

The taught course work is assessed by means of termly essays that are essential for the development of study and writing skills and must be passed. The Research Report and assessed course work contribute 25% to the final degree award (10% in Year 1, 15% in Year 2) and studio work contributes 75%. The Research Report is meant to stand independently from studio work and is assessed separately. There may, and indeed should, be a connection with studio work, but this may be indirect. The topic should in some way be related to art, art history, art theory, aesthetics, visual theory, cultural studies or curating.

During the first year students should attend a seminar programme extending over the course of the academic year which introduces them to a varied body of ideas and approaches, encourages them to consider the relations between theory and practice, and gives them the opportunity to gain extra experience in writing. It includes practical sessions on research and dissertation writing. These seminars provide students with the opportunity to participate in a stimulating and supportive environment for intellectual work. Students are expected to develop an approach to research and writing that is both inventive and rigorous. Students must pass this component of the programme on the basis of their attendance and essays.

In the first year MA students:

  1. write three essays with the second and third essays are worth 5% of the degree each;
  2. decide on their topic for independent research in consultation with course tutors and based upon the MA proposal submitted at interview stage.

During the second year MA students:

  1. participate in the MA research seminar in which they each make a presentation to their peers, based on their research project;
  2. participate in an all-graduate research forum with students on the MPhil/PhD programme;
  3. develop their independent research project in consultation with course tutors and their allocated supervisor;
  4. produce the MA Report (10,000 words) which comprises 15% of the degree.
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