In 2019 the Art School launched a new MA in Art & Material Histories, investigating Art Histories through the lens of materials with a distinctive focus on the links between material, critical and historical enquiry.

Through a series of carefully structured lectures, seminars and visits, the course takes you through the history of material thinking from antiquity to the present day. Key ideas from within the history of philosophy, art and cultural theory, creative practice and conservation ethics will be examined, explored and opened up for discussion and interrogation. With a focus on critical thinking around the material turn, case studies, objects, artworks and collections will be examined in terms of their particular physical, historical, psychological and sociopolitical narratives, and considered in terms of the ethics and ideas surrounding their modes of preservation and display.

Alongside the more theoretical elements of the course, you will develop your material literacy ‘hands-on’. A series of workshops will provide experiential learning out of which a range of established ways of thinking about artworks will be questioned and developed. Material Matters, the Art School’s research platform that interrogates a different material on a biannual basis, will influence and shape the themes of this aspect of the course. A focused and imaginative art historical study of, for example, the essential qualities and purposes of pigment, clay, plastic, dust, the digital or waste, will be expanded through creative interrogation and experimentation. Innovative and exciting ways of researching, writing about and presenting findings will be introduced and explored through your engagement with symposia and exhibitions.

The course also offers you the opportunity to engage in a detailed and thorough exploration of a particular material, object or issue. You will be closely supported by tutors who will guide you through the process of researching, writing and presenting specialist interests to others. This aspect of the course will enable you to prepare and present a portfolio of written and curated work exploring a particular theme of your own choosing.

For more information on the course, see the course page on the Art School’s website: