A second-class honours degree (2:2) or above in a relevant subject or equivalent (for example, professional experience).
For students with a degree in a subject other than history of art, the one-year, part-time Graduate Certificate in History of Art and Architecture can be used as a conversion course. Students who successfully complete the graduate certificate with merit will normally be guaranteed a place on this programme.
A written exercise or sample undergraduate essay is required and applicants may be interviewed.
Applications are reviewed on their individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.
Months of entry
Museums have been of enormous importance in shaping empires, nations and cities, and their collections are connected to wider histories of conflict and social change. To study museums is to study the development and fierce contestation of our collective cultural imagination and memory.
Our MA Museum Cultures combines study of the history and cultural significance of museums with opportunities for professional museum experience. If you are contemplating a career in the museum and gallery sector this course provides you with the perfect opportunity to study this expanding and dynamic field in close proximity to world-distinguished museums and galleries.
As well as regular gallery and museum visits, we also offer an exciting study trip abroad every spring.
You will develop a range of key skills, from critical thinking and writing to practical experience through a 10-week supervised work placement that you can apply for in a museum, gallery or archive. Previous opportunities have been offered at the Tate, British Museum, Whitechapel Gallery and Horniman Museum. Past students have helped design and run schools programmes, documented collections that were previously uncatalogued, conducted visitor research and assisted curators in producing exhibitions.
- Birkbeck was ranked as one of the top four universities in the UK for its Art and Design research in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.
- We offer a number of bursaries for postgraduate students. Funds are also available to support research expenses for your coursework on this MA.
- Birkbeck has an international reputation for its innovative approaches to the history of art, visual culture and museum studies, and attracts a rich programme of visiting scholars and practitioners. We are home to the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre, the Architecture, Space and Society Centre, the Centre for Museum Cultures and the Vasari Research Centre. You will also have access to the Centre for Film and Visual Media. We have state-of-the art cinema and exhibition spaces, all housed in a historic building that was a former home to key members of the Bloomsbury Group, including the author Virginia Woolf and the artist Vanessa Bell. Birkbeck Library has an extensive collection of books and journals in museum studies and history of art. You can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including Senate House Library, the British Library and the National Art Library at the V&A.
- We host a range of events including information evenings for prospective students; the annual Murray Lecture where speakers have included Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, and Neil MacGregor, former Director of the British Museum; and exhibitions and displays at Birkbeck's Peltz Gallery and events at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. Find out more about our staff and student activities on the Birkbeck History of Art blog.
- Study trips in the last few years include visits to Florence, Paris, Venice, Vienna, Rome, Berlin and Moscow.
Graduates can pursue career paths in arts management, conservation and policy; education, marketing and publishing; the museums and heritage sectors; and research and academia. Possible professions include:
- higher education lecturer
- museum/gallery curator
- arts administrator
- advertising account executive.
Jobs gained by some of our BA and MA graduates include:
- Head of Learning, Design Museum
- Curator, Schools Programmes, Tate Modern
- Curatorial Assistant, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
- Curatorial Officer, National Army Museum
- Head of Campaign Management, Science Museum
- Curator, Handel House Museum
- Head Curator, National Maritime Museum
- Director, Foundling Museum
- Curator, British Art 1850-1915, Tate Britain
- Courses and Events Programmer, National Gallery.
Read blogs by former students Danny Birchall, the Wellcome Collection's Digital Manager, and Carla Valentine, author and mortician.
We offer a comprehensive careers service - Careers and Enterprise - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.
Information for international students
If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.
If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses and foundation programmes to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.
Qualification, course duration and attendance options
- full time12 months
- Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
- part time24 months
- Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
Course contact details
- Student Advice Service
- +44 (0)20 3907 0700