Taught course

Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors

University of Buckingham · School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Entry requirements

The minimum entry level required for this course is as follows:

  • a first or second-class honours degree from a recognised university or,
  • a recognised professional qualification with relevant work experience

Months of entry


Course content

Course outline

This unique MA in French and British Decorative Arts and Interiors focuses on the development of interiors and decorative arts in England and France in the “long” eighteenth century (c.1660-c.1830) and their subsequent rediscovery and reinterpretation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

A key element of the course is the emphasis on the first-hand study of furniture, silver and ceramics, where possible in the context of historic interiors. Based in central London, it draws upon the outstanding collections of the nearby Wallace Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The MA is designed to appeal to those wishing to pursue careers in heritage organisations, antique-dealing and auctioneering, museums, conservation, interior design or university teaching and research. However, those with a strong personal interest in studying the subject for its own sake are also very welcome.

With its focus on first-hand study of decorative arts within historic interiors, the programme provides a vocational and academic training which has enabled students to pursue careers in museums, interior design, antique dealing, and auctioneering. Some of our past students now work at the Royal Collection, the National Trust and English Heritage (see What our students and alumni say).

The MA also provides an excellent spring-board for students wanting to do a PhD in art history or related disciplines.

UK Study Trips

There are frequent trips to collections in and around London, and a study week at Buckingham exploring local country houses such as Woburn Abbey, Waddesdon Manor, Boughton and Blenheim Palace, with their important decorative arts collections.

Paris Study Week

In the second term there is a study week in Paris, where students are granted privileged access to some of the private apartments at Versailles not normally accessible to the public, as well as a number of very important eighteenth-century private houses in Paris, open by special permission.

Professional Practice Projects and Placements in Museums and Galleries

Students also have the opportunity, through the Professional Practice Project to plan an exhibition in a museum, research a project to restore a historic interior or undertake a part-time placement with a museum or heritage organisation, thereby acquiring useful vocational skills and experience. Some of our students have recently done placements with English Heritage, Strawberry Hill and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Course Structure

The course starts each September and finishes the following September. During the first term students study the development of the decorative arts and the interior in France and England between c.1660 and the end of the eighteenth century. In the second term, students examine revivalism and the practical and historical problems of reinterpreting eighteenth-century interiors and objects. This is combined with a professional practice project designed to equip students with skills and experience applicable to careers in museums and built heritage.

Teaching takes place two days a week (excluding class trips) over two terms, or one day a week for part-time students. During the third term, students research a dissertation under supervision, which is written up over the summer for submission at the end of September. Assessment is by means of coursework and the dissertation.

Subject to the agreement of the Programme Director, there are some options for part-time study, one day a week over two years, or by deferral of the dissertation.

Modules studied on this course

- British Decorative Arts & Historic Interiors 1660-c.1790

- British Decorative Arts & Historic Interiors from c.1790

- French Decorative Arts & Historic Interiors 1660-c.1790

- French Decorative Arts & Historic Interiors from c.1790

- Professional Practice Project

- Dissertation

The University would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for this MA programme.

Information for international students

Buckingham is a truly global community with students of all ages and cultures: over 90 countries are represented. It is a place to establish lasting networks, both professionally and socially. Our alumni networks operate successfully all over the world and we encourage them to stay in touch with us.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Please visit our website for the latest information on tuition fees, scholarships and bursaries.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

The MA is designed to appeal principally to those wishing to make careers in The National Trust, English Heritage, antique-dealing and auctioneering, museums, interior design or university teaching and research. Those with a strong personal interest in the subject are also welcome.

Course contact details

HRI Admissions
+44 (0)1280 820227