Masters in Art History: Studying our Artistic Heritage and Culture

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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Doing a Masters in Art History gives you a chance to study Ireland’s rich heritage. Over the centuries different cultures and ideologies have shaped Ireland. These include the Celts, Saxons and the Vikings, and of course, Christianity. The oldest Irish art dates back to 3200 BC, and the Neolithic stone carvings at Newgrange are older than Egypt’s pyramids. Around 2000 BCE, people in Ireland began producing gold ornaments. These were thin crescent-shaped disks. In addition, gold decorative items included plaques and bands with a pinhole so that they could be attached to clothing.


Ireland’s universities teach through English. Therefore students need a decent knowledge of English. If English is not your first language, you must be able to demonstrate English language proficiency.  Art history is a specialised branch of history. It studies the evolution of art from different cultures and parts of the world.

General requirements

Applicants to Masters programmes should at least have:

  • A second upper-class in a relevant area or also an honorary degree (2.2) or higher
  • You may have to write a personal statement or show written references. Furthermore, the college may interview you before admission

While there are a number of institutions that offer an MA in Art History in Ireland, the following is an overview of the programmes at two colleges.

University College Dublin

UCD’s School of Art History & Cultural Policy offers taught Masters and research degrees in Art History and in Cultural Policy. The MA in Art History, Collections and Curating focuses on collections and curatorial practice. Students will learn to interpret, critique, and analyse works of art and architecture. Graduate work in academia, research, writing, and curatorship.

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College’s Department of the History of Art and Architecture focuses primarily in aspects of western art. TCD offers an MPhil and an MLitt. The MPhil is a taught masters. Students attend taught courses and write an original thesis. If you do the MLitt, then the award is based on research.

Trinity’s MPhil. in Art History, ART + IRELAND covers art and architecture from the Middle Ages to the present day. You will consider artistic and cultural identity. As a result, you will need to think critically about the meaning and interpretation of art works. Graduates go on to do doctoral research or work in museums, galleries, and auction houses as well as in cultural media and heritage.


Anne Sexton

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