What is Art History?
The academic discipline of “Art History” teaches students to understand the significance of works of art in their historical contexts. Art history should not be equated with art appreciation or art criticism, activities that seek mainly to evaluate and explain the relative “beauty” or “value” of an artwork through discussion of form and subjective experience. Rather, art historians engage in critical, historical inquiry into the meaning and function of visual media. Art history teaches visual literacy which helps practitioners to recognize the ways in which images communicate and shape human perceptions about history, society, politics, religion and culture. An active interest in and/or familiarity with major historical epochs and events as well as the methods of historical inquiry and research is therefore necessary for anyone considering the study of art history.
Why study a MA in Art History?
Our HKU Master of Arts in Art History (MAAH) programme is the first MA in Hong Kong to focus on art history. Our unique programme delivers research-based teaching by world-class scholars, and is designed to empower students to acquire specialized knowledge and skills for further academic study, professional careers in the arts or other related creative industries.
It is important to understand that our programme is not primarily a curatorial studies programme, nor does it focus on navigating the art market. We do include training in a number of curatorial skills that are essential for work in museums and galleries, but these are just part of the larger academic curriculum, which emphasizes art historical research, theory, and writing.
The MA Experience for Students
Students enroll and participate in six courses, three per semester, and explore various themes, time periods and subjects in art history.
By the end of the programme they focus on a specific research topic and write an MA dissertation of 10,000 words, under the supervision of a recognized authority in the chosen field of inquiry.
On a weekly basis…
For each of their three classes, students should expect to engage in reading and analyzing advanced scholarly texts and to contribute to lively class discussions.
Students will be asked to write analytical essays of various lengths on the history of art and museum practices.
In addition to classroom related assignments, students should also expect to spend a significant amount of time conducting independent research for term papers as well as for their dissertation projects.
* The workload, which is heavy on reading and writing, should therefore be understood as commensurate with that of a full-time job.
The dissertation supervisor will usually be a full-time teacher at HKU. Alternatively, the supervisor can be a museum professional or art historian outside the university if s/he has appropriate degrees and expertise in the student’s chosen topic.
All MA dissertations are examined by the supervisor and by a second examiner.
Find us on…