Master of Arts in Art History2024-04-19T08:31:43+00:00

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 2024/2025 application is now open, click here to apply now.
Application deadline: 16 May, 2024 12:00 noon (Thursday)
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The MA Experience for Students

Programme goal

  • Students enroll and participate in seven courses (including the dissertation), 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.

Programme Timeline

MA Dissertation


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.


Tel: (+852) 3917-8517 / Email:


What is the difference between an MPhil programme and an MA programme?2022-08-10T09:09:11+00:00

The MA is a taught master’s degree. Our MAAH is a 12-month programme requiring students to complete six courses and write a capstone dissertation of 10,000 words. The MPhil, in contrast, is a two-year research-focused degree. Students take only a few short courses and complete a much longer dissertation under the supervision of their primary supervisor. The MAAH qualifies students to apply for our 4-year PhD programme; the MPhil qualifies students to apply for our 3-year PhD programme. Because of its emphasis on coursework, the MA is more recognized internationally as a qualification for overseas PhD programmes.

What kind of MA candidates are we looking for?2021-06-16T02:25:50+00:00

We are looking for applicants with a background in art history and professionals who are already working in art-related fields. But we will also consider applicants with a strong academic foundation and significant art-related experience even though they are coming from another field of study or work.

Does the Department offer a part-time MA option?2021-06-16T02:26:17+00:00

At the moment we only offer a full-time option and all our classes are held on weekdays during the daytime. Please stay tuned on our website for further updates.

How long should the academic writing sample be?2021-06-16T02:27:47+00:00

Please submit a piece of no more than 5,000 words (including footnotes and bibliography). Ideally, the piece should be in the format of a research essay. The topic should relate to some aspects of art history (if not, in the field of humanities).

What should I say in my personal statement?2021-06-16T02:28:17+00:00

Your personal statement is a critical component of your application because it allows us to better understand you, your interest in art history and understanding of the programme. But if you are reading this paragraph and contemplating an MA in art history we already know you love art. Do not start your essay with a statement to that effect. It is not necessary for you to tell us this or for you to repeat information in your CV or transcript outlining your qualifications (unless you wish to build on or explain this information in a specific way). Be as specific as possible. If you took a class in something that inspired you, or made a trip somewhere that was transformative, explain why and how. The personal statement is not the place for grand sweeping statements about the importance of art in society or how meaningful it is to you. Use the personal statement instead to impress us about your knowledge about the discipline of art history, or, explain to us what you don’t know but wish to learn. If you don’t have a background in art history, explain why you still think you would make a good candidate.

What are the requirements for admission?2021-07-14T02:44:55+00:00

We prefer applicants with an undergraduate CGPA of 3.0/4.0. For the English language requirements, please click here for details. Under certain circumstances students who do not meet these requirements may still be considered if application addresses any inconsistencies in undergraduate record or presents a reasonable argument for exception.


Upcoming Events

  1. Art History & Curatorship Seminars

    June 25 @ 9:30 am - June 28 @ 11:30 am

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