UCC Postgraduate courses

Art History - Modern & Contemporary Art History, Theory & Criticism

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Art History - Modern & Contemporary Art History, Theory & Criticism

  • Code


  • College

    Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

  • Duration

    1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

  • Teaching Mode

    Full-time, Part-Time

  • Qualifications


  • EU Fees

    €6,130; €3,130 (Year 1 part-time); €3,130 (Year 2 part-time)
    See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Non-EU Fees


  • Entry Requirements

    Honours primary degree with a Second Class Honours Grade I in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or equivalent in History of Art or a cognate discipline. See Requirements for full details.

  • Start Date

    Not on offer 2023/2024

Course Outline

Our MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory and Criticism is a unique art history programme that offers a stimulating, rigorous and wide-ranging exploration of twentieth- and twenty-first-century art and theory.

This MA Art History course is rooted in both solid historical training and cutting-edge critical methods and is designed to combine skills in creative and precise visual analysis, a close reading of critical texts, and the cultivation of independent and original thinking and research. 

On completion of the course, you will be equipped with skills that are vital to both further academic study and to the pursuit of a wide variety of careers in the arts. Our students typically come to us from backgrounds in the history of art, fine art, film, English literature, philosophy, and other related disciplines. The course can be studied full-time over one year, or part-time (by day) over two years (this part-time option is available to EU students only).

The taught MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory and  Criticism includes an intensive course of four core modules in the fields of modern and contemporary art, a literature review (5,000 words), and a dissertation (20,000 words).

Modules (total 90 credits)

Part I (45 credits)

  • HA6006 Theory for Art History (10 credits)
  • HA6021 Early Modernisms and the Experience of Modernity (10 credits)
  • HA6007 Modern Art and Modernity (10 credits)
  • HA6009 Contemporary Art (10 credits)
  • HA6010 Literature Review (5 credits)

Part II (45 credits)

  • HA6011 History of Art Dissertation

Postgraduate Certificate in Modern & Contemporary Art History, Theory & Criticism

Students passing modules to the value of at least 30 credits and achieving an aggregate of 40 percent across modules to the value of 45 credits in Part I may opt to exit the programme and be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in History of Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory and Criticism.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

A full-time course, the MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory and Criticism involves four hours of seminar per week, plus approximately 30 hours of weekly independent study and reading.

The part-time option will be taught during weekday working hours over 2 years.

Assessment is based entirely on written assignments, consisting of critical research essays ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 words, in addition to a dissertation of 20,000 words.

See our History of Art academic and administrative staff page for information on our team. Our teaching staff include:

Why Choose This Course

This is a unique programme in Ireland and our students receive focused, personal attention from an international team of research-active lecturers. Small seminar classes provide the context for lively discussion, critical debate, and peer learning. Course work is complemented by a visiting lecture series, class trips to museums and galleries both in Ireland and abroad (when possible), and student symposia.

UCC is an ideal place to study the history of art because it is supported by the award-winning facilities of the Glucksman Gallery on campus, by institutions such as the Crawford Art Gallery and the National Sculpture Factory in Cork City, and by the energetic artistic community that sustains them.

Connected Curriculum

Our learning approach reflects our commitment to the Connected Curriculum where we emphasise the connection between students, learning, research and leadership through our vision for a Connected University. Our staff are at the forefront of this integrative approach to learning and will support you in making meaningful connections across the discipline of art.

Skills and Careers Information

Our MA provides vital training for careers in schools and universities, museums, galleries and associated fields, as well as developing the necessary transferable skills for professional work in such areas as journalism, media, design, advertising, the heritage industry, and arts administration. Our graduates have gone on to pursue careers in arts both in Ireland and abroad, in auction houses and the art market, in teaching and gallery work, while others have elected to pursue PhDs with us at University College Cork as well as University College London and the University of Oxford.


Applicants must hold either:

  • an honours primary degree in History of Art at Second Class Honours Grade I in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or equivalent, or
  • Art school students should have a Second Class Honours Grade I minimum in their History of Art classes or equivalent, and
  • a one-page statement of purpose (500 words) acceptable to History of Art staff, detailing the student's interest in the programme, and their particular research interests and methodologies to date, and their future professional goals.

All applicants must satisfy a selection committee. In exceptional circumstances, under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and subject to the approval of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, applicants who hold a primary degree other than Second Class Honours, and who demonstrate a high level of significant and relevant experience, may also be eligible for entry to the programme. Final acceptance is subject to approval by the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, UCC.  

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Vsit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

The EU fee for this course is €6,130; €3,130 (Year 1 part-time); €3,130 (Year 2 part-time).

The Non-EU fee for this course is €16,400.


If your course required a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

EU student fee payment 

Fees for EU students are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration in August and the second in January.

International student fee payment 

International Students can pay in two equal instalments once they have paid the appropriate deposit. The initial payment is due on registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

You can pay by Credit/Debit card online or by credit transfer.


If you have any questions on fee payment please contact the Fees Office.

How Do I Apply

1. Check Dates: Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

  • For Irish and EU applicants we operate a rounds system and you can check the rounds closing dates here.
  • Note that not all our programmes are subject to the rounds system so check the opening and closing dates for your specific programme in the fact file boxes above.

2. Gather Documents: Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply Online: Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following: 

  • You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.
  • Please detail your research interest(s).
  • In addition to your previously declared qualifications, please outline any additional academic courses, self-learning, and professional training relevant to this programme.
  • Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.
  • Please submit a copy of a short analytical/critical/report/creative writing sample or essay (1,000 words approx.) 
  • Please enter the names & email addresses of two referees. Applicants will also be required to supply two written references, one of which should be a previous supervisor of studies.

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact