University of Buckingham Decorative Arts

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University of Buckingham Decorative Arts

University of Buckingham Decorative Arts

MA in Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors

Entry requirements: First or second class honours degree or relevant experience
Full or Part-time: Full-time, Part-time

School: School of Humanities Back to course finder

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.

The Buckingham MA was featured in an article in The Guardian on 4 March 2014: “Finding a graduate job in fine art can be tough, but a master’s could help

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.


MA Decorative Arts private visit to Windsor Castle

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 an historic interior, or undertake a part-time museum placement, thereby acquiring useful vocational skills and experience. Some of our students are currently doing placements at English Heritage and Strawberry Hill.

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 available 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

Full course information in the University Handbook

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

See also:


The University of Buckingham
Hunter Street
MK18 1EG
United Kingdom