IX. Graduate Programs

Art and Visual Culture

MA Program

The MA in Art and Visual Culture examines the production and consumption of images, objects, and spaces from varied cultures. It challenges many ideas about cognition and perception, and includes the study of the ocular. Because the visual is crucial to our understandings of cultural difference, Art and Visual Culture Studies is vitally concerned with the manner in which the interdependent elements of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class construct identity. It demands that we think across cultures and national boundaries, and within a global context. Intercultural visual analysis necessarily questions conceptions of "high" and "low" culture and requires that we substantially change the ways in which we practice the discipline of Art History.

Towards this end, the objectives of the MA program are:

  1. To enable students to gain a command of visual literacy through global and critical understandings of art and its cultures and histories;

  2. To combine art historical methodology and visual and material culture perspectives in the study of objects—both past and present;

  3. To explore critically the assumptions underpinning writing about art and visual culture.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the M.A. program in Art and Visual Culture may be granted on the recommendation of the School of Fine Art and Music to:

  • the holder of a BA degree (honours equivalent), or an honours BA (or its equivalent in art history) with a minimum of a 75% average; or

  • in exceptional cases, the holder of a degree in another field who has completed a minimum of six one-semester courses in art history; or

  • a student who has satisfied the requirements for transfer from the provisional-student category.

It is highly recommended that applicants complete at least eight semesters of courses in art history, cultural studies, or related areas prior to applying. Serious interest in, and substantial familiarity with, historical and contemporary issues in Art and Visual Culture is expected.

Degree Requirements

The program is a five semester MA in Art and Visual Culture for students with a four-year undergraduate honours degree in the arts or social sciences. The MA program has a 2.0 credit course requirement, as well as a thesis for the completion of the program. The thesis consists of an extensive piece of research and an oral examination (defence).

Each degree candidate is required to complete the course work, colloquium oral presentation, and a thesis, which consists of an extended piece of research, and an oral examination. The three components represent a significant body of research and production, and demonstrate a thoroughly engaged investigation into the historical and conceptual considerations of the thesis topic. The thesis topic is subject to the approval of the MA Examination Committee, which includes an examiner from the profession. The thesis is a project of publishable quality. In essay form, it discusses the critical, historical, and theoretical aspects of the student's subject of research. Students are expected to present and defend their work orally in a manner appropriate to a professional art historian's public presentation.

A total of 2.0 credits are required for the completion of this program. In addition to individually oriented Critical Methods I and II courses, students are required to complete two MA seminars. A maximum of one course outside Art History may be substituted for courses in Art and Visual Culture graduate offerings. The courses selected must be acceptable to the school and the Board of Graduate Studies for graduate credit. There are 4 ‘substantive’ courses that comprise the candidate's prescribed studies, and in which the student must obtain an overall average grade of at least 'B-' standing.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1