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M.Phil. in Art History
Course Details

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The taught M.Phil. programme comprises a mandatory module, Research Methods in Art History, four taught modules to be chosen from the available selection, and a Dissertation of not more than 20,000 words on a subject selected by the student under the guidance of members of staff.

Research Methods in Art History

This module introduces students to the principal sources and methodologies applicable to advanced study in the history of art and provides an overview of the conceptual underpinnings of the discipline.

Taught Modules

Students will choose four taught modules. Modules offered may include the following, but please note that not all options will be available in any given year. Please contact Dr Laura Cleaver for the list of modules available in the year you apply.

Medieval Manuscripts in Irish Collections

Medieval ManuscriptsThis module is structured around visits to libraries in Dublin to examine first-hand a range of tools for the study of medieval manuscripts. The sessions introduce the students to working with facsimiles, digital resources and manuscripts, and make them aware of a range of methodological approaches to the subject. The module considers manuscripts as objects, addressing their textual and decorative content and physical structure. We discuss material made between c.700 and c.1500, concentrating on manuscripts from Ireland, Britain and France.

Medieval Monastic Ireland

Medieval Monastic irelandThis module deals with the rich remains of medieval monastic buildings in Ireland. It examines the manner in which early monastic settlements were superseded by the abbeys, priories and friaries of orders such as the Cistercians and Franciscans during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and how the requirements of these new orders shaped patterns of architecture and settlement over subsequent centuries. It looks at how patronage, liturgy and other influences shaped the buildings and their contents, and how the location of monastic houses impacted on the development of both urban and rural landscapes. It also moves beyond the Middle Ages to explore issues of survival and the debates surrounding the contemporary care, management, display and conservation of the monastic landscape.

Portraits and Portraiture in Dublin Collections

This module looks at the practice of portraiture over a long time-line via the direct examination of specific examples housed in collections in Dublin. The first part of the module (weeks 1-5) examines classical portrait typology in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including the painted sitter, the sculpted bust and the portrait print. Issues to be discussed here will include the formats and mediums for portraits, gender, and functionality. The second part of the module (weeks 8-12) will bring the discussion into the more recent past and consider the continued relevance (or not) of the form. The seminars are in the field and take the form of group discussions in front of the actual works of art, based on selected prior reading.

Religious Art in Ireland

Religious Art In IrelandThis module focuses on Irish collections of visual art and artefacts associated with the beliefs and practices of Christianity in Europe from the early modern period. Via case studies of actual objects and sites the module examines the ways in which art interpreted some of the central themes of Christianity, such as the figure of the Virgin Mary, the Passion of Christ, and the saints, up to the period of the Reformation, and the consequences of the latter for the art of later periods. The use of architecture and visual art in the performance of worship is analysed in its historical context by means of visits to sites built in the 19th and 20th centuries in and around Dublin.

TCD aerial view

Interpreting Ireland's Built Heritage

This module considers the means by which built heritage is interpreted, presented and protected. It aims to encourage engagement with architecture in Ireland and beyond, and to develop critical analysis of the conceptual and management structures which frame, control and promote architectural heritage. Students will be asked to reflect on a number of central questions about built heritage: What do we value? Why do we value it? By what means do we sustain it?

Ireland and France, c. 1800-c.2000

Ireland and FranceFrom the exhibition of Géricault's Raft of the Medusa in Dublin in 1821, via the 'Irish Impressionists' and Mainie Jellett to the exhibition L'imaginaire irlandais in Paris in 1996, this module will study the artistic connections between Ireland and France in relation to Irish artists' work in France, the exhibition and reception of French works of art in Ireland, and French works now in Dublin collections.

The Art and Agency of the Printed Image in Ireland from the 1800s

the printed imageIn this module fine art printmaking, illustration and graphic design in Ireland is examined within its artistic, social and cultural contexts, including its place within the broader British and European experience. The development of early Irish modern illustration and graphic design is explored in relation to the theories, practices and stylistic principles associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau, the Irish revival and modernist movements. The consumption, dissemination and promotion of illustration and graphic art are also considered. How artists negotiated the demands of industry and the training of artists for this sector is addressed, as is the emergence and impact of new technologies on the printed image. Key figures, private and commercial presses, and their works are identified and their contribution analysed.

Themes and Agendas in Modern and Contemporary Irish Art

themes and agendas

During the 20th century Irish art history witnessed radical changes in the subject matter addressed by artists, both in the interpretation of established genres like landscape, history painting and portraiture, and in terms of new themes that emerged as a reflection of changes in contemporary life and experience. This module considers the subject matter of Irish artists from the late 19th century through to the legacy of 20th-century art in the opening decade of the new millennium. In addition to a historical perspective charting transformations over time, the geographical concerns from local and national to international and global will be explored in the context of the projection of Irish art within an international context, and in response to external influences.



Students will be assessed on the completion of:

  1. Coursework: obligatory course assignments including essays, critiques, and research exercises. Details will be provided to registered students at the beginning of the course.
  2. Dissertation of 20,000 words (maximum) on a subject relevant to the programme.

To be awarded the M.Phil. students must have achieved an overall satisfactory result in each part of the assessment, i.e. in the coursework component and in the dissertation. No compensation is permitted between the coursework and the dissertation parts of the assessment. The preparation of the dissertation is carried out under the supervision of a member of staff in the History of Art Department/Irish Art Research Centre, and will be assessed by the supervisor, and by an external examiner.

Last updated 10 September 2018