Negotiating Modern Visual Culture @ ucc

This exciting MA program offers rigorous training in the history and theory of the modern visual world.

The barrage of images that we negotiate daily is astounding and ever-increasing in the internet age— advertising photographs pop up right and left in online articles, informational videos precede content that we choose to view, while a steady supply of memes, gifs, jpegs, html and mp3s cross our interfaces. As human populations become increasingly urban, public media display has evolved to address ever more sophisticated, visually attuned consumers. This visual cascade feeds the experiences of distraction and attentive stimulation daily, but how are we to understand this constant stream of visual information?


More than ever, training in the history and tactics of visual spectacle offers a way to intelligently negotiate our increasingly complex daily life.  Rooted in history, informed by theory, and invested in contemporary questions of visuality, mass media, and resistance, the M.A. in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory and Criticism provides vital training for a new generation of global citizens. Students take rigorous seminars on urban history and aesthetics, the theory and critical applications of photography in modern life, and problems concerning abstraction and figuration in art after 1945. Object-based, deliberately sustained pedagogy offers a critical counterpoint to the speed, efficacy, and dematerialization of modern visual culture. A research methodologies course grounds students in critical theories of identity and the subject, human perception, gender, race, and the intersections between art and radical politics.


The programme is taught by an international team of scholars:  Dr. Sabine Kriebel, course coordinator, holds B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, and specializes in modern art and photography; Dr. Ed Krčma, who earned his B.A. from the University of Nottingham and his M.A. and Ph.D. from University College London, is an expert in contemporary art, with a specialization in drawing; Dr. Simon Knowles is both a practicing painter and a scholar, having earned his degree in fine arts at the University College Falmouth, an M.A. from the City University in Birmingham, and his Ph.D, from the University College Cork. His research focuses on visual practices in urban space. All three scholars are well integrated in Irish, European, and North American contexts


International in outlook and competitive with programmes abroad, the M.A. in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory and Criticism offers small seminars, one-on-one instruction, and guided independent research. Students study in the unique environment of Cork and have quick access to world-class museum and gallery collections, with field trips to London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, and Dublin.


Graduates of the program have found employment in museum and gallery spaces, arts administration, event management, auction houses, and marketing in Ireland, Europe, and North America; they work as writers, critics, curators, administrators, entrepreneurs, project managers, and scholars. 


Students with a 3.0 average or higher in an undergraduate arts or humanities degree are invited to apply. Direct inquiries to Dr. Sabine Kriebel, History of Art, University College Cork, Ireland: Further information and application procedures are available online at:




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