• Faculty of Creative Arts
  • creativearts@um.edu.my
  • 03-7967 3288


Some of the most intellectually engaging questions that we ask about our lives are brought about by encounters with works of art.  Moreover, the world we live in is filled with a myriad of images that conveys a range of different, at times conflicting, ideas.  How do we make sense of this complex body of materials and knowledge?

In simple terms, the study of art history and visual culture can be described as a form of object-based or image-centred cultural history.  The things we study as 'artworks' or 'visual objects' often refelct or shape the beliefs and values of the society who make, commisioned and used them.

Besides providing students wiht the historical and contextual knowledge to understand art and other forms of visual representations, the Master of Arts (Visual Arts) programme also develop their visual literacy and interpretive skill-set.  Critical analysis is taught to shed light on the political, social, economic, religious contexts in which workds or art are made.

While our focus is on Malaysia and Southeast Asia, the perspective is nevertheless global in character.  Moreover, the study of art and visual culture from a historical perspective engages with may other areas of study, inlcuding History, Religion, Literature, Politics, Geography, Anthropology, Architecture, Design, Philosophy, Performance, Film, Television, and Area/Cultural Studies.

Whether one is thinking of a career in the growing heritage, museum, gallery and culture industry, or imporving one's writing skills when engaging with visual forms/images, or simply pursuing a life-long dream of independent reseach and learning, our MA programme have a teaching staff covering a wide range of areas and interests, a small classroom environment centred on cohort-building, and a vision to foster independent and critical thinking through the study and reseach or art history and visual culture.

Our academic staff includes scholars with industry experience, networks, and interest in different areas of study, inlcuding:

  • Malaysian art, architecture, design and visual cultures 

  • Malay World Islamic art, architecture, design and visual cultures from inter-cultural perspectives 

  • Southeast Asian art, architecture, design and visual cultures

  • Pre-modern Asian art, architecture, design and visual cultures 

  • Modern and contemporary Asian art, design, architecture and visual cultures

  • Theories and historiographies of art history

  • TV, film and cinema studies

  • Research by practice in the visual arts

  • Curatorial, exhibition, and museum studies

  • Critical heritage studies

  • Art education

  • Remediations and intersections of visual forms with literary, performative, theatrical, sonic/musical forms

  • Cross-disciplinary study of cultural practices (politics, economy, anthropology/sociology, architecture/urban studies, pure and applied sciences, philosophy, religious studies, geography and digital humanities)

Career Opportunity

Depending on the research focus and interest of students, graduates in this programme can tailor their studies in our MA in Visual Art programme with the advice of our teaching staff to explore building up necessary skills for future careers as art writer/critic/journalist, art teacher, cultural programmer, marketing executive, art manager, independent researcher, art historian, curator, copywriter, lecturer, conservator, gallerist, public relations executive, education officer, consultant, policy adviser, and many others.

We recognise that each profession requires very specific skill-sets and that jobs in the cultural sector are often competitive. With this in mind, we often advise our students based on understanding their career and learning goals. A paper qualification may open up new opportunities and career possibilities, but it is not a guarantee of a job. Often, students are advised to acquire additional skills through volunteership/internship, attending workshops/programmes/lectures/seminars outside of their course of study, learning new languages, and strategic networking.

Principally the value of our programme is in cultivating transferable skill-sets in critical thinking, imaginative problem-solving, and a life-long thirst in curiosity-driven learning that are the hallmarks of doing research in the arts and humanities.

Course Structure







(Part I)

Core Courses


Research Methodology in Visual Arts




Visual Arts Theory



(Choose 2)


Art and Architecture of Southeast Asia




Malaysian Art



Southeast Asian Modern Art



Malaysian Screen Studies



Museum Studies, Critical Heritage and Curatorial Practices



Art Education


(Part II)








Note :

  • The list of courses offered each semester is subject to the availability of staff.
  • Candidates are required to pass at least ‘B’ for each Core Courses.
  • Candidates are required to complete the coursework component (Part I) with a minimum CGPA of 3.00 prior to registering for the research component (Part II).
  • Candidates are required to determine their research area and select a supervisor prior to embarking on the dissertation. The nomination of supervisor(s) shall be done by filling in the appropriate form at the Postgraduate Office

Entry Requirement

A Bachelor's Degree or its equivalent in the related field*

* Note:

  • Preference will be given to applicants with a Bachelor's Degree with CGPA 3.0 and above or its equivalent.

  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s Degree with CGPA 3.7 and above can apply directly for the PhD programme.

English Language Requirement

International applicant must possess at least:

  • A band 5.5 for IELTS (Academic); or

  • A score of 550 for paper-based total, a score of 213 for computer-based total, or a score of 80 for internet-based total for TOEFL.

Intake Schedule

Semester I of the academic year commences in September while Semester II commences in February.

Application Deadline: May for Semester I intake and October for Semester II intake.

For more information, please refer : https://study.um.edu.my/download-brochures

Last Update: 19/10/2022