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Queen Mary Summer School

Business and Politics of the Art World


This course will examine and investigate the relationship between the contemporary art market and art's social, cultural, historical, political and commercial value. We will explore the ways in which art is instrumental in social, political and historical narratives, and can hold value beyond commerce. In different contexts, we will discuss questions such as: What makes art valuable? Who owns art and who owes what to whom? How does law protect art and the artist? Is art only for the elite or can it interact with society at large, and what is the value of this?

The module will investigate the dynamics behind the various activities in art transactions and their influencing factors. It will contextualise the importance of these dynamics, and explore potential lacunas in existent practices and emerging markets. Teaching in lectures and seminars will be supplemented with a number of gallery and museum visits, industry interactions, structured study sessions and assessment preparation in advance of the module's coursework. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Understand some of the basic economic and socio-political forces that drive the art world.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct art transactions on behalf of any parties involved in the art business.
  • Appreciate and analyse contemporary issues in different kinds of art, and have a good understanding of the laws and policies to address them.

Course content is subject to change.

Course aims

The module is designed to develop students' critical understanding of the nature of the art business, and the scale and regional growth of art markets. By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate a variety of critical and transferable skills, as well as practical knowledge through which to understand the art business and critique current approaches to artist rights and economic practices in the market. These more tangible aspects are situated within the broader political reality of the art world, enabling students to develop a more holistic understanding of the business of art and art's political potentials. The module is designed to give students the following takeaways:

1. A systematic introduction to the commerce and law of art transactions.

2. A good understanding of the legal rights of artists and the controversial extents and limitations to freedom of speech and expression.

3. The ability to appreciate and examine artistic production and reproduction in consideration of legal and sociological criteria.

4. Critical awareness of emerging issues in visual and performative arts, digital art, public art etc., and adequate knowledge to address these debates.

Teaching and learning


The Queen Mary Summer School costs: £1,700 per session, which includes tution and social programme. 

We offer a 10% discount to:

  • Students and staff from partner institutions
  • Alumni
  • Current Queen Mary students 


The cost of accommodation is £670 per session. For further information, please visit our  page.

Additional costs and course excursions

There may be additional costs for field trips, such as entry to exhibitions, which will be in the region of £10-20.
All reading material will be provided online, so it is not necessary to purchase any books.

Please note there is no deposit payment required for the Queen Mary Summer School.

Entry requirements

To join our Summer School, you should have completed a minimum of two semesters’ study at your home institution.

We welcome Summer School students from around the world. We accept a range of qualifications:

  • if your home institution uses the four-point Grade Point Average (GPA) scale, we usually require a 3.0 GPA
  • if your home institution uses the letter scale, you will need to have a B+

We welcome international qualifications and we consider every application individually on its academic merit.

English language requirements

All of our courses are taught and assessed in English. If English isn’t your first language, you must meet one of the following English Language requirements in order to join the Queen Mary Summer School:

  • If you hold a degree from a majority English speaking country plus Canada you may use this degree to satisfy the English language requirements for entry, provided the degree was completed no more than 5 years before the start date of the course to which you are applying.
  • IELTS, 7 overall or higher
  • TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 100 (L22; S25; R24; W27)
  • China UEE (University Entrance Exam) -  110
  • CET 4 – 550 or CET 6 – 490
  • PTE Academic 68
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English 185 70 - grade C (old marking system)
  • Applicants with an alternative qualification should check it is equivalent to the above or contact us at

How to apply

Have a question? Get in touch, one of the team will be happy to help. 


Teaching dates
Summer School 2020
Course hours
150 hours (of which 45 will be contact hours)
Presentation (25%) and 2,500 word essay (75%)

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