Curatorial Practice

  • Award: MA, PG Dip, PG Cert
  • School: School of Art and Design
  • UK/EU Fees: MA tuition fees for full-time study are £6,210 (UK/EU students) or £10,905 (International students)
  • Fees and Finance Information
  • Course length: PG Cert full-time one trimester; PG Cert part-time two trimesters; PG Dip full-time two trimesters (one academic year); PG Dip part-time four trimesters; MA full-time three trimesters (one calendar year); MA part-time six trimesters.
  • Campus: Sion Hill
  • Course Handbook (PDF)

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How to Apply

Silver decorative cup at Holburne Museum

This respected course offers a fusion of history and theory with an immediate relationship to current curating. It is delivered by experts in the field and working curators. Students benefit from well-established relationships with a range of museums, galleries and contemporary art organisations of national and international significance. Its focus is on the relationships between contemporary practice, engagement with audiences and collection-based contexts. It offers opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to develop their experience and understanding and address new challenges. 

Why study Curatorial Practice?

The course benefits students who wish to broaden and deepen their knowledge and experience in curating, engagement and issues around collecting. Its core seminar-based teaching and learning programme is balanced by collaborative relationships with a range of museums and galleries of national and international significance. These include: the Holburne Museum in Bath, artist-run venues and civic museums in Bath; Arnolfini and Spike Island in Bristol;  Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery; the new Hauser & Wirth Somerset; Salisbury Arts Centre; and National Museum Wales' sites in Cardiff. The course therefore covers a wide range of curatorial approaches, from management of historical collections to creative curating of cutting edge contemporary art, craft and design.

Key Features

 

  • Course delivered by working curators and experts active in the field
  • Excellent in-house specialised libraries for research study
  • Opportunities to curate exhibitions and run engagement  projects within the course.
  • Strong relationships with diverse organisations in the sector

Course structure

The course is offered in both full and part-time modes. It is normally one year, (3 trimesters) in duration in full time mode or 6 trimesters in part-time mode. The first two trimesters comprise taught sessions and assessed projects, while the Master's Project in the final part of the course is by negotiated project only. Completion of the first 2 modules on the course lead to the award of the Postgraduate Certificate, and completion of the first 4 modules leads to the award of the Postgraduate Diploma. Subsequent completion of the MA double module leads to the award of MA Curatorial Practice.

Modules

Modules

  • Research Methodologies: Part one introduces generic research methodologies with part two considering subject specific material, analysis and evaluation techniques.
  • The Role of the Curator: The Role of the Curator considers the changing role of the curator and the 'politics' of curating. It addresses developments in critical theory and their impact on curatorial practices and includes topics such as representing communities, ethnicities, gender issues, 'interventions', gallery learning, the 'post-museum' and curating in the public realm.
  • Collections and Collecting: This element of the course considers the nature of ollecting and the influence of collecting on curatorial practice. Collections as a 'ground' for new projects with artists, makers and others as interpreting collections or making new work is included. Students can study private collectors, the transition of 'private' to 'public', and the process of defining objects as 'collectible'.  It covers material culture, collecting the digital, oral history and its methods, research in archiving and management of historical and contemporary collections. 
  • Reaching Audiences: The module allows students the opportunity to present or study a live project. Students study current discourse around engagement, particaption and learning in visual arts projects, and link this to exploring how curatorial practices reaches audiences.  
  • Master's Project: The Master's Project is either text or practice based. It accommodates a variety of approaches for assessment. Examples might include (but are not restricted to) the traditional written dissertation, perhaps drawing on historical or archival case studies, research into and/or curating of an exhibition in a particular venue, and forms of digital production, such as the construction of a museum or gallery specific web site.

Course assessment

  • The ability to deal with complex issues in the area of curatorial practice history, theory and context, effectively employing skill in analysis and synthesis as necessary.
  • The ability to independently plan and implement research activities in the subject fields of curatorial practice, demonstrating professionalism, self-direction and originality.
  • The ability to effectively propose and curate exhibitions, drawing on research and understanding.
  • The ability to initiate and contribute to debate and discussion in relation to curatorial practice.
  • The capacity to advance knowledge, learning and skills in the subject fields of curatorial practice.

The course takes a broad view of curatorial practice.  It balances theory with practice. Seminar based teaching is coplemented with field visits to key venues facilitated by lead curators. Project based work can be developed and assessed as part of the course, and students frequently link their study to internships, volunteering and project work, facilitated by the course team. 

 

 

Teaching methods

The MA adopts a 'practice-led' approach; while some sessions are delivered by Bath School of Art and Design (BSAD) university academics, others are delivered by our collaborators and relate to particular case studies or collections. There are opportunities to work alongside museum and gallery professionals on selected in-house activities and 'real life' projects can be pursued in response to assessment assignments, especially in relation to the final 'Master's Project' double module.

Application method

Application forms are available online and should be completed and returned to us either electronically or through the post. If you have any queries please contact the admissions department:

Telephone: (01225) 875624.

Course enquiries

Please contact Prof Mike Tooby:

Telephone: (01225) 876244.

Entry requirements

Admission is normally based on a good undergraduate degree in an appropriate discipline together with an interview. Applicants with a good honours degree in a related discipline and/or with relevant work experience will also be considered.

Overseas applicants will be assessed on the basis of their qualifications and statement included in the application form.

To help applicants – especially those from overseas – to decide if this course is appropriate for them, it is advisable to contact the Course Leader prior to application.

Career opportunities

Typical career destinations include:

  • Curatorial work in museums and galleries
  • Freelance curatorship
  • Galleries/Arts administration
  • Public Art
  • Critical writing, such as exhibition reviews and catalogue essays
  • Project management 
  • Developing learning resources
  • Creative work in the community 

What students say...

Nicol Phillips, MA Curatorial Practice, 2012

'I chose this course as it has lots of practical curating opportunities and useful links with contemporary organisations such as the Arnolfini and Spike Island in Bristol. I especially liked the field trips we undertook to art museums and art centres to speak with their curators. I particularly liked the campuses at the University; Sion Hill is vibrant and inspiring and Corsham Court is beautiful, and the bowling alley is a great potential exhibition space. This course will hopefully broaden my career opportunities. It has given me more confidence and focus in my curatorial practice, which in turn has become more specialised.'