Studying current theory and history, build your personal curatorial skills and thinking.
- Taught by curators, working with a rich group of diverse partner organisations in the sector.
- Combines contemporary practice with theory in a flexible approach.
- Highlights the roles of audiences, collections and new contexts.
We focus on curating as a contemporary practice, bringing together history, theory and practice. We ask what is it that makes the role of the curator distinct, and how do we understand the essentials of curating, when it has become such a buzzword.
The course embraces contemporary curating in historic and collection-based settings as well as contemporary venues, digital, 'pop-up' and site specific contexts. It is delivered by experts in the field and working curators.
"With the academic understanding and support I received, I feel equipped with theoretical knowledge and confidence in practice to embark on a curatorial future."
Jessica Mathews (Graduated 2014)
What you'll learn
The course covers a wide range of curatorial approaches, from management of historical collections to creative curating of cutting edge contemporary art, craft and design. Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds; we challenge you to develop your interests, while understanding what you share with others across our discipline.
Engagement and understanding audiences are central to curatorial practice. You'll develop experience in ways of sharing and presenting ideas throughout the course.
You'll study either in two modules per trimester (one year full-time) or one per trimester (two years part-time).
Introduces generic research methodologies and the ways subject specific material, analysis and evaluation techniques can be a vehicle for personal study. This is shared with other Masters programmes in the School of Art and Design, and so gives an opportunity to share ideas with artists, designers and curators from across disciplines.
The Role of the Curator
Considers the changing role of the curator, the 'politics' of curating and real-world issues through first hand contact with working curators in our region and beyond. It addresses developments in critical theory and their impact on curatorial practices such as representing communities, ethnicities, gender issues, 'interventions', gallery learning, the 'post-museum' and curating in the public realm.
Collections and Collecting
Considers the nature of collecting and the influence of collecting on curatorial practice. We assess the way collections act as a 'ground' for new work by artists, makers and in specialist creative project work, as well as traditional interpretation. You 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.
The module allows you to present or study a live project to a real audience. You'll study current discourse around engagement, participation and learning, and link this to exploring how curatorial practices reach audiences.
The Master's Project can be either text or practice based. It accommodates a variety of approaches for assessment, that can include the traditional written dissertation, the study of historical or archival case studies, curating an exhibition or project in a venue, or forms of digital production, the construction of a museum or gallery specific web site. Many long studies come from the student's own practice, and can be used to broaden or reflect upon work-place or voluntary experience.
How will I be assessed?
Project based work can be developed and assessed as part of the course. Real life projects can be pursued in response to assessment assignments, especially in relation to the final 'Master's Project' double module.
- Your 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.
- Your ability to independently plan and implement research activities in the subject fields of curatorial practice, demonstrating professionalism, self-direction and originality.
- Your ability to effectively propose and curate exhibitions, drawing on research and understanding.
- Your ability to initiate and contribute to debate and discussion in relation to curatorial practice.
- Your capacity to advance knowledge, learning and skills in the subject fields of curatorial practice.
How will I be taught?
You'll be taught in seminars, complemented with field visits to key venues facilitated by lead curators. We adopt a practice-led approach; while some sessions are delivered by our academics, others are delivered by our collaborators and relate to particular case studies or collections.
You'll frequently link your study to internships, volunteering and project work.
Study in current working galleries, museums and venues
You'll benefit from opportunities to visit, study and work through well-established relationships with a range of museums, galleries and contemporary art organisations of national and international significance.
We work with colleagues in the wide range of organisations in the city of Bath itself, in nearby cities such as Bristol and Cardiff, and in the major institutions beyond. This ensures you can explore a unique range of organisational contexts in which collecting and curating are sited.
Our links include:
- the Holburne Museum;
- a wide range of artist-run venues and civic museums in Bath;
- Arnolfini and Spike Island;
- Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery;
- Hauser & Wirth Somerset;
- Salisbury Arts Centre; and
- National Museum Wales' sites in Cardiff.
Volunteer and internship placement opportunities
We encourage you to work or volunteer, giving you flexibility to find an area related to the course that suits you. We'll advise you on the current range of internships and volunteer roles on offer in organisations across the region, as well as using our professional networks to put you in touch with the right people and organisations.
Recent projects have seen students work in pop-up venues and social contexts, the Venice Biennale, charity auctions, national open submission shows, and touring exhibitions.
Recent graduates have found work in:
- Curatorial work in museums and galleries;
- Galleries/arts administration;
- Self-employed freelance curatorial work and consultancy;
- Publishing and media work;
- Education, gallery and museum learning and teaching;
- General project management outside the visual arts and museums;
- Critical writing; and
- Academic study and teaching.
Facilities and resources
Where the subject is taught
The course is taught at the Sion Hill and Corsham Court campuses and in the Palace Yard Mews University building. However, much of the course occurs in the galleries, museums, venues we visit.
We have access to the Sion Hill campus exhibiting space, which you can use for your own projects or course work.