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BA Curatorial Studies

Two men carrying a painting

Our new BA Curatorial Studies degree provides you with the expert knowledge and practical skills for pursuing careers in curating, gallery management and museums and combines class-based learning with hands-on experience.

Our BA courses in art history and curating combine the historical and theoretical study of art, visual culture and exhibition-making from the renaissance to the present.

We have an international reputation for our research and teaching, and student satisfaction is consistently high with 91% student satisfaction in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2017. We are ranked 5th in the UK for Art History by the Complete University Guide 2018.

Encounter artworks first hand

During your degree you have many opportunities to encounter art works first-hand at our our University's Art Exchange gallery, Firstsite and regular exhibition visits to London.

You also see works from our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) first hand in its state-of-the-art teaching and research space:

Our School

We offer a friendly and lively environment with an active community of undergraduate and postgraduate students. We run a programme of seminars, conferences and workshops, with speakers from across the UK and abroad, allowing you to expand your knowledge beyond your course.

Your studies will be enriched by opportunities for personal and professional development through internships, work placements or study abroad, and we have an excellent support system offering careers advice and guidance during your studies, and to prepare you for success after graduation.

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Why art history at Essex?

  • Why study art history at Essex?

    Students rowing

    ESCALA teaching and research space

    Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA)

    Based at the University, our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the largest of its kind in Europe and gives you the opportunity to encounter art works in class situations and through its programme of exhibitions.

    Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection, which boasts a unique state-of-the-art teaching and research space for their use:

    Photo of installation of MA curatorial studies exhibition Refractive Distance at the University’s Art Exchange gallery

    Our University’s Art Exchange gallery.

    Art Exchange

    Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, artist and curator talks, allowing you the opportunity to see art works first hand and gain experience working with exhibition projects.

    Art Exchange also hosts exhibitions organised by our curatorial students from the Centre for Curatorial Studies.


    firstsite is a large and iconic exhibition venue in the centre of Colchester and runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, as well as film screenings, talks and music events. firstsite has also hosted exhibitions organised by our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA).

    Photo of firstsite gallery, Colchester

    Firstsite gallery, Colchester (photo: Richard Bryant).

    Careers and skills

    As well as teaching you to analyse and critically read art works and texts, our courses give you key skills that are useful in working life and are increasingly sought by employers, such as clear oral and written communication and the ability to research independently. You also have opportunities to gain practical experience of working with art works and collections, exhibition and research projects while you study. Find out what you can do with a degree in art history.

    Study abroad

    Our undergraduate courses include a variety of options for studying abroad at a wide range of partner universities around the world.

    Support for Foreign Travel

    “I applied for the prize to help me fund an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. The internship was an amazing experience, as I both studied modern art and learnt the practical day-to-day operations of a museum. I now work at Christie’s as a Director of Private Sales in Jewellery head-quartered in London. I work and engage with Top Level clients across Asia and Europe to secure and sell important jewels for Private Sale. The prize gave me a chance to experience the art world outside of school and I believe it propelled me forward toward a future where I am at now.” --Mei Y Giam (2002 Bishop McKinlay Prize Recipient)

    Our Bishop McKinlay Prize can help with funding foreign travel.

  • Who does art history?

    You don’t need to have completed A-level Art History to study art history at undergraduate level. Previous study in art, literature, history, philosophy or other humanities subjects, as well as social and natural sciences, are all an excellent preparation for studying art history and we welcome applications from people with a wide variety of backgrounds.

  • Visiting us from abroad

    Our School welcomes students from international universities who wish to study abroad at Essex. We provide a friendly, supportive and academically challenging environment for study.

    A period of study at Essex entitles you to our study abroad loyalty discount, which reduces your first-year tuition fees for your first period of postgraduate study at Essex by ten per cent.


Students in an art gallery looking at a piece of art

Follow us on our Essex Art History Instagram page to see what our students get up to during their studies – including art handling and visits to galleries, exhibitions and museums.

UG Open Days

Book a place at our undergraduate Open Day. Our department and admissions staff can answer any questions you have, and you can speak to current students about life at Essex while taking a campus tour.



The Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is a unique research and teaching resource giving our students the chance to engage with over 750 artworks from 1900 to the present.

Banksy’s Dismaland

Banksy dismaland

Read about our Centre for Curatorial Studies Co-Director Dr Gavin Grindon curating the Museum of Cruel Designs as part of artist Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition project at Weston-super-Mare.