Critique and Curating

The details
Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
10 October 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA V35612 Curating,
MA V356PP Curating with Professional Placement

Module description

This module investigates the interrelationship between critique and curating from the 1920s to the present.

To this end, the module will focus on the concept of 'critical curating', which broadly refers to the ways in which curatorial activities assume, or have the capacity to assume, a critical function: for example, by offering experiences to a spectator that heighten his or her capacity for critical thought, or by turning an exhibition into a form of social or political critique.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To investigate the interrelationship between critique and curating.

  • To hone students’ ability to analyse and conceptualise diverse curatorial practices for their critical potential.

  • To expose students to a range of approaches used in secondary scholarship about curatorial practice and critical theory.

  • To help students develop skills in written communication through an essay, oral communication and debate in seminars.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Acquire an in-depth knowledge of the curatorial practices and critical theories addressed in this module.

  2. Understand the historical and conceptual relationship between critique and curating;.

  3. Think ‘laterally’ and creatively in order to discern connections and possibilities between curatorial practice and critique.

  4. Demonstrate these competences in a well-researched essay.

Module information

Organized roughly chronology, the module is divided into three parts. The first part explores the foundation for critical curating set by the historical avant-garde during the interwar period, including some ways in which avant-garde display practices got used as forms of political propaganda. Our discussion then shifts to a series of developments that expanded and changed the field of critical curating from the 1960s through the 1980s, including the rise of the curator as 'author'; the role of curation in alternative art spaces; and the emergence of 'institutional critique'. In the final part of this module, we focus on key developments in critical curating over roughly the last two decades, which we consider in relation to the concepts of relational aesthetics, postcolonialism and paracurating.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour seminar per week.
  • One reading week with no seminars.

Discussion will be encouraged throughout.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay (4000 words)    100% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Michael Tymkiw, email:
PHAIS Postgraduate Queries:



External examiner

Dr Daniel James Rycroft
University of East Anglia
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
Of 22 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
22 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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