(BA) Bachelor of Arts
Curating (Including Foundation Year)
University of Essex
University of Essex
History of Art, Architecture and Design
UK and EU applicants:
All applications for degree courses with a foundation year (Year Zero) will be considered individually, whether you
- think you might not have the grades to enter the first year of a degree course;
- have non-traditional qualifications or experience (e.g. you haven’t studied A-levels or a BTEC);
- are returning to university after some time away from education; or
- are looking for more support during the transition into university study.
Our standard offer is 72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.
Examples of the above tariff may include:
- A-levels: DDD
- BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP
- T-levels: Pass with E in core
If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.
Mature applicants and non-traditional academic backgrounds:
We welcome applications from mature students (over 21) and students with non-traditional academic backgrounds (might not have gone on from school to take level 3 qualifications). We will consider your educational and employment history, along with your personal statement and reference, to gain a rounded view of your suitability for the course.
Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
Our Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College.
Rules of assessment
Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.
Dr Dominic Paterson
Senior Lecturer in History of Art / Curator of Contemporary Art University of Glasgow
External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment.
External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course.
They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards.
External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.
To offer a foundation to students interested in becoming exhibition curators or working in other areas of gallery management, such as museum education or conservation.
To provide the opportunity for an in-depth understanding of major developments and ideas associated with the interrelated fields of exhibition design and art history.
To introduce students to a variety of interpretative methods and forms of questioning, particularly those appropriate to studying the display of artworks and other visual artefacts. Some of these include: theories about the social and political implications of exhibition design, architecture, and visual representation; approaches to analysing the value and function of visual artworks and the environments in which such appear; and critical approaches to examining the conditions of the production, circulation, and reception of visual artefacts.
To develop students' capacities for independent thought and critical reflection.
To encourage both an appreciation of and critical engagement with the visual arts and exhibition display, particularly through first-hand observation.
To equip students with the basic skills necessary to work as a curator or in related fields of gallery management.
To provide the knowledge and skills—such as critical inquiry and argument, imaginative understanding, written, spoken and visual interpretation, communication and presentation—that will not only prepare students for particular careers but will also enhance their opportunities for employment in a wide range of other careers.
Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods
On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:
A: Knowledge and understanding
A1: Develop a basic understanding of major developments and ideas associated with the field of exhibition design and art history more broadly.
A2: Acquire in-depth knowledge about key figures, formal developments, and other issues that have transformed the interrelated fields of exhibition design and art history.
A3: A knowledge of contemporary developments in exhibition design and art production, as well as of current research methodologies for historicising broader developments in exhibition design and art.
A4: Knowledge of major issues currently debated by critics, artists, historians and curators about the display of art and other forms of visual culture, and an understanding of how these debates will likely transform the fields of exhibition design and art history.
A5: An experience-based understanding of work roles.
A1-A4 are acquired through: teaching in lecture and class format; lecturers conveying module content in a general manner while allowing for, and encouraging, questions from students. These skills are developed further through seminar discussions and presentations with oral feedback from tutors. Throughout, students are expected to extend and enhance the knowledge and understanding they acquire from classes and lectures by regularly consulting secondary scholarship related to the course. This independent research is then consolidated in essay work, and through feedback in written form.
A5 is acquired through an employability module; a further module in the second year that offers students hands-on experience in installing artworks; and an independent curatorial project completed by each student pursuing this degree.
Assessment of students' knowledge and understanding takes place through a variety of assessment instruments including coursework essays, group presentations, individual presentations, virtual exhibitions, viva voce and unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form.
B: Intellectual and cognitive skills
B1: Ability to analyse a given body of material, breaking it down into component points or parts and highlighting the most significant among them, and to present one's own evaluation of it.
B2: Ability to use and criticise specialised terminology used in the fields of exhibition design and art history
B3: Ability to summarise complex and demanding texts, often written at historical distance, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the views they propose.
B4: Ability to identify and critically evaluate underlying issues in textual materials and visual materials (misassumptions in texts; implicit biases revealed through photographs of museum installations).
B5: Respond to unfamiliar artefacts, issues or ideas with an open mind
B6: Solve problems using knowledge and experience.
B7: A capacity to connect subject-specific theory to practice in a work environment.
Intellectual and cognitive skills are initiated through lectures, where students are expected to develop skills, and further developed in seminars. The seminar work encourages critical discussion arising from the analysis and interpretation of visual artefacts or texts, with an emphasis on being able to reason cogently, argue coherently and present one's own viewpoint persuasively. Students translate the skills acquired there collectively into individually assessed essays. In turn, the essays prepare students for examinations and more extended forms of writing, as well as independent and group-based projects, where they gain experience in different curatorial tasks and critically explore the interrelationship between the history of art and exhibition design, as fields of scholarly inquiry, and curatorial practice. As the summative assessment for any given module, the exam or its equivalent tests the students’ ability both to demonstrate and to sustain the same skills in controlled conditions.
Outcomes are assessed through continuous coursework; unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form; and independent and group-based projects, which involve producing written work and supplementary visual materials (e.g., gallery floor plans). Coursework consists of essays written during the academic year for a specified module, returned with a grade and written feedback for the student. Examinations consist of essay-based questions, for which revision classes are provided. Capstone projects, which involve curating an online exhibition, will be assessed on two levels: first, through (oral and written) formative feedback as students complete key milestones involved in developing their projects; second, through a written summative feedback for the final project.
C: Practical skills
C1: Critical Skills: including selection of relevant material from a range of sources, including books, journal articles, library and internet resources, and appraisal of other people's arguments on the basis of familiarity with source materials and current literature.
C2: Research Skills: including the use of appropriate methods to locate primary and secondary sources or to identify works of visual or examples of curatorial practice.
C3: Writing Skills: including use of academic conventions and logical, structured argument, and the ability to express oneself clearly
C4: Visual Skills; including observation (e.g., recognition of materials, techniques and other aspects of an exhibition environment or artwork, such as formal organisation and narrative structure), as well as the ability to translate such observations into written and oral form.
Skills C1 and C4 are introduced in lectures and developed through classes and through seminars. Guidance on C1-C4 is given in teaching, in supervision of essays, and to a limited extent in the Student Handbook. The strategy ensures that, having acquired a basic command of the range of skills, students exercise these skills in the more specialised modules.
Outcomes are assessed through continuous coursework; unseen written examinations, including questions on visual material in photographic form; and independent and group-based projects, which involve producing written work and supplementary visual materials (e.g., gallery floor plans).
Coursework consists of essays written during the academic year for a specified module, returned with a grade and written feedback for the student. Examinations consist of essay-based questions, for which revision classes are provided. Capstone projects, which involve curating an online exhibition, will be assessed on two levels: first, through (oral and written) formative feedback as students complete key milestones involved in developing their projects; second, through a written summative feedback for the final project..
D: Key skills
D1: The ability to communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively in a range of different contexts using a range of different aids or resources; special ability to deploy visual material in a variety of media in the context of presentations or written work
D2: Students should be able to make use of IT for research purposes (including searchable databases such as library catalogues and internet sources), to present assessed work, and be able to use email. Students should also be able to use the handful of computer programs (e.g., Word, SketchUp or similar applications) necessary to produce simple renderings and virtual walk-throughs of exhibition spaces.
D3: Ability to identify the problem to be solved; to articulate critically the assumptions underlying or connected with the problem; to compare and contrast differing and often contradictory solutions to the problem; and to provide argument and evidence in defence of one's solution to the problem.
D4: Students will be given the opportunity to work constructively and productively in groups, and be able to participate effectively in seminars.
D5: Ability to read closely and carefully; to organize one's reading and thinking in relation to specific topics; take responsibility for their own work; reflect on their own learning and performance and make constructive use of feedback from the lecturer in the form of written comments on coursework and oral communication; and to work to deadlines
Skills D1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 are acquired and developed through the teaching and learning methods described above and in class discussions. The five key skills are implicit throughout the degree. Communication is developed through seminar discussion, but also through attending lectures. Students are encouraged to use the various online packages, library and internet sources, and to make use of the courses provided by the University’s Skill Centre. While specific guidance on D2 will be offered during the supervision of students’ final projects, students are expected and encouraged to share responsibility for their own programme of studies.
Outcomes D1, 2, 4, 5 & 6 are assessed through continuous coursework and unseen written examinations. Coursework consists of essays written during the academic year for a specified module, returned with a grade and written feedback for the student. Examinations consist of essay-based questions, for which revision classes are provided. Capstone projects, which involve curating an online exhibition, will be assessed on two levels: first, through (oral and written) formative feedback as students complete key milestones involved in developing their projects; second, through a written summative feedback for the final project.