Curating with Professional Placement

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Course overview
(MA) Master of Arts
Curating with Professional Placement
University of Essex
University of Essex
Art History and Theory
Colchester Campus
History of Art, Architecture and Design

Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

A 2.2 Degree or equivalent in any discipline. Your Degree must contain at least three modules relating to visual culture.

Visual Culture modules include, but are not limited to: Aesthetics, Archaeology, Architecture, Art History, Curatorial/Museum Studies, Design Studies, Digital Imaging, Fashion, Fine Art, Film Studies, Film and Literature, Graphic Design, Advertising, Landscape Design, History, Media Studies, Photography

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.0 in writing

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.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Course qualifiers


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes


External examiners

Dr H Camilla Smith

Lecturer in Art History

University of Birmingham

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.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 27 January 2020 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 AR941-7-SP Critique and Curating Compulsory 20 Compulsory Compulsory
02 AR942-7-SP Curating Inside Out Compulsory 20 Compulsory Compulsory
03 AR912-7-AU Managing Galleries and Exhibition Projects Compulsory 0 Compulsory Compulsory
04 Art History option Optional 20 Optional Optional
05 Art History option Optional 20 Optional Optional
06 Art History option Optional 20 Optional Optional
07 AR988-7-SL Professional Placement Compulsory 0 Compulsory Compulsory

Year 2 - 2020/21

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 AR988-7-FY Professional Placement Compulsory 120
02 (AR952, AR953 & AR912) or (AR981 & AR932) or (AR982 & AR932) Core with Options 80

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

To offer students the opportunity to combine practical and theoretical training in exhibition making with a grounding in the history and principles of display.

To make students familiar with the basic principles of professional good practice in museum and gallery work, and to afford the opportunity to acquire technical competence in applying them.

To develop in students the research skills appropriate to academic study of the history of exhibitions or of exhibition curating, and to provide the basis for them to develop the necessary levels of skill and knowledge required to progress to research degree level.

To encourage both critical engagement with and enjoyment of the visual arts, particularly through first-hand observation, and to enable students to understand how to facilitate this engagement for others in an exhibition context.

To provide the knowledge and skills (critical inquiry and argument, imaginative understanding, written, spoken and visual interpretation, communication and presentation, working in a team, basic project and financial management) that will not only stand students in good stead for more specialised museum and gallery careers, but will also enhance their opportunities for employment in a wide range of other careers.

Note: The outcomes listed below represent the minimum that might be expected of an MA graduate from the Department of Art History and Theory of the University of Essex.

It is the intention of the Department that the vast majority of graduates will achieve significantly more.

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: Practical aspects of exhibition making, including concept and research, planning and programming, drawing up budgets, negotiating loans, transport and insurance, catalogue production, security and object handling

A2: The purposes of exhibition making

A3: The range of methods for the interpretation of visual objects on display

A4: The history and theory of exhibition making and of museum display

A5: The display of contemporary art as a challenge to traditional notions of the gallery or museum space

A6: The concepts, values and debates that inform study and practice in the field

Learning methods

1-6 are acquired through module seminars and related coursework (with regular feedback, both oral and written, from tutors), reading seminars, lectures, curatorial practice sessions and site visits.
Curatorial practice covers all practical aspects of exhibition making (A1, A3).
There are workshop sessions led by visiting speakers.
Reading seminars debate classic texts relating to curatorial practice and the history and theory of museum display (A2, A3, A4, A5, A6) The four modules provide for in-depth study of major historical/theoretical issues in the field (all outcomes).

Assessment methods

Assessment of students' knowledge and understanding takes place through coursework essays (4 x 3-5000 word essays) and a dissertation of 15,000- 20,000 words.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1: Analyse a complex body of material, which may be incomplete, breaking it down into component points or parts and highlighting the most significant among them

B2: Synthesise evidence, arguments or ideas from different sources productively in a self-directed manner

B3: Reason critically and offer judgements based on argument that can be communicated effectively to a specialist or non-specialist audience

B4: Think independently and with an open-mind, sometimes making connections between familiar and new ideas or material

Learning methods

Intellectual and cognitive skills are practised in module seminars, either in responding to or giving presentations on agreed topics.
The seminar work encourages critical discussion arising from the analysis and interpretation of exhibitions and other visual artefacts with an emphasis on being able to reason cogently, argue coherently, present one’‘s own viewpoint persuasively, and learn from others.
Site visits further encourage development of B2 and B4.

Assessment methods

The seminars are intended as practice sessions for cognitive skills.
Students translate the skills acquired there collectively into individually assessed essays, and in dissertation plans.
The core module ' Researching Art History' provides specialist training in critical analysis and in research methods.

C: Practical skills

C1: Curatorial skills; including an understanding of working with a wide range of visual materials in both two and three dimensions in a gallery, museum of heritage environment

C2: Basic budget management skills

C3: Research Skills: including use of appropriate methods to locate primary and secondary sources, and works of visual art, but also forming research questions and pursuing them autonomously

C4: Critical Skills: including selection of relevant material, and appraisal of other people's arguments on the basis of familiarity with source materials and current literature

C5: Writing Skills: including use of proper academic conventions, creating logical and structured narratives, and effective use of language to convey particular and general responses of readers or viewers to works of visual art, and to articulate complex conceptual issues and create frameworks for understanding them

Learning methods

C1 and C2 are acquired through the Curatorial Practice element and is reinforced through site visits and discussions in some module seminars.
C3-C5 are developed in seminars and modules

Assessment methods

Assessment is by essays and a dissertation.

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.

D3: Students should be able to use basic budgeting and monitoring, invoicing and record keeping involving correct use of budget codes

D4: Management of projects and timetables. Students should be able to apply knowledge and understanding in order to make judgements and offer solutions in a range of contexts.

D5: Students should be able to work in groups on practical assignments or find solutions to set problems

D6: Students should have the ability to: work to briefs and deadlines; take responsibility for their own work; reflect on their own learning and performance and make constructive use of feedback

Learning methods

Communication is developed through seminar discussion and workshop in groups.
Visual media skills are developed through personal instruction to students using audio visual media in class, and through class discussion of the significance the medium through which visual object are presented to us,.
Students are expected to acquire IT skills based on some initial guidance.
Students will be given the opportunity to work constructively and productively in groups, and be able to participate effectively in seminars.
Most seminars require students to present theories or historical material to the group, and to answer questions on the topic.

Assessment methods

Essays and dissertations are assessed for qualities that incorporate most of these skills.
The core module 'Researching Art History' provides training in IT and in developing and managing research projects.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: