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Undergraduate Postgraduate
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Saturday 20 June 2015 (booking opens 24 Apr)
Saturday 19 September 2015 (booking opens 24 Jul)
Saturday 24 October 2015 (booking opens 28 Aug)
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Course Finder

MA Gallery Studies and Critical Curating

Location: Colchester Campus
Qualification: Master of Arts
Mode of study: Full-time
Duration: 12 months
Tuition Fee: Home/EU, Overseas
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder Department: School of Philosophy and Art History
Facebook: University of Essex
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days.

About the course

Our full-time MA Gallery Studies and Critical Curating offers a practical and theoretical training if you are interested in devising or curating exhibitions, and includes the preparation of an exhibition at our University's Art Exchange gallery.

In lectures and seminars, you explore the history and theory of exhibition making, as well as the functions, purposes and narrative structures of exhibitions. In practical workshops, you consider essentials for successful exhibition making, such as writing an exhibition proposal, applying for loans, raising sponsorships and managing your exhibition budget. We include regular visits to museums and galleries in London and the region which, together with lectures by visiting speakers, gives you the chance to meet established professionals in the field.

Watch our students talk about how they benefitted from curatorial placements at Firstsite gallery in Colchester during their postgraduate study.

Why study MA Gallery Studies and Critical Curating at Essex?

We are 6th among UK art history departments for research excellence (REF 2014) with the the majority of our research rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Our staff are experts on topics as diverse as activitist art, 19th century medical photography, images of Hell, the art of Latin America, urbanism, body art and the history of tattooing, and we are proud of the underpinnings our research lends to our teaching.

We have an unequalled track record in attracting external funding for art history research, including the recently completed projects: ‘Meeting Margins: Transnational Art in Latin America and Europe 1950-1978’ and ‘Aesthetics after Photography’.

Our School includes the Centre for Curatorial Studies, which brings together research in the field of museology, exhibition studies and curatorial practice, and delivers postgraduate courses in these areas. The University's Art Exchange gallery runs an ongoing programme of exhibitions of contemporary art, artist and curator talks as well as hosting exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students.

We are also home to Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA), the largest and most important collection of Latin American art outside of the Americas. You’re able to work directly and closely with the objects and their associated archives over the course of your studies including as part of exhibition projects, a unique opportunity for object-based learning which is rare in other universities. Our library also has one of the finest specialist collections of Latin American material in Europe.


A Masters course is an academically rigorous programme during which you explore your subject in depth, reaching a high level of specialist knowledge. You draw on knowledge and skills from your undergraduate study or your professional life to produce work of a high academic standard, informed by current thinking and debate.

Our Masters courses last for 12 months (full time), starting in October, and consist of five taught modules during your autumn and spring terms and a research-based dissertation submitted in September. Your research counts for 80 credits and there are 100 credits of modules, each counting for 20 credits. (If you are from the EU, then our Masters courses are regarded as ‘second-cycle’ qualifications under the Bologna Declaration and consist of 90 ECTS credits.

In some subjects, Postgraduate or Graduate Certificates and Diplomas are available, which last for six to nine months (full time) and consist of 60 or 120 credits, respectively. These include the modules and assessed work of a Masters, without a dissertation. Our Graduate Diplomas equip those with a Bachelors with knowledge to proceed to a Masters in a different subject.

Please note that module information on our course finder provides a guide to course content and may be subject to review on an annual basis.


Core modules

Current Issues In Curating
Exhibition & Portfolio
Exhibition (Joint Project)
Managing Galleries And Exhibition Projects
The Museum: History, Theory And Critical Texts

Compulsory modules

Researching Art History

Core modules must be taken and passed.
Core with options modules selected from limited lists must be taken and passed.
Compulsory modules must be taken.
Compulsory with options modules selected from limited lists must be taken.
Optional modules are selected from course specific lists.


Your postgraduate study at Essex gives you an opportunity to develop your own ideas and interests, and to engage with thinking at the leading edge of your subject, as part of the research community in our School of Philosophy and Art History and our wider academic and professional community.

If you are studying a non-science subject, then your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes.

Your assessment is a combination of written coursework, end-of-term tests, practical and laboratory work (where appropriate) and end-of-year exams. During the summer, you will work on a dissertation or individual project included in your final grade.

Teaching methods and styles

Within our School of Philosophy and Art History, all our MAs can be taken either full-time for one year or part-time over two years. Your modules, followed during the autumn and spring terms, generally consist of two-hour seminars, the format of which may include introductions by your tutor, presentations by you and discussion based on a programme of reading.

Your dissertation

Your dissertation allows you to focus on and to gain in-depth knowledge of an area that interests you, with close supervision by a specialist member of staff within our School. If you are taking a Graduate Diploma, you will not need to do the dissertation.

Methods of assessment

Within our School of Philosophy and Art History, assessment for our courses is normally on the basis of coursework and your supervised dissertation.

Seminars and conferences

Within our School of Philosophy and Art History, we run a number of mini-courses, research seminars and conferences that our postgraduates are encouraged to attend. In addition, our postgraduates organise their own international conference each year with support from the School.

Career destinations

Many of our graduates have progressed successfully to further research and an academic career.

Former art history students go on to work in museums and galleries in London and throughout the world. Other employment sectors include publishing and advertising, or senior management positions in a wide range of businesses.

Your employability

A postgraduate qualification is a major achievement and greatly valued by employers. Recent surveys show that higher degree graduates are more likely to obtain jobs at professional or managerial level and less likely to be unemployed. For some jobs a postgraduate qualification may be essential, for others it offers a competitive edge. Our graduates go into a variety of jobs, where the key employability skills and knowledge they have gained through postgraduate study are put to good use.

In addition, our Languages for All programme lets you study a language, alongside your course, at no extra cost. You can take one of 50 taught language modules on a part-time day-time basis, or undertake flexible web-based learning, or opt for a language module taught in the evening. As employers can struggle to find graduates able to speak more than one language, Languages for All places Essex graduates in a very advantageous position.

If you achieve your Masters, you may wish to extend your knowledge with a research degree and many who graduate from Essex choose to stay here for research study. Some of our Masters may be taken as the first part of an Integrated PhD, leading to your PhD after a further three years of full-time study.

Support for postgraduates

Our University has a range of support services designed to help you to achieve your full potential and get the most out of your studies. These form a coordinated network of support, and are an important part of your overall student experience at Essex. Our staff operate an 'open door' policy so are available to discuss any concerns with you throughout the year.

Research study opportunities

Within our School of Philosophy and Art History, we offer taught Masters courses and research supervision for PhD and MPhil. We have an established international reputation and a strong tradition of postgraduate education. In history of art, we cover the major areas of European art and architecture from 1300 to the present, and in the art and architecture of Latin America and of the United States. We welcome students whose intellectual outlook and interests cut across conventional academic boundaries. Our aim is to provide a supportive and stimulating intellectual environment for our postgraduates, which helps you to meet the various challenges involved in further studies.


Our applicants should have a 1st, 2:1 or high 2:2 degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject.

If English is not your first language, then we require IELTS 6.5 overall and 6.0 in writing (and 5.5 in listening, reading, and speaking).

Open Evenings

Come to one of our Open Evenings in Colchester or London to discover what makes Essex an outstanding place to study. Our Open Evenings are your chance to find out what it’s like to be a member of our thriving postgraduate community. Meet our academics and talk informally to current students to find out more about postgraduate life and study at Essex.

Campus Tours

If you can’t make one of our Open Evenings then don’t worry, we offer regular Campus Tours at our Colchester and Southend campuses. Please let us know which campus you want to visit using the email addresses below and we’ll organise a tour with a current student for you.

Please try to give four working days' notice and if you or any of your guests have any specific individual needs. Please include details in your email and we can arrange to tailor your visit accordingly.

Colchester Campus

We offer campus tours from Monday to Friday at 12.30pm. Please email tours@essex.ac.uk letting us know when you would like to come.

Watch our Colchester Campus tour on Vimeo.

See our videos on our University of Essex Vimeo channel.