Undergraduate Course

BA Curating

BA Curating

Overview

The details
Curating
V351
October 2021
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

Are you interested in becoming an exhibition curator or working in other areas of gallery management? Our BA Curating can provide you with the intellectual and practical skills you need to realise your career ambitions, combining classroom-based learning with hands-on experience in museums and galleries.

Within the classroom, you gain an overview of major developments in art history – something essential for any budding curator. You will also learn about the history and theory of exhibition design, with a particular emphasis on how curatorial choices shape our experiences while viewing artworks and the other objects on display in museums and galleries.

The Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA), Europe’s largest collection of Latin American art, will offer you a place to experiment with installing artworks. Besides getting your feet wet with the more tactical aspects of installing art, these experiences will open your eyes to how curatorial decisions transform the kinds of stories that artworks tell when displayed alongside others.

Frequent, staff-led visits to London museums and galleries will also expose you to the latest developments in curating, and you will be strongly encouraged to conduct a placement in order to gain exposure to the inner workings of a museum, auction house or gallery.

To ensure you are prepared to meet the challenges facing curators in the 21st century, opportunities to cultivate digital skills will be available throughout the course. For example, for your final project, you will curate an online exhibition, for which you will produce a virtual walk-through of the exhibition space and develop digitally-accessible interpretative material for all objects on display.

Essex is the ideal choice for a BA in curating. We are ranked 6th among Art History departments in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014). We are one of the few leading art history programmes that offers an undergraduate course specialising in curating and you will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year—another rarity in UK art history courses.

Why we're great.
  • We are distinct - study the social and political implications of art and go beyond its historic institutions.
  • Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad covers both the exotic and the local.
  • We house over 750 piece of art from Latin America, known as ESCALA.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university

Our expert staff

Our staff consists of a dynamic group of art historians. While our research interests span a range of cultures and media, from the early modern to the present, core specialties include exhibition design, modern and contemporary art, public engagement and activism.

Here are a few examples of recent or current projects by staff members:

  • Dr Gavin Grindon, Lecturer in Art History and co-director of our Centre for Curatorial Studies, recently co-curated the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, one of the best attended shows in the museum’s history. He has also widely published on activist art in leading journals such as Art History.
  • Dr Matt Lodder, Lecturer in Art History with an emphasis on modern and contemporary visual culture, is co-curating the exhibition Tattoo: Ancient Myths, Modern Meanings, which opens next year in the U.S.
  • Dr Michael Tymkiw, co-director of the Centre for Curatorial Studies, has a book under contract entitled Nazi Exhibition Design and Modernism. He has also just launched an interdisciplinary research project that focuses on using digital technologies to expand disability access in museums—a project that involves collaborations with several museums in Colchester and London including firstsite and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Specialist facilities

At Essex, you have the best of both worlds: on the one hand, you are part of a tight-knit, campus community with close ties to several small but excellent museums in the nearby town of Colchester; on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums and galleries at your fingertips.

Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience and engage in object-based learning, a cornerstone of our approach when teaching the history of art and its modes of display:

  • Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection
  • Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions and talks by curators and artists, as well as exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students
  • Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery features an exciting programme of contemporary art exhibitions, film screenings and talks, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
  • Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is home to staff who specialise in the history of exhibition design and curate high profile exhibitions

Your future

The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and our graduates can leave Essex with the skills to take advantage of this growing opportunity.

The sectors with jobs best suited for students with a BA in curating include museums, galleries and auction houses. Within these sectors, you can pursue a career in curation, museum education, programming, or sales and marketing. Our degree also equips you with foundational skills to run your own gallery, to work as a PR agent, or to work in the fields of fashion, publishing or events management.

To help our students acquire the particular skills they need to gain employment in the museum and gallery sector – the single-most important area in which our students will seek jobs – we offer numerous modules dedicated to the histories, theories and practices of museums, exhibitions and galleries. Additionally, we give you the chance to think creatively and proactively about life after university through our curatorial employability module.

We also work with the university's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB

BTEC: DDM, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.

IB: 30 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Access to HE Diploma: 45 Level 3 credits at Merit or above

Flexible offers
Eligible applicants that actively choose us as their firm choice will be able to take advantage of a flexible offer. This offer will specify alternative entry requirements than those published here so, if your final grades aren’t what you had hoped for, you could still secure a place with us. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 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 listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 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.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this 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 here.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Ways of Seeing

From sculptures of ancient Roman politicians to virtuoso feats of Baroque illusionism, we will focus on `why` and `how` art and society interrelate. This module examines the relationship between visual culture and social life through case studies spanning more than two millennia of history. It focuses on a select number of major developments in a range of media and cultures, emphasising the ways that works of art function both as aesthetic and material objects and as cultural artefacts and forces.

View Ways of Seeing on our Module Directory

Art, Sex and Death (optional)

FROM THE SUN KING TO THE FIRST EMPIRE: Scandal. Executions. Diamonds. Lust. Sex and death were constant themes of the art in France from the middle of the seventeenth century to the first quarter of the nineteenth. We will look at the opulence and decadence of the court of Louis XIV at Versailles, move towards the violent post-revolutionary world of the Terror, and end with the ambitious First Empire of Napoleon.

View Art, Sex and Death (optional) on our Module Directory

Collect, Curate, Display: A Short History of the Museum

This module offers an introduction to the history of museums and galleries. It combines a historical and theoretical investigation of the subject with some hands-on curatorial assignments. We will consider the basic human instinct to collect and the creation of the first museums. We will examine ideas about taxonomy, ordering the world and the first museum spaces of display, asking questions about privilege and power. How have museums and galleries shaped history and science? What ethical issues are there today around these spaces? Should tobacco, oil and arms companies sponsor museums? Can museums be tools of ‘urban regeneration’? Do online archives and 3D scanning make museums themselves obsolete institutions?

View Collect, Curate, Display: A Short History of the Museum on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas: I

This module tackles some of the biggest questions surrounding the history of art. You will explore some key issues of philosophical aesthetics, such as the nature of representation, by engaging critically with seminal texts, artworks, and architecture. Through debates and essays, you will develop your analytical and interpretive skills, and leave with a solid foundation for the study of the history of art.

View Art and Ideas: I on our Module Directory

Writing and Researching Art History

This module is intended as a skills-building course for first year art history students, to develop writing skills across a range of assessed and non-assessed writing types (essay, critical review, reading summary, label text, catalogue essay, TV script etc). The module will also present an introduction to research methods in art history, and a historical overview of art historical writing.

View Writing and Researching Art History on our Module Directory

Skills for University Studies

Making the transition from school to University studies can be challenging. This module will introduce you to University life and enable you to acquire the study skills to make a success of your degree. It also orients you to work, volunteering and extra-curricular activities so that you can acquire additional skills and experience while you study.

View Skills for University Studies on our Module Directory

Space, Place and Locality (optional)

In a mixture of lectures and site visits, learn about the history of architecture and the relationship between spaces and those who inhabit them. This module is intended to serve as an introduction to architectural history, as well as concepts of visual culture, urbanism, and the critical theories of space. As part of this module students will be required to go on four trips. They are given a full subsidy by the department towards their travel costs where necessary. Students will know which weeks the trips will be taking place in advance so they are advised to make travel arrangements early to make sure the subsidy covers the costs.

View Space, Place and Locality (optional) on our Module Directory

Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture (optional)

Certain ideas shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us - ideas like democracy, free speech, individualism, free markets, and human rights. These ideas took their definitive modern form during a politically and intellectually revolutionary stretch of history known as the Enlightenment (ca. 1650-1800). This interdisciplinary module examines this period and thus serves as an essential prerequisite for students who want to understand the intellectual currents that run through the world they live in. Graduating students often rank it among the most useful modules they have taken.

View Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture (optional) on our Module Directory

Art in Latin America

Come face-to-face with over 750 original artworks from 19 countries in the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA). This major, unique, and internationally recognised collection, with works dating from the 1960s to today, is yours to make the most of. Investigate the themes of landscape, revolution, human rights, and the environment, which permeate many of the works and reflect the historical and contemporary challenges faced by the region, and debate the role Latin American art has in the wider art world.

View Art in Latin America on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art

New, exciting, and unconventional practices call for new, exciting and unconventional theories. This module will look at how art history has developed in the twentieth century, expanding the discipline to include visual culture, cultural studies of mass culture, performance, material culture, design history and digital culture. These new ways of seeing are often driven by a critical impetus, and allow us to look in new ways at social and political issues of activism and social change, sex, technology, memes, police violence, migration, austerity and crisis, state surveillance, and our relation to animals and the environment.

View Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art on our Module Directory

After Impressionism: European Art From Van Gogh to Klimt

How did artists working at the end of the nineteenth century respond to the legacy of Impressionism as the quintessential art of modern life? We will attempt to discover what it really meant to be 'modern' in turn-of-the century Europe and how artists responded to the dramatic political, social and technological changes that we call modernisation.

View After Impressionism: European Art From Van Gogh to Klimt on our Module Directory

Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action

Did you know that the not-for-profit sector is expanding fast in the UK, and offers meaningful jobs that can contribute to positive social change and ecological sustainability? This module introduces you to this sector and the concept and practice of social entrepreneurship using case studies of initiatives that have helped local communities, disadvantaged people and the environment. It also gives you the opportunity to develop your skills and use your creativity and imagination to design your own project or enterprise.

View Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action on our Module Directory

Becoming Modern: European Art From Futurism to Surrealism

This module seeks to answer the thorny question ‘What makes art modern?’ by considering different strands of European modern art from 1900 to the Second World War, including Futurism, Constructivism and Surrealism. Some key issues addressed include the birth of abstraction; the relationship between art and politics; and intersections between art, mass media and consumer culture.

View Becoming Modern: European Art From Futurism to Surrealism on our Module Directory

Capitalism and its Critics

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the social consequences, moral status, and even long-term viability of capitalism have come under renewed scrutiny. Does it foster economic growth and protect individual freedom, as its proponents claim? Or is it a destructive system out of control, as its detractors argue? Should the market be given even freer rein? Or should capitalism be reformed and restricted? Or should it be abolished and replaced altogether? And, if so, what would replace it?

View Capitalism and its Critics on our Module Directory

Navigating the Digital World

What does it mean to be a "digital citizen"? How are digital technologies transforming society? To what extent do digital technologies curb or enhance our rights? Some say that we live in a "post-truth" era filled with "fake news" that traps us in a digital "bubble" or "echo chamber". Others see digital technologies as the key to unlocking social change and finding new ways to bring people together across geographical boundaries. Which view is right? What are the actual legal, ethical, social, political, creative, and economic implications of living in an increasingly digital world? This module gives you an opportunity to explore these important issues, and it also provides you with hands-on training from experts in the practical skills required to navigate the digital world.

View Navigating the Digital World on our Module Directory

Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing

This module examines what it means to be a self, focusing on the fundamental role that some philosophers think narratives have to play in this. Topics covered include: subjectivity, self-control, self-expression and the relational self.

View Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing on our Module Directory

Inventing the Future: Early Contemporary 1945-1980

The period from 1945 to 1980 marked one of the most explosive and dynamic moments in the history of art. Discover how the specter of the Holocaust and the ideological divisions of the Cold War shaped the production and reception of art in the two decades following World War II. Also learn how major political developments of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Stonewall, student protests and the feminist movement, transformed the practice, theory and history of art, ultimately providing a hyper-politicised foundation for the emergence of postmodernism.

View Inventing the Future: Early Contemporary 1945-1980 on our Module Directory

Contemporary Art: 1980 to the Present

Thai curry for gallery-goers, and the aftermath of a monster attack – just two examples of how contemporary artists are pushing techniques, processes and media to the limit. Explore how the attitudes and approaches to art have evolved over the last 30 years, and the crucial precursors who influenced them, whilst always considering how the context in which art is made and received – be it geographical, sociological, political, or philosophical – affects its production, reception, and interpretation.

View Contemporary Art: 1980 to the Present on our Module Directory

Democracy and the Media

The relationship between the media and politics is a complex and important means by which the public are informed on and engaged by political activity. You consider the role of the media and democracy in the UK, and also explore how this functions elsewhere.

View Democracy and the Media on our Module Directory

Art, the Law and the Market

When artworks or artefacts have been looted, should finders really be keepers? What causes an artwork to fetch £100 million at auction? And when is it (il)legal to reproduce another artist’s work and claim it as one’s own? Study how issues of property rights, valuation, market transparency and digitisation have shaped -- and continue to reshape -- the field of art across different media.

View Art, the Law and the Market on our Module Directory

Visual Cultures: the Social Meanings of Photography and Art

This module examines how photography and other forms of visual art provide meanings and interpretations of societies.

View Visual Cultures: the Social Meanings of Photography and Art on our Module Directory

Photography in History

From mementos on the walls of our homes to perfume ads in glossy magazines to selfies on your mobile – photographs are everywhere. In this module, explore how the birth of the camera changed the way people saw themselves and their world, and how it continues to do so. Learn about the history of photography, interpreting and analysing both photographs and texts, and see how the photograph’s status shifted over time from document to artwork.

View Photography in History on our Module Directory

Visualising Bodies

The human body was a central preoccupation of Renaissance artists. This module investigates the varied ways in which painters, sculptors and architects approached the body in their works, taking in case studies that range from the early 1300s to the early 1600s. The primary focus is on Italy, although the module also examines a number of northern European works. Artists considered include Giotto, Dürer, Caravaggio, and others. In looking at the works of these artists, the module investigates how the body could become the vehicle for ideas about politics, gender, sexuality, philosophical discussion, and more.

View Visualising Bodies on our Module Directory

Curatorial Project

In this module you will produce a 4,000-word curatorial project proposal. As part of the proposal, you will develop a virtual exhibition on a subject of your choosing. The final proposal could include a checklist of objects, catalogue entries and a catalogue essay. You will work in collaboration with a supervisor. This is a capstone module, available to final-year curatorial studies students.

View Curatorial Project on our Module Directory

Placement

On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Close examination of texts written by artists, critics, art historians and philosophers
  • Subsidised gallery visits to work ‘in situ’ for each course
  • Gain practical experience in curating, such as handling and installing artworks
  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes

Assessment

  • Assessment methods include coursework, for example essays, analysis of source material, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, oral presentations
  • Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250

International fee

£16,850

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you're invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don't panic, they're nothing to worry about and it's a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we'll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you're outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email applicantdays@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.


Find out more

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, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the 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.

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