Undergraduate Course

BA Curating with Politics

BA Curating with Politics

Overview

The details
Curating with Politics
V305
October 2024
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

Can artists be activists? Can an exhibition spark social change? Who decides which stories our museums and galleries tell? How should museums deal with traumatic political events? Do governments and business determine what a country's culture looks like? How do curators take these questions into account when they make displays and exhibitions? This degree will develop the skills you need to make exciting new connections between the forms of visual culture you study, political developments, and broader social and political forces.

BA Curating with Politics offers a multidisciplinary foundation in the histories and theories of art, curating, heritage studies, and politics. You will learn the intellectual and practical skills you need to realise your career ambitions, combining classroom-based learning with hands-on experience in museums and galleries. 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.

You will study topics including:

  • Art and Power
  • History of the museum
  • Introduction to Politics
  • Art in Latin America
  • Digital heritage and museums

To study on our course, you don't need an A-Level in Art or Art History. In fact, we believe that the best students of visual culture are those who bring fresh eyes and new perspectives to their objects of enquiry.

One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We are 3rd in the UK for research outputs in art history (Grade Point Average, REF2021). You will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year, a rarity in the UK Art History courses.

Why we're great.
  • We house a collection of over 750 artworks from Latin America, ESCALA, and over 100 works of British art, so you can study art ‘in the flesh' on campus
  • Our academics are actively engaged in curating exhibitions and digital platforms, often about urgent political issues
  • Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad takes you far afield and explores local settings

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, 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.

Placement year

When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and the placements team.

If you complete a year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

Our expert staff

We are a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environment, across cultures and media, from the late medieval period to the present day.

Our staff's research interests include activist art, modernist art and totalitarianism, the relationship between art and science, the artistic status of body modification, art and the environment, critical heritage, and the visual culture of social problems. We also have significant experience in curation and public engagement. Recent projects include:

  • Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco's UKRI Future Leaders-funded research project, REPLACE
  • Matt Lodder's Painted People: Humanity in 21 Tattoos (HarperCollins, 2022)
  • Diana Bullen Presciutti's Saints, Miracles, and Social Problems in Italian Renaissance Art (Cambridge, 2023)
  • 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 one of the most comprehensive 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 and theory 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, cultural policy, museum education, programming, events 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 wider arts and cultural industries, in design, 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 - BBC or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A-levels.
    • BTEC: DDM - DMM or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of the equivalent of 2 full A-levels.
    • Combined qualifications on the UCAS tariff: 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A levels or equivalent. Tariff point offers may be made if you are taking a qualification, or mixture of qualifications, from the list on our undergraduate application information page.
    • IB: 30 - 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555-554.
    • IB Career-related Programme: We consider combinations of IB Diploma Programme courses with BTECs or other qualifications. Advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions
    • QAA-approved Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions
    • T-levels: We consider T-levels on a case-by-case basis, depending on subject studied. The offer for most courses is Distinction overall. Depending on the course applied for there may be additional requirements, which may include a specific grade in the Core.

    Contextual Offers:

    We are committed to ensuring that all students with the merit and potential to benefit from an Essex education are supported to do so. For October 2024 entry, if you are a home fee paying student residing in the UK you may be eligible for a Contextual Offer of up to two A-level grades, or equivalent, below our standard conditional offer.
    Factors we consider:

    • Applicants from underrepresented groups
    • Applicants progressing from University of Essex Schools Membership schools/colleges
    • Applicants who attend a compulsory admissions interview
    • Applicants who attend an Offer Holder Day at our Colchester or Southend campus

    Our contextual offers policy outlines additional circumstances and eligibility criteria.

    For further information about what a contextual offer may look like for your specific qualification profile, email ugquery@essex.ac.uk.

    If you haven't got the grades you hoped for, have a non-traditional academic background, are a mature student, or have any questions about eligibility for your course, more information can be found on our undergraduate application information page or get in touch with our Undergraduate Admissions Team

    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 contact our Undergraduate Admissions team at ugquery@essex.ac.uk to request the entry requirements for this country.

    English language requirements

    English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall, or specified score in another equivalent test that we accept.

    Details of English language requirements, including component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

    If we accept the English component of an international qualification it will be included in the academic levels listed above for the relevant countries.

    English language shelf-life

    Most English language qualifications have a validity period of 5 years. The validity period of Pearson Test of English, TOEFL and CBSE or CISCE English is 2 years.

    If you require a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

    Pre-sessional English courses

    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.

    Pending English language qualifications

    You don’t need to achieve the required level before making your application, but it will be one of the conditions of your offer.

    If you cannot find the qualification that you have achieved or are pending, then please email ugquery@essex.ac.uk .

    Requirements for second and final year entry

    Different requirements apply for second and final year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK. Details of English language requirements, including UK Visas and Immigration minimum component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

    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

    Structure

    Course structure

    Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

    We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

    Components and modules explained

    Components

    Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

    Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

    Status What this means
    Core
    You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
    Core with Options
    You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
    Compulsory
    You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
    Compulsory with Options
    You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
    Optional
    You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

    The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

    Modules

    Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

    In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

    Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

    HR 100  4  FY

    The department or school the module will be taught by.

    In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

    The module number. 

    The UK academic level of the module.

    A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

    A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

    A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

    The term the module will be taught in.

    • AU: Autumn term
    • SP: Spring term
    • SU: Summer term
    • FY: Full year 
    • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
    • PS: Spring and Summer terms
    • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

    COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

    Introduction to Politics
    (30 CREDITS)

    What is “Politics”? How have people conceived of political analysis, the state, laws, wars and political parties, across cultures and over time? Gain an understanding of essential concepts in the study of politics and explore the economic, social and intellectual trends that have made democracy possible.

    View Introduction to Politics on our Module Directory

    COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

    Writing and Researching Art History
    (15 CREDITS)

    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 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

    COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

    Collect, Curate, Display: A Short History of the Museum
    (15 CREDITS)

    This module offers an introduction to the history of museums and galleries. 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

    COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

    Art and Ideas: I
    (15 CREDITS)

    This module tackles some of the biggest questions surrounding the history of art. You will explore some key theoretical issues in the history of art, such as the nature of representation, by engaging critically with seminal texts and artworks. In this module, 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

    COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

    Introduction to Heritage and Museum Studies
    (15 CREDITS)

    This module provides an introductory overview to the field of heritage and museum studies and explores some of the conceptual, political and ethical issues faced by those working within and researching in the area of heritage and museums. The module defines heritage, discusses how heritage is officially recognised, and presents the instruments that are used to interpret, protect, and communicate heritage, at local, national, and international levels. It also introduces the main aspects of museum studies, explains how the definitions of museums has changed through time and how this definition affects how we preserve and present heritage today. This module will introduce you to the history of heritage and museum management and will lay the foundation of some of the conceptual, political and ethical issues of the heritage and the museum field. It defines heritage as a process in which people makes sense of the past, in the present and for the future and how the aims of heritage and museum management changes according to the heritage process and its contexts.

    View Introduction to Heritage and Museum Studies on our Module Directory

    COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

    Art history option(s) from list or outside option(s)
    (30 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 07: COMPULSORY

    Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step
    (0 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

    Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art
    (15 CREDITS)

    How did our society decide what counts as ‘art’ and what is ‘culture’? Is there really such a thing as high vs low culture? What are the political stakes of these divisions? This module looks at the shift in ideas from ‘art history’ to visual and material cultural studies. This module will engage with these debates and teach you new methods for seeing, interpreting and understanding art, design, craft, performance, fashion, film and videogames. These new ways of seeing are often driven by new theoretical ideas , and allow us to look at culture to draw out new perspectives on social and political issues of activism and social change, sex, technology, 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

    COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

    Option(s) from list
    (30 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

    CS200-5-AU or (CS207-5-AU and option from list)
    (15 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

    Art History option(s) or outside option(s)
    (30 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

    Politics option(s) from list
    (30 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

    Art and Ideas III
    (15 CREDITS)

    This third art and ideas module deepens your existing thematic and historiographical knowledge building on Art and Ideas II. In this module, we will familiarise ourselves with some of the most influential and insightful theoretical approaches to art in the 20th and 21st Century.

    View Art and Ideas III on our Module Directory

    COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

    AR328-6-SP
    (15 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

    Final Year Dissertation Project
    (15 CREDITS)

    In this module you will produce a capstone project - a 4,000-word dissertation or a curatorial or heritage project of equivalent scope (depending on degree scheme). The finished capstone project should show an all-round grasp of your subject and the ability to present your material clearly, succinctly and in the most appropriate sequence. It should also demonstrate evidence of a serious engagement with your topic, a mastery of the information currently available, and the inclusion of your own reasoned, critical judgements. A supervisor will help guide you as you begin to develop a research question, start researching the topic, and write the dissertation (or develop the project). This is a capstone module, available to final-year art history students.

    View Final Year Dissertation Project on our Module Directory

    COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

    Politics option(s) from list
    (30 CREDITS)

    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

    Undergraduate students in the School of Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies typically attend a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar for each module every week.

    Fees and funding

    Home/UK fee

    £9,250 per year

    International fee

    £19,500 per year

    Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

    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.

    2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

    • Saturday 17 August 2024 - Colchester Clearing Open Day
    • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
    • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day

    Applying

    Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full details on how to apply can be found on the filling in your UCAS undergraduate application web page.

    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.

    Offer Holder Days

    If you receive an undergraduate offer to study with us in October 2024 and live in the UK, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Offer Holder Days. Our Colchester Campus Offer Holder Days run from February to May 2024 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus events run in April and May. These events provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. To support your attendance, we are offering a travel bursary, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Offer Holder Days, including terms and conditions and eligibility criteria for our travel bursary, please visit our webpage.

    If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Offer Holder Days if you are able to - we will let you know in your invite email how you can do this.

    A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

    Visit Colchester Campus

    Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


    View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

    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.

    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 University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

    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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