Undergraduate Course

BA Curating, Heritage and Human Rights

BA Curating, Heritage and Human Rights

Overview

The details
Curating, Heritage and Human Rights
V301
October 2021
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

Can an exhibition spark social change? Who decides which stories our museums and galleries tell? How can we save heritage that is under threat from war or natural disasters? What are the ethical problems in preserving and exhibiting objects from other cultures? How do curators and heritage managers take these questions into account when they make displays and exhibitions? This degree will develop the skills you need make exciting new connections between the forms of visual culture and heritage you study, human rights, and broader social and political forces.

BA Curating, Heritage and Human Rights will deepen your knowledge of curatorial practice, whilst studying human rights, developing your confidence to advocate for individual and community rights, social justice and social change. In addition, the degree will introduce you to the critical study of heritage, including ethical and legal debates, and questions around how heritage is preserved, communicated and displayed, including issues of spectatorship and community engagement.

You will study topics including:

  • History of the museum
  • Curatorial ethics
  • Heritage management
  • Social dimensions of human rights
  • Digital heritage and museums
  • The role of new technologies and new media in 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 ranked 6th among Art History departments in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014). 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.
  • Our Human Rights Centre is a recognised leader, working with human rights organisations and corporations around the world
  • We house a collection of over 750 pieces of art from Latin America, in ESCALA, and over 100 works of British art, so you can study art ‘in the flesh’ on campus
  • Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad takes you far afield and explores local settings
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, 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

Our staff consists of a dynamic group of art historians, curators, and heritage specialists. 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, digital heritage, public engagement and activism.

Members of our Human Rights Centre work closely with our alumni and extensive practitioner network to ensure that our research is focused on priority issues that are of direct relevance to beneficiaries such as victims of human rights violations, governments, NGOs, and international organisations such as the UN.

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

Dr Gavin Grindon, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Director of our Centre for Curatorial Studies, recently co-curated Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Palestine and the exhibition Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, one of the best-attended shows in the museum’s history.

Dr Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco, Lecturer in Heritage and Digital Humanities, has just co-directed a documentary that explores community resilience and sense of place in post-1980 earthquake in Irpinia, South Italy. She is also collaborating with Tymkiw and other colleagues from Essex’s School of Engineering on a project titled Neurocuration, which explores how sound-augmentation affects how people experience virtual museums and exhibits.

Dr Matt Lodder, Senior Lecturer in Art History with an emphasis on modern and contemporary visual culture, recently curated the traveling exhibition British Tattoo Art Revealed and Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed. He is currently co-curating the exhibition Tattoo: Ancient Myths, Modern Meanings, which opens next year in the U.S.

Dr Lisa Blackmore, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies, currently convenes entre—ríos, an international network of artists, researchers and community representatives across Latin America who collaborate on virtual and in-country projects that explore sustainability challenges facing bodies of water. She has curated exhibitions on art and the environment with the ESCALA collection at Art Exchange, the on-campus gallery.

Dr Michael Tymkiw, Senior Lecturer in Art History, is the author of the 2018 book Nazi Exhibition Design and Modernism and several other research projects concerning the politics of spectatorship in modern and contemporary art and visual culture.

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 and heritage sites in the nearby town of Colchester (‘Britain’s First City’); on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums, galleries, and heritage sites at your fingertips;

Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience, engage in object-based learning, and learn digital skills, a cornerstone of our approach to heritage and museums.

We have close links with many of cultural sites and institutions in Colchester, including the iconic Firstsite gallery, which support hands-on activities and your practical learning.

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, Heritage and Human Rights include museums, galleries, heritage institutions, and auction houses. Within these sectors, you can pursue a career in curation, cultural policy, heritage, 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 heritage and museum sector, we offer numerous modules dedicated to the histories, theories and practices of heritage and museums.

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.

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

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

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. 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

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

Foundations of Human Rights

What are human rights? How do we protect them? And what challenges do we face when promoting human rights on an international level? Discover the fundamental principles and practices, including topics related to international law and philosophy, which underpin the protection and promotion of our human rights.

View Foundations of Human Rights on our Module Directory

Space, Place and Locality (optional)

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 critical theories of space.

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

Art Revolutions (optional)

Realism and Impressionism. Meet the rule-breakers. What is it that motivates an artist to break the mould? Focussing on Realism and Impressionism in France, this module identifies not only how the political, social and economic changes during the nineteenth century affected art and creative thinking, but how this vibrant and multi-faceted group of artists, who refused to follow the crowd, influenced their world. Through analysis of primary and secondary sources, you’ll explore their historical reputation, as well as their relevance today.

View Art Revolutions (optional) on our Module Directory

Art in Latin America

Learn about the major artistic trends that have emerged from Latin America, from Mexican Muralism right up to transgenic art. On this module, you’ll delve into the themes of landscape, revolution, human rights, and the environment, which reflect the historical and contemporary challenges faced by the region and 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

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, film and games. These new ways of seeing are often driven by a critical impetus, and allow us to look at culture to draw out new perspectives on 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

Digital Heritage and Museums

Digital technologies are re-defining contemporary heritage practices. Digital technologies and media are used for re-presenting, managing and disseminating information about cultural heritage as well as producing new cultural information on the web, which establishes digital heritage as a new field of study. This module will present digital heritage theories and explore how digital practices are changing the role of heritage institutions and museums as sites for the study, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage.

View Digital Heritage and Museums on our Module Directory

Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step

This module offers you the opportunity to build up a portfolio of experiences, skills, and knowledge that will help prepare you for the graduate job you’re looking for. You learn about future career possibilities, gain an insight into what graduate employers are looking for, and access a range of opportunities for valuable work experience on and off campus.

View Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step on our Module Directory

Public History Module: History in Museums

This module gives you a unique opportunity to apply your historical knowledge and research skills to help Colchester Castle Museum connect their collections with the communities that they serve. You will work with Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service’s curatorial team to get a unique behind the scenes look at the work of an important museum. This will give you a valuable insight into the way in which heritage organisations share the material culture of the past with the public of today.

View Public History Module: History in Museums on our Module Directory

Human Rights Organisations: International and Regional Institutions

While a lot of the emphasis in the study of human rights is placed on the normative dimensions of specific rights, in human rights practice, an understanding of the institutional machinery that provides for complaints procedures (including formal courts), monitoring of state obligations and the review of periodic reports is imperative. You’ll be equipped with the skills and knowledge required to give meaningful effect of specific individual rights. Human rights institutions on the universal level (United Nations), as well as the regional level, are covered.

View Human Rights Organisations: International and Regional Institutions on our Module Directory

Social Dimensions of Human Rights

You’ll be introduced to sociology and human rights, and will learn how to research human rights in a sociological manner. You’ll consider two competing contemporary attempts to formulate a sociology of rights, as well as the problem of universalism versus relativism. Study the concept of cosmopolitanism, as well as rights across borders, the position of trans-national migrants as compared with the citizens of host countries, and investigate how far universal human rights can over-come state sovereignty in the granting of rights to non-citizens. You’ll also look at specific examples related to gender, immigration and asylum seekers, and what rich countries owe to poor ones.

View Social Dimensions of Human Rights on our Module Directory

Management and the Cultural Industries (optional)

An increasingly important sector, the cultural industries are distinctive both in terms of their political economy and their organizational forms, management systems and labour processes. You consider what is distinctive about culture as an economic product, and what this distinctiveness means for the structure of the industries.

View Management and the Cultural Industries (optional) on our Module Directory

Ethics (optional)

This is a module in ethical theory rather than applied ethics - that is, it takes up theoretical questions about the status and justification of morality rather than addressing directly practical moral problems. The exact focus will vary from year-to-year. In 2021, we will investigate one of the most influential modern theories of ethics, Kant’s moral philosophy. While students might have had a chance to study some aspects of Kant’s view before, this term will be devoted to really wrestle with its details and consider the most important criticisms lodged against it. We will look at the philosophy of action and view of freedom that underpins the Kant’s ethical outlook; at how he conceives of moral requirements; and at his strategies of justification as well as at the key objections to the Kantian ethical project from different critics. The main text will be the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals [1785], but other texts by Kant will also be discussed. We will also use his work as a springboard to discuss wider issues in ethics, like moral luck and feminist ethics of care

View Ethics (optional) on our Module Directory

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Film, New Media, Software and the Internet

This module follows on from AR321, and presents the artwork of the post-mechanical age. Uncover how new media, such as film and video, cybernetics, robotics, video games and the internet have been used to create art from the 1960s to the present day. Investigate the issues of production, reception, display, the acceptance of new media into the art world, whilst attempting to link the issues raised by new media artists to your own experiences of life in an increasingly digital world.

View The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Film, New Media, Software and the Internet on our Module Directory

Art and Ideas III

This third art and ideas module deepens your existing thematic and historiographical knowledge building on Art and Ideas 2. We’ll be looking back at ‘the history of art history’ before the twentieth century. We’ll also look forward, to new cutting-edge theoretical approaches to arts, visual and material cultures.

View Art and Ideas III on our Module Directory

Selected Issues in Human Rights

How important are human rights today? What role do they play in contemporary society? And can you analyse their impact on topics like freedom of expression or global justice? Learn to identify and evaluate human rights issues in range of real-life situations, within a regional, national and international context.

View Selected Issues in Human Rights on our Module Directory

Digital Heritage and Museums (optional)

Digital technologies are re-defining contemporary heritage practices. Digital technologies and media are used for re-presenting, managing and disseminating information about cultural heritage as well as producing new cultural information on the web, which establishes digital heritage as a new field of study. This module will present digital heritage theories and explore how digital practices are changing the role of heritage institutions and museums as sites for the study, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage.

View Digital Heritage and Museums (optional) on our Module Directory

Contemporary Art: 1980 to the Present (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Curatorial Project (optional)

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 (optional) 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.

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

If you are an undergraduate student who has received an offer from us to study with us from October 2021, you will be invited to attend a Virtual Applicant Day so that you can get to know us from the comfort of your own home. Our Virtual Applicant Days will run until June 2021 and give you the chance meet academics online from the department you’ve applied to, and attend live talks and Q&A’s on our Virtual Applicant Day platform.

Some of our courses also require a compulsory interview. If you have applied to one of these courses you will receive an invite to a Zoom interview via email, along with further details about the interview process.

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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