• CollegeCSM
  • Start date9 January 2018
  • Course lengthFull time (45 weeks)

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation

Places available 2017/18
This course has places available for January 2018 entry. View the ‘How to apply’ section on this page for more details.

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation offers a unique framework for critically engaging with the history and present scenarios of culture. We create outcomes through which new understandings can be generated through critical writing and expanded forms of curation.

This course is part of the Culture & Enterprise Programme.

Great reasons to apply

  • MA CCC integrates theoretical issues and practical skills, working with concepts and historical objects to consider how potential new knowledge can be presented in the public realm. We ask the most important questions about contemporary culture
  • You will learn to work collaboratively with other students at Central Saint Martins and leading arts and media institutions, as you develop and realise a multi-platform project
  • The course is committed to rigorous scholarship as well as encouragement of creative and practical skills. We want you to emerge as critical thinkers equipped with the ability to express yourself clearly and innovatively, ready for life in a fast-changing arts environment
  • Our staff team comprises international academics and practitioners in creative fields who take a hands-on approach to teaching. You will join an exciting community of people integrating research and practice in our Culture and Enterprise Programme, as well as a host of postgraduate programmes on curatorial practice across University of the Arts London
  • We are situated in the heart of London and in the heart of the world’s leading arts university. In the 21st century, London has re-stated its credentials as a world locus of creativity and academic innovation - from the Tate Gallery to the ‘indie’ shows of the East End; from classical opera at the Coliseum to dubstep in the clubs; from architectural, fashion designers’ and artists’ studios; to the exciting postgraduate culture at Central Saint Martins
  • University of the Arts London is in the top 30 of the UK’s latest higher education research audit. We rank among the top research universities with 83% of our research graded as world leading and internationally excellent, following the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF 2014)
  • UAL is in the top 30 UK research institutions for the quality of research submitted. It is a top 5 research university in its broader peer group and first in the Power ranking in the Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory category.

Meet Course Leader Alison Green.

Culture, Criticism and Curation students discuss the value of arts education.

As a student from a non-arts background, the course helped me develop my career in this field and gave me a platform to observe and practice in contemporary art and culture.

Sylvia Siyi Chen, alum

Course detail

Raymond Williams described culture as one of the most difficult words in the English language. It crosses disciplines and holds multiple meanings. It designates things and processes. Historically culture meant ‘civilisation’; more recently the meaning has shifted towards the entertainment and education sector, but importantly this has been accompanied by an ongoing negotiation about what might constitute the objects, activities, agents and interpretations of cultural production.

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation is part of the Culture and Enterprise programme. It's about culture seen in a historical framework. This postgraduate course combines interdisciplinary and innovative research, using techniques of image, object and textual analysis, and practical work in handling archives, curating and writing. Its combination of critical engagement and creative skills bridges scholarly research and the cultural and creative industries. The Course aims to teach students to be high level researchers and innovative practitioners, responding to a need for professionals with a broad interest in cultural production and the skills to communicate this to specialist and general audiences alike.

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation is aimed at candidates with an interest in research and its application in organising cultural events. Students should be keen to collaborate and work in teams, as well as able to work alone. Taking advantage of its location in an art school, MA CCC is neither a ‘straight’ academic course, nor one aimed at training cultural managers. Rather it integrates theoretical issues and practical skills, interrogating history and working critically and creatively to consider how potential new knowledge can be presented in the public realm.

The course will make use of London’s wealth of collections, archives and creative practitioners, staging the teaching in relation to ‘live’ resources. Key focuses of the course are collections and archives, including those that are institutional, personal and /or produced in the context of creative art practices, which you will address from both theoretical and practical standpoints. Collections and archives are historical constructions as much as physical (or other), and the course encourages you to see them as discursive, technological, social and political.

The course is taught by a team of tutors who bridge academic research and writing and professional practices of criticism, journalism, art, exhibition design, curating and collections management, most of whom developed and currently teach on the successful BA Criticism, Communication and Curation: Arts and Design degree. We will support your acquisition of high-level critical and practical skills enabling you to work in the field of art and culture or progress to a research degree. MA CCC aspires to generate criticality, as a skill and mode of address, applicable both within and outside the Humanities. The course’s main aim is to take research based in the academic environment and make it accessible to larger or new audiences.

About this course

  • MA Culture, Criticism and Curation lasts 45 weeks, arranged across one academic year – three terms of ten weeks – plus an additional 15 weeks of independent work
  • MA Culture, Criticism and Curation is credit rated at 180 credits. It comprises two Units: Unit One, (60 credits), for the first 15 weeks of the course followed by Unit Two (120 credits) that runs for 30 weeks
  • Both units must be passed in order to achieve the MA, but the classification of the award of MA derives from the mark for Unit Two only
  • We expect you to commit an average of 40 hours per week to your studies. This comprises 5 hours of taught and 15 supervised sessions and 20 hours self directed study
  • Your taught input will normally be scheduled over two - three fixed days per week, which we will detail at the start of each term and further in advance if possible. The course structure is intended to allow you to pursue your studies while also undertaking part-time work, internships or care responsibilities.  

A high level of academic and professional engagement is expected throughout the course. Practical work is undertaken with actual archives and collections prompting you to engage high-level organisational, communication, technical and professional skills from the outset. Critical writing spans academic writing to art criticism to journalism. Curatorial practices are explored early in the course and then realised in the context of the final group project. Lectures, reading lists, and discussions will orient you toward key debates and theoretical issues. You are expected to do significant amounts of independent reading and research, and to use the discussions, essays and formal presentations as platforms for developing your independence of thought and critical skills. Your dissertation represents a major research project, and is a key piece of work that will contribute to your exit portfolio, whether this is aimed at employment or PhD.


MA CCC is predicated on group work and ‘live’ projects. The course dynamic—the ‘community of practice’—is central to the success of each cohort. Before the start of each year, incoming students are invited to participate in an introductory structured activity (via the Virtual Learning Environment) in order to begin a conversation about individual interests and the overall aspirations of each cohort. The course is responsive to group work and is designed as a series of intensive ‘workshops’ combining lectures, discussions, visits and practical projects which support interdisciplinarity and foster a holistic approach to critical, practical, peer-to-peer, group and independent work. Every teaching day is an opportunity for peer-learning, and for you to work together as a group to develop and hone your ideas to raise the potential and impact of your project-work and your collaborative curatorial project.


Historical and theoretical concepts and methodologies are considered in relation to a range of relevant organisations, events and individual practices, drawn from the considerable international network already established within the Programme. In addition, each year we will make maximum use of opportunities presented by the calendar of cultural events in London and beyond, and there will be weekly Programme-, School-, and College-based events that will provide you with opportunities to engage with the rich culture of research and innovation at Central Saint Martins.

Course Units

Unit 1: Theories, Methods and Research is taught intensively for 13 weeks and supports the development of strategies for the interpretation and reinterpretation of culture.You will be introduced to subject knowledge and key research and practical skills. You will also begin to work together as a group, learning to negotiate, communicate and share ideas and importantly learn how to approach and resolve difficulty and conflict. You will come to understand the study of culture and cultural objects and be introduced to key analytical skills (such as historiography, textual and visual analysis, oral history, collections management and systems, interpretation and ethical issues, curation, critical writing and editing). As outcomes, you are each expected to produce a piece of critical writing, present it publically, and contribute to a group curatorial project.

Unit 2: Practice spans the Summer and Autumn terms and the intervening holiday period (30 weeks) and is aimed at moving you into a deeper engagement with research, writing, and curatorial work. It includes taught elements, independent study and group /collaborative work, and requires a high level of engagement, critical awareness, creativity and independence.

The taught part of this programme continues the series of study-days, lectures and discussions, workshops and site visits that began in Unit 1. In addition to this, you will begin your major work for the Course, your dissertation and the group project. These will be supported differently, as appropriate to the different needs of each project, but include briefings, lectures and seminars, workshops, group presentations, independent study and personal tutorials, live and via the VLE.

The dissertation is a major piece of research, analytical and evaluative writing. You will be encouraged to develop a bespoke research direction within the course framework which will prepare you for further academic research in Humanities subjects. The dissertation is a key piece of work that will contribute to your exit portfolio, whether this is aimed at employment or PhD. 

MA Culture Criticism and Curation Programme Specification 2018/19 (PDF, 386KB)

Industry collaborations

Working with paying clients on live briefs will give you valuable commercial experience which may mean your work being taken forward for production or, if so desired, in the purchase of your intellectual property. All paid projects are conducted within a carefully developed legal framework, which includes student agreements to protect your work and help you realise its commercial value. 

Once you’ve graduated, you may be picked as part of a small team to work on a live creative brief, organised by our Business and Innovation department, under the supervision of an experienced tutor. This can be a valuable first step in working professionally in a chosen discipline and has resulted in graduates being hired by clients.

Dissertation subjects

Student dissertations on MA Culture, Criticism and Curation cover a wide range of subjects. Here are some recent examples:

  • The Seen and the Unseen: A Study of Bethlem Royal Hospital (Yusi Xiong)
  • Why You Should Invest 0% of Your Monies in Art (Bernard Tan)
  • Playing with History (Jake Charles Rees)
  • Turn and Face the Change. Digital Media and Museums in the 21st century. Case Study: Victoria and Albert Museum (Gili Yuval)
  • Applying Digital Media technology in museums in China (Yan Yu)
  • What's under the sun? A cultural engagement with the new (Eva Tyler)
  • Bad Bitches, Strip Clubs and Twerking. The Racial Analysis of Miley Cyrus Twerking at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards (Rhianne Sinclair-Phillips)
  • The Good, The Bad and the Sexy. An approach to popularity, heritage and meaning in El Libro Vaquero (Marisol Rodriguez)
  • Can works of art stop being works of art? The case of the Miro collection (Eva Oddo)
  • Wide, Open Spaces: Institutional Critique as Artist Practice in the 21st Century (Janice Mitchell)
  • Obsession, Possession and Oppression; Collecting and Social Structures in French Art Deco 'Exoticism' Furniture (Cath Layton)
  • The Fictive Museum. Return to the Wunderkammer (Lisa Kim)
  • He'll Give Us What We Need, It May Not Be What We Want. Kanye West, Yeezus, and the Curatorial (Ross Jennings)
  • 'A DOWN': Decadence of Hunting Aesthetics in Film from Fred.B.Bear to 8 year old Will (Oscar Holloway)
  • From the Stars Group to the China/Avant-Garde Exhibition: Chinese Avant-Garde Art in Chinese Modern Society since 1979 (Siyi Chen)
  • The Hidden Treasure. Angelo Baldassarre's contemporary art collection (Fausta Maria Bolettieri)
  • Kettle's yard: Unpicking the Burden of History. A Critical Assessment of the Kettle's Yard Identity (Natalie Baerselman le Gros)
  • Curating Art's Names: On the Possibility of Mapping Conceptual Investigations in to the Nature of Art Within a Curatorial Discourse(Ludovica Gilio)
  • Education without Learning; The Paradox of Staging Critical Discourse (Charlotte Rose Ram)

Projects 

The Culture and Enterprise programme team has cultivated and delivered student projects in partnership with a range of external organisations including Procter and Gamble, The Guardian, and EDF. Read about a few recent student projects by MA Culture, Criticism and Curation students via the links below.

Staff

Course Leader: Dr Alison Green

Course Tutor: Dr Caroline Dakers
Course Tutor: Prof. Roger Sabin
Course Tutor: Stephanie Dieckvoss
Course Tutor: Judy Lindsay
Course Tutor: Andrew Marsh
Course Tutor: James Swinson
Course Tutor: Ben Bethell
Course Tutor: Nick Kimberley
Course Tutor: Lindsey Moore

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide. 

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form: 

Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level); Current and/or previous education and qualification details; Employment history. 

Before you can submit the form, you will also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form. 

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the online application form, we will send you a confirmation email. 

You will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should give us information about yourself and why you want to join the course. (Write no more than 300 words.) 

  • What are you doing at the moment educationally, professionally, personally?
  • Why do you wish to study on this course?
  • Do you have any relevant experience?
  • Why do you think you are a suitable candidate for acceptance?

Project Proposal

The Project Proposal should provide a rationale and outline for a cultural project based upon an archive or collection. It should demonstrate your critical engagement and creative thinking within the cultural field, your interests and your ability to conceptualise and plan project work. It does not need to have happened; you only need to propose an idea, but it should be realisable. 

The Project Proposal: 

  • Helps you to position your interests academically and professionally;
  • Reflects your personal interests and direction at this stage and prepares you for collaborative and practical projects during the programme;
  • Should be between 800 and 1,000 words, and include images or other media as needed.

Written Assignment

Your critical and evaluative writing should: 

  • Reflect your academic and professional interests;
  • Total between 3,000 and 5,000 words
  • Evidence your ability to write and your interest in and understanding of history, culture, and /or arts and design. 

It may be a piece of published writing or an academic essay written for coursework. Independent or unpublished writings will also be accepted.

References

This course requires at least 2 references one of which should be an academic or professional reference. 

Start your application now

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.  

What happens next 

We read and consider all applications. Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of supporting documentation, you then may then be invited participate in an interview, either in person or by telephone / skype. 

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required. 

When to Apply 

We strongly recommend you apply before 31st October 2017. After that point we cannot guarantee your application will be considered.

Deferred Entry

Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

You can apply for this course using our online application form.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide. 

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form: 

Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level); Current and/or previous education and qualification details; Employment history. 

Before you can submit the form, you will also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form. 

For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page. 

Immigration History form (for International Applications only)

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an Immigration History form. 

We will email you an Immigration History form when we receive your application.

You will need to send this back to us, by email, with copies of the following documents: 

  • Your passport photo page; 
  • Your current visa (if you have one) and any previous UK study visas;
  • Your current English language certificate (if you have this);
  • Your academic qualifications (A2, IB, high school diploma, foundation etc. - if completed. Translated into English). 

Please note: If you do not complete and return your Immigration History form we will not be able to proceed with your application. 

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the online application form, we will send you a confirmation email. 

You will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should give us information about yourself and why you want to join the course. (Write no more than 300 words.) 

  • What are you doing at the moment educationally, professionally, personally?
  • Why do you wish to study on this course?
  • Do you have any relevant experience?
  • Why do you think you are a suitable candidate for acceptance?

Project Proposal

The Project Proposal should provide a rationale and outline for a cultural project based upon an archive or collection. It should demonstrate your critical engagement and creative thinking within the cultural field, your interests and your ability to conceptualise and plan project work. It does not need to have happened; you only need to propose an idea, but it should be realisable. 

The Project Proposal: 

  • Helps you to position your interests academically and professionally;
  • Reflects your personal interests and direction at this stage and prepares you for collaborative and practical projects during the programme;
  • Should be between 800 and 1,000 words, and include images or other media as needed.

Written Assignment

Your critical and evaluative writing should: 

  • Reflect your academic and professional interests;
  • Total between 3,000 and 5,000 words
  • Evidence your ability to write and your interest in and understanding of history, culture, and /or arts and design. 

It may be a piece of published writing or an academic essay written for coursework. Independent or unpublished writings will also be accepted.

References

This course requires at least 2 references one of which should be an academic or professional reference. 

Start your application now

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.  

What happens next 

We read and consider all applications. Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of supporting documentation, you then may then be invited participate in an interview, either in person or by telephone / skype. 

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required. 

When to Apply

We strongly recommend you apply before 31st October 2017. After that point we cannot guarantee your application will be considered.

Deferred Entry

Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements 

Applicants must have an Honours Degree or evidence of equivalent learning, and normally at least one year of relevant professional experience. The relevant disciplines and professional fields include:

  • History
  • Art History
  • Culture, Communications or Media Studies
  • Fine Art
  • Fashion (History & Theory)
  • Multimedia or interactive design
  • Curatorial, gallery or museum work
  • Research
  • Collections management or interpretation
  • Journalism - digital, broadcast, press and radio
  • Art criticism and other forms of writing practices
  • Marketing and PR
  • Retail, if culturally related. 

Applicants will be considered for admission who have already achieved a relevant Honours Degree, who can evidence experiential learning equivalent to a degree or who have three years’ relevant professional experience.

English language requirements

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language you will be asked to provide evidence of your English language ability in order to apply for a visa, enrol, and start your course. The English language requirement for entry for this course is: 

IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 6.0 in any one paper, or equivalent.

For further information visit the English Language requirements page.

Applicants who will need a Tier Four General Student Visa should check the Visa and Immigration page which provides important information about UK Border Agency (UKBA) requirements. 

What we look for

What we look for

  • Interest in and understanding of history, culture, and/or arts and design;
  • Reflexive and critical thinking;
  • Experience of collaborative work;
  • Self-motivation, ambition, and interest in research. 

Selection Criteria

Applicants will be selected on the basis of the following criteria: 

  • A BA qualification or equivalent level of skills and knowledge in your own discipline, evidenced by work done in your field;
  • Evidence of interest in and understanding of history, culture, and /or arts and design;
  • Evidence of critical thinking and research abilities, particularly in written work;
  • Experience of collaborative work;
  • Evidence of self-motivation and ambition.

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

Tuition fees for course that starts in January 2018: £8,500.

£1,000 discount for Home/EU students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

International fee

Tuition fees for course that starts in January 2018: £17,230.

£1,000 discount for students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Additional costs

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

Accommodation

Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

Scholarships search

Careers and alumni

The course will prepare graduates to work in the creative and cultural industries and/ or for doctoral work in Humanities subjects.

Within the cultural and creative industries there is increasing demand for people who have curatorial, research and writing skills and can work within this interdisciplinary sector. Employers now expect that MA graduates will be able handle intellectual, creative and practical projects, and demonstrate an enquiring mind.

Alumni profiles

  • Alumni perspectives

    Recent graduates share what they thought about the course, what studying at Central Saint Martins is like, and what they’ve been up to since leaving.

  • Exploring Curation: theory and practice

    MA Culture, Criticism and Curation alum Tonya Weschler on the theory of curation and putting it into practice on the course.

  • Volume Dissolves Into Atmosphere

    'Volume Dissolves Into Atmosphere' is a conceptual sonic art exhibition curated and realised by a group of MA Culture, Criticism and Curation students from the 2015 cohort as their final project.