• CollegeCSM
  • Start dateSeptember 2018
  • Course lengthFull time: 2 years (60 weeks)

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies

This course examines the history of contemporary art through key developments in the exhibition form.

Delivered in collaboration with Afterall, the art research and publishing enterprise based at Central Saint Martins. It’s part of our research community which includes students in MPhil/PhD programmes and research staff.

This course is part of the Art Programme

Great reasons to apply

  • MRes Art: Exhibition Studies enables you to pursue your studies whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities. You are expected to commit 30 hours per week to your studies; your taught input will normally be scheduled over a maximum of two to three days per week during term time 
  • This course is delivered in conjunction with Afterall, the art research and publishing organisation based at Central Saint Martins.You’ll have unique access to the resources and knowledge already amassed by Afterall, as well as to its network of contributors and collaborating institutions, including high profile curators and theorists such as Roger Buergel and Claire Bishop
  • Collaborative work with publishing projects led by Afterall. A long-term current project is 'Exhibition Histories' produced in partnership with the Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, with the support of MUDAM, Luxembourg, and Arts Council England. It represents the first comprehensive attempt at writing a history of contemporary exhibition practice
  • You'll be part of a wider research community within Central Saint Martins. The College has its own, dedicated Research Group, ‘Exhibitions: histories, practices’ which brings together theorists, artists and curators who are investigating the exhibition form
  • You’ll have the chance to direct and participate in a group event with invited professionals. This event builds your professional skills and provides a discussion forum challenging you to recognise and debate key questions arising from your research project work to date 
  • You’ll be equipped with the skills to pursue work in the academic and research contexts of professional environments, to undertake PhD study, or pursue independent research and you’ll benefit from links with relevant professional and academic organisations in London and internationally and from the varied expertise of our research staff. 
Installation view of 'c.7,500', Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1973, © the artists. Photography: Eric Sutherland. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Photography: Eric Sutherland. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Installation view of 'c.7,500', Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1973, © the artists. Photography: Eric Sutherland. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Meet joint Course Leader Pablo Lafuente and students.

Course detail

MRes Art allows you to address a specialist area of fine art research and to explore the relationships between your chosen specialism and the broader fine art community in the context of our Fine Art Programme.

Synergies in our Fine Art Programme - incorporating MA Fine Art, MA Art and Science, MA Photography, MRes Art: Exhibition Studies, MRes Art: Moving Image, and MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy - create a dynamic context for exploring practices and issues within contemporary culture.

In its extended full-time mode the course gives you the flexibility to access London's richly varied opportunities for work and study while maximising your personal and professional development.

MRes Art prepares you to work particularly in the academic and research contexts of professional environments, to undertake PhD study, or pursue independent research. The course benefits from links with relevant professional and academic organisations in London and internationally and from the varied expertise of its research staff.

The three pathways provide a focus for your study while also enabling you to explore shared ground and questions of disciplinary territories and boundaries.

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies considers exhibitions and curating inside and outside the museum and gallery, in order to analyse their effects on contemporary art practice, and construct an alternative, critical art history. Debate follows the broad lines of art history's historiography and methodology with the goal to deepen your understanding of important questions of method in the field

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies is delivered in conjunction with Afterall, the art research and publishing organisation based at Central Saint Martins. It provides for the first time an opportunity to examine the history of contemporary exhibition practice through the detailed study and analysis of case studies and practical, theoretical, cultural or socio-political developments. This specific approach to the study of curatorial practice is unique. Art history courses don't systematically tackle the exhibition form, which is the first point of access to art by an audience and therefore shapes the way art is understood, while curatorial courses tend to have a vocational character and don't promote a thorough analysis of the history of the mechanisms and implications of display strategies.

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies supports and is shaped by:

  • Development of scholarship and research in the history of contemporary art through the history and theory of exhibitions
  • Collaborative work with publishing projects led by Afterall. A long-term current project is ‘Exhibition Histories’, currently produced in partnership with the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, with the support of MUDAM, Luxembourg, and Arts Council England. It represents the first comprehensive attempt at writing a history of contemporary exhibition practice
  • Potential student participation in such projects leading to specific public outputs such as publications, conferences and symposia
  • Student/staff access to the resources and knowledge already amassed by Afterall, as well as to its network of contributors and collaborating institutions, including their staff and archives.

Course rationale

From the mid nineteenth century onwards, and more notably since 1945, exhibitions have played a key role in defining art's development or opening up new artistic positions. By documenting and analysing institutional exhibitions, spectacular public events, artistic manifestoes and counterpublic gatherings amongst other forms, it is possible to write new art narratives that involve artistic, curatorial and public moments of exchange. We have chosen 1955, the date of the first Documenta in Kassel, as the starting date for the course as marking a moment when the avant-garde moved fully into the public domain and integrated into spectacular culture. Since then, it is largely exhibitions through which the possibilities and meaning of modern and contemporary art have been disclosed and the curatorial has assumed a new significance. MRes Art: Exhibition Studies will focus on these public artistic phenomena in all their forms as a way to write the history of the last half-century of art.

The term 'exhibition' covers a variety of forms of public presentation of art, from the physical exhibition and catalogue to websites and independent publications. In general, such exhibitions are understood as collective enterprises involving more than one artist or curator.

One of the key focuses of the course will be the history of the white cube, as an exhibition space that became the default curatorial style. The consequences for artworks of this supposedly "neutral" location have been hugely influential, but there have always been many alternative proposals that mediate a viewer's relationship to the art differently. Both large and small-scale exhibitions have offered such alternatives, while the modernist paradigm still largely survives in museums. Recent decades have also been characterised by an expansion of the geographies of contemporary art that call out for more analysis and thoughtful documentation of the biennales, triennIales and mega-shows that have proliferated in recent times. The development of installation art, event sculpture, expanded cinema and the blurring of art and curatorial roles will all be potential subjects for study.

The professional curator and the globetrotting artist, together with the 'cultural producer', the dealer and the corporate patron/collector, are the archetypal positions through which the art world operates. Their interrelationships will be examined in the course, drawing attention to global relations and hierarchies of power. The connections to 'neo-liberal' economics, the demands of global markets and audiences, the emergence of media and forms that communicate across cultural difference (or don't) will be the subject of studies based on specific and exemplary exhibitions.

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies is unique in its relationship with Afterall, the international art research and publishing organisation based in London, at CSM. MRes Art: Exhibition Studies is spearheaded by the academic expertise within the Afterall team and benefits from the professional networking opportunities of publishing projects. Afterall publications include the Afterall journal and website, and the 'Exhibition Histories' series, all of which provide relevant discursive materials for study. There will also be opportunities for student involvement in professional practice and relevant contacts for individual research development will be provided.

Course outline

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies considers recent and important debates about modern and contemporary art in the context of exhibitions and public presentations of art. It enables you to explore key concepts and critical theories in a variety of fields with a focus on significant exhibitions from 1955 to today.

The first year offers teaching in research skills while engaging you in the specialist subject of your pathway. At the same time you'll prepare for a personally directed programme of study - your research project. In the second year you'll pursue and realise your project. Your progress is supported through tutorials and critical discussions, and monitored through written assignments and presentations. Your realised project is the principal assessed work leading to the MRes qualification.

Unit One - Exhibition Histories: Contemporary Art and Curatorship in the Public Sphere

Unit One runs concurrently with Unit Two and introduces you to the subject of exhibition histories through a series of lectures looking at specific exhibitions (including those covered by Afterall's 'Exhibition Histories' series) in relation to key developments in the history of contemporary art since documenta 1 in 1955.

Exhibition types studied typically include some of the following: documentas, major international biennales or multisite exhibitions, major group shows of contemporary art organised by museums, manifesto-like exhibitions organised by art centres and kunsthalles, and artist-initiated exhibitions.

You'll develop your learning particularly through the study of the exhibition format, looking in detail at a past or current single exhibition or a cluster of exhibitions of your choice. By compiling and writing a dossier or micro-history of these you'll address their historical role or influence, the initial curatorial intent, the processes of artistic production, the mediation by the institution and the reception by the public. This builds knowledge of the exhibition experience in the round, helping you to make judgments about the effects and possibilities offered by the exhibition framework.

Key considerations are local versus global positions, curatorial and artistic intentions and results, the effect of the exhibition format on artworks and their reception, and the assessment of historical significance of exhibitions.

By the end of this unit you'll have experience of the initial processes, components and key issues in exhibition studies and its relation to contemporary art history.

Unit Two - Thinking as Practice (Research Methodologies One)

This unit, common to all courses within our Postgraduate Art Programme, helps you engage with the postgraduate and research community at CSM.

Unit Two introduces the fundamental research skills that enable you to make informed decisions about appropriate methods to use in your chosen area of study and your professional future. The unit examines specific research skills and different kinds of research. Skills and knowledge areas covered include interviewing, literature search and review, archival skills, software for use in research and e-resources, feasibility studies, data analysis, referencing, citation and bibliographic conventions, and ethics. Seminars and workshops emphasise participation and the building of core research skills through practical exercises and small group projects.

Lectures ask how arts research and discourse is developed, shared and understood. The focus is on methods of learning, thinking, evaluation and interpretation as both practice based and theoretical forms of enquiry. The diversity of research activity at CSM provides a broad range of models and examples, with particular attention given to the place of practice in research projects.

Unit Two is assessed by workshop assignments.

Unit Three - Critical Practices (Research Methodologies Two)

Building on the introduction to research provided by Unit Two, Unit Three - which is common to all three MRes Art pathways - increases your focus on in-depth understanding of research methods and how they're applied within the arts and humanities.

The unit aims to demonstrate the dynamic ways in which conceptual and theoretical frameworks can be developed through the application of research methodologies.

You're expected to relate your learning in this unit to preparation for your research project in the parallel part of Unit Four. Tutorial and workshop support helps you do this.

Unit Four - Independent Research Project (IRP)

Unit Four has two parts. Part One is undertaken in parallel with Unit Three in year one. Part Two is devoted to independent study and the development and completion of your research project in year two.

Part One

Part One focuses on the preparation of your research project proposal and the wider context in which exhibitions are produced. This involves directed reading or viewing of relevant theory and comparative approaches to exhibition studies in group tutorials in order to support the development of your research project. The process includes discussing texts on some of the following theoretical and political topics: theories of perception, aesthetics, architectural design, the history of art institutions, theories of artistic authorship, the history of the public, feminism, and theories of subjectivity.

Your research project proposal will be developed in the latter part of year one, in conjunction with your studies in Unit Three. In preparation for your research project you'll prepare a seminar presentation on an exhibition topic related to your proposed field of study. You'll also produce a literature review with an annotated bibliography or equivalent that supports your project proposal document. You'll explore issues of purpose, validity and feasibility in methodological and resource terms, negotiating external links, exchanges and access arrangements as required.

Your research project can focus on a single exhibition or group of related exhibitions that afford interesting comparisons, a complete institutional programme, or a broader subject-centred study. Further options can be discussed with tutors.

At the end of year one (weeks 28-30) your seminar paper and draft project proposal, including the literature review, are presented for interim (formative) assessment, and you receive written feedback confirming your plans and/or advising revisions.

Part Two

All projects, including a commitment to the forms of your submission and appropriate ongoing supervision/tutorial arrangements, are agreed at the outset of year two.

A symposium shared across the MRes pathways presents and discusses all project proposals. Two international seminars with Afterall's European links are scheduled, one in the autumn and one in the summer.

A student-directed group event involving invited professionals takes place early in the spring term (prior to the PhD applications point). This event builds your professional skills and provides a discussion forum challenging you to recognise and debate key questions arising from your research project work to date.

Throughout the second year you lead interim presentations about your research, in person and online, discussing progress, challenges and findings, and issues of form, audience and dissemination.

A third event at the end of year two presenting your project outcomes aims to make visible potential contributions to new research in the area of exhibition studies, and to generate publication or other professional opportunities.

At the end of Unit Four you're assessed through presentation of your realised research project in the agreed forms, the project proposal document, and a report describing and evaluating changes and progress. Your marks for Units Three and Four determine the classification of your MRes award.

MRes Art Programme Specification 2018/19 (PDF, 354KB)

Facilities

Other staff

Pathway Leader, Moving Image: Duncan White

Reader: Dr Joanne Morra

How to apply

2018/19 entry

You can apply to this course using our online application form – the link to this is below.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the Entry Requirements section further down this page to learn about the application process which includes detailed guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide later in the process.

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’ll 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:

Indicative Project Proposal

To apply for this course we require that you write an initial project proposal. This proposal should demonstrate your critical understanding and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course (you will probably need to write between 800 and 1,000 words).  

Summary of proposed project
  • Briefly describe what you are interested in undertaking and developing; describe the overall aims, objectives and rationale of the project. 
Methods and resources
  • Briefly explain your proposed approach and the methods for structuring your project and ideas
  • Highlight any problems you may encounter and how you hope to solve them. 
Sources and references
  • Indicate key texts and sources. What resources will be involved? For example, access to archives, collections, specialist networks etc. 
Any final points
  • Please briefly indicate any particular questions or further points in relation to your proposal. 
Previous work
  • You will be required to submit digital examples of previous written work and/or documentary material relevant to your research interests.

References

This course requires at least two 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. 

Apply to MRes Art: Exhibition Studies

What happens next

We read and consider all application forms. Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview (either in person or by 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. 

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.

2018/19 entry

You can apply to this course using our online application form – the link to this is below.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the Entry Requirements section further down this page to learn about the application process which includes detailed guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide later in the process.

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’ll 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:

Indicative Project Proposal

To apply for this course we require that you write an initial project proposal. This proposal should demonstrate your critical understanding and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course (you will probably need to write between 800 and 1,000 words).  

Summary of proposed project
  • Briefly describe what you are interested in undertaking and developing; describe the overall aims, objectives and rationale of the project. 
Methods and resources
  • Briefly explain your proposed approach and the methods for structuring your project and ideas
  • Highlight any problems you may encounter and how you hope to solve them. 
Sources and references
  • Indicate key texts and sources. What resources will be involved? For example, access to archives, collections, specialist networks etc. 
Any final points
  • Please briefly indicate any particular questions or further points in relation to your proposal. 
Previous work
  • You will be required to submit digital examples of previous written work and/or documentary material relevant to your research interests.

References

This course requires at least two 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. 

Apply to MRes Art: Exhibition Studies

What happens next

We read and consider all application forms. Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview (either in person or by 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. 

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

Selection to MRes Art: Exhibition Studies is determined by the quality of your application (including a written indicative project proposal and supporting material). You'll also need to meet the minimum entry requirements as indicated below, but please note that these qualifications alone won't be sufficient to secure entry to the course. 

Minimum entry requirements 

We consider applicants who by the start of the course will have achieved an educational level equivalent to an Honours degree. You can demonstrate this educational level by: 

  • Having a relevant Honours degree or an equivalent academic qualification
  • Having a professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required
  • A combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning that, taken together, can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required. 

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

We are seeking imaginative, resourceful individuals who are committed to exploring exhibition studies. 

Selection criteria

Your application, indicative project proposal and supporting material will be assessed for: 

  • The quality of the applicant's practice
  • The appropriateness of the applicant's skills, experience and practice to the area of interest identified for development in the course
  • Effective communication of intentions, purposes and issues
  • The level of contextual awareness and expression of perspective
  • The potential for realisation of the stated objectives within the timeframe of the course and envisaged resources
  • Evidence that the applicant has the confidence and ability to benefit from and contribute to the learning environment at postgraduate level. 

The interview (for applicants selected following submission of the application form, indicative project proposal and supporting work) is used to evaluate the extent to which a candidate demonstrates: 

  • A thoughtful and responsible approach to practice
  • The capacity for independent research
  • Appropriate critical and reflective abilities
  • An awareness of the cultural and social context within which they practice
  • Appropriate communication skills
  • A preparedness to participate collaboratively in debate, practice and presentation.

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £4,250 per year. Please note that fees for second year of study will be subject to inflationary increase.

£500 per annum discount for all 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. 

International fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £10,110 per year.

£500 per annum discount for all 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

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. Please read the information on our additional costs page.

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

Our Postgraduate Art Programme offers valuable opportunities to build transferable professional knowledge and skills. The exchange of perspectives with others through shared units, reading groups and debates helps establish stimulating and productive networks.

The focus on proposing and developing a major independent programme of study is supported by a shared professional practice lecture series featuring guest speakers plus opportunities to attend symposia and critique work in progress across subject areas. The Postgraduate Art Programme has wide-ranging links with professional organisations, collections and galleries, and includes opportunities for interaction and networking according to your personal career direction.

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies is unique in its relationship with Afterall, the high-profile international art publishers based at CSM. MRes Art: Exhibition Studies is spearheaded by academic expertise within the Afterall team and benefits from the professional international networking opportunities created by publishing projects. Publications include the Afterall journal and the 'Exhibition Histories' series of books - these can provide opportunities for student involvement in professional practice as well as relevant contacts for individual research and career development.

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies equips you to understand the history of contemporary art practice through a new prism - one that reflects your practice as writer, artist or curator. You'll be able to analyse the evolution and influence of the curator and the institution in contemporary art practice, to examine critically strategies of display (both from an artistic and curatorial perspective), and to articulate thought critically.

MRes Art: Exhibition Studies graduates will be particularly well qualified to engage in professional research and publication activities and to initiate postgraduate research projects for MPhil or PhD. Career development opportunities exist in a wide range of roles and directions within contemporary arts institutions, businesses, museums and collections, both in London and internationally.