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Postgraduate

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation

A sign outside a gallery
Inside/Out exhibition in various Walworth locations, South London. This was part of a student project with Artists Studio Company, November 2017). Photo: Glenn Michael Harper
College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
January 2022
Course length
One year full-time (45 weeks)

Through critical writing and curating, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation provides a framework for engaging with historical and contemporary culture.

This course will teach you how to become an innovative practitioner and researcher, with the skills to communicate to specialist and general audiences alike. It is part of the Culture and Enterprise programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Crossing disciplines: MA Culture, Criticism and Curation places emphasis on interdisciplinary thinking and enquiry. Our students and staff come from a variety of subject backgrounds, placing diverse experiences in dialogue with one another.
  • Industry experience: On the course, group projects make use of the College’s links with external organisations. These provide opportunities for you to build their individual practice and professional experience.
  • Social engagement: MA Culture, Criticism and Curation engages with social and political issues. It positions curation as an influential agent of change.
  • Collections and archives: The course has strong links with the Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection and UAL’s Archives and Special Collections Centre. Alongside access to specialist knowledge, these can offer you the potential for site-specific project work.

Open days

There are currently no open days scheduled for this course, please check back at a later date.

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

Related content

Meet Course Leader Alison Green and students

Students discuss the value of arts education

Student work

  • MA-CCC-5-Year-Anniversary-04.jpg
    Five year anniversary party for alumni, December 2017. Photo: Glenn Michael Harper
  • MA-CCC-Inside-Out-023.jpg
    Inside/Out exhibition in various Walworth locations, South London. This was part of a student project with Artists Studio Company, November 2017. Photo: Glenn Michael Harper
  • MA-CCC-Inside-Out-04092.jpg
    Inside/Out exhibition in various Walworth locations, South London. This was part of a student project with Artists Studio Company, November 2017). Photo: Glenn Michael Harper
  • MA-CCC-5-Year-Anniversary-26.jpg
    Five year anniversary party for alumni, December 2017. Photo: Glenn Michael Harper
  • MA-CCC-Inside-Out-056.jpg
    Inside/Out exhibition in various Walworth locations, South London. This was part of a student project with Artists Studio Company, November 2017). Photo: Glenn Michael Harper
  • MA-CCC-5-Year-Anniversary-25.jpg
    Five year anniversary party for alumni, December 2017. Photo: Glenn Michael Harper

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation stories

  • Art and psychoanalysis: emotion, intimacy and the unconscious
    Mel Calman, 1996

    Art and psychoanalysis: emotion, intimacy and the unconscious

    Exploring work from the Central Saint Martins Museum & Study Collection, alumni and assistant curator Siyan Zhang looks at emotion, intimacy, trauma, relationships, desire and unconscious.

  • (In)Visible Processes: Adriana Cobo Corey
    The Great Unwashed, , Adriana Cobo Corey (Photo: Catarina Heeckt)

    (In)Visible Processes: Adriana Cobo Corey

    In this conversation, Adriana Cobo Corey shares her PhD research on taste, space and power. See her work in (In)Visible Processes at the Lethaby Gallery curated by MA Culture, Criticism and Curation students. The exhibition shares recent PhD

  • Collected conversations
    Lois Innes, Closer to Home, M ARCH: Architecture

    Collected conversations

    In a new series of podcasts, Terrence Phearse, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation alum, explores recent additions to the Central Saint Martins Museum & Study Collection. These works, by 2020 graduates, reflect on social justice, mental health and

  • London Grads Now at Saatchi Gallery
    London Grads Now, Saatchi Gallery (Photo: Justin Piperger, image courtesy of Saatchi Gallery, London)

    London Grads Now at Saatchi Gallery

    Saatchi Gallery invited the College to take part in its celebration of the 2020 class graduating from London’s art schools. We speak to students Mazzy-Mae Green and Greta Voeller who took on the challenge to produce an exhibition in a matter of

Course overview

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation is directed towards critical enquiry and mindful change-making in the fields of culture, curation, art, design and creative production. To equip you with tools that will enable you to actively find your way through a variety of institutional and cultural situations, the course offers an overview of cultural history and curatorial theory alongside opportunities to acquire skills in research, writing, curating and production.  

We address the present moment and pressing questions faced by cultural producers, policy makers, curators, artists and researchers. Approached through interdisciplinary and intercultural enquiry, you will learn to engage with the in-between places where new knowledge is developed via an integration of theory and practice. Through the lens of activism, we explore with you the ways in which culture, criticism and curation can contribute to change, through accumulative small steps or actions. 

The curator is positioned as a figure able to act intentionally, bring in agency and make change in a variety of frameworks, within and without the world of the creative industries. Curating makes meaning and contributes new, critical perspectives on existing scenarios. The course asks you to think reflectively – with others – about the forms that art and culture take, identify where and how hegemonies develop, keep hold and challenge them.  

The course prioritises interrelations between people as well as ideas and objects, and will help you develop your capacity to collaborate with empathy and through dialogue. Through skilling in mindfulness and active listening, you will build up sensitivity as well as working practically within networks of collaborators and audiences. 

We encourage you to test and engage with emerging digital tools and communication platforms to undertake research, experiment with forms and collaborate equitably.  

We recognise how new generations of professionals are prepared to redefine and renegotiate traditionally defined roles within industry. The course works with you to develop research-led, experimental, creative and critical curatorial practices to enable you to engage with, and make an impact in, changing situations in professional work or through further study. 

Projects and professional partnerships 

Working collaboratively with organisations – small and large, independent, and well-established – offers students significant professional experience within the curriculum, leading to work that is supported to be experimental and ambitious. Previous partners have included The Guardian, vFd Dalston, Flat Time House, NEoN Festival, David Roberts Art Foundation, South London Gallery, Institute of Digital Fashion, Tate Exchange, Liverpool Biennial, Centre for Investigative Journalism, The Common Room and the Institute of Psychoanalysis. The course has two ongoing collaborative projects, Project Credit (https://project.credit/) and UQ Journal (https://uqjournal.net/). 

Contact us

Register your interest to receive information and updates about studying at UAL.

Contact us to make an enquiry.

The course starts in January each year and runs for 45 weeks across three terms and the Easter and summer student vacation periods.

Taught time dates:

Spring term
Monday 10 January 2022 – Friday 18 March 2022

Summer term
Tuesday 19 April 2022 – Friday 24 June 2022

Autumn term
Monday 26 September 2022 – Friday 9 December 2022

Course units

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation promotes a community of practice which is central to students’ development. The course offers an open space for you to develop independent research and practice and a flexible framework for student-led and student-directed learning. In our vision, theory and practice work hand in hand within curatorial work, and we explore the different relationships between these two modes of knowledge production. 

Culture is studied through lectures, seminars, tutorial groups and reading groups led and co-designed by tutors and students. The curriculum is responsive to changing interests and priorities. Often interdisciplinary, the course encourages an integrated approach to critical, practical, peer-to-peer, group and independent work. Events at Programme, College and University level encourage students to engage with a wider culture of research and innovation and connect with others using curatorial thinking and the practice you are developing. 

The main independent work over the 45 weeks of study includes a dissertation and two group curatorial projects. The Dissertation helps you deepen your knowledge in an area of your choice. It can be written as an academic essay or divided into a portfolio of work to reflect individual professional or creative goals. The group projects ask you to engage with different models of curatorial practice: the first is around a collection/archive and is aligned with the University’s work in response to current social issues, such as decolonisation, anti-racism and decarbonising; the second, in partnership with external organisations, emphasises critical and conceptual approaches to collaboration, audience development and redefining ways of supporting, expressing and commenting on culture.  

Students learn to engage with and develop both group and individual practices.  

Unit 1: Curatorial Playground  

Unit 1 is composed of a series of intensive workshops, seminars and discussions that set the base for curatorial thought – that is, thought that emphasises the interrelations between disciplines, cultures and knowledges. The Unit is centered on hands-on experiences to familiarise you with the atmosphere and environment of Central Saint Martins as a creative space. You will learn how to respond to a creative brief and this will help you find your creative voice and set up your goals and aspirations for the year. Key themes of the Unit are experimentation, inter-cultural exchange and conversation within the cohort. 

Unit 2: Relational and Material Practices for Common Good 

This Unit addresses the theme of collaboration through co-operation with other Masters’ courses in the College. By working co-operatively with fellow students from parallel and contrasting courses, you will experience at first hand the value of cross-disciplinary thinking and problem-solving that is central to developing a curatorial practice. 

Unit 3: Curatorial Positions 

Through group work, individual research and a collection-based curatorial project, this Unit helps you establish and develop a sense of your position, in relation to your subject interests and practice area, in terms of social identities and institutional spaces. This is expressed through the production of curatorial and written work. The collaborative research and learning element of the Unit helps you establish a basis of knowledge around different definitions of culture, the relationship between culture and technology and the ethics of representation, collection and preservation.  

Unit 4: Curatorial Incubation 

This Unit spans the summer months and is dedicated to deepening your research on your dissertation and extending your curatorial practice by beginning a second group project, in collaboration with an external partner. It is based mostly on independent learning with support via online classes, synchronous and asynchronous. It is an essential period of independent work and student-directed study that you undertake both as an individual and in small groups. 

Unit 5: Curatorial Responsibility 

Unit 5’s theme of curatorial responsibility signals the ethical, practical and conceptual components of a well-developed curatorial practice. Your work during this unit will be dedicated to coming to define your practice through your work and the ways it sits in relation to others – your peers, your communities, your collaborators, your readers and audiences. The Unit will prompt you to reflect on your professional development and position yourself in relation to your chosen career pathway.  

Mode of study

The course is offered in full-time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 12 months. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study, which includes teaching time and independent study. 

Credit and award requirements

The course is credit-rated at 180 credits. 

On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Master of Arts (MA degree). 

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, an MA is Level 7. All units must be passed in order to achieve the MA but the classification of the award is derived from the mark for the final unit only. 

If you are unable to continue on the course, a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) will normally be offered following the successful completion of 60 credits, or a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) following the successful completion of 120 credits. 

Learning and teaching methods

The learning and teaching methods devised for this course include: 

  • Inductions, Unit and project briefings 
  • Tutorials (individual and group) 
  • Lectures, seminars and workshops 
  • Peer learning 
  • Facilitated projects with external partners
  • Working in groups
  • Peer group support
  • Visiting practitioner and alumni mentor input 
  • Student-led presentations  
  • Independent research 
  • Developing and testing appropriate forms of presentation 
  • Oral and written presentations  
  • Journal keeping 
  • Reflection and self-evaluation
  • Critical reviews (Crits)

Assessment methods

The following assessment methods are employed to support the integrated achievement of the course outcomes:

Formative assessment

  • Individual and group projects
  • Presentations
  • Creative interventions and experiments
  • Written work, communicated in various forms

Summative assessment

  • Dissertation or Individual project
  • Group projects
  • Presentations
  • Critical self-evaluations (reflective reports) and Project Dossiers

Course Tutor: Dr Caterina Albano
Course Tutor: Dr Louise Garrett
Course Tutor: Nathalie Khan
Course Tutor: Nick Kimberley
Course Tutor:
Andrew Marsh
Course Tutor: Dr Colin Perry
Course Tutor: Professor Roger Sabin
Course Tutor: James Swinson
Course Tutor: Judy Willcocks, Director, CSM Museum and Study Collection
Course Tutor: Lee Weinberg

How to apply

Information for disabled applicants

UAL is committed to achieving inclusion and equality for disabled students. This includes students who have:
     
  • Dyslexia or another Specific Learning Difference
  • A sensory impairment
  • A physical impairment
  • A long-term health or mental health condition
  • Autism
  • Another long-term condition which has an impact on your day-to-day life
Our Disability Service arranges adjustments and support for disabled applicants and students. Read our Disability and dyslexia: applying for a course and joining UAL information.

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

  • An honours degree in a relevant field: history; history of art; culture, communications or media studies; fine art or design; fashion (history and theory or design); multimedia or interactive design; curatorial, gallery, archive or museum work; research; collections management or interpretation; journalism (digital, broadcast, press and radio); art criticism or publishing; marketing and PR; retail or business if culturally related 
  • Or an equivalent EU/international qualification

And at least one year of relevant professional experience.

AP(E)L – Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

Exceptionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • Related academic or work experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference

Or a combination of these factors.

Each application will be considered on its own merit but cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English language requirements

IELTS level 7.0 or above, with at least 6.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

We select applicants according to potential and current ability in the following areas:

  • 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.

Making your application

You should apply by clicking on the link to the direct form below. 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.

Deferred entry

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner. Read our Admissions Policy for details, including how to request a deferral and by when.

Transfers

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units and modules on your current postgraduate course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer. The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and unit transcripts.

You will need to provide an official document (translated into English) from your current university, explaining the learning outcomes of the units you have completed.

Start your application now

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

  • Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)
  • Current English language level
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history

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?

Study 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.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all the information above.

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

Please add csm.ukeu@arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL.  Also consider altering your spam or junk mail filter to ensure that emails from @arts.ac.uk get through to you.

Application deadline

26 October 2022

We encourage you to apply for this course by 26 October 2022 and all applications received at this point will be considered equally. If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

We recommend you submit your application as early as possible, to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

There are two ways international students can apply:

If you are applying directly you click on the link to the direct form below. 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.

Deferred entry

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner. Read our Admissions Policy for details, including how to request a deferral and by when.

Transfers

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units and modules on your current postgraduate course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer. The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and unit transcripts.

You will need to provide an official document (translated into English) from your current university, explaining the learning outcomes of the units you have completed.

Start your application now

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

  • Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)
  • Current English language level
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history

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?

Study 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.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  If you do not complete the check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all the information above.

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

Please add csm.international@arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL.  Also consider altering your spam or junk mail filter to ensure that emails from @arts.ac.uk get through to you.

Application deadline

26 October 2022

We encourage you to apply for this course by 26 October 2022 and all applications received at this point will be considered equally. If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

We recommend you submit your application as early as possible, to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

After you apply

What happens next

Initial application check

We check your application to see if you meet the standard entry requirements for the course.  Following the review of your application, we select a small number of applicants to move on to the next stage of the process. These applicants will be invited to an interview.

Interview

The interview is a group interview and will last one hour. It will be structured around activities designed to be similar to what happens on the course. After introductions, each candidate will be asked a hypothetical question; this will be followed by a small group activity, then a reflective group discussion. There will be time for candidates to ask questions of us. There is no specific preparation; we ask that you come to the interview ready to be responsive, open to working with other people, and willing to join in discussions.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Portal.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£11,550

This fee is correct for 2022/23 entry and is subject to change for 2023/24 entry. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Home fees are currently charged to UK nationals and UK residents who meet the rules. However, the rules are complex. Find out more about our tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee

£23,610

This fee is correct for 2022/23 entry and is subject to change for 2023/24 entry. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

Scholarship 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.