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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 2021
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.

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

  • 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

  • Echoes of Nature

    Working with an archive in the CSM Museum & Study Collection, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation students created their course’s first 3D-modelled virtual exhibition. We talk to the curators about the challenge of digitally designing a

  • Silence in the streets

    Silence in the streets, a curatorial publication and platform developed by MA Culture, Criticism and Curation students, focuses on British community photography group Camerawork.

  • MA Culture, Criticism and Curation Final Projects: Players and Makers

    Each year, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation students present four final projects in partnership with organisations, artists, designers, writers or academics.

Course overview

The theorist and novelist 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 its definition has shifted towards the entertainment and education sectors. 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 works with two distinctive approaches: it examines culture as a broad field, while treating intellectual and practical work as a form of joined-up enquiry. The course aims to make research accessible to new and larger audiences, removing it from a solely academic environment. Taking advantage of its location in an art school, the course integrates theoretical issues and practical skills. It interrogates history and considers how new knowledge is presented in the public realm.  

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation will teach you how to become both an innovative practitioner and a strong researcher, with the skills to communicate to specialist and general audiences alike. Project work is a combination of theory and research and learning through doing is fundamental to the course. MA Culture, Criticism and Curation promotes a community of practice, which is central to student development. The course is designed as a series of intensive workshops, combining seminars, discussions, site visits and practical projects. These are often interdisciplinary and the course encourages a holistic approach to critical, practical, peer-to-peer, group and independent work. There are also opportunities for programme, College and University-based events which allow you to engage with the rich culture of research and innovation at Central Saint Martins. 

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation makes use of London’s wealth of collections, archives and creative practitioners, staging teaching in relation to these resources. You will work on live projects which are devised in response to the complex issues surrounding the presentation of culture in public spaces. Working in groups, you will learn how to collaborate effectively, how to use the project as a testing-ground and how to contribute individual skills and ideas to a collective end. 

Course units

On MA Culture, Criticism and Curation, you will examine theoretical concepts in relation to organisations, events and the work of individual practitioners. Each year, the course makes use of relevant cultural events in London and beyond. Students work with external archives and collections, encouraging high-level organisational, communication, technical and professional skills from the outset.  

On the course, critical writing spans academia, art criticism and journalism as well as project reports and evaluations. You will explore curatorial practices early in the course, leading up to a final group curatorial project. During your studies, you are expected to undertake a significant amount of independent reading and research. Lectures, reading lists and discussions will direct you towards key debates and theoretical issues. Alongside your own research, course discussions, essays and formal presents will help develop your critical skills.  

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation is taught by a team of tutors who bridge academic research and practices of criticism, journalism, art, exhibition design, curation and collections management. They 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. 

Unit 1: Foundations

Unit 1 will introduce you to a range of practices and concepts within the fields of culture, criticism and curation. You will begin to research your dissertation in order to develop a proposal and also take part in a group curatorial project. Unit 1 is supported by a series of seminars, workshops, site visits, project meetings and activities. These will help you build knowledge, critical thinking and creativity in response to ideas, environments cultural objects and communities. 

Unit 2: Testing

Unit 2 is a continuation of the activities undertaken in Unit 1. You will continue to develop your dissertation and present it as work-in-progress. You will be encouraged to develop a bespoke research direction. This unit requires you to focus on historical knowledge and ideas, considerations of audience, cultural policies, competing systems of representation, exhibition conventions, writing and oral presentations. 

Unit 3: Articulating and Realising

Unit 3 is a culmination of the dissertation and group projects. The dissertation will contribute to the development of your research interests – whether these are aimed at employment, curatorial practice or PhD study. The unit is supported by a series of seminars, workshops, site visits, project meetings and activities. These will help you complete your projects and prepare for exiting the course. 

Projects and professional partnerships

Working collaboratively with organisations – small and large, independent and well-established – is central to MA Culture, Criticism and Curation. Final projects are often undertaken in partnership with external organisations. Previous examples include The Guardian, Flat Time House, the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, David Roberts Art Foundation, the South London Gallery, the Archive Studio at the Southbank Centre and Artists Studio Company (ASC). 

Mode of study

MA Culture, Criticism and Curation 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

  • Unit and assessment briefings
  • Inductions and orientation sessions
  • Seminars and lectures
  • Workshops
  • Facilitated project meetings
  • Independent research and project work
  • Visits
  • Guest talks
  • Short independent projects
  • Group and one-to-one tutorials
  • Discussions and critiques
  • Formal presentations of research and project work
  • Group curating and editorial projects to a set brief
  • Tutor-led, peer and self-assessment

Assessment methods

  • Essays
  • Presentations
  • Group curating project
  • Project proposal
  • Oral and written reports
  • Dissertation

Staff

Alison  Green

Dr Alison Green

Programme Co-Director, Culture and Enterprise;Course Leader, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation

Ben  Bethell

Ben Bethell

Tutor, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation and BA Culture, Criticism and Curation

Caroline  Dakers

Professor Caroline Dakers

Professor of Cultural History

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

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on disability@arts.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

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.

MA Culture, Criticism, and Curation CSM Full-time Year 1 - 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 of the information above.

Deferring your place

This course allows offer holders to defer. If you have an offer of a place, but you would like to defer starting for a year, please contact our Admissions Service as soon as possible via your UAL Portal. Make sure you check our Admissions Policy before requesting a deferral.

If you are an EU offer holder, it is important to consider that, from 2021-22, you may be charged International fees, which are higher. Read our Coronavirus guidance for prospective students for details.

Application deadline

19 November 2021

When you’ll hear from us

We receive lots of applications for this course. We consider each one equally, so we review them all after the application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about any next steps until after this date. Find out more about what happens after you apply.

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.

MA Culture, Criticism, and Curation CSM Full-time Year 1 - 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 of the information above.

Deferring your place

This course allows offer holders to defer. If you have an offer of a place, but you would like to defer starting for a year, please contact our Admissions Service as soon as possible via your UAL Portal. Make sure you check our Admissions Policy before requesting a deferral.

Application deadline

19 November 2021

When you’ll hear from us

We receive lots of applications for this course. We consider each one equally, so we review them all after the application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about any next steps until after this date. Find out more about what happens after you apply.


Fees and funding

Home fee

£11,220 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 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 resident nationals. However, the rules are complex and you can find out more on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020  or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

International fee

£22,920 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course.  For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

International fees are currently charged to students from countries outside of the UK. However, the rules are complex and more information can be found on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

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.