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Undergraduate

BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation

Close up shot of moulded shapes in a variety of pastel colours
Art in Large Doses opening
College
Central Saint Martins
UCAS code
W294
Start date
September 2023
Course length
Three years full-time

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation offers a wide-ranging arts education which embraces design, fine art, architecture, fashion, film, performance and literature.

The course promotes the idea that culture – an intentionally broad and contested term – ­is the key starting point for practices of criticism and curation. It is part of the Culture and Enterprise programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Unique: The course is unique in UCAS for its combination of cultural theories with the practices of curating and journalism. It offers a 15-year track record of lively and innovative teaching. Our students also play a leading role in the UAL Curation Society.
  • Collections and archives: The course benefits from the University’s archives and special collections for research and inspiration. These include the Stanley Kubrick Archive as well collections of rare fanzines and famous designers.
  • Collaboration: You will have opportunities to collaborate with students on other courses, as well as our gallery and museum partners.
  • Graduate opportunities: Our graduates have gone on to study at the Courtauld Institute, New York University, Oxford University, Pratt Institute and Sotheby’s among others. Alumni have also secured roles at the British Film Institute, Frieze art fair, Gagosian Gallery, Tate Modern and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Open days

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

Virtual tours:

You might be interested in checking out the College’s facilities and technical spaces through our virtual tours.

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

Course overview

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation draws on a range of methodologies from interdisciplinary practice and critical theories to engage critically with aspects of curation, research and writing. The curriculum takes inspiration from current urgent social issues, history and futurity, exploring connections between core topics, historical context and political issues. The course ambition is to foster cross-disciplinary dialogue to produce future writers, curators, producers, thinkers and doers whose practice is critical and contextual, demonstrating a commitment to the progression of arts, culture and heritage and is alive to the social and cultural contexts and impact of their work. 

Our approach to curatorial practice and engagement and writing as critical practice focuses on process in relation to outcome. Within an art school context, you are offered opportunities to collaborate and engage with a variety of practices through curatorial projects and writing. Student-centred learning informs critical enquiry and the course’s culture of reflection and active listening. 

The course offers space for you to realise research and projects which reflect on the effects of our digital and material worlds. Individual and group projects engage with social and political issues, histories, identities and reflect on the role of communities. In the context of collaboration, collective practice, and co-operation the course aims to disrupt the present and take ownership of the future. We aim to initiate and foster debate in the context of anti-capitalist, eco-feminist and post-colonialist critique and action. 

Contact us

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

Contact us to make an enquiry.

Course units

On this course, you will reflect on a range of methodologies to engage critically with aspects of curation, research and writing. You will draw upon approaches from cultural and historical studies to integrate curatorial practice across all three years of your degree. The course offers you the opportunity to engage with local communities, industry partners and the wider heritage sector. The overarching aim of the course is to equip you with the skills to produce curatorial outputs that are relevant, ambitious and in-line with the University’s broader objectives of equality, climate, and ecology. 

Year 1

Unit 1: Introduction: Culture, Criticism and Curation 
Unit 2: Introduction: Cultural Histories and Theories 
Unit 3: Introduction: Writing as Critical Practice 
Unit 4: Introduction: Curatorial Ethics 

Units in Year 1 introduce you to aspects of culture, criticism and curation through lectures, seminars, self-directed and group projects. The units establish a foundation of different knowledges in the histories and theories of culture and introduce you to practices of writing and curating. You will explore and develop your individual strengths and learn to work with others. 

Year 2 

Unit 5: Exploring Critical Issues in Culture: Elective 
Unit 6: Interrogating Histories 
Unit 7: Exploring Contemporary Cultural Theories 
Unit 8: Interrogating Usable Pasts 
Unit 9: Creative Unions 

Year 2 further develops ideas, theory and approaches explored on Year 1 and enables you to apply critical and practical enquiry through academic writing and curatorial projects. Units 6 and 8 offer opportunities to think through debates in response to social issues surrounding histories and culture. The elective unit offers a deeper and more focused engagement with academic fields of your choice. Seminars and lectures from creative researchers, cultural makers and academics, will introduce philosophical and original perspectives on the relationship between thinking and doing. 

Year 3

Unit 10: Dissertation via Critical Practice or Theories 
Unit 11: Curatorial Projects and Realisation 
Unit 12: Curatorial Commons and Publics 

Your final year focuses on developing your independence and realising ideas and practices that are defined by social and political contexts, identities and situations. You will develop and complete your dissertation and group project on Unit 10 and 11. You will expand your understanding of the relationship between your main study and the wider field of curation and cultural production. Key focus will be on a deeper engagement with forms and approaches, political activism and solidarity as a collective process on Unit 12. The learning is developed through your research, group work and individual projects. The aim is to actively engage with agency and application and take responsibility on a local and/or global level. 

Mode of study

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation runs for 90 weeks in full time mode. It is divided into three stages over three academic years. Each stage lasts 30 weeks. 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 360 credits, with 120 credits at each stage (level).  

On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA Hons degree).  

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications the stages for a BA are: Stage 1 (Level 4), Stage 2 (Level 5) and Stage 3 (Level 6). In order to progress to the next stage, all units of the preceding stage must normally be passed: 120 credits must be achieved in each stage. The classification of the award will be derived from the marks of units in Stages 2 and 3 or only Stage 3, using a dual algorithm.  

If you are unable to continue on the course, a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) will normally be offered following the successful completion of Level 4 (or 120 credits), or a Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) following the successful completion of Level 5 (or 240 credits).  

Learning and teaching methods

The learning and teaching methods devised for this course include: 

  • Unit and project briefs
  • Tutorials (individual and group)
  • Lectures, seminars and workshops
  • Peer learning   
  • Facilitated projects with external partners
  • Working in groups
  • 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)  

Giulia Civardi and Håkon Lilegraven discuss the course

Crit Lounge Documentary

Graduate Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Graduate Showcase

  • Activating Audiences
    Activating Audiences, Molly Coffey, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • 10 ZINE: A Sick Love Publication
    10 ZINE: A Sick Love Publication, Isobel Gorman-Buckley, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Dissertation: Between Utopia and apocalypse.
    Dissertation: Between Utopia and apocalypse., Marco Alonso Araujo, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • (im)possible futures
    (im)possible futures, Caroline Georgea Hayes, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • New Times, Same Goal (Dissertation Research)
    New Times, Same Goal (Dissertation Research), Kerian Preddie, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • The Fashionscape
    The Fashionscape, Johanna Crafoord, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • The Inward Inquirer
    The Inward Inquirer, Caroline Georgea Hayes, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Dissertation
    Dissertation, Karolína Varvařovská, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • My Virtual Showcase - Dissertation
    My Virtual Showcase - Dissertation, Saga Hindmarsh, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Stage Three Work
    Stage Three Work, Olivia Rocha, 2021 BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation, Central Saint Martins, UAL

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation stories

  • Class of 2022: Food
    Seowon Park, MA Narrative Environments

    Class of 2022: Food

    On Central Saint Martins: URL you'll find a collection of projects that look at food in a myriad of ways. Here, we pause on handful of that work by graduating students, from spatial design that connects community to its local food system to an

  • Colour Outside the Lines
    BA Culture, Criticism and Curation, Colour Outside the Lines (photo: Glenn Michael Harper)

    Colour Outside the Lines

    Final-year BA Culture, Criticism and Curation students collaborate on a participatory event exploring beauty and power in King’s Cross.

  • Painting in Hospitals: The Green Room
    Kate Friend, Raspberry Leaf, 2019 (Courtesy of Painting in Hospitals)

    Painting in Hospitals: The Green Room

    Three years after it began, Art in Large Doses, our collaborative project with Painting in Hospitals, draws to a close with exhibition The Green Room – on view until 31 January 2021.

  • Class of 2020: Damilola Ayo-Vaughan
    Damilola Ayo-Vaughan, BA Culture, Criticism and Curation <br>Home For Now, 2020

    Class of 2020: Damilola Ayo-Vaughan

    Graduating from BA Culture, Criticism and Curation, Damilola Ayo-Vaughan talks to us about his photographic practice which synthesises personal and collective memory.

Facilities

Fees and funding

Home fee

£9,250 per year

This fee is correct for 2023/24 entry and is subject to change for 2024/25 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students.

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

£25,970 per year

This fee is correct for 2023/24 entry and is subject to change for 2024/25 entry.

Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course.

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

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

One or a combination of the following accepted full level 3 qualifications:

  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4) and 1 A Level at Grade C or above 2 A Levels at grade C or above (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology) Merit, Pass, Pass (MPP) at BTEC Extended Diploma (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)
  • Pass at UAL Extended Diploma
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)
  • Equivalent EU/International qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma (26 points)

And three GCSE passes at grade 4 or above (grade A*- C).

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 we cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

  • Please note that these qualifications alone will not be sufficient to secure entry to the course.

English language requirements

IELTS level 6.0 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

We select applicants who can demonstrate current ability and potential to: 

Work imaginatively and creatively with the written word and visual presentation:

  • Engage with experimentation and invention.
  • Show imagination and ambition in proposals for your work.
  • Take informed risks.

Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities:

  • Through examples of written work, demonstrate a range of approaches to writing, originated from personal experience or textural and visual research and progressed through logical stages to a finished outcome
  • Demonstrate an awareness of planning and time management skills.

Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry within your work:

  • Demonstrate relevant research skills.
  • Evidence ability to critically reflect and evaluate your achievements.

Demonstrate cultural and historical awareness and/or contextual framework of their work:

  • Evidence an interest in contemporary culture x Identify social, historical and/or cultural influences on your work.

Articulate and communicate intentions clearly:

  • Discuss your work in individual and group situations.
  • Present your work, concepts and ideas appropriately and effectively.

Demonstrate commitment and motivation in relation to the subject and the course:

  • Show willingness to collaborate

Apply now

You should apply through UCAS and you will need the following information:

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W294

Transfers

If you are currently studying somewhere else on a course in an equivalent subject area and would like to transfer to this course, you can transfer to:

Year 2, if you’ve completed 120 credits in Year 1

Year 3, if you’ve completely 240 credits in Years 1 and 2

Apply via UCAS and choose Year 2 or 3 for your POE (Point of Entry).  Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and Year 1/Year 2 unit transcripts.

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

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by 18.00 (UK Time) on 25 January 2023 for equal consideration.  However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

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.

There are two ways international students can apply to an undergraduate course at Central Saint Martins:

You can only apply to the same course once per year.

When applying via UCAS you will need the following information:

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W294

Transfers

If you are currently studying somewhere else on a course in an equivalent subject area and would like to transfer to this course, you can transfer to:

Year 2, if you’ve completed 120 credits in Year 1

Year 3, if you’ve completely 240 credits in Years 1 and 2

Apply via UCAS and choose Year 2 or 3 for your POE (Point of Entry).  Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and Year 1/Year 2 unit transcripts.

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

Visas

Read our visit our immigration and visa advice page to find out whether you need a visa to study.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by 18.00 (UK Time) on 25 January 2023 for equal consideration.  However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

Immigration history check

You will be asked to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  We will not be able to proceed with your application until you have submitted your completed Immigration History Form.

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.

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.  If you meet the entry requirements you will be invited to submit a written piece of work:

Written assessment

The subject for your written assessment is:

  • A piece of critical or creative writing. It can be a previously submitted essay or you can produce something new. It can be an academic essay, an arts or music-based article or review, or be a response to a current social issue or topic. We suggest it be 400-500 words in length; it can include images and illustrations.

Interview

Following the review of assessed work we select a small number of applicants to move on to the next stage of the process.  These applicants will be invited to an online interview.  If you are invited to interview, you will be notified of the format in advance.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the final outcome of your application through UCAS Hub.

Feedback

This course receives a high number of applications, and unfortunately we cannot provide feedback to everyone who is unsuccessful. We can only provide feedback after you have had an interview.

If you would like to request feedback, please contact us via your portal.

Each and every application is carefully considered by a member(s) of our academic team. With so many strong applicants to choose from, it is often a very difficult decision to make. If you are unsuccessful, you are welcome to apply to us again in the future.

Deferring your place

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.

Careers

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation develops your knowledge and skills to give you a wide choice of further education and career paths. You can go on to work in arts and heritage management and administration; in museums, collections and archives; as researchers within academic, commercial and not-for-profit organisations; in television, radio and new media; in theatre and cinema; and in teaching and arts entrepreneurship, in London and beyond.

You might also want to pursue postgraduate study. Many BA Culture, Criticism and Curation students have taken MA courses in a range of fields, including curating contemporary art and design, art history, the theatre in London, business and the arts, cultural theory, and historicism.

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of career paths undertaken by graduates of the course. We have previous graduates working with Bristol City Council, an architectural practice in Hatton Garden, an online fashion business and the British Library. Graduates have also gone on to study on MA programmes at Central Saint Martins as well as The Courtauld Institute of Art, Goldsmith’s and University College London.