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Undergraduate

BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation

A man taking a photo of a piece of art hung on a wall
Art in Large Doses opening
College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
September 2022
Course length
Three years full-time
UCAS code
W294

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

Applications closed 2022/23

We are no longer accepting applications for 2022/23 entry to this course.

Visit the Courses with places available page for a full list of UAL courses that are open for application.

Re-approval

Please note this course is undergoing re-approval. This is the process by which we ensure the course continues to provide a high quality academic experience. During re-approval there may be some changes to the course content displayed on this page. Please contact us if you have any questions about the course.

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 outstanding facilities and technical spaces through our virtual tours.

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

Giulia Civardi and Håkon Lilegraven discuss the course

Crit Lounge Documentary

Graduate Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Graduate Showcase

  • Dissertation: Between Utopia and apocalypse.
    Dissertation: Between Utopia and apocalypse., Marco Alonso Araujo, 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
  • The Inward Inquirer
    The Inward Inquirer, Caroline Georgea Hayes, 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
  • 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
  • Activating Audiences
    Activating Audiences, Molly Coffey, 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
  • 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
  • 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

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation stories

  • 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

    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.

  • Show Two: in pictures

    Show Two: in pictures

    Show Two: Design opened last night as the College showcased performances, installations and work by our graduating students from over 20 courses on our design-led Programmes.

Facilities

Course overview

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation provides you with a broad humanities-based education in the arts. On this course, you will explore the breadth of contemporary cultural theory and practices, covering a range of disciplines. These include theory of art, design, architecture, fashion, film, performance, media and literature. The course balances the learning and teaching of cultural theory alongside the development of your curatorial and project-based practice. On BA Culture, Criticism and Curation, the term curation refers to the curating skills required to curate exhibitions, including historical research and the contextualisation of art practice. It also includes the broader meaning of curating as applied to arts events organisation – from planning film festivals to local street events, making zines, video essays or using archives. For curatorial or project-based working, you will also be asked to consider how to communicate narratives and ideas audio-visually and/or digitally. Criticism relates to the history and theory of arts criticism as well as the critical thinking at the heart of cultural practices. Developing these skills will help you progress as critics, arts organisers, writers and teachers.

Critical thinking, research, communication and problem-solving are at the heart of the course. These areas underpin written assignments, presentations and projects. Over three years, you will work on curatorial projects and produce academic journalistic writing and other practice-based outputs. You will develop your knowledge and skills, so you can seek work after graduation in the expansive fields of criticism and curation. This may include roles in galleries, museums, archives, theatre, arts and heritage management, the media or teaching.  

On BA Culture, Criticism and Curation, the term curation refers to the skills required to curate exhibitions, including historical research and the contextualisation of art practice. It also includes the broader meaning of curating as applied to arts events organisation – from planning film festivals to local street events. You will also be asked to consider how to communicate narratives and ideas when curating or planning. Criticism relates to the history and theory of arts criticism as well as the critical thinking at the heart of cultural practices. Developing these skills will help you progress as critics, arts organisers, writers and teachers.  

Through the teaching of the BA Culture, Criticism and Curation team, you will encounter a varied range of approaches. Some tutors come from academic backgrounds, while others work in journalism, curation, exhibition design and events management. Several also teach on the MA Culture, Criticism and Curation course, a number are PhD supervisors while others are PhD students. Some tutors also have close external relations which benefit the course – for example with the Guardian Media Group, the National Trust and the National Portrait Gallery. You will also work independently and with your peers, as well as visit external museums, galleries and archives.

Contact us

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

Contact us to make an enquiry.

Course units

The structure of BA Culture, Criticism and Curation provides opportunities for projects which are close to live experiences. These cover conceptual thinking to details of risk assessments, health and safety and ethics. You will develop your skills around concept generation, funding, writing press releases and writing briefs. The course addresses the challenges of collaborative work and project management from the first year, culminating in curatorial work for the Degree Show. 

You will develop transferable communication skills during every project and assignment. These include: researching and writing academic humanities essays; writing appropriate journalistic texts for traditional newspapers and for digital communication media; the preparation of pitches for clients; the completion of applications for funding; CVs and personal statements for academic and job applications; and practice in oral presentation using appropriate technology and debate. 

Stage 1

Unit 1: Introduction to Culture, Criticism and Curation
Unit 2: Aspects of Culture 1: The Long 19th Century
Unit 3: Journalistic Writing 1
Unit 4: Aspects of Culture 2: The 20th Century
Unit 5: Curating 1: A Curatorial Tool Kit
Unit 6: Aspects of Culture 3: The Contemporary

Units in this stage provide a foundation of knowledge in the histories and theories of culture in the modern period. You will be introduced to journalistic and academic writing and digital technologies. You will explore and develop your individual strengths and approaches to a relevant subject interest. In this stage, you will study together as a whole class and also in smaller seminar groups.  

Stage 2

Unit 7: Elective 1
Unit 8: Aspects of Culture 4: Interrogating Histories
Unit 9: Curating 2: Useable Pasts
Unit 10: Aspects of Culture 5: Contemporary Cultural Theories
Unit 11: Journalistic Writing 2: Multimedia
Unit 12: Critical Cultural Practice

In this stage, you will develop a variety of approaches. You will complete an extended piece of academic research and writing, and work on a chosen subject in depth. Through tutorial guidance, seminars, lectures, independent study and team projects, you will explore the breadth of your subject and develop your talents in relation to it. You will also begin your dissertation and London Project which form Stage 3.  

Stage 3

Unit 13: Dissertation
Unit 14: Elective 2
Unit 15: Degree Show and London Project

In the final stage, you will develop your independence as you complete your dissertation and London Project. You will also engage in formal study on your elective subject. You will work with your year group towards the Degree Show – a major opportunity to curate an exhibition. The London Project and the Degree Show also give you the chance to develop “real project briefs”. They offer the potential of connecting with external organisations. 

Exchange opportunities

Students enrolled on BA Culture, Criticism and Curation have the opportunity to spend time studying outside of the UK at a partner institution. Studying overseas allows you to experience a new culture, an alternative perspective on the course’s subject discipline and different learning and teaching methods. The application process for these opportunities is competitive. Alongside this, BA Culture, Criticism and Curation is actively engaged in the University’s Study Abroad scheme, with the incoming international students bringing an important additional dynamic to the course.

Currently only a small number of places are available, which will be subject to Government guidelines on travel abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

During your course you will engage with learning and teaching that includes both online and face-to-face modes. Typically, this will include:

  • Lectures 
  • Large group learning 
  • Seminars 
  • Workshops 
  • Peer-group critiques
  • Curatorial group projects 
  • Guest speakers and site visits 
  • Self-directed learning 
  • Assessed assignments

Assessment methods

  • Written assignments which take the form of academic essays, journalistic writing, reflexive documentation and research journals 
  • Oral presentations and written summaries 
  • In-class tasks  
  • Written research projects 

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:

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

  • Three A Levels at grade B or above (two of which are in essay-based humanities subjects such as History, History of Art, English Literature, Philosophy, Government and Politics, Classical Studies)
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (Level 3 or 4) and two A Levels at grade C or above (one of which is in an essay-based humanities subject such as History, History of Art, English Literature, Philosophy, Government and Politics, Classical Studies)
  • Equivalent EU/international qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma

And five 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 score of 6.5 or above, with a minimum of 6.0 for writing component and 5.5 in the remaining three components, or equivalent (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
  • 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
  • Show initiative
  • Reflect your knowledge of this course.

What we are looking for

We look for students:

  • Who are passionate about the arts, from fine art, fashion, theatre and performance to graphics, design, architecture and film. 
  • Who may have studied GCSEs and A levels that included the History of Art, English Literature, History, Classical Civilisation as well as practice-based subjects and are thinking of taking degrees in History of Art, Design and Architecture, Film Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, History, English Literature, American Studies.
  • Who are on a foundation courses but decide not to pursue a practical art or design degree yet want to stay at a college offering art and design study.

Making your application

Applications closed 2022/23

We are no longer accepting applications for 2022/23 entry to this course. Applications for 2023/24 entry will open in Autumn 2022.

You should apply through Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (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 26 January 2022 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.

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.

Applications closed 2022/23

We are no longer accepting applications for 2022/23 entry to this course. Applications for 2023/24 entry will open in Autumn 2022.

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 26 January 2022 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.

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.

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.

Following a review on your written work, you may be invited for a group interview.

Interview

Following the review of assessed work we select a small number of applicants to a group interview.  Group interviews will be held online.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

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

Fees and funding

Home fee

£9,250 per year

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.

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 per year

This fee is correct for 2022/23 entry and is subject to change for 2023/24 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

Careers and alumni

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.