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BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation

Start date
September 2020
Course length
Three years full-time
UCAS code

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

The next round of open days will take place from October to November 2020, please check back here by mid September 2020 to book online.

Scholarships, awards and funding

Mead Scholarships and Fellowships

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation students discuss the value of arts education
Giulia and Håkon discuss BA CCC

Recent BA Culture, Criticism and Curation graduates Giulia Civardi and Håkon Lilegraven discuss their final projects, research topics and this year's degree shows.

Crit Lounge Documentary

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation students discuss the creation of their Degree Show 2016 project 'Crit Lounge'

Student work

BA Culture, Criticism and Curation stories

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.

Nature Calls: Paintings in Hospitals

Paintings in Hospitals is an organisation that aims to improve the clinical environments of healthcare contexts by filling them with art. Earlier this year, as part of the organisation’s Art in […]


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. You will work independently and with your peers, as well as visit external museums, galleries and archives. 

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 and journalistic writing. 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.  

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

The course is actively engaged in the University’s Study Abroad scheme, with the incoming international students bringing an important additional dynamic to the course.

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 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

  • 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 


Dr Michaela Giebelhausen

Course Leader BA Culture Criticism and Curation

Natasha  Adamou

Dr Natasha Adamou

Stage 1 Leader, BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation

Diane  Silverthorne

Dr Diane Silverthorne

Stage 2 Leader, BA Culture, Criticism and Curation

Andrew  Marsh

Andrew Marsh

Course Leader, MA Arts and Cultural Enterprise | Curator in Practice, BA Culture, Criticism and Curation.

Alison  Green

Dr Alison Green

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

Caroline  Dakers

Professor Caroline Dakers

Professor of Cultural History

Roger  Sabin

Professor Roger Sabin

Professor of Popular Culture, Culture and Enterprise

Janine  Francois

Janine Francois

Course Tutor, BA Culture, Criticism and Curation

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 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:

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

You should apply though Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and you will need the following information:

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W294

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 120 credits (year 1) or 240 credits (years 1 and 2) in the equivalent units/modules on a degree course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer to year 2 or year 3 respectively. The Admissions Tutor will consider applicants for entry to year 2 and 3 on a case by case basis, subject to places being available on the course. You must apply through UCAS and indicate POE 2 for entry to year 2 or POE 3 for entry to year 3 on your application. Further information can be found in our UAL External Student Transfer Policy.

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 15 January 2020 for equal consideration.  However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

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

You can only apply to the same course once per year whether you are applying via UCAS, UAL representative or using the UAL online application system. Any duplicate applications will be withdrawn.

If you are applying via UCAS you will need the following information:

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W294


If you have successfully completed 120 credits (year 1) or 240 credits (years 1 and 2) in the equivalent units/modules on a degree course at another institution and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer to year 2 or year 3 respectively.  The Admissions Tutor will consider applications for entry to year 2 or 3 on a case by case basis, subject to places being available on the course.  You must apply through UCAS and indicate POE 2 for entry to year 2 or POE 3 for entry to year 3 on your application. Click here for important information about our UAL External Student Transfer Policy .

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 15 January 2020 for equal consideration. However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online via UCAS or through a UAL representative or direct application 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.

After you apply

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 / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

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 two written pieces of work:

Written assessment

The subjects for your written assessment are:

  • A humanities-based essay of no more than 2,000 words already written from a previous or current course (A-Level history, literature etc)
  • 500 words on why you wish to study this course saying why you think the course is right for you and what differences might there be between study in a college of art and design like Central Saint Martins and a 'traditional' university.

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


Following the review of assessed work we select a small number of applicants to interview. Interviews are likely to take place in the weeks beginning 17 February and 24 February, 2020.

If you are unable to attend the interview in person we will interview you by Skype.

Interview advice

The interview typically lasts approximately 20 minutes.  We are interested in you as an individual and our focus is on your personal interests, your creativity and your career ambitions.  We are looking for independence of thought and evidence of your initiative in finding out about your proposed area of study and how it will fit into your future plans.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

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

Fees & Funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250 (2020/21).

Tuition fees for undergraduate degree courses have been set at £9,250 per year for full-time study. This applies from the 2018/19 academic year, subject to changes in the law. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students, in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Please visit our Undergraduate tuition fees page for more information.

International fee

£22,920 (2020/21).

Additional costs

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


Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

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.


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