Curating - MA

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This programme, delivered by School of Arts and specialist visiting lecturers, develops your skills and provides experience relevant to a career in curating.

Based at the School of Arts Studio 3 Gallery, you are involved in all aspects of the running of the Gallery.

You have the opportunity to develop your own project, working within the Gallery’s exhibition programme. In developing your exhibition project for Studio 3 Gallery you will work closely with partner organisations in the Kent region, such as Canterbury Museums, or with international art groups like the Stuckists. Both of these examples relate to exhibitions developed by students taking the MA Curating

About the Department of History & Philosophy of Art

The History & Philosophy of Art Department within the School of Arts, provides opportunities for graduate study with well-established researchers in the fields of art history, philosophy of art and aesthetics. Staff research covers contemporary art and aesthetics, modernism, theories of art, the historiography of art and the Cold War; biographical monographs, the photograph (in its historical, contemporary and critical contexts), and the historical interplay of image, theory and institutions from the Renaissance to the present (especially European and North American).

Developing areas of interest include the cultural and historical significance of the print, and the role of performance and new media in contemporary art practices, which draw upon our links with other subjects within the School of Arts and the Faculty of Humanities. In particular, postgraduates have the opportunity to participate in the activities of the multidisciplinary Aesthetics Research Centre and the Art History and Visual Cultures Research Centre. There is also a full programme of visiting speakers from across the constituent subject areas within the School of Arts, which includes Film and Drama.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree or better, usually in a relevant humanities subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path or who may have relevant experience in the industry. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Your application should include a sample of your academic writing. Ideally this will be an essay, on a similar or related topic, that you have recently written as part of your undergraduate degree programme. Please upload this to your application portal.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


A group of postgraduates sit outside the Kennedy Building on the Canterbury campus

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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

Compulsory modules provide an overview of the history of collecting and exhibitions through a series of case studies, taking advantage of our proximity to major London collections. We also cover theoretical issues relating to curating and museology.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include

This module will introduce students to the history and theory of curating through a series of detailed case studies from the early modern period to the present day. These will focus on how collections have been formed and maintained, the nature of key institutions in the art world like museums and galleries, and in particular it will examine the phenomenon of the exhibition. Different approaches to curating exhibitions will be examined, and the responsibilities of the curator towards artists, collections, and towards the public will be analysed. Broad themes in the theory of curating and museology will be examined. Wherever possible the case studies chosen will draw on the resources and expertise of partner organisations, such as Canterbury Museums and the Institute for Contemporary Art.

Find out more about HA826

The Curatorial Internship module provides students with the core experience of participating in a team running Studio 3 Gallery in the Jarman Building. Students will undertake key tasks and projects integral to the delivery of the exhibition programme at the gallery, both individually and working in groups, under the direction of the programme convenor and of the gallery's curator and with (or as) exhibition curators. These tasks may include exhibition design and planning, negotiating loans, maintaining partnerships, managing collections, researching and writing catalogues, interviewing artists, fundraising, devising educational programmes, handling, storing and transporting art works, condition reports, designing promotional materials, marketing exhibitions, exhibition analysis and so on. A self-reflective journal will assess what has been learnt from the internship.

Find out more about HA827

Optional modules may include

This module explores the dynamic relationship between the cult of relics and Gothic art. It will begin by retracing the aesthetics of devotion across Western Christendom, culminating in the creation of towering Gothic cathedrals. Throughout history, the design of cult images could reveal sacred presence, testify to miracle-working powers, and explicate the significance of a holy place using visual narratives. Through pilgrimage, gift-giving, and even theft, people acquired relics and 'invented' new cults. The success of a relic cult would benefit from the design of a magnificent reliquary, the depiction of pictorial programmes (in glass, sculpture, and painting), and the placement of the relic within a spectacular architectural setting. Together we will explore the development of Gothic art in light of changing devotional needs. Using a number of diverse case studies, students will acquire a wealth of historical information and develop a variety of intellectual approaches to function and significance of visual culture. Beginning with Paris and its surrounding cathedrals, we will extend our analysis to Gothic Canterbury, London, Castile, Prague, Siena, and Florence. Above all, this course will encourage students to think critically about the influence of art in the religious imagination.

Find out more about MT803

This interdisciplinary course will focus on a number of inter-related themes which will be studied through differing types of evidence from written and printed texts to objects and standing buildings. Thus, as a way of aiding students to expand their intellectual horizons, some seminars will take place outside the seminar room to look at evidence in situ. Topics will include medieval topography, parish churches and lay piety, houses and shops, pilgrimage, and urban defences, using Canterbury as a contextualised case study.

Find out more about MT864

This module explores a range of interconnections and tensions between western and non-western art historical and visual traditions. The lectures and seminars identify and consider examples of transcultural 'encounter' between principally western and non-western countries and territories, as well as appropriations from, and differences between, traditions of representational and non-representational art. In examining the influences, appropriations and cross-fertilizations of western and non-western art and culture the course will also place these within broader political and social histories, the rise of nationalism, continental trade relations, the advent of war, tourism, colonialism and imperialism. More broadly, the module will explore the nature and modalities of 'dialogue' from various critical and art historical perspectives, including the terms, elisions and the failures of such between western and non-western traditions. Visual and textual examples will also encompass the exclusions, altercations, violations and marginalization of non-western cultures and their traditions within and across this framework.

Find out more about HA660

The module will involve the study of a single artist of significance for the history of art. Through the in depth study of the works of art of a single artist, the interpretations made of them and the cultural significance of the artist's life and oeuvre, students will be introduced to a wide range of approaches and issues central to the theory and practice of the discipline of Art History. They will also acquire the subject-specific and generic learning skills necessary to progress to part II of their degree programme. The convenorship of the module will rotate among members of History of Art and with it the choice of artist to be studied. Lectures will be delivered by different HA staff members, and where appropriate external speakers, so that students are exposed to a range of different approaches and opinions. It is intended that when this module first runs the artist studied will be Pablo Picasso; an indicative list of other possible artists might include Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Ingres, Cezanne, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo, Berthe Morisot or Rachel Whiteread. The purpose of the module, however, is not in itself to uphold a canon of established masters, and if the resources are available to deliver the module and the choice supports the learning outcomes, the artist chosen could be contemporary, outside the Western tradition, or working in a non-traditional medium.

Find out more about HA669

This module will explore the impact of Surrealism on the visual arts. It will focus in detail on a small group of key surrealist artists, such as Man Ray, Max Ernst, and Salvador Dali; while also, in order to understand the scope and definition of Surrealism, considering further artists in some detail who were associated with Surrealism but who denied that they were indeed surrealists, such as Frida Kahlo or Pavel Tchelitchew. In addition the module will survey the work of those artists formally associated with the Surrealist group, and the contribution of Dadaist precursors and contemporary artists who exercised a profound influence on Surrealism. While hardly feminist, Surrealism did provide a supportive forum for a number of innovative female artists, arguably enabling the artistic careers of more women than other avant-garde movements in the first half of the Twentieth Century. The relationship of women artists to Surrealism will, therefore, be a key theme of the course. Surrealism was not, however, principally a phenomenon of the visual arts, or a conventional artistic movement: the surrealists sought to reconnect moral and artistic forces, to achieve liberation through emotional intensification ('a systematic derangement of the senses'), and by this means to revolutionize society. They drew inspiration from Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theories to explore the workings of the unconscious and the ‘over-determined’ symbolism of dreams, and also what Gaston Bachelard called the new scientific spirit of the ‘why not’. Characteristic methods included pure psychic automatism, objective chance, the paranoiac-critical method, the double image, dislocation, and collage. Particularly at Level 6, this module will explore the broader implications of these surrealist themes, for example the question of whether myth is an expression of society, or constitutive of it, which was a key concern for the Surrealists. Indeed, André Breton described Surrealism as ‘a method of creating a collective myth’ in 1933. These thematic aspects of the module should make it an interesting wild option for students studying literature, twentieth-century history or cultural history, in addition to history of art students.

Find out more about HA694

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is through a combination of coursework essays, critical logbooks and practice-based exercises. A long dissertation is required for the Exhibition Development and Design module.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • create and interpret knowledge at the forefront of the discipline through the development of critical, conceptual and practical abilities
  • develop a self-directed programme of practice and related research
  • contextualise and theorise practice in relation to, and through critical evaluation of, the work of contemporary practitioners and leading researchers within the discipline
  • develop a comprehensive understanding of methodologies applicable to independent research
  • develop autonomy in practice work within a context that fosters collaborative learning
  • sustain an advanced practice that encompasses the disciplines of writing, discussion and producing practice-based outcomes
  • achieve high-level skills and competencies as a preparation for professional practice and further development in the field of curating
  • embed your research within the context of the University and utilise the resources offered in the research environment such as staff expertise, symposia and colloquia
  • develop public outcomes outside the University in a range of formats
  • attract students from a diversity of arts contexts and contexts that inform artistic practice, including fine art, history of art, sociology, journalism, English literature, film studies architecture and philosophy
  • attract intellectually able and talented students who are enquiring, open to experimentation, discussion and collaboration as well able to work independently
  • provide a forward-thinking, dynamic learning environment that responds to the current climate of debate and production in the arts. 
  • forge an international identity within the field of study through developing partnerships with international universities and non-HEIs
  • support specialism and progression by allowing students to opt for specific routes of study that include curating, art history, cultural history, arts management, conservation or museum studies.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

We aim to help you understand:

  • the contemporary and historical contexts for your individual practice and related research
  • the formative debates in the wider contexts of cultural production
  • the contemporary and historical critical and theoretical debates in your chosen topic area and in wider cultural contexts
  • how to evaluate research methodologies, apply methods and propose new hypotheses applicable to specific research intentions
  • the interdisciplinary field through fostering an awareness of, and involvement within, a diversity of research orientations and pathways in curating and museum studies
  • the definitions and practice-based assertions of what defines critical discourse in contemporary arts practices, including curating
  • interdisciplinary practice: the relation between and interactions within disciplines of art criticism in relation to curating
  • the approaches to producing professional practice-based outcomes in a range of media for a range of institutions and settings
  • high-level skills and competencies within professional practice and their application.

Intellectual skills

You will gain the following intellectual skills:

  • to critically reflect upon the theories, concepts and ideas that shape work in the field of curating to an advanced level of achievement
  • to analyse complex issues and communicate their conceptual understanding to a range of audiences
  • to critically reflect upon, refine and present the theoretical framework for independent practice
  • to realise and present a body of critical work that demonstrates inventiveness in the application of knowledge
  • to develop a curating practice that is self-reflexive
  • to demonstrate independent and creative approaches to research, including planning and problem-solving
  • to exercise the initiative, responsibility and decision-making necessary to support continued professional development
  • to demonstrate self-direction and inventiveness in work and discourse, and act independently in planning and implementing practice to a professional standard
  • to understand and evaluate the conceptual and practical concerns that arise within public contexts.

Subject-specific skills

You will gain the following specific skills:

  • the ability to effectively deploy terms and concepts relevant to understanding curating in a contemporary context
  • the ability to locate evidence from a wide range of primary and secondary sources, and interpret it in relation to the aims and conceptual framework of curatorial practice
  • the ability to present and discuss cultural material in the context of the arts, heritage, exhibitions, museums, and galleries, employing argument and interpretative skills relevant to professional practice
  • the ability to draw upon your understanding of the materials and processes central to a variety of cultural practices in the practice of curating
  • the ability to critically evaluate a range of different conceptual and practical methodologies and approaches to understanding curating in a contemporary context
  • the ability to reflect upon practical work in a gallery context and to assess its significance  in the form of a research journal. 

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to articulate ideas and information comprehensibly in visual, oral and written forms
  • the ability to organise information effectively and respond to written sources
  • the ability to communicate to a range of audiences
  • the ability to source, navigate, select, retrieve, evaluate, manipulate and manage information from a variety of sources
  • the ability to select and employ communication and information technologies
  • the ability to produce written documents
  • the ability to interact effectively with others, for example through collaboration, collective endeavour and negotiation
  • the ability to accurately define and review the work of others
  • the ability to negotiate regarding the planning and execution of a project or the dissemination of its outcomes
  • the ability to study independently, set goals, manage workloads and meet deadlines
  • the ability to explore your strengths and weaknesses
  • the ability to develop autonomy in learning
  • the ability to listen effectively and so to learn from and participate constructively in discussion
  • the ability to seek and use feedback, and critically reflect on and improve your performance
  • the ability to identify and define intellectual and practical problems
  • the ability to explore alternative solutions to research problems and discriminate between them
  • the ability to gather, organise and deploy ideas in order to formulate arguments cogently and express them effectively orally, visually and in written form
  • the ability to research and evaluate sources in the process of carrying out independent study.


The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £8100
  • International full-time £16800
  • Home part-time £4050
  • International part-time £8400

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Arts at Kent was ranked 1st for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research quality.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Research areas

Research areas

The Department has a collective interest in developing interdisciplinary projects, including projects informed by art history, curation and the philosophy of art or aesthetics. Shared areas of research interest include: photography, art theory from the Renaissance onwards; modernism and contemporary art.

Aesthetics Research Centre

The Aesthetics Research Centre coordinates, enables and promotes research in philosophy of art and aesthetics at the University of Kent. Its focus is on the dynamic and growing field of philosophy of art and aesthetics in the analytic tradition, and it is deeply committed to making connections and exploring synergies between that tradition and other approaches to thinking about art and culture, including those from other philosophical traditions, the humanities more broadly, the sciences, and all forms of art making and cultural production. ARC comprises a vibrant community of staff and postgraduate students across the School of Arts and Philosophy, and its activities include an annual programme of research seminars, workshops, symposia and conferences. 

Histories: Art, Drama and Film Research Group

The Histories Research Group promotes and co-ordinates research amongst the growing community of staff and PG students active at Kent in the field of Visual and Cultural Histories. The Histories research culture brings together staff and post-graduate students from across the School of Arts whose research involves a cultural historical approach to their field. Whether it is in theatre, film or art history, the Histories group promotes and enables cultural historical research by holding a regular research seminar and supporting student-led initiatives, such as organizing conferences. For the range of world-leading research carried out by members of the Histories research group - from Raphael to Doris Day.


Other Research Centres within the School:

Performance and Theatre Research Group

The Performance and Theatre Research Group’s mission is to create a warm and dynamic research community, welcoming everybody from fresher to professor. We are a delightfully broad church, with well-established expertise in a very broad range of subjects, including theatre history, performance and health, theatre and cognition, physical acting, applied theatre, performance and philosophy, performance and politics, European theatre, Greek theatre, Modernist theatre (especially the Bauhaus), theatre and adaptation, audience studies, cultural industries, variety theatre, puppetry, dance theatre, popular performance and stand-up comedy. As well as traditional academic research, we have led the field in creative practice-based research – and continue to do so.

Film, Media and Culture Research Group

The Group’s main objective is to support and produce cutting-edge research in the areas of film, media and culture. A broad and welcoming church for the manifold approaches to our subject, we specialise in research that is collaborative, of high impact, international and interdisciplinary in scope. We recognise film, media and cultural activity is best understood comprehensively in terms of aesthetic shapes, social roles, discursive formations, cultural meanings, psychological effects and/or economic realities, and best explained through attention to both institutional imperatives and individual agencies. Drawing together scholars from across the University – including Arts, European Culture and Languages, Digital Arts and Engineering, History, English and American Studies, Law, Sociology and beyond – the Group furnishes a lively, member-led research culture that serves as a forum for Kent-based researchers and as a beacon for the international community. Through our journal Film Studies and pioneering research projects and outputs we actively seek to shape the field, open lines of communication with the local community and engage with colleagues worldwide.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Jonathan Friday : Senior Lecturer

Aesthetic theory and photographic studies; 18th-century British aesthetic theory; classical and contemporary photographic theory; photographic genre.

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Professor Martin Hammer : Professor

British art in the mid 20th-century (artists such as Naum Gabo, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland, Stanley Spencer); modern and contemporary international art; the modern portrait. 

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Professor Tom Henry : Professor

Specialist in Italian renaissance art, with a particular interest in Central Italian painters including Raphael, Piero della Francesca, Pietro Perugino and Luca Signorelli.

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Dr Hans Maes : Senior Lecturer

Philosophy of art and aesthetics including the role of intention in the interpretation of art; the relation between (erotic) art and pornography; the role of beauty in art and culture; the nature and value of aesthetic experience.

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Dr Michael Newall : Senior Lecturer; Director, MA Programme

Philosophy of painting; depiction; theories of the sublime; art school education; contemporary art.

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Dr Grant Pooke : Senior Lecturer; Head of Subject and Research

Contemporary British art; Marxist art historiography, the Cold War and aesthetics; developing teaching approaches to art history; art histories, boundaries and aspects of the postcolonial.

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Dr Ben Thomas : Reader; Head of Histories: Art, Drama and Film Research Cluster

Renaissance art; Renaissance art theory; Renaissance and baroque prints; the history of collecting and museums; historiography of art, particularly the work of Edgar Wind and the Cold War.

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Arts postgraduates have gone on to work in a range of professions, from museum positions and teaching roles to marketing and gallery assistants. Our graduates have found work with Tate Britain, the V&A, Museum of Childhood and other arts, culture and heritage-related organisations.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

There is a large and wide-ranging library holding for History & Philosophy of Art, covering the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, aesthetics and contemporary visual communications. There is a substantial stock of periodicals, online access to e-journals and a slide library with well over 100,000 images, covering areas such as contemporary art, visual cultures, garden history and the film still, as well as traditional media. Kent is ideally located for access to galleries in London and on the continent.

In 2010, we moved into the purpose-built, and RIBA award-winning, Jarman Building located at the centre of the Canterbury campus. The new building is home to the Studio 3 Gallery and a range of teaching and social spaces as well as a dedicated postgraduate centre.


All postgraduate students are offered research skills training and the opportunity to take part in reading groups and research seminars at departmental, school and faculty level. Research students have the added opportunity for funded conference attendance. There is also a dedicated student support office at our Canterbury campus, which can offer support and guidance throughout your studies, in addition to an office in Paris.

In recent years, several members of the History & Philosophy of Art Department, both full-time and part-time, have been awarded University prizes for excellence in student support, curriculum innovation and research-based teaching – an ethos which we seek to extend to the postgraduate community.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: British Journal of Aesthetics; Art History; History of Photography; Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism; Journal of Visual Arts Practice; and The Philosophical Quarterly.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

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