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Postgraduate Courses 2017/18

Curating - MA



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 work closely with partner organisations such as Canterbury museums and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA).

You have the opportunity to develop your own project, working within the Gallery’s exhibition programme.

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.

National ratings

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.

Course structure

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.

Optional modules focus on providing practice-based opportunities for developing curatorial skills.


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.

HA826 - History and Theory of Curating (30 credits)

This module will introduce you 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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HA827 - Curatorial Internship (60 credits)

The Curatorial Internship module will provide the core experience of participating in a team running Studio 3 Gallery in the Jarman Building. You 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.

Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).

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HA828 - Philosophical Issues in Art History and Visual Culture (30 credits)

This module will give you an advanced understanding of a range of philosophical issues and concepts underpinning foundational concepts in high art, and broader visual culture. It seeks to apply a broadly analytic approach in philosophy to a range of subjects in high art and popular culture, often taken to be on the periphery of analytic philosophy of art. Topics of study will include: portraiture and its different sub genres, concepts of genius and creativity from the eighteenth century to the present day, philosophical issues around teaching art, the aesthetics of cultural forms such as automotive design, and the place and nature of kitsch and cuteness in low and high culture.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HA836 - The Art of Portraiture: Historical and Philosophical Approaches (30 credits)

This module aims to give students an advanced understanding of concepts and methods involved in the study of portraits. A programme of seminars will explore recent philosophical and art historical literature on portraiture and related research topics. The historical development of portraiture and its different subgenres will be traced, influential portrait artists will be discussed and their work will be critically analysed – all of which will be addressed within a broader theoretical framework, focusing on philosophical issues such as the nature of personal identity, objectification, the definition of art, and theories of representation and genre.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HA838 - Key Concepts and Classic Texts in History and Philosophy of Art (30 credits)

This module will introduce you to key concepts and classic texts that are central to understand fundamental debates in history and philosophy of art as well as art criticism. Some examples of key concepts are the notion of representation, intention, style, influence, the aesthetic, fiction, beauty, etc.; and some examples of texts are Wollheim's Painting as Art, Schapiro's The Apples of Cezanne, Baxandall's Patterns of Intention, Walton's Categories of Art, Barthes' Camera Lucida, Danto's After the End of Art. The module will be team-taught by historians and philosophers of art, the texts and/or key concepts discussed in the seminars are subject to change.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN842 - Reading the Contemporary (30 credits)

'Reading the Contemporary' is a cross-disciplinary module the aim of which is to find out what it means to read the contemporary period through its aesthetic practices. The module will be co-taught by staff from the School of English, the School of Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, with seminars alternating between the Canterbury campus and the ICA (London).

The module has three main objectives. First, it will consider what it means, in a theoretical sense, to think about our contemporary moment. Second, it will address key themes and issues in contemporary culture and will consider how they bear on and are shaped by recent aesthetic forms. Third, through the seminars delivered at the ICA, which will arise directly out of the ICA's programme, students will be introduced to examples of current aesthetic practice.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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FI812 - Advanced Film Theory (30 credits)

This course examines the medium of film, considering its specific qualities as an art form and the particular ways in which it engages its audience. The emphasis of the course varies from year to year, responding to current research and scholarship, but it maintains as its focus the aesthetic strategies of film in contrast with other arts, film's relationship with reality, the interdisciplinary reach of Film Studies, the particular kinds of engagement into which cinema invites its audience and/or French film theory. Students studying at the Paris campus will benefit from having access to relevant institutions in Paris, such as the Cinémathèque Française, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the American Library in Paris and the Paris Diderot library. The course explores both the historical trajectory of the theory of film as well as how these conceptual frameworks inform contemporary scholarship.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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FR872 - Theories of Art in Modern French Thought (30 credits)

This module examines a selection of pre-eminent texts in modern French art theory and philosophy. It invites students to analyse and to chart intersections and developments in French writing on the image across shifting critical landscapes, including those marked by phenomenology, structuralism and post-structuralism. Students will be encouraged to explore French theories of art with due attention to historical precedents, and to reflect on the aesthetic, political and technological significance of the visual arts for a wide range of French thinkers.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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HA825 - Post-Conceptual Art and Visual Arts Criticism (30 credits)

The construct of the post-conceptual in relation to visual arts practice has two principal inflexions. Firstly, it delineates a generation of contributors typically born in the 1960s and 1970s for whom the legacies of Modernism and conceptual art are cultural givens. Secondly, it situates a range of practice (including media art and digital platforms) in relation to expanded and evolving contexts of criticism, cultural consumption and curation.

The proposed curriculum will follow recent visual arts-based critical responses to the development of particular genres and associated shifts in cultural production. For example, this will include the attention given to emerging practices of self and group curation and the rationale for the doubling or multiplying of artistic agency variously demonstrated by collectives such as SUPERFLEX, Claire Fontaine and by a range of contemporary working partnerships.

The module will explore how several recent critics have mobilised and applied ideas of the ‘political’ to account for distinctive thematics within recent practice. Considering some of the recent distinctions noted by the art critic Claire Bishop, the module will evaluate different forms of sculpture and installation practice (immersive, site responsive, site independent and site specific) and how these mediate changing contexts and conditions of production and spectatorship.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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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.


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.  

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.

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

English language entry requirements

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

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.

Research areas

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

Art History and Visual Cultures

This Research Centre promotes and co-ordinates research amongst the growing community of staff and PG students active at Kent in the field of Art History. 

Other Research Centres within the School:

Centre for Film and Media Research

The Centre draws together scholars from across the University who use film and the moving image as an integral part of their research. We are open to ideas that extend the reach of the Centre and seek to support projects that promote collaboration between individuals and other research centres. Our aim is to produce a more proactive engagement with other disciplines, to open new lines of communication and to produce innovative knowledge formations through the activity of pioneering research projects.

European Theatre

Based at Kent, the UK’s European university, the European Theatre Research Network (ETRN) facilitates and fosters the exchange of theatre traditions, contemporary practices and academic discussion on theatre work from the European continent and also in the new European states. The MA Theatre Direction forms part of this expanding network, drawing for instance on our connection to the Schaubühne Berlin, the Grotowski Workcentre, and other European theatre institutions. For further information, please see www.europeantheatre.org.uk

Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance

The Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance brings together Drama staff and staff in Engineering and Digital Arts; Psychology; Anthropology; and the Tizard Centre to explore the possibilities of interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration between researchers and practitioners in the fields of cognitive neuroscience, interactive performance, digital media, disability studies, and applied performance. For further information, please see www.kent.ac.uk/ckp

Popular and Comic Performance

The Popular and Comic Performance (PCP) research centre brings together academics from a range of disciplines (e.g. Drama, Film, Social Anthropology, Philosophy). Their research investigates a real variety of related areas including: stand-up comedy; music hall and variety; 18th century popular theatre; melodrama; Greek Old and Middle comedy; community performance work; puppetry; TV and film production; and punk performance. For further information, please see www.kent.ac.uk/arts/research/centres/popularcomicperformance

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.


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. 


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.


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.


Dr Michael Newall: Senior Lecturer; Director, MA Programme

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


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.


Dr Ben Thomas: Senior Lecturer; Curator, Studio 3 Gallery

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.


Enquire or order a prospectus



Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827272


Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 823410

E: arts-pgadmin@kent.ac.uk

School website


The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Curating - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £6500 £14670
Part-time £3250 £7340

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 information@kent.ac.uk

The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at: www.kent.ac.uk/termsandconditions.

*Where fees are regulated (such as by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills or Research Council UK) they will be increased up to the allowable level.

Publishing Office - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000