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Fine Art & Curating

BA (Hons)
Fine Art and Curating
3 years (full-time)

* This is a new course starting in September 2018

Curatorial practice by artists has emerged as a significant element of contemporary art. This course responds to this important development within the professional art world by combining fine art practice with curatorial theory and practice. 

You will be challenged within your own studio work whilst also exploring and engaging with the many galleries in Manchester and the North to develop practical skills and critical perspective needed by the contemporary curator. 

Special Features

  • Delivered by practising artists, historians, theorists, and curators.
  • Opportunities to learn a foreign language, visit international exhibitions and access the Erasmus international study programme.
  • Course works closely with arts institutions and galleries
  • Manchester School of Art collaborates with the Whitworth Art Gallery for regular public talks from internationally acclaimed speakers. Find out more here
  • You will have the opportunity to take part in Unit X, an innovative unit offered to students across Manchester School of Art that encourages interdisciplinary study and collaboration on an external-facing project.

Course Content

The programme addresses a diverse range of artists, movements, exhibitions, and display spaces, as well as theoretical approaches to art practice and curating. Students will be encouraged to develop a strong independent studio practice, exhibition proposals and to engage in professional development making links with the galleries of Manchester and the region.

Year 1

Your first year of study will introduce you to the key skills and contexts to both fine art and curating. You will develop your own fine art work following induction to specialist workshops and also begin to understand and consider the role of the curator in collating and exhibiting art objects and artefacts.

Unit X

At Level 4, this unit encourages some collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and shared experience. There are lectures and talks from key research staff, students and external experts. Teaching will be in the form of tutorial groups, weekly meetings and presentations. The set projects will vary from year to year and are designed to be responsive to current creative opportunities. 

Fine Art & Curating 1: Studio Practice and Histories of Display

This unit will introduce you to methods, materials, contexts and processes relevant to fine art and curating subject areas. You will undertake fine art project work and develop a range of practical skills through induction to specialist workshops. You will examine key ideas surrounding practices of display, collecting and exhibition making, and also consider the specific nature of the relationship between the fine art and curating subject areas. Unit content will be explored through lectures, seminars, gallery visits, studio practice and group work.

Fine Art & Curating 2: Studio and Curatorial Practice

This unit will provide an introduction to the production of fine art and curatorial outcomes. You will initiate the development of individual fine art studio practices and develop curatorial skills in relation to the display of art objects and artefacts. The unit content will be explored through workshops, individual studio practice, group work and practical exercises.

Contextualising Practice with Language 1

You are allocated to one of five pathways addressing programme-based clusters of cognate practice areas. Lectures, seminars, guest speakers, visits will address the historical, critical and cultural contexts of art and design practice. The 15 credit option is taken when you opt to do a 15 credit Uniwide languages unit as well (

Contextualising Practice 1

30 credit unit. You are allocated to one of five pathways addressing programme-based clusters of cognate practice areas. Lectures, seminars, guest speakers, visits will address the historical, critical and cultural contexts of art and design practice.

Year 2

In Year 2, you will study the late and post modern period looking at both the creation and curation of art. This new understanding will build on work in Year 1 as you continue to develop your own body of work. You will also explore how galleries and museums work with a broad range of audiences and consider the impact on your own practice.

Unit X

This unit explores collaborative and interdisciplinary art and design practice.  You will have the opportunity to engage in a range of external-facing learning opportunities which will encourage collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and shared experience; this may take the form of spending time outside of the University and working within the creative community and the public domain.

Fine Art & Curating 3: Studio Practice and Curatorial Practices 1950-2000

This unit will facilitate the development of an independent studio practice providing an opportunity to further explore materials, processes and curatorial practices. You will produce a body of work that will articulate your developing understanding of your practice in relation to issues explored in the unit. You will address the historical conditions and curatorial issues arising from the assemblage of art during the late modern and post modern period.

Fine Art & Curating 4: Studio Practice and Curating Interpretation

This unit addresses key approaches to the interpretation of art and sites of display and the interpretation and production of fine art. The unit will introduce you to approaches and methods, relevant to the production of fine art. These approaches will be explored within a studio context and in relation to a developing individual fine art practice. The unit will also explore interpretive strategies employed by museums and galleries to engage different audiences including, for example, case studies of educative programmes, artists' responses to collections and digital projects.

Contextualising Practice 2

Delivery of critical, historical and professional issues to enhance your development within practice-based clusters. Delivery to clusters of cognate practice areas. Content consists of selected thematic options in critical and historical areas plus cluster-wide professional and employability issues, facilitating and enhancing the development of both studio-based work and identity as a practitioner.

Contextualising Practice with Language 2

Delivery of critical and historical issues to enhance the student's development within practice-based clusters.  Content consists of selected thematic options in critical and historical areas facilitating and enhancing the development of both studio-based work and identity as a practitioner. Modes of delivery include lectures, seminars, tutorials, guest speakers, visits and placements.

Year 3

Building on your understanding of contemporary art practices, your work will continue to independently develop by exploring new ways of production and display of fine art. You will also explore how global, ethical and institutional contexts could impact your work as an artist and curator as well as developing understanding around how fine art is seen and interpreted. 

Unit X

On the third year Unit X, there is a student authored final project leading to a showcase of finished work. The unit includes a brief generated by the student, which leads to the presentation of a significant body of final work. Collaborative and interdisciplinary work can be incorporated into the project in relation to the professional context and ambition of the student.

Fine Art & Curating 5: Studio Practice and Curating Now

You will work with increasing independence to create art works that demonstrate an engagement with contemporary art practices. The unit will also consider traditional and new contexts for the production, display, and circulation of fine art. Individual studio practice will be informed by an examination of contemporary fine art practices such as painting, sculpture, public art, installation and site-specific work, lens-based practices, digital art, participation, relational aesthetics, and activist art. The unit will also examine the discursive, institutional, professional, political, global, and ethical contexts of contemporary curating practices. 

Fine Art & Curating 6: Studio Practice and Framings - The Contexts of Art

The unit expects you to develop and consolidate your individual studio practice with an awareness of the different contexts within which art is produced, seen, interpreted, and circulated. The unit will examine a range of institutional contexts and discourses related to the production, circulation, interpretation, and valuing of art. These will include, for example, the art market, the art museum, and alternative display sites, the art magazine, and digital cultures. These different subjects will be addressed in terms of relationships between discourses, sites, practices, and agents. The unit will encourage, through curatorial and studio practice, a critical reflection upon the place of art and the role of the practitioner within contemporary society.

Contextualising Practice with a Language 3

Programme of research and critical analysis of cultural and professional issues related to a your individual practice interests. A negotiated project focused around an individually defined area appropriate to your aims and ambitions.

Contextualising Practice 3

Programme of research and critical analysis of cultural and professional issues related to a student's individual practice interests.

Assessment Methods

Assessment takes various forms: essays, group presentations, extended essays, portfolios of fine art practice work with supporting research material, exhibition proposals, curatorial projects and a project involving the development of a gallery based education programme. All of these assignments involve the development of practical and theoretical understandings of art and its contexts. They also involve the development of knowledge, understanding, and skills related fine art studio practice.

You can find further details about the curriculum for the current academic year in the Programme Specification Document


This course is taught by Fine Art and Art History staff.

  • Rick Copsey
    Programme Leader, Art Theory and Practice


This course is appropriate for careers in a range of cultural roles such as artist, curator, journalist, arts manager, gallery assistant, teacher, as well being appropriate for postgraduate study.

Making an Application

How to Apply

Apply through UCAS.

If you meet our criteria we will invite you to an Interview and ask you to show us a Portfolio of your work.

You will be notified of our decision through UCAS.

Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff Points/Grades Required112-120.

Minimum 112 - 120 at A2 or equivalent (which can include Foundation Diploma in Art & Design). A Level General Studies is not accepted.

Specific GCSE Requirements

GCSE English Language at grade C or grade 4. Equivalent qualifications (eg. Functional Skills) may be considered

Non Tariffed Qualifications

Pass Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject with a minimum 112 UCAS Tariff Points

International Baccalaureate26 Points

International Students

A minimum IELTS score of 6.0 with no element below 5.5 is required.

Check our MMU International site for further information if you are applying with non-UK qualifications.

Tuition Fees 2019 Entry

Tuition fees for the 2019/20 academic year are still being finalised for all courses. Please see our general guide to our standard undergraduate tuition fees.

See Money Matters for further information and advice.

Additional Costs

Specialist Costs

Optional £500* Students often choose to buy their own laptop in their first year. However there are computer facilities on campus. £200-£800.

Trips and Placement Costs

Optional £1140* Educational visits to European centres during each year. These are optional and if related to a unit of study, local alternative are identified.

Professional Costs

There are no additional professional membership fees required for full qualification.

Other Costs

£600*  plus optional £2,400* The production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific materials and/or equipment relating to your area of fine art specialism. Audio visual equipment is available to loan. Depending on what you buy, additional costs could range from £150 - £800 per year. Books and digitised readings are available from the library. However you will be required to purchase a small number of core books approx £50 per year.

* All amounts shown are estimates.