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Contemporary Curating

MA/MFA
Contemporary Curating
MA 1 year (full-time), 2 years (part-time)
MFA 2 years (full-time), 4 years (part-time)

MA/MFA Contemporary Curating explores the notion of exhibition practice in contemporary culture and considers curatorial methods and strategies in the context of the gallery and museum, as well as in projects such as biennials, public art works and commissions. The course considers ways in which different kinds of art works and projects are mediated through the exhibition process.

The shifting relationship between artist-institution-curator-critic/writer forms a central element to the course. The course also explores the potential of seeing curating as something that can be applied to different forms of knowledge: publications, symposia, events and interventions. 

Features

  • Opportunity to work on Holden Gallery exhibitions programme which generates four new shows a year, artists have included: John Baldessari, Sophie Calle, Liam Gillick, Jenny Holzer, Cornelia Parker, Roman Signer, Mark Wallinger
  • Curator talks and seminars from a range of galleries and programmes,such as: Liverpool Biennial,  Manchester Art Gallery, Open Eye, Tate Liverpool, The Whitworth among others
  • Partnership arrangements with Castlefield Gallery and HOME for placements and work experience. 

Course Content

You will establish key theories and issues relating to Contemporary Curating, Design Cultures and Contemporary Visual Culture and then develop these into more complex approaches.

You will also be encouraged and supported to extend your experience in the professional sphere either through a practical project, research context, exchange, work experience, or other negotiated professional set of interactions with an external partner, groups of students and creative industry.  

Towards the end of the programme you will undertake a major project to consolidate your past research and practice into fully realised collections, pieces, proposals, business plans, or exhibitions – whatever means is appropriate to the work. You will also have developed a strategy for the continuation of your practice located and contextualised to the profession or discipline.

If you choose to progress to MFA Contemporary Curating award you will study a further two units of 60 credits each.

This award is focused on the continuation of your practice aligned to the research and selection of appropriate public or professional venues and platforms to disseminate a significant body of work. You will be required to produce work for a public audience in the most relevant and appropriate form along with any implicit publicity and dissemination material. 

Year 1 (MA Full-Time)

The MA Contemporary Curating is made up of five units totalling 180 credits.

Option Units (Subject to Change)

Curatorial Frameworks

The Curatorial Frameworks unit sets the foundation for curatorial studies at postgraduate level. It consider the  development of the museum/gallery from its ‘modern’ origins through to its more contemporary manifestations, exploring how the museum/gallery is structured and how curatorial roles work in relation to institutional and independent practices. After looking at collections and the archive, exhibition histories will then form a key element of the unit. There will be a consideration of the role they play in defining the work of contemporary artists, as well as an analysis of the curatorial process involved in developing thematic ideas.

Curatorial Models and Themes

Curatorial Models and Themes builds on to the work of the Curatorial Frameworks unit, as it moves from a consideration of frameworks and structures of museum/gallery operation, towards a more applied understanding of exhibition practice. In order to do this, part of the research/discussion will take place in the museum/gallery environment. The unit considers a range of approaches which might be useful in establishing an individual methodology. This will form the basis of the Exhibition/Project Outline and Literature Review.

Dissertation/Major Project

The unit is designed to support work towards the development and production of a piece of work that provides a central focus on to the practice (and related histories, of curating or Visual Culture.? The work will provide a synthesis and application of the research into visual or curatorial experiences from the earlier stages, in order to develop a substantial project which reflects on the theoretical, conceptual, contextual and practical elements necessary for contemporary cultural interpretation through written, curatorial or other practice.

Professional Platforms

This unit extends your experience into the professional sphere, either through a practical project, research context, exchange, work experience or other negotiated professional set of interactions with an external partner, groups of students and creative industry. Projects and placements take place in a set network of art, design and media organisations in the region, but can also be arranged by individual students if based on similar frameworks of professional development and experience. The PDP also takes place in this unit.

Commercial Aspects of Design

This unit includes topics such as market research and service design; consumer behaviour – needs and attitudes; diffusion of innovation; commercial aspects of product design including bringing product to market eg production and distribution channels, costing and pricing, and advertising and promotion.

Contested Territories

This unit will address the contested nature of the conceptual and material territories upon which human identities and cultures are developed.

Digital Futures

This unit offers focused opportunity for students to extend and enhance their practice by including, exploring and developing digital content in a wider research community.

Health and Wellbeing

This unit focuses on public health and wellbeing with an emphasis on Inequalities; Prevention; Promotion and Protection. By building on the strong legacy of art/design in clinical environments, this unit will expand your understanding of theory and practice in the emerging public health agenda and through real-life research opportunities, will offer exploration of individual practice in diverse contexts: eg mental health, long-term conditions, healthy ageing and proactive wellbeing.

Images and Archives

This unit explores theoretical, critical and practical perspectives on art, photography and the archive.

Making Our Futures - Ecological Arts and Sustainable Design

This unit will address the future conceptually, tangibly and critically through ecological arts and sustainable design practices. Adopting a 'question-based learning' approach to 'real world' challenges, students will consider the potential to intervene into and re-invent social and cultural lifestyles, economics, technologies, and their impact on Climate Change, species extinction, natural resources depletion and diminishing civic services. How will we make our futures? How can arts and design promote resilience for adaptation?

Negotiated Study

This unit offers you an individual focused opportunity to extend and enhance your practice by including a self-negotiated study. This will enable students to:

  • Extend ideas and proposals developed in Practice 1
  • Facilitate a deeper level of learning in a particular workshop or subject discipline, or conceptual paradigm
  • Pursue an external project or competition brief appropriate to your practice.

Object and Context

This unit will introduce you to notions, ideas, principles and practices concerning objects. A series of delivered lectures, seminars and workshops will discuss and explore the role of objects in design. It will enable the location of these ideas into individual or collaborative practice and give experience of individual and collaborative practice.

SciArt

You will learn about the interdisciplinary field of SciArt by developing a body of personal work that is technically proficient and intellectually resolved.

The Museum and the City - The City as a Museum

The unit explores the relationship between the museum and the city and the city as museum. Attention shifts between theoretical and historical models, as well as making use of specific locations and institutions within the city.

Writing Research and Funding Proposals

An introduction to writing proposals to funding bodies such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Arts Council England (ACE).  This unit will cover such topics as: generating fundable ideas; developing critical and conceptual frameworks; establishing credible methodologies and approaches; awareness of the the parameters of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, AHRC and ACE; the importance of collaboration; working in groups, public engagement and impact; presenting ideas to the group, giving and receiving informed criticism; developing an effective writing style; structuring proposals and writing to length; writing a budget and the importance of cost-effectiveness and match-funding; time management; familiarity with Je-S.

Year 2 (MFA Full-Time)

The MFA Contemporary Curating continues with the following two units totalling 120 credits.

MFA - Practice 3: Contextualising

This unit is centred on continuation of your practice aligned to the research and selection of appropriate public or professional venues or platforms with which to disseminate a significant body of work.  Through the unit you will be asked to approach, propose, negotiate and progress a plan for the dissemination of your body of work.

MFA - Practice 4: Realisation and Publication

This is the final unit towards an MFA award in which you are required to realise a significant body of work for a public audience in whatever form is most appropriate along with any implicit publicity and dissemination material. Work at this level is significantly self-determined and as such you will be asked to define and appraise your own learning outcomes through negotiation.

Placements

Placements can be arranged as an optional element. 

You can find further details about the curriculum in the Programme Specification Document

Resources

We have developed a dedicated postgraduate area occupying an entire floor of the main School of Art building, offering an exciting space to be, both intellectually and practically. The centre is located in the newly refurbished Chatham Tower with studios, design laboratories, seminar rooms and extensive workshops that form the nucleus of this vibrant, cross-disciplinary learning environment.

Find out more about Manchester School of Art's facilities.

Student Work

Visit our online MA Show galleries to see examples of recent work by our postgraduate students.

MA Show 2017 - View Work Online       MA Show 2016 - View Work Online

MA Show 2015 - View Work Online       MA Show 2014 - View Work Online


Graduates

The programme would be of interest to those planning to pursue a career in the museum and gallery sector, as well as those interested in related cultural work, such as arts administration, publishing and events organisation. The programme also provides a suitable grounding for further study at doctorate level.

Making an Application

Entry Requirements

You will normally have an undergraduate UK honours degree or international equivalent or a degree-equivalent postgraduate diploma or a professional qualification. Alternatively, you may be admitted if you can demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills at honours degree standard. 

How to Apply

Please apply online using the link below.

Apply Online

Fees 2018 Entry

UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £1542 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1542 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £2584 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2584 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Eligible alumni receive a 10% discount on their postgraduate tuition fees. Find out more about our Alumni Loyalty Discount.

Also see Postgraduate funding and financial support.

Course Leader