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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 curatorial practice in contemporary culture in addressing a number of inter-related fields of creative practice and theoretical approaches and situate them in a historical and critical context. The course explores different kinds of curatorial issues in addressing exhibition-forms and exhibition-making processes and how we conceive of spaces of production and curating as subjects with our integrated research and practice-led approach. 

The shifting relationship between artist-institution-curator-critic/writer forms a central element to the course with a special focus on the meaning the culture of curating, in which our perception of creativity has been transformed by curating and the discourses surrounding it. The course also explores the potential of seeing curating as something that can be applied to various forms of knowledge: publications, symposia, events and interventions. 

Features

  • You will be supported to develop student-led projects and encouraged to engage in creative and critical dialogue, collaborative mind-mapping, ideas exchange processes. These practices are integrated by providing students with access to our dedicated Pavement Gallery which acts as a hub for all curatorial activities and a space to generate ideas. Pavement Gallery runs on an associate model to provide MA Contemporary Curating students with the opportunity to develop their practical skills
  • Opportunity to work on The Holden Gallery’s Curatorial Collective programme. The Curatorial Collective is a group of Manchester School of Art students who contribute to shaping and developing The Holden Gallery’s exhibitions and events programme that includes participating in the evaluation and selection process for the annual Plaque Prize. The Holden Gallery has a fully curated exhibitions programme that focuses exclusively on recent developments in international contemporary visual art, exploring thematic ideas through the work of key established and mid-career artists
  • The course offers an international Fellowships opportunity through the Curators of Tomorrow initiative. This unique initiative is to support an understanding of transdisciplinary contexts of the MA/MFA Contemporary Curating programme. This is designed mainly for our current students who are about to engage with the professional practice stage of their studies. Selected participants of the Curators of Tomorrow collaboration are given the opportunity to live and work for the period of one month in one of the Q21 studios at MuseumsQuartier Wien in Vienna
  • You will benefit from the rich programme of events which includes Curator talks and seminars from a range of galleries and programmes, such as Liverpool Biennial, Manchester Art Gallery, Open Eye, Tate Liverpool, The Whitworth Gallery and more.

Course Content

In this course 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.

Practice 1: Curating Spaces

The focus of the unit is on the framework of curatorial practice through the diverse spaces in which work is exhibited. There is a consideration of the institutional as a condition of influence on exhibition practices and the subsequent relationship to audience. This is further extended through the exploration of the diversity and difference within international contemporary art and curatorial practice.

Practice 2: Curatorial Process

The unit considers the nature of the ‘curatorial’ in terms of the processes associated with a contemporary exhibition programme, as well as related activities. In effect, it offers a more applied understanding of exhibition practices. The unit considers a range of approaches which might be useful in establishing an individual methodology. It also serves as preparation for the professional practice and the start of the development of an individual voice that is thoroughly grounded in research skills.

Practice 3: 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 one area of curatorial practice. The work will provide a synthesis and application of the research in relation to curatorial practice, in order to develop a substantial project which reflects on the theoretical, conceptual, contextual and practical elements necessary for a curated project.

Professional Practices

This unit extends your understanding of the professional context of Contemporary Curating, contemporary Fine Art, and Painting practices. Through an examination of artworld institutions and structures you will be guided to consider a range of possible positions that the contemporary artist or curator can occupy in the professional domain. The unit will extend 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 and/or peer group of students.

Culture and Context

This unit offers focussed opportunity for you to extend and enhance your practice by including working in a wider art and design research community. The study of the cultural and critical contexts of art and design practice is vital to any student of the creative disciplines, this unit will develop your abilities to contextualise your practice through one of a series of themes addressing contemporary issue in art and design.

In previous years, themes have included contested territories, health and wellbeing, negotiated study, space and context, digital future and writing research and funding proposals. Theme options may vary each year.

    Year 2 (MFA Full-Time)

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

    Practice 4: Contextualising

    This unit is centred on continuation of a curatorial practice, which is aligned to the research and selection of an appropriate public or professional venue or platforms through which to disseminate a significant curatorial project. The unit will help develop the necessary skills to engage fully with external organisations or other collaborating partners in order to realise an appropriate route for the dissemination of a curatorial project.

    Practice 5: Realisation and Publication

    The final unit towards the MFA award requires the realisation of a significant body of work for a public audience in whatever form is most appropriate along with any implicit publicity and dissemination material. This unit builds upon practice and work initiated and developed in earlier units and as such will be used as the realisation and publication of an ambitious final project. The work would acknowledge the ways in which it engages with public/peers as part of the critical process.

    Placements

    Placements can be arranged as an optional element. 

    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.

    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. 

    Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification. Accepted English qualifications can be viewed here.

    How to Apply

    Please apply online using the link below.

    Apply Online

    Fees 2022 Entry

    UK and Channel Island Students

    Full-time fee: £1667 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).

    Part-time fee: £1667 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).

    EU and Non-EU International Students

    Full-time fee: £3084 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).

    Part-time fee: £3084 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