MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
The Arts & International Cultural Relations

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC60312
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Arts and cultural activities are a key ingredient of public diplomacy and the exercise of soft power in international relations. There is a growing range of international cultural activities by different countries around the world toward diplomatic, economic, social, and artistic purposes. Operationalising international cultural activities is a complex and challenging process that involves many stakeholders, including individuals, organisations, and governments. The activities can also take a variety of forms, from educational and cultural exchanges to exhibitions, and from cultural trade to international festivals. This course is designed to introduce you to the concepts, histories, debates, and practices of international cultural relations. At the transnational level, we will discuss the role of international organisations such as UNESCO in facilitating international cultural communication and collaboration. At the state level, we will critically analyse the purposes and the practices of nation-states and how their international cultural practices have changed over time in response to changing environments. We will examine a range of cases from different countries, such as international culture centres and the Olympics, and analyse the convergence and divergence in these practices. At the organisational level, we will discuss and compare the governance of international cultural programmes, and we will work with arts organisations to understand how international arts/cultural programmes are designed and operationalised in specific contexts. Throughout the course, you will be encouraged to develop your interest in discussion, group project, and essay assignment. This course will equip you with theoretical and methodological tools through lectures, seminars, guest talks, and consultation. On successful completion of this course, you will be able to understand, communicate, and address the issues in international cultural relations from multiple perspectives as policymakers, researchers, and practitioners.


- To understand the role of arts and culture in the international cultural relations

- To investigate the history of using arts and culture as a multi-purpose tool in international relations

- To familiarise with the tools of international cultural relations and understand how tools can be adapted and used differently in various contexts

- To analyse how different stakeholders contribute to international cultural activities and how their interests and behaviour are shaped in this process

- To identify the convergence and divergence of practices in international cultural relations

- To contribute to the design of international cultural programmes in arts organisations

Assessment methods

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