MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Curating Art

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC60882
Credit rating 30
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


This module is designed to equip you with a range of critical, theoretical and practical approaches to curating art. During the course, we examine the role, work and skills of the curator in museums and galleries, within historical, critical and professional contexts.



The course is devised to develop your knowledge and understanding of:

  • The theory and practice of art curating in diverse institutional and professional settings
  • The cultural, practical and ethical issues relating to the acquisition, interpretation and display of art
  • How knowledge and cultural authority is produced within the art museum, and how this has, in turn, been challenged by artists, critics and curators themselves

Teaching and learning methods

Some of the lectures for this unit will be delivered online.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Critical understanding of the theory and practice of curating in museums and galleries
  • Knowledge of the institutional and professional contexts within which curators work
  • A critical understanding of the history and practice of art museum curatorship, including key debates relating to ethics, access and authority
  • Knowledge of key processes in art collecting and curatorship
  • Understanding of the practice of curating in its historical contexts and its ‘professionalisation’ as a historical process
  • Further experience in researching and writing (both for an academic and a general reader), team-based work and presentation skills

Intellectual skills

Undertake self-directed learning and skills acquisition
- Conduct independent, critical fieldwork
- Develop appropriate methodological and analytical skills
- Apply skills and ideas learned in one institutional context to another, while remaining aware of the complexity of the issues

Fieldwork is subject to government guidelines.

Practical skills

-Initiate practical and creative solutions to specific criteria.
- Communicate complex research findings through clear written and verbal articulation, supported by appropriate technological tools

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- Retrieve, select and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources, including libraries, archives, and the Internet
-Communicate information and ideas effectively in a professional, as well as an academic, environment.
- Critically evaluate personal performance through monitoring and analytical reflection.
- Demonstrate independent learning ability suitable for continuing study and professional development.

Employability skills

- Gain professional insight into curating and related roles - Articulate clearly key debates related to curating art - Presentation skills - Manage time efficiently - Generate ideas and think laterally - Map career directions and trajectories

Assessment methods


Essay 70%

Exhibition project Portfolio 30%

Feedback methods

Essay Proposal surgery and written comments


Academic advisor meeting




Recommended reading

Altshuler, Bruce, The Avant-garde in Exhibition: New Art in the 20th Century, Abrams,



Altshuler, Bruce, Salon to Biennial – Exhibitions That Made Art History Volume 1: 1863-

1959, Phaidon, 2008.


Altshuler, Bruce, Biennials and Beyond: Exhibitions that Made Art History Volume 2:

1962-2002, Phaidon, 2013.


Barker, Emma (ed), Contemporary Cultures of Display, Yale University Press, 1999.


Fritsch, Juliette (ed.), Museum Gallery Interpretation and Material Culture, Routledge,



Greenberg, Reesa and Ferguson, Bruce and Nairne, Sandy (eds), Thinking about

exhibitions, Routledge, 1996.


Haskell, Francis The ephemeral museum: old master paintings and the rise of the art

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 7
Seminars 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 263

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Hardman Unit coordinator

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