The MA in Art History and Curating is one of the few postgraduate programmes in the country that offers you the opportunity to work in a team with academic and museum professionals to develop a curatorial project such as a public exhibition. Current exhibition partners include the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, in a unique partnership with the Royal Collection Trust, and Grand Union, an Arts Council England Portfolio organisation, working with contemporary artists.
This unique programme enables you to develop the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to conduct original research into art objects and the history, theory, and practice of curating historic and contemporary artworks.
As a result of the range of modules and practical experience offered, this unique programme will provide you with the knowledge, experience, and employability skills invaluable to the museum, commercial, and academic sectors whilst enabling you to establish professional networks in both.
Why Study this Course?
Location – teaching takes place primarily in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts – one of the finest art galleries in the country – surrounded by works from world-renowned artists, from Jan Steen to Rodin. The University’s unique campus, where you find its rich collections, study and learning spaces, cafés, restaurants and shops, outdoor and indoor sports facilities in proximity to each other (so you can study and play hard), is located at the heart of a thriving city. Birmingham has a vibrant portfolio of established and emerging art galleries and arts organisations, and the city itself is in the middle of England, allowing easy access to London and beyond (it has an international airport as well as outstanding public transport with the University having its own train station).
Join an active and vibrant student community – you will benefit from a lively, supportive, and intellectually stimulating postgraduate community, providing an ideal environment in which to study. You will have the opportunity to become active members of both departmental and university-wide research communities.
Enhance your knowledge on a range of topics – you will develop sophisticated knowledge and understanding of a range of themes and theoretical discourses related to museum and art gallery practice, such as art interpretation; modes of display; marketing; access and learning; administration, and finance; and art handling.
Extracurricular activities – Read our official blog, The Golovine, for an insight into life within the Department. You will have the opportunity to volunteer at the Barber Institute and regional art galleries and museums. After a long day of study, you can stretch and relax at the university’s Munrow Sports Centre on campus (with smaller venues nearby), which has been praised for its outstanding facilities and high-quality equipment that includes a large gym and an Olympic-size swimming pool.
You will study four core modules:
Curatorial Practices A
Curatorial Practices B
Postgraduate Research Training and Methods A & B
Criticism and Methods in the History of Art and Visual Culture
Placements: Art History in the Field
Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art
What is British Art?
In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.
Birmingham's History of Art graduates develops a broad range of transferable skills, including familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate, and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on detailed research.
Our History of Art postgraduates also has the advantage of gaining hands-on experience at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts: the university's on-campus art gallery which is home to the Department of Art History, Curating, and Visual Studies.
Over the past five years, over 98% of History of Art postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many graduates enter occupations relating to gallery and museum management and curatorship; others pursue careers in academia. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: Barber Institute of Fine Arts; Birmingham Museums Trust; National Trust; National Portrait Gallery; Royal Birmingham Society of Artists; University of Birmingham; and the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust.