Are you fascinated by visual culture and exhibition practice? Do you want to pursue a career in the gallery and arts sectors?
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 curate an art exhibition in a public gallery. This will take place at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts on campus or at the Grand Union in Birmingham city centre.
We are also delighted to announce a new partnership with Royal Collection Trust. Students co-curating the exhibition at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts will have the exceptional opportunity of working with objects from the Royal Collection.
Please note: Places on this programme are limited due to the placement and curatorial experience, so early applications are encouraged and deadlines apply. See 'How to apply' in course details for more information.
This unique programme enables you to develop the knowledge and skills to conduct original research into art objects, to understand at first hand the history, theory and contemporary practice of their curation, to co-curate a public art exhibition and complete a 15,000-word dissertation.
The core components of the programme include the double module ‘Curatorial Practices’ that provides you with a range of skills to curate an exhibition and the opportunity to put those skills into practice, and two single modules, 'Postgraduate Research Training and Methods,' which will help you to develop essential research skills, and 'Criticism and Methods in the History of Art and Visual Culture,' which provides a theoretical foundation for your studies.
The programme also offers you the flexibility to select a further two options from a range of complementary practical, theoretical and historical modules. These include a placement with a local gallery or other arts organisation set up on your behalf; the history and theory of exhibitions; aesthetics and the philosophy of art. As a result, 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.
Your modules will be assessed by a range of written and oral assessments. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation, supported through one-to-one tutorials with your academic supervisor. Your dissertation topic is chosen by you, with close guidance from academic staff. Recent subjects have included topics relating to art history and/or gallery practices, such as art forgery; art interpretation; art dealers; films and aesthetic theory; art historiography; artist and exhibition case studies; fashion plates and art journals.
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 and sculptors, from Jan Steen to Rodin. We are also located in the heart of a thriving city with a vibrant portfolio of established and emerging art galleries and arts organisations.
- 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 and help plan, organise and participate in public lectures, research seminars and the History of Art annual symposia.
- Boost your employability skills – you will have the opportunity to complete an optional module where you will be able to take up a part-time 12-week placement in a local art institution such as Birmingham Museums Trust; Wolverhampton Art Gallery; RBSA; or Walsall Art Gallery.
- Enhance your knowledge on a range of topics - you will develop a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of a range of methods used in museum practices such as interpretation; modes of display; marketing; access and learning; administration and finance; art handling; digital technology.
- Extracurricular activities - The Department is home to the online Journal of Art Historiography and postgraduate students are invited to become editorial assistants. You also have the opportunity to volunteer at the Barber Institute. Read our official blog, The Golovine, for an insight into life within the Department.
The postgraduate experienceThe College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces to extra-curricular activities and funding opportunities. All of this and more is available on our beautiful 250-acre green and leafy campus. Learn more about the postgraduate experience
Learning and Teaching
The teaching on the MA programme mainly takes place in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which houses the Barber Institute Gallery, and is used by members of staff on a regular basis as part of your learning.
The Gallery features an excellent and representative collection of post-medieval European art, including paintings, engravings and drawings by artists such as Rembrandt, Turner, Van Dyck, Veronese and Vigée-LeBrun, as well as a major collection of 19th- and 20th-century works by artists such as Degas, Gauguin, Käthe Kollwitz, George Grosz, Manet, Miró, Picasso and Whistler.
The Barber Institute is home to an on-site research library which, in conjunction with the holdings of the University Main Library and the Special Collections of the Cadbury Research Library, makes Birmingham one of the best-resourced Departments of History of Art in Britain.
Support with academic writing
As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.
International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).
Candidates are expected to have an undergraduate degree in a related discipline with a qualification of 2:1 (or its academic equivalent). In your application, you should use your personal statement to explain why you wish to study this programme, with reference to any past and present experience you have on this subject.
We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
- by holding an English language qualification to the right level
- by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students
This school offers programs in:
Last updated October 31, 2018