MA International Contemporary Art: Curation and Business

Duration Full time 1 year
Part time 2 years
  • Art History & Visual Culture
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September


Building on the strong success of our Art History & Visual Culture course which was launched in 2013 at Exeter, our new MA International Contemporary Art: Curation and Business is international in focus and encourages an understanding of the social, cultural and economic issues that surround the contemporary art world. This MA will provide a degree that is both academically rigorous and provides a unique opportunities for professional training. Contemporary arts in their international and global perspective is the central focus.

The degree will give you a thorough grounding in the visual arts today, as seen in a global perspective. In particular, you will become familiar with the major centres of arts production around the world, the exhibition venues where contemporary art is shown, the critical context and theoretical approaches associated with contemporary arts practices and the social, cultural and economic bases for their development.

The degree will be of particular interest for students with a background or interests in the history of art, creative practice, museum studies, cultural history, philosophy, sociology, literature or modern languages, and it draws upon interdisciplinary research across these areas. It will develop a range of subject specific, academic and transferable skills, including high order conceptual and visual literacy and communication skills for the arts sector and beyond.

You will gain access to expert guest tutors and lecturers, international art fairs, London field trips and professional placements that will give your career an edge.

You will spend term 1 at our Streatham Campus in Exeter and then depending on the location of your placement, will stay in Exeter or relocate to London (or elsewhere) for the remainder of the course. The first part of term 2 (around 5 weeks) will be block taught at Autograph - an international gallery space within central London, in proximity to the fine art sector. The remainder of term 2 will be spent undertaking a work placement with a gallery, museum or corporate body/agency associated with the contemporary art world. In the final term you will complete your dissertation project on a topic that interests you.

Exeter ranks among the top 100 universities for the study of arts and humanities in the world, and across both our campuses we already have a dynamic portfolio of arts and culture activities which are highly valued by staff, students and partners. The University has launched the new Arts and Culture strategy, which has the College of Humanities as its institutional home and has a strong contemporary commissioning programme.

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.


A partnership-based approach to support opportunities for work placements in prestigious museums and galleries (public or commercial). Planning for placements will focus on venues in the SW, London and abroad.

Learning and teaching

Our lecturers are at the cutting edge of art, historical and visual culture research. Key members of staff specialise in the history of art and architecture, from the Renaissance to the present, the history, theory and practice of museums and collections, aspects of performance, installation, photography and video arts and visual culture from antiquity to the present day.

The MA International Contemporary Art: Curation and Business will be taught in Exeter (Term 1) and London (Term 2), giving you access to world-class resources.

The MA offers a unique combination of academic research-based modules and more practical, hands-on experience. Distinctive aspects of the MA are:

  • A working relationship with a host institution in London for teaching in Term 2. This will be an internationally focused contemporary art collection and venue at the centre of contemporary art in the world, and adjacent to galleries, studios and excellent transport links.
  • A three term MA programme, structured around four taught modules (delivered in terms 1 and 2), including a work placement, in addition to a dissertation (term 3).
  • Delivery of term 2 structured to support students choosing to remain in Exeter for the duration of the MA as well as those relocating to London following term 1.
  • Subsidised opportunities for students to visit collections/exhibitions frequently. This includes participation and on-site teaching at a major international art Biennale in term 1.
  • Extensive and appropriate use of invited museum/gallery professionals as guest speakers to contribute lectures to the taught modules as appropriate.


This programme will prepare you for graduate level employment by developing a number of the skills and attributes that are valued by employers.

  • engage imaginatively in the process of understanding and analysing contemporary international arts, and acquire the analytical tools necessary for an understanding of them.
  • promote a sense of the complex social, cultural, and institutional interactions between the production and reception of contemporary art and acquire the critical tools necessary to reflect upon these interactions.
  • engage critically with theoretical perspectives, major debates, and intellectual paradigms in the fields of art history, visual culture and arts criticism, and to encourage comparative reflection on the shared and contested knowledge produced therein.
  • understand the historical evolution of key concepts and procedures, in arts practice, art criticism and curatorship, and to consider the distinct and shared ways in which these concepts and procedures have developed within and beyond particular national traditions as well as different institutional contexts.
  • to develop a comparative understanding of the ways in which aesthetic judgements are constructed and aesthetic processes are experienced with regards to contemporary art.
  • acquire a sense of the distinctive social and cultural importance of the contemporary arts through an intellectually stimulating and satisfying experience of learning and studying.
  • develop the basis for further study in art history, gallery studies, or related disciplines.
  • develop a range of subject specific, academic and transferable skills, including high order conceptual and visual literacy and communication skills of value in graduate employment.

The MA will provide you with the opportunity to undertake a placement or research project with an organisation from the sector, enabling students to apply their knowledge in a business setting. A number of the University’s graduate attributes will be developed through study of the programme, including engaging as an active and committed global citizen.

The programme is international in its focus and encourages you to understand the social, cultural and economic issues that surround the contemporary art world. The skills you develop are therefore transferable into a broad range of employment contexts, both related to the arts sector and beyond. For example, the Art Writing module will equip you to: produce texts suitable for a variety of different platforms: including briefing documents, arts criticism, catalogue writing, exhibition texts, interpretation materials, podcasts and online content.

Potential career paths:

  • Public galleries / museums
  • Curation
  • Commercial galleries and dealerships
  • Arts Investment and Wealth Management
  • Arts and Culture Policy
  • Heritage Management
  • Academia
  • Culture Management: Government Departments / Advisory Boards
  • Marketing, PR and Communications


Entry requirements

Normally a minimum 2:1 Honours degree, or international equivalent, in a subject that includes some coverage of Art History & Visual Culture, Archiving, Art Conservation, Art Criticism, Arts Management, Business Studies (including Accounting, Economics and Finance), Culture and Heritage Management, Contemporary Art, Cultural Studies, Curation, Creative Practice, Drama, English, Gallery Management, History, Performance Studies, Museum Studies.

Applications from industry professionals, or applicants with relevant work experience, seeking an academic qualification or the opportunity to enhance your skills or knowledge in this field will also be considered. Candidates may also be asked to submit a portfolio of original work or called for interview (which may be by Skype, telephone or video link).

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section. 


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2020/21

  • UK/EU: £13,600 full-time, £6,800 part-time
  • International: £22,000

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,609 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2020.
Please note that this scholarship isn't offered for all our masters programmes.

Contact us

Admissions Office - Exeter

Web: Enquire online

Phone: 0300 555 6060 (UK callers)
+44 (0)1392 723044 (EU/International callers)

//unibuddy popcard script