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Study information

Curatorial Project

Module titleCuratorial Project
Module codeAHVM006
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Professor Tom Trevor (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The final curatorial project is an opportunity to put your research into practice, and to set out your stall for a potential future professional career. The module requires you to conceive, plan and deliver a project for a public audience in whatever form is most appropriate to the curatorial concept, within the context of contemporary art. In addition, you will be required to submit a project evaluation, along with documentation of the project, including a synopsis of the curatorial concept, any related artists’ texts, publicity and interpretation materials, an appraisal of audience engagement, a budget and project timeline, and a portfolio of the administrative tasks undertaken, such as risk assessments, public liability insurance, transport and key correspondence.

This module builds upon work initiated and developed in earlier modules and as such represents the realisation of an ambitious final curatorial project that is informed by the overarching learning process of the MA as a whole.

The general form of the curated project must be agreed with the MA supervisor well in advance. You may work collectively with other students, as a group, on the curation and delivery of the practical elements of the module, with pre-agreed delegated responsibilities, subject to approval at the outset. However, each student will be required to submit their project proposal individually, including a clear outline of their role within the proposed project team, and to present this proposal at the curatorial project symposium. If you choose to work as a collective, your practical contribution to the final project will still be assessed individually, along with your portfolio and written texts.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aims of this module are to provide you with opportunities to:

  • Demonstrate your capacity to develop and deliver an original and engaging curatorial project for a public audience
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of and critical engagement in the field of contemporary art

The curatorial project is the culmination of the MA programme. It requires you to conceive, plan, research and deliver a curated project, within the context of international contemporary art. The project provides you with the opportunity to test your learning, display your subject knowledge and methodological skills, and to put your research into practice; effectively acting as a ‘calling card’ for your future professional career.

The aim of this module is also to provide you with an alternative form of assessment to the traditional written dissertation. In lieu of the written dissertation you will therefore submit a portfolio of practical work relating to the curatorial project, along with related texts. The precise contents of the portfolio of assessed work will inevitably vary from project to project. However, the general form of the submission must be agreed with the MA supervisor well in advance of the project – and the plan for this should be included as part of the curatorial project proposal. The portfolio must, however, contain the following two elements: an introductory critical essay that sets out the curatorial concept and a series of individual texts, relating to each of the artists and exhibits included in the project. This written work will be supported by supplementary materials, including documentation of the final project, as well as any related publicity and interpretation texts. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an advanced ability to formulate a research proposal and to plan and execute advanced research through practice
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced ability to critically evaluate and analyse current research and/or curatorial practices in the contemporary art world and in your chosen area of enquiry
  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced ability to use and apply a range of research techniques and practical methodologies and/or curatorial practices appropriate to the discipline and to your chosen area of enquiry
  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate and to revise your own academic work and curatorial practice in the light of feedback from the supervisor and peers

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to devise, research, and execute a programme of research through a practice-based curatorial project in relation to contemporary art and the contemporary art world
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced and autonomous ability to research and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, along with historical materials, and to apply these ideas to contemporary art through practice-based curation
  • 7. Demonstrate an advanced ability to digest, select, and organise interdisciplinary material and to incorporate these within a contemporary art project

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Through the planning and organisation of a curatorial project, demonstrate independence of thought and confidence in developing ideas and formulating questions
  • 9. Through the compilation of a written evaluation of the curatorial project, demonstrate an understanding of professional standards and industry conventions, analysis and learning within curatorial practice, and the formulation of written work of substantial length, detail and some originality
  • 10. Through collaborative team work and responses to constructive peer feedback, demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature ability to reflect upon and strengthen curatorial practice, as part of developing the skills necessary for professional life

Syllabus plan

You are encouraged to begin to think about potential ideas for the curatorial project early in Term 2. You should do this in discussion with the course tutors.

  • You will be required to develop and submit an initial proposal by mid-way through Term 2. Once the initial proposal has been submitted, you are assigned to a supervisor with interests and knowledge appropriate to the chosen topic.
  • You are also required to present your proposal at the curatorial project symposium that takes place at the start of Term 3.
  • You will then work closely in Term 3 with your allotted supervisor to develop and bring your project to completion. 
  • Supervisions (up to five in total) should take place: early in the process to discuss the focus and direction of the research; following the evaluation of the project proposal, to set out a plan of work and to discuss major conceptual, methodological and practical issues relevant to the project; and later in the process to discuss progress and support the production and delivery of the project; then, finally, to receive feedback on the draft critical essay and individual artists’ texts, that supervisors can read in detail. The curatorial project supervision can take many forms, including face-to-face office meetings, telephone conversations, skype (VOIP) calls or e-mail. You are responsible for working out a plan for supervision early in the process. 
  • The curatorial project will be realised during Term 3, as agreed with your course tutor

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 15One workshop and five supervision sessions, of between 30-60 minutes, to be agreed in advance, plus email and other forms of support in relation to the delivery of the project and feedback on draft essays
Guided Independent Study585To include reading, project research and writing preparation for supervision sessions. Development of the curatorial project proposal, securing an exhibition venue and/or gaining site permissions, building institutional partnerships, liaising with artists and/or collections, preparing marketing materials, managing the budget, organising delivery of the project, and writing the final critical essay and individual artists’ texts.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Curatorial project proposal500-700 words1- 3, 5-6, 8Feedback will be provided by the project supervisor
Individual presentation of the proposal at the curatorial project symposium10-15 minutes1-10Group feedback will be provided in the symposium, with additional 1:1 feedback given by the project supervisor in tutorials

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project Evaluation408000 words1-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutor follow up
Practical work of the curatorial project60Precise requirements to be confirmed with the MA supervisor1-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutor follow up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Project EvaluationProject Evaluation1-10Referral/Deferral period
PracticalPractical1-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Bourriaud, N. Relational Aesthetics, Les Presse Du Reel, 1998
  • George, A. The Curator’s Handbook, Thames & Hudson, 2015
  • Obrist, H. Ways of Curating, Penguin, 2014
  • Obrist, H. A brief history of curating, JRP|Ringier, 2012
  • O’Doherty, B. Inside the White Cube, University of California Press, 1999
  • O’Neill, P. The culture of curating and the curating of culture(s), MIT Press, 2012
  • Steeds, L. Exhibition, MIT/Whitechapel Gallery, 2014

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Documents of Contemporary Art series, MIT/Whitechapel Gallery
  • Exhibition Histories series, Afterall

Key words search

Contemporary art; visual art; art curator; curatorial practice; galleries; museums; art collections; collectors; art fairs; auction houses; biennials; socially engaged art; site-specific installation; context-led art projects

Credit value60
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date