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Curating the Contemporary - MA

Why study this course?

A practice-into-theory MA that will launch your career in contemporary art taught jointly with Whitechapel Gallery; it will give you the chance to do a placement at a world-renowned gallery and Whitechapel Gallery.

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This is a professional course, devised and taught with our partner, the internationally renowned Whitechapel Gallery. Through direct involvement in the life cycle of the gallery, you will will acquire the key skills and knowledge of curatorial practice as well as an informed understanding of the contemporary visual arts. You will also gain a broad range of transferable skills in communication, management, research and analysis.

The MA Curating the Contemporary partnership and programme is unique among courses of its type. It provides theory into practice experiential learning of a kind and quality that will be invaluable to you when seeking future employment in the industry. 

Moreover, our students work with our exhibition partners in London and abroad to curate major shows. These have included: Me-Collection/Olbricht Foundation, Berlin, Government Art Collection, London, Zabludowicz Collection, London, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and many others.

Other students have gone on to have successful careers as curators, painters, art writers and publicists. Take a look at their blog Curating the Contemporary to discover more.


You will be assessed via a variety of methods, including project work (exhibitions), essays, archival investigation and a major research project. Assessment will also be based on evaluation of your individual contributions in the live curatorial environment through placements and exhibitions of professional artists curated by students.

You will be required to have:

  • a relevant upper second class honours degree in a related discipline (professional qualifications from accredited museums and public galleries may also be considered)

We interview all prospective applicants in person.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

The course is designed to facilitate an integration of academic elements and work done through on-site curatorial practice. The course comprises lectures, seminars and tutorials at the University with appropriate training, mentoring and professional development at Whitechapel Gallery.

Curating students also undertake two major exhibition projects featuring national and international artists. These are developed with our external exhibition partners and supervised by teaching staff. Partners past and present include: ME-Collector’s Room in Berlin, Government Art Collection (GAC) London, David Roberts Foundation in London, Nomas Foundation in Rome, Kadist Foundation in Paris, among others. Students also have access to The Cass Gallery at the University.

Core modules include:

Year one:

  • History of Curating: Practices and Theories of Display
  • Workplace Observation Module: Whitechapel Gallery
  • Writing About Art: Curatorial Workshops

Year two:

  • Research Methods and Project
  • Major Curatorial Project
  • Curatorial Practice and Mentoring
  • Professional Practice: Whitechapel Gallery

Successful completion of this course offers significantly improved career opportunities in the arts sector including roles in exhibition curating, collections management, gallery education, fundraising, gallery management and administration, press and publicity, publishing, journalism, art criticism and as arts entrepreneurs in the creative economy.

Our graduates have found employment with major public spaces and commercial galleries in the UK and abroad including GoMA-Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, the Whitechapel Gallery, and the Foundling Museum, London, among others .

Between 2016 and 2020 we're investing £125 million in the London Metropolitan University campus, moving all of our activity to our current Holloway campus in Islington, north London. This will mean the teaching location of some courses will change over time.

Whether you will be affected will depend on the duration of your course, when you start and your mode of study. The earliest moves affecting new students will be in September 2017. This may mean you begin your course at one location, but over the duration of the course you are relocated to one of our other campuses. Our intention is that no full-time student will change campus more than once during a course of typical duration.

All students will benefit from our move to one campus, which will allow us to develop state-of-the-art facilities, flexible teaching areas and stunning social spaces.

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

How to apply

Use the apply button to begin your application.

When to apply

You are advised to apply as early as possible as applications will only be considered if there are places available on the course.

Our places are limited as we work with a number of external partners to ensure the best student learning experience regarding professional internships and curatorial projects.


Fees and key information


News and success stories

Meet the team