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Curating Contemporary Design MA (in partnership with the Design Museum)

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year 2 days a week (Tuesday and Wednesday) September 2016
Part time 2 years 1 day a week (Tuesday/Wednesday) September 2016

Choose Kingston's Curating Contemporary Design MA

This ground-breaking MA is the only course of its kind. Enabling students to develop the skills to curate, interpret and communicate contemporary design within the museum and cultural sectors, it has gained an international reputation since it was established in 2001. The course attracts students from around the world from a wide range of practice and academic disciplines, a high percentage of whom go on to work at some of the world's most respected cultural institutions.

Design MuseumRun jointly with the Design Museum, this course is taught by leading curators and designers within the field. Through its projects at the Design Museum and with prestigious cultural organisations, such as the British Council, Architecture Foundation, British Museum and the V&A, the course gives you the opportunity to curate live projects and build your own professional profile. Ambitious international projects are an integral part of the curriculum, and graduates have gone on to successful careers around the world.

What will you study?

You will gain a grounding in the professional aspects of curatorial practice as well as first-hand experience in planning and organising exhibitions. This practical experience will be supported by modules in history and theory, ensuring you have a thorough knowledge of the ideas and context underpinning the display and curating of contemporary designed objects. There is a strong emphasis on gaining key employability skills for the sector, ensuring a high level of professional development. We develop live projects with leading organisations such as the British Council, Crafts Council and V&A Museum.

Design Museum

Students automatically become members of the Design Museum while they are studying – this gives access to exhibitions and private views, and priority booking for talks and events as the Museum. There is also the opportunity to participate in study trips to New York and China.


Curatorial project briefs, seminar presentations, essays, dissertation.

Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum

"There is nothing else like the Curating Contemporary Design MA. In the setting of a university that has produced many of the most significant designers of their generation, and of a museum that is working toward a move to a new, much larger home, there could be no better time or place to enrol for students looking to develop their skills and understanding of the practice and theory of design curating."

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.


  • This module provides the professional context for the whole programme. You will:

    • develop your understanding of the nature of and the complex inter-relationships between the commercial and public arts markets;
    • learn the fundamentals of economic theory and appraisal and investment techniques that underlie valuations of assets, including the use of IT and apply these to identified objects; and
    • develop business skills, organisational knowledge and professional conduct and ethics.

    You learn through lectures, IT workshops and seminars. Assessment is by:

    • a 3,000 word case study;
    • two seminar papers; and
    • an IT workshop.
  • The curating team at the Design Museum teach this module. It brings you into contact with:

    • the key elements of exhibition curating;
    • team work with designers;
    • graphic studios;
    • educationalists; and
    • fund raising.

    Work experience is also an important part of this module. Most students work on an aspect of the Design Museum's programme, but there are also opportunities to work at the Science Museum, Crafts Council, V&A, Museum of London and the Geffrye Museum.

  • This course provides an historical framework of collecting and curating design from the mid-19th century onwards. It will:

    • identify key models and critical writings - enabling you to understand case studies of the development of Western and American museums;
    • explore the complex relationships between theory and practice; and
    • enable you to gain a critical evaluation of how the past has informed contemporary collecting practice in museums.
  • Making Of The Modern World investigates key aspects of design history through the consideration of national identities, design movements, culture and consumption.

    Covering such a large period of over 100 years, the module aims to demonstrate the changing processes of design as they occur within the paradigmatic schemes of modernism and postmodernism.

    The programme includes curatorial visits around design collections and organisations and two live curatorial briefs set around contemporary design.

  • The final project enables students to develop an aspect of their curatorial practice into either a theoretical piece or project.

    During the course of the MA, students will develop their academic skills through research and essay writing, these skills will be supplemented by working on curatorial briefs and delivering presentations.

    The final project offers students the opportunity to consolidate all their learning and provide themselves with a platform for further study or employment. Final projects can include exhibition proposals, live projects or written work.

  • A week-long trip for which an additional fee is charged.

    This course is part of a series of study visits you can take for course credits. It offers a first-hand experience of the visual culture of one of the world's most exciting cities – New York.

    The course is divided into three parts:

    • part 1 includes introductory talks about the art and design of the city before the visit;
    • part 2 consists of five full-days of guided visits to major galleries and museums in New York, plus the opportunity to meet curators and artists working in leading institutions;
    • Part 3 consists of seminars and an essay presentation on New York.

    We encourage you to develop visual diaries whilst in New York, which you can work up for assessment on return.


You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

For further information:

Postgraduate admissions administrator
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 4646
Email us


This course is taught at Knights Park and the Design Museum, London

View Knights Park and the Design Museum, London on our Google Maps

For further information:

Postgraduate admissions administrator
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 4646
Email us


This course is taught at Knights Park and the Design Museum, London

View Knights Park and the Design Museum, London on our Google Maps
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