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Art & Design History and Practice BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time V3U8 2017
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2017

This course was previously called Art & Design: History, Communication, Curation BA(Hons).

Why choose this course?

This course is for those passionate about understanding, interpreting and communicating art and design. It offers a combination of academic teaching in art and design history and hands-on practice projects inspired by our creative art school environment. This distinctive mix will equip you with the knowledge, skills and networks desirable for a range of careers working in and with the thriving creative and cultural industries.

You will be taught by a range of experts in histories and theories of art and design who are internationally recognized for their work as academics, researchers, writers, curators and critics. You will learn through a lively programme of lectures, seminars, visits and live projects that include activities such as writing essays, curating exhibitions and writing exhibition reviews, delivering presentations, creating digital and physical publications, blog writing and filmmaking.

Industry partnerships

Kingston is an associate of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). You will get free membership, participate in seminars and events, and have the opportunity to become a Kingston/ICA intern.

Our Stanley Picker Gallery is dedicated to innovative new practice across art, design and architecture. You may participate in events and projects and develop curatorial and programming experience.

Housing modernist design and art collections, Dorich House Museum is 'one of Kingston's hidden treasures'. You may participate in and propose events and projects and can apply for a range of volunteering opportunities to gain museum experience.

We will support you in securing work experience or internships. Past students have worked at: the Barbican; Estorick Gallery; ICA; Stanley Picker Gallery; V&A Museum; and Tate Galleries.

What you will study

We have structured our course through three interrelated strands: 'knowledge' 'skills' and 'thinking'. These will define the modules you will experience each year and ensure you have both the expertise in art and design history and the skills and networks to communicate this in a range of media.

  • In 'knowledge' modules you will study alongside art and design students to learn histories and theories of art and design past and present.
  • In our innovative 'skills' modules you will engage in hands-on learning and live projects that will encourage experimentation and risk-taking in order to develop critical, creative and professional skills.
  • The 'thinking' modules focus on developing your skills in conducting, interpreting and communicating research.

Year 1 introduces you to both key topics in art and design history and theory and fundamental skills to conduct, interpret and communicate research. Our innovative studio-based 'skills' module Thinking Through Practice enables a first-hand understand of art and design practice and introduces skills and experiences to help your development as creative and critical thinkers.

In Year 2 you will develop your individual expertise and interests by focusing on contemporary issues and approaches in art and design practice and research. You will also collaborate on a live publishing project that will develop your professional skills and critical understanding of the creative and cultural industries.

Year 3 focuses on developing and displaying your work as an independent and creative researcher. You will study a specialist subject based on the latest research in art and design history, and identify an original research topic for your dissertation. Lastly, you will collaborate on an exhibition to bring together and publically showcase your expertise, research and communication skills and creative and critical thinking.

Module listing

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.

Year 1

  • This module focuses on key methods in the processes of research and its interpretation and communication. Through a series of thematically structured, contemporary focused encounters with key artefacts, texts, events and sites from the late 19th century to the present, it aims to develop your knowledge and skills in a range of methods related to the history and theory of the production, consumption and mediation of art and design. The module interrogates core concepts in the disciplines of art and design history and theory and introduces key methods for the identification and interpretation of research material, including: conducting oral history, using archives, and employing material culture and gendered approaches to objects. The module also introduces you to key methods in communicative and interpretative activities such as different curation and critical writing modes. This combination of methods will connect your research-based practice to contemporary audiences interested in art and design past and present, providing key skills for professional careers. Finally, the module will develop your critically informed awareness of your own research-based practice.

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  • This module explores the creative environment of the Kingston Art School through a close engagement with its highly regarded foundation programme and extensive workshop facilities. The module is a key component of the course's unique practice-based character: it provides a foundational platform of skills and experiences to be built on throughout the life of the course. It does so in a number of interrelated ways. First, the module provides the opportunity for you to develop your understanding of contemporary art and design culture by exploring first-hand how artists and designers practise: how they conceive, research, develop, execute, communicate and reflect on their ideas. Furthermore, you will become immersed in the ‘thinking through making' ethos of the Faculty, proving them with an access point into its creative environment that will increase the potential for future engagement and collaborations. A key aim of the module is the development of professional skills: through their engagement in individual and collaborative projects that will involve identifying, setting and solving problems, experimentation, testing, risk-taking, reiteration and reflection, the module will initiate your development as creative and critical thinkers endowed with the dynamism and skills necessary for careers in the creative and cultural industries.

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  • This module introduces the various contexts in which the contemporary practices of art, photography and independent filmmaking are defined, debated and displayed. It is designed to support your first steps as practitioners within the wider field of the visual arts in the 21st century. Through lectures, discussions, screenings and exhibition visits you will be introduced to the historical framework of modernity and post-modernity in order to understand the development and contemporary situation of your own discipline.

    The module is organised as discrete but related teaching blocks that progress from broader questions of cultural practice to the more specific debates that have framed the historical development of the related practices of fine art, independent film and photography. In the first block, emphasis is placed on the notion of practice in the visual arts by addressing the historical, theoretical, social and political factors that have affected our understanding of its function. In the second block, you will pursue programme-specific strands that focus on the key debates, theoretical questions and changing contexts of each discipline. Throughout there is an emphasis on the introduction of key analytical, critical and research skills, and through close engagement with visual sources, historical texts and contemporary critical writing you will begin to develop the tools necessary to discuss, conceptualise and reflect on your own emerging practice.

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  • This module presents thematic approaches to the study of product and furniture design as an historical subject. Through image-based lectures, discussions and study visits, you will be introduced to the historical development of product and furniture design from the 1750s to the present day. You will consider the evolution of the design practices and professions, and the role of changing design and production technologies and techniques. Each session is intended to address particular ideas and practices that have shaped and constructed our contemporary understanding of product and furniture design as a meaningful social, cultural and economic activity. The module engages with critical texts to allow you to examine the relationship between theory and practice in product and furniture design, and to develop an understanding of the emergence of product and furniture design as a cultural response to modernity. Key themes will be explored, including: the evolution of design practices and professions, the relationship between politics, labour, craft and technology, taste and display, consumption and design, consumer advocacy and sustainability, alternative approaches to design practice, and the impact of digital technologies. An integral part of this module is the close consideration of designed objects and images, and the understanding of these in relation to larger contexts of meaning and interpretation.

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Year 2

  • This module builds on your introduction to key concepts in methods for research and its interpretation and communication at Level 4. It updates the knowledge and skills acquired at Level 4 and offers opportunities to apply these by focusing on the contemporary and interrogating studio-based practice. The module will focus on critical themes and issues in contemporary research practice in art and design history, as performed by researchers including academics, curators and art and design practitioners. The module will interrogate the shifting relationship between art and design history, theory and studio-based research practice. You will correspondingly explore a range of creative interpretative and communicative research-based activities such as exhibition making, curation, policy writing, and academic publishing. This will develop skills in producing research for a variety of media, aims and audiences.

    The module is designed to support students' learning across their Level 5 modules, enabling them to create the critical framework within which to explore current issues in art and design practice, interpret the production, consumption and display of historical and contemporary artefacts, and develop their own informed practical approaches to the communication of art and design history and theory using these as disciplines with which to interrogate contemporary art and design culture. Throughout, students will establish a clear position for themselves, and present (in spoken and written form) their interests and perspectives.

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  • This module aims to explore the professional contexts of art and design in two ways that together will provide you with the opportunity to develop  your employability and reflect on your professional ambitions. The first part of the module engages with the concept of the creative and cultural industries, assessing their role within the UK and globally. This may involve addressing the role of the art market, media and cultural institutions and policy. The outcome of this part will be a report in which you analyse and critique a particular strand within the creative and cultural industries in relation to your own career aspirations. This investigation also allows you to research possible opportunities for work experience. The second part of the module asks you to collaborate on a live project with a negotiated outcome as a way of demonstrating your professional awareness, team-working and research and communication skills. The specific nature of the collaborative project will be determined by negotiation with the module team and in response to emerging and self-initiated opportunities. Alongside this, the reflective journal provides an ongoing forum for exploration of relationship between cultural critiques of the culture and creative industries, the development of research and creative skills and your own sense of professional positioning. The journal can also be employed to reflect on any appropriate work experience undertaken. You will be required to identify these opportunities for yourself, however there will also be a limited number of competitive internship places offered.

    Through a publication or programming or curatorial or archival project, this module investigates the different possibilities and contexts for writing and presenting the history and theory of art, design, architecture and film. You will critically analyse key pieces of writing, curating, programming and archiving, developing an understanding of them as particular practices with complex relations to their object. Across this range, the different possibilities for writing and presenting within each field will be elaborated, as will the potential for cross-disciplinary and cross-genre exchange. The assessment task will allow you to engage and experiment with different kinds of writing, curating, programming and archiving, thus demonstrating your skills.

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  • Choose one from the following:

    • Building on the thematic and historical context introduced at Level 4 (Year 1), this module enables you to create a theoretical framework within which to investigate and understand some of the critical issues affecting the practice and interpretation of contemporary filmmaking. With a close focus on analysis of key case studies, a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, and group and individual screenings inform and support your own emerging research interests and the development of independent visual and academic research skills common to both the historical and theoretical study of film and practice of filmmaking. With reference to important concepts and primary texts that have informed the development of film theory, you will acquire the knowledge and analytical skills to build a framework within which to engage with the critical contexts in which filmmaking operates today. You will also develop research methods appropriate to the study and practice of your discipline, propose an area of research for development at Level 6 (Year 3), and begin to contextualise and make sense of the concerns emerging in your own practice.

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    • This module will engage you with the critical issues driving contemporary art practice within the expanded field in which it operates. Emphasising practical, experiential research-led enquiry and reflection as an integral mode of learning common to both art practice and the study of art's histories and theories, you will identify, explore and analyse current trends by investigating the contexts in which those issues emerge-in critical literature, art writing, exhibitions and curatorial agenda. You will be looking outwards to address the contemporary manifestations of the relationships between, for example, art and politics, the operation of global capital, activism and community, changing sites and spaces of the production of meaning, the politics of identity, and contemporary turns in philosophy and critical theory. The module also encourages you to reflect and begin to situate yourself. Making links and interpreting the themes emerging in your own practice. The module provides you with the building blocks with which to construct an informed critical and conceptual framework within which to operate while forging connections to wider artistic networks and contexts beyond the studio. 

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    • Building on the historical contexts introduced at Level 4 (Year 1), this module concentrates on the theoretical frameworks in which photography is produced, consumed and interpreted today. Introducing case studies emerging from current trends in contemporary photographic practice, the module is taught as a combination of lecture, seminar, workshop and exhibition visits through which you will be encouraged and enabled to identify and experience the vital links between practice and research. The political, social, philosophical and aesthetic issues driving current practice will be introduced via lecture and seminar discussion, focused and deepened through independent reading and research, and applied and evaluated through workshops on research practice. With reference to key texts that have informed the development of photographic theory, you will acquire the knowledge and analytical skills to build a framework within which to engage with the critical contexts in which photography operates. You will also develop research methods appropriate to the study and practice of their discipline, propose an area of research for development at Level 6, and begin to contextualise and make sense of the concerns emerging in your own practice.

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  • Choose from the following:

    • This module builds on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 (Year 1) and emphasises the theorisation of contemporary fashion practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and supports your own emerging research interests and the development of independent visual and academic research skills that cross history/theory and design practise. Lectures and seminars will deepen critical and theoretical engagement with contemporary issues in fashion. Seminar tasks and assessments are carefully designed to foreground projects that support the location of fashion as a discipline. Research methodologies are introduced though case studies and practical activities that reflect the issues explored through the module's contemporary content.

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    • This module builds on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 (Year 2) and emphasises the theorisation of contemporary furniture and product design practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and support your own emerging research interests and the development of independent visual and academic research skills that cross history/theory and design practice. Lectures and seminars will deepen critical and theoretical engagement with contemporary issues in furniture and product design. Seminar tasks and assessments are carefully designed to foreground projects that support the location of furniture and product design as a discipline. Research methodologies are introduced though case studies and practical activities that reflect the issues explored through the module's contemporary content.

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    • This module builds on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 (Year 1) and emphasises the theorisation of contemporary graphic design practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and support your own emerging research interests and the development of independent visual and academic research skills that cross history/theory and design practice. Lectures and seminars will deepen critical and theoretical engagement with contemporary issues in graphic design. Seminar tasks and assessments are carefully designed to foreground projects that support the location of graphic design as a discipline. Research methodologies are introduced through case studies and practical activities that reflect the issues explored through the module's contemporary content.

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    • Building on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 (Year 1), this module focuses on the theorisation of discipline-specific issues arising in the contemporary practices of animation and illustration. Through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and relevant fieldwork visits, you will deepen your knowledge of your discipline. At the same time you will develop your own emerging research interests and independent visual and academic research skills common to historical and theoretical studies and design practice. With a focus on the development and intertextuality of visual narrative forms in the structuring of meaning, the module applies this understanding to contemporary case studies. Lectures and seminars will deepen critical and theoretical engagement with current issues through appropriate case studies and bodies of interpretative material. Workshop tasks and assessments are carefully designed to foreground projects that support your understanding of their own discipline within the wider of context of design practice. Appropriate research methods are introduced through practical activities that reflect on issues arising in the module's contemporary content and that are developed through your independent research into an area of your own choosing.

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    • This module builds on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 (Year 1) and emphasises the theorisation of interior design practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and supports your own emerging research interests and the development of independent visual and academic research skills that cross history/theory and design practice. Lectures and seminars will deepen critical and theoretical engagement with contemporary issues in interior design. Seminar tasks and assessments are carefully designed to foreground projects that support the location of interior design as a discipline. Research methodologies are introduced though case studies and practical activities that reflect the issues explored through the module's content.

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Year 3

  • Building on the links between research and practice embedded at Level 5, the critical and historical studies (CHS) Dissertation: Research and Reflection module focuses on in-depth research, critical enquiry and reflection on questions and critical issues emerging in your own practice, and pertinent to the practice of your own discipline.

    Throughout the module, you will initiate and develop an individual research topic; identify and evaluate appropriate archives, bodies of critical literature, visual/material sources and research methods; manage your study time; engage with and respond to tutorial dialogue and peer feedback, and apply critical and analytical skills to produce a 6,000-word written dissertation, supported by a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials.

    Following the submission of the dissertation, and to support the realisation of studio capstone projects, you will be assisted with the conception and development of an individual statement that enables self-reflection and locates you within the contemporary contexts of your discipline. Consolidating the research, reflexive and critical skills acquired throughout your programme of study, the statement engages and applies learning undertaken within CHS modules to studio practice, supporting your self-presentation at the Degree Show, in future postgraduate study, and/or professional practice in a variety of art and design contexts.

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  • This module forms the capstone project of the Art & Design: History, Communication, Curation BA(Hons) course; the final and most prominent project you will undertake. The module builds on the skills and experience acquired during Level 5, in particular in the Professional Practice module. It brings together the expertise, research and communication skills developed throughout the whole course, and furthermore, provides a platform for the public demonstration of the your transferable skills in histories and theories of art and design, and curatorial and critical writing practice. In particular, it provides an opportunity for you to synthesise your abilities and interests and reflect on how research can be made manifest, visible and impactful for diverse audiences. The particular form of display (exhibition) will be developed in consultation with the module teaching team, and could be conducted in variety of forms or modes, such as a pop-up exhibition, an online curatorial project, commissioning, programming or other kinds of event-making. As a collaborative activity, it gives you the opportunity to devise roles for yourself, hone your ability to work cooperatively and enhance your entrepreneurial thinking. Alongside this, you will be completing your individual portfolio, which document your research, critical and creative skills, the projects initiated or involved in, and you future aspirations. The portfolio is supported though a tutorial process.

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  • The special topic is an opportunity for a responsive, research-led module. The specific subject can be defined in relation to a particular staff member's research or may have a more thematic drive drawing on convergent aspects in interests across the staff team.

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You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Study abroad as part if your degreeMost of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

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