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Art & Design History and Practice BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time V3U8 2018
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2018

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

Why choose this course?

This course combines learning about art and design history with creative activities inspired by our art school environment. You will learn through a mix of lectures, seminars, workshops and cultural visits.

Our teaching will help you understand, interpret and communicate histories and theories of art and design. You will apply your academic knowledge to live projects, such as curating exhibitions, creating digital and print publications, film making and writing blogs. You will also participate in events at our Stanley Picker Gallery and Dorich House Museum as part of your learning and professional development.

Kingston University is an associate of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). You will receive free membership, participate in seminars and events, and have the opportunity to become a Kingston/ICA intern. Our students have also gained work experience and internships at the Barbican, the Estorick Collection, the V&A Museum and the Tate galleries.

What you will study

This degree comprises three strands: 'Knowledge', 'Skills' and 'Thinking'. In Knowledge modules you will learn global histories and theories of art and design from the 19th century to today. Skills modules involve hands-on activities such as printmaking, photography, publishing to help develop your critical, creative and professional skills. Thinking modules focus on methods for conducting, interpreting and communicating academic research. This combination of academic and creative activities will enable professional skills desirable in the creative and cultural industries.

Year 1 introduces key topics in art and design history and theory, and core skills to conduct, interpret and communicate research. Our innovative Thinking Through Practice module explores art and design practice, introducing skills and experiences to help you develop as a creative and critical thinker.

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

Year 3 focuses on developing and displaying your work as an independent and creative researcher. You will study a specialist subject based on new research in art and design history, and explore an original research topic for your dissertation. The year will culminate in collaborating on a public exhibition combining 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 students' 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 students to key methods in communicative and interpretative activities such as different curation and critical writing modes. This combination of methods will connect their research-based practice to contemporary audiences interested in art and design past and present, providing be key skills for professional careers. Finally, the module will develop students' critically informed awareness of their 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 students to develop their understanding of contemporary art and design culture by exploring first-hand how artists and designers practice: how they conceive, research, develop, execute, communicate and reflect on their ideas. Furthermore, students 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 the students' 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 presents thematic approaches to the study of product and furniture design as an historical subject. Through image-based lectures, discussions and study visits, students will be introduced to the historical development of product and furniture design from the 1750s to the present day. Students 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 students 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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  • This module introduces the various contexts in which the contemporary practices of fine art, are defined, debated and displayed. The module is designed to support students' first steps as practitioners within the wider field of the visual arts in the 21st century. Through lectures, discussions, screenings and exhibition visits they will be introduced to the historical framework of modernity and post-modernity in order to understand the development and contemporary situation of their 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 fine art and its associated fields - for example experimental filmmaking, video making and photography. In the first block, the emphasis is broad and focused on developing in students, an understanding of 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, students will be encouraged to consider the key debates, theoretical questions and changing contexts that inform their 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, students will begin to develop the tools necessary to discuss, conceptualise and reflect on their own emerging practice.

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Year 2

  • This module builds on students' 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.  Students 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 the students with the opportunity to develop their employability and reflect on their 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 students analyse and critique a particular strand within the creative and cultural industries in relation to their own career aspirations. This investigation also allows them to research possible opportunities for work experience. The second part of the module asks students to collaborate on a live project with a negotiated outcome as a way of demonstrating their 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 the student's own sense of professional positioning. The journal can also be employed to reflect on any appropriate work experience undertaken. Students will be required to identify these opportunities for themselves, however there will also be a limited number of competitive internship place 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. Students 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 students to engage and experiment with different kinds of writing, curating, programming and archiving, thus demonstrating their skills.

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  • Choose one from the following:

    • This module engages students 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, students 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. 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 students to reflect and begin to situate themselves. Making links and interpreting the themes emerging in their own practice, the module provides students with the building blocks with which to construct an informed critical and conceptual framework within which operate while forging connections to wider artistic networks and contexts beyond the studio.

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    • Building on the thematic and historical context introduced at Level 4, this module enables students 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 students' 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, students will acquire the knowledge and analytical skills to build a framework within which to engage with the critical contexts in which filmmaking operates today. They 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 their own practice.

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    • Building on the historical contexts introduced at Level 4, 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 students 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, students will acquire the knowledge and analytical skills to build a framework within which to engage with the critical contexts in which photography operates. They 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 their own practice.

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  • Choose from the following:

    • This module builds on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 and emphasises the theorisation of contemporary fashion practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and supports students' 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 and emphasises the theorisation of contemporary furniture and product design practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and support students' 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 and emphasises the theorisation of contemporary graphic design practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and support students' 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, 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, students will deepen their knowledge of their discipline. At the same time they will develop their 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 students' 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 students' independent research into an area of their own choosing.

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    • This module builds on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 and emphasises the theorisation of interior design practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and supports students' 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 students' own practice, and pertinent to the practice of their own discipline.

    Over the module, students will initiate and develop an individual research topic; identify and evaluate appropriate archives, bodies of critical literature, visual/material sources and research methods; manage their 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, students will be assisted with the conception and development of an individual Statement that enables self-reflection and locates students within the contemporary contexts of their discipline. Consolidating the research, reflexive and critical skills acquired throughout students' programme of study, the Statement engages and applies learning undertaken within CHS modules to studio practice, supporting students' self-presentation at Degree Show, in future post-graduate 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 course; the final and most prominent project students 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 students' transferable skills in histories and theories of art and design, and curatorial and critical writing practice. In particular, it provides an opportunity for students to synthesise their 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 students the opportunity to devise roles for themselves, hone their ability to work cooperatively and enhance their entrepreneurial thinking. Alongside this, students will be completing their individual portfolios, which document their research, critical and creative skills, the projects initiated or involved in, and their 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.

Most 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.

A copy of the regulations governing this course is available here

Details of terms dates for this course can be found here

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This course is taught at Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

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This course is taught at Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

View Kingston School of Art, Knights Park on our Google Maps
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