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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 2018
Full time 2 years including professional placement 2 days a week (Tuesday and Wednesday) plus placement year
September 2018
Part time 2 years 1 day a week (Tuesday/Wednesday)
September 2018

Choose Kingston's Curating Contemporary Design MA

Run jointly with the Design Museum, London this course is taught by leading curators and designers within the field. Through its projects at the Design Museum and with prestigious cultural organisations, including 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.

The Kingston School of Art environment, which includes the Stanley Picker Gallery, Dorich House Museum and outstanding workshop facilities, encourages creativity and experimentation as responses to interrogations of contemporary conditions and concerns.

The course is unique as it is both research and practice-led in the field of curatorial studies. The course has taught aspiring curators for more than 15 years and is widely recognised as a pioneer of its kind leading the new discipline of design curation. Graduates have pursued successful careers in museums, galleries and cultural organisations around the world and the course has developed an extensive international network of curators.

This degree is taught in the Department of Creative and Cultural Industries, part of Kingston School of Art.

Key features

  • Professional practice modules at the Design Museum underpin modules on the history and theory of curating and design taught at Kingston School of Art.
  • A strong focus of the course is on project work with project briefs set by leading curators and designers which can be experimental or address real world issues. The projects are designed to develop skills in research, analysis, experimentation, communication and presentation to peers, tutors, industry and collaborative partners.
  • The partnership with the Design Museum offers access to inspiring curators and experienced museum staff and also to the Design Museum's collections, library, archives and a changing programme of exhibitions and events.
  • Study Visits throughout the year and during an international study trip bring you in contact with design and curatorial studio practice, museums, galleries and alternative curatorial spaces and format. Previously, the course visited New York, Berlin and Amsterdam.
  • The art school context provides students with direct contact to contemporary designers, artists and architects and encourages interdisciplinary collaborations which have included MA courses such as Sustainable Design, Fashion, Art and Design History, Art Market and Appraisal.
  • The outstanding workshops at KSA are accessible to all students and collaborations with the Stanley Picker Gallery and Dorich House Museum allow for experimentation with curatorial formats, media and techniques.

Guest speakers in recent years have included:

  • Simon Andrews (Christies)
  • Marloes van Bhomer
  • Annabella Campbell (Crafts Council)
  • Oriole Cullen (V&A)
  • Niamh Dillon (British Library) 
  • Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg 
  • El Ultimo Grito
  • Edwin Heathcote (Financial Times)
  • Matylda Krzykowski (Depot Basel)
  • Onkar Kular
  • Olivia Oldroyd (V&A)
  • Mariana Pestara (V&A)
  • Lucia Pietroiusti (Serpentine Gallery)
  • Libby Sellers
  • Jane Withers.

What will you study?

Through a rigorous and critical framework and practical experience you will engage with contemporary design and curatorial practice, its history, theory and discourse. You will be equipped with the creative and practical skills necessary to curate design exhibitions and events including devising exhibition briefs, researching and selecting exhibits and curating learning and public programmes. This is combined with an historical and theoretical framework interrogating the object, collection and display of design in museums and the expanded field.

Of special note is the use of live projects, often in collaboration with institutions such as the British Council, the National Trust or Gallery Fumi, which allow students to gain first hand curatorial experience and develop practical skills.

The dissertation and/or Project provides an opportunity to work independently to realise a body of work which demonstrates an original and creative approach in the field of design curation. It supports the development of professional practice or has the potential to be developed for research at higher degree level.

A carefully composed curating visits programme runs alongside the main teaching programme and includes visits to exhibitions, studios and other sites of design or curatorial practice.


Curatorial project briefs, seminar presentations, essays, and dissertation.

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's tier 4 visa.

Invoicing on the placement courses is split into two stages. The standard course fee is payable in year 1 with the placement fee invoiced in year 2. Therefore, students starting in September 2017 would therefore be charged the placement fee of £1,070 in September 2018. Students commencing the course in September 2018 will be invoiced the placement fee in 2019 (provisionally £1,230).

This amount will only be charged to your account after you find a placement and are enrolled on the module. You will not be charged this fee if you do not manage to secure a work placement.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

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 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.

    Read full module description

  • 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.

    Read full module description

  • 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.

    Read full module description

  • 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.

    Read full module description

  • The dissertation is the capstone project; the final and most significant piece of work that curating students take on taught masters courses. In consultation with an allocated tutor, students develop a self-directed research project on an aspect of curatorial practice. Focusing on skills of critical research, analysis and presentation, the dissertation provides the opportunity for students to synthesise and direct their research and learning, and demonstrate the extent of their critical abilities at Masters Level. It also provides students with an opportunity to pursue an alternative portfolio of work such as an exhibition, web-based, or a creative project in conjunction with written work.  In addition there is an option to present a project with a 5000-word evaluation offering the opportunity to link the module to employability opportunities both internationally and in the UK.

    Read full module description


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.

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 term dates for this course can be found here

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