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This collaborative degree, between Kingston School of Art and the Design Museum, has grown into one of the world's foremost programmes for design curators.
Taught by leading curators and designers, the course engages critically and creatively with our fast-changing, complex world. You will have the opportunity to curate live projects and build your own professional profile, through the Design Museum and with institutions such as the Architectural Association, British Council, Gallery Fumi and the Royal Academy of Arts. Led by both research and practice, this course has taught aspiring curators for more than fifteen years.
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. To actively consider geopolitical, social and economic concerns, Curating Contemporary Design is taught within a transdisciplinary framework that allows students to develop responses to the complexity of the world today.
|Full time||1 year||2 days a week (Tuesday and Wednesday)||September 2021|
|Full time||2 years including professional placement||2 days a week (Tuesday and Wednesday) plus placement year||September 2021|
|Part time||2 years||1 day a week (Tuesday/Wednesday)||September 2021|
|Location||Kingston School of Art, Knights Park, and the Design Museum, London|
If you are planning to join this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021), please view the information about changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19.
Students who are continuing their studies with Kingston University in 2020/21 should refer to their Course Handbook for information about specific changes that have been, or may be, made to their course or modules being delivered in 2020/21. Course Handbooks are located within the Canvas Course page.
Find out what you'll study on the course and how it'll prepare you for the curatorial world:
Through a rigorous framework and practical experience students will engage with contemporary discourse that responses to the complexities and urgencies of today's world. Acknowledging design and curatorial history, you will engage with those contemporary concerns through transdisciplinary collaborations in theory and practice, and will develop stimulating creative interventions and critical writing.
Throughout the year, students will work on a major live project with external partners, which will allow you to gain first hand curatorial experience. The final presentation will be shared with the general public at the Design Museum. Students are currently working on a collaboration with Parsons The New School, New York and HEAD Geneva, which started with a symposium on Design and Film at Dorich House Museum.
The course is structured into five modules. Typically students must complete 180 credits and will gain 30 credits with each of the four core modules plus 60 credits in the Major Project.
You will be equipped with the creative, theoretical and practical skills necessary to curate design exhibitions and other curatorial formats including devising briefs, conducting primary and secondary research, selecting exhibits and curating public programmes.
A carefully composed curating visits programme runs alongside the taught modules and includes visits to exhibitions, studios and alternative sites of curatorial and design practice and critique.
The dissertation and/or creative project provides an opportunity to realise independently a body of work which demonstrates an original and creative approach in the field of design curation. With the ambition to develop professional practice and theory, the dissertation has the potential to be developed for research at higher degree level.
This module provides an introduction to the concepts and practices of curating contemporary design. Through a close partnership with the Design Museum, you will directly engage with the curatorial process and develop an understanding of the curatorial knowledge and core skills necessary to produce creative exhibitions, collection displays, learning and public programmes. Leading practitioners at the Design Museum and guest lecturers introduce the key elements of exhibition curating, including concept development and narrative structure, selecting exhibits, working with exhibition and graphic designers, understanding audiences, the role of interpretation, writing exhibition text and how the areas of communications, development, finance, learning, retail and publishing support exhibitions.
These elements are further developed in group curating projects, with live project briefs set by Design Museum curators exploring a key aspect of 21st century creative and professional practice. The projects encourage communication, collaboration, peer interaction and critical reflection in combination with the development of research, analytical and critical skills. The module also includes a programme of curating visits which runs alongside the main teaching programme. The programme includes visits to exhibitions and other sites of design and curatorial practice in London. It provides the opportunity to hear curators reflect on their practice in the context of their own spaces. The programme encourages critical reflection on the visits and the writing of exhibition reviews.
This module provides an exploration of key theoretical concepts of curatorial practice. Questions around the object, collection, museum and exhibition will be discussed, supported by historical and current critical writing. You will develop an understanding of the close relationship between theory, history and practice, and engage with methodology as foundation of any critical writing, exhibition making or public debate.
The module radically expands the conventional definitions of the contemporary field of design practice. Using the close connection to design, art, and architecture practice courses at the Kingston School of Art, you will be exposed to a productive and stimulating environment of practice as well as critical thinking and research. Collaborative teaching between museum and university professionals allows you to interrogate with new work and develop a joined up approach to place it through research, writing and debate into historical discourse.
This module also considers the major project and explores its scope, direction and intended aims, through applied research skills and testing of methodological approaches. The project may be a set brief by a project partner, or provide a location and scope for a proposed curatorial intervention, or invite proposals in response to public concerns which might be social, political, ecological or other.
This module identifies and works with emerging curatorial formats and practices in order to develop your understanding of different curatorial formats. The field of contemporary design is a rapidly shifting landscape. Technologies are constantly changing and advances in social media networks, interpretation tools and public programming are having a profound impact on the way that exhibitions are conceived and presented. An expanded field of practice and new digital tools call for a range of creative solutions and specialist skills from curators. Curators need to equip themselves with the skills that address traditional forms of curating and writing alongside online platforms, broadcasting and more experimental media and display formats curated for diverse audiences, such as public programmes and residencies. A series of lectures, seminars and workshops from leading practitioners in the field will present case studies of innovative practice.
These elements are further developed in group curating projects, with live project briefs set by Design Museum curators and leading practitioners in the field which introduce and test new curatorial formats. The projects encourage communication, collaboration, peer interaction and critical reflection in combination with the development of research, analytical and critical skills. Student learning is supported by a programme of curating visits, including exhibitions and other sites of design and curatorial practice in London. It provides the opportunity to hear curators reflect on their practice in the context of their own spaces. The programme encourages critical reflection on the visits and the writing of exhibition reviews.
Display is an inherently political practice. Design and art are constantly evolving disciplines which shifting framework and overlapping boundaries necessitate persistent negotiation and (re)definition. To emphasise that this is not a new phenomenon, this module introduces exhibition examples of the last 100 years to show how such modifications have been communicated and challenged through creative and innovative curatorial approaches. Most importantly, this exhibition history demonstrates that defining the field has always been closely connected to political, social and economic aspects such as the consideration of national identities, movements, technology, culture and consumption. Investigating in historic and current adaptations of curatorial practice will directly influence how you formulate your own concept for your major project. Experimentation with formats and creative approaches are encouraged making full use of Kingston School of Art's workshops and curatorial sides. Guest lectures and tutorials will stimulate, motivate and support your independent or group work, and ensure the application of theoretical and methodological thinking.
The Major Project is the capstone module of the Masters programme. Focusing on skills of critical research, analysis and presentation, the capstone project enables you to synthesise and apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout the course. It provides them with the opportunity to craft their own approach to the field through critical-theoretical and/or creative, practice-based research, supported by a series of taught sessions, enabling a depth and breadth of engagement with research methods. The Major Project can accommodate research projects developed through a range of academic and professional contexts depending on the motivation and interests of the student. It can be presented either as a dissertation or as a creative project, such as a portfolio comprising a chosen medium or media, accompanied by a critical commentary. The intensity of the workload increases across the three teaching blocks, allowing increasing focus in line with the level of your expertise.
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.
Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.
The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a masters programme that incorporates professional placement learning, following completion of 120 credits. It provides you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to an appropriate working environment, and to develop and enhance key employability skills and subject-specific professional skills in your chosen subject. You may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for your subsequent major project module, and would be expected to use it to help inform your decisions about future careers.
The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.
Applicants should have a good BA (Hons) degree or equivalent qualification in an academic subject or creative practice field.
We welcome applicants with relevant work experience, such as practitioners, museum staff and designers looking to extend their professional experience.
You should be able to demonstrate an ability to work creatively and within a team.
We will invite all shortlisted candidates to an interview. You will need to demonstrate evidence of enthusiasm and commitment for the subject, plus the ability to analyse written material. We can interview international students by telephone.
You'll be assessed through curatorial project briefs, critical reviews seminar presentations, essays, and a dissertation.
When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy documents and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.
Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.
At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.
Year 1: 11% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.
Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.
Type of teaching and learning
Assessment typically comprises practical exams (individual or group presentations) and coursework (e.g. critical review, essays, reports, portfolios, dissertation).
The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows:
Type of assessment
We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.
This course normally enrols about 15-20 students. However this can vary by module and academic year because of part-time students.
This Curating Contemporary Design course is delivered by Kingston School of Art's academics, visiting lecturers, guest speakers and through industry connections, allowing you:
As a student on this course, you'll be taught at both Knights Park campus and The Design Museum on Kensington High Street in Central London.
You may incur extra costs associated with your studies, which you will need to plan for. In order to help you budget, the information below indicates what activities and materials are not covered by your tuition fees:
Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:
If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.
We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:
The Sino-British Fellowship Trust has generously supported senior graduate students with a one-year fellowship to study Curating Contemporary Design since 2006. In addition, the Trust has kindly agreed to respond to the growing interest of Chinese practitioners with visiting scholarships for one term.
Please contact Jana Scholze for further details on both the bursary and the scholarship.
Our graduates have successful careers in prestigious roles in museums, galleries, universities and cultural organisations around the world.
Through our alumni, the course has developed an extensive international network of curators that include:
Guest speakers and studio visits give you the chance to meet a wide range of professionals directly involved in the public presentation of contemporary design.
In recent years, guest speakers have included:
Professionals involved in course projects, crits and briefs come from a range of institutions, including the Architecture Association Archives, British Council, Royal Academy of Art, Jane Wither Studio, National Trust, Fumi Gallery, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Crafts Council, and the Wellcome Trust.
This course is taught at the Design Museum and Knights Park campus, Kingston University.
At the Design Museum there is a dedicated teaching space in the Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning. You'll have full access to the museum's exhibitions and learning programmes and be issued with a Design Museum membership card, which provides the following benefits:
At Knights Park campus, there is a wide range of facilities. The campus is situated on the Hogsmill River, with its restaurant and bar opening on to the waterside. It has a friendly, creative feel and benefits from a reception area with a gallery, art shop and space, and the light and airy open-plan learning resources centre.
The workshops and studios are open for creative exploration and offer you plenty of opportunities to collaborate on projects and share ideas, whether you are studying or researching. Building on this open approach, there are many adaptable Architecture studio and workshop spaces, designed by Stirling Prize winning Haworth Tompkins, alongside active breakout spaces.
At the heart of the building are new state of the art workshop facilities, which include:
All our facilities are open access, meaning you can use them whenever you want, and irrespective of what degree you're studying.
The University also has its own on-site galleries, including:
Kingston is just a 30 minute train journey away from central London. Here you can access world-famous museums and galleries.
In my experience, Kingston University gives you the opportunity to interact with many talented creatives from around the world.
I met so many new friends and colleagues at Kingston School of Art and in other faculties across the University.
Raphael Chikukwa, Zimbabwean curator and Chevening scholar
I am very grateful for the Sino-British Scholarship, which has given me an amazing opportunity to acquire new ideas, improve my professional practice, enhance my curating skills and develop the career that I have always wanted.
As a Sino-British Fellowship Trust scholar, I found the Curating Contemporary Design MA a wonderful experience. I enjoyed working in a team; learning more about art and culture administration; visiting the splendid museums, galleries, art and cultural institutions in London; and developing future cooperation opportunities between the UK and China.
Feng Sun, Sino-British Fellowship Trust scholar
It has been very interesting to explore the anthropology behind the curator and the subtle changes the whole profession has undergone. As a history graduate, the whole question really appealed to me and I really enjoyed writing it. The course is very good at facilitating your own interests and specialisms - that's for sure.
Since taking the course I have gone on to manage major London events including COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery for the Crafts Council and Open House London weekend, London's largest architectural showcase.
Matthew Turtle, Producer Public Programmes, Design Museum London
Our links with professional practice provide a real-world base for the Curating Contemporary Design course. They also help us to ensure your studies are kept up-to-date and relevant to the workplace.
As a student on this course, you'll also have opportunity to take an optional international study visit, which gives you the opportunity to explore another country's design practice and culture, and meet curators and designers that contribute to the local and global practice and discourse. Previous visits have been to Lisbon, Berlin, Amsterdam and New York.
Please note: this trip will incur additional costs which are not included in the course fees.
Kingston School of Art has a strong research practice, focussed on the curatorial, which is demonstrated by a considerable number of PhD students. However, many of our Research Centres engage with the subjects as well, mainly:
We do not anticipate making any changes to the composition of the course, i.e. the number of modules or credits in a year for part-time postgraduate courses, as a result of the pandemic.
In order to safeguard our students' health and safety and to minimise the risk of disruption to their studies, the University has postponed all Study Abroad programmes for outgoing students in the first teaching block of 2020/21 (from September 2020 to December 2020). The University will review this decision before the second teaching block and will take into account relevant government advice at that time.
Changes can be made to courses as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to the composition of the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
We do not anticipate making any changes to module titles and summaries or to the availability of modules as a result of the pandemic.
Changes can be made to modules as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to module titles and/or availability of modules will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
We expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable successful students to progress through and graduate from the course without delay.
In exceptional circumstances the sequence of learning and teaching activities may be changed, e.g. re-sequencing those modules that can be delivered more effectively under the current restrictions with those which would be more difficult to deliver, such as practical modules and placements.
We have not changed entry requirements as a result of the pandemic. However, the range of accepted alternatives have increased as has the way in which we select students, which now includes virtual interviews and online portfolios.
We have not changed entry requirements for international students as a result of the pandemic. However, in response to the pandemic, we now accept a much broader list of English language exams for entry to the course; the level of these exams remain the same.
Due to the current pandemic the course's teaching and learning activities will be delivered through both online and on-campus methods (blended learning) in 2020/21. In order to provide all students with a comparable on-campus experience, the University has committed to ensuring that all courses provide at least 30% of their teaching and learning activities on-campus.
While physical distancing measures remain in place, you will receive your learning and teaching via a blend of on-campus and on-line activities. Should your circumstances prevent your attendance at on-campus sessions, you will still be able to engage with your course in a way that allows you to progress. Where this is not possible, support will be available to consider what options are open to you.
The University will continue to closely monitor government announcements and advice in relation to the current pandemic and, where required, will take any necessary action in order to comply with such advice.
In the event that a further lockdown is enforced the University will aim to deliver the course fully online. This may require some additional changes being made to planned teaching and learning activities, including assessments. The majority of our courses are prepared to be delivered fully online if the situation requires it. Where the quality of the student experience may be compromised significantly, or the course is unable to be delivered fully online, the University may need to suspend the delivery of that course until a time that it can be delivered appropriately. Students will be supported in these situations to ensure they are able to make the right choices for their particular circumstances.
In the event that the current social distancing restrictions are fully lifted and the University is able to resume normal delivery of teaching and learning activities, courses will assess whether it is in the students' interest to resume normal delivery. In some cases it may be better to continue and complete modules under the planned blended delivery mode.
Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours will not be made as a result of the pandemic. However, it is possible that some adjustments might be made at module level, e.g. a few more scheduled activities, in order to help ensure student engagement with blended learning.
Any changes made to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
'Scheduled teaching' includes teaching that is online either live or recorded / on demand.
Your individualised timetable for teaching block 1 (i.e. from September 2020 to December 2020) should be available by the end of August 2020. Timetables for teaching block 2 (i.e. from January 2021) will not be available until the autumn. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9am and 9pm. To accommodate smaller group sizes and social distancing, we will need to maximise the time available for teaching. This means, we may have to use Wednesday afternoons and enrichment week for additional teaching slots. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.
On campus classes, class sizes will be smaller, in line with social distancing measures. Online (synchronous) activities will be delivered via videoconferencing apps that will enable a full range of class sizes to be used as appropriate.
Changes can be made to modules, including how they are assessed, as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our modules up to date with current developments in that subject area. Due to the current restrictions in place, i.e. social distancing, it is anticipated that many formal on-campus examinations, including practical examinations, will be replaced with alternative assessments which can be completed online. These changes will be considered and approved through the University's processes to ensure that student assessments will be able to demonstrate they have achieved the expected learning outcomes. The approval process will also assess whether the change impacts the status of any professional body accreditation the course benefits from.
Any changes to the overall methods of assessment for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
No changes are expected to the general level of experience or status of staff involved in delivering the course.
As a result of the social distancing restrictions in place, on-campus teaching activities may need to be split into smaller groups which may require the support of teaching assistants and student mentors, who will be managed by experienced staff.
There will be no changes to published tuition fees for 2020/21.
As a result of the blended delivery of courses in 2020/21, where a significant proportion of the teaching will be done online, students will need a personal laptop or computer and access to the internet to participate in online teaching and learning activities. Students who are able to travel will have access to computers on campus, however, it should be noted that access to on-campus facilities will be restricted due to social distancing requirements.
The University is considering how best to provide support to students who do not have access to suitable hardware and software requirements and access to the internet. Identifying students who require this type of support is an important milestone for the University in our journey to ensure equity of access while we continue to deliver our blended approach. Information about the support that will be available will be provided to students during the induction period.
There will be no changes to any existing University funding arrangements for 2020/21. Currently there are no indications from the UK government that there will be any changes to government funding arrangements.
There will be no changes to published tuition fees or funding arrangements specifically relating to international students for 2020/21.
Placements (including work and clinical placements) and field trips included as part of the course will go ahead as planned. However, to ensure students are able to gain maximum value from these activities, it may be necessary to reschedule them to later in the year when current restrictions have been lifted. We acknowledge that this year it may be more difficult for students to secure appropriate placements. In those situations, students will be guided and supported through the various options that will be available to them, including switching courses or interrupting their studies until a time when they can complete their placement.
Any proposed changes to placements or field trips would go through University's agreed processes where the impact of the change will be carefully considered. Students will be advised of any changes that may become necessary and appropriate support will be available to students to guide them through the various options that may be available to them.
In the interest of the health and wellbeing of our students, the University will ensure that appropriate risk assessments are made before students are sent on a placement.
Courses which require placements or field trips to be completed in order to pass relevant modules will have contingency plans in place in the event that a placement or field trip cannot be completed due to another lockdown or more stringent social distancing measures.
Voluntary placements or field trips may be rescheduled, or, as a last resort, cancelled if it becomes difficult to deliver them and doing so is in the interest of the health and safety of our staff and students.
No changes will be made to the qualification awarded, e.g. MSc, as a result of the pandemic.
Changes can be made to courses, including the qualification awarded (although very rare), as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area. Any changes made to the qualification awarded for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.
International students should maintain awareness of the UK government's and their home country's government advice on possible travel restrictions. The University will closely monitor advice and guidance published by the UK government and assess its impact on our international students. Appropriate advice and guidance will be provided as and when required.
The University will ensure students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities are able to effectively engage with their studies remotely. For certain courses an inability to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities may not be in the students best interest, as it may impede their chances of succeeding in the course or lead to them receiving a poor learning experience. In such cases students will be advised and guided through the various options available to them, such as deferring their studies until they can engage fully with the course.