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The University of Southampton

ARTD6098 Final Project (Curation)

Module Overview

This module is designed as the culmination of the MA Contemporary Curation programme, affording students the opportunity, individually, and collectively to demonstrate the theoretical and practical approaches to curation they have developed and espouse. Through tutorials and seminars, but mostly through independent practice, students will be supported in this module in their development of sophisticated realisations of their curatorial interests, exploring experimental techniques and attitudes, demonstrating the knowledge, skills and relationships built over the course of the MA.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The interrelationship between the history of curation and the state of professional curation today
  • The nature and limits of curation within its contemporary expanded field, particularly in relation to new media and the digital humanities
  • The broader critical, intellectual, social and economic contexts within or as part of which the curator operates
  • Visual cultural thought and theories, processes and practices appertaining to contemporary curation
  • The function and practical application of theories of curation in the contemporary art world and beyond
  • Core and specialist areas within contemporary curation including exhibition history, critical debates on current directions in the profession, developments within new media and the digital humanities in relation to the art of curation today, the function and critique of the biennial system, challenges faced within curatorial practice, and the current salient cultural aims, political questions, and practical skills needed within the profession and discipline
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Solve problems by applying knowledge of curation and visual cultural studies theory and historical and contemporary approaches of practice in order to address actual problems or hypothetical fact-based situations involving questions of display, authorship, finances, and education-focused exhibition needs, to select key issues, and argue convincingly for possible solutions
  • Apply information gained through instruction and/or self-study to inform, support or critically analyse curatorial positions in context
  • Identify problems and analyse key issues requiring curatorial and visual cultural research, and pursue an independent project to produce a coherent and structured essay or final project, as well as record and reflect upon your intellectual journey in the Learning Log / Blog component of this module
  • Carry out curatorial and visual cultural research in terms of the ability to discover, identify and use up to date primary and secondary curatorial and related visual cultural sources, including academic writings, using both paper and electronic sources
  • Make reasoned arguments in curatorial and visual cultural studies based on appropriately selected source materials
  • Apply curatorial and visual cultural theories to practices (e.g., collaborative curation), understand, and evaluate how different perspectives in theory relate in practice to, for instance, relational aesthetics, feminism, collaborations, education-focused exhibition structures, questions of authorship, biennial systems and networks of contemporary art, institutional critique, critique of spectacle, amongst others.
  • Recognise multiple perspectives and integrate/apply these to curatorial and visual cultural studies and their related core issues, such as audience formation, educational-focus within exhibition structures, the relationship between the curator and the artist / practitioner, the relationship between the curator and the ‘object’, the politics of subjects and subjectivity as activated / implicated by / in the exhibition space
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Structure in coherent manner information and materials from disparate sources, sifting the relevant from the irrelevant.
  • Understand the aesthetic, pedagogical, political, socio-economic, and cultural impact of curatorial practices
  • Produce word-processed documents complying with presentation and referencing practice within the academic discipline of curatorial and visual cultural studies
  • Use a range of electronic information sources including the worldwide web, electronic retrieval systems, and on-line curatorial and visual cultural studies materials
  • Work effectively as a participant in a group project, and appreciate the possibilities of learning with the support of your peers studying curatorial and visual cultural studies
  • Evaluate concepts, principles, histories, theories, and practices and make critical judgements of the strengths and weaknesses of particular arguments.
  • Act independently in planning and structuring a task in areas of curation and visual culture in which you have already studied
  • With some minimal guidance, undertake independent research in areas of curation and visual culture, which you have not previously studied
  • Reflect constructively upon your learning, and make effective use of feedback received
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the use of the English language, including correct use of curatorial and visual cultural terminology, both orally and in writing
  • Present knowledge and argument in a clear, structured and comprehensible manner, adapted to the needs or requirements of a particular audience or exercise
  • Understand rhetorical and topical, textual, curatorial, visual cultural, historical, and practical problems raising investigative issues of sophisticated complexity and considerable depth
  • Evaluate arguments based on evidence from the curatorial profession and visual cultural institutions
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate curatorial issues of fundraising, budgets, and of arts commissioning
  • Recognise the challenges particular to curating programmes that extend beyond the traditional gallery or museum space into an array of public and sometimes virtual / digital realms
  • Demonstrate consideration of exhibition design, construction and installation issues and identify historical examples and various theoretical approaches to resolving such curatorial issues
  • Identify and engage various audiences and publics, including demonstrating an awareness of diverse audiences and their needs, along with the ethical and health & safety issues implicated within these considerations
  • Develop and produce interpretation materials and publications, in various formats and within digital cultures
  • Provide considerations of what the “public intellectual presence” of an exhibition and its ancillary outputs will be and how it can prove most effective
  • Understand the critical and creative interdependence of learning and public programmes teams with curatorial roles within various institutions
  • Explore critical curatorial writing approaches
  • Develop innovative communication techniques
  • Create professional relationships and networks with artists, curators and other professionals


The aim of this module is to promote a concerted period of independent study leading to the final resolution and presentation of your postgraduate curatorial practice in the form of an individual written work and a collective group exhibition. The module aims to bring together and utilise your learning and skills developed in the previous modules. Through these modules you will have established and explored, in increasingly ambitious ways, the scope and focus of your ideas allied to appropriate theoretical and practical approaches to practice. In this module you will independently – both individually and collectively – apply new ways of bringing a creative conclusion to your ambitions for this postgraduate programme and to establish new ways of working within the field and profession of contemporary curation.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include This final project module is supported through tutorials and seminar, though most of the module’s time is given over to the students’ independent study and practice. The tutorials and seminars support the development of the individual and group projects which mark the culmination of the MA Contemporary Curation and demonstrate the students’ theoretical and practical approaches to curation today. Group projects will follow the guidelines set out in the previous Contemporary Curation: Practices module and apply the same key principles to the production and assessment of group work. In the 25% assessed group work assignment for the module, all students in the group will receive the same mark, School-level guidance and key principles on learning in a group will be developed, disseminated and made available to all students on the module through handbooks and Blackboard. The key principle is that a module that includes a group assessment must also include an individual component/mark for part of the assessment. Other guidance will include: (a) a student group should comprise of between 3 and 5 people: numbers above this discourage effective collaboration (b) groups will be briefed on clear guidance as to how they will be assessed against the criteria set (c) detailed guidance on the principles of learning and working as a group will be provided, and (d) clear guidance on how the module leader will deal with any controversies or disputes will be provided. Internationalisation This module puts great emphasis on developing an appreciation of the complexities that are inherent in contemporary curation in an era of globalisation. It is anticipated that within both assessment components of this final project module, students will engage with practices and networks that embody the current cultural diversity exhibited both in the student cohort and in the wider research and practice-based community. Learning activities include Seminar discussion Peer group learning Reflective writing Presentations

Independent Study590
Total study time600

Resources & Reading list

Rose, G (2011). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. 

Walliman, N (2010). Research Methods: The Basics. 

Hoffmann, Jens (2014). Show Time: The 50 Most Influential Exhibitions of Contemporary Art. 

Smith, Terry (2012). Thinking Contemporary Curation. 

Barker, Emma (1999). Contemporary Cultures of Display. 

Steedman, Marijke (ed) (2012). Gallery as Community: Art, Education, Politics. 

Obrist, Hans Ulrich (2014). Ways of Curating. 

Pickering, M (ed) (2008). Research Methods for Cultural Studies. 

Hoffmann, Jens (2013). Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating. 

Obrist, Hans Ulrich (2008). A Brief History of Curating. 

O’Neill, Paul (2012). The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s). 

Hatt, M and Klonk, C (2005). Art History: A Critical Introduction to its Methods. 

Creswell, J. W (2014). Research Design. 

Adamson, Glenn (2007). What Makes a Great Exhibition?. 

White, M and Schwoch, J (eds) (2006). Questions of Method in Cultural Studies. 

Nairne, Sandy, et al (1996). Thinking About Exhibitions. 

D’Alleva, A (2005). Methods and Theories of Art History. 

O’Doherty, Brian (2000). Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space. 

Brett Davis, M (2007). Doing a Successful Research Project: Using Qualitative or Quantitative Methods. 



Class discussions


MethodPercentage contribution
Group project 25%
Individual assignment  (7500 words) 50%
Learning log 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual assignment  (15000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Taking part in this module should not incur any additional costs, as the costs of the project have been factored into the fees for the course and there will be provision of necessary materials.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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