This distinctive Masters of Arts programme offers a one-of-a-kind, integrative experience in working in the field of contemporary art, developing exhibitions and multi-disciplinary and inclusive public programmes. Students are introduced to aspects of curatorial practice through dedicated lectures and workshops delivered by established industry professionals, including sessions such as Commissioning Art, Writing on Contemporary Art, Navigating the Art World, Curating Archives and Museums and their Ethics. All teaching takes place at London South Bank University. In addition, during the 20-week Professional Placement module, students work alongside highly-experienced staff at Whitechapel Gallery.
Our integrated theory-into-practice approach and the intensive learning environment of this course provides a full range of creative tools for future employment in the cultural sector. Candidates enter the professional field with practical knowledge and a strong global vision as they are placed in professional networks from the outset.
The directors of the course are Dr. Geoff Cox from LSBU and Dr. Nayia Yiakoumaki from Whitechapel Gallery.
The fees for this full-time course in 2022/23 are £10,180 for Home students and £17,500 for International students (including EU).
This one-year, full-time course starts again in September 2023.
Full programme details are available on the London South Bank University website.
Applications are open for a September 2023 start.
There is a high level of interest for this course and spaces are filled on a first come first serve basis; prospective students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
Interviews will take place on a rolling basis. LSBU will notify candidates and confirm the exact dates and times.
For all course enquiries contact the Programme Administrator at MAadministration@whitechapelgallery.org.
For specific enrolment enquiries contact London South Bank University at email@example.com.
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Survival toolkit for the Creative Industries (10 credits)
This module supports and expands students’ learning by introducing them to current concepts, debates and practices in the field of arts management. It builds students’ professional practice capabilities and explores core literature from the field of arts management, combining theoretical and critical approaches.
Working in the art world (10 credits)
Focusing on different aspects of the visual arts and public programmes, this module offers a range of dedicated workshops, covering the implementation of various curatorial strands and the professional practice of curating. Workshops include Copyright in Art, Commissioning Contemporary Art, Writing about Contemporary Art, Navigating the Art World, Curating Archives and The Museum and its Ethics. Delivered by distinguished professionals from the UK and abroad.
Exhibition Making (20 credits)
The module provides students with robust methodological approaches from designing to delivering exhibitions within an institution and beyond. Using the Whitechapel Gallery as a case study, students are introduced to all aspects of curating in the expanded field of an institution – from front-of-house operations to communications, from fundraising and administration to exhibition delivery. Closely examining the institutional context, the module considers the Gallery’s programme and processes through the respective Department Heads that, as guest speakers, share first-hand experience about exhibition-making today.
Themes in Contemporary Art (10 credits)
Key theoretical frameworks and writings that influence and respond to current practices in contemporary art and culture are examined. Students develop the skills around the research methodologies necessary to undertake and complete their own small-scale research projects. Relationships between theory and practice are explored within an overarching art historical narrative, focused on themes considered in art writing.
Exhibition Histories (10 credits)
A selected survey of the history of exhibitions and displays is presented through contextual lectures and a series of case studies. These might focus on a single exhibition, a group of exhibitions on a theme, or an aspect of exhibition and display history. Covering a range of exhibitions from across the globe, from European Academy exhibitions in the 18th and 19th centuries, through to African festivals of the 1970s, the module’s context will be broad, taking in examples from beyond the Western canon and with an expanded notion of art practice including crafts, film, performance, textiles and fashion.
Engaging the Public (20 credits)
An introduction to the overall strategy and working methodologies across art, public programming and curatorial practice, the practice of public programming is analysed and discussed within the context of curating and audience engagement in various institutional and geographic contexts.
Relaying first-hand information about the concepts, responsibilities and factors underpinning the making of public programmes, the module considers distinct models of engagement and asks questions about their relevance in relation to local and global audiences.
Professional Placement (60 credits)
An extensive placement is offered at the Whitechapel Gallery exclusively for students on this MA course. A unique theory-into-practice-led opportunity to critically assess established categories of curating in a real-life practical environment, it constitutes the practical ‘backbone’ of the programme. Students gain invaluable experience of the inner workings of a cultural organisation and apply the knowledge, understanding and skillset acquired through this course within a practical, embedded, real-life context.
A post will be offered in one of the Gallery’s departments, to work with professionals across the Gallery for 2 days per week (7.5 hours per day) over a period of 20 weeks, accruing 300 hours of work-based learning that equips students with vocational experience to develop key professional skills essential for work in the cultural sector.
Practical project: Exhibition or Public Programme (40 credits)
This module enables students to engage in an extended creative project centered around their individual areas of practice, creative interests and research concerns. Students will work in small groups of 3-4 and will be given the option of developing an exhibition or a Public Programme relating to the exhibition. Students will work collaboratively in teams. Emphasis will be on co-working practices and on the concept of combined creativity. Working under the supervision of Whitechapel Gallery staff with support from LSBU’s academic staff, students create original projects that are fully aligned with their intended audience.
Students are expected to produce work that demonstrates advanced knowledge and understanding of the relevant issues and debates within the context of their chosen practice. The processes mirror those in professional project development and encompass elements of research, pitching an idea, working to a brief, issues of intellectual property, image rights, press and marketing, fundraising, networking and relationship building, evaluation and other entrepreneurial and professional aspects of curating exhibitions and public programmes.
The course will be delivered through lectures, seminars and tutorials and will feature guest lecturers and contributions from high profile industry professionals in the field, through the Whitechapel Gallery’s rich professional networks.
Meet the Whitechapel Gallery Teaching Staff here.
From left to right: Course Co-Directors Geoff Cox and Nayia Yiakoumaki with students Erin Saunders, Anastasija Svarevska, Caroline Ip, Yulia Ivanova, Jane Ross, Eva Williams, Dearbhla Hanney, and Nicola Cosford. Not pictured: Melika Rafiei.
From left to right: Gia MacCallum, Ada Egg Koskiluoma, Harriet Poulter, Charlotte Nicoll, Katerina Panagiotaki, Sara Cuce, Mariarosaria Innaccone, Sophie Gibbons, Emilio Frayre, Sonia Barbey, Cathy O’Sullivan
Whitechapel Gallery has run similar postgraduate programs in collaboration with other universities in recent years. Hear from past graduates:
The MA focused not only in aiding in the development of an independent curatorial practice, but also on building up the practical skills involved in all aspects of exhibition making. My work placement with the Whitechapel Gallery’s Archive and Exhibitions team was an incredible opportunity to understand the tasks to be performed in an institutional setting while providing many opportunities for network building. I feel I have gained a great amount of knowledge that contributed to my career development.
Inês Costa, Assistant Curator, Whitechapel Gallery
The course, through its excellent teaching, allowed for a deep understanding of art and exhibition histories as well as how this theory is carried through into the very real situation of making an exhibition, working with artists and producing catalogues. I gained a thorough understanding of the ecology of the art world, with its varied institutions and roles and was thus in a strong position to be able to apply for jobs immediately after the course. It was inspiring to be part of the Whitechapel Gallery even as a student and it definitely added to the availability of resource and knowledge.
Habda Rashid, Senior Curator, Create London