Curating MA - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This course is for people who want to work either in the traditional areas of curating fine art and cultural artefacts or in emerging areas such as curating digital art, media or live art. We will equip you for careers in the gallery, non-gallery and digital sectors.

Curating image 4By the end of the course, you will have advanced skills in collecting, organising, interpreting and exhibiting cultural items. You will also have expertise in effective teamwork and collaboration with artists and practitioners. All this will be grounded in a rigorous understanding of the historical contexts of curating, arts administration and museums.

The course features three week-long blocks of intensive delivery in October, February and June, plus weekly online contact, meaning national and European candidates can fit attendance and travel around work or family commitments, whilst regular online contact supports the completion of assignments. The course is also a full-time MA for international students, who will attend both intensive blocks and weekly contact onsite. The second intensive block will take place in London in February, accessing key curators and institutions during visits to organisations including Tate, V&A, and Wellcome Collection.

This block is also available as a professional development short course, building on a history of masterclasses including in New York and the UK. With accreditation of prior learning, this 60-credit block can also be taken as an accredited qualification leading to a Postgraduate Diploma.

Graduates from Sunderland can be found in curatorial and academic roles across the world, in cities such as New York, Stuttgart, Vancouver and London. Our graduates are also employed here in the North East by galleries and archival services.

You will be taught by academic staff with research interests that range across art, design, media and culture, with particular specialisms in public art, performance art, and new media art. We provide a well-regarded resource for curators and exhibitors of new media art, known as Curatorial Research for Upstart Media Bliss (CRUMB).

For a specialist web pages about the course and the activities of students, please see

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Course content

Modules on this course include:

Curating 1 – Certificate (60 Credits)

  • Genealogies of Curating
  • Mechanics of Curating

You will critically analyse and explore the theories and origins that contribute to contemporary forms of curating.

Through field trips to regional cultural institutions, you will analyse the principles and practices of curating in contemporary art and design galleries.

Curating 2 – Postgraduate Diploma (60 Credits)

  • Contexts of Curating
  • Visions of Curating

You will develop a clear understanding of contemporary art and design infrastructures in London, in the context of regional and international curating.

You will also develop the vocational and professional skills needed for individual and collaborative development in curating in relation to place, space and time, to give insights into professional practice from collections and exhibiting to educational and participatory curating work. An inspection of non-gallery related strategies will enable you to develop advanced strategies beyond existing practice.

Curating 3 – Masters Degree (60 Credits)

  • Curatorial Practice
  • Major Project and Report

You will undertake a major project on a topic of your choice. As the culmination of the course, it will build on all the skills and knowledge that you have gained up to this point.

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Teaching and assessment

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working.

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, seminars, study visits and group work. These are supported by a range of guest speakers from diverse academic and industry backgrounds. You will also have high levels of contact with tutors who give regular feedback and support.

Field trips and practical workshops are important elements of the course, giving you direct contact with curators. Host organisations have included the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Workplace Gallery, the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, the National Glass Centre and Shipley Art Gallery.

Assessment methods include essays, case studies, presentations, and a major project. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

The University has invested in modern facilities that include generous studio spaces and state-of-the-art teaching space and resources as part of a vibrant and outward-looking learning environment.

Arts and Design Library

Our Arts and Design Library has a specialist collection of over 120,000 books, CD-ROMs, videos, slides and one of the largest electronic information networks in the sector.

Journals and research

We subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date articles. Some of the most important sources include:

  • Art Full Text + Art Abstracts, which is a major resource for media and arts information
  • Design and Applied Arts Index, which covers journals featuring both new designers and the development of design and the applied arts since the mid-19th century
  • British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC), which provides resources for the production, study and use of film and related media
  • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences


The David Puttnam Media Centre

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's,
St Peter's Way, Sunderland, SR6 0DD

Entry requirements

We usually require applicants to hold an honours degree in an art or design-related discipline such as fine art, design, spatial culture, critical theory, art history, exhibition design, event design, new media, arts administration, cultural policy, museum studies or arts management.

If you are suitably qualified, we will invite you to an interview to assess whether this is the right course for you.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,750 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,500 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

Postgraduates are highly employable and, on average, earn more than individuals whose highest qualification is an undergraduate degree. On completing this course, you will be equipped for roles throughout the creative industries.

Specific opportunities include working in curatorial institutions and event management.

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Recent Sunderland graduates are now working in institutions such as the BALTIC, the Arnolfini (Bristol), Klomp Ching Gallery (New York), Banff Centre (Canada), Shipley Art Gallery and Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums. See what recent alumni are doing now, including recent graduate Dan Quinn, now working at the Nässjö Konsthall art gallery in Sweden.

A Masters degree will also enhance career opportunities within Higher Education and prepare you for further postgraduate studies.

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The Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751

Student jobs, volunteering and paid projects (earn while you learn)

Our Careers & Employability Service (CES) advertises a variety of opportunities to earn money while you study. It also advertises volunteer positions that enable you to help other people while learning about your strengths and what you can offer to future employers.

Ben Cook, a graduate from BA (Hons) Fine Art, talks about the Eden Project:


Support for your learning

From the start of the course, you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Personal Tutor at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Further support is provided by our technicians who help you make the most of the University’s equipment and software.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers and Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"I learnt a great deal that has been relatable to my work since graduating."

Dan Quinn case study image

Dan Quinn

Gallery Director

"Whilst working at the gallery I learnt that an MA in Curating had just started at the University of Sunderland. At that time, the only other university that offered the same course was in London.

"The facilities at the University were outstanding. The library was really impressive and the staff were very helpful. I was advised prior to starting that the course would help me to develop my visual language as a curator, while giving me time to consider my future career path - which it definitely did!

"I grew up in the North and I am therefore familiar with the art that is produced in the region. Studying in Sunderland gave me the possibility to consider the local in a global context.

"The tutors on the course are extremely knowledgeable and I learnt a great deal that has been relatable to my work since graduating. For example, I wrote a case study on the mechanics of working with sound art in a group exhibition scenario and I am currently developing a sound art exhibition with both aural and physical works, collaborating with multiple artists from the Nordic countries.

"The course content is flexible and the topics that you choose to research can be made relevant to your specific interests, whatever they may be. I would advise new students to aim high when looking for an internship and even borderline harass people to get a foot in the door.

"Since completing my MA I have worked as an exhibition coordinator at Växjö Konsthall, an art gallery that develops exhibitions for both Swedish and international artists. I have also worked as an independent curator and project manager and I am now the director at the Nässjö Konsthall art gallery in Sweden."

Apply for this course

To apply for this course use the relevant link below.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact the Programme Leader:

Professor Beryl Graham
Tel: 0191 515 2896

Read Professor Beryl Graham's research profile and learn more about some of the staff that would teach you on the MA Curating course.

For more general information, contact:

Tel: 0191 515 3000

Social media: To see what events we run and to ask a question about this course, contact the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media on Facebook and Twitter.

Programme Starts  
Monday 16th October 2017 Apply now

The details

Course Name Curating
Classification MA
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 16 October 2017
UK/EU Fee £4750
Intl Fee £11500

Entry requirements

Honours degree or equivalent, or relevant experience

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