Our four-year BA Curating with Politics (including foundation year), will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills in order to support your academic performance. Our five-year version of this course enables you to study abroad during your fourth year of study.
This course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study, or a further four years if you choose the five year course, including a study abroad year. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.
BA Curating with Politics offers a multidisciplinary foundation in the histories and theories of art, curating, heritage studies, and politics. You will learn the intellectual and practical skills you need to realise your career ambitions, combining classroom-based learning with hands-on experience in museums and galleries. You will also learn about the history and theory of exhibition design, with a particular emphasis on how curatorial choices shape our experiences while viewing artworks and the other objects on display in museums and galleries.
You will study topics including:
Art and Power
History of the museum
Introduction to Politics
Art in Latin America
Digital heritage and museums
To study on our course, you don’t need an A-Level in Art or Art History. In fact, we believe that the best students of visual culture are those who bring fresh eyes and new perspectives to their objects of enquiry.
One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We are 3rd in the UK for research outputs in art history (Grade Point Average, REF2021). You will be taught by our expert staff in your very first year, a rarity in the UK Art History courses.
Why we're great.
We house a collection of over 750 artworks from Latin America, ESCALA, and over 100 works of British art, so you can study art ‘in the flesh’ on campus
Our academics are actively engaged in curating exhibitions and digital platforms, often about urgent political issues
Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad takes you far afield and explores local settings
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The five-year version of our degree allows you to spend the fourth year abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the four-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university.
When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and the placements team.
If you complete a year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
We have some of the best teachers across the University in our Essex Pathways Department, all of whom have strong subject backgrounds and are highly skilled in their areas.
We are a dynamic group of art historians who investigate the production and reception of images and built environment, across cultures and media, from the late medieval period to the present day.
Our staff’s research interests include activist art, modernist art and totalitarianism, the relationship between art and science, the artistic status of body modification, art and the environment, critical heritage, and the visual culture of social problems. We also have significant experience in curation and public engagement. Recent projects include:
Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco’s UKRI Future Leaders-funded research project, REPLACE
Matt Lodder’s Painted People: Humanity in 21 Tattoos (HarperCollins, 2022)
Diana Bullen Presciutti’s Saints, Miracles, and Social Problems in Italian Renaissance Art (Cambridge, 2023)
At Essex, you have the best of both worlds: on the one hand, you are part of a tight-knit, campus community with close ties to several small but excellent museums in the nearby town of Colchester; on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums and galleries at your fingertips.
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:
We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials.
Our Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends.
Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience and engage in object-based learning, a cornerstone of our approach when teaching the history of art and its modes of display:
Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions and talks by curators and artists, as well as exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students
Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery features an exciting programme of contemporary art exhibitions, film screenings and talks, and exhibitions organised by our curatorial students
Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is home to staff who specialise in the history and theory of exhibition design and curate high profile exhibitions.
The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the national and international economy, and our graduates can leave Essex with the skills to take advantage of this growing opportunity.
The sectors with jobs best suited for students with a BA in Curating include museums, galleries and auction houses. Within these sectors, you can pursue a career in curation, cultural policy, museum education, programming, events and marketing. Our degree also equips you with foundational skills to run your own gallery, to work as a PR agent, or to work in the wider arts and cultural industries, in design, fashion, publishing or events management.
To help our students acquire the particular skills they need to gain employment in the museum and gallery sector – the single-most important area in which our students will seek jobs – we offer numerous modules dedicated to the histories, theories and practices of museums, exhibitions and galleries. Additionally, we give you the chance to think creatively and proactively about life after university through our curatorial employability module.
All applications for degree courses with a foundation year (Year Zero) will be considered individually, whether you
think you might not have the grades to enter the first year of a degree course;
have non-traditional qualifications or experience (e.g. you haven’t studied A-levels or a BTEC);
are returning to university after some time away from education; or
are looking for more support during the transition into university study.
Our standard offer is 72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.
Examples of the above tariff may include:
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP
T-levels: Pass with E in core
If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.
Mature applicants and non-traditional academic backgrounds:
We welcome applications from mature students (over 21) and students with non-traditional academic backgrounds (might not have gone on from school to take level 3 qualifications). We will consider your educational and employment history, along with your personal statement and reference, to gain a rounded view of your suitability for the course.
Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
Our Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
Introduction to the History of Art in Western Europe: From Classical Greece to Impressionist France
This module aims to introduce you to the history of painting, sculpture and architecture in Western Europe. We hope that through following the course you will become familiar with the way people interpret and write about art, and that you will develop your own style of discussing art. The module focuses on certain key concepts. We start by looking at Greek Civilisation and its influence, and end with the artistic revolutions in France which changed the way we look at art today.
This module is designed to support students in their academic subject disciplines and to strengthen their confidence in key skills areas such as: academic writing, research, academic integrity, collaborative and reflective practices.
The students are supported through the use of subject-specific materials tailored to their chosen degrees with alignment of assessments between academic subject modules and the skills module.
Becoming Enlightened Citizens: Foundations in Politics and Government
How did Plato and Aristotle influence Western political thought? How do you study class or gender today? What impact does globalisation have? Examine the history of social and political theory, critically analysing current issues. Understand key topics in politics and sociology for further study of the social sciences and humanities.
What is “Politics”? How have people conceived of political analysis, the state, laws, wars and political parties, across cultures and over time? Gain an understanding of essential concepts in the study of politics and explore the economic, social and intellectual trends that have made democracy possible.
This module is intended as a skills-building course for first year art history students, to develop writing skills across a range of assessed and non-assessed writing types (essay, critical review, reading summary, label text, catalogue essay etc). The module will also present an introduction to research methods in art history, and a historical overview of art historical writing.
Collect, Curate, Display: A Short History of the Museum
This module offers an introduction to the history of museums and galleries. We will consider the basic human instinct to collect and the creation of the first museums. We will examine ideas about taxonomy, ordering the world and the first museum spaces of display, asking questions about privilege and power. How have museums and galleries shaped history and science? What ethical issues are there today around these spaces? Should tobacco, oil and arms companies sponsor museums? Can museums be tools of ‘urban regeneration’? Do online archives and 3D scanning make museums themselves obsolete institutions?
This module tackles some of the biggest questions surrounding the history of art. You will explore some key issues of philosophical aesthetics, such as the nature of representation, by engaging critically with seminal texts, artworks, and architecture. In this module, you will develop your analytical and interpretive skills, and leave with a solid foundation for the study of the history of art.
This module provides an introductory overview to the field of heritage and museum studies and explores some of the conceptual, political and ethical issues faced by those working within and researching in the area of heritage and museums.
The module defines heritage, discusses how heritage is officially recognised, and presents the instruments that are used to interpret, protect, and communicate heritage, at local, national, and international levels. It also introduces the main aspects of museum studies, explains how the definitions of museums has changed through time and how this definition affects how we preserve and present heritage today.
This module will introduce you to the history of heritage and museum management and will lay the foundation of some of the conceptual, political and ethical issues of the heritage and the museum field. It defines heritage as a process in which people makes sense of the past, in the present and for the future and how the aims of heritage and museum management changes according to the heritage process and its contexts.
Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art
How did our society decide what counts as ‘art’ and what is ‘culture’? Is there really such a thing as high vs low culture? What are the political stakes of these divisions? This module looks at the shift in ideas from ‘art history’ to visual and material cultural studies.
This module will engage with these debates and teach you new methods for seeing, interpreting and understanding art, design, craft, performance, film and games.
These new ways of seeing are often driven by a critical impetus, and allow us to look at culture to draw out new perspectives on social and political issues of activism and social change, sex, technology, memes, police violence, migration, austerity and crisis, state surveillance, and our relation to animals and the environment.
Digital technologies are re-defining contemporary heritage practices. Digital technologies and media are used for re-presenting, managing and disseminating information about cultural heritage as well as producing new cultural information on the web, which establishes digital heritage as a new field of study. This module will present digital heritage theories and explore how digital practices are changing the role of heritage institutions and museums as sites for the study, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage.
Learn about the major artistic trends that have emerged from Latin America, from Mexican Muralism right up to transgenic art. On this module, you’ll delve into the themes of landscape, revolution, human rights, and the environment, which reflect historical and contemporary processes shaping the region and the role Latin American art has in the wider art world.
This third art and ideas module deepens your existing thematic and historiographical knowledge building on Art and Ideas 2. We’ll be looking back at ‘the history of art history’ before the twentieth century. We’ll also look forward, to new cutting-edge theoretical approaches to arts, visual and material cultures.
Inventing the Future: Early Contemporary 1945-1980
The period from 1945 to 1980 marked one of the most explosive and dynamic moments in the history of art. Discover how the specter of the Holocaust and the ideological divisions of the Cold War shaped the production and reception of art in the two decades following World War II. Also learn how major political developments of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Stonewall, student protests and the feminist movement, transformed the practice, theory and history of art, ultimately providing a hyper-politicised foundation for the emergence of postmodernism.
In this module you will produce a 4,000-word dissertation. The finished dissertation should show an all-round grasp of your subject and the ability to present your material clearly, succinctly and in the most appropriate sequence. It should also demonstrate evidence of a serious engagement with your topic, a mastery of the information currently available, and the inclusion of your own reasoned, critical judgements. A supervisor will help guide you as you begin to develop a research question, start researching the topic and write the dissertation. This is a capstone module, available to final-year art history students.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the four-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the four-year degree.
Fees and funding
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and
Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.