Undergraduate Course

BA Curating, Heritage and Human Rights

Now In Clearing
BA Curating, Heritage and Human Rights

Overview

The details
Curating, Heritage and Human Rights
V301
October 2022
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

Can an exhibition spark social change? Who decides which stories our museums and galleries tell? How can we save heritage that is under threat from war or natural disasters? What are the ethical problems in preserving and exhibiting objects from other cultures? How do curators and heritage managers take these questions into account when they make displays and exhibitions? This degree will develop the skills you need to make exciting new connections between the forms of visual culture and heritage you study, human rights, and broader social and political forces.

BA Curating, Heritage and Human Rights will deepen your knowledge of curatorial practice, whilst studying human rights, developing your confidence to advocate for individual and community rights, social justice and social change. In addition, the degree will introduce you to the critical study of heritage, including ethical and legal debates, and questions around how heritage is preserved, communicated and displayed, including issues of spectatorship and community engagement.

You will study topics including:

  • History of the museum
  • Curatorial ethics
  • Heritage management
  • Social dimensions of human rights
  • Digital heritage and museums
  • The role of new technologies and new media in 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.
  • Our Human Rights Centre is a recognised leader, working with human rights organisations and corporations around the world
  • We house a collection of over 750 pieces of art from Latin America, in ESCALA, and over 100 works of British art, so you can study art ‘in the flesh’ on campus
  • Our structured programme of study trips at home and abroad takes you far afield and explores local settings

Study abroad

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 four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-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.

Placement year

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

Our staff consists of a dynamic group of art historians, curators, and heritage specialists. While our research interests span a range of cultures and media, from the early modern to the present, core specialties include exhibition design, modern and contemporary art, digital heritage, public engagement and activism.

Members of our Human Rights Centre work closely with our alumni and extensive practitioner network to ensure that our research is focused on priority issues that are of direct relevance to beneficiaries such as victims of human rights violations, governments, NGOs, and international organisations such as the UN.

Here are a few examples of recent or current projects by staff members:

Dr Gavin Grindon, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Director of our Centre for Curatorial Studies, recently co-curated Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Palestine and the exhibition Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, one of the best-attended shows in the museum’s history.

Dr Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco, Lecturer in Heritage and Digital Humanities, has just co-directed a documentary that explores community resilience and sense of place in post-1980 earthquake in Irpinia, South Italy. She is also collaborating with Tymkiw and other colleagues from Essex’s School of Engineering on a project titled Neurocuration, which explores how sound-augmentation affects how people experience virtual museums and exhibits.

Dr Matt Lodder, Senior Lecturer in Art History with an emphasis on modern and contemporary visual culture, recently curated the traveling exhibition British Tattoo Art Revealed and Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed. He is currently co-curating the exhibition Tattoo: Ancient Myths, Modern Meanings, which opens next year in the U.S.

Dr Lisa Blackmore, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies, currently convenes entre—ríos, an international network of artists, researchers and community representatives across Latin America who collaborate on virtual and in-country projects that explore sustainability challenges facing bodies of water. She has curated exhibitions on art and the environment with the ESCALA collection at Art Exchange, the on-campus gallery.

Dr Michael Tymkiw, Senior Lecturer in Art History, is the author of the 2018 book Nazi Exhibition Design and Modernism and several other research projects concerning the politics of spectatorship in modern and contemporary art and visual culture.

Specialist facilities

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 and heritage sites in the nearby town of Colchester (‘Britain’s First City’); on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world’s best museums, galleries, and heritage sites at your fingertips;

Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience, engage in object-based learning, and learn digital skills, a cornerstone of our approach to heritage and museums.

We have close links with many of cultural sites and institutions in Colchester, including the iconic Firstsite gallery, which support hands-on activities and your practical learning.

Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection.

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 of exhibition design and curate high profile exhibitions.

Your future

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, Heritage and Human Rights include museums, galleries, heritage institutions, and auction houses. Within these sectors, you can pursue a career in curation, cultural policy, heritage, 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 heritage and museum sector, we offer numerous modules dedicated to the histories, theories and practices of heritage and museums.

We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

Clearing entry requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course in Clearing are not published here but for most of our degree courses you will need to hold a Level 3 qualification. If you are interested in applying and have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2022 entry and find out if you are eligible. You will be asked to provide details of your qualifications and grades.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

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 listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 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.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this 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 here.

Structure

Course structure

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

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.

Status What this means
Core
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.
Compulsory
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.
Optional
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

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:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Foundations of Human Rights
(30 CREDITS)

What are human rights? How do we protect them? And what challenges do we face when promoting human rights on an international level? Discover the fundamental principles and practices, including topics related to international law and ethics, which underpin the protection and promotion of our human rights.

View Foundations of Human Rights on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Writing and Researching Art History
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Writing and Researching Art History on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Art and Ideas: I
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Art and Ideas: I on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Collect, Curate, Display: A Short History of the Museum
(15 CREDITS)

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?

View Collect, Curate, Display: A Short History of the Museum on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

Introduction to Heritage and Museum Studies
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Introduction to Heritage and Museum Studies on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Art History option(s) or outside option(s)
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Art and Ideas II: More Art, More Ideas - Critique and Historiography in the History of Art on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Digital Heritage and Museums
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Digital Heritage and Museums on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Human Rights & Social Justice: Structures, Theory and Practice
(30 CREDITS)

This module builds on the foundations laid in the first year and introduces students to the institutions that uphold and enforce international human rights standards, as well as the multidisciplinary nature of Human Rights and Social Justice.

View Human Rights & Social Justice: Structures, Theory and Practice on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Art in Latin America
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Art in Latin America on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Art History option(s) from the list or outside option
(45 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: COMPULSORY

Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step
(0 CREDITS)

This module offers you the opportunity to build up a portfolio of experiences, skills, and knowledge that will help prepare you for the graduate job you’re looking for. You learn about future career possibilities, gain an insight into what graduate employers are looking for, and access a range of opportunities for valuable work experience on and off campus.

View Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Selected Issues in Human Rights
(30 CREDITS)

How important are human rights today? What role do they play in contemporary society? And can you analyse their impact on topics like freedom of expression or global justice? Learn to identify and evaluate human rights issues in range of real-life situations, within a regional, national and international context.

View Selected Issues in Human Rights on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Art and Ideas III
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Art and Ideas III on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Heritage Project
(15 CREDITS)

This module consists of a 4000-word proposal to develop a heritage project that could include public engagement in museum and heritage sites, analogue and digital projects for preservation and communication of heritage and/or museum content, guidelines for best practices of heritage management and preservation.

View Heritage Project on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Art History option or outside option(s)
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Art History option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

Placement

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 three-year degree.

Year abroad

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 three-year degree.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250

International fee

£17,700

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fees and funding information

International fees and funding information

What's next

Open Days

2022 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, September 17, 2022
  • Saturday, October 22, 2022

How to apply during Clearing

Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. Fill in our quick and easy Clearing application form with as much detail as you can. We’ll then take a look and get back to you with a decision.

Interviews

We don’t interview all applicants during Clearing, however, we will only make offers for the following courses after a successful interview:

  • BA Multimedia Journalism
  • BSc Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc Nursing (Mental Health)
  • BA Social Work

The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have. Further details will be emailed to you if you are shortlisted for interview.


Apply now
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Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

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