module specification

DN6028 - Practice: Curation (Exhibition) (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module title Practice: Curation (Exhibition)
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
180 hours Guided independent study
120 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   annotated and illustrated record of exhibition activities
Coursework 70%   exhibition with accompanying essay (2500 words)
Running in 2019/20 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module provides you with the opportunity to produce a live curatorial and editorial project in the form of an exhibition, performance, publication or documentary; or an event that combines these elements. You will learn about the professional practice and expectations of exhibition curation for a range of outputs, working individually and as teams. The module tests in practice what you learn in this module and in the level 6 module ‘Collections’. The principal output of the module will be part of the annual graduation summer show.

In preparation for the final exhibition project, student groups will work on a number of temporary topics in studios led by School and guest practitioners. In consultation with the studio leaders alongside an invited group of guest speakers, makers, archivists and curators, the group will plan and produce a series of temporary or ‘pop-up’ exhibitions or publications in the broadest sense – these might be films, books, radio documentaries, etc., in preparation for the final exhibition.

You will learn to work independently and, guided by your tutors, take on the roles of curators and producers. A series of workshops and seminars with professionals in the field punctuates the learning curriculum.

You will be assigned duties and responsibilities, including fundraising, press and publicity, catalogue, interpretation, education and curation. In addition, you will maintain an illustrated record of your exhibition and event activities, outlining what you have learned about the professional practices of exhibition curation and organisation, with reference to real world exemplars.

Prior learning requirements

Pass and completion of prior level

Module aims

The module aims to enable you to:

  • develop specialist knowledge and skills within a project team towards production and exhibition of a significant editorial curatorial project
  • explore the relationships between theories of display and the practicalities of curating through participation in the realisation of a professional standard curatorial project
  • critically reflect on your curatorial practice by developing a final report on their exhibition/s
  • develop interpretative models through juxtaposition
  • bring objects, images, written research, oral histories, and other material together into narrative form for display
  • understand how to present existing material to suggest new forms and critical positions


Teaching in this module initially takes place in studios led by practitioners that bring together groups of students around central questions or themes.
A series of visits, workshops and lectures introduces each studio to the wider context of the studio topic. Working in small groups, students subsequently undertake independent research with the aim to develop a professional curatorial concept for an exhibition or live event, and implement this. Regular tutorials, feedback sessions and critiques organised around a number of key coursework submissions support this process.

Learning and teaching

Teaching takes place in the studio and in the form of hands-on workshops and practical teaching sessions. Joint writing and the use of online journals provide an opportunity for students to engage in editorial processes, experiment with different writing and reflective learning techniques. A series of small assignments support students on their way to producing the exhibition and their personal portfolio. Depending on nature and topic of the project, further support from the Cass Projects Office may be available.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • develop a coherent, critically reviewed curatorial or editorial concept
  • use exhibition practice to present theorised interpretations and narratives of artefacts and images
  • work as producers, communicating with archivists, artists, designers and curators
  • implement the necessary organisational functions of exhibition design and management, including promotion, from conception to completion
  • balance the demands of curatorial intention and practical constraints

Assessment strategy

This module is designed to facilitate and test integrated knowledge and understanding of curatorial practice. The student will submit two assessment items.

Students will submit an annotated and illustrated record of their temporary or ‘pop-up’ group and individual exhibition and event activities, outlining what they have learned about the professional practices of exhibition curation and organisation, with reference to real world exemplars

Students will plan, design and install a curated exhibition or event (publication of any sort may be proposed, by agreement with the Module Leader), for eventual display in the annual School summer graduation show. This may be comprised of any artefacts, made or collected. It is the exhibition, its curation, narrative or themes, and the quality of its installation and presentation that will be assessed. The artefacts displayed are, in themselves, not assessed. The exhibition (or event, or publication) will be accompanied by an essay (2500 words) setting out its context, purpose, proposed audience and curatorial ambition, together with an evaluation of its effectiveness.


Andriesse, P. (ed.) (1996) Art Gallery Exhibiting: The Gallery as a Vehicle for Art, Van Abbemuseum
Andrews, M. Cuevas, T. et al (2003) The Straight or Crooked Way, Royal College of Art, London
Blaxter, L. Hughes, M. (2001) How to Research, Open University Press (2nd edition)
Burns, R. (2000) Introduction to Research Methods, Sage (4th edition)
Heiser, J. (2008) All of a Sudden: Things that Matter in Contemporary Art, Sternberg Press
Harrison, C. Wood, P. Gaiger, J. (ed.) (1998) Art in Theory, 1815 - 1900, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Blackwell
Harrison, C. Wood, P. (ed.) (2003) Art in Theory, 1900 - 2000, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Blackwell (2nd edition)
Marincola, P. (ed.) (2006) What Makes a Great Exhibition?, Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative & Reaktion Books
O'Doherty, B. (1999) Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, University of California Press, (expanded edition)
O’Neill, P. (2012)  The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), MIT Press
O'Neill, P. (ed.) (2007) Curating Subjects, Open Editions
Staple, P. et al (2007) Frieze Projects: Artists Commissions and Talks, Frieze Books
Tannert, C. Tischler, U. (2004) Men in Black: Handbook of Practice, Revolver