module specification

FA7037 - Research Methods for Curatorial Practice (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Research Methods for Curatorial Practice
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 80%   Curatorial Practice
Coursework 20%   Research Paper
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module provides students with the opportunity to devise and develop a proposal towards a curatorial project. In addition, they will complete an academic paper in the form of an individual catalogue essay, utilising appropriate research methodologies.

Through a series of Research Methods lecture/workshops, immersive critical exercises and tutorials, students will be equipped with an appropriate theory & methods tool-kit for undertaking sustained exploration and study of their chosen research topic.

In parallel and in consultation with tutors, the group will plan an exhibition to be mounted in one of the CASS’ Gallery spaces or an external venue in the Module ‘Curatorial Practice’ in the Spring Semester.

Module aims

The module aims are to:

  • Provide students with the opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills within a project team and work towards research of a major, 'live', curatorial project.
  • Explore the relationships between theories of display and the practicalities of curating through participation in the conception and development of a professional curatorial project.
  • Encourage critical development and expression of an appropriate, independent research perspective and approach in the form of an accompanying research paper.


a) Pre-planning, conceptualization, division of responsibilities
b) Independent project team working under subject-specialist supervision towards research & development of curatorial project;
c) Theory & method Lecture/workshops, immersive research exercises
d) Tutorial reading groups/interrogation of keyworks towards production of contextualizing research paper.

Learning and teaching

The module is taught through lectures, workshops, tutorials, project development, and guidance. The Learning and Teaching strategy for the module is to both inform students and actively engage them in a critical discussion related to the role of research for curation. This is achieved through:

Lectures – illustrated lectures related to research for curatorial practice.
Seminars – students will engage in critical discussion with peers that will enable them to share research approaches, ask questions and interrogate the role of research together.
Supervision – individual and group tutorials will be available to students on the module and support them to frame their area of research and develop their curatorial project.

In addition students are encouraged to make maximum use of the resources available to them in terms of the IT provision both within the department and the library. Blended Learning /weblearn includes the provision of course and module information on the web, lecture notes, feedback, and blogs are used to enhance independent learning.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

  1. Apply accumulated knowledge and understanding of the principles and conventions of professional curatorial practice within a project team and through completion of assigned specialist tasks and responsibilities.
  2. Illustrate developed understanding of the continuities and discontinuities between theories of display and the practicalities of curating.
  3. Demonstrate research knowledge and understanding in the form of a contextualizing research paper.
  4. Evidence how audiences’, artists’ and/or external organisations’ needs have impacted on their exhibition practice.

Assessment strategy

This module is designed to facilitate and test integrated knowledge and understanding of the discourses informing curatorial practice. The student will submit:

  1. Curatorial Practice: Research & development towards the proposed exhibition and production folder, Participation in the conception, planning, and development of a 'curating the contemporary' project. (80%)
  2. Research Paper (word count 2000) based on specific research methods in the form of a catalogue essay. (Written work to be submitted in accordance with the conventions of scholarly writing and citation.) (20%)

Work will be assessed against the learning outcomes in relation to the following criteria:

  • Appropriate use of research methods
  • Quality of analysis and interpretation
  • Subject knowledge and relevance
  • Quality of communication and presentation
  • Appropriate use of problem solving, testing and experimentation
  • Management of own learning and personal professional development


The following are indicative only. Refereed journals/articles and electronic resources: issued according to syllabus.

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).
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).
O'Doherty, B. (1999) Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, University of California Press, (expanded edition).
O’Neill, Paul, The Culture of curating and the Curating of Culture(s), MIT Press, Camb.Mass, 2012.