module specification

SJ7050 - Curatorial Writing (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21, but may be subject to modification
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Curatorial Writing
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
161 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Presentation/ Seminar A presentation/seminar of key examples of curatorial writing in a field of students' choice, deve
Dissertation 80%   Portfolio A portfolio of texts presented as a single bound volume with an appropriate introduction. These address the t
Running in 2020/21

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module introduces MA students to writing as a curatorial activity. Curating, though largely originated in the area of fine art, collecting and museum studies has developed into a broader practice engaged by a wide spectrum of professionals. With this in mind the module seeks to examine different kinds of texts that promote this broad filed of knowledge.

Lectures are supported by tutorials, seminars and plenary discussions towards completion of indicative practical tasks and coursework. Students are expected to work independently and cumulatively, undertaking appropriate research & development between sessions, and as the year goes along in response to tutorial guidance.

The module aims are to develop knowledge and practical understanding of the theory and practice of curating as an organisational principle. By introducing different forms of curatorial writing it seeks to equip students with the ability to write fluently and professionally about art and culture.


The module’s syllabus examines curatorial strategies as a key principle in creative endeavour. It presents a range of texts that demonstrate the impact of curation on a variety of disciplines. The ideas presented through these texts are tested through writing workshops in which students develop experimental writings. Students develop a final body of texts throughout the module which refines and synthesises their appraisal of visual culture. LO1,LO2,LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module students will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding
demonstrate knowledge of key texts that promote an understanding of curating as a discipline of selection in key areas of the arts (LO1);

Cognitive intellectual abilities
demonstrate the ability to write fluently and professionally about aspects of art and culture (LO2);

Transferable skills
apply library and IT skills in independent research activities; articulating ideas and communicating information comprehensively in visual, physical, oral and textual forms (LO3).

Assessment strategy

Students are assessed through two assessment items. A portfolio of writings will assess the student’s understanding of a range of approaches to curatorial writing.

Formative assessment is a constant feature of the module and used to provide students with feedback on their performance and on how it can be improved and maintained. This will address different aspects of the syllabus and enable students to prepare material for their portfolio. Reflective practice by students sometimes contributes to formative assessment.

Presentation/Seminar: 20%
The student-led presentation/ seminar sets out to examine a particular aspect of curatorial writing in a discipline of their choosing. The formal presentation will last 30 minutes, followed by discussion with the peer group and staff.

Portfolio of Texts: 80%
A portfolio of texts arises from the workshop topics set on a week-by-week basis. The initial texts are then augmented with further research and refinement of their formal structure. They are presented as a single bound volume with an appropriate introduction.


Core Texts:
Bhaskar, M. (2016) Curation: The Power of Selection in a World of Excess, London: Piatkus
Balzer, D. (2015) Curationism: How Curating took over the Art World and Everything Else, London: Pluto Press
Obrist, H-U. (2015) Ways of Curating, London: Penguin
George, A. (2015) The Curator’s Handbook: Museums, Galleries, Independent Spaces, London, Thames & Hudson

Other Texts:
Williams, G. (2014) How to write about Contemporary Art, Gilda, London: Thames & Hudson
Goldsmith, K. (2011) Uncreative Writing, New York: Columbia University Press