Birkbeck offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses relevant to those interested in museums and curatorial practices.
BA History of Art with Curating
Are you interested in a career in galleries and museums, arts policy and education, or in the broader cultural and heritage sectors? On our BA History of Art with Curating you will learn to research the social and historical contexts in which visual art has been produced, and write confidently and analytically about texts and images. At the same time, you will be introduced to current curatorial approaches and debates, and given opportunities to put your knowledge and ideas into practice in a supportive and collaborative environment.
While some of our students have studied art history at school or have completed short courses, most haven’t studied the subject in any depth prior to starting this course. The first-year modules are therefore intended to provide you with academic skills and a good grounding in the discipline. As you progress through the course, you will have opportunities to explore different types of visual culture in more detail. Studying at Birkbeck you are based in the heart of London, close to museums and galleries, while being part of a vibrant and stimulating student community.
This programme is also available for part-time evening study over four years or six years.
Postgraduate Certificate in Curating and Collections Management
The Postgraduate Certificate in Curating and Collections Management offers you a unique opportunity to gain practical skills in museum work and to better understand the issues facing curators and collections managers today. It will help you answer important questions such as:
- How do you pitch a proposal for an exhibition?
- How would you project manage this and who would need to be involved?
- How would you organise a loan for an exhibition?
- What are the different ways of cataloguing a museum object and why does the information you keep matter?
- How would you store a sacred object, or something that was extremely fragile?
You will spend two intensive weeks (one per year) studying the foundational principles of curating and collections management, debating the challenges and opportunities of contemporary museums and gallery practice and visiting London museums and galleries. You will listen to experts talking about their working practices, learn skills of documentation and work in groups to develop an exhibition.
This Postgraduate Certificate is suitable if you have a first degree and are interested in a vocational qualification, or as a refresher course if you are already working in a museum and gallery.
MA Museum Cultures
The MA Museum Cultures offers you the opportunity to study this expanding and dynamic field in close proximity to world-distinguished museums and galleries. If you are contemplating a career in the museum and gallery sector and want to understand contemporary debates about museums and their cultural significance, then this is the course for you. Museums have been of enormous importance in shaping empires, nations and cities, and their collections are connected to wider histories of conflict and social change. To study museums is to study the development and fierce contestation of our collective cultural imagination and memory.
Our MA gives you the chance to develop a range of key skills, from critical thinking and writing to practical experience through a supervised work placement in a museum, gallery or archive. Previous work placements have been offered at the Tate, British Museum, Whitechapel Gallery and Horniman Museum. Past students have helped design and run schools programmes, documented collections that were previously uncatalogued, conducted visitor research and assisted curators in producing exhibitions. As well as regular gallery and museum visits, we also offer an exciting study trip abroad every spring.
MA Museum Cultures with Collections Management
Museums have been of enormous importance in shaping empires, nations and cities, and their collections are connected to wider histories of conflict and social change. Our MA Museum Cultures with Collections Management combines study of the history and cultural significance of museums with opportunities for professional museum experience.
This MA will give you a solid grasp of foundational skills and key issues in collections management. During an intensive week studying current issues and practices you will meet experts in London museums and galleries and engage in hands on activities including documentation, cataloguing and issuing loan requests.
You will also have the opportunity to undertake a 10-week supervised work placement in a museum, gallery or archive. Previous work placements have been offered at the Tate, British Museum, Whitechapel Gallery and Horniman Museum. Past students have documented collections that were previously uncatalogued, helped design and run schools programmes, conducted visitor research and assisted curators in producing exhibitions. There is also the option to join our study trips, offered each spring. Cities visited in the last few years include Florence, Paris, Venice, Vienna, Rome, Berlin and Moscow.
MA Public Histories
This MA introduces you to key aspects and issues of the practice of public history. It provides you with the necessary theoretical and practical skills to undertake critical assessments of public history projects and interventions – as well as to create your own. Its focus on public history in practice provides you with a wide range of examples of different types and methods of public history, from museums and material culture, to public history in the media, to the role of history in policy making. This MA aims to give you a sense of the wide range of public history, the variety of roles played by historians in public, and the importance and impact of public history in politics, culture, and society.
The MA Public Histories provides relevant training for careers in media, education, museums and heritage, publishing, and policy, and it also provides rigorous training in the historical discipline suitable to prepare you for further personal or professional research, or research at MPhil/PhD level.
MA Digital Media Culture
How can scholars keep pace with the rapidly changing field of digital media, design and culture? Is it possible to learn academic research skills, approaches and methods that facilitate the understanding of both current forms of digital culture and the anticipation of future developments in digital media? The MA Digital Media Culture at Birkbeck introduces you to the key intellectual debates, discussions and texts shaping the field of digital culture and media theory.
This course provides the conceptual framework required to analyse and comprehend the digital environments of today and tomorrow. It is one of the only MA degrees in the UK to combine academic rigour and scholarly consideration with the opportunity for hands-on training in digital media design and management. The philosophy of the programme is that critical thinking about digital culture is enhanced by direct exposure to digital media software, technologies and design practices.