Overview and entry requirements
The MA Curating Cultures programme provides an unrivalled opportunity to explore methods and approaches taken to the curating of the arts of Asia and Africa. It is particularly suitable for those who wish to develop in the arts sector or cultural industries whether that be in the context of museums, galleries, festivals, online platforms, biennales, and other display contexts. It will also appeal to practicing professionals in these areas who are interested in strengthening their knowledge and critical outlook. Themes and issues addressed include but are not limited to: histories and ideologies of curating and exhibitions, theories of collecting, interpreting objects, contemporary issues and debates regarding postmodernism, postcolonialism, repatriation and decolonization, curating and writing of exhibition texts and interpretation.
Additionally, the MA Curating Cultures programme provides an excellent postgraduate foundation for students interested in pursuing PhD research in the fields of curating and/or Art History/Archaeology of Asia and Africa in general. The aims and objectives of this MA programme is for students to:
- develop the ability to critically evaluate interpretative frameworks of museums, galleries, exhibition spaces, public art, online platforms/digital curating, and other display contexts.
- critically analyse the role practices of collecting, display, and interpretation have in the production of meaning and value of objects.
- study the methods, practices and key issues surrounding ways in which Asian and African cultures and objects have been presented from both within their own traditions and from the European perspective with a particular focus on decolonisation.
- develop an understanding of both the theory and practice of curating.
- acquire in-depth knowledge of the specific areas of Asian and African art and/or archaeology that the student chooses to study, as seen in their course selection.
See Department of History of Arts and Archeology
Why study MA Curating Cultures at SOAS
The Department of the History of Art and Archaeology contains some of the world’s leading experts in Asian and African art history and archaeology, whose ground-breaking research informs and is informed by their teaching. Many of them are also experienced curators and contribute to the vibrant programming in the Brunei Gallery at SOAS. Students benefit from the unparalleled knowledge and enthusiasm of staff. As members of the School of Arts, students also profit from the insights of scholars and students studying the Music, Film and Media of Asia and Africa in historical and contemporary contexts. They can also select from modules from within the School of the Arts and in other departments across SOAS, taking advantage of its unrivalled expertise in the languages, history, religions and cultures of Asia and Africa.
- SOAS is ranked 44th in the world in the 2021 QS World University Rankings for Arts and Humanities
- unrivalled expertise and focus on the curating of the cultures of Asia and Africa
- ideal for those planning to enter a career in the arts sector and cultural industries
- coverage and exploration of the most pertinent debates and issues today facing museums, galleries, exhibitions, and the sector in general
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.
- One year (full-time). Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
Students must complete 120 credits of MA taught modules in addition to the compulsory dissertation (60 credits).
Occasionally the availability of optional modules changes as a result of staffing and other circumstances. Students who had signed up for such modules will be notified as soon as possible and given the opportunity to choose from available alternatives.
60 credits from List A
30 credits from List A AND/OR modules from Postgraduate Open Options.
List A (subject to availability)
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
Teaching consists of a combination of lectures and seminars. Classes are normally between two and three hours per week for each course. Teaching methods include lectures with discussion, seminars (at which students present papers) and museum visits. Students at all levels are expected to take an active part in class presentations. A particularly important element is the training of the student's visual memory.
In addition to their studies on the MA programme, students at SOAS can participate in a wide range of research seminars, lectures and conferences that regularly take place in the School and in the University of London.
All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.
As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on. It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.
More information is on the page for each module.
For each of the three taught modules, the student will be expected to submit two or three pieces of written work usually around 3,000 to 4,500 words – for a total of 9,000 words per modules. The emphasis is on developing essay skills during the session in preparation for the dissertation. In some courses the assessment is 100% on written work. On other modules, assessed course work forms 75% of the student’s final grade and an additional 25% is determined by slide quizzes, projects or other forms of assessment. The 10,000 word dissertation is submitted in September.
SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.
Students in the School of Arts develop a critical and theoretically informed approach to global arts and culture. In addition to an intercultural awareness and practical expertise, graduates gain a wide portfolio of transferable skills which are especially sought after in the creative and cultural industries.
Recent School of Arts graduates have been hired by:
- Christine Park Gallery
- Design Museum
- Hong Kong Museum Of Art
- India Foundation For The Arts
- Japanese Gallery
- Museum of East Asian Art
- Music in Detention
- National Gallery
- Pan Arts
- People Projects Culture & Change
- Roundhouse Trust
- Somerset House Trust
- Songlines Magazine
- South Asian Art UK
- Stratford Circus Arts Centre
- Taiwan Embassy
- The Alliance for Global Education
- The British Embassy
- The National Museum Of Korea
- The Royal Collection
- Victoria and Albert Museum
Find out more about our Careeers Service.
A Student's Perspective
Studying Islamic Art History at SOAS has been one of the most engrossing, pleasurable and rewarding pursuits I have undertaken.The SOAS academics I encountered are exemplary. Their scholarship, first hand experiences and enthralling anecdotes brought their subjects to life. Within this rich and rigorous environment, also supported by access to other SOAS departments and the numerous co-curricular resources available in London, it is inevitable that students strive for excellence.