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Past Questions

  1. Hello! How has your experience been in the History of Art department?

    Hi and thanks for your question! I absolutely loved the atmosphere, both socially and intellectually, within the department. My cohort was about twenty students in all, which allowed for a small enough community to know my peers yet large enough to represent a diverse range of interests across independent research projects. Curating an exhibition as a team really brought us together! We still keep in touch and I'm encouraged by the many different directions my friends have taken after graduation. The department has excellent network opportunities and a great track record of job/internship placements.

    While I never had opportunity to meet all faculty in the department, I developed a close relationship with a few professors who were always happy to answer questions about course material or discuss future career goals. When Covid affected campus, the programme transitioned to online learning. Faculty and Barber staff remained ever-reliable in assisting and encouraging us despite tremendous challenges. Finally, the university as a whole was incredibly gracious in maintaining a safe learning environment. I felt set up for success as the library increased access to research materials, career services offered a range of resources, and campus accommodation generously worked with students to ensure they felt supported during the pandemic.

  2. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the Postgraduate taught opportunities in History of Art, Curating and Visual Studies online chat event. Is there a recording available?

    Hi and thanks for your question! You can find the recording of this event here: https://www.pg.bham.ac.uk/events/event/history-of-art-18-06-21/.

  3. Hello, I am interested in the History of Art and Curating Masters Programme. I see that the application for the course is still open. I am wondering if my bachelors degree is suitable enough and if I'm not too late to apply for the student loan to cover my tuition fee. I hold a bachelors degree in Art Education and Religion and I am currently working on management and HR skills in Solihull College. Thank you!

    Hello, thank you very much for your question and apologies in the delay getting back to you. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    This would be a question for the History of Art team - you can contact them here: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/enquiries/pgt/register-history-of-art.aspx

    Best wishes, PG Recruitment

  4. Hi, I’m doing my undergraduate in bachelors of Fine Arts. Am I qualified for the Art History Masters with my Fine art (BFA) major in painting? Thanks!

    Thanks for your enquiry regarding the MA History of Art. You can find all entry requirements for this programme at www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/taught/histart/history-art.aspx#EntryRequirementsTab. If you have any further questions, please contact the Admissions Tutor Dr Jutta Vinzent here: www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/enquiries/pgt/register-history-of-art.aspx.

  5. Hi Grace, I am a Fine Art graduate and have been wanting to apply for a Masters for a while now. If I decide to apply this year, would my practice, and the Art History and Curating MA studies, be affected by the current Covid-19 situation, and if so, how? I tried looking for information about this although if we are going to be working on an exhibition, how will it be executed public wise if we might not have the public? Thank you for your time.

    Hello and thanks for your question! The Art History department at UoB was very considerate to students when Covid-19 affected our studies. We continued classes via zoom and the campus library expanded their online resources, including vast amounts of ebooks, so our research was not significantly impacted. I felt very supported by faculty to complete course assignments in a safe environment. Regarding the exhibition project, we completed "Sights of Wonder" as an interactive online website. The Royal Collection Trust, Barber Institute staff, and our course tutors were phenomenal in collaborating with students despite gallery closures. This experience was quite useful as museums are increasingly relying on online communication to share their collections with a wider audience. We learned how to engage with visitors in creative ways since the digital platform is not as limited in space as physical galleries. We also had fun creating audio guides for objects, which otherwise would have been in-person gallery talks before a live audience. This format allowed for people outside of the UK to experience our work at any time of day. While I can't speak to when art galleries will open up again, you can find all UoB updates regarding Covid-19 at www.birmingham.ac.uk/coronavirus/index.aspx.

  6. Hi, I'm a 4th year art history student coming from California. I'm interested in pursuing a Masters in this University so I was wondering what the program is like-its process-requirements to get in and application process. I also would like to know what life is like in Birmingham e.g. campus life and what entails the daily life of an art history Masters student at the university?

    Hello, and thank you for your interest in this program! The entry requirements are very similar to other art history postgraduate schools in the USA. There is a writing sample required, but no portfolio or GRE scores. Simply submit your transcripts, personal statement, and letters of recommendation like any other online application. Coming with a BA from Washington state presented no problems. Campus life is amazing! There are so many international students to meet, social events to enjoy, and road trips offered through student associations and clubs. My advice is to try everything and participate in as much as possible because you should make the most of your year abroad. There is much culture to experience in Birmingham and if you work ahead on writing assignments, you can easily balance school and social life. Definitely take a weekend trip to London for museum visits! June-Aug are spent not in class but on writing your dissertation. If you complete this early or want to visit other cities in the summer, you can schedule travel according to your interests. Students are encouraged to travel if certain research materials are located outside of Birmingham.

    A typical day for me was 2-3 hours in class, an afternoon of homework at the library or cafe, and then maybe a group dinner out with friends. Full-time students might have classes only three days a week. If you do an internship however, this could be 9-4 on certain weekdays throughout the 11-week placement. Some internships are outside of Birmingham, so you would factor in commute time as well. Just take a book for the ride. UoB art history classes are very interactive. Every student can contribute to discussions and the group exhibition project. You will spend significantly more time reading in the library, researching online, and writing papers than in classes. Individual presentations will also require much preparation. Many classes require students presentations so if you are worried about having enough time to complete this toward the end of term, when research papers are also due, sign up for a early presentation slot. There is an expectation that students be independently motivated to carry out research, but faculty in the department are always ready to provide guidance on ideas for paper topics or have a helpful conversation with you about anything. Everyone is committed to helping students accomplish their goals.

    UoB is unique in that it offers students a chance to collaborate directly with curators and work with some of the most prestigious art collections in the world, including the Royal Collection Trust. This university is a nationally recognized institution for art history studies, equipping students with both practical and theoretical knowledge to succeed in future careers.

    More information about modules and entry requirements are found here: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/taught/histart/history-art.aspx

  7. Hi Grace, I am currently doing my undergraduate program in the United States. I am exploring my option to attain my Masters in International Business at Birmingham. I know that is not what you studied while at the university, but I wanted to ask you what the application process was like as an international student and how did you adjust to living in another country?

    Hello, thanks for your question! I found the transition to school in England very smooth. UoB has a high number of international students so faculty and staff are so accommodating for students from the USA. I felt very safe and cared for by the school throughout my whole experience. The entry requirements are similar to schools at home except you do not need to submit GRE scores. Letters of recommendation, transcripts, and personal statements are similar to any other postgraduate school application. I had no issues this these. Think of the CV as an extended resume with a heavy academic focus. You are welcome to email potential research supervisors to ask about the department. Faculty are happy to answer any questions. The application for my tier 4 student visa was a bit daunting at first but it is rather straightforward once the process begins.

    The most significant challenge for me was adapting my writing style and spelling from American English to British English for research papers. The Academic Writing Advisory Service is a great, free resource for help with this. Because classes tend to be small, it is easy to participate in discussions. I also had enough time to hold a campus job and complete assignments each semester. If you choose to live on campus, there are numerous grocery stores, banks, cafes, and pubs all conveniently located within a 20-minute walking radius. Most students do their shopping in Selly Oak, south of campus. Birmingham is the second largest city in England so make good use of the trains and buses. You can get to the city centre from University station in 15 minutes. Then it's an easy transfer to neighbouring cities for weekend or day trips. You will likely make many friends through class, campus socials, and student associations. The city also hosts frequent performances and festivals. Going abroad provides a cheaper and faster route to earning a master's degree than in the USA. Considering your interest, UoB is internationally recognized for their quality business programs. I highly recommend the experience to anyone!

    Here is a great webpage for more information: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/International/students/country/USA/index.aspx#CountryProfileTab

  8. What books or recommended reading would you suggest for incoming students? Thanks!

    There is no required reading for incoming students but you are welcome to get a head start on things over the summer. The most useful preparation I found was visiting exhibitions and keeping updated on recent changes in the sector through social media feeds and museum publications. Much of your writing will be directed by independent research and your unique perspective combined. It is helpful to begin thinking about your own approach to exhibitions. Of course your perspective should be informed by what research already exists. Useful readings include: Thinking about Exhibitions (Greenberg, 1996/2017), Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating (Hoffman, 2013), A Companion to Museum Studies (Macdonald, 2006), and Art History: A Critical Introduction to its Methods (Hatt & Klonk, 2006). You will have many required readings pulled from these books.

    Two of my favorite resources are Transforming Museums in the Twenty-First Century (Graham, 2012) and Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach (Serrell, 2015). The latter was especially useful for developing our group exhibition. There are so many useful books on museum studies. The UoB library has an extensive collection of resources available on campus and in the ebook collection so feel free to have a look on this webpage for other ideas: https://libguides.bham.ac.uk/subjectsupport/histart. Happy reading!

  9. Hi, I want to know about the direction of this course. Does this course have more focus about ancient theories? I'm interested in contemporary art and curating, so, I wonder if this course is too far from my interests.

    Thanks for your question! The department is excellent for students who wish to study contemporary art and curating. Our research specialties include art, gender and sexuality, and imperialism, nationalism and the decolonization of art institutions. Dr Gregory Salter, Camilla Smith and Jutta Vinzent all specialize in 20th-century art and onwards. If you continue on to a PhD, there are others who supervise contemporary art research as well. My dissertation was on sound art installations and half of my class chose to research living artists. Dr Claire Jones brings a wealth of experience to the curatorial modules. She encourages students to think outside the box when it comes to new display methods. Exhibition Cultures would be a great choice for you. This module covers topics such as the white cube, performance art, artist interventions, the Biennale, and solo versus blockbuster exhibitions. One of our lectures included a field trip to the Barry Flanagan show at the Ikon Gallery. There we analyzed curatorial approaches to new media art and sculpture.

    The programme really melds together theoretical and practical elements of curating. Students who choose Grand Union as their exhibition site work directly with living artists, visit their studios, and collaborate with curators to develop a contemporary art exhibition. You can view their past exhibitions here: grand-union.org.uk/type/exhibitions. 'On the Subject of Precarity' was curated by the 2018-19 student cohort. Birmingham itself offers numerous locations to study contemporary art. Besides the Ikon Gallery, the Digbeth neighbourhood (where Grand Union is) hosts First Friday each month. These evenings allow the community to support local talent, tour independent art galleries, attend performances, and even speak with artists.

    Feel free to contact faculty in the department. Tutors are happy to advise on potential research topics. I found the programme very supportive of students intent on working in contemporary art galleries and museums. Hope this helps!

  10. Hello, I've been accepted to do the MA History of Art and Curating course part time. I'm worried about balancing my job with the work as well as commuting into Birmingham (I live an hour away). Is this manageable?

    Congratulations on your acceptance! The course load is quite manageable for part-time students. A few of my colleagues commute an hour away, work part-time, and find an ideal balance for it all. Take advantage of the train system. University station is only two stops away from New Street. Consider season tickets, or purchase your tickets in advance, as some days are more expensive than others.

    As a part-time student, you only need to be on campus at least two days a week. Within the first month of classes, you will develop a good sense of how much time to set aside for coursework. This will help you plan the rest of the year according to your other commitments. The amount of time spent on coursework also depends on what modules you have each term. For example, you might take a placement module in the fall. If so, consider taking your other optional module in the spring, instead of both at the same time. For Curatorial Practices, deadlines are structured throughout the year. This means that extended group work, which requires more time on campus, occurs periodically. Module tutors will inform you of all critical dates at the beginning of the year.

    Give yourself enough time each week to ensure you are not overwhelmed with coursework. Students manage multiple deadlines throughout the year, sometimes falling within the same week, so plan to work ahead when possible. This will help you minimize stress and submit assignments with confidence.

  11. Are there many people on the course (or variations of) who have children? I’m a stay at home mum with two children.

    There are about 25 postgraduate students this year studying History of Art and History of Art and Curating combined. While I don't know anyone who has young children, there are some students who have teenagers at home. A few students are doing the MA program part-time, coming to campus 2-3 days a week. They appreciate the ability to continue working alongside academic coursework. The university also offers childcare services both on and near campus for children aged 6 weeks to 4 years. This is a great support for students as well.

  12. Hi, please can you tell me whether it’s possible to study History of Art via distance learning?

    Absolutely! The university offers both a History of Art PhD and MA by research via distance learning. There are a couple scholarships available through the department and they are highly competitive. The best thing would be to email art history faculty regarding these opportunities. The university offers many more scholarships and these deadlines vary.

    Here is a link to distance learning information and funding resources: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/research/histart/history-art.aspx

  13. I am interested in the MA in Art History by research and by distance learning. I would like to know about scholarships and deadline funding, considering that I'd like to start sept 2020. Thank you!

    The university offers both a History of Art PhD and MA by research via distance learning. The university offers many scholarships and these deadlines vary. Here is a link to distance learning information and funding resources: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/research/histart/history-art.aspx

  14. What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

    I chose to begin a Masters degree because many positions within museums require at least this level of education. Speaking with curators and staff at the Smithsonian Institution taught me how much competition exists within the museum sector. Therefore, it was important to be strategic in choosing my degree. I chose the University of Birmingham because it offered me the opportunity to receive a specialized education, in a small-class setting, while simultaneously gain experience in the field. I have the chance to collaborate with two different museums as an integrated component of my program, which will provide valuable experience to my future career.

  15. What, for you, are the best things about the course?

    The best thing about my program is that, whether students want to gain experience in contemporary or historical art curation, the University of Birmingham offers both. During the year, students curate an exhibition at either the Grand Union, a local gallery, or the university’s own Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Those who choose Grand Union collaborate with living artists, visit their studios, and think about curatorial approaches to art of the 21st century. Students at the Barber work with curators and objects of the Royal Collection Trust, based at Windsor Castle, to develop a more traditional exhibition. All students receive guidance from faculty and curators who help them think critically about interpretation methods, marketing strategies, and practical aspects of planning an exhibit.

  16. What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?

    Think about what career interests you, and how you might tailor your degree to this goal. Are you considering curatorial work, public history, or academic writing? If you would like to enter the museum sector, there are many different specializations within this field, so doing a bit of research before applying to schools will help you evaluate the academic program best for you. Consider faculty research specialties and job requirements for certain positions you intend to pursue after university. Check to see if the academic department maintains partnerships with local arts institutions, as this often leads to volunteer and internship opportunities that will enrich your education outside the classroom.