Curating Contemporary Art and Design: Theory and Practice

A critical introduction to curating practice and curatorial thinking in contemporary art and design.

Dates: 22–26 July 2019 

Duration: Five days

Location: RCA Kensington

Fee: Early bird course fee £1,125 until Monday 28 February 2019 (regular price £1,250)

Please note: ​​​​​all course fees are for the course only and do not include accommodation, food or transport.
The fee includes all admission charges to temporary exhibitions and permanent collections.

Course overview

This one-week summer school provides an immersive introduction to contemporary curatorial thinking and practice in art and design. It offers critical perspectives from the viewpoint of experts who curate, research and write in the cultural sector, with a unique opportunity for participants to engage with London’s diverse creative scene.

The summer school emphasises critical thinking around curating practice and theory in a contemporary context. As well as looking at galleries and museums, the sessions consider wider modes of delivery such as interventions, public programmes, publications and digital platforms.

Led by a team of London-based historians, writers, researchers, critics and curators, the short course combines analytical debate with practical, hands-on activities taught in the world’s leading art and design university. As a forum for learning in a collaborative, lively atmosphere, the course also offers the opportunity to gain one-to-one support and advice from our faculty of experts and visiting speakers.

The course will provide a concentrated programme of workshops, masterclasses, behind-the-scenes visits, project work and critical debate. As well as experts from the Royal College of Art, previous years have included sessions with renowned curators and researchers from Tate Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Somerset House, the Museum of Modern Art and influential London fine art galleries and commissioners such as Cubitt Gallery and UP Projects.  

Considering factors such as identity, geopolitics, social economics, digital developments and the creative economies, participants will be encouraged to consider critically the role of art and design in the expanded field. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, you will explore a range of fine art and design disciplines in international contexts.

What will I learn?

    You will:
    • engage with current debates in art and design
    • explore contemporary critical and curatorial thinking
    • understand how exhibitions and related modes are conceived, researched and delivered
    • learn how to pitch project ideas.

    How will I learn?

      You will learn from:
      • masterclasses
      • one-to-one support and advice from subject experts
      • workshops and crits
      • collaborative projects
      • visits to London galleries, studios and museums.

      Sample programme

      Each morning will consist of a masterclass, followed by a workshop with discussion of the day’s task. Afternoons will include visits to exhibitions and galleries, with workshops and crits that are designed to develop the skills and insights vital to curators and critics.

      Who should attend?

        The Curating Contemporary Art and Design course is designed for early-career professionals in the arts, as well as graduates considering vocations in curatorial practices and related critical contexts. It is also suitable for those considering a change of career or a means to develop their own personal and professional practice and experience through curating or research. Previous students have gone on to deliver work together that originated in the summer school via collaborative projects and new networks established during the summer school. 

        Who is this course suitable for:

        • art and design graduates
        • early- and mid-career professionals from the cultural sector
        • curators and arts programmers
        • artists
        • writers
        • researchers.

        Programme team

        The programme is convened by academic leader Rebecca Bell who has taught on the course for the past four years. 

        Teaching will be delivered by staff from the School of Art & Humanities

        The 2019 list of speakers is to be announced. In previous years speakers have included curator, writer and historian, Michelle Millar Fisher, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Dr Danah Abdulla, lecturer at the London College of Communication and founding member of Decolonising Design and Kalimat Magazine; Linsey Young, Curator of Contemporary British Art at Tate Britain and Lead Curator for the Turner Prize; and Zara Arshad, Curatorial Research Assistant in the Design, Architecture and Digital department at the V&A.

        Admission criteria

        Participants must:
        • have an undergraduate degree 
        • have a good level of English language
        • be 18 years or over.

        How to apply

        To apply, please complete our online application form.

        This online form requires you to submit a:

        • CV
        • 500-word statement explaining relevant professional and/or academic experience

        If your application is accepted you will be emailed with a booking link so that you can make payment of the course fee by a given deadline. The place will be held until this deadline and if you do not make payment by this date then your place will be released and offered to another participant. 

        If your application is unsuccessful we will inform you by email. Unfortunately we are not able to provide individual feedback due to the volume of applications that we receive. 

        Application deadlines

        Applications will be assessed by the RCA on: 

        28 February 
        31 March 
        30 April 
        31 May 
        30 June 

        We will inform all applicants by email within two weeks of the deadline. If the course is fully booked and your application is successful we will add your name to a waiting list.

        Participants are advised to apply early to avoid disappointment as places are strictly limited. 

        We particularly advise early application if you will need a tourist visa to enter the UK.

        Disclaimer: The information given is accurate at the time of publication, however, the RCA reserves the right to amend the described courses as circumstances dictate.


        School of Arts & Humanities Executive Education
        +44 (0)20 7590 4545


        Register interest to download the full course description.

        To apply, please use our online application form.

        "The programme is well paced, and provides participants with a platform for rather well-rounded discussions through a forum of diverse audiences, international perspectives and a balanced set of academics and practitioners." Bernard Tan

        Deputy Director, Audience & Contemporary Art, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

        "I can't wait to use the knowledge gained from the workshops and apply it to my work." Alicja Ewertowska

        Head of Media in Société Gallery, Berlin

        "Together with the inspiring workshop leaders, who bring expertise and unique perspectives, we create a week of insightful debate and critical reflection on curating in art and design." Rebecca Bell

        Course Leader

        Rebecca Bell
        Rebecca Bell