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Curating Contemporary Art and Design course 2021, Why Now? The Urgency of Curating, Guest Speakers

Discover contemporary art and design curatorial thinking and practice, with sector leading curators, researchers and writers.

Key details


  • Regular fee: £1750
  • FULLY BOOKED for July 2023


  • Live Online

    10 sessions over 2 weeks

    Week 1: 10–14 July 2023

    Week 2: 17–21 July 2023

    3.5 hours a day 10am – 1.30pm BST

The live online Curating Contemporary Art and Design: Theory and Practice course provides an intensive 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 opportunities for participants to engage with cutting edge curatorial approaches emerging within and beyond London.

The course emphasises critical thinking around curatorial theory and practice in a contemporary context. Through in-depth discussions with pioneering curators, participants are introduced to collections and displays of leading galleries and museums, nationally and internationally. In addition, the sessions consider wider forms of practice such as commissioning, programming, online curating, curatorial writing and publishing.

Led by the School of Arts & Humanities, the course team is composed of curators, critics, researchers, historians and writers. The course combines analytical debate with practical, hands-on activities taught from the world’s leading art and design university and delivered online. As a forum for learning in a collaborative, highly dynamic atmosphere, the course also provides the opportunity to gain one-to-one support and advice from our faculty of experts and visiting speakers.

The Curating Contemporary Art and Design course has been running successfully since 2016. 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, Serpentine, Design Museum, Somerset House, the Museum of Modern Art and influential contemporary galleries and commissioners such as Art on the Underground, Eastside Projects, Open School East, Cubitt Gallery and UP Projects.

Applications for summer 2023 are now closed.

About the course

Course theme for 2023

Curatorial risk: Uncertainty and experimentation

The global pandemic taught us all in different ways how to live with uncertainty and how to assess risk in our daily lives. There is much discussion now in the aftermath of the pandemic as to whether there is less or greater appetite for risk – is this a new era of innovative cultural practices or a moment of conservative retreat? In this context, this year's summer course asks ‘What is the value of risk and experimentation in the context of curating contemporary art and design?’ Across different geopolitical contexts, we will consider how creative practitioners are navigating uncertainty to produce innovative projects and work, while building new relationships and networks of interest. Through talks, workshops and discussions with curators, artists, designers and institutional directors, we will explore the generative potential of risk-taking for individuals as well as for organisations, and we will ask how risk can be recognised, planned for and embraced. Exploring the topic from these different perspectives, we will consider the importance of engaging actively with risk in ways that respond to the complexities of the contemporary world through creativity and experimentation.

Week 1: Curatorial encounters

Taking the course theme as a central provocation, participants will investigate risk, uncertainty and experimentation in the context of contemporary art and design curating. In the first week, you will engage in workshops, seminars, presentations and discussions with leading curators and cultural practitioners working at the forefront of the field. Through these dynamic online sessions, we will explore urgent questions concerning curatorial risk.

Week 2: Curatorial practice

In the second week, you work collaboratively in small groups learning to think collectively, while independently developing your own curatorial positions. Additional seminars, workshops and ‘crit’ sessions are delivered by leading cultural practitioners and researchers in order to provide tailored support and stimulation for this active curatorial work. At the end of week two, each group presents a project, which can be in the form of an exhibition proposal, publication, event, digital initiative, online performance, or another medium that responds to the specific question selected by that group in relation to our theme of Curatorial Risk.

Benefits include:

  • Exploring a range of fine art and design disciplines in international contexts
  • Access to curators, critics, researchers, historians and writers
  • One-to-one support and advice from the RCA's faculty of experts and visiting speakers
  • Learning in a collaborative, highly dynamic atmosphere through an interdisciplinary approach
  • Interaction and networking with international peers from different backgrounds
  • Certificate of online attendance

Since 2016, we have welcomed participants from Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum, Budapest's Museum of Applied Arts, the Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Warwick Arts Centre and the Design Trust, Gabriel Caruana Foundation, Daiwa Foundation, Arusha Gallery to name a few.

  • You will learn about current debates in art and design by engaging with professionals working at the forefront of the field
  • You will learn about the latest developments in contemporary critical and curatorial practice by encountering a range of institutions, exhibitions and curated programmes
  • You will learn how curatorial projects are conceived, researched and delivered
  • You will learn how to develop and pitch curatorial project ideas
  • You will learn how to work collaboratively

Learning takes place through a dynamic 10-day programme, delivered over two weeks. Each day features at least two sessions, comprising three-and-a-half hours of live interaction.

In these sessions, participants are taught as a group and work in smaller teams.

The sessions are delivered by RCA tutors and invited experts, including curators, artists and cultural practitioners.

These sessions feature:

  • Seminars
  • Presentations
  • Workshops
  • Encounters with exhibitions and institutions
  • One-to-one remote support and advice from subject experts
  • Collaborative group work and group discussion
  • In-depth feedback through ‘crits’
  • Project development and presentations

The course is convened by Course Leader Dr Rosie Ram, Visiting Lecturer in the School of Arts & Humanities at the Royal College of Art and overseen by Professor Victoria Walsh, Head of Programme for MA Curating Contemporary Art.

The course contributors for the 2023 programme are:

  • Abbas Zahedi, artist
  • Yael Davids, artist
  • Maria Fusco, writer and Professor of Interdisciplinary Writing at the University of Dundee
  • Margaret Salmon, artist filmmaker and Lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies and Photography at Glasgow School of Art
  • Marysia Lewandowska, artist
  • Katrina Sluis, Associate Professor and Head of Photography and Media Arts, School of Art and Design, Australian National University
  • Clémentine Deliss, Global Humanities Professor of Art History, University of Cambridge, and Associate Curator, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin
  • Zak Ové, artist 
  • Shumon Basar, curator and writer

RCA tutors for the 2023 programme include:

Disclaimer: The list of contributors is subject to change depending on availability.

The course is organised in synchronous sessions in a live virtual environment that combines various digital platforms and tools.

Using the videoconferencing service Zoom, RCA tutors and invited experts deliver a mix of:

  • Seminars
  • Presentations
  • Workshops
  • Collaborative group work and group discussion
  • In-depth feedback through ‘crits’
  • Project development and presentations
  • Participants interact with the faculty and peers in breakout rooms in real time


Participants engage in cross-functional team work with the use of visual collaboration tools.

Through the online whiteboard platform Miro, participants get to:

  • interact with various formats and templates
  • plan and brainstorm ideas
  • create processes and workshop activities in the digital workspace.


The College's learning platform Moodle is personalised according to the course's requirements to provide participants with a secure integrated system where they can access the course content.

The hub hosts a plethora of useful resources to enable the learning experience, including comprehensive timetables, pre-reading materials, course slides, curated videos, tutorials and session recordings.


Participants stay connected and communicate via the channel-based messaging platform Slack throughout the whole duration of the course.

In this space, the academics, facilitators and delegates get to network, plan the course activities, share documents and files during the live sessions or offline.

Participants will learn to:

  • Engage with current debates in art and design
  • Explore contemporary critical and curatorial practice
  • Understand how curatorial projects are conceived, researched and delivered
  • Learn how to develop and pitch project ideas
  • Learn how to work collaboratively

  • Art and design graduates
  • Early- and mid-career professionals from the cultural sector
  • Curators and arts programmers
  • Artists and designers
  • Writers
  • Researchers

Participants must:

  • Have a successful application
  • Have an undergraduate degree
  • Have a good level of English language
  • Be 21 years or over

The applications for summer 2023 are now closed.

The following instructions are no longer in effect.

How do I apply?

To apply you need to complete an online application form.

The online form requires you to submit a:

  • 300-word statement explaining relevant professional and/or academic experience and outlining your interest in the course.
  • CV

Application notes

  • Please name the CV file before uploading using the following naming convention: Full Name_CV_2023 Curating Application
  • Once you submit your application you will not be able to make changes.
  • Only applications submitted via the online form will be accepted.
  • Applications that are not complete or exceed the maximum file size will not be considered.

If your application is accepted you will be emailed with a booking link. A deadline for accepting and paying for your place will be provided in the email. The place will be held until this deadline, if you do not make payment by this date then your place will be released and offered to another participant.

Application deadlines 2023

  • Participants are advised to apply early to avoid disappointment as places are strictly limited.
  • We will start accepting applications from December 2022.
  • First round of applications will be assessed from mid January 2023.
  • Applications will be assessed by the RCA course team every 2 weeks from January 2023 until June 2023 or until the course is fully booked. We will inform all applicants by email within two weeks after they submit an application about whether or not they have been successful.
  • Unfortunately we do not provide further feedback information.
  • If the course is fully booked and your application is successful we will add your name to a waiting list.

How will I know that my place is confirmed?

The offer of a place will only be secured and confirmed when the RCA receives 100 per cent of the course fee payment. Places are secured on a first-come basis on receipt of appropriate payment.

How can I pay for the course?

The course needs to be paid in full by one instalment and via the online payment system using a debit or credit card. Once you are offered a place on the course you will receive a secure online booking link. Please complete the registration and booking process to make the booking. Please ensure that you are using the most up to date version of your internet browser. We regret that it is not possible to pay the course fee by instalments.


Contact us

Get in touch with Jo Chounta if you'd like to find out more about this or any of our other short courses.

Email us at
[email protected]
Executive Education Team