Course Overview

Attendance
UK/EU Fees £6,000 *
International Fees £12,500 *
Alumni Discount See details
Duration 1 year

* Price per academic year

Course summary

This interdisciplinary, visual theory-based course is established around the belief that visual literacy and the impact of visual forms of thinking and working play significant roles in our society. On the course, we interrogate visual perception and representation in high and popular culture, explore how these produce meanings, and how such meanings shape societies and individuals.

The course introduces you to a wide range of historical and contemporary debates that inform the theories and practices of visual culture, and supports you in developing a conceptual framework within which to evaluate the role of the visual arts, and other forms of visual production, in contemporary society and culture.

The course gives you a solid grounding for careers in the art and cultural sectors as well as academia, and it is also suitable for practicing artists wishing to further their research.

This MA balances historical and theoretical debates in the field of visual culture studies with a rigorous interrogation of cultural practices across a range of topics, including: activism and popular politics; contemporary visual arts; capitalism and culture; digital culture and new media technologies; theory and practice of archive research; material culture of the city; representation of the cultural ‘other’, among others.

Many of these modules include class visits to leading museums, galleries and archives in London: this provides a fantastic opportunity to engage directly with the city’s cultural institutions and intellectual resources, in doing so providing you with sophisticated critical thinking skills as well as practical knowledge of how the cultural sector operates.

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.

You will choose four modules from the option modules listed below.

Core modules

This extended piece of independent research (12,000 words) gives you an opportunity to pursue a topic of interest, and is conducted through individual study and directed supervision. You will work with a supervisor who has expertise in a discipline relevant to their project and who will provide guidance and individual academic support with developing, researching and writing the dissertation.

The dissertation is the final component of the programme and is completed in the last few months of the MA. The period of independent dissertation research is supplemented by a series of workshops, which you attend in the second semester of their studies. These workshops are designed to support you working on the dissertation and help develop a range of relevant skills, including: advanced research skills, academic writing skills, engagement with visual material and critical thinking.

This module offers a critical introduction to contemporary visual culture studies through analysis of the major approaches underlying the interdisciplinary, cross-cultural study of politics and society. It is built around the key theorists in the field, and through their work examines the complex interactions of culture in relation to politics, economy and society.

This module aims to give a critical introduction to contemporary visual culture studies; to offer a sound critical understanding of the diverse themes in the development of visual culture studies; to explore the various links and tensions between different approaches and problems raised by cultural studies, as a basis for more advanced study; and to develop an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural framework for analysing the complex interactions of visual culture in relation to politics, economy and society.

The keys to this module are interpretation and analysis. The module aims to question what is visual culture in relation to the cultural, political and economic context of contemporary visual arts. It aims to make links with the theoretical debates studied in the parallel module ‘Theoretical and Critical Perspectives’ and the practice of visual culture in its diverse forms paying particular attention to contemporary art practice, including film and photography.

The module explores visual culture through three areas. Production: the creation of artworks and other creative forms; Display: the way that these forms are then represented, collected, made available to the public. Discourse: how critical debate and interpretation has been developed around them both through theory and practice, such as museum curating. This module also aims to examine historical and contemporary notions of institutional collection, curatorial, archival and display practices. Attention will be paid to objects as evidence of their original production and use, their cultural biographies and the way they are interpreted in relation to exhibition spaces.

Option modules

Beginning with Marx’s famous account of the commodity in the first chapter of Capital, this module explores a range of theoretical accounts of capitalism and examines their significance to the analysis of different cultural forms, including film, literature, and the contemporary visual arts. In doing so, you will consider changing conceptions of ‘culture’ itself, and its varying relations to ideas of art, modernity, production, the mass, autonomy, spectacle, and the culture industry.

Specifically, this module aims to investigate the relationship between capitalism and the culture of modernity; to assess and investigate a number of different theoretical accounts of capitalism; to relate these different accounts to a range of cultural forms under capitalism, including art, literature, architecture, film, and television; to consider changing conceptions of ‘culture’ itself, and its varying relations to ideas of art, production, the mass, autonomy, spectacle, and the culture industry; and to explore the idea of a specific visual culture of capitalism, and its relationship to the commodity form.

This module aims to explore the practical and theoretical issues of using archives for the purposes of research or exhibition and, in doing so, to evaluate critically the complex relations between archival practice and theory. Specifically, the practical issues that the module aims to examine relate to the management of and access to archives, and how these impact on research and curating; while the theoretical issues considered relate to the politics of the archive, including curatorial and artistic intervention, the construction of meaning and memory. The module is taught through workshops and seminars, and gives you privileged and guided access to the unique collections of the University of Westminster Archive.

This module aims to explore the issues surrounding the practice of representation, focusing in particular on the role played by western cultural institutions in presenting non-western cultures to a diverse audience through visual practices. Specifically, the module aims to examine and critique how world cultures are represented in a range of contexts; the power relations embedded in the practice of representation and, in a related way, its ethical dimension; the ways in which the representation of non-western cultures in the context of western cultural institutions produces meanings about the ‘Other’; and how this impacts on the formation of social identities and relations.

Through seminars, workshops and site visits to London museums and archives, the module aims to bring the analysis of specific theoretical frameworks to bear on the evaluation of ethnographic and historical collections and exhibitions. In doing so, it aims to encourage you to engage with and initiate critical discussions into the ways in which current representations of non-western cultures influence our ways of seeing the ‘Other’.

Using a range of theoretical, historical, literary, visual and other cultural texts, this module explores the idea of urban culture as it has developed since the mid nineteenth century. Focusing, in particular, on the distinctive concept of the modern metropolis, the module considers a variety of different representations of the city and critically examines the divergent ways in which they understand the specificity of urban experience itself.

Specifically, this module aims to examine the formation and representation of modern urban culture through the analysis of specific theoretical, literary, visual and other cultural texts; to investigate developing conceptions of a distinctive metropolitan experience from the mid nineteenth century onwards; to introduce and assess different theoretical and critical accounts of urban culture; to consider the relationship between urban cultures and capitalism as a social form; to explore the relationships between the particular histories and cultures of specific cities and general conceptions of the urban as a social-spatial form; to consider the changing global forms and interrelations of ‘western’ and ‘non-western’ urban forms; and to examine the implications of interdisciplinary study in relation to the city.

This module looks in detail at the Museum of London. On each session a guest curator will present their individual approach to curating. You will discuss the many ways that museum exhibitions are constructed, how texts and displays are designed and why learning and education is a central part of the museum’s narrative. This module will explore different subject areas, such as archaeology, contemporary history or fashion and reveal the challenges to curators in interpreting and displaying material for exhibition.

Specifically, this module aims to examine contemporary museum and gallery displays and exhibitions in London, with case studies of the Museum of London; to interrogate the concept of narrative, and how it is used to ‘construct’ social and cultural history; and to examine how objects and images are used within curatorial display practices.

This module aims to enable you to gain first-hand experience of working within a context relevant to their career objectives; to enhance the opportunities for translating theoretical and practical knowledge into professional skills and to encourage you to make beneficial connections within a professional context. We have established contacts with a range of galleries and organisations for work placements and support you in finding an appropriate host institution.

Recent work placements on the module have included the Museum of London, the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Camden Arts Centre, Arts Catalyst, Film London, Jessica Carlise Gallery, the British Film Institute, the Chinese Film Festival and the Wellcome Trust.  We also work with the University careers office to help you develop skills for entering the job market.

This module addresses one of the most urgent and, at the same time, elusive contemporary issues: the relationship between culture and the rise of digital media. It explores the production, circulation and cultural impact of digital technologies and considers how their emergence influences society, contemporary culture, and the relationship between the two. The module introduces key themes and debates in digital culture and explores ways I which digital environments impact how we produce, engage with, and thus understand, their cultural formations.

Specifically, this module aims to interrogate the impact of digital technologies in relation to contemporary culture through discussions of representative digital phenomena and critical and theoretical debates in digital culture; to apply theory in practice by participating in digital culture; to develop advanced capacity to critically analyse digital cultures; to develop an interdisciplinary framework for analysing the complex interactions of digital technologies and diverse forms of cultural production today; and to examine the implications of the ubiquitous digital technologies for cultural institutions.

Entry Requirements

Typical offer

You should have a good Honours degree (usually 2:1 or above, or equivalent) in a relevant subject area, including any discipline in arts and humanities, fine art and performing arts, as well as some social science subjects. Relevant work experience might also be taken into consideration, especially in the case of applicants who don’t meet the standard entry criteria.

If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS score of at least 6.5 with 7.0 in writing (or equivalent). Applicants may also be asked to provide an example of previous written work as part of the application. The University offers pre-sessional summer programmes if you need to improve your English before starting your course.

View more information about our entry requirements and the application process

Typical offer

You should have a good Honours degree (usually 2:1 or above, or equivalent) in a relevant subject area, including any discipline in arts and humanities, fine art and performing arts, as well as some social science subjects. Relevant work experience might also be taken into consideration, especially in the case of applicants who don’t meet the standard entry criteria.

If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS score of at least 6.5 with 7.0 in writing (or equivalent). Applicants may also be asked to provide an example of previous written work as part of the application. The University offers pre-sessional summer programmes if you need to improve your English before starting your course.

More information

Careers

The MA in Art and Visual Culture prepares students for careers in the art and cultural sector as well as academia. The combination of seminars, workshops and field trips that the course offers equips students with sophisticated critical thinking skills as well as practical knowledge of how the cultural sector operates. As a result, many of our students have gone on to pursue successful careers as curators, artists, cultural consultants, events and communications managers, media arts project managers, editors and public relations specialists.

Many others have gone on to MPhil/PhD study in fields such as art history and visual culture, cultural studies and media. As part of the course, students have an opportunity to take a work experience module, which involves placements in art and cultural institutions in London and a chance to build a career profile. We work with the university careers office to help students prepare for entering the job market.

Our Career Development Centre has just been shortlisted for the Best University Careers Service in the National Undergraduate Employability Awards for 2017.

With a growing network of over 3,000 employers around the world and a team of experienced careers consultants, we are here to help you succeed.

In 2015–16, we helped over 1,500 students find work placements across a range of sectors, with 250 employers attending 14 on-campus skills and careers fairs.

As a Westminster student, you’ll have access to our services throughout your studies and after you graduate.

We can help you:

  • find work placements related to your course
  • find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
  • find international opportunities to enhance your employability
  • market yourself effectively to employers
  • write better CVs and application forms
  • develop your interview and enterprise skills
  • plan your career with our careers consultants
  • meet employers and explore your career options at our employer fairs, careers presentations and networking events throughout the year

Find out more about the Career Development Centre.

What our students say

Veronica Posada Alvarez

Veronica Posada Alvarez

Art and Visual Culture MA

During my year on the Art and Visual Culture MA, I gained critical thinking skills for the analysis of contemporary social, cultural and political issues.

I have met incredible academics and fellow students, who have given me the opportunity to see the world from other perspectives.

Sofia Pancucci-McQueen

Sofia Pancucci-McQueen

Art and Visual Culture MA

Studying on the Art and Visual Culture MA at Westminster was a thoroughly rewarding experience.

The course modules were structured extremely well, enabling me to establish strong understandings of key theoretical concepts and texts in order to engage in pertinent debates about contemporary culture.

Beatrize Barkholz

Beatrize Barkholz

Art and Visual Culture MA

After a few years of working in the creative industry, the Art and Visual Culture MA gave me the theoretical depth I was missing.

The interdisciplinary design of the program covered a range of my interests - from contemporary art and literature to urban and digital culture. I now pursue a career in cultural insight and innovation research.

Find out more

15% discount for teachers

If you are currently teaching in a UK secondary school or further education college, you may be entitled to a 15% discount on this MA course.

Find out more

English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies webinar

Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies

Fees and Funding

UK and EU tuition fee: £6,000 (Price per academic year)

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.

Funding

As well as tuition fee loans, there is a range of funding available to help you fund your studies.

Find out about postgraduate student funding options.

Scholarships

The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Additional costs

See what you may need to pay for separately and what your tuition fees cover.

International tuition fee: £12,500 (Price per academic year)

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.

Funding

Find out about funding for international students.

Scholarships

The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Additional costs

See what you may need to pay for separately and what your tuition fees cover.

Course Location

Our Regent Campus is composed of three sites all situated on and around one of the most famous and vibrant streets in London. The Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities is based at 309 Regent Street and includes recently refurbished social spaces and gym facilities. Students in the faculty are also taught at our Wells Street site. Westminster Law School resides at Little Titchfield Street. Alongside a full mock courtroom, hi-tech learning spaces and a pro-bono clinic, it also houses our state-of-the-art, 382-seat lecture theatre. For more details, visit our locations page.

Contact us

Call our dedicated team on:

+44 (0)20 7915 5511

Opening hours (GMT): 9am-5pm Monday to Friday

[email protected]

More information

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