Collections and Curating Practices - MSc by Research

Master of Research in Curating & Collections video

Programme overview

Develop your skills and specialist expertise for a career in curating while taking full advantage of Edinburgh’s outstanding collections and galleries.

Drawing on resources and expertise from across the University and city, you will have the opportunity to combine research-focused study with immersion in live projects realised in partnership with leading arts, science and heritage organisations.

As a student, you will join a strong, supportive academic and professional community while pursuing your own specialist research topic. The flexible format of the programme has been designed to support a range of interests, from the collection and curation of contemporary art or decorative artefacts right through to anatomical models and biological specimens.

If you have a background in the field – either through previous study in a related discipline or professional experience – and a desire to deepen your knowledge while expanding your vocational skills and networks, you’ll find our programme offers an ideal balance.

Collections and Curating Practices is delivered in partnership with National Museums Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, Talbot Rice Gallery, The Fruitmarket Gallery, and the University of Edinburgh's own Special Collections.

"What we’re looking for is a person that comes with a specific experience or a set of ideas or a deep passion for something in particular"

Michael Govan, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Director

Programme structure

The programme comprises:

  1. A substantial guided research placement offered to small groups of students in partnership with Edinburgh’s flagship cultural institutions. Working collaboratively, you will deliver a project defined in advance by the institution. Placements will be designed to enable you to gain direct hands-on experience in the research elements of the institutions’ work, from curating exhibitions, developing public engagement programmes or conducting research into a particular object, collection or archive.
  2. A compulsory core course examining the theories and methods of collecting and curatorship. Delivered by specialists drawn from across the university and the professional field, this course will enable you to develop a critical understanding of the issues and debates that define the sector, as well as enhance your knowledge of the practical aspects of curatorship and collections management. The course includes intensive workshops focused on practical training in aspects including object handling, storage, transportation and accreditation processes.
  3. Either one independent research essay on a topic chosen in consultation with your supervisor, or two option courses selected from a wide-range offered by allied disciplines both within ECA and across the University of Edinburgh.
  4. A thesis or individual research project, supervised by a specialist in your chosen field.

Opportunities and activities

Edinburgh College of Art has a formidable track record for curatorial engagements in teaching and research. You will become part of our strong academic community and will be encouraged to participate in the University’s rich programme of research seminars, colloquia and conferences. As a research student you will have access to ECA’s newly refurbished study space.

Direct engagement with our partner institutions and their staff will provide you with valuable opportunities to develop your skills and networks in a practical setting. These experiences will be further enhanced through our masterclass programme where visiting specialists will introduce you to innovative approaches to collections research, management and engagement.

As part of your training you will co-organise our annual Collections and Curatorial Practices public conference and may also contribute to the programme.


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Scholarships & bursaries

Scholarships available for one academic year of postgraduate study at Edinburgh College of Art. (£15,000)

News & events

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"The Common Sense" on display in Talbot Rice Gallery during the British Art Show in 2015
"The Common Sense" (2015) on display in Talbot Rice Gallery during the British Art Show in 2015
Image by Chris Park

Its first acquisition, The Common Sense, was initiated through teaching and research in History of Art.

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History of Art students at the National Galleries of Scotland storage facility with NGS staff
Collection Development Group with artist Claire Barclay, Senior Curator Lucy Askew and Conservation Technician Paul Rimmer
Photography by Isabella Russell

Postgrad student Regina Konovalova describes a visit to NGS's Modern Art storage warehouse in Granton, Edinburgh.


Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5739