MA Exhibition Studies

Exhibition Studies MA

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £6,250
Home/EU part-time tuition fee: £34.75 per credit
International full time annual tuition fee: £13,250

Course type



Liverpool School of Art and Design

Study mode

Full Time & Part Time

About your course

Exhibition Studies is a postgraduate degree that engages with the exhibition formats, through a theoretical and practical understanding of what constitutes an exhibition in the 21st century. The curriculum focuses on exhibition histories from 1850 onwards where students are encouraged to apply their own expertise, as well as studio practice, to develop research topics through project-based learning.

  • Full time one year, part time two years
  • Supported by internationally renowned arts organisations, including Liverpool Biennial, Tate Liverpool, FACT, RIBA North and Aarhus University, Denmark 
  • Benefit directly from the degree's links to the Exhibition Research Lab and a range of international collaborations and partnerships developed by staff
  • Offers best practice and the very latest in innovative forms of exhibition and curatorial practices
  • Students can apply for the prestigious Susan Cotton Travel Awards and a range of other study bursaries available
  • The School of Art and Design offers a unique collaborative environment for postgraduate students. VIDEO: Hear about postgraduate research from the Director of School 

Watch our course video

Connect with the work of established curators and researchers working in cognate topics internationally.

MA Exhibition Studies is the only degree of its kind in the UK to focus on the craft and culture of exhibitions, and the Biennial is fully supportive of its aims. I am proud to be an advisor on the programme and I look forward to working with students to advance their knowledge and to develop new and engaging ways of curating, exhibiting and demonstrating the value of art.

Sally Tallant, Director, Liverpool Biennial

Introduction to the School

Liverpool School of Art and Design has a dynamic interdisciplinary culture which supports interaction between staff and students, within and across subject areas.

Research excellence

In the 2014 REF, 85% of research submitted by Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory at LJMU was either recognised internationally, or considered as internationally excellent. This research helps ensure that our postgraduate courses are positioned at the leading edge of developments in the field and that you have an opportunity to study alongside leading experts.

Research is organised thematically to bring together disciplines and exploit their methods to address issues of significance and concern to the broader culture of the city and beyond. Our internationally excellent research informs our curriculum and underpins our teaching, and all our staff, including Readers and Professors, are involved in the day-to-day delivery of undergraduate as well as postgraduate and research programmes.

Research includes:

  • contemporary art and design practice
  • international art
  • sound and the visual arts
  • art history
  • exhibition studies
  • art and creative technologies
  • environmental art
  • contemporary printmaking
  • illustration
  • urban architecture

We are also particularly interested in interdisciplinary methodologies.

Why study this course at LJMU?

The programme is located at the School of Art and Design, the oldest art school in the UK outside of London, originally established in 1825 as the Liverpool Mechanics’ School of Art Institute.

Today the School is housed in the RIBA award winning John Lennon Art and Design Building and offers extensive studio spaces, lecture theatres and a dedicated public exhibition space.  Liverpool is a thriving city of culture and the perfect place to study the art of exhibitions, as the city has a thriving arts and exhibition culture. With close links to local and international arts organisations, this unique programme of study focuses on the history and practice of exhibition culture, allowing you to specialise in diverse fields of design, art, fashion and crafts.The programme focuses on the history and practice of exhibition culture, and specifically on the mediation of curatorial projects in galleries and museums, biennials and other survey exhibitions.

You will be studying under the direction of a variety of leading thinkers in contemporary arts, with input from visiting professors and advisors.

Permenent staff members include:

Dr Michael Birchall is Senior Lecturer in Exhibition Studies and Curator of Public Practice at Tate Liverpool. He is currently engaged in research around socially engaged art, community art, curatorial practice and theory, exhibition histories from the 1960s onwards, and new forms of creative labour in the arts, and would welcome PhD researchers in these areas. An academic of international standing he has also spoken in North America, Europe and Australia. He is curating multiple projects at Tate Exchange in Liverpool; and is steering Tate Liverpool's Research Centre in Curatorial Practice and Museology.

Professor Joasia Krysa, is Director of Exhibition Research Lab at Liverpool John Moores University, with a joint appointment at Liverpool Biennial. In 2016 she was awarded an Honorary Associate Professorship at Aarhus University, Denmark. Previously she was Artistic Director of Kunsthal Aarhus in Denmark (2012-15) and served as part of curatorial team for DOCUMENTA 13 and Liverpool Biennial 2016. Her research and curatorial practice is located across contemporary art, digital culture and critical theory, with a distinctive research expertise in the intersection of curating and computation.

Programme outline and structure

The programme is underpinned by the work of the Exhibition Research Lab. It draws upon the internationally distinguished expertise of staff and visiting staff engaged in theoretical and applied research in the field of exhibitions studies and curating, in collaboration with key cultural local and international institutions.

Operating in close partnership with Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial, FACT (Foundation for Creative Art and Technology) and RIBA North (Royal Institute of British Architects), we can offer our students opportunities to develop public presentations, curatorial projects, and exhibitions in real-life contexts.

In addition, the programme benefits from the context of our own Exhibition Research Lab Gallery located at the School Art and Design John Lennon Building; LJMU Library, Special Collections and Archives (including Liverpool Biennial Archives) as well as a range of international collaborations and partnerships developed by staff.

Teaching on the programme is delivered within the studio environment, with a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, study visits and field trips.

What you will study on this degree

Please see guidance below on core modules for further information on what you will study.

  • Exhibition Studio Practice (Exhibition Studies)

You will be introduced to the professional practice of exhibition making during this module. It provides an opportunity to share, investigate and contextualise experiences of exhibition making. The module is assessed through a portfolio of written work and related documentation, presentation of exhibition proposal, and a viva

  • Research and Practice 1

This shared module for all Liverpool School of Art and Design taught postgraduate programmes provides an introduction to practice-based research, history and theory as applied to the wider field of Art and Design. It will introduce you to a variety of research methods and skills and offers an exploration of the diversity of contemporary practice at the forefront of the represented disciplines

  • Research and Practice 2

You will be introduced to the field of Exhibition Studies through the study of significant historic exhibitions with key contextual readings. You will be introduced to various case study examples to test and develop ideas for the written assignment through analysis, discussion and reflection. The module introduces the histories and practices of exhibition-making and develops your interpretative theoretical and discursive skills. It offers a critical environment within which you can develop the skills necessary to debate and critically evaluate exhibition studies

  • Collaborative Practice

An exciting shared module for all Liverpool School of Art and Design taught postgraduate programmes which will provide you with an opportunity to work closely with departments and internal partners within the School and the wider LJMU community, and with external partners in the UK and internationally. Outcomes should include proposals for applied creative projects and demonstrable practice based artefacts relevant for exhibition purposes. An emphasis will be placed on you furthering the understanding of your chosen pathways within the programme and developing professional links and experience in disseminating work to the public/professional bodies

  • Major Project – Exhibition Studies

You will undertake and complete a sustained research project in the field of Exhibition Studies on a topic agreed with the module supervisor. Building on advanced skills in practice, research and scholarship assessed at Certificate and Diploma modules, you will identify, research, and organise a significant piece of scholarly writing or undertake a practical project. Both options are undertaken with the support and advice provided through general, small-group, and tutorial meetings. The module is assessed through a written dissertation or practical project (thesis exhibition) accompanied by a written report. 


Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled 'What you will study' is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of either core or option modules. Modules are designated as core or option in accordance with professional body requirements and internal Academic Framework review, so may be subject to change. Students will be required to undertake modules that the University designates as core and will have a choice of designated option modules. Additionally, option modules may be offered subject to meeting minimum student numbers.

Please email if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

​You will be assessed by a range of methods as you progress through the degree. 

You will be assessed by: coursework, written essays, reports, oral presentations, projects and evaluations. The major project will comprise a written dissertation or practical project (thesis exhibition) and a written report. In most modules more than one piece of assessment is required. Programme assessment seeks to replicate professional curatorial and exhibition practice.


Staff research interests

The programme is taught by curators and academics with embedded posts in the region's most significant arts and cultural organisations.

Programme leader, Dr Michael Birchall, holds a collaborative post with Tate Liverpool, where he is curator of public practice; and Prof. Joasia Krysa holds a collaborate post with Liverpool Biennial.

Exhibition Studies is uniquely based in Liverpool where it draws upon a range of museums and cultural institutions for teaching, research and internship opportunities.

Exhibition Research Lab The programme is part of the Exhibition Research Lab, which underpins the research and practice activity of the programme. This includes a series of conferences and visiting lectures in response to student interests: Lars Bang Larsen, co-curator Sao Paolo Biennial 2016; Eoin Dara, Head of Programmes, Dundee Contemporary Art; Francesco Manacorda, Artistic Director, Tate Liverpool; Sally Tallant, Director, Liverpool Biennial; Jacob Lund and Geoff Cox, Co-directors The Contemporary Condition, Aarhus University, Juliana Engberg, Artistic Director, European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017, Denmark; Koyo Kouoh, Director Raw Material Company, Dakar.  

Entry requirements (Home)

Our philosophy enables us to accept a wide range of applicants.

All candidates must be able to demonstrate the ability to benefit from and contribute to the programme. Although most applicants will be graduates, the fact that candidates may not have a degree is not necessarily a bar to entry. Applications from non-standard applicants are welcomed. The Programme Leader will make a decision on whether to admit the candidate on the basis of experience.

Applications to masters study within Exhibition Studies will normally be considered in the light of the candidate's ability to meet the following criteria:

1. Generally applicants should have a 2:1 or above degree in a visual arts related subject. Appropriate indicators will include references, academic transcripts or their equivalent.

2. The applicant must demonstrate a sufficient level of knowledge to embark upon the programme (including the required linguistic competence) and to complete the programme within the required time limits.

3. Applicants should provide evidence, in the view of the assessors, of the learning capability, study opportunity and commitment to a postgraduate programme of study.

Where English is not a first language, an IELTS score of 6.5 must be achieved, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component.

Mature entry

Applications from non-standard applicants are welcomed. In exceptional circumstances applications for entry will be considered in light of other abilities and experiences that they may be able to evidence. In such circumstances applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have the appropriate knowledge and skills to degree standard.

Application Process:

On receipt of an application to the programme the Faculty Admissions Team will email applicants requesting a 500 word outline. The outline should highlight why the applicant wishes to undertake this particular programme of study, their relevant background and experience and the special field of interest within the subject they would like to pursue.

Short-listed applicants will be invited to attend interview on campus. Whilst we do recommend that you attend interview on campus (to meet with staff and see our facilities), Skype interviews can be arranged should you be unable to come to Liverpool. The purpose of the interview is to assess your suitability for the above programme and give yourself and the interview panel, an opportunity to gain further information.  



Entry requirements (International)

LJMU welcomes applications from international students. In addition to normal entry requirements, you will be expected to demonstrate a very good level of English language competence, for example an IELTS score of 6.0-6.5 or equivalent. Please note: specific courses may require higher levels of English language competence.

If you have applied to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate. It can take four to six weeks to receive an ATAS certificate, so please make sure you apply as early as possible. You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance.

Please note: international students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part time. Students entering the UK on alternate types of visa may be in a position to study part time. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details before making your application. 

In order to obtain a visa you will also need to show evidence that the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your visa application. So please make sure that your finances are in place before applying. For more details, go to our international website

For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team.

Application and selection

You will need to provide evidence at an interview of your learning capabilities and commitment to a postgraduate programme of study.

Will I be interviewed?

Yes. Overseas applicants or applicants unable to attend interview at LJMU may be invited to attend a Skype interview.


6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)


58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

Financial support

Tuition fees   All students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or in instalments. If you need advice about how to pay your tuition fees, please email LJMU’s Student Funding Team.   Bursaries and study awards  

Applications for this year’s scholarships have closed. Details for the 2018 scholarships will be available soon.

The Liverpool School of Art and Design offers students across all taught postgraduate programmes opportunities to apply for scholarships aimed at broadening student knowledge and experience.

The Michael Pugh Thomas and Julia Carter Preston Legacy scholarships consist of a number of £1,000 awards and are open to full-time and part-time home and international students who wish to study for a postgraduate qualification in art and design with LJMU. Part-time applicants can only apply once over the two years of their course.

To be considered for the scholarship, you must submit a 500 word letter to after being formally offered a place on a Masters programme in the School of Art and Design.

Please ensure you include your name, contact details, the full title of the course you have applied to study on and 500 words stating why you should be awarded the scholarship, the benefits it will bring to your studies and any exceptional circumstances you face in studying for a postgraduate qualification. Further information for international students about finance, fees and scholarships can be found here.

The School's main travel bursary for existing students, The Susan Cotton Travel Awards, consists of three European Awards of £1,400 and two International Awards of £2,200. The awards are intended to help you undertake significant domestic or international travel in support of your work and personal development. The awards aren't necessarily about academic study, instead they focus on the spirit of travel and adventure. Previous winners of the bursary have travelled to a tropical island to experience life at its most basic, cycled the length of the Danube, spent a month in Morocco and inter-railed through Europe.

Funding sources

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From Postgraduate Masters Loans and Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Graduate employment

Graduates of MA Exhibition Studies have gone on to work for major cultural institutions, including The Henry Moore Institute (Leeds), British Music Experience (Liverpool), and National Museums Liverpool. Some students have pursued their research interests and gone on to PhD research.

The ambition of the programme is to offer best practice in exhibition formulation and to prepare graduates to be leading researchers in exhibition histories, exhibition cultures, curatorial practice, and innovative forms of display that allow visitors to think about exhibitions in new ways, while working across diverse industries and fields of practice.


International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here:

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.
Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.

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