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Core Course II: Art History and Curatorial Practice


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Arts and Culture: Museum Studies / Art History, research master Arts and Culture, research master Arts, Literature and Media.
Students of the Humanities faculty who are interested and who are not enrolled in the Master Arts and Culture should contact the Coordinator of Studies in order to enroll, only possible if there are places left.


What is the relation between exhibitions and art history? How do curators engage with the work of art historians and vice-versa? And what is the role of art criticism and collectors in making exhibitions?
In Core Course II, students will learn to think and write about the current practices in art exhibitions from a transhistorical and global perspective. The course comprises lectures, excursions and workshops that set ideas in motion and test theories through action. Students will apply the knowledge of theory and methodology acquired in Core Course I to a number of topical case studies that examine and evaluate art historical scholarship in the light of contemporary curatorial practice.

The first part of this course will introduce students to a number of important art historical debates that are relevant to curatorial practices in museums. Readings of seminal texts and individual visits to museums in Leiden will provide a basis for discussion about the relation between objects, display and theory. Group excursions to exhibitions will provide a practical framework to examine and evaluate topical issues in the field of art history as well as museum studies.

In the second half of the course, students will form small groups to organise workshops or master classes, which will focus on a particular exhibition or a specific case study related to field of exhibitions. Each group will be responsible for organizing a workshop, as well as providing a relevant and annotated bibliography to allow their fellow students to prepare for the workshop or master class. Each session will also comprise a Q&A and discussion in which all students are expected to participate.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • acquire insight into current curatorial and art historical debates and practices;

  • position oneself in relation to these;

  • develop skills in oral presentation while defending viewpoints and arguments;

  • present an analytical scholarly paper related to the current debates and practices.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • masterclasses by staff and guests, as well as excursions in Leiden
    Attendance is compulsory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to aply to the Examination Board of the MA Arts and Culture in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Assessment method


  1. The workshop or master class (50%): A small group of students will prepare a master class that may involve guest speakers invited by the instructors. These workshops focus on questions related to recent case studies, ongoing research or an exhibition in preparation. These questions can be practical or theoretical but must be based on research prepared by the students responsible for organizing the workshop. Each group will provide the other students with an annotated bibliography prior to the workshop to facilitate in-depth discussion.
  2. Short reflection on the course as a whole and portfolio of the preparations for the master class as well as the excursions to the four Leiden museums and the resulting discussion (50%).
    ResMa students taking this course will write a paper that reflects the demands of the Research Master. That is, they will have to formulate a more complex and original research question and include a critical positioning towards the state of the art of its subject.


The final grade is established by determination of the weighted average and should be a 6.0 or higher. Marks under 5.0 for the paper are not allowed.


Re-examination via the paper.

For the time tables exams 2022-2023 see; Timetable

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

See Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap Login | Universiteit Leiden is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal