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Graduate Diploma in Contemporary Art History

Course Description

This Diploma has been designed as a conversion programme for graduates of other disciplines who wish to carry out research at higher levels in the fields of modern and contemporary art history and visual cultures. The programme sets out to be both introductory and experiential. Rather than provide conventional chronological surveys, the programme explores and addresses chosen themes within an interdisciplinary context- http://www.gold.ac.uk/pg/grad-dip-contemporary-art-history/

Modules & Structures

The programme comprises a number of taught modules and tutorial sessions. You are assigned a personal tutor who monitors your overall progress and advises you on the suitability of the various modules available.

Central to the programme is the core course, a lecture and seminar series that introduces you to a range of critical perspectives that have shaped the history and theory of the discipline. As such, the course encourages you to develop a fuller awareness of art’s cultural and political significance in the past, and asks you to relate your historical understanding to current debates among artists, critics and historians.

This is accompanied by a laboratory module, which gives you the opportunity to process the taught materials further through strategies such as museum and gallery visits, film screenings, and experimental projects.

You also choose one option module and one special subject. These in-depth modules allow you to explore themes in art history or theory that are of particular interest to you.

* Options modules:
–Beckett and Aesthetics
–Cities of Modernity: Urban Space in the 20th Century
–Museums, Galleries, Exhibitions: Framing Art
–Patterns of Perception
–Post-Colonial Visual Culture
–The Moving Image

* Special subjects
–Animating Architecture
–Performance Matters
–Philosophy and…
–Sexual Poetics
–Sites of Memory
–The Truth in Painting


Essays; written papers; research files; ‘creative journals’.

Department: Visual Cultures

Study in a department that combines an innovative approach with passionate academics, and makes full use of London's many opportunities to study art history.

- Our approach
Our degree programmes deliberately move away from chronological histories: the innovative art of our time arises out of the conflict of ideas. So you’ll explore the subject in the context of pertinent social, cultural and political issues and phenomena.

That means not only investigating artefacts you might see in museums and galleries, but also those making up our everyday visual and technological environment: including urban landscapes, film and video, and popular culture.

- Our academics
Our academics are passionate about the subject and are at the sharp end of theoretical developments in everything from architecture to spatial theory. Some are practising artists and curators, which makes our degrees relevant and exciting.

- Our location
Our teaching takes advantage of the many galleries, art spaces, museums, cultural facilities and specialist libraries in London.


You'll acquire a wide range of skills in research, critical thinking, visual analysis, writing and other modes of presentation.


Many of our students go on to carry out further postgraduate studies. These then lead into careers in museums and galleries, publishing, education, the media, journalism, and marketing.

Find out how to apply here - http://www.gold.ac.uk/pg/apply/


Please visit http://www.gold.ac.uk/pg/fees-funding/ for details.

Visit the Graduate Diploma in Contemporary Art History page on the Goldsmiths, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Claire Staunton

164.gif Three years ago, after a BA in French, with an obsession with experimental music and contemporary art, I found myself in an arts consultancy job that I didn’t want. I was becoming more active in producing and programming sonic and public art events at Whitechapel Gallery and with collectives in the street but I lacked the theoretical basis and knowledge needed for a more developmental and involved role. I always felt that going back to university was something that interested me especially considering my first degree was not something I was totally committed to and I missed the academic environment when at work.

I needed a solid knowledge base in contemporary art in order to engage with the works and artists and after looking at many courses and being accepted to undertake an MA in History of Art at another university, I spoke to a friend about Goldsmiths and the PGDip Contemporary Art History in particular. Her glowing recommendation of the Visual Cultures department and her passion for her areas of interest convinced me, even if it mean that I would be in full-time education for two years before obtaining the MA. Goldsmiths became more than just a pathway to a qualification and was an opportunity to reach my ambition to be a curator.

(Student Profile)


"I came across Goldsmiths a few years ago by studying contemporary art back in Italy. I found out that many good artists had graduated from here. I decided to move to London in 2009, my first year here was spent duelling with the language and hunting for a job, and after getting myself a little bit more stability I decided to apply to the Graduate Diploma.

I joined the course in October 2010 and completed in June 2011. I just loved it; I met many different people and had the opportunity to challenge myself in a new environment. While studying at Goldsmiths I was setting up to launch my own gallery project, La Scatola Gallery. As a professional, my expectations for the course were very high. The atmosphere was very relaxed and my tutors were well prepared and helpful. They gave me lots of good advice, especially Astrid Schmetterling, who kindly helped in promoting my gallery project. The things that I enjoyed most were the lectures. I improved my writing and discovered new theorists.

I am still working as the director and curator of La Scatola Gallery, a contemporary art gallery that represents and exhibits young emerging artists from all over the world, many showing for the first time. The gallery's focus is new media, sculpture and site-specific installations that create interaction within the large gallery space. The gallery also hosts talks with curators, artists and art critics to advance dialogue on contemporary art. My colleagues and I have worked on a series of non-profit talks and events. We have been brave enough to produce conceptual exhibitions, each with the aim of encouraging the encounter(s) between visitors and artists through a real, mutual exchange. Where possible, we have produced shows with a non-commercial purpose and exhibitions where the market's need has gently met the understanding of the arts. I believe that there is not art for art’s sake, and that there is not art that exists only to serve a monetary purpose. At La Scatola Gallery, we have proudly produced thirteen exhibitions and hosted three curators and their artists. We have met and worked with over forty multinational artists."

(Student Profile)

Edward Sanderson

"I think I originally chose to come to Goldsmiths because of its reputation – its recent history as being where many of the YBAs attended, but also (on a personal note) as it had been involved in the ‘Occupation for Education’ in 1993 while I was doing my BA at Middlesex University. A group from our student union visited Goldsmiths (who were also in occupation) in ‘solidarity’ and I tagged along. I guess I had good memories!

After Middlesex I dropped out of the arts and ended up in Cambridge, working as a designer. But I got frustrated with that and quit my job to come back and – this time – study art history at Goldsmiths. I wanted to get more knowledge of the theory behind the art and develop my writing – something which I was just realising was what I wanted to be doing full-time.

The course in general, and our professor Astrid Schmetterling in particular, really pushed me beyond my limits of learning and writing. In that one year I was forced to really strive for a very high level. I don’t think I really got anywhere close to fulfilling those possibilities, but I was set up with material that I could develop and build on for years to come.

Although there were only eight people on the course, they came from very diverse backgrounds, many from abroad. One lady was from China, and I subsequently married her after we graduated in 2007. Two weeks after getting married, we left for Beijing to settle and open a gallery, and I’ve been there ever since!

In 2009 we closed the gallery and from then on I’ve concentrated on writing. I’m now a full-time art critic, writing for local and international magazines and websites. I am particularly interested in alternative practices in art, process-based and socially aware work, which is particularly significant in the Chinese environment. I also edit a bilingual art magazine in China, and will be putting what I've learned into some curated shows this year. It’s not too far-fetched to say that none of this would have happened if I hadn’t gone to Goldsmiths."


Banco Santander Scholarships - 7 Awards

In partnership with Banco Santander, Goldsmiths will be awarding seven scholarships to outstanding candidates from within the Santander Universidades network. Each scholarship provides a £5,000 fee waiver and is tenable for one year only.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Scholarships will be open to students applying to study a taught masters degree (excludes MRes and Masters by Research) in any discipline starting in September 2016. The countries targeted (although not exclusively, should exceptional candidates apply from other eligible countries*) will be:Mexico
* The Santander Universidades scheme covers institutions in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, United Arab Emirates, UK, Uruguay and USA.

Application Procedure

Your scholarship application should be completed online through your myGoldsmiths account. This is the online account that you created in order to apply for a course at Goldsmiths.As part of the application, you'll be asked to answer three questions relevant to the award that you are applying for.For more information, please see the Banco Santander Scholarships page.

Further Information



Goldsmiths Masters Scholarships - 20+ Awards

Please note that scholarship schemes and awards are subject to the availability of funds, and the details given here are subject to change at any time. we therefore encourage you to check this information regularly

Value of Scholarship(s)



Home and EU students (full-time and part-time).

Application Procedure

Applications for 2015 entry are now closed.

Further Information



The Goldsmiths' Company Postgraduate Bursaries - 4 Awards

Please see website for more details

Value of Scholarship(s)



Students on taught postgraduate programmes (not including MA Filmmaking or PGCEs) starting October 2015. You must be: a UK student; new to postgraduate study; experiencing financial difficulties. You should also demonstrate academic potential and you must not be in receipt of any Goldsmiths, AHRC or ESRC funding.

Application Procedure

Applications for 2015 entry are now closed.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a relevant/related subject. You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

Last Updated

25 May 2017

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