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Postgraduate courses


Apart from courses that are prerequisites, postgraduate courses are offered to all postgraduate students as electives. Honours and Masters students can elect the same courses, the difference is in the weighting of assignment that gets levelled differently between masters and honours. 

Archive Theory and Practice

This course centres around what it means to study the archive from a local context considering the archives’ entanglement with the colonial project. Using current scholarship in the field this course explores how archive theory is interrelated with archival practice(s). In this regard the theory is structured in such a way as to ensure that students will develop practical skills that will inform their artistic, curatorial and performing art engagement with the archive.

Art and Science

Departing from the idea that art and science have a common origin and that both scientists and artists pursue and forge understandings of the world around them, this course investigates the overlapping and interrelated aspects of these distinct disciplinary practices.


Art and Technology

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary meeting of creative practice and technology. Students will consider a range of new modes of practice enabled by computing and media technologies as well as their critical histories. These may include interactive, electronic, virtual, digital, and telematic art.

In addition students will explore a range of theoretical frameworks that inform these practices, particularly including those that interrogate the divergence from the aesthetic principles of more “traditional” artistic practices. Set within an increasingly network reliant society, the course content will also diverge with theories of modernity, globalisation, and media. Students in the course will particularly explore the effect of computing and media technologies on the creative arts of Africa.

Collections Management

This unit examines literature related to art collections management and the different models of public and private collections. It investigates concepts and theories pertaining to accessioning, conservation, documentation, archiving, and research on art collections. It also looks at how exhibitions derived from collections explore inventive ways of gaining cultural value through representation and writing.

In addition, it examines the role of cultural institutions when managing such collections relating to issues of value creations and knowledge production. The course also examines the roles of cultural institutions in managing art collections through its policies, infrastructure, and funding.

Curating Exhibitions: The Politics of Display

*prerequisite of the MA in Contemporary Curatorial Practice

This course examines the practices, roles and effects of contemporary curating. Through seminars, site visits, and guest lectures, the course explores the evolving roles of curators, the constitution of exhibition audiences and publics, the roles of different forms of display and artistic practice within and outside the white cube. Throughout the course, students are expected to participate in various practical projects with partner institutions, structured to give them the opportunity to engage with different forms of writing and producing exhibitions.

For the exam, students are expected to present a detailed exhibition proposal that draws on the conceptual as well as the practical realities of putting their exhibitions together. This proposal is accompanied by a critical essay reflecting on theories that speak to both their curatorial framework and the critical understanding of curating practices, relations of power and the politics of display.

Exhibition Histories

*prerequisite of the MA in Contemporary Curatorial Practice

This course focuses on critical theories and histories of exhibitions. Through a range of local and international examples, the course investigates how exhibitions can be regarded as tools to interrogate and examine moments in art history, and how these exhibitions might contribute to a wider understanding of artistic practices. The course interrogates how exhibitions produce moments of change by examining the chronology of, and nexus between events, objects, artists, curators and institutions. It engages with the ways in which artistic, curatorial and exhibition practices interconnect as critical forms of knowledge of art history. By looking at how culture, economy and politics directly and indirectly influence the contexts that enable exhibitions, this course engages the institutional histories of museums and galleries, independent art spaces, and other art initiatives.

Museum Education

This course introduces students to the current and prospective roles of the museum in education. Grounded in a history of role of museums in learning, and in theories of learning in arts education more broadly, the course explores the potential of the museum as a critical site of new learning in the South African context. Discussions, readings, seminars, case studies, site visits, and development of educational materials contribute to a complex understanding of interpretive strategies, curriculum enrichment, narrative storytelling, and community engagement. Students will learn how to design, implement, and critique educational programmes for different museum audiences (including children, teens, adults, families, school groups, and tourists). The course is examined through a group project that requires students to produce an educations programme (including pre- and post-visit materials) for one of Johannesburg’s public museums. 

Postcolonial Art History

This unit introduces students to a theoretical framing of the historical relationships between power and domination, which have existed through practices of imperialism and colonisation. Our reading of postcolonial theory and interdisciplinary artistic practice focuses on colonial and postcolonial constructs and investigates how these ideas have informed broader questions of representation of decolonisation, nationalisms, diasporic experiences, creolization, and cosmopolitanism.

Our consideration of these relationships will involve an analysis of the temporal location of art criticism in these changing historical, socio-political, and geographic contexts.

Public Culture

*prerequisite of the Heritage degrees

Public Culture examines a cluster of concepts that have become central to how we think and act in the interdisciplinary field of Heritage Studies. The course focuses on how notions of culture are deployed in the public sphere, by and for various stakeholders, to various ends. We critically interrogate the notion of heritage, and the closely associated practices of public history and public art, with reference to their representation and associated conventions of collecting and display in museums, galleries, other formal cultural institutions, as well as alternative settings like tourism sites and festivals. We consider the disciplinary origins of the cultural knowledge that circulates in the cultural domain and ask how decolonisation pertains to the theory and practice of heritage. The course provides the conceptual groundwork for further Heritage Studies courses offered in curating, archiving, public history and the associated humanities, as well as the intersecting fields of cultural policy and management, alongside which this course is co-taught. It also exercises the critical reading and writing skills that re required for the remainder of the coursework and the research component of the Honours and Master’s degree.

Representing Slavery

The course will critically explore the visual culture of remembering slavery using various disciplinary forms. Students will be asked to consider what is at stake when representing slavery and will examine the work of modern and contemporary artists, filmmakers, illustrators and others.

Re-Writing the Self

This course probes the culture and politics of bodies as visual markers in contemporary global societies. It offers an overview of different theoretical perspectives pertaining to the multiple ways in which bodies are vehicles for communicative practices and symbols for sociocultural processes. Emphasizing the intersections of gender with race/ethnicity, class and sexuality, the course examines five broad thematic areas that explore the construction of the body as a site of knowledge and consequently aims to examine the possibilities of re-writing these knowledges. Using critical analysis the course considers how visual and performance artists engage with and take up these multiple meanings. 

Writing Art Histories

*prerequisite of the History of Art by coursework degrees

This unit is the core course for all postgraduate degrees in History of Art. It provides an essential rooting within the discipline, established by examining objects, collections, displays, exhibitions, and institutions, as well as the ways in which consideration of these informs the writing of art’s histories. Since 2013, we have been working with the writing of “Object Biographies”, which encourages students to move beyond the current location of objects in a collection or institution, to trace how they are created and how they circulate in the world, appearing at different times in different living contexts. Each student completes a close study of a specific objects from a specific institution’s collections and becomes its biographer. Different object biographies take students across different disciplinary boundaries including art/ anthropology, art/history, and art/archaeology, as well as through various methodological terrains such as artist biography, iconographic analysis, scientific dating/scanning techniques, exhibition histories, and a variety of theoretical positions in the process of mapping and investigating artworks and objects through history.