Art+Critique: Critical & Contextual Studies in Art Practice

Art + Critique: Critical & Contextual Studies in Art Practice

Art + Critique


This course integrates practice and theory in a comprehensive programme that emphasises critical inquiry in art practice and research. The course will help you develop your practice and research in a series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and off-site visits, culminating in a final project presentation. It will provide you with a solid background in essential histories and discourses of contemporary art and help you address questions about your practice and its context: about what art is, how it is judged and how it relates to society.

The focus of the course is on critical practices and discourses and provides a supportive environment to explore, expand and enhance your practice and research, and raise your awareness of the issues and stakes. It fosters experimentation and collaborative study in a community of peers, and provides practical tools to empower you to pursue your practice with confidence.

The programme of participatory lectures and seminars constitutes the Critical and Contextual Studies component. The regular group tutorials and series of workshops on creative practice, research and writing constitute the Studio Practice component. These are integrated throughout the course to emphasise the cyclical dynamic between practice and theory, discourse and action.

The Critical Studies component maps the theories and discourses that inform the production and reception of contemporary art. We will look at the impact of philosophical, cultural and political discourses on art practice, and examine different theoretical perspectives and critical debates. The lectures and seminars will familiarise you with key concepts and historical transformations that underpin contemporary art production and reception. They will also introduce you to relevant methodologies from the fields of aesthetics, critical theory and art history for your own practice. You will extend and develop your ability to discuss, write about and judge contemporary art. You will also develop your ability to reflect on and contextualise your own practice.

What motivates the critical impulse in contemporary art practice? Can art be critical? What is critical art, critical of? What kind of knowledge and skills do contemporary artists need? Who is art for? How do we recognise art? What distinguishes art from other forms of cultural production? How does the global economy affect the production and circulation of art? Is art a commodity? What is the social role of art? Can art bring about social change? Are artists expected to push social boundaries? What is aesthetic autonomy? These are some of the questions we will address as we explore the historical and critical contexts in which contemporary art is made, circulated, viewed and understood.

The Studio Practice component is composed of regular group tutorials and workshops on creative practice, research and writing. These modules are designed to provide you with tools, references and feedback to help you develop, articulate and contextualising your practice. Writing workshops are an opportunity to develop your skills in writing critical reviews and artist’s statements or research proposals.

Group tutorials are structured peer-review sessions that will help you develop a project or body of work with critical feedback and peer-support. You might have work- in-progress and a set of problems or questions about how to proceed, or you may produce new work in response to a studio assignment. We will discuss research methods, process, technique, materials, professional practice etc. Following each tutorial you will receive written feedback and/or documentation to reflect on the session and plan your next steps.

Course aims, outcomes & learning objectives

The course aims to support artists as they develop, articulate and contextualise their practice within the broader contemporary and historical field of production in art and society . They will develop their writing skills and formulate research questions to guide their practice, achieving a clear sense of direction towards their stated goals.

By the end of the course:

  • Participants will have a sound grasp of key historical underpinnings and current debates in contemporary art.
  • They will be able to critically discuss and evaluate contemporary art in relation to the broader contemporary and historical field of production in art and society.
  • They will be able to articulate and contextualise their practice within or against relevant practices, discourses and histories.
  • They will be able to critically evaluate their own work and provide constructive feedback for their peers.

Participants will leave the course with critical awareness of contemporary art practice, a road map and a toolbox of methodologies for their continuing practice and the confidence to pursue it independently.

Who is it for?

The course is open to everyone at any stage of their career or level of experience but it is particularly suited to those who have a background and experience in art and wish to develop their practice and extend their knowledge of contemporary art practices and discourses.

You will be expected to develop a project or line of inquiry, commit to the course, participate in the co-learning space, support your peers and have an interest in alternative art education.

You may have reached a pivotal stage in your practice, preparing a new project or portfolio, applying for a degree course or residency, encountering contradictions or asking questions about your practice in the context of the art world and society more broadly, or you may have already formulated a set of questions and need to develop a critical framework to address them.

The course will benefit socially engaged artists, performance and installation artists, video and sound artists, media and digital artists, sculptors, painters, print-makers, designers, artist educators, curators, writers, researchers and anyone who is pursuing a career in the arts. 

For more information about the course, including the schedule, lectures and reading please download the Course Outline.

Course format

Due to Covid-19, this course will be delivered live online with the possibility of hybrid Off-site Visits and/or other course modules wherever appropriate and possible, depending on the existing circumstances and pending the collective decision by all participants.

The course will be delivered via Schoology, an online Learning Management System (LMS) and Zoom, a web conferencing platform. Both of these are user-friendly and you will receive detailed guidance on how to access them at least three days before the course begins.

What you will need
  • A reliable internet connection
  • A computer with webcam, mic and speakers or headphones
  • Register on Schoology with an access code
  • Download the Zoom application
  • Notebook and pen
  • Examples of your work in physical or digital form for group tutorials
  • A computer, laptop or iPad with internet access for assignments, research and preparation for your final project presentation
  • Money for potential travel and exhibition entry (optional)
Upcoming course dates & fees

Click on the dates below for more info and to register

14 Jan – 10 Jun 2021, Thursdays 18:30-20:30 GMT ONLINE

This online course runs from 14 January to 10 June 2021 for two terms with a four-week Spring Break. The first term runs from 14 January – 11 March and the second terms runs from 15 April to 10 June, every Thursday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm GMT. Please make sure that you can attend during these dates and times.

Fees for this course are £290 / Concessions £232 (student, unwaged, disability, senior). If the course fees are a barrier to your participation please use the contact form to get in touch so that we can find a way to make it more accessible for you.

Please read the Learning Agreement before registering for the course. If you have any questions please use the contact form to get in touch.

From To Time Duration Location Fee Actions
14 Jan 2021
10 Jun 2021
18:30-20:30 GMT 18 sessions / 36 hours / 22 weeks ONLINE £ 290 / £232 Concs. REGISTER

The course programme includes modules and support in the form of:

  • A programme of six participatory lectures and reading seminars
  • Regular group tutorials to discuss your practice, process and work-in-progress, followed with written feedback and peer review
  • Research and creative practice workshops: with exercises, assignments and insights on the relationship between practice and theory
  • Writing workshops: opportunities to develop a project, curatorial or research proposal, improve your artist’s statement and practice your critical review and interpretive skills and exchange feedback
  • Off-site visits: participate in critical discussions, articulate aesthetic judgments and build analytical skills
  • Present your project for a final round of discussions and written feedback. The format is up to you, although it will typically consist of a summary of central formal and conceptual issues in your work or the overall argument and key points of your project proposal, ending on a question about your practice. This will be followed by critical discussion and feedback.
Off-site Visits

We have several options when it comes to Off-site Visits. We can view online exhibitions, although these are generally a collection of images on a webpage, rather than virtual exhibitions. We can also visit London-based galleries and museums in a hybrid format wherever possible.

Although many galleries and museums have opened their doors, they are currently operating with reduced capacity and hours. These conditions may change for the better or worse but the situation is unpredictable. We will appraise the situation closer the date and discuss these options closer the date to come to a collectively agreed plan.

If we opt for hybrid sessions you will have a choice between participating by travelling to locations such as museums or galleries, or experiencing the exhibition and participating in the discussion via online conferencing.

Pedagogy, participation & accessibility

The course is informed and structured along collaborative, co-operative and collective principles and pedagogical models, employing alternative models of art education. The course structure is responsive, it is designed to initiate student-led discussions and encourage participants to help shape and steer the course.

Using the course outline as a starting point we will use collective decision-making to modify and adjust the course to our needs. Current conditions under Covid-19 give us the opportunity to cast aside our expectations of what education should be and think in terms of pedagogical practice as a collaboration between participants who are teaching each other what they need to learn. Be prepared to take an active role in deciding how the course unfolds and making your voice heard in discussions.

To ensure that we all start from an equal footing please include any access requirements or concerns in the registration form. This includes anything that might prevent you from participating fully in the course.


Sophia Kosmaoglou is an artist, tutor, curator and researcher. Her work addresses the construction of identity through relationships and more recently her research and practice is oriented toward group dynamics, collectivity, cooperation and self-organisation. Blurring the boundaries between art, education and activism, her work questions the ontology of art, its social functions and institutional contexts, and creates opportunities to experiment with collective economies and learning environments. In 2015 she founded ART&CRITIQUE, an alternative art education network, which was succeeded in 2019 by the Radical Pedagogy Research Group, a peer-led participatory action-research project. She is currently working on a project to start a co-operative art school that will provide a self-organised and sustainable alternative to mainstream art education.

Sophia has a practice-based PhD in Fine Art from Goldsmiths. Her research interests include institutional critique and the relationship between art and politics, institutions, independent organisations and collective practices. She is a visiting tutor at Chelsea College of Arts and previous teaching experience includes BA Critical Studies and Studio Practice at Goldsmiths. She is a former member of Exploding Cinema, The Field, Deptford Cinema, Body Politic and other collectives. For more information please see


This is a new course and there are no reviews yet but please see the reviews from previous courses. Critical Theory in Contemporary Art Practice is a different version of this course, with fewer hours and modules. Curating Contemporary Art addresses the exhibition, distribution and reception of art through curatorial discourses and exhibition histories, with practical modules on curatorial practice, exhibition-making and event organisation for artists, curators and researchers.


If you have any questions about the course or concerns about accessibility, or if you encounter any problems with the website please use the contact form to get in touch.


COURSE Art + Critique: Critical & Contextual Studies in Art Practice
14 January 2021 – 10 June 2021
Thursdays (except during Spring Break 11 Mar – 15 Apr 2021)
TIMES 18:30-20:30 GMT
36 hours (18 two-hour sessions over 2 terms)
FORMAT Online via Schoology, Zoom and other applications
Non-accredited post-graduate level
£290 / Concessions £232 (student, unwaged, disability, senior)
TUTOR Sophia Kosmaoglou

Please complete the form to register for this course. Once you have registered you will receive an invoice with information on how to pay the course fees via bank transfer. Your place on the course will be confirmed once the fees have been paid in full.

Please read the Learning Agreement before registering. If you have any questions or encounter any problems with this form please use the contact form to get in touch.

Developed with support from the Arts Council Emergency Response Fund

Developed with support from the Arts Council Emergency Response Fund