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Research & Learning

ESCALA supports the education of students and staff at the University of Essex through research-led teaching and object-based learning as well as enriching their lives through art.

We teach in the School of Philosophy and Art History (SPAH), the Centre for Curatorial Studies (CCS), and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (CISH). We support object-based learning in the Department of Language and Linguistics and with student societies, for example the Model United Nations. With the Learning and Development team we are exploring ways to help more students and staff to benefit from the Collection. We reach an even broader range of students by developing their employability skills through short courses, for example in Digital Humanities, the University’s Frontrunner scheme, and other internships through our international network of artists, museum professionals, and curators.

Even if you’re not a specialist in Latin America, the art objects in ESCALA, whatever their theme, can help to enhance your education. A recent study by the University Museums Group showed that at University College London 67% of students from a range of disciplines said that object-based learning ‘is a more effective way of learning than listening to a talk or lecture.’

If you are a student or a member of staff and would like to know how you could use ESCALA in your learning and teaching, or you would like to find out about opportunities to work as an ESCALA Frontrunner, please get in touch.

Undergraduate Study

The University of Essex remains one of the few institutions where you can study Art from Latin America as an undergraduate. The School of Philosophy and Art History (SPAH) currently offers the following module: 

AR219: Art in Latin America

ESCALA also features in other modules. You can find out more about the undergraduate schemes at the SPAH website.

In this video Gisselle, from Lima, tells us how she heard about art history at Essex and what she has enjoyed about studying within Art History and with ESCALA. She tells us what she gained from securing the Bishop-McKinlay Prize. Gisselle is ESCALA's Frontrunner for 2013-2014.

Art History: Gisselle's experience from University of Essex on Vimeo.


The School of Philosophy and Art History (SPAH) offers MA schemes in Art History and in Centre for Curatorial Studies (CCS). Students following either scheme can specialise in Art from Latin America by taking the following module: Collecting Latin American Art (AR915) and by writing their dissertation in this area.

CCS students regularly request loans of artworks from us for inclusion in their end of year exhibition and they have the opportunity to work with us on projects, such as MIND THE GAP: Performative Symposium curated by former CCS student Marina Barsy-Janer in 2013

The School has a long-standing reputation in the field of and in Latin American art, having pioneered the teaching and research of this field. Through SPAH and ESCALA, the University of Essex has a memorandum of understanding with Tate in recognition of our longstanding collaboration in the field of Latin American art. Sir Nicholas Serota (Director, Tate) is an honorary graduate of the University of Essex.

Students who have worked with ESCALA have gone on to occupy some of the most prestigious jobs in the field of Latin American Art, including:

Director, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York, US and Caracas, Venezuela

Director, Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California

Curator, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

Lecturer, Department of Art History, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

Researcher, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico

For more information about the MA Degress, please see the School of Philosophy and Art History's website.

In the video below, PhD student Suzanne explains how taking an art history module, as an outside option whilst she was an undergraduate student, sparked her interest in Pre-Columbian culture. She also tells us about her internship at the Minories gallery which she gained from our internships team at our Employability and Careers Centre.


For more information about PhD courses in Art History and Theory, please refer to the School of Philosophy and Art History’s webpage.


ESCALA Frontrunners

Each year ESCALA is normally able to offer Frontrunner placements to students from October to June and July to September. These are paid placements for 10 hours a week and are funded by the University’s Students Union. The placements are open to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Past placements have included: Archive Assistant, Learning and Communications Frontrunner, Collections Care Frontrunner, and Archive and Collections Care Frontrunner.

Former ESCALA Frontrunners have gone onto work at the Contemporary Art Society, National Gallery, Turner Contemporary, Apollo Magazine, System Simulation Limited, or to Postgraduate Study in Latin American Art.

For more information about the Frontrunner scheme, please see their website.

Work Placements

SPAH actively encourages and supports students in finding work placements that are genuine learning opportunities. These may be at partner institutions, such as firstsite, Tate or Pinta: the Modern and Contemporary Latin American art show.

Students who register with the University’s Internship Office, will be considered for appropriate placements as they arise.