MA Programme Description
During the first year of the Programme students undertake three units of study: Unit 1A, Unit 1B and Critical & Historical Studies (CHS). These units are each worth 40 credits and assessed through a combination of continuous and summative assessment methods. To support their progress in Units 1A and 1B, students are assigned a personal tutor with whom they discuss their work in tutorials twice a term. Students will also be guaranteed tutorials from other members of the Programme team each term, and will have the opportunity to request tutorials from other staff on the school and a broader range of visiting tutors. Although working primarily on their own practice, there are also throughout the year group critiques, seminars, lectures, workshops and tutorials with other members of the Programme team and more widely with staff and students from throughout the broader school. Students produce work for studio critiques that take place throughout term one and two. The first year consists of three projects that explore different intellectual themes and contexts. In the autumn term students work from museum collections to explore the role that an object might fulfil and build research skills. The spring term students explore design methodologies and related production processes, and a third short project is concerned with notions space, place and site.
There is a critique at the end of each project; an opportunity to reflect on personal achievement and participate in group appraisal and discussion. At the beginning of the spring term, first year students contribute to the Work-in-progress Show. Their work is not expected to be resolved at this stage. It is an opportunity to take risks, trying new materials and ideas. As this is in a public context it includes the question of spectatorship. This enables students to reflect upon the efficacy of the visual forms and concepts with which they have been working. Students can select a number of short courses, designed to widen their skill base and material/process understanding. Independent and critical thinking, self-reflection, and professional development are encouraged through staff and student led discussions, seminars, presentations and debate with members of the Programme team and more widely with staff and students from throughout the broader School.
During the second year of the Programme students undertake three units of study: Unit 2A (40 credits), Unit 2B (60 Credits) and SoAH School Unit (20 Credits). These units are assessed through a combination of continuous and summative assessment methods.
In their second year, students are assigned a relevant personal tutor who supports their practice throughout the year. They produce a self-initiated body of work, which is evaluated and discussed in group critiques and tutorials throughout the year.
In the third term the work students exhibit in the graduating show is part of the examination of their final unit 2B - the Independent Research Project. It consists of a major project undertaken in the second year of the Programme. Their art practice should now demonstrate that they are able to make, develop and realise work at Master’s level. Students’ work should now have a clear direction and resolution, demonstrating a level of conceptual and technical competence appropriate to their own aims and objectives. Students’ practice is expected to be self-initiated and thoroughly researched. They will be asked to articulate this process of producing work in their viva voce examination.
Alongside their participation in Programme-based units, students will also participate in the School-wide unit, which, through study groups, lectures, symposia, crits and tutorials, will support students in discussing and evolving their work against a broader frame of reference.
Critical & Historical Studies
The RCA provides a unique environment for postgraduate art and design students to reflect upon their own practice, and to engage with students from their own and other disciplines. The role of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS) is to support the studio programmes in enabling these critical engagements to take place. The courses offered by CHS to first-year, studio-based MA students propose an intellectual framework within which they can begin to establish a coherent relationship between theory and practice.
In the autumn and spring terms there are a series of College-wide seminars and lectures. The autumn term series will relate to your particular discipline, whereas the spring term series will be more broad-based and cross-disciplinary in nature.
In the spring and summer terms, a CHS tutor will give you individual tutorials to support the development of a dissertation which is submitted at the end of the summer term. The dissertation should be between 6,000–10,000 words in length – this is a major piece of work and you will not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.
For more information see Critical & Historical Studies College-wide Programme.