MA Programme Description

Contemporary Art Practice

First Year 

You are assigned a personal tutor with whom you discuss your work in tutorials twice a term. Your tutor writes a critical report on your progress each term in response to a written statement of your own. 

Although you are working primarily on your own practice, there are also throughout the year group critiques, seminars, lectures, workshops and tutorials with other members of the programme team. You will produce work for studio critiques that take place in terms one and two. 

At the beginning of the spring term, first-year students contribute to the Work-in-Progress Show. Your 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 you to reflect upon the efficacy of the visual forms and concepts with which you have been working. 

You take an interim examination in the summer term, which you must pass in order to continue into the second year. Towards the end of the summer term, you submit a draft of your Dissertation. 

Second Year 

In the second year, you select your personal tutor who appraises your work twice a term. You produce a self-initiated body of work, which is evaluated and discussed in group critiques and tutorials during the year. 

In the third term, the work you exhibit in the graduating show is part of your MA Examination. It consists of a major project undertaken in the second year of the programme. Your art practice should now demonstrate that you are able to make, develop and realise work at Master’s level.

Your work should now have a clear direction and resolution, demonstrating a level of conceptual and technical competence appropriate to your own aims and objectives. Your practice is expected to be self-initiated and thoroughly researched. You will be asked to articulate this process of producing work in the viva voce

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 (though it is possible to elect to join a series being offered to students on other programmes) 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 be not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.


240 credits
Two-year programme
Full-time study