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Painting 2019 Jhonatan Pulido, Elise Broadway, Yulia Iosilzon.jpg

Expansive and inclusive

Key details

Programme details

  • 240 credits
  • 2 year programme
  • Full-time study

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Committed to broadening the understanding of painting

The Painting MA programme approaches the practice of painting as a self-reflexive, critical activity that draws on a wealth of varied historical, material and conceptual accomplishments related to the medium and its objects. We aim to provide a platform on which to engage with current issues and debates surrounding the challenges and location of painting as a part of contemporary art practice.

The curriculum is designed to develop your professional practice, research and studio work, and how you present that work and your practice professionally. We want you to reflect upon and play out what kind of artist you want to be, with the ultimate aim of enabling a sustainable and meaningful practice as a professional practitioner. The Painting programme is a world leader in research and practice, and we provide excellent teaching by leading practitioners, writers and curators.


  • Painting 2019 Jhonatan Pulido, Elise Broadway, Yulia Iosilzon.jpg

    Painting 2019

    Jhonatan Pulido, Elise Broadway, Yulia Iosilzon

  • Painting 2019 Andrew Hart, Tim Bruer.jpg

    Painting 2019

    Andrew Hart, Tim Bruer

  • Painting 2019 Luca Longhi.jpg

    Painting 2019

    Luca Longhi



Alexandria Smith

Head of Programme

Alexandria is a mixed media visual artist and co-organiser of the collective Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter.

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The School of Arts & Humanities is located across our Battersea and Kensington sites.

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All full-time students on fine or applied arts programmes are provided with studio and workshop space. There are a number of bookable seminar and project spaces across the site available to all Arts & Humanities students.

  • Painting Facilities. Photograph Richard Haughton.jpg

    Painting studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton

  • Painting studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton.jpg

    Painting studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton

  • Painting studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton.jpg

    Painting studio. Photograph: Richard Haughton


More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

During your first year, you’ll undertake three units of study, each worth 40 credits and assessed through a combination of continuous and summative methods.

To support your progress in Units 1A and 1B, you will be assigned a personal tutor with whom you’ll discuss your work in six tutorials per academic year. You’re also guaranteed tutorials from other members of the programme team each term, and you’ll have the opportunity to request tutorials from other staff from the School, as well as from a broad range of visiting tutors.

Although working primarily on your own practice, throughout the year you’ll have access to group critiques, seminars, lectures, workshops and tutorials with other members of the programme team and with staff and students from throughout the broader School. You’ll produce work for studio critiques that take place throughout term one and two.

As a first-year student, you’ll contribute to the Work-in-progress Show, held at the beginning of the spring term. Your work isn’t expected to be resolved at this stage, but it’s an opportunity to take risks and try new materials and ideas. As this is in a public context, it includes the question of spectatorship, enabling you to reflect upon the efficacy of the visual forms and concepts with which you’ve been working.

During your second year of the programme you’ll 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 methods.

In your second year you’ll be assigned a relevant personal tutor who will support your practice throughout the year. You’ll produce a self-initiated body of work, which will be evaluated and discussed in group critiques and tutorials throughout the year.

In your third term you’ll exhibit in the graduate show. This will be part of the examination of Unit 2B, the Independent Research Project, which consists of a major project undertaken in your second year. Your art practice should now demonstrate that your are able to make, develop and realise work at Master's level. Your work should now have a clear direction and resolution, demonstrating an appropriate level of conceptual and technical competence. Your practice is expected to be self-initiated and thoroughly researched, and you’ll be asked to articulate your process in a viva voce examination.

Alongside your participation in programme-based units, you’ll also participate in the School of Arts & Humanities School unit. Alongside study groups, lectures, symposia, crits and tutorials, these will support you in discussing and evolving your work against a broader frame of reference.

All studio-based MA students follow a weekly schedule of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS), a College-wide initiative that provides you with the intellectual framework to build a coherent relationship between theory and practice.

CHS delivers exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures by experts within the programme and high-profile visiting lecturers. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the theoretical background and aspects of your chosen discipline through a tutored dissertation process, as well as receiving individual tutorial support from our team of expert tutors.

View more CHS information


What you need to know before you apply

Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process will consider creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.

The application procedure focuses on searching out those candidates that are highly motivated, independent and demonstrate they have the critical skills necessary to develop and further their existing ideas. In short, those artists that – given the opportunity to join the Painting programme – would utilise their time with us to the full, and have the generosity to support their fellow students.

We welcome candidates from all kinds of backgrounds, but generally having completed a BA degree. In recent years, people have come from fine art, printmaking, painting, sculpture, photo media, conservation, illustration, design, textiles, architecture, art history and interactive arts courses.

While many students enter the course after years of independent work, we also accept students directly from undergraduate courses.

Ultimately, we want to attract to the course those artists that want to work in a supportive environment and have the drive and ambition to realise the full potential of their studio practice, in turn energising their peer group.

What's needed from you

Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.

Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
  • Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
  • Technical skills appropriate to the work
  • Potential to benefit from the programme

Each programme is looking for different things in a portfolio. Each Head of Programme provides specific advice on portfolio requirements in the online application system. We advise you to consider these requirements carefully before submitting your application.

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE). Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.

You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.

If you need a Tier 4 visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

You'll find tuition fees for 2019/20 entry below. These are likely to go up roughly in line with inflation for 2020/21 entry. Fees will be confirmed by 1 December 2019.

Home and EU
£9,500 per year
£19,000 total cost*
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
£14,200 per year
£28,400 total cost*
£28,400 per year
£56,800 total cost*


New entrants to the College for MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees for the first year of study.

Home and EU

* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.



Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

More information

External funding

There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.


Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

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