MA Programme Description


The primary aim of the programme is to enable students to take ownership of their artistic practices within a critical and supportive environment. Students set their own agenda, and we pride ourselves on our diversity and pluralism. The Painting programme has a culture where every student is actively supported and is encouraged both to explore all the possibilities and to realise the potential of their ideas. Throughout the two years our programme is geared to foster self-reflection and self-criticism as well as developing the skills to question and be questioned by fellow students and the many practising artists, critics, writers and curators we have visiting the course.

During the course all students are given the opportunity to exhibit twice in the College galleries, once at a Work-in-progress Show at the end of the first term and then towards the end of their second year as part of the final Summer Show.

Students are encouraged and actively supported when exhibiting outside the College. Students are also given the opportunity to participate in and make use of exhibition visits, lectures, short teaching placements and technical workshops both in Painting and in other parts of the College. Students also undertake the mandatory Critical & Historical Studies programme in their first year, in which a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials culminates in the submission of a dissertation at the start of the second year.

Students are encouraged to make overseas trips to visit exhibitions or museums containing work relevant to their own; various travelling awards are designed to assist in this. The programme organises an annual study trip to a city of major cultural significance for all MA and research students. There are places for two students to take up residence for three months in our Paris studio. There are also exchange trips for students to travel to and work in Canada, the United States (Pennsylvania) and Ireland.

During the second year each student is requested to formally present their work to the whole Painting programme and then have the opportunity to give lectures and tutorials in colleges and universities across the country.

The Painting programme supports career development by tailoring professional practice provision for students to the culture of the discipline.

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

Painting Studio
Painting Studio
Photographer: Richard Haughton