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Contemporary Art Summer School: Frequently Asked Questions

Before Applying

I am interested in your Contemporary Art Summer School (CASS). What are the criteria for admission?

The course is designed for artists who wish to develop their own personal and professional practice in a world-leading art context. You should be able to supply evidence of being able to pursue independent studio practice in your application.

You must ensure you are comfortable in understanding and speaking English. The course is delivered only in English. 

You must be 18 years or over. 

If you have a disability we encourage you to contact by email: [email protected] prior to making an application, to discuss any requirements you may have. 

How do I apply?

To apply you need to complete the online application form.

The online form requires you to submit:

  • your CV
  • a 300-word statement explaining relevant professional and/or academic experience
  • a 200-word statement explaining your motivations to do the course
  • a 300-word proposal for a project or studio work that you intend to undertake during the course
  • five images or five web links to videos/web references of your work, max 10 MB file size. 

Application notes

  • Please name any files that are uploaded using the following naming convention: Full Name_Title and Year of Work_2020 Contemporary Art Application 
  • Once you submit your application you will not be able to make changes.
  • Only applications submitted via the online form will be accepted.
  • Applications that are not complete or exceed the maximum file size will not be considered.

If your application is accepted you will be emailed with a booking link. A deadline for accepting and paying for your place will be provided in the email. The place will be held until this deadline, if you do not make payment by this date then your place will be released and offered to another participant. 

Application deadlines 2020

We will start to accept applications from December 2019 and the first round of applications will be assessed on 31 January 2020. After 31 January 2020 applications will be assessed by the RCA course team every two weeks throughout February – July 2020 or until the course is fully booked. 

We will inform all applicants by email within two weeks after they submit an application. If the course is fully booked and your application is successful we will add your name to a waiting list.

Participants are advised to apply early to avoid disappointment as places are strictly limited. 

You can submit your application up until the course is fully booked. 

We particularly advise early application if you will need a tourist visa to enter the UK.

How will I know that my place is confirmed?

The offer of a place will only be secured and confirmed when the RCA receives 100 per cent of the course fee payment. Places are secured on a first-come basis on receipt of appropriate payment.

If your application is unsuccessful we will inform you by email. Unfortunately we are not able to provide individual feedback due to the high volume of applications that we receive. 

If the course is fully booked and your application is successful we will add your name to a waiting list. 

How can I pay for the course?

The course needs to be paid in full by one instalment and via the online payment system using a debit or credit card. Once you are offered a place on the course you will receive a secure online booking link. Please complete the registration and booking process to make the booking. Please ensure that you are using the most up to date version of your internet browser. We regret that it is not possible to pay the course fee by instalments.

Do I have to write an overall statement for each artwork I have attached?

No, this is not required. The 300-word statement explaining relevant professional and/or academic experience that you include in the application should include a summary of your practice.

What technical facilities and workshops are available? 

The course will take place in the Sackler Building at the Royal College of Art’s Battersea campus with access to the painting studios and digital printing facilities in the Dyson Print workshops at the RCA Battersea campus.

Participants will have access to the resource stores where they can book state-of-the-art video and audio equipment including: digital cameras, tripods, projectors and sound equipment. 

You will be able to book appointments to access the following under supervision from RCA specialised technicians.

Digital lab:

  • digital retouching suite
  • A3–A4 scanners and printing 
  • large digital printing.


  • stretcher making
  • board making
  • timber cut to size
  • basic carpentry joining.

Are materials included in the course?

Please note that materials are not included in the course fee and the services and materials below will be charged at cost by the RCA:

  • large digital printing, e.g. prices start from £8 A0 (dependent on printer and paper quality)
  • stretcher making, e.g. stretcher and canvas 100cm x 150cm = approx. £25.90
  • board making.

You will be able to make payments to the college using a credit/debit card.

What is available/not available during the course? 

During the summer school participants will only have access to the Sackler building, the store area, the digital lab area and the large digital printing area at the Battersea campus. Participants will also have access to all public areas (ie. cafes) in both Kensington and Battersea campuses and the library (for reference only) at the Kensington campus.

Participants will not have access to any other workshop facilities. 

After Application

Where does the course take place?

The course will be primarily based in the Sackler Building at the Royal College of Art’s Battersea campus, located in a cultural quarter that includes Foster & Partners Architects and Vivienne Westwood Studios. Apple UK will also move into the area soon.

The address is Royal College of Art, Sackler Building, 20 Howie Street SW11 4AY. At the same time as the Contemporary Art Summer School, there will be concurrent summer programmes running across the College. 

The campus will be busy as our 2020 intake of international students will be attending English language courses over the summer. Finally, PhD and MRes students will still be working through summer.

Participants will also have access to the RCA library, including the colour library, for reference only at the Kensington campus.

What happens on the first day?

Registration will take place on the first day. Please bring proof of identity with you on the first day of the course and this will be checked at enrolment. This should be one of the following: a valid passport (and visa where appropriate), a UK driving licence or a European national identity card.

As part of the registration session, we will take your photograph for the class list. If you do not wish to have your photograph taken, just let us know on the day. We may choose to have a photographer present for part of the course we will provide personal release forms. 

Summer School students are required to attend a safety induction at the beginning of their course. Students will be expected to follow guidance on studio use as briefed.

What are the studio access hours?

10am – 6pm, Monday to Sunday and 10am – 6pm at weekends for the duration of the summer school. There is no access for summer school participants outside of these times. 

What visa will I need to attend this course?

Delegates without UK/EU/EEA/Swiss nationality are advised to obtain a short-term study visa in order to attend the course. If study is not the only purpose of the trip, you may be able to enter the UK on a standard visitor visa, which permits study for up to 30 days.

Standard Visitor Visa Standard visitor visas cannot be extended and Standard Visitors are not entitled to work or study during their stay if a study is the main purpose of the visit. However, study of up to 30 days is permitted in some circumstances. If you are coming to the UK with this visa, you can use the eGates at the airport. For further details visit Please note that Brexit will not affect non-EU/EEA nationals visa application process.

Short-term study visa The Short-term Study visa allows students to come to the UK for a period of up to 6 months (per calendar year) in order to undertake a short course of study. 

Please be aware that if you enter the UK on a Short-term Study visa:

  • you are not entitled to work (paid, unpaid, voluntary or as part of a work placement or internship)
  • you cannot extend your visa in the UK, or switch to a different visa category from within the UK
  • bring dependants.

Citizens of certain countries are non-visa nationals are able to come to the UK as a Short-term Student without first applying for a visa.  Check if you need to apply for a visa. Instead, these citizens can be stamped in on arrival as a Short-term Student at the UK border. Students who fall into the non-visa national category must make it clear to the Immigration Officer at the UK border that they are entering the UK for the purpose of study, rather than a general visit. For more information about the Short-term Study visa, please consult the Short-term Study visa section of the Home Office website.  

If you are coming to the UK as a Short Term Student it is essential that you do NOT use the eGates at the airport.  If you do not get a stamp in your passport stating that you have been allowed to come into the UK under the STS route, the College will by law be unable to enrol you. You will have to leave the UK and re-enter getting the correct stamp. This can be both costly and stressful, so make sure you are not using the eGates at the airport and are seen by a Border Force Officer.

EU/EEA Nationals Information is available on our EU Student FAQ page

Contact the local British Consulate for more help.

The UKCISA and GOV.UK websites have the most up-to-date visa information.

Does the RCA have its own student accommodation?

The RCA does not have its own accommodation or arrange accommodation for short course participants. 

In previous years participants have also found nearby accommodation through AirBnB. We can also recommend:

About the Summer School

How many people will be on the course?

There will be a maximum of 25 artists on the course.

Will I have my own studio?

Artists will have their own allocated studio space (approximately 300 sq ft) in shared studios in the Sackler Building.  Depending on the nature of your work you will be allocated a studio that is best suited for you and decided by the RCA.

We ask that you treat staff and any property belonging to staff, other students, or the School and College with due respect, care and consideration.

Are the cost of materials included in the course fee?

Please note materials are not included in the short course fees and will not be provided. Reasonable A3 and A4 digital printing from College printers is included in the fee only. 

Access to a variety of large digital print materials and formats is available at an additional cost during the course. Stretcher and board making is also available at cost during the course (see above).

Where can I buy materials for the course?

Due to the length and intensity of the course you should aim to make provision to order materials before you start the course. You may choose to order your own art materials online and have them delivered to the school. 

How to receive packages before and during the course start date?

Please have your delivery sent to: RCA Contemporary Art Summer School and your name, Royal College of Art, Woo Building (Security Desk), 22 Howie Street, SW11 4AY London, UK. Please send an email to [email protected] to notify us if you have sent the package. 

Where can I buy my materials?

  • Cass Art, 220 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 7RG – this is 30 minutes by Bus 49, which stops outside Battersea Campus
  • Green and Stone, 251 – 253 Fulham Road, London SW3 6HY.
  • Atlantis Art Materials, Unit 1 Bayford Street Industrial Centre, London E8 3SE – although not close to the college, they offer a delivery service.

Is there any storage available? 

Students are provided with their own bag locker for storage of art materials. Please bring your own padlock with a shackle size of around 5mm. Please take care of your belongings at all times and never leave valuables unattended. We regret that we cannot be held responsible for the loss of participants belongings. Participants must make sure that they take all work and belongings away at the end of the course.

Will we have the opportunity to show our work at the end of the course?

On the last Friday of the course, the Summer School concludes with an exhibition/presentation of the work that you have made during the three-week course at the RCA. The curating of the exhibition and the allocation of space will be made by the Course Leader. The Exhibition will take place at the RCA’s Dyson Gallery. 

You will be able to invite guests to see the exhibition/presentation and there will be celebration drinks and certificates of attendance to conclude the course.  

The exhibition will be taken down by the course team the next day (Saturday) and all participants will be asked to help take the show down, , evacuate their studios and pack their work on Saturday 8 August 2020. 

Is the course accredited?

Certificates of attendance are distributed by the course tutors on the final day, for all delegates that have completed the course. Please note that this does not represent a formal qualification from the Royal College of Art.

Can I take my work home?

You are the owner of all the work that you have produced during the Contemporary Art Summer School. At the end of the course you will be expected to take your work home. Please arrange your own shipping. We do not have the facilities to ship your work or store your work. Please note that all work that has not been taken away after the end of the course will be destroyed. 

Will we visit galleries?

Gallery visits guided by RCA staff and visiting artists/academics are an integral part of the Summer School.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is accurate at the time of publication, however, the RCA reserves the right to amend the described courses as circumstances dictate.