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Contemporary Art Summer School

A practice-led online introduction to the study and practice of contemporary art, structured around the development of your own self-motivated individual project with the expert guidance of Despina Zacharopoulou.

Key details


  • Course fee: £2160
  • July/August 2021 Course FULLY BOOKED!


  • Online

    13 sessions over a three-week period.

    11am – 3pm BST per day

    26 July – 13 August 2021

    No course on Monday the 2nd of August and Monday the 9th of August 

The Contemporary Art Summer School, led by performance artist and academic researcher Despina Zacharopoulou since 2017, examines the rich array of positions, methods and materials that artists use, as well as exploring the questions raised by contemporary art and its production.

This three-week, online, practice-led short course provides a supportive environment for self-led independent practice and introduces participants to the study of contemporary art within the academic environment of the Royal College of Art.

Taught online by RCA staff and supported by a broad range of prominent artists, academics, critics and curators, the course provides participants with the opportunity to develop their individual practice within an interdisciplinary, collaborative atmosphere.

View our Case study: Contemporary Art Summer School 2021.

About the course

Learning takes place in 13 live four-hour sessions over a three-week period.

Week 1

Day 1

Welcome keynote lectures
Student presentations

Day 2

Individual tutorials

Day 3

Lecture and reading group

Day 4

Technical support workshop

Day 5

Film screening and discussion

Week 2

Day 1

Group crits

Day 2

Group workshop

Day 3

Technical support workshop

Day 4

Film screening and discussion

Week 3

Day 1

Individual tutorials

Day 2

Lecture, examples, readings and discussion around exhibiting one’s work online with a curating expert

Film screening and discussion

Day 3

Final presentations, crits and response seminar (part 1)

Day 4

Final presentations, crits and response seminar (part 2)

You will:

  • enhance your confidence in your practice, after discovering further nuances and making bolder decisions in your work
  • further develop your understanding on how to manage and edit all different elements contributing to the creation of a self-led contemporary art project
  • acquire new techniques and methodological tools to put into practice
  • experience critical, creative and insightful thinking
  • interact and network with peers from different backgrounds.

You will:

  • rethink contemporary art within the current pandemic circumstances and expand your practice and knowledge through online presentations, discussions, lectures, readings and workshops
  • present your work and receive feedback and practical advice from the course leader, other RCA members of staff and a group of peers
  • problematize around your own practice and resituate it after acquiring more theoretical and practical knowledge through lectures, film screenings, reading suggestions and workshops
  • be more decisive in your practice while working on your individual project to be presented at the end of the course
  • immerse yourself in a multidisciplinary environment
  • meet artists from all over the world.

RCA online courses are organised in synchronous sessions in a live virtual environment that combines various digital platforms and tools.

For this particular course the main tool of online delivery will be the Zoom Platform.

Using the videoconferencing service Zoom, the RCA's esteemed academics and facilitators deliver a mix of:

  • live lectures
  • case studies
  • guided assessments
  • presentations

Participants interact with the faculty and peers in breakout rooms in real time.


Participants engage in cross-functional team work with the use of visual collaboration tools.

Through the online whiteboard platform Miro, participants get to:

  • interact with various formats and templates
  • plan and brainstorm ideas
  • create processes and workshop activities in the digital workspace.


The College's learning platform Moodle is personalised according to the course's requirements to provide participants with a secure integrated system where they can access the course content.

The hub hosts a plethora of useful resources to enable the learning experience, including comprehensive timetables, pre-reading materials, course slides, curated videos, tutorials and session recordings.


Participants stay connected and communicate via the channel-based messaging platform Slack throughout the whole duration of the course.

In this space, the academics, facilitators and delegates get to network, plan the course activities, share documents and files during the live sessions or offline.

You will:

  • expand your practice and knowledge on contemporary art through workshops, lectures, film screenings, tutorials and group crits
  • improve your presentation and discussion skills while presenting your work to RCA staff, visiting artists, and academics, in a professional and diverse environment
  • receive feedback and practical advice from RCA staff and experts in contemporary art
  • develop your work under the supervision of the course leader
  • get dedicated time for independent study in your own space
  • benefit from professional online technical support to develop your practice
  • immerse yourself in a multidisciplinary environment
  • meet artists from all over the world
  • have an online presence at the RCA short courses social media accounts, including final feedback from the course leader, other RCA members of staff and a group of peers.

  • practicing artists who wish to develop their own personal and professional fine-art practice in a world-leading environment
  • postgraduate level students or undergraduates preparing for Master’s study
  • prospective MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD students interested in joining the RCA
  • career changers or those interested in contemporary art

Participants must:

  • have a successful application
  • be fluent in English
  • be 21 years old or over


Contact us

Get in touch with Jo Chounta if you'd like to find out more about this or any of our other short courses.

Email us at
[email protected]
Jo Chounta Executive Education Coordinator