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Contemporary Art Summer School

A practice-led introduction to the study and practice of contemporary art, structured around the development of your own self-motivated individual project, delivered live online.

Key details

  • Regular fee: £2,400
  • Live online

    13 sessions over 3 weeks

    Week 1: 22 – 26 July 2024

    Week 2: 29 July – 2 August 2024

    Week 3: 5 – 9 August 2024

    4.5 hrs a day 11am – 3.30pm BST per day (with a 1-hour break included)

    Self study time on Monday 29 July and Monday 5 August 2024.

    Applications and bookings for summer 2024 are now closed.

The interactive online Contemporary Art Summer School, led by performance artist and academic researcher Dr 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 studies:

Case study: Contemporary Art Summer School 2023.

Case study: Contemporary Art Summer School 2022.

Case study: Contemporary Art Summer School 2021.

Image: Cece Liu 2023 – This is a Story About Control.

Applications and bookings for summer 2024 are now closed.

About the course

Learning takes place in 13 live four-hour sessions over a three-week period. Each session includes a one-hour break.

A slot for networking will be available at the end of each session (optional to attend).

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
  • RCA Certificate of Attendance

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
  • problematise around your own practice and re-situate 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.

The course is led by Dr Despina Zacharopoulou, performance artist and Dr of Philosophy & Fine Art (Performance), RCA.

Contributors and tutors for the 2024 programme are:

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.

  • practising 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


How do I apply?

To apply, you need to complete an online application form.

The online form requires you to submit a:

  • 200-word statement explaining relevant professional and/or academic experience
  • 200-word statement explaining your motivations for doing the course
  • 200-word proposal for a project or studio work that you intend to undertake during the course
  • 5 images or 5 web links to videos/web references of your work, max 10 MB file size
  • CV

Application notes

  • Please title the five references to your work using the following naming convention: Full Name_Title and Year of Work_2024 Contemporary Art Application
  • Please title the CV file before uploading using the following naming convention: Full Name_CV_2024 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. The email will provide a deadline for accepting and paying for your place. Your place will be held until this deadline. If you do not make payment by this date, your place will be released and offered to another participant.

Application deadlines 2024

  • Participants are advised to apply early to avoid disappointment as places are strictly limited.
  • We will start accepting applications from November 2023.
  • First round of applications will be assessed from mid-January 2024.
  • The RCA course team will assess applications every two weeks from December 2023 until early July 2024 or until the course is fully booked.
  • We will email all applicants within two weeks of their submission about whether or not they have been successful.
  • Unfortunately we do not provide further feedback information.
  • If the course is fully booked and your application is successful we will add your name to a waiting list.

How will I know that my place is confirmed?

After receiving the offer of a place, we can only secure this 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.

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.


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]
Short Courses team