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CCA Show 2019 Installation shot, The Unexpected Beautiful


An international leader in the field

Key details

  • 180 credits
  • 1 year programme
  • Full-time study

School or Centre

Application deadline

  • Still accepting applications

Learn to develop innovative curatorial proposals with London-based arts organisations

Curating is a creative, dynamic and diverse practice, constantly changing in relation to its context, to the work of artists and a range of cultural practitioners, and to the interests and expectations of audiences. When you join the Curating Contemporary Art MA (CCA) you join a well-established and highly influential programme and community of students actively contributing to how curating is understood, practiced and thought about across the globe. As a highly international programme, designed to develop your critical awareness of curating in a global context, we also place real importance on working collaboratively, peer-to-peer, as a way of learning together and sharing knowledges and cultures, and testing ideas. When you graduate you will join a network of over 500 CCA alumni from across 47 different countries, many still working together, collectively shaping the practice of curating contemporary art and the spaces and places in which it is encountered.

Still accepting applications for 2023 entry. See the Eligibility and key dates webpage for round 3 details.

Explore further

Find out about our upcoming 2023 graduate projects

Visit the MA Curating Contemporary Art graduate projects to view graduate work from the class of 2021

Catch the replays from our November 2021 Virtual Day



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

View all facilities

You'll benefit from being part of a vibrant art and design school environment. There are a number of bookable seminar and project spaces across the site available to all Arts & Humanities students.

  • Curating Contemporary Art seminar (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Curating Contemporary Art seminar (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Battersea computer room (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Battersea computer room (photo: Richard Haughton)

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College units.

Term 1

In the first term, you will engage with Curatorial Thinking, through talks and lectures by visiting curators, readings, seminars, and workshops, you will engage with genealogies of curating and contemporary issues affecting its production and organisation, such as globalisation and migration, the digital and networked culture, urbanisation and use of space, and changing understandings of publics.

Alongside this, in Ecologies of Curating, through site visits, lectures and workshops you will gain a curatorial insight into the complex and diverse range of spaces and places, galleries, museums and organisations, in which curating and programming takes place and on which the contemporary art ecology is dependent. Together these two units allow you to identify the relation between theory and practice in curating and programming, and prepare you for unit 3.

Term 2

In the second term, for unit 3, Curating in a Collaborative Context, you will learn how to work collaboratively in peer groups on a live project brief set with an external partner with a focus on generating curatorial proposals to professional standards of Shortlist and Stage 1 Feasibility. Mastering the skills of proposal development, including the commissioning of artists, designers, programmers, you will learn the role and value of project research and planning, presentation, mediation, and advocacy. The final project proposal will be presented to the external partners for response and critical evaluation.

Term 3

In the final term, as part of the Independent Research Project (IRP), you will work in your groups to curate a display of your project proposal and deliver a public-facing event, designed to generate audiences and critical debate. Additionally, the IRP supports each student to establish their own critical position in the field through the development of either a critical research essay or a creative project development plan.


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.

You are generally expected to have a good undergraduate degree from an arts or humanities background.If your undergraduate degree is not arts or humanities-based you should be able to articulate its relevance, or how it informs your aim to study Curating Contemporary Art. You also need to be able to demonstrate an active interest in contemporary art and its presentation and mediation, and have some practical experience of working within the visual arts or cultural sector that is relevant to the field of curatorial practice.

As a student on this programme you will help to develop the multi-, interdisciplinary and exploratory nature of contemporary curatorial practice and the future of curating. One of the primary aims of this programme is that you develop the skills and confidence to work effectively within this field, to act as an innovative and responsible practitioner, and that you contribute to the valuing of art and culture in your future work.

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

Please upload ​two ​separate submissions:

  1. Critical review - 500 words maximum

This text should offer a critical evaluation of a ​contemporary art exhibition or projec​t that you have recently visited and discuss why you think it is successful or not in relation to its curatorial approach.

2. Curatorial proposal for a contemporary art exhibition or project you would like to curate – maximum 4 sides of A4

In your proposal please include the following:

  • Curatorial rationale (what is your proposal about?)
  • Curatorial approach (how will you curate it?)
  • Artists/works/content (what will it include?)
  • Space/Platform/Venue (where will it take place?)
  • Public events/education programming (Who is the audience?)
  • Images as appropriate (visuals)

From your submissions we want to learn what kinds of curatorial practice and contemporary art interest you. What kinds of questions, issues and experience motivate your interests? What role and value do you think curating brings to contemporary art?

Having researched the programme online and looked at the films of graduate projects, we want to know why you want to join this particular programme. At the core of the CCA programme is learning how to think, work and curate collaboratively so tell us why working collaboratively appeals to you rather than studying independently. What experience do you have of team-working? Either in your academic experience, but it may also be in jobs you have or voluntary work.

Throughout your application we’re interested in learning from you what motivates you and how you are building your knowledge and finally, what role and value this Master’s represents for your future career.

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) and at least 5.5 in other skills. 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 Student 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

Fees for September 2023 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Overseas and EU


New entrants to the College will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees.

Overseas and EU

Progression discount

For alumni and students who have completed an RCA Graduate Diploma and progress onto an RCA Master's programme – MA, MA/MSc, MFA, MDes, MArch, MEd or MRes – within 10 years, a progression discount of £1,000 is available.

* 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.

Supporting students on any MA programme from the UK (Preferably is a Scottish national), experiencing financial hardship.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Full time, Student preferably of Scottish origin

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: £10,000

The RCA Cost of Living Bursary supports living costs for home students across all MA programmes.

Value: Bursaries of £5,000 each, for use towards living costs

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The RCA Disabled Students Bursary supports living costs for home students with a declared disability across all MA programmes, recognising the contribution that UK students with disabilities make to the RCA

Value: Bursaries of £6,000 each, for use towards living costs

Eligibility criteria: Students with a diagnosed physical or sensory disability, or specific learning difficulties.

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship supports academic excellence by rewarding talented home applicants with the highest scoring portfolios on application to RCA, with a partial fee scholarship

Value: Scholarships of £2,500 each, to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: Academic excellence

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Summary: The Vice-Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship - International supports academic excellence by rewarding talented applicants with the highest scoring portfolios on application to RCA at Round 1 and Round 2 of applications, with a partial fee scholarship.

Value: Scholarships of £2,500 each to be offset against fees

Eligibility criteria: Academic excellence

Eligible fee status: International fee status

The Scholarship supports 21 UK MA, MRes and PhD students every year from across all RCA MA, MRes and PhD disciplines.

Eligibility criteria: Financial hardship, Students with Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage, or mixed Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage

Eligible fee status: UK fee status

Value: £21,000 each

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.

Start your application

Curating Contemporary Art Seminar. Photography by Richard Haughton

Change your life and be here in 2023. Applications now open.

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements and key dates
More information about eligibility and key dates
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Consider attending an Open Day, or one of our portfolio or application advice sessions
See upcoming sessions
Please note, all applications must be submitted by 12 noon on the given deadline.
Visit our applications portal to get started

Ask a question

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

Register your interest with us here
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