- 180 credits
- 1 year programme
- Full-time study
School or Centre
An expanded and interdisciplinary art practice with no fixed identity.
Still accepting applications for 2022 entry. See the Key Dates webpage for round 4 details.
This programme is subject to validation
Photography plays a crucial role in contemporary art. The MA Photography programme at the RCA aims to provide a critical and educational environment in which you can develop as an artist with photography at the core of your practice. We have a fluid approach to image making. Whether still or moving, analogue or digital, the photographic image is, for us, thoughtful as well as playful: an allegorical and thoroughly visual form.
The programme understands photography as a discourse that encompasses and extends across multiple practices. This disregard for a fixed essence is photography’s strength: no aesthetic purity but a range of rhetorical forms used for the creation of fact, fiction and fantasy. Equally the boundary between the still and the moving image is fluid and porous, enabling new forms of image making to be created and disseminated.
An informed practice of photography acknowledges the heterogeneous traditions of fine art and visual culture. It engages with practices of reading and writing about the image. On the programme, theory and practice inform each other and this dialogue characterises your committed study at postgraduate level. The MA Photography programme is within the School of Art and Humanities and relates to studio practices and theories of contemporary art, rather than to media and communication studies.
Visit 2022.rca.ac.uk to view recent Work in Progress by our students, visit 2021.rca.ac.uk to view graduate work from the class of 2021.
Catch the replays from our November 2021 virtual open day.
Senior Tutor, Reader and Acting Co-Head of Programme
Sarah’s photographic practice has examined the consulting space used for psychoanalysis, in particular ‘the couch’ as subject.
All full-time students on fine or applied arts programmes are provided with studios or workspace, and access to specialist workshops. There are a number of bookable seminar and project spaces across the site available to all Arts & Humanities students.
Our alumni form an international network of creative individuals who have shaped and continue to shape the world.
- Becky Beasley
- Jonny Briggs
- Helen Cammock
- Ori Gersht
- Felicity Hammond
- Anne Hardy
- Dominic Hawgood
- Mustafa Hulusi
- Asa Johannesson
- Idris Khan
- Alix Marie
- Harold Offah
- Joanna Piotrowska
- Sophy Rickett
- Hannah Starkey
- Esther Teichmann
- Bettina Von Zwehl
- Carey Young
- Tereza Zelenekova
- O Zhang
More details on what you'll study.
Find out what you'll cover in this programme.
What you'll cover
This programme is subject to validation
The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College units.
The Situating Photography: Practice and Discourse orientates you through resource inductions and workshops. You will be introduced to the programme community in student and staff presentations.
Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in the College-wide unit. This unit aims to support students to meet the challenges of a complex, uncertain and changing world by bringing them together to work collaboratively on a series of themed projects informed by expertise within and beyond the College. These projects will challenge you to use your intellect and imagination to address key cultural, social, environmental and economic challenges. In doing so, you will develop and reflect on the abilities required to translate knowledge into action, and help demonstrate the contribution that the creative arts can make to our understanding and experience of the world.
The Making Public unit situates photography as an expanded and expanding field in contemporary art. Particular attention is placed on the materiality and performativity of the image.
In term 2 all School of Arts & Humanities students will participate in the Urgency of the Arts, School-wide unit. Through this unit we ask: what does arts and humanities research and practice have to offer in our current socio-political climate? The unit introduces students to a diverse range of perspectives, approaches and practices relevant to contemporary practice and thought in the Arts & Humanities. The delivery is devised to help you identify and query your own practices and disciplinary assumptions through encounters with others and within the various practices undertaken by students in the School, and to raise awareness around contemporary concerns. You will be supported in understanding the ramifications of your own work and practice within a broad cultural context, and to recognise its many potentially unintended readings and consequences.
Independent Research Project
In this unit, you will explore ways to make your independent project public, working towards an exhibition of your artwork. You work autonomously towards an understanding of practice-led methodologies, critical reflection and exhibition.
You will come together to make an exhibition exploring the practical and conceptual implications of staging, making public, and working in conjunction with others. The making of the exhibition is a reflexive site for innovation and development. A viva voce takes place in the exhibition when you will present your work to a panel of Personal and Senior Tutors. After this, the exhibition opens to the public.
After the exhibition there will be a programme of professional practice seminars that will be predominantly staffed by arts professionals. These seminars provide a context to explore ideas of reception, dissemination and professional identity.
Towards the end of the unit, using skills gained from the professional practice seminars you will consolidate the work presented in your exhibition and work towards developing a digital platform or a small print publication. This can be done independently or in collaboration and will establish your professional identity supporting the further dissemination of your practice beyond the institution.
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 considers 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 BA degree from a photography or fine art course. You should be able to demonstrate an original and critical approach to photography as well as an ability to engage with current theories of art and culture that inform your practice.
What's needed from you
Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist 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 this 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
In your portfolio, we would like you to include at least one coherent project but you can add up to five . You can include multiple files in each linked asset (JPeg, PDF or mp4) and add captions including title, date and material.
In your written statement, introduce us to your practice and where it might sit in the context of contemporary art. This might include issues of representation, discourses on photography as an expanded practice and wider socio-political concerns that you would like your work to address. Finally, please speculate on how the course might help you to change and enhance your practice.
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.
For this programme
Fees for new students
Fees for September 2022 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
* 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.
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.
Change your life and be here in 2022
The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.