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Elena Helfrecht

Overview

Productive fluidity

Key details

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

School or Centre

Application deadline

  • Applications closed. Please check back soon.

An expanded and interdisciplinary art practice with no fixed identity.

Applications of the 2022 intake are now closed. To register for updates on applications for a 2023 start please complete an Enquiry to Study form.

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 Arts & Humanities and relates to studio practices and theories of contemporary art, rather than to media and communication studies.

Explore further

Visit 2022.rca.ac.uk to view graduate work by our students.

Catch the replays from our November 2021 virtual open day.

Gallery

Facilities

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

View all facilities

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.

  • Photography studio (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Photography studio (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • At work in the Photography Studio (photo: Richard Haughton)

    At work in the Photography Studio (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Darkroom facilities (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Darkroom facilities (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

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 AcrossRCA, the College-wide unit. See below for more details.

Term 2

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.

Term 3

Independent Research Project

The Independent Research Project takes three parts. In Part A: Independent practice 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.

In Part B: Public 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.

Part C: Professional Practice takes place after the exhibition as 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.

Situated at the core of your RCA student experience, this ambitious interdisciplinary College- wide AcrossRCA unit supports how you respond to the challenges of complex, uncertain and changing physical and digital worlds by engaging you in a global creative network that draws on expertise within and beyond the institution. It provides an extraordinary opportunity for you to:

  • make connections across disciplines
  • think critically about your creative practice
  • develop creative networks within and beyond the College
  • generate innovative responses to complex problems
  • reflect on how to propose ideas for positive change in local and/or global contexts.

AcrossRCA launches with a series of presentations from internationally acclaimed speakers that will encourage you to think beyond the discourses of art, architecture, communication, and design, and extend into other territories such as economics, ethics, science, engineering, medicine or astrophysics.

In interdisciplinary teams you will be challenged to use your intellect and imagination to respond to urgent contemporary themes, providing you with an opportunity to develop innovative and disruptive thinking, critically reflect on your responsibilities as a creative practitioner and demonstrate the contribution that the creative arts can make to our understanding and experience of the world. This engagement with interdisciplinary perspectives and practices is designed both to complement your disciplinary studies and provide you with a platform to thrive beyond graduation.

Requirements

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

The Photography programme aims to develop and support a range of photographic practices within contemporary art. These may include the still and the moving image, installations, performance, text-based works.

In your portfolio, we will appraise how well edited your work is and how successfully you describe it, and who are the artists you have learned from to develop your own practice. We recommend you show works that represent your aspirations best. We discourage you to show disparate projects. We welcome self-initiated works rather than works that respond to a brief given by your former school.

In your portfolio, please submit documentation of the work you make, including title, date, size, and media. You have five slots and each can accept four supporting items. You may use these slots to show how a work developed and evolved from start to completion. This may include detail of drawings, experimental approaches and work in progress.

Please illustrate your talk clearly and describe your working methods, who has influenced your practice, and why photography is your preferred medium. Do not tell us why you think the RCA is your programme of choice, but why photography within contemporary art is your medium of choice.

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 2022 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Home
(subsidised)
£13,500*
Overseas and EU
£32,000*

Deposit

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.

Home
£1,000
Overseas and EU
£2,000

* 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

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

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.

Payments

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

RCA students at work (photo: Richard Haughton)

Change your life and be here in 2022

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

Before you begin

1.
Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements
Visit the requirements page
2.
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Visit our applications portal to get started

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RCA Kensington cafe