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Contemporary Art Theory - MA
Please be advised that this curriculum is under review and changes may be applied to the programme from 2017/18 onwards.
Our theory programme encourages practices that are speculative and reflective, encouraging research on and in a range of media. It is concerned with research methods that are experiential – embodied through and understood by the acquisition of a practice. The Theory MA supports an applied knowledge of art now, grounding schooling in practice, curating, artwriting and arts education not only in contemporary art theory but in extra-disciplinary and intermedial approaches.
You will originate new ways of contributing to contemporary art’s expanding field by drawing on related fields: the latest theories and methods in visual and sensual cultures, visual anthropology, the ‘new materialism’ and the ‘para-humanities.’
Based in our masters studio, you will develop a distinctive and ambitious research practice by learning from and working as part of a community of artists. Taught in collaboration with local arts organisations, the curriculum is an innovative blend of projects, seminars and workshops. For assessment, you submit project-work designed to engage and develop new hypereconomies of contemporary art and its variety of media, technologies, images, artefacts, tactics, texts, cultural contexts and professional practices.
The programme is aimed both at aspiring arts professionals and professional artists who want to develop a research-based practice by extending their practical, theoretical, organisational and economic engagement with contemporary art. It develops from a broad to a specialist understanding of the technical resources and validating contexts in which artists work today, drawing inspiration and nourishment from the experience of our international student cohort.
A unique approach
A defining aspect of our theory programme is the emphasis it places upon speculative scepticism - not proceeding from the position of knowing what art is; rather, being motivated by speculation on what it might be. We generate an atmosphere that supports mutual co-operation, a dynamic, intellectually ambitious environment in which staff and students can learn together. Our students generate and embody an assemblage of practices, combining process of production, translation and consumption.
Theory students work collaboratively, therefore we are very eager to select applicants based on their ability to work well as part of a creative team as much as we are interested in their artistic and academic potential. We attract students from all over the world with very different backgrounds and experiences. The focus on building a supportive creative community, on the rigorous and experimental combination of theory and practice and the international profile of the student body makes our Masters programme unique.
Where it will take you
The Theory MA will nurture the creative, organisational and economic knowledge required for a career in the contemporary art world that traverses the roles of artist, academic, artwriter and curator. The Theory programme is intended, equally, to bridge the gap between undergraduate and doctoral research, enabling you to prepare a successful application to a PhD programme. The Theory MA will also qualify you to teach studio art and theory in higher education.
Resources for History of Art, Art, Architecture and Landscape Architecture students.
Including journals, image databases, and local collections.
An amalgamation of the University's extensive art collection and ECA’s collection of prints, drawings, paintings and sculpture.
A fully operational, entirely student-run 90-seat theatre housed in a neo-gothic church.
Get information, advice and guidance about your career options.
Carving and mould-making facilities, a ceramics kiln, and casting amenities for bronze and aluminium.
The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) is the main space for anyone using the University of Edinburgh’s historic collections.
Work spaces are available across the University. ECA's computers include software tailored to the disciplines studied here.
At the heart of the Evolution House Learning and Research Zone, the ECA Library provides an innovative environment for learning, teaching and research resources in art and design.
ECAfé provides a full catering service to all staff, students and visitors to Edinburgh College of Art.
Edinburgh Global's mission is to encourage internationalisation, enhance the student experience, create and develop partnerships.
EUSA represent the student voice. They provide services, run events, and facilitate student societies.
Information and guidance on financial matters for all students of the University of Edinburgh.
A Georgian garden that doubles as a venue for performances in the centre of the city.
The primary collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, and research material.
By day, a café, bar and study space, and by night a club venue. Potterrow’s dome is also home to the Advice Place and the Potter Shop.
Includes a screen-printing room, relief room, lithography room, process room, intaglio room, and caseroom.
The neo-classical Sculpture Court in the ECA Main Building is home to the many pieces from the Edinburgh Cast Collection, and is regularly used for student exhibitions.
Caters to a diverse range of users from occasional exercisers to international athletes.
Offering counselling services for students, workshops, consultation and training for staff.
Supporting students with dyslexia, mental health issues and students on the autistic spectrum, as well as those who have physical and sensory impairments.
Talbot Rice Gallery is the public art Gallery for the University of Edinburgh.
Home to six distinctive bars, Teviot is the oldest purpose built students' union in the world.
265 plaster casts of Antique, Renaissance, and Gothic statues, bas reliefs, and architectural passages.
A hub for the University Societies and setting regular live music, comedy, spoken word and poetry nights.
A bar at the Lauriston Campus which hosts regular events including club nights and gigs.
News & events
Tortsen Lauschmann’s work delighted visitors by continually repainting itself over the summer months.
The collective involves students studying Creative Practice, Sculpture, Fine Art and Painting.