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A blurred image showing a sitting room area of antique furniture, including a sofa, armchair and a fireplace Image courtesy of the artist


Contemporary Art Theory - MA



1 year (Full time); 2 years (Part time)
Full-time; Part-time


The School of Art’s contemporary art theory programme encourages post-studio practices that are speculative and reflective, engaging in new research practices within the field of contemporary art. It is a team-taught programme, with art staff delivering five courses focussing on current developments in contemporary art theory and practice. You will collaborate with peers on a range of assessed projects in semester one, co-curating a project in second semester. The programme concludes with a major artistic research project.  

The Theory MA supports an applied knowledge of art now, grounding schooling in post-studio practices, curating, arts education, anthropology, artwriting, artistic research and related extra-disciplinary approaches to the arts. The programme supports artistic research methods that are experiential, embodied through and understood by the acquisition of a practice. You will originate new ways of contributing to contemporary art’s expanding field by drawing on related fields, specifically the latest theories and methods in visual, materialist and sensual research, research design, organisational studies, arts education and anthropology.  

MA theory students are encouraged and supported to develop a distinctive and ambitious artistic research practice by learning from and working as part of, a learning community. The curriculum is based on a unique blend of short projects and peer-to-peer learning (‘paragogy’). MA theory students study together in jigsaw-classrooms and practicum workshops, and on their own with supervision support. We place a strong emphasis on learning through doing and you will be involved in developing curatorial and educational projects with Scottish art institutions. For assessment, you will submit project-work that utilises a variety of media, technologies, images, artefacts, tactics, texts, cultural contexts and professional practices. 

The programme is aimed both at aspiring writers, curators, arts professionals and artists who want to develop an artistic 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. 

Our students often 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 a diverse cohort of 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. 


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 fully prepare you to teach studio art and theory in higher education. 

How to apply and entry requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through EUCLID, our online application system. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to:

  • see detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • get information on what to expect after you apply
  • find out about study modes, start dates and fees
  • find out if, and how, you need to submit a portfolio, showreel or research proposal
  • find out where to go for further advice and guidance.

Get in touch

Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)131 650 4086

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