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 and artwriting 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, specifically the latest theories and methods in visual cultures

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. We place an emphasis on learning through doing and you will be involved in collaboratively developing exhibition projects in Edinburgh galleries with MFA and MA studio students. For assessment, you have the opportunity to 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 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.


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.

How to apply and entrance 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

Take me to the University of Edinburgh website on how to apply for postgraduate study

Alumni profiles


Professor Neil Mulholland

Chair of Contemporary Art Practice & Theory, School of Art, The University of Edinburgh

Programme Director, MA Contemporary Art Theory

Email: n.mulholland@ed.ac.uk

Tel: Skype neilmulholland

Facilities and resources

Students at the University of Edinburgh have access to a range of library resources across the campus and online.

Scholarships and bursaries

Andrew Grant Postgraduate Scholarships

  • Deadline: 2 March 2020
  • Value: £9,500
  • Eligibility: Scholarships available for one academic year of postgraduate Masters study at Edinburgh College of Art.


Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Email: cahss.pgadmissions@ed.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)131 650 4086