Royal College of Art

Course Introduction

Established 25 years ago, the MA Curating Contemporary Art (CCA) programme is recognised both as an international leader in its field and for its commitment to collaborative group project'based work that integrates theory and practice throughout the two years of the curriculum.

The CCA programme approaches the field critically, theoretically and through best practice in commissioning, curating, and programming with London'based and national arts organisations and spaces ensuring that the knowledge and understanding of these practices is grounded in the context of public audiences, urbanisation and the digital. In the increasingly complex cultural environment in which curating takes place, our research'led and practice'led teaching by staff and visiting tutors ensures the curatorial and artistic significance, intellectual value and critical vitality of the MA programme.

The programme offers:

– Practice'based learning and research'led teaching

– Collaborative learning and research through project'based work

– Graduate Project with external high'profile partners

– International nature and value of peer'led learning

– Responsiveness to shifts in artistic and curatorial concerns

– Professional development

– Independent dissertation

Course Modules

First Year

Curatorial Thinking is a core unit of the CCA programme that introduces students to current and dominant positions and histories within curatorial studies, whilst exploring how the curatorial may be understood as a broader cultural phenomenon, as well as an approach to critically engaging with our contemporary moment. Understanding the curatorial to be a notional territory sited at the intersection of exhibition'making, cultural and political organisation, contemporary art, cultural and critical theory and knowledge production, this unit asks students to consider what curating might mean as a practice, approach and way of thinking in and of our time.

Curatorial Practice runs throughout the first year of study and is a foundational unit in curatorial skills and in the current curatorial field, focusing on working relationships with artists, curators, arts organisations, institutions, collections, archives and public space through practices of programming, commissioning and collaboration. It is designed to enable students to establish a comprehensive awareness and understanding of the complex range of practical skills needed in the contemporary art field by those working in the curatorial mode.

Research in Practice is both a continuation of the exploration of the concerns discussed in Curatorial Thinking and a bringing together of critical writing and curating through an understanding of the various roles of and approaches to research that may exist across both practices

Considering topics, such as the relationship between method and content, structure and argument, and position and voice, archive and history, each session of the unit will explore different notions of research and knowledge production, while putting different methods into practice. Following an understanding, that form, method and knowledge are indissociable from each other, the unit will explore how objects and subjects are constructed through narrative forms, research methods and processes of knowledge production.

Second Year

The Curatorial Graduate Project provides an opportunity for students to develop and apply their curatorial skills working in collaborative project groups towards the realisation of live, public curatorial projects in conjunction with partner organisations.

Project partners will evolve and change as programme interests and specialisms develop. Recent partners have included: Delfina Foundation, Gasworks, Nine Elms Development (Culture Programme), Beaconsfield and RCA Fine Art (Sculpture).

Learn more about recent Graduate Projects.

The Dissertation unit provides the opportunity to develop a sustained piece of individual and independent research and writing to help consolidate thinking on the unit and to provide future opportunities to develop research and enquiry in academia and the wider cultural sphere.

The dissertation is an independently conducted piece of work that follows on from the Research in Practice unit. Students will be substantively supported throughout the process through individual and class tutorials, following the process of research planning, literature review, thesis structure and final drafting.

Start Date:


Duration & Attendance Qualification Tuition fees Fee type
2 years
Full Time
MA £19,000 Home Fees
2 years
Full Time
MA £56,800 Overseas Fees

Qualifications required:

  • Candidates for all MA courses are assessed on their existing qualities as demonstrated in their work and in their interview, as well as on their potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve MA standards overall. The assessment will consider: creativity, imagination and innovation evident in the work; ability to articulate the intentions of the work; intellectual engagement in relevant areas; appropriate technical skills; overall interview performance, including oral use of English.
  • – You are generally expected to have a good undergraduate / BA degree from an Arts or Humanities background
  • – If your undergraduate degree is not Arts or Humanities-based you should be able to articulate its relevance, or how it informs your aim to study Curating Contemporary Art
  • – You can demonstrate an active interest in contemporary art and its presentation and mediation
  • – You have some practical experience of working within the visual arts or cultural sector that is relevant to the field of curatorial practice