The MA in Contemporary Art is the longest running specialized Master’s program of its kind in the world. Established in 1991, it focuses on art in the period from 1968 to the present, with strands on art history, curatorial studies, and critical theory, and a strong emphasis throughout on professional career development. The program covers developments in contemporary art from around the world, examining a broad range of artistic practices and institutional structures, from the highly established to the most innovative. The program is designed for those who are fully committed to the study of contemporary art and who intend to pursue careers in the field. Graduates of this program have gone on to work at museums, commercial and not-for-profit galleries, auction houses, consultancies, journals, international art fairs, and universities.
This twelve-month-long program is unique in combining rigorous academic study of contemporary art with the acquisition of skills of professional practice. The course runs across three semesters, beginning in September. The first two semesters are intensively taught on four (occasionally five) days per week. In the second semester, specialist electives can be chosen from across all Institute Master’s programs, allowing a student to build a personalized Master’s profile. During the third semester (June through September) there is no formal teaching. In this semester, students research and write their dissertation with the guidance of an individual supervisor.
Students complete a range of assignments during the program that are designed to help them become sophisticated graduates with high caliber academic and vocational skills and knowledge, preparing them for success in their career. Object-based assignments foster students’ skills of observation, description and interpretation. Other assignments, such as essays, develop skills of research, analysis, contextualization, and criticism, promoting students’ ability to present material in different written and spoken modes. Students are encouraged to consider the networks in which art is created, exhibited, and collected. All students will be involved in assignments that simulate “real world” tasks, projects, and scenarios; for example, exhibition reviews, collection/catalogue entries, and planning for a hypothetical exhibition or journal.
Lectures are given by both members of the faculty and consultant lecturers, many of whom are active in the art world, facilitating ample networking opportunities. Study visits (both local and international) are an integral part of the program.