Led by Dr Mel Jordan, Reader in Art & the Public Sphere, the Contemporary Art Practice programme has specialist pathway leaders in order to facilitate a distinct engagement with specific areas of contemporary art practice. The programme is delivered through four pathways: Critical Practice (led by Jeremy Millar), Moving Image (led by Jane Wilson), Performance (led by Professor Nigel Rolfe) and Public Sphere (led by Mel Jordan).
The Contemporary Art Practice programme enables us to incorporate practices that exceed the specificity of the well-established disciplines of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. Contemporary Art Practice engages with contemporary modes of art production, dissemination and debate. It facilitates specialisation through its pathway structure enabling students to engage with a particular approach to developing their own art practice. The teaching methodology we employ is not technologically or materially determined however students are expected to utilise appropriate and specific means in which to manifest their ideas. Contemporary Art Practice students have access to all facilities within the School of Fine Art.
Critical theory has emerged as an essential intellectual framework for art criticism but what is its potential as a tool within the production of contemporary art? Studio-based and primarily focused on supporting the development of the artistic practice of its students, the Critical Practice pathway offers regular seminars exploring emerging ideas and bodies of theory as well as opportunities to work with organised forms of knowledge such as public archives and institutions.
Moving Image is aimed at artists using film and video, and practitioners working in the areas of documentary film, film and fiction cinema as well as practitioners who wish to draw upon, challenge and re-map established realms of Moving Image based practices. The diversity of approaches employed in the Moving Image pathway reflects the new reality of contemporary moving image.
Performance happens in the ‘here and now’ and not the ‘there and then’. Unlike many practices, where time is historic, and the image presented is necessarily an archive or record, ‘being and doing’ are more immediately significant in live time, and the expectation is that – in the contemporary – artists are often presenting work that is not made in advance but rather happening now!
Public Sphere is a major research area in the School, and the pathway supports expanded engagement with art and its publics as well as art’s social function. Social art practices have featured as a key force in the rise of the global biennale as well as being utilized by the Occupy Movement. Therefore questions about public space, participation, collaboration and collective action are becoming essential principles within the production of contemporary art both in terms of practice and theory.
Your application should be for MA Contemporary Art Practice and you will have to specify in which Pathway you wish to study: Critical Practice, Moving Image, Performance or Public Sphere.
The programme offers:
This Research Master's programme in Media, Art and Performance Studies is an interdisciplinary and internationally oriented research-based programme which offers an advanced training in academic research skills appropriate for today's highly dynamic and interdisciplinary field of media, visual arts and performance.
Contemporary media, art and performance increasingly play with and transcend disciplinary boundaries. Intermedial and performative practices both produce and critically investigate cultural transitions in today’s mediatized and performative culture. Such synergies invite to explore how emerging forms of media, art and performance – while historically and culturally embedded - interact with and relate to social and cultural transformations.
As a student of this programme, you will be introduced to and specialise in new research areas and methodologies, necessary for investigating emerging media, performance and contemporary art forms within today's rapidly changing culture. In relation to this you will also reflect on the role of the Humanities in both academic and public debates.
Central concerns in this programme are, amongst others:
We approach this broad field from a range of comparative and intermedial perspectives, focusing primarily on the dynamics of change and exchange between media, contemporary arts and performance within a culture and society in transition.
In this programme you will reflect on questions such as how media have developed from the time of early cinema up to current new media art; how the definition of 'live' has changed alongside these mediatised cultural forms. How has the performative turn changed the ways we think about audiences? How do media technologies facilitate new methods of self-staging and social performance? What is the influence of media and technology on way we curate and educate in museums and archives and other cultural institutions.
In this age of selfies, datafication, (self-) staging and re-staging, and playful learning, you will examine how various media, art forms, and performance have been used for critical analysis, civic engagement, entertainment and educational purposes. You will do this by asking how digital technologies, dramaturgical and artistic strategies alter ways of dealing with knowledge production and distribution, and how these transitions have contributed to and also ask for new methods of research.
How does the ubiquity of media technology change our understanding of the world and our sense of self within it, as well as how we communicate and act?
This programme will train you as a researcher within the field of Media, Contemporary Art and Performance Studies, to either prepare you for a PhD position, or for research-oriented positions in professional contexts of cultural institutions such as archives, museums, art institutions, theatres, for education, (non-)governmental organisations, or in creative industries.
After completing the programme:
The Research Master’s is aimed at excellent students from both the Netherlands and overseas, who have a background in the history and theory of contemporary art, or media and performance studies with a focus on theatre, dance, film, television, and/or digital media.
Alumni of the Media, Art and Performance Studies Research Master’s have been successful in obtaining PhD positions in various prestigious international programmes. Graduates also find their way to other job markets. For example in the domain of curation, dramaturgy, or media consultancy.
The MA in Digital Media is unique in its combination of practical and theoretical approaches to contemporary media and technology.
The established and exciting degree is designed to help you understand digital transformations in media, culture and society and apply this understanding in practice, in the media and creative industries and in further research. You will be equipped with skills that can be applied to current and future developments in digital media, social media, computing and other aspects of technology.
The MA in Digital Media educates aspiring media practitioners and academics as well as early and mid-career professionals who seek to reflect on their roles in a structured and stimulating learning environment designed to give all students up-to-the-minute knowledge of digital media and the skills to apply that knowledge to future developments.
The MA offers two pathways:
Pathway 1 is a theory programme where you learn about developments in digital media and technology from a wide range of perspectives
Pathway 2 is a theory and practice programme where you can explore transformations in media, culture and society through the practice of contemporary digital communication. You will work with one or more of the following to create installations, apps and single- and multi-screen work that's responsive to the continually changing digital landscape:
Acclaimed academics and practitioners
Benefit from the experience and expertise of one of the world’s leading media and communications departments. The programme is co-convened by Professor Joanna Zylinska and Daniel Rourke, and you will be taught by theorists and practitioners of international standing.
Work placements and internships
The MA in Digital Media regularly attracts offers of work placements and internships. In the past these have come from Google, The Science Museum and N1creative.com. There is also £6,000 bursary available for UK students studying this course. Find out more about the Stationers' Postgraduate Bursary Scheme on our departmental awards page.
Our students have access to state-of-the-art facilities including well-equipped lecture and seminar rooms, exhibition spaces, computer facilities and digital media suites.
The department is also currently host to the renowned philosopher of media and technology, Bernard Stiegler and students will have access to his modulein Media Philosophy as well as priority access to the innovative and popular option After New Media. Designed to complement the MA in Digital Media, this course provides a framework for thinking about the current media environment as well as future forms of human and computer interaction.
An established record
The MA in Digital Media has been redefining media theory and practice since 2004. Our students become proficient in:
MA Digital Media students have access to the pioneering option ‘After New Media’, currently a non-assessed online module which explores the themes of self mediation, ethical mediation and intelligent mediation, and develops a framework for thinking about 'life' after new media. As well as accessing a series of podcasts, students are offered reading groups and a masterclass with Professor Sarah Kember co-author of the book Life After New Media on which the course is based.
The programme consists of:
Seen take-home paper; essays; dissertation or practice/theory project and other production work for image-making.
We provide graduates with skills that are cutting edge: in the critical analysis and/or creative production of digital media; in the disciplinary knowledge and conceptual frameworks necessary for current and future forms of media and technology; in the awareness of how digital media and technologies are re-shaping society from the ways we communicate (through social media and web 2.0) to the increasingly ‘smart’ environments in which we live.
Our programme provides a theory and practice pathway and prepares students for work in the following areas:
Digital technologies are now ubiquitous in nearly every part of our lives, and today's students need to become proficient with digital technologies as research and communication tools. The Digital Anthropology MSc at UCL combines technical skill with anthropological research methodologies in order to train students for research and involvement in this emergent world.
Students gain skills training in digital technologies, from internet and digital film editing to e-curation and digital ethnography; study the anthropological theories of virtualism, materiality/immateriality and social networks; and develop an understanding of the consequences of digital culture through the ethnographic study of its social and regional impact in a global and comparative context.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of one core module (45 credits), three optional modules (45 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).
All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a 15,000-word dissertation.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, practicals and laboratory sessions. It includes a weekly seminar series, with invited international speakers. Assessment is through essays, methodology practicals, written examination and the substantial research dissertation.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Digital Anthropology MSc
In addition to its importance for careers such as in media, design and museums, digital technology is also integral to development, theoretical and applied anthropology. Companies and institutions collaborating with the MSc are: British Telecom, UCL Computer Sciences, UCL Information Studies, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Skype, Intel, the British Museum, NESTA, NOKIA, the Home Office and Inventi V.
The programme is also developing relationships with: Cultural Informatics Research Centre for the Arts and Humanities (CIRCAh), Slade Centre for Electronic Media in Fine Art, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Centre for Museums, Heritage and Cultural Studies, UCL Interaction Centre, UCL Digital Humanities and UCL Urban Laboratory.
New media and technology companies are showing considerable interest in Digital Anthropology as a degree that qualifies students for positions in all fields of user interaction and research. In the last few years students graduating from the MSc have been recruited by the best international agencies doing research on users' digital practices. In the non-profit sector students have joined organisations involved in policymaking, open access and citizen journalism. The subject is also a good grounding for students who are interested in continuing to a variety of PhD programmes.
The Digital Anthropology MSc at UCL is becoming a world leader in the training of researchers in the social and cultural dimensions of information technologies and digital media.
UCL Anthropology is one of the largest anthropology departments in the UK and offers an exceptional breadth of expertise. Our excellent results in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise and 2014 Research Excellence Framework show that we are the leading broad-based anthropology department in the UK. The programme combines ethnographic methods, critical thinking and practical explorations of the digital world and encourages in-depth research to develop the next generation of understanding about the impact, consequences, aesthetics and politics of digital technologies and infrastructures.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Anthropology
68% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.