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Contemporary Art Theory (MA)

Course Description

Programme description

This programme encourages creative, holistic and practical knowledge of this increasingly polymathic field, grounding practical schooling in criticism, art writing and curating in knowledge of key histories and theories of contemporary art. The programme addresses issues raised by the practices of contemporary art, criticism and curating as a means of encouraging you to contribute both critically and practically.

Artists think and act. Being contemporary means engaging with multiple perspectives and different ways of learning. Students of contemporary art theory conduct research in relation to a broad range of creative, cultural and historical contexts in ways that are speculative, writerly, philosophical, organisational, social and economic.

Students apply aesthetics, art theory and criticism, art historiography, anthropology, and critical theory to engage with contemporary art’s variety of media, technologies, images, artefacts, tactics, texts, cultural contexts and professional practices.

Programme structure

Coursework is based on a strategy of blended learning, combining the latest open-source educational technology with more conventional face-to-face lecture, seminar and workshop-based teaching methods. Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of peer learning; group work, field work and experiential learning.

Research projects are student-led, personalised and supervised by a team of academic staff who aim to support whichever direction is most appropriate to your interests, skills and strengths. Theory students form an integral part of our graduate school, writing, producing and commissioning projects in a family of media and adapting approaches drawn from an increasingly wide array of disciplines.

Learning outcomes

The programme aims to provide you with both an overall level of expertise in recent developments in art practices and theories, and a high degree of specialisation within this field, culminating in an original Research Project. As such, the programme has the following specific aims:

To undertake a systematic examination of major international art practices since the 1970s.
To analyse the major strands of theory and criticism that have informed art practices, institutions and related cultural ecologies.
To explore some of the principal critical and theoretical positions informing the interpretation of contemporary art and its organisational contexts.
To provide you with a set of critical tools necessary for the advanced analysis and creative organisation of art and contemporary culture.
To provide you with a set of competencies, skills and understanding that will enable you either to undertake further academic research and/or to pursue a range of creative careers.

Career opportunities

This programme will enable you to develop the creative, organisational and economic knowledge required for a career in the contemporary art world, as a critic or a curator. You will also be qualified to teach studio art and theory in higher education and to work as a self-employed artist.

Visit the Contemporary Art Theory (MA) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Entry Requirements

You should hold an honours degree with classification 2:1 or above or an equivalent professional qualification in a related field of study.

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Recipient: University of Edinburgh

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