Postgraduate study
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Contemporary Art Practice MA (eca)

Awards: MA (eca)

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Contemporary Art Practice

This programme offers a constructive, critical environment for artists wishing to develop their practice.

Our students produce artworks in a range of media, using:

  • paint
  • sound
  • performance
  • photography
  • video
  • sculpture
  • digital animation

How will I learn?

Teaching is primarily by one-to-one tutorials and mixed year group critiques with a year-round programme of visiting artists.

We emphasise the centrality of conversation and dialogue to developing innovative art. We also create a supportive environment to nurture risk-taking as fundamental to producing ambitious original art.

Courses examine key contemporary art developments and ways in which artists can self-organise, collaborate and curate opportunities to exhibit.

We emphasise the application of theory to practice and vice versa. You will collaborate on self-organised exhibitions at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and at our external gallery partners. Theory courses encourage creative and academic responses to key contemporary art debates and we insist on research projects that are connected to practice.

Our graduates

Graduates produce exhibitions internationally, and have been selected for major residencies, exhibitions and prizes, such as:

  • Bloomberg New Contemporaries
  • Saatchi New Sensations
  • Glasgow Film Festival
  • Edinburgh International Art Festival

What will I study?

You will study key debates and issues central to the development of contemporary art. For example, the course Studio will encourage you to critically evaluate the changing ways artists produce work now, while Sites will explore the possibilities of exhibiting work beyond the gallery.

The work you produce for these courses will be discussed and reflected on in tutorials, group critiques and workshops.

These practice-orientated courses are supported by seminar-based courses such as Methods and the Future Business of Art, where you will work collaboratively to examine key texts on core contemporary art issues and produce short presentations to stimulate discussion.

Assessment and progression

Assessment is essay-based but we support creative approaches that use catalogues, artist books and online digital platform media.


Our teaching is supported by regular trips to national exhibitions, such as:

  • Glasgow International (GI)
  • the Baltic in Newcastle
  • Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA)
  • Home in Manchester

We offer you access to a wide range of equipment, technicians and resources such as:

  • printmaking
  • metal
  • wood
  • casting
  • painting
  • photography
  • reprographic and digital facilities

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MA (eca)Contemporary Art Practice1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25
MA (eca)Contemporary Art Practice2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

This programme enables you to develop an ambitious art practice and provides you with the organisational and economic knowledge to thrive as a self-employed artist and to work in the contemporary art sector.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. Your portfolio should be formatted as an A4-sized PDF document of no more than 10 pages and contain:

  • images of your work (the number is up to you, but we would advise that you do not put more than four images on an individual page)

  • accompanied image text detailing title, medium, date and where appropriate web link to any supplementary documentation of the referenced work (for instance a link to video work)

  • a short artist statement (no more than 250 words)

  • no more than five URL links to any sites that further detail or document your work

Your application and portfolio should demonstrate:

  • evidence of practical and theoretical knowledge of, and experimentation with, a variety of formal, aesthetic and conceptual approaches to the production, distribution and exhibition of contemporary art

  • evidence of practical or theoretical work that addresses key thematic areas in contemporary art and theoretical discourse

  • evidence of collaborative working practices, either in a capacity as an artist or working curatorially; evidence of independent working practices, as an artist or curator

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Additional costs

No additional costs.

Tuition Fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MA (eca)Contemporary Art Practice1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MA (eca)Contemporary Art Practice2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU

You can now only apply for this programme if you are eligible for the UK/Scotland fee rate, including the EU/EEA Pre-settled Scotland fee status.

If you apply with another fee status your application will be rejected.

Work out your fee status

Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 31 July 2024

(Revised 16 May 2024 as programme now only accepting applications from students with UK/Scotland fee status)

You must submit one reference with your application.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU