Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

MA Fine Art (5-year programme)

UCAS code: W150

Duration: 5 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Fine Art (5-year programme)

This five-year programme combines the studio practice of fine art with the academic study of the history of art.

It is unique in its duration and in the fact that equal weight is given to each side of the programme during your studies. Our intention is to produce graduates who have a professional understanding of artistic practice and who also possess an extensive and well-based knowledge and understanding of art history and the methods of its study.

While undertaking your practice-based study you will work in purpose-built studios in a friendly and challenging creative practice environment.

Your other studies will be spent with students from a wide range of arts and humanities subjects (especially in the early years) studying the intensive art history component of the programme.

You will study both history of art and studio-based disciplines over the course of this five-year programme, including painting, sculpture, intermedia art and printmaking.

Year 1

Your study is equally weighted between the History of Art and Art practice in Years 1 and 2. You will be working in studios alongside and on courses with students studying BA (Hons) subjects in the School of Art.

You will follow studio and research courses with projects that introduce different methods, materials and approaches to art practice. Teaching in the School of Art is tutorial, seminar and critique-based.

Within History of Art, you will take History of Art 1 and one more semester-long course that you will choose. These courses cover the period from the fall of the Roman Empire to the end of the Counter-Reformation.

There are 40 credits of option courses available from across the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, nominally made up of two 20-credit courses.

Year 2

Within the studio you will begin to study with a more focused range of materiality and practices. Regular seminar discussion will provide links between art history and studio methodologies.

Within History of Art, you will take History of Art 2 and choose another History of Art course.

As in Year 1, you will also choose 40 credits of option courses from across the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Year 3

You will follow the studio and research courses alongside BA (Hons) students in the School of Art. The emphasis shifts from projects to deadlines and you will have the opportunity to engage in external projects and events, alongside extended periods of supported, independent study.

You can apply for an international exchange in Year 3.

Within History of Art you will choose two, 20-credit option courses, from a wide variety of specialised topics. These topics include: Aspects of ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern art in Europe; Islamic and Asian art; and contemporary art history and theory courses covering cutting-edge practices in the 21st century in an international context.

You must choose at least one pre-1800 option course (although you can choose two pre-1800 options, if you prefer). In addition, you will develop your research skills by writing an independent history of art project supported by regular supervisions from a member of staff.

Year 4

In Year 4 you will consider the relationship between your studio practice and the background research you engage in to create it. The course supports you as you define your personal area of research and encourages you to be experimental and ambitious. Individual tutorials and group critiques help you to critically analyse your methods of investigation and the content of your work in relation to current fine art practice.

The emphasis shifts from an even split between Art and History of Art, as in Years 1-3, to spending two-thirds of your time studying History of Art courses.

You will choose three 20-credit option courses from the wide portfolio of courses available in history of art. In this year, there is no restriction about whether they are pre- or post-1800.

In addition, you will either write another independent history of art project or undertake a work placement.

Year 5

In your final year you will write a history of art dissertation on a topic of your choice. This is submitted early in Semester 2 and the emphasis then shifts towards the consolidation of your studio practice.

The majority of the year (two thirds of your time) will be taken up with research, and the production of new work in the art studios. You will be asked to demonstrate your ability to present a self-directed body of work that shows a high level of critical analysis, personal vision and awareness of its context within current art practice.

This work culminates in the presentation of your artwork at the public Degree Show exhibitions in May/June.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2020/21)

Our facilities

Students benefit from studio-based learning in purpose-built workshops and studios for intermedia, painting, photography and sculpture at Lauriston Place, along with the exhibitions and events associated with a vibrant art college.

Some lectures and tutorials will take place in the George Square area. You will have access to the University's libraries and computer facilities.

The University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) estate and facilities to further develop our flexible, stimulating, supportive and sustainable learning and research environment for students and staff.

Further information is available on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 through exchanges with institutions affiliated to art and history of art.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most teaching and learning on compulsory courses is through involvement in a range of experiential projects, situated in a studio environment. Option courses taken across the wider university will vary in delivery method.

Conceptual, material and technical issues are explored through seminars, workshops, lectures, tutorials and critiques. Research, critical thinking and study of the visual, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative practice are regarded as essential to your development. This often involves participation in exhibitions and live projects.

As well as learning through group situations you will also be allocated a studio tutor with whom you will have one-to-one tutorials on a regular basis.

How will I be assessed?

We conduct continuous formative assessment throughout the year, to give meaningful feedback and to encourage experimentation in the studio and beyond.

Assessment can take the form of project work, participation in group events and presentations and written submissions.

Programme details

Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme details (2020/21)

This programme prepares you for a range of careers in the art world such as curatorships in galleries and museums, art journalism, publishing and art dealing. Some graduates use their skills and experience for careers in management or teaching, while some choose to go on to further academic study.

Other graduates establish themselves as successful independent artists and art historians.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements


Applicants will be asked to submit a digital mini-portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process.

Portfolio guidance

Important dates*

  • 1 December 2020: mini-portfolio submission site opens
  • 29 January 2021: UCAS has extended their application deadline to 6pm UK time on Friday 29 January. We have therefore moved our deadline for all UK applicants to the 29 January as well.
  • 9 February 2021 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: mini-portfolio submission deadline. This deadline has been extended in line with the UCAS date.
  • 30 June 2021: final deadline for UCAS applications from applicants from outside the UK and Ireland.

*(Revised 25 September 2020 to add mini-portfolio deadlines. Revised 12 January 2021 to extend application and mini-portfolio deadlines.)

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

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

English language requirements

*(Revised 27 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition.)

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Fine Art (5-year programme)

Additional costs

The costs of your materials will vary depending on your programme of study. In addition, some programmes offer fieldwork and you will usually be required to cover accommodation, subsistence and travel costs. Your actual contribution will depend on your programme and the courses you select.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding