Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
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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)

The Fine Art MA (Hons) has been running since 1948. It is a unique, five-year programme that combines the studio practice of fine art with the academic study of the history of art. It provides an equal split between art practice and art history.

Through this course, you will gain both a professional understanding of artistic practice and an extensive knowledge of art history and methods of its study.

Each year we have around 100 to 120 students enrolled on the degree (about 20 per year group), offering a small, close-knit community of students who have a passion for making art and its histories.


Graduates of the programme have won awards such as the John Kinross Scholarship, the Andrew Grant Scholarship and the Helen A Rose Bequest for their practical work.

How the programme works

We work with several industry leaders, including galleries and museums to provide opportunities for Year 3 students to undertake internships in curation, gallery management, exhibition production and archiving. These include:

  • National Library of Scotland
  • Alasdair Gray Archive
  • Talbot Rice
  • Art in Translation
  • City Art Centre
  • Pollock House

We also have opportunities to study abroad with various major partner universities across Europe and the USA.

You can expect a mix of lectures, seminars, and tutorials in both art and history of art, as well as self-guided study and studio time. You will also engage with critiques in the studio, in which you will have the opportunity to hear feedback on your work from both tutors and peers.

You will study both the history of art and studio-based disciplines throughout this five-year programme.

This will include:

  • painting
  • sculpture
  • intermedia art
  • printmaking

Year 1

In Year 1 your study is equally weighted between art practice and the history of art.

Art practice

For this side of your studies, you will work in studios and learn alongside students from other School of Art BA (Hons) subjects.

You will follow studio and research courses. These will involve projects introducing different methods, materials and approaches to art practice.

Teaching methods in the School of Art include:

  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • critiques

History of art

For the history of art you will take:

  • History of Art 1
  • one more semester-long course of your choice

These courses cover the period from the fall of the Roman Empire to the end of the Counter-Reformation.

You will also choose 40 credits of optional courses from across the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. These are normally made up of two 20-credit courses.

Year 2

In Year 2 your study is also equally weighted between art practice and the history of art.

Art practice

In the studio, you will begin to study with a more focused range of materiality and practices.

Through seminars, you will learn the links between art history and studio methodologies.

History of art

For the history of art, you will take History of Art 2 and choose another art history course.

Optional courses

You will also choose 40 credits of courses from across the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Year 3

In Year 3 the emphasis shifts from projects to deadlines.

You will:

  • follow the studio and research courses alongside BA (Hons) students in the School of Art
  • have the opportunity to engage in external projects and events, combining these with extended periods of supported, independent study
  • be able to apply for an international exchange

History of art

For history of art, you will choose two 20-credit optional courses from a range of topics. These include:

  • ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern art in Europe
  • Islamic and Asian art
  • contemporary art history and theory courses covering 21st century practices in an international context

You must choose at least one course covering the pre-1800 period.

In Year 3 you will also develop your research skills by writing an independent history of art project. You will be supported with regular supervision from a member of staff.

Year 4

In Year 4 you will spend two-thirds of your time studying the history of art courses and a third on art practice.

History of art

You will choose three 20-credit optional courses from the history of art portfolio. Your choices can cover the pre- or post-1800 period.

You will also complete another independent history of art project or a work placement.

Art practice

You will consider the relationship between your studio practice and your background research.

Our courses support you in defining your personal area of research. They also encourage you to be experimental and ambitious.

Individual tutorials and group critiques will help you critically analyse your work. This includes analysing your work and methods of investigation with current fine art practice.

Year 5


In your final year, you will write a history of art dissertation. This is on a topic of your choice and will be submitted early in Semester 2.

The emphasis then shifts to the consolidation of your studio practice.

Studio work

You will spend most of the year (around two-thirds of your time) on research and producing new work in the studios.

You will present a self-directed body of work to show your ability. This should demonstrate a high level of:

  • critical analysis
  • personal vision
  • awareness of its context in current art practice

This work culminates in the display of your artwork at 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 (2024/25)

Our facilities

At our Lauriston Place campus, you will learn in purpose-built workshops and studios. These have facilities for:

  • intermedia
  • painting
  • photography
  • sculpture

You will also be able to access the exhibitions and events associated with a vibrant art college.

Some of your lectures and tutorials will take place in the George Square area, where you can access the University's library, computer and technical facilities.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at Edinburgh College of Art and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the Edinburgh College of Art

Investing in our learning environment

The University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art estate and facilities. This will further develop our supportive, stimulating and sustainable learning and research environment.

You can find out more on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA

Study abroad

You will have the opportunity to study abroad in Year 3 through exchanges with institutions associated with art and the history of art.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most of your teaching for compulsory courses will be in a studio environment and involve a range of experiential projects.

For optional courses, teaching and learning methods vary.

Methods used to explore conceptual, material and technical issues include:

  • seminars
  • workshops
  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • critiques

This programme sees research and critical thinking as essential to your development.

You will study the contexts of creative practice, including:

  • visual
  • intellectual
  • social
  • professional

This often involves participating in exhibitions and live projects.

You will learn both in group settings and in regular one-to-one tutorials with your studio tutor.

How will I be assessed?

We use continuous formative assessment throughout this programme. This helps give meaningful feedback and encourages experimentation in the studio and beyond.

Assessment can take the form of:

  • project work
  • participation in group events and presentations
  • written submissions

Students go on to become curators, archivists, teachers, and gallerists. Many have had successful careers as artists, exhibiting commercially and in institutions internationally. Some students choose to go on to postgraduate study, continuing their education, completing an MFA or MSc. Some even go on to do PhDs and become university lecturers. Previous graduates have gone on to be directors of institutions or started their own galleries.

Students have also gone in less traditional directions and have found careers in marketing, copyediting and copywriting. Other graduates have found careers as writers, journalists, poets, and even teachers of art and art history. We have also had students use the transferable skills they have learned through their degrees to work in with charitable organisations and project management.

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 portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process.

For more information about the portfolio, visit the Edinburgh College of Art website at the link below and scroll to the section titled ‘Application Process’.*

MA Fine Art application process

Portfolio technical support and specification

(Revised 15.04.2024 to remove incorrect information re BTEC and UAL diplomas.)

Important dates

  • 1 December 2024: portfolio submission site opens.
  • 29 January 2025: deadline for all applicants (including international applicants).
  • 4 February 2025 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: portfolio submission deadline.

Applicants studying the University of the Arts London Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design will be considered with Merit.

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

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.


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
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at 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: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 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 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

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

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

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.

Some programmes offer fieldwork. For these, you will usually need to cover:

  • accommodation
  • subsistence
  • 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