Navigation

MA in Computational Arts

  • Length
    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
  • Department
    Computing

Course overview

Study a degree which develops your arts practice through the expressive world of creative computation. It provides you with the historical foundations, frameworks and critical skills to produce a series of projects for public exhibition. It is delivered by Computing with contributions from the Centre for Cultural Studies.

What is computational art?

Computation consists of all the changes brought about by digital technology. Art is an open set of ways of acting inventively in culture. Mixing the two together in a systematic way gives us computational art. This is a very open field, and one that is set to expand enormously in the coming years. It is where the most exciting developments in technology and in culture can already be found. This degree will place you in the middle of this fast-evolving context.

Should I study the MA or MFA Computational Arts?

As well as the MA, we also offer an MFA in Computational Arts. The MA is 1 year (full-time), the MFA 2 years (full-time).

The first year of the MFA is identical to the MA. You take the same classes and you learn the same things. The differences between the two courses is that in the MFA you get a 2nd year in which you take additional courses which help you develop your arts practice further. These courses mean that you get a space to work under a tutor's supervision. 

What will I learn?

This degree develops your arts practice through the expressive world of creative computation. Over a year (full-time) or two years (part-time) you will develop your artistic work and thinking through the challenge of developing a series of projects for public exhibition which will explore the technological and cultural ramifications of computation. 

You will learn the fundamentals of programming and how to apply this knowledge expressively. You will work with popular open source programming environments such as Processing, OpenFrameworks, P5.js and Arduino, and will learn how to program in languages such as Java, Javascript and C++. 

Since computational artworks don’t necessarily involve computers and screens, we also encourage students to produce works across a diverse range of media. Supported by studio technicians in state-of-the-art facilities, our students are producing works using tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, robotics, wearable technologies, paint, sculpture and textiles. 

You will also study contextual modules on computational art and the socio-political effects of technology. Modules in the Centre for Cultural Studies provide students with the historical foundations, frameworks, critical skills and confidence to express their ideas effectively. You will have the opportunity to learn the cultural histories of technology, to reflect on computation in terms of its wider cultural effects, and to understand the way in which art provides rigorous ways of thinking. 

Through our masterclass series, we regularly invite world-class artists and curators to explain their work and engage in critical dialogue with the students. This allows you to develop a wider understanding of the contemporary art scene and how your work sits within the professional art world.

Keep up to date with the department

Take a look at the MA/MFA Computational Arts blog for the latest course news and student projects.

For news straight to your inbox, why not subscribe to the course’s newsletter? 

We are also happy to show people around our facilities, discuss the course in more detail and even give a taster of a class. Contact the course leader, Dr. Theo Papatheodorou (t.papatheodorou@gold.ac.uk) to arrange a visit.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Theo Papatheodorou

Modules & structure

The following are core modules:

Module title Credits
  Programming for Artists 1 15 credits
  Programming for Artists 2 15 credits
  Workshops in Creative Coding 1 15 credits
  Workshops in Creative Coding 2 15 credits
  Final Project in Computational Arts 60 credits
  Physical Computing 15 credits
  Digital Culture Critical Theory 30 credits.

You may then pick modules of your own choice from the optional modules listed below: 

Module title Credits
  Natural Computing 15 credits
  Machine Learning (AI) for Artists 15 credits
  Advanced Audio-visual Processing 15 credits
  Data and Machine Learning for Artistic Practice 15 credits
  Narrative and Interactive Fiction 15 credits
  Approaches to Play: Mechanics Dynamic, Aesthetics 30 credits

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Department

Computing at Goldsmiths is ranked: 2nd in London for this subject area** 17th in the UK for the quality of our research***

Computing

The Department of Computing offers a creative, contemporary and pioneering approach to the discipline.

From developing computers that can compose music and paint pictures, to defining and implementing new social media tools and applications, we aim to invigorate computing and the world around it. 

Learn by doing

We place a great emphasis on creativity, independence and ‘learning by doing’. Students undertake practical work in real-world situations, carrying out projects in ways that mirror industry practice. 

Interdisciplinary approach

We also promote an interdisciplinary approach to the subject: from computational arts to games and entertainment, and from data science to digital journalism. 

Industry experts

You’ll be taught by industry experts – our academics are deeply engaged in current research, with many applying their knowledge and skills to developing cutting-edge technology. And we have close links with industry, too, regularly inviting leading professionals to deliver lectures and talks. 

Find out more about the Department of Computing.

**Guardian University League Tables 2017

***Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings

Staff

Mick Grierson

Mick Grierson is a founding member of the Goldsmiths Digital Studios and the Embodied Audiovisual Interaction Group (EAVI). He runs Goldsmiths Digital, the consulting arm of the Computing department’s research activities, specialising in developing core technologies for the Creative Industries. He is also Director of the Daphne Oram Collection.

Rebecca Fiebrink

Rebecca Fiebrink is a faculty member at Goldsmiths, and a member of the Embodied AudioVisual Interaction (EAVI) group. She also supervises research in the Soundlab at Princeton University. Her research work encompasses a variety of projects developing new technologies to enable new forms of human expression and creativity. Much of this combines techniques from human-computer interaction, machine learning and signal processing to allow people to apply machine learning more effectively to new problems such as the design of new digital musical instruments and gestural interfaces for gaming and health. 

Atau Tanaka

Professor of Media Computing at Goldsmiths, Atau Tanaka bridges the fields of media art, experimental music, and research. Active in the Tokyo noise music and media arts scenes, he moved to Paris with a residency at the Cité des Arts to work at IRCAM, was Artistic Ambassador for Apple France, and was researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paris. Atau creates sensor-based musical instruments for performance and exhibition, and is known for his work with biosignal interfaces. His recent work seeks to harness collective musical creativity in mobile environments, seeking out the continued place of the artist in democratised digital forms.

Simon Katan

Simon Katan is a digital artist with a background in music and a strong preoccupation with games and play. His work incorporates hidden mechanisms, emergent behaviour, paradox, self-reference, inconsistency, abstract humour, absurdity and wonder. He completed a PhD in audio-visual co-dependency in music and won a Prix Ars Electronica Honorary Mention for his work ‘Cube with Magic Ribbons’. Simon has exhibited and performed in the UK and Europe at festivals and conferences including Imatronic (Germany), Beam Festival,  Sonica, ICMC, Hide and Seek Fest, IG Fest, Spitalfields Festival, Sonorities, Green Man Festival, Secret Garden Party, and Borealis. Recent residencies include Pixel Palace at Tyneside Cinema and ZKM Karlsruhe. He is course leader of Goldsmiths’ BSc Creative Computing, and a researcher at Goldsmiths’ Embodied Audio Visual Interactions group. 

Theodoros Papatheodorou

Theo Papatheodorou is the course leader of the Digital Arts Computing course as well as the MA/MFA in Computational Arts. He completed his PhD in face recognition at Imperial College after which he returned to Greece where he started the premiere computational media course at the Athens School of Fine Arts. He is the founder of random quark www.randomquark.com a creative technology company building state of the art engaging experiences in large-format projections, interactive installations and the web. His work has been exhibited internationally and his interactive projections have been featured in live shows in some of the biggest theaters in Greece.

Marco Gillies

Marco Gillies is Director of Studies at Goldsmiths Computing. He is an expert on computer graphics, animation and new forms of interaction. 

Phoenix Perry

Phoenix Perry is an experienced developer, accidental public figure and general rebel rabble rouser. She teaches physical computing and games at Goldsmiths. Her research attempts to extend the human senses through augmenting the perception of emotion. You can find her in hacklabs burning herself on soldering irons or coffee shops caffeinating while punching code in chemically induced fits of brilliance before napping. 

William Latham

William Latham is a designer of computer games, a computer artist and entrepreneur. Expertise in evolutionary art, graphics, generative art, genetics, and the entertainment and video games industries.

Kate Devlin

Senior lecturer and senior tutor at Goldsmiths Computing, Kate Devlin and her research focuses on how we can apply knowledge of visual perception and cognition to areas such as Human-Computer Interaction and Artificial Intelligence to assess how people interact with, and react to, technology. She has a background in both archaeology, computer science and applied perception, her work focuses on digital cultural heritage. She is an active campaigner for mental health awareness and also for raising the profile of women in computing.

Matthew Fuller

Matthew Fuller is an author and professor of Digital Media at Goldsmiths’ Centre for Cultural Studies. He is known for his writings in media theory, software studies, critical theory and cultural studies, and contemporary fiction.

Luciana Parisi

Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, chair of the PhD programme at the Centre for Cultural Studies, and co-director of Goldsmiths’ Digital Culture Unit. She is interested in cybernetics, information theory and computation, complexity and evolutionary theories. Her writing addresses the technocapitalist investment in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology. She has written extensively within the field of Media Philosophy and Computational Design. In 2004, she published 'Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire' (Continuum Press). In 2013, she published 'Contagious Architecture. Computation, Aesthetics and Space' (MIT Press). 

Josephine Berry

Josephine Berry is a lecturer at Goldmiths’ Centre for Cultural Studies. She has worked since 1995 as an editor for Mute, a magazine that thinks through cultural and technological questions in the midst post-internet globalisation. Her PhD thesis was one of the first to address net art and considered the ways in which computer networks participate in art's redefinition after Duchamp and the demise of the artwork's aura, originality and sitting in gallery space.

Graham Harwood

Graham Harwood is an artist and lecturer at Goldmiths’ Centre for Cultural Studies. Graham is known for both his individual work Aluminium, Rehearsal-of-Memory, Lungs and his collaborative work with Mongrel, a celebrated artists group specialising in digital media.  

Tim Blackwell

Tim Blackwell is a computer scientist and musician with an interest in swarms and advanced algorirthms.

 

 

Student work

MA Computational Arts show
MA Computational Arts degree show
MA Computational Arts student project - Glove
MA Computational Arts installation
Generative art
Metasis - MA Computational Arts degree show
Page

 

Facilities

Goldsmiths Computing department has a wealth of specialist facilities and equipment for students to use. From digital studios to motion capture, and games labs to sonic media.

3D printer
Computing Mac lab
Student working on project
Computing lab facilities
Student wearing motion capture suit
Motion capture lab and software
Virtual reality in games lab
Students working in computing lab
Page

 

Student profiles

Steph Horak

"Learning to program on the MFA expanded my music practice in untold ways"

Learning to programme on the MFA expanded my music practice in untold ways, allowing me to develop homemade instruments, new interfaces and novel ways to create and perform music. In addition to this it gave me time, facilities and expert support to explore other media for the first time, such as big data and mobile applications. 

This course is good for artists who want to develop their existing practice in a new computational light, but also for those who are still finding their feet as there are so many creative pathways available. Finally, the networks developed with colleagues when working so intensely in this dedicated environment are lasting, and set each one of us in good stead for future collaborations as we each migrate from academic to professional environments.    

My creative practice continues. I exhibit video works quite regularly, and perform on the London improvisation circuit. I now work for Goldsmiths Computing department on special projects, which include producing exhibitions, conferences, and installing new facilities on campus such as the upcoming FabLab.  

 

(Studied MFA in Computational Arts)

Nelmarie du Preez

"The course allowed me to find my own voice and practice as an artist."

The course and Goldsmiths itself provided a range of theoretical and practical discourses as well as various people from different backgrounds and disciplines, all of which informed my process.

The course not only created the space for me to develop my skills as a maker, but also allowed me to find my own voice and practice as an artist. It did this through a rigorous and fast paced program introducing us to a vast amount of new and exciting creative technologies that you would not be able to encounter in any other arts based program. As a consequence I was able to build a unique artistic practice for myself, which I will take with me forever

(Studied MFA in Computational Arts)

Roger

"I came to Goldsmiths to gain more in depth knowledge of computing." 

"I came to Goldsmiths to gain more in depth knowledge of computing and to broaden my knowledge beyond working with computer sound to working with video, physical computing and networks."

(Studied MFA in Computational Arts)

See more profiles for this programme

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in a relevant/related subject and a portfolio of work (supplied either as a DVD or a URL directing to a relevant web page).

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

Do I need to know how to program in order to join this course?

Having a creative/art background is what we require and not necessarily a technical one. We want to work with people that have some arts practice and want to introduce computation in their work. In the past, we have had performers, film-makers, architects, musicians, painters and some computer scientists join the course. The majority of people on the course don't know how to program when they join us.

When people join us we try to assess their level of skill in order to offer them a challenging learning environment. People that have previous coding experience are encouraged to take more advanced modules and are given assignments in lab and to take home that push their technical and creative skills further.

We feel that this diversity of skills and backgrounds contributes to the course’s great success over the years.

Do I need a strong maths background?

We do not require a maths background nor do we expect people to be strong in maths to do well. Basic arithmetic (addition/subtraction/division etc.) is all you need. We'll remind you in class of any new concepts you'll need. We currently have in the class dancers, writers, film-makers, photographers as well as architects, computer scientists, etc. We take pride in the diversity of backgrounds the students have and this contributes to the course's success.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • A portfolio of work (supplied as a pdf or a URL linking directly to a relevant web page). The portfolio can be in whatever form you feel is most appropriate (dance, painting, photography, digital art, music, film etc.

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

Related content links