Sifa explains what opportunities studying at Goldsmiths gave her.
You don’t necessarily need a formal academic qualification in art history: we welcome applications from prospective students who do not meet the standard entrance requirements but can demonstrate appropriate knowledge and experience from outside academia in the world of work.
The programme offers a challenging and advanced scheme of study, which explores a range of theoretical perspectives that shape attitudes towards visual art in the late 20th/early 21st centuries.
Invigorated by current research, the programme encourages you to explore conceptually and creatively the ways in which contemporary artistic practice and critical theory interrelate. It aims to expand your knowledge of contemporary artistic developments as well as to deepen your understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of academic discourses on visual culture.
The programme draws variously upon the fields of performance studies, art history, philosophy, museology, queer theory, post-colonial studies and cultural studies in addressing the critical challenges posed by artistic practice.
The programme comprises a non-assessed introductory course, the Common Core Course Readings/Processes, and four assessed components: two Special Subjects, the MA Symposium and the MA Dissertation. Students also attend the guest lecture programme. You have the option of auditing another special subject should you wish to do so, subject to availability and in agreement with the course tutor.
Special subjects are in-depth taught courses based on the current research interests of staff. They enable you to focus on an aspect of contemporary art, cultural theory or contemporary thought that particularly interests you.
Special subjects currently include:
Students also attend the weekly guest lecture/film screening programme and two or more one-day workshops, one of which is a writing workshop. You have the option of auditing another special subject should you wish to do so, subject to availability and in agreement with the course tutor.
Full-time students attend on Thursday and one other day each week (determined by the choice of special subject); part-time students attend on one day each week in the first year and on Thursday in the second year.
Having already produced an assessed oral presentation on your topic you work on your dissertation over the summer and submit your completed project for assessment early in September. Assessment: one 12-15,000-word dissertation.
If you register your interest in this programme we will keep you informed about open days and send you relevant further information. If you subsequently decide to apply for this programme you will be able to use the same login details to apply.
You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.
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.
We accept applications from 1 October to 1 March 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.
We 'batch' applications for this programme. This means that we'll wait until the closing date and then assess all applications together, to make sure they receive equal consideration. Therefore you should not normally expect to receive a decision until April. We may consider late applications if there are any vacancies.
You should normally have, or expect to gain, an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in art history, fine art, another studio-based practice, arts administration and related activities, or a humanities discipline other than art history which demonstrates your ability to undertake work at Masters level.
If you have little or no formal training in art history or a related humanities discipline, you may need to take a preparatory year of study on the Graduate Diploma in Contemporary Art History. You may also be required to attend an interview.
If your first language is not English, you normally need a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS or equivalent.
Please check our English Language requirements for more information.
Get in touch via our online form
+44 (0)20 7919 7766
+44 (0)20 7919 7702
MA Contemporary Art Theory, graduated 2011
Sifa explains what opportunities studying at Goldsmiths gave her.
Rachel Lois, Co-Director of Open Dialogues
MA Contemporary Art Theory, graduated 2007
"The contacts I made there continue to be a valuable resource in my work."
In the BA (Fine Art & History of Art) standards were high and no compromises were made in terms of prior experience and knowledge. I often described it as a boot camp for artists. Stakes were equally high in the MA; the course consisted almost entirely of experienced/mature professionals and those who already had post graduate qualifications in other related areas. The contacts I made there continue to be a valuable resource in my work.
I am now co-director of Open Dialogues, a UK collaboration that produces writing on and as performance. Since 2008 Open Dialogues has pioneered a model of working closely with performance and Live Art artists to critically respond, document and extend the moment of performance. Programme partners include The Live Art Development Agency (UK), Pacitti Company (UK), Trinity Laban (UK), Performa Biennial (US) and Performance Saga (CH) among others.
Stephanie, Junior Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths
MA Contemporary Art Theory, graduated 2011
"The academics, staff, students and high-profile visitors to Goldsmiths continue to inspire and motivate me."
This fixed term post in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths recognises the independent research that I continued to do after I finished the MA in Contemporary Art Theory. I am very lucky to continue to have use of the Goldsmiths library, a desk and computing facilities and, most importantly, access to an academic community with whom I can share research ideas and from whom I seek advice. I am planning to apply for a PhD programme at Goldsmiths to continue the research I started as part of the MA.
I didn't have a typical arts background like other students when I joined Goldsmiths. I worried that I would struggle to fit in and keep up. During my time at Goldsmiths however I was encouraged to make good use of all my previous skills and education and I found that, in the end, my research 'hook' came precisely from past experience and knowledge. One of the more memorable experiences I had as a student at Goldsmiths was presenting a practical group project to a public audience at Gasworks gallery in London, but these experiences continue and I look forward to many more. The academics, staff, students and high-profile visitors to Goldsmiths continue to inspire and motivate me.
I recently co-founded a creative research collective called 'The Future State' with Goldsmiths Senior Lecturer Dr Derval Tubridy and other Goldsmiths scholars. The collective explores creative responses to contemporary crises, using Ireland as a paradigm for global conditions. It was born out of an international conference that I co-organised at Goldsmiths titled 'The Future State of Ireland' which took place in November 2012 and which gathered together artists, historians, journalists, social commentators and cultural studies academics to develop discourses around economic crisis, gender issues in austerity, popular resistance, urban geographies and much more.
MA History of Art (Twentieth Century), graduated 2001
"Studying at Goldsmiths provided me with the tools of critical thinking that have proven fundamental throughout my career."
I'm now an independent scholar, currently working on a book on art and creative practices in Kabul, Afghanistan: littlebookofkabul.wordpress.com
Studying at Goldsmiths provided me with the tools of critical thinking that in time have proven fundamental throughout my career. I also learnt the importance of dialogical education and the value of interdisciplinary studies.
MA History of Art (Twentieth Century), graduated 2004
"The course I undertook at Goldsmiths provided a strong foundation from which to approach and respond to contemporary art practice and I still find I draw on my research interests in projects I am developing now."
Whilst studying the MA History of Art (Twentieth Century) [the original name for the MA Contemporary Art Theory] at Goldsmiths I focused on phenomenology and wrote my thesis on the embodied encounter with darkness and its implications for experiencing moving image, with specific consideration of Jean Luc Godard and French new wave cinema.
After graduating, I started working with artists within a commercial gallery context, firstly at Emily Tsingou Gallery who at the time represented Jim Shaw, Karen Kilimnik and Georgina Starr, followed by Max Wigram Gallery and lastly as director at Alison Jacques Gallery. I realised during this time that I wanted to develop in a curatorial direction within an institutional context and applied for my current position at Camden Arts Centre in 2009.
My role involves working on all aspects of our exhibitions from their inception, including research, contributing to programming decisions, developing the practical realisation of exhibitions with the artist from fabrication through AV and presentation concerns, writing exhibitions texts, leading tours of the exhibitions and public events, negotiating loans, right through to organising transport, insurance and customs paperwork.
The course I undertook at Goldsmiths provided a strong foundation from which to approach and respond to contemporary art practice and I still find I draw on my research interests in projects I am developing now.
Alongside my position at Camden, I also do some freelance writing and curating and am currently co-curating a residency project called ‘Potlatch’ with Grizedale Arts in the Lake District. The project takes its name from the native American Indian ritual which has been a subject of interest for me since reading Bataille as part of my studies and will be an umbrella theme for a group of Scandinavian artists invited to Cumbria to participate in a programme of performances, events and symposia.
Cleo, Designer, Counterpoint
Graduated in 2008
"Goldsmiths gave me with an unconventional perspective with which to understand the world."
Goldsmiths provided me with great analytical skills and the ability to understand the world with an alternative and unconventional perspective. The projects and texts I was introduced to gave me the confidence to approach tasks with originality, and the quality of people that ran the course gave me great insights into the industry and into visual culture.
I now manage The Bridges Project which intends to reinvigorate European Union policy making through the application of cross disciplinary knowledge. In this role I research potential collaborators and design interactions to foster and harness the diverse knowledge our participants contribute.
MA Contemporary Art Theory, graduated 2012
"While I was at Goldsmiths I was able to gain the conviction to act on my political ideals, the teaching was top rate, and as such allowed creative thinking and risk taking in my work.
My time at Goldsmiths left me no choice but to take my learning to the streets and practice the theory I had dabbled with. I'm now working as a freelancer covering arts, politics and educational activism. I've co-organised Tent City University at Occupy LSX, organising talks, debate, discussion, and large-scale teach-outs in 'public' spaces. I also co-founded 'Bread and Circuses', an arts collective that squatted and hosted an all day arts event at Anish Kapoor's empty house and involved related interviews and speaking engagements. I've been involved in more activities along the lines of bringing art of spoken word together with the visual senses, with a strong political engagement with current events. Aesthetic activism, if you will, which grows its own direction every day.
My 'job' with no job description is partially a response to the condition of graduating into the current economy, and partially an experiment in the theory I picked up at Goldsmiths. I like to describe this work as my DIY internship."
Many of our MA students have gone on to MPhil/PhD study, not only in art history and visual cultures, but also in related fields such as philosophy, cultural studies and literature. Careers obtained by recent graduates include: artist, curator/collections manager, journal editor, lecturers, researcher, and roles in TV and production, public relations, and rights and marketing.
Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW, UK
Telephone: + 44 (0)20 7919 7171
Goldsmiths has charitable status