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Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design

Fine Art

Two-year master in English, starts in September

The two-year Fine Art programme, part of the Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design, is an hbo-master offered by Piet Zwart Institute|Willem de Kooning Academy, which is part of Hogeschool Rotterdam (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences).

The two-year English-taught Master Fine Art program foregrounds the reciprocal articulation of research, practice, and professionalization. It considers critical reflection, debate, and action as integral to self-directed artistic research and practice, and it fosters professional development for emerging artists through exposure to key actors and influences in the field of contemporary art, professional guidance and workshops, and opportunities for presenting ideas and work to wider audiences.

In keeping with the dynamic and hybrid nature of contemporary art production and distribution today, students in the MFA program work individually, collaboratively and collectively, with and across a range of traditional, analogue, and digital mediums and experimental formats. Just as the contemporary art world promotes interdisciplinary cross-pollination, students enrolled in the MFA program do not always define themselves solely as visual artists, but also as artist-writers or artist-curators, artist-performers, artist-designers, or simply as cultural producers. Such variety leads to an especially rich and productive research culture that allows students to pursue their practice to a professional level.

The international students accepted into the MFA program are offered ample studio space and a dynamic milieu comprised of peers and leading practitioners from various fields. The MFA program cultivates a stimulating environment in which students, tutors and guests can engage their respective interests together in meaningful ways. The curriculum offers considerable time and space for Studio Research and Practice, which is enhanced by individual tutorials, group critiques, interdisciplinary thematic projects and seminars, a reading, research and writing methodologies seminar, as well as self-organised and extra-curricular activities.

Our tutorial team is comprised of international artists, writers, curators, and theorists from the Netherlands and abroad. Vibrant public programs and publications contribute to the visibility of our achievements. In addition, the MFA program strives reach out and build relationships outside the academy via institutional partnerships and through individual initiative.

Facts and figures

The programme at a glance

Programme structure

A view of the study programme

Course elements

The MFA program is a two-year full-time course that is designed to facilitate self-directed Studio Research and Practice toward the achievement of the final competencies for the Master of Arts degree in Fine Art. Students meet those objectives via learning outcomes, which indicate the expected skills, knowledge, attributes, and competencies acquired through these program modules:

  1. Studio Research and Practice: involving independent research and practice, tutorials with core and guest tutors, thematic projects, seminars, excursions, workshops, independent study, and self-organized initiatives.
  2. Reading, Writing and Research Methodologies Seminar: involving an introduction to best practices in research and writing as preparation for writing the master's thesis.
  3. Analysis of Practice-Group Critique: involving self and peer evaluation of research and practice.

Students present and discuss their Studio Research and Practice in the Analysis of Practice-Group Critique module and the feedback received there impacts the evolution of their work. The skills, contextual and critical perspectives developed in thematic projects and seminars, workshops, and self-organized initiatives embedded in the Studio Research and Practice module can widen the scope of and focus self-directed research, helping students refine and reflect upon their own work and the work of others. In year one, the Reading, Writing, and Research Methodologies Seminar guides students toward a better understanding of artistic and academic research methodologies and encourages a regular writing practice, which is essential for the successful completion of the body of work and writing component of the Graduate Research and Practice module in year two.

Studio Research and Practice is the main focus, largest component and point of reference for PZI MFA students throughout the programme. Students develop a body of work focused on questions, ideas, or themes that motivate their research and practice and use media, materials and working methods they find most appropriate. Research and work are undertaken independently, in forms and directions that are specific to each student, including archival and field research, technical training, collaborative partnerships, and public presentations.

In year one, emphasis is on experimentation and exploration of processes, materials, and ideas. By the end of year one at least one or more individual and assessable works should give evidence of the ability to integrate self-directed research and critical, contextual perspectives in a developing body of work. In year two, students enter in the Graduate Research and Practice phase, which leads to the production of a written text of circa 8000 words and work for the graduate exhibition.

Public Program

Vibrant public programs and publications contribute to the visibility of our achievements. In addition, the MFA program strives reach out and build relationships outside the academy via institutional partnerships and through individual initiative. An art school is a place where various currents of thought meet, intertwine and disperse, where stable meanings are disrupted and firm beliefs are unfixed, and where encounters create a new, ever shifting, shared space of dialogue. Thus, the MFA program evolves every year – it is the combination of students, tutors and guests, as well as occurrences, events and critical debates in the art world and in the wider culture, that help define who we are and what we do within the field of contemporary art.

Research opportunities

The Piet Zwart Institutes includes a research programme 21st Century Visual Culture (part of Creating 010 research center at Rotterdam University of Applied Science).

In this programme, we conduct theoretical and practice-oriented research on globalization processes and shifts in contemporary culture, society, technologies and aesthetics that put into question the Western art and design system as it has been established in the 19th and 20th century.

To give some examples: In the last century, a powerful combination of postcolonial culture and newly invented media changed music when Afro-American music met the record industry. We observe similar shifts in 21st century visual culture - refugees navigating their ways with smartphones, fashion trends generated by Instagram postings and picked up by manufacturers and retailers within only few weeks, the transformation of contemporary art through post-colonial aesthetics and globally networked art discourse.

Visual Culture began as a cultural studies and humanities discipline that sought to expand the scope of traditional art history and critically renew its methodology. It still remains a task for us to further develop Visual Culture from a theoretical field of research into one that unites reflection and practice. Our aim is to develop methodologies that allow Visual Culture to be more than a repair discipline of traditional humanities and reposition it as a critical creative practice. Doing so, our ambition is to think across art, design and architectural history, philosophy, cultural and postcolonial studies, gender studies, queer theory, semiotics and media studies.

Activities in the research programme include: practice-oriented research projects with external partners (museums, arts spaces, artists' and designers' initiatives, social activists, publishers, fashion labels, retailers), public lectures and symposia, projects in collaboration with students from Piet Zwart Institute and Willem de Kooning Academy, exhibitions, interventions, experimental formats and publications. We encourage students to get in touch with us!

Contact / research professors

Nana Adusei-Poku
Florian Cramer

After your study programme

Different possibilities

After your graduation

Congratulations! You just received your Master of Arts (MA) degree.

With your degree, you will receive a supplement, a DS-label. With this English document, you can show the value of your degree abroad when applying for other study programmes or when applying for a job.


Where you can find us
Foto van locatie Location

Piet Zwart Institute

Karel Doormanhof 45 3012 GC Rotterdam

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