MA Fine Art

Iceland Academy of the Arts

Program Description

MA Fine Art

Iceland Academy of the Arts

Profile and objectives of the study program

The Master Program in Fine Arts at the Iceland Academy of the Arts offers a platform for students to deepen their knowledge and increase their skills in the field of fine arts, strengthen their personal vision and relate their artistic practice to the discipline’s theoretical criteria.

The course makes great demands for independent working methods. There is an emphasis on the art practice and research involving a systematic building up of knowledge, that the students develop a good command of both academic and practical parameters of fine art in preparation for work as independent artists in the contemporary art field.

  • One of the unique features of the Iceland Academy of the Arts Master Program is the students’ proximity to other disciplines in the arts at the Academy. Collaboration is offered in the field of fine arts, music, design, and theatre through students´ independent work and development of their works.
  • Master level programs entail participation in the professional field of the arts. The Department of Fine Arts collaborates with all the main art institutions in this country, in addition to various collaborations with domestic and foreign academies, artists and curators and theorists in the international field of fine arts. Students are thereby exposed to countless opportunities for specialization in connection with various areas of specific interests as well as projects related to nature and the country’s local characteristics.
  • The main emphasis of the course is the promotion of the student’s independent and progressive visual creativity. Art practice and research are paramount and the course aims to enhance students’ competence in the methods of the discipline, train them to discuss their own work and to become active participants in the international field of fine arts.


Applicants must have a Baccalaureate in Fine Arts or related disciplines within art and theory. Emphasis is placed on applicants possessing knowledge and competencies for independent art practice with initiative and ability to follow their ideas through.

Study proposal

In his study proposal, the applicant must submit a description of his artistic intention and personal aims within the Master Program in Fine Arts at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. The proposal can be one to two pages long. The following needs to be addressed in the study proposal:

  • Why the applicant is applying for the Master Program in Fine Arts at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and what expectations he has in relation to the Master Program.
  • Methods and mediums which the applicant intends to use in his studies.
  • Analysis of the context of his work; with regard to resources, issues, and themes.
  • What subject the applicant intends to explore in his studies.


Portfolio of the applicant´s artistic practice as a comprehensive overview of his own work. The portfolio should be A4 or A3 size. It should contain documentation of up to 20 of the applicant´s works; clear photographs, computer prints or other copies of works. It is important to specify if the project is a collaborative one. The works may not be older than five years. Accompanying each work must be a description of: title, size, material and year. Video works must be described with stills and a short description of their content, in addition, it is possible to submit as supplementary documentation video and/or sound works on DVD. The total running time of such work should not exceed ten minutes. If the work in question is longer then a part of the work should be submitted along with information on total running time.

Information on background, previous studies, previous work and anything else related to the artistic background of the applicant.

Written references of three individuals who know the applicant´s artistic work.

A specially appointed admission committee assesses the applications on the basis of submitted material and interviews.

Language requirements

The Master Program in Fine Arts is an international program. English is the main language of instruction but tutoring may be in Icelandic or English. Students must be able to express themselves in spoken and written English. It may be required that the applicant pass a TOEFL test.

Please send following documentation by post along with the electronic application:

  • Successfully submitted electronic form
  • Signed print-out of the electronic form and motivation letter
  • CV
  • Recommendations
  • Certified copy of degree certificates and school transcripts
  • Portfolio of works

Practical information

  • 120 ECTS two-year full-time study
  • Interviews with applicants take place in May
  • Admissions will be announced end of May
  • Program begins August 25
  • Maximum number of students for MA Fine Arts is 8 students per year
  • Teaching is in English
  • Application fee ISK 5000
  • Fees are ISK 796.000 per academic year.


The Master Program in Fine Arts is a full-time two-year course, 120 ECTS. The structure of the course is divided into independent artistic practice, seminars, theoretical courses and a final project. The students must complete 30 ECTS each term.


The main component of the course is the studio practice, resulting in a Master´s project. To this end, the student is supported by the main tutor that follows him throughout the course of study. Additional consultation and guidance are available from other tutors in the Department, specialists in workshops and guest artists and academics that come to teach at the Department of Fine Arts every year. Students furthermore have the choice of participation in international and domestic collaborative art projects and independent research projects.

The theory part of the course is divided into seminars, theoretical courses, independent research projects and a thesis, which forms part of the final project for the Master Degree.

In the Department of Fine Arts seminars, there is an emphasis on the integration of applied and theoretical work in the students‘ art practice. In addition to lectures on art theory, cultural studies, history of ideas and philosophy of art, to name a few, seminars are intended to increase students´ knowledge and competencies in using critical thinking in their artistic processes, in discussions and in presentation and critical analysis of their own work.

Students also participate in communal Master Program seminars at the Iceland Academy of the Arts where students from different artistic disciplines are encouraged to work together on communal projects. This is an open platform of lectures and discussions which revolves around, on the one hand, practical working methods, e.g. basic methods of artistic research, academic writing, dissemination and teaching and on the other hand, history of ideas in the arts and introduction to different views, ideas and methods of different art forms.

Outside core mandatory courses, the student organizes his own selection of academic courses linked to his area of interest and his independent work. Courses and seminars at Master level at other Departments at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and in art theory at the University of Iceland may be selected, in addition to courses at Baccalaureate level, on the grounds that they enhance the student‘s specialization. Students can enter an exchange program or project periods abroad for one semester and it is desirable that this takes place during the second term of the course.

The student has the opportunity to work on an independent research project in the field of fine arts studies in relation to his own area of interest and artistic practice in order to deepen and widen his knowledge of a certain specialized area. The project is defined in consultation with the Master Program Course Director and Head of Theory in the Department of Fine Arts. The student works on the research project under the guidance of a tutor.

The progression of the student´s work each term forms the basis of the end of term assessment. Group presentation and reviewing of the student´s work takes place with tutors, guest artists, and other specialists. The student then submits to his tutor a text and an updated portfolio that documents and reflects on the development of his work during the semester. Assessment is based on submitted projects and student´s active participation in seminars and courses.

Final project

The development of the student´s art practice and independent artistic research is crystallized in the final project of the Master Program. The main emphasis is on the development of the student´s artistic practice but he must also submit a final thesis as a reflective supplement to the work. Furthermore, the student presents his final project at a Degree exhibition for the Master Program. This can be in the form of an exhibition or other engagement with an audience at a public event. In the thesis, the student must analyze his artistic thought and work, demonstrate good understanding and knowledge of context, history and cultural references within contemporary art. The project is assessed by a panel with an external examiner and the assessment is based on the integration of artistic presentation and theoretical contextualisation.


The Department of Fine Arts Open lectures

Every year, a number of artists and academics give lectures and presentations on their work and ideas in open lunchtime lectures at the Department of Fine Arts. The lectures, under the headings the Studio, the Backroom, and the Extension are intended to introduce and encourage discussion about various matters of opinion from the world of art and contemporary culture as well as the connections between different disciplines and professions. The lectures are an important part of the Academy´s public relations as well as being an open platform for a connection between students and the world of ideas and experience of artists and academics.

Hugarflug (Mind Flight)

Hugarflug is a new lecture series at the Academy of the Arts intended to create a platform for critical discussion about research in the academic field of the arts. Emphasis is placed on the variety that exists in approach, dissemination, and treatment.

Practical value and professional environment

A Master Degree in Fine Arts from the Iceland Academy of the Arts prepares students for work as independent visual artists at international level, to participate in exhibitions and discussions and attend art residencies and apply for grants. The course can be useful in various related professions, e.g. in art institutions, in teaching and in the media. In addition, it may be assumed that the creative and critical thinking with interdisciplinary connections taught in the Department of Fine Arts´ Master Program can be of use in progressive projects and innovation in all areas of social and cultural life in Iceland.


1st Semester

Artistic Practice (studio + seminar + theory)

  • DEALING, 2 ECTS mandatory
  • Studio work, 14 ECTS mandatory
  • Fine Arts seminars, 4 ECTS mandatory

Interdisciplinary Master’s seminars

  • Interdisciplinary Master’s Seminar I: Artistic research and academic working methods, 4 ECTS mandatory

M.A. theory

  • Contemporary Art Theory, 4 ECTS mandatory

B.A. theory

  • Influence of cinema in contemporary art, 2 ECTS elective
  • Colours, perception and interpretation, 2 ECTS elective
  • Aesthetics in contemporary philosophy, 2 ECTS elective

Total ECTS

  • 28 ECTS mandatory
  • 2 ECTS elective

2nd Semester

Artistic Practice (studio + seminar + theory)

  • Studio work, 18 ECTS mandatory
  • Fine Arts seminars, 4 ECTS elective:
  • Independent research project
  • International/domestic collaborative projects
  • Exchange studies

Interdisciplinary Master’s seminars

  • Interdisciplinary Master’s Seminar II: Artistic research and dissemination, 2 ECTS mandatory

M.A. theory

  • Perception and artistic creation, 4 ECTS elective

B.A. theory

  • Photography in contemporary art, 2 ECTS elective
  • Landscape and nature in visual art, 2 ECTS elective

Total ECTS

  • 24 ECTS mandatory
  • 6 ECTS elective
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 25, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2019
2 years
Full time
796,000 ISK
Iceland - Reykjavík
Start date : Aug. 2019
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Aug. 2019
Iceland - Reykjavík
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info