Study at the World's number one ranked art and design university for five consecutive years (2015-2019) in the QS World University Subject Rankings.

About the Programme

The Painting programme approaches the practice of painting as a self-reflexive, critical activity that draws on a wealth of varied historical, material and conceptual accomplishments related to the medium and its objects. The programme aims to provide an expansive and inclusive platform on which to engage with current issues and debates surrounding the challenges and location of painting as a part of contemporary art practice.

Through the many learning and teaching experiences the programme offers, students and staff rigorously, critically and supportively engage in personal tutorials, group critiques and presentations. These discussions and critical forums take place in the Painting studios, across the College, through visits to galleries and collaborations with our partner institutions, and during visits to major exhibitions both in this country and abroad.

Our students are here to reflect upon and play out what kind of artists they want to be – how best to serve and challenge their personal agendas and all this in relation to current discussions and developments within the scope of contemporary painting, and the broader cultural realm. The student experience is supported by the painting programme, the opportunities and events that are timetabled across the School of Fine Art, and the Cultural and Historical Studies schedule.

Ultimately the programme is designed and delivered in order to support our graduates in developing art practices that are sustainable and meaningful to each artist's particular ambitions and operate at the highest levels of the contemporary art world. With each new year-group the dynamic of the studios and the conversations around painting shift and broaden in their agendas and processes.

On graduation, a selection of students is awarded studio residences, which the programme supports through a mentoring scheme, along with all our graduates being supported as they apply for residencies and other professional opportunities.

Recent visiting lecturers include: Milly Thompson, Ansel Krut, Philip Allen, Alison Katz, Sally O’Reilly, Alexis Teplin, Milena Dragicevic, Tom Morton, George Shaw, Amikam Toren, Clarrie Wallis, Paul Housley, Tim Stoner, Sophie von Hellermann, Jamie Shovlin, Varda Caivano, Kate MacGarry, Margot Heller, Daniel Sinsel, Martin Herbert, Markus Vater, Toby Ziegler and Katy Moran.

The programme offers

  • dedicated studio space for each student;
  • excellence of teaching by leading practitioners, writers and curators;
  • opportunities for exchanges with international institutions, studio residences abroad, and an annual study trip;
  • two major exhibitions during the two years in the form of a Work-in-Progress Show at the end of the first year and the Summer Shows before graduation;
  • support and opportunities for teaching/lecturing placements in undergraduate colleges throughout the UK;
  • support through the College mentoring scheme for studio residences awarded to a selection of students on graduation;
  • continued support for all our graduates through the School and our alumni network.

MA Entrance Requirements

Candidates for all MA courses are assessed on their existing qualities as demonstrated in their work and in their interview, as well as on their potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve MA standards overall. The assessment will consider creativity, imagination and innovation evident in the work; ability to articulate the intentions of the work; intellectual engagement in relevant areas; appropriate technical skills; overall interview performance, including the oral use of English.

Application Procedure

Applications are assessed through Part 1 and Part 2 of the Entrance Examinations by a panel of tutors and students as well as the Head of Programme and the Senior Tutor.

For Part 1 the panel views the initial portfolio of images to select and invite candidates for Part 2, which is the interview, where applicants are invited to bring physical works, supportive material, and film/video works.

Following the interviews, the panel makes their selection for the following year's cohort, including a reserve list. Applicants are selected on the strength of their portfolio, their interview, the potential of their work and the nature of their work, to ensure a dynamic range of tendencies and agendas in any one year group.

The applications procedure is presented in full during Open Days, outlining how the applications are seen and assessed.

The application procedure focuses on searching out those candidates that are highly motivated, independent and demonstrate they have the critical skills necessary to develop and further their existing ideas. In short, those artists that – given the opportunity to join the Painting course – would utilise their time with us to the full, and have the generosity to support their fellow students.

Students apply from all kinds of backgrounds, but generally having completed a BA degree. In recent years, people have come from fine art, printmaking, painting, sculpture, photo media, conservation, illustration, design, textiles, architecture, art history and interactive arts courses.

While many students enter the course after years of independent work, we also accept students directly from undergraduate courses.

Ultimately we want to attract to the course those artists who want to work in a supportive environment and have the drive and ambition to realise the full potential of their studio practice, in turn energising their peer group.

Digital Portfolio

Artwork should be uploaded to the Online Applications website. Portfolio submissions will be accepted in the following formats only:

Ten digital images in JPG format no larger than 2MB;

We prefer your images to be 1024 x 768 pixels or greater;

All image files must be saved as JPG format;

Links to videos hosted on sites such as Vimeo or Youtube may be uploaded, please make sure that they are publicly viewable;

No actual paintings, portfolios, photographs, slides, DVDs/videos should be submitted at this stage;

Submission of any material in any other format than the requested JPGs or URLs will invalidate your application;

The ten items of your work should include, if possible, a few examples of earlier as well as recent works;

Each item should be provided with relevant information (i.e. date, size, medium, title);

Please note that we will only accept ten images or links to videos;

We do not consider any late applications.

Interview (if invited)

You will be asked to bring up to four works with dimensions not exceeding 2 metres by 2.5 metres, or up to six works if their average size is considerably less.

In addition, you should bring a portfolio to the interview containing an edited selection of work, which may include drawings in any media, any other work on paper and photographs. Sketchbooks and notebooks may also be included, but should be limited to those that are relevant to recent work.

If you would like to bring any time-based works please notify us of the format in advance of the interview.

All work must be taken away after the interview.

Program taught in:

See 24 more programs offered by Royal College of Art »

Last updated March 12, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
2 years
19,000 GBP
Tuition fees in 2018/19 - Overseas: £28,400 per annum (£56,800 total fee); UK/EU: £9,500 per annum (£19,000 total fee); Channel Islands and Isle of Man £14,200 (£28,400 total fee).
By locations
By date
Start Date
End Date
Application deadline
Application deadline
End Date