Department of Art and Media

Master's Programme in Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA)

Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) educates professionals, practitioners and researchers on contemporary art and education, working with different audiences and communities, digital communication, and visual studies. The main objective of NoVA is to achieve knowledge and skills of the best Nordic values, research, and practices in visual studies and art education. NoVA provides pedagogical interaction skills for working in cross-cultural and international educational and communication environments. Project management and entrepreneurship training are important focus areas of the programme to ensure professional future work-life skills. The studies qualify to continue research at the doctoral level. Teaching is provided in English, and the program welcomes both domestic and international students.
A person behind red mask made of yarn.
Photo: Vivita Kaupere

Study content

NoVA students engage in a variety of learning and teaching methods, including in-person, on-line, and whole group pedagogy, at home and host universities (during possible exchange studies), and at retreats and Nordic seminars. Learning by doing and problem-oriented approaches are integrated with practical and theoretical e-learning based activities. Contact teaching is a combination of lectures, seminars, peer working and student presentations, using multimodal approaches: texts, images, audio, and different physical and digital interfaces and communication.

Through courses on visual culture, social theory, pedagogy, research competences, for example, students investigate the practices of looking, seeing and being seen. NoVA students explore how digital technologies affect perception and how vision is constructed. Students research visual events to understand the relationship between institutions, the media, society, and the economic sphere.

Focus areas of the studies

Visual culture developed in the Nordic region
This incorporates exploring creative and critical approaches to design and art making, coupled with a deep responsibility for openness, caring, and equality.

Critical pedagogy with social and cultural awareness
This stems from aspects of the highly valued Nordic education systems, emphasising democratic societies, egalitarianism, socially just pedagogical skills and practices, human rights and social and cultural sustainability.

Digital technologies in learning
Social and cultural competences in ICT & online communication are included to the programme as content and as pedagogical methods.

Contemporary art education
This includes project and problem oriented teaching, and collaborative and participatory based learning based on contemporary methods, and theories of art, pedagogy, and mediation.

Project management and administration
Engaging with communities, institutions and productions provide practical experience in project management, administration, entrepreneurship and finance of cultural and educational initiatives.

NoVA courses are mapped around three concepts: sights, sites, cites. Throughout the NoVA programme, students focus on the significance of “sight” in relation to theories, practices, and networks of visual studies. With the concept of ”site”, students investigate the geo-political and pedagogical dimensions of space, place, the public sphere, and private realms. And, students are provided with opportunities to critically reflect upon previous experiences and knowledge as well as generate new knowledge through “citational” practices that draw upon existing social and cultural texts, theories, artworks, and research.

More information in the study guide for the academic years 2020-2022.
If you wish to make inquiries concerning the new curriculum, please contact nova-arts(at)

Nordic collaboration

Studying in another Nordic university for one or two semesters is recommended. Alternatively, domestic or Nordic internship is a valuable study-option that provides students with hands-on experience in Nordic work life.
The current NoVA programme was developed in collaboration with three Nordic universities: Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland, Aalborg University, Department of Communication and Psychology, Denmark and Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Sweden.

Each university has significant experience and capacity with art and/or media education at the national level. Competences between and among institutions offer a broad range of areas of study, including critical pedagogy and social and cultural awareness; contemporary art education, digital technology, and ICT; project oriented, collaborative, problem-based, and participatory-based work; sustainable development; intercultural and social entrepreneurship; and double perspective - combining theory and practice.

Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) is an independent Master’s programme in the Department of Art at Aalto University – School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Nordic partner universities cooperate in teaching (joint online studies), exchange program, and by organizing seminars and study trips.

Career opportunities

Students that graduate from NoVA will have strong intercultural understanding and experiences, and knowledge of teaching practices and theories in different Nordic countries. Students may direct themselves toward teaching, producing, project work, designing, guidance, and consultant tasks on different levels of schooling, or in the fields of art and visual and media culture, social sectors and corporate life. The degree alone does not qualify as teacher competency.

NoVA programme provides students with project management and entrepreneurship training and through elective studies (e.g. Nordic internship); students are able to deepen their expertise in relation to their background education and interest areas. Through NoVA, students are prepared for doctoral studies and for the possibility to continue their research profession.

It is never easy to move to a new country, but Korean born Solip Park did it twice. Moving first to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon and then – after hearing about Aalto’s vibrant remix of arts and business – she moved again to Finland to be part of the Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) program.

Our students' stories

    Anni Rupponen, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student & NoVA Student Assistant from Finland

    I have a strong identity of art educator and NoVA studies challenge me continuously critically evaluate my professional practice. The studies include a lot of independent work and online learning and some contact lessons like intensive symposium weeks. I completed my BA from Crafts and Recreation in 2015 and worked almost 4 years on the fields social services and education before applying to NoVA master program. First, I was scared about studying the whole program in English but quickly English become natural language to work with. Beside of NoVA studies I work as NoVA program’s student assistant. I am responsible for coordinating NoVA’s communications, and I also help with event management.
    Anni Rupponen, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student &
    NoVA Student Assistant from Finland

    Ji Youn Lee, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student from South-Korea

    If you want to feel ‘the democracy of experience’, you should be a member of NoVA. I feel really fortunate to have met peers from all over the world. What is even better is to exchange ideas with them, who are willing to express and share diversity with an open mind. I have been experiencing various culture as if I was a child and learning new things constantly. Many conflicts and new feelings have awakened in a positive way. I can still remember the day of the admission interview, sitting in a circle with five female professors from Finland, Denmark and Sweden. My question to them was what is Nordic value and now I am getting a grasp of it. Here I am, in the very safe NoVA community.
    Ji Youn Lee, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student from South-Korea

    Gintarė Rukšėnaitė, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student from Lithuania

    Being a part of NoVA international community is not only about studying and hanging out with people from all over the globe. For me, it is being involved in various discussions on art, visual cultures, education and politics in the broader global context. I was able to meet other stories, point of views as well as other realities in order to escape from my own safe bubble. NoVA is all about critical approach towards the things we often take for granted. I have a BA in Nordic Studies and Languages but decided to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and follow my interest in visual studies. I don't regret a bit.
    Gintarė Rukšėnaitė, Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Master student from Lithuania


    Comic artwork by Solip Park

    NoVA alumni news: The Finnish Game Research Society (Suomen pelitutkimuksen seura Ry) has announced the winner of master thesis prizes of 2020 Game thesis competition

    The Finnish Game Research Society (Suomen pelitutkimuksen seura Ry) has announced the winner of master thesis prizes of “2020 Game Thesis Competition” to Ms. Solip Park, one of the 2020 graduates from the Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education at Aalto.

    Department of Art

    NoVA community online

    Get to know our professors, teachers and see what our students think about studying in the Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) Programme.

    NoVA Aalto University webpage you can find Aalto University specific info of NoVA programme. More information about the Nordic collaboration and partnering universities you can find on NoVA community website & blog and through our social media channels.

    Our staff

    Mira Kallio-Tavin

    Associate Professor of Art-based Research and Pedagogy

    Professor Mira Kallio-Tavin

    Tiina Pusa

    Senior University Lecturer

    Tiina Pusa

    Kevin Tavin

    Professor of International Art Education

    Kevin Tavin

    Juuso Tervo

    Senior University Lecturer

    Photo of Juuso Tervo
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