Study options

Master's Programme in Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art

ViCCA explores emerging knowledges and practices at the intersections of visual cultures, curating and contemporary art. We facilitate students to develop and contextualize their own practices within and in between these contexts. The programme is open to artists, curators, scholars and practitioners with different backgrounds and experience, who are looking for opportunities to understand, challenge and shift the paradigms of contemporary art and the world around us.
The ViCCA prograne


Master of Arts (Art and Design)

Application period:

1.12.2020 – 4.1.2021

Language of instruction:



2 years, full-time


Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Art and Design


120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

For non-EU/EEA citizens, €15000/y (Master’s studies)

The application period will open 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

Scholarships and Tuition Fees

Programme Description

Master's Programme in Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art (ViCCA)

ViCCA is an international programme that explores emerging knowledges and practices at the intersections of visual cultures, curating and contemporary art.

  • If you are looking to contextualize and develop an independent practice or method of inquiry within and in between these contexts, while maintaining strong connections to society, then ViCCA is the place for you.
  • If you are an artist, curator, scholar or culture worker looking for opportunities for experimentation in a transdisciplinary environment, if you want to understand, challenge and shift the paradigms of contemporary art and the world around us then ViCCA would also be a very good fit for your MA.

Study objectives

  • Students develop a wide understanding of contemporary and emerging artistic practices, relevant theories and international discourses in the field of visual cultures
  • Students will be able to engage in open research processes, learning to combine theoretical knowledge and practices with concrete artistic or curatorial projects
  • Students will learn to contextualize their work in relation to different professional fields and social and cultural phenomena.
  • Students will gain tools to work and experiment in their chosen field in visual cultures, curating and contemporary art.
  • Students will develop comprehensive research and writing skills, which helps them to prepare also for doctoral studies

Presentation of the programme

Study languages

In ViCCA Programme the language of instruction is English.


Content of the studies

ViCCA is situated at the dynamic intersections of fields of visual culture, curatorial practice and contemporary art. The educational aim of the programme is for you as a student to find your own weave between these fields in the development of fresh new possibilities and practices. The ViCCA program offers you an opportunity to develop, deepen and apply your prior skills and knowledge while opening your research processes to the possibilities offered by other disciplines.

A study experience at ViCCA consists of theoretical studies, practice-based artistic workshops, experimental laboratories, excursions and field studies, as well as a thesis writing process. Theoretical, curatorial and practice-based artistic studies are seen as responding critically and engaging with the current issues and interests in the field of contemporary art and beyond.

  • How can non-verbal knowledges and artistic research inform scientific experimentation and vice versa?
  • How can specific, situated inquiries reveal stories of relevance to the planet?
  • How can theory be used in practice and vice versa?
  • How might we rethink what curating is?

The programme’s pedagogical models are focused on sharing of expertise, exploratory learning and artistic research practices in order to create an open conversational and dialogical space and community for learning, acting and debating.

A study of Visual Culture involves ways of understanding a versatile range of critical, contemporary visual phenomena and signifying practices. A focus upon Contemporary Art includes artistic understanding on issues related to space, time, materials, environments, and social contexts, studied via a diversity of critical perspectives and experiential exercises. Curating is explored as a path for reflection, action, learning and organizing in and around the public sphere from a perspective that engages with theory, sociopolitical questions and other disciplines. Through Transdisciplinary Approaches, we encourage students to explore new forms of artistic practice and collaboration with other fields and sectors, such as science, technology, ecology and society at large. We aim to explore possibilities, challenge the conventions and develop fresh insights to today’s questions.

The University offers its students a broad variety of possible Minor Studies, which are available in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture and the other schools of Aalto University (Design, Media, Business, Technology, Engineering and so forth.) It is strongly encouraged that you select a minor as a part of your studies at ViCCA. The minor opportunities available in other programmes facilitate a wide range of possibilities for you to design your own track through your MA with us. They also open up new professional career paths.

The ViCCA studies consists of the Master’s Thesis (30 credits), 5 mandatory courses (20 credits) and optional professional study subjects (70 credits) ranging from philosophy, theory and curating practice to transdisciplinary art & science & technology subjects, ecological and environmental concerns and situated & context-based art practices. The curriculum is planned in 2-year cycles, which enables the programme to develop itself with minor changes in the course offerings. The next two-year cycle is from Autumn-2020 until Spring-2022.  

For further information see our Study Guide 2020-2022.

Postgraduate opportunities

The students graduating from the ViCCA-programme are equipped and capable of building their own creative positions, cultural agencies and professional careers in the multi-faceted, constantly changing and multi-disciplinary world.

The ViCCA-graduates also have knowledge and research skills to be able to continue academic careers towards a Doctorate degree, or be employed in universities, institutions and culture-related sectors of society, as well as experts within multidisciplinary projects and research groups.


At its core, ViCCA is an international programme (all teaching is in English).  Half of the ViCCA faculty have international backgrounds, and as do habitually, half to one third of our student cohort. ViCCA has therefore a strong emphasis upon global perspectives in its curriculum, teaching and learning processes. However, the courses do not ignore local conditions either. As a potential ViCCA student all this will contribute to your understanding of Finnish, Nordic and Arctic region contexts while comprehending the major global challenges that we all face today. Former ViCCA students come from Europe (e.g. Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, UK, Greece, Ukraine, Slovenia, Russia, Poland, Estonia, Germany), The USA and Canada, Latin America (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil) and Asia (Iran, Pakistan, India, Japan, Hongkong, Taiwan, Indonesia, China) - and of course also from Finland.

Career opportunities

The vision of ViCCA programme is to enable future professionals who will be facilitators and bridge builders between distinct fields. We hope to facilitate generous, collaborative and critical actors who are capable of piloting their way through future social and environmental changes, as well as reinvigorating and transforming contemporary cultural fields. Through a strong emphasis on collaborations with various societal actors and sectors, the ViCCA programme builds connections and occupies spaces between conventional art and design practices, professions and cultural fields. Contemporary societies the world over are moving away and evolving from a focus on single- discipline professions, towards more integrated, interconnected and versatile forms of cultural work. As a graduate from ViCCA you would be well-equipped and capable of working and responding to the emergent, transdisciplinary demands of societies to come, both within and outside of academic context.

Many ViCCA graduates continue as independent artists for which Aalto University studies provide them with a wide network of national and international connections and options. There are several examples of students who have formed work-based collectives after graduating, becoming valued actors in the cultural and artistic field. ViCCA graduates also find employment in diverse cultural institutions, museums, art organizations, design offices, cultural projects and foundations. Many others seek to continue with further academic research and study or work in related fields of design, communication, architecture, art & science among others (see also Post graduate opportunities below).

More than any other academic experience, the program provides learning minds with the possibility of cultural equity and engaged pluralism.

The ViCCA graduates; Vidha Saumya and Ali Mehta from the Museum of Impossible Forms Helsinki.

Admission procedure and programme-specific requirements

What we look for in an applicant

  • BA level degree or similar skills and motivation to study the fields taught in the programme
  • Already existing professional practice that can be widened during the studies

Evaluation criteria

To be updated later

First stage and required application documents

In the first stage of the admission the selection committee evaluates the applications based on the application documents. Study Option’s specific requirements for the application documents are listed below. Please also note requirements for the application documents presented in the general application instructions.


In the portfolio, applicants include work that showcases their artistic, curatorial, design, or theory related practice and competence.  The portfolio must contain three to five samples of the applicant’s previous activity. The portfolio consists of visual material, i.e., presentation of artworks, exhibitions or other projects, and/or text-based works.

Artworks and curatorial or other projects can be presented as installation images, drawings, photographs, other visual material and explanatory texts. The work contained in the portfolio must be catalogued, listing at least the title and/or theme, materials used, size, purpose and year of completion of each piece. The catalogue must also detail where and when the work has been exhibited, displayed or published and what was the role of the applicant. You may include a maximum of five images per work or project. If the work or project is text based or theoretical, a maximum of five pages can be used per work or project.

The applicant’s name, address and phone number and the degree programme applied for must be indicated clearly on the portfolio.

Portfolios can be submitted only in digital form. Applicants should upload their portfolio to the application system in a single PDF-file before submitting the application. The PDF-file may include links to videos (e.g. Vimeo, You Tube), see the instructions about the length of the videos below.

If you include links to videos, you may include a maximum of five minutes of video material in total. If you include several or longer video works, edit them down so that their duration does not exceed five minutes. Include in your portfolio stills with explanatory subtitles and add a link to the webpage, where the video file is to be found. If the links are password protected please make sure that you include the password in your portfolio.

If you include interactive works, make a demonstration video of key aspects. If you include several interactive works, edit the demonstration videos down so that their duration is maximum five minutes in total. Include in your portfolio stills with explanatory subtitles of the demonstrations. Add a link to the webpage, where the video file is to be found. If the links are password protected please make sure that you include the password in your portfolio.


Applications must include the applicant’s CV indicating personal data, educational background, work experience, exhibitions, publications and articles, awards and grants, study trips and positions of trust. Applicants should upload their CV to the application system in a single PDF-file before submitting the application.

Motivation letter

The maximum length of the motivation letter is 4000 characters.
In the motivation letter applicants must explain why they wish to apply to this degree programme, what their particular interests are in the field, and what their hopes and expectations are regarding studies at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The plan should explain the applicant’s personal strengths, areas of interest, artistic and design visions, artwork perspectives and artistic objectives.

Language of application documents

The application documents must be submitted in English.

Second stage

Part of the applicants are invited to the second stage. The invitation to the second stage is sent to the applicants at latest 7 days in advance.

The second stage consists mainly of individual interviews. Each applicant will have 30 min for their interview, of which 10 min they can use for a prepared presentation of one project, if required.

Possible assignment for the interview will be the preparation of the presentation or a project. The applicants invited to the second stage will be informed about this a week before the interviews.

Applying to master’s programmes

The application period will open 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

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