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




2.12.2019 – 3.1.2020




2 år, heltidsstudier


Lämplig lägre högskoleexamen


Det konstnärliga utbildningsområdet


120 studiepoäng


Högskolan för konst, design och arkitektur


€15000/år (magister studier) för studeranden från länder utanför EU/EES

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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

Career opportunities

The students graduating from the programme can build their own creative positions and professional agencies in the multi-faceted, constantly changing and multi-disciplinary world. Students can deepen their own artistic, curatorial or theoretical practice and the students who have a background outside of visual culture and contemporary art can enrich their own fields of expertise with a new point of view – and a broad array of new methods of working with it. Beside the cultural and art field, graduates can be employed also in universities and other sectors in society, working as experts in multidisciplinary groups of professionals.

Students that graduate from the program can also work in a variety of already existing professions in the field of arts and culture, such as art museums, galleries, artists’ associations, art and culture projects or initiatives, and foundations or trust funds.


Content of the studies

ViCCA is based on the combination of the fields of visual culture, curatorial practice and contemporary art. The educational aim of the programme is to intertwine these fields in new ways and to find fresh new possibilities and practices. The program also offers an opportunity to develop, deepen and apply one’s prior skills and knowledge.

Visual cultures is understood in a wide sense, as a versatile range of practices and phenomena. The focus in contemporary arts is in new practices that include artistic understanding on issues related to space, environments and social contexts studied from multiple perspectives. Through our multidisciplinary approach, we encourage students to explore new forms of artistic practice and collaboration with other fields. Curating and mediating are explored as a path for reflection and acting, learning and organizing in art institutions and the public sphere.  We aim to explore possibilities to understand, challenge and shift the paradigms of contemporary art and the world around us.

Studying in ViCCA consists of theoretical studies, artistic workshops, experimental laboratories, concrete projects, excursions and field studies, as well as a thesis writing process. Theoretical and artistic studies are seen as responding critically and engaging with the current practices of arts, curating and mediating in the field of contemporary art.

The program’s pedagogical models are based on shared expertise and exploratory learning and are applied in order to create an open conversational and dialogic space and community for learning and acting.

The program 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. Including studies or a minor from other disciplines of Aalto (design, media, business, technology…) as a part of one’s studies in ViCCA is strongly encouraged as it opens up new professional career paths.

More information in the study guide for the academic years 2018-2020.


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

  • Relevant portfolio that shows intention towards experimental practice in the context of the programme’s offering
  • Motivation and capability of MA level studies
  • Interest for multidisciplinary studies consisting of practical work combined theretical and critical approach.

In the second stage, the evaluation criteria consists of

  • Deepened understanding of student’s personal motivation and background.

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.
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.

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