Focus . Strategy . Career Prospects . Admission & Application

The research master’s programme Critical Studies in Art and Culture is a two-year, full-time programme offered by VU University Amsterdam. Critical Studies in Art and Culture focuses on the critical study of current developments in art history, media, and architecture and design—from both a theoretical and historical perspective. These developments—among them, the role of the new media, the ever expanding culture industry and the rise of the “creative industries”—have led to complex relationships between visual art, architecture, media and society. Students of the CSAC research master will be trained to examine and discuss the visual and material manifestation, presentation and representation of these relationships. Courses discuss the arts and media from an interdisciplinary perspective, exploring their reciprocal relationships, wider, socio-cultural context and mutual interaction.



Disciplines in dialogue
How can we make sense of the changing role of art and culture in an ever more ‘mediatized’ and commercialized global society? What approaches are available now that visual arts, media and architecture act as interdisciplinary domains closely that are highly integrated in the realms of politics, the economy at large, and ever more contested social relationships?

Past, present, future
In an age fueled by commercial interests and technology-driven developments, the future is both bright (new digital and biological technologies) and oddly foreclosed (with an impending ecological disaster apparently a fait accompli). What could the role(s) of history be in this gridlocked present?  To what extent do theoretical discourses and specific examples from both the past and the present provide a critical framework to assess present manifestations and future developments in art, culture and society?

Interpreting the digital age
Now that the digital (post-)medium has become a key form of documenting, presenting, and producing art and culture, how can we evaluate and conceptualize these border-crossing developments? At the crossroads where preservation meets innovation, what is the significance of a historical perspective? How can recent media developments and theories impact our understanding of the past, and how can historical research and theory provide new windows onto the contemporary?  CSAC provides ample opportunity for students who want to study (early) modern as well as contemporary art and culture.

Going beyond boundaries
As contemporary culture is afflicted with a cult of crossing borders, what remains of the traditional institutional and spatial determinations? Is today’s incessant urge to make ‘unexpected’ connections between the different arts, engage in interdisciplinary collaborations, set up transgressive projects, etc., nothing but a mere marketing strategy? A sales gimmick, a trick of the trade that is being performed over and over again, ad nauseam? Or do the disciplinary and institutional differences of old still serve to assess the increasing interaction between the arts, the media and the public and private space?



High-quality research environment
The programme is taught by leading researchers with a strong national and international profile. Their fields of expertise include art history and art theory, the history of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture, design studies, and comparative arts and media studies. Further faculty research areas include intermediality, the creative industries, media art, and contemporary theory. (more)

Personal research training and development
The ongoing research projects and interests of the academic staff are a cornerstone of the curriculum, giving Critical Studies in Art and Culture research students the opportunity to engage in the preparation and development of concrete initiatives (scholarly publications, public exhibitions, etc.). These concrete projects provide CSAC research master’s students with intense research training that allows them to develop their skills for future scholarly research. (more)

Individual scope
There is plenty of opportunity for students to define an individual track. Supervised personal research tutorials provide an avenue for historical and theoretical specialization, based on their individual interests. Based on a student’s specific research interests, there is also room for internships in cultural institutions. The final Master’s thesis allows students to explore and fully develop a personal research profile and expertise.

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Career Prospects.

The Research Master’s degree in Critical Studies in Art and Culture will enable you to work as an independent researcher. In the academic world, both in the Netherlands and abroad, the Research Master’s degree is seen as an important step towards obtaining a doctorate. Graduates can also embark on a career in art and media management, journalism and publishing, teaching or government. Alternatively they could find employment at art and architecture centres, research agencies, museums, film festivals or art and media archives. (more)

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Admission & Application.

The Critical Studies in Art and Culture research master is designed for talented students who are highly motivated to acquire the requisite academic skills in the field of art history, architecture history, visual culture and media studies. In order to gain admission to the programme, a candidate should have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Art, Architecture or Media & Culture and have achieved excellent marks throughout.
For full admission requirements and how to apply, see

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