|Title||MA Critical Studies in Art and Culture|
The Research Master's programme Critical Studies in Art and Culture (formerly known as VAMA), specialization of the Humanities Research Master, focuses on the study of current developments in visual arts, architecture, design and media, from a theoretical and historical perspective. In a globalizing cultural world in which art, architecture, design and media are ever more closely integrated and packaged as “creative industries,” disciplinary boundaries need questioning and challenging, yet a thorough grounding in older and newer disciplines such as art history, architectural history, design culture, and media studies is a prerequisite for doing so.
In your studies, you will focus on the analysis of “visual objects”: of artifacts in various media that function (primarily or in part) as images. This ranges from landscapes, cities and buildings to artworks in various media, as well as film, television, design and games. Notions such as inter-, cross- and transmediality play an important role in the program. Since artifacts, media and forms of intermediality can only exist in specific social, institutional, economical and ideological frameworks and networks, Critical Studies in Art and Culture will equip you with the analytical and critical tools necessary for analysing these. Each of the four main disciplines that inform the specialization brings specific theories and methods to the table, and the programme seeks to highlight their interconnectedness, with reference to their specific potential as well as possible limitations.
If you are interested in pursuing a PhD after your MA, but also if you generally cherish critical attitude and original lines of questioning based on a profound knowledge of your research subject, and wish to develop your research skills, this programme will be a perfect choice.
The study programme of 120 ECTS (60 ECTS per year) consists of mandatory and elective parts.
The mandatory package consists of
a) Two core courses of 2 x 9 ECTS (=18 ECTS):
b) Three Humanities core modules of 3 x 6 ECTS (=18 ECTS)
c) Two research seminars of 2 x 9 ECTS (=18 ECTS) (Students choose two out of four seminars)
Within the research programme, a total of 42 ECTS can be attributed to courses, electives, research seminars and tutorials of your choice (10 ECTS have to be followed with the national research schools). These courses are subject to the programme coordinator's approval, but allow you to co-build your own curriculum and to pursue research projects within one (or several) of the research areas of faculty members. These areas include:
The Master’s thesis (30 ECTS) that concludes the programme is a substantial study based on independent academic research, in relation to topical research areas and projects of staff members.
For regular updates on current activities see our blog.
Detailed course information
VU Amsterdam's online study guide: Humanities Research (2019-2020).
The Humanities Research Master’s degree programme will enable you to work as an independent researcher. In the academic world, both at home and abroad, it is seen as a possible step towards a doctoral study. Actually, in the last years, a great number of alumni of our programme has been awarded PhD grants in the Netherlands and abroad. Yet, you could also find a position in:
You can find a list of our alumni on the VAMA blog.
Unique in the Netherlands
The Humanities Research Master’s programme Critical Studies in Art and Culture is unique in the Netherlands. The interdisciplinary programme combines art history, media studies, design studies and architectural history. With special emphasis on methodological and theoretical issues, the two-year research master programme allows you to acquire knowledge, analytical skills and a capacity to problematize and critically reflect on historical and contemporary developments in the cultural industries.
Preparation for a career in research or management position in the cultural sector
Critical Studies in Art and Culture aims to equip you with skills and critical insight to conduct research at an academic level, preparing you for a PhD position or other positions for which substantial knowledge and research skills in the field of visual art, design, media and/or architecture are required.
Top-quality researchers as your teachers and individual mentors
The faculty members associated with the Department of Arts and Culture are top-quality researchers with a strong national and international profile. They have a background in art history and art theory, in the history of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture, design studies, and in comparative arts and media studies.
International network of enthusiast students, alumni, and faculty
As a student of Critical Studies in Art and Culture, you don’t just aim at collecting your credit points, but join a highly dedicated international group of students, alumni, PhD’s and staff members from various disciplinary backgrounds, who share a strong interest in the cultural sector. Within and beyond the programme, we meet artists and researchers from around the world, exchange about their research in our informal ‘research brunches’, or join to visit exhibitions and cultural events. Many of our students and alumni are active with the VU Amsterdam affiliated journal Kunstlicht.
Great flexibility in determining your own study programme
During the study you will determine your own course path, in consultation with researchers and teachers at the VU. While a fixed set of courses is compulsory, you will also have plenty of opportunity to define your own individual path on the basis of supervised personal research (tutorials), elective courses, and your Research Master’s thesis (30 ECTS). Furthermore, both the Graduate School and our Interdisciplinary Research Institutes CLUE+ (Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History, and Heritage) and the Network Institute offer a broad range of workshops, seminars, lectures and research groups to attend.
Kunstlicht is a journal for the visual arts, visual culture and architecture. This journal is associated with the Department for Art and Culture. Since 1980 it has provided a platform for scholarly articles on art in all its facets. Students as well as established academics publish the results of their research in Kunstlicht.
The editorial board of Kunstlicht consists entirely of students and recent graduates. To keep the threshold for publication as low as possible while still achieving a high level of quality, a member of the editorial staff closely supervises every contributor during the writing process. Students who are interested in publishing an article in Kunstlicht should contact the editorial board. Students in the Department of Art and Culture who are proficient in Dutch may also join the editorial board of Kunstlicht and gain valuable editorial experience.
Kliché, the student association
Since 1984 student association Kliché organizes activities to widen en deepen students' study experience and strengthen bonds between students, teachers and alumni. On all study-related excursions students are accompanied by experts or teachers of the Arts and Culture department.
Other Kliché activities are a monthly movie night and a trip abroad in the second semester. In addition to the study related excursions there are more socially activities such as opera, ballet and social drinks.
Another great help for you study is the discount Kliché offers you on your study literature.
More information about Kliché (Dutch)
"An unprecedented spatial-color-light-music production, that was what the Philips Company had in mind for its pavilion at the 1958 World Fair. Their wish was granted by Le Corbusier, who built an architectural sculpture that housed a visual and aural spectacle (Le Poème Electronique) the likes of which had never been seen before. Images were projected directly on the warped walls of the pavilion while strange sounds were distributed within the curiously shaped building along specific “sound routes.” Although architecture students still learn only of the building and art students only of the Poème Electronique, the interactions between these media were essential to the experience of the Philips Pavilion. Only by interpreting every (medial) aspect of this synthesized artwork in relation to the others – an interpretation to which the concepts of intermediality serve well – was it possible to fully grasp its complexities, even if the building itself no longer exists."
Elise Noyez, student
"The more my study progressed the more enthusiastic I became about carrying out research. Master’s seminars convinced me that I wanted to continue in this direction and, in consultation with my tutor, I decided to switch to the research master’s course. The extra room for study gives me the chance to carry out more in-depth research into the monumental art of Karel Appel, the subject of my thesis. In the seminar research design you work alongside students from other disciplines to fine-tune your research plan, and the tutorials organised in conjunction with the teaching staff provide you with the space to go more deeply into both current research practices and the subject matter. For students who like to show initiative, I would certainly recommend this research master’s course."
Eva van Berne, student
"After completing my BA thesis on the seventeenth-century prints of Giovanni Battista Falda, it was perfectly clear to me that the next course I took would be one where I could largely choose aspects that interested me. I wanted to immerse myself as deep as possible in my own field of interest, in order to study the essence of my research project – seventeenth-century Italian architecture. VAMA provides this opportunity and also pays attention to the research methodology: this is particularly good for students with a research mentality. The academic interdisciplinary trend is also incorporated in the curriculum so that the student begins to appreciate the added value of research from different perspectives.
In consultation with my tutor I took the opportunity to pursue a part of my research at the Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut (Royal Dutch Institute) in Rome, where I could not only gaze at the wonderful architecture – but I also made a lot of good friends."
Martijn van Beek, student
In order to be admitted you must apply via Studielink before June 1st for the research master’s programme. Then you should send in an application to the Admission Board (firstname.lastname@example.org). This application must consist of:
The required documents can be sent by email to email@example.com.
The Admission Board of the Faculty of Humanities, in consultation with professors of your chosen discipline, will decide within six weeks whether you may be admitted to the Research Master’s Programme and/or whether additional requirements are necessary or exemptions can be made. Admission may also depend on the results of a personal interview with the Examination Board about your motivation.
You will be informed via Studielink.
Not a student of the Faculty of Humanities at VU Amsterdam?
In addition to the above listed documents, you must also e-mail the following documents to firstname.lastname@example.org:
As soon as the Admission Board has issued the notice of admission, you will be informed via Studielink.
The research Master's is aimed in particular at the talented student who is exceptionally motivated to train in academic methods and critical thinking in the field of art history, architectural history, design studies and media studies. To be admitted to VAMA, the student should have at least a Bachelor’s diploma in one of these fields, and have a good grasp of academic English.
Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application.
Specific admission requirements for the Research Master’s programme Visual Arts, Media and Architecture: Critical Studies in Arts & Culture
The Research Master's Programme Visual Arts, Media and Architecture (VAMA) concentrates on the study of current developments in visual arts, architecture and media, from a theoretical and historical perspective. In a globalizing cultural world in which art, architecture and media are ever more closely integrated and packaged as “creative industries,” disciplinary boundaries need questioning and challenging, yet a thorough grounding in older and newer disciplines such as art history, architectural history and media studies is a prerequisite for doing so.
The two-year research master's is aimed in particular at the talented student with an academic bachelor's diploma in architectural or art history, architectural history, design studies or media studies.. VAMA is a good option for students who are interested in pursuing a PhD after their MA, but also more in general for students who cherish critical attitude, arrive at original lines of questioning based on a profound knowledge of their research subject, and wish to develop their research skills.
You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English. Only students who have completed a full high school/International Baccalaureate in English or bachelor’s degree in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia may be exempted. You can already apply online without having the test results. In case you haven’t taken a test yet we advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible. Below you will find the minimum English test scores for the English taught programmes at the Faculty of Humanities:
Please check the Admission and language requirement page for the general requirements.
Step 1: Meet admission criteria
Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online
Please prepare the following documents. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.
After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via email.
Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!
Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. Here you will find an explanation what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam!
For information on courses and the study programme
Dr. S. (Sven) Lütticken
T: (020) 598 6376
Faculty of Humanities
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Information on practical matters (application procedure, scholarships, visas, etc.):
International Student Advisor
T: +31 (20) 59 85252
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Meet us at hte next Master's Event!
Some international students are happy to tell you about their experiences with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.
Our student ambassadors are listed here on this webpage: vu.nl/ambassadors.
Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam!
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION
1 June for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students.
FIELD OF INTEREST
Art, Culture and History