Master of Studio Art

My job – as a lecturer at a junior high school training college in Botswana – required that I have a Masters, but also I wanted to deepen my knowledge of ceramics and contemporary art. Through interacting with students and staff from a different background, and through the freedom to explore and experiment, the MSA helped me move away from my more ‘conventional’ practice. Also the seminars built my confidence in critiquing my own practice and others’, which will help me talk to my students about their work.
Photo: Ian Hobbs
Adrian de Giorgio
I enjoyed my undergraduate study, which emphasised technical skills and working from observation. I knew, however, that for my postgraduate degree I wanted a conceptual emphasis, somewhere that would challenge my thinking, and SCA has a reputation for being conceptually concerned. The MSA was a stimulating and structured environment where I had a studio space, critical engagement with academics and practicing artists, and time with friends producing work.
Photo: Ian Hobbs
Ellen Dahl
I’d been a commercial photographer for 15 years, and was working on a personal photographic project that made me particularly aware of my artistic shortcomings. I decided that the MSA would challenge me conceptually, and give me a very different approach to photography from my commercial experience. I’ve really benefited from the art theory classes and the intensity of the program, which pushed me to engage. Not only has my interest in photography been re-ignited but I’m now much more aware of my artistic intentions and the ideas behind my practice.. Image courtesy of the artist
Jason Christopher
I began at SCA as an undergraduate, and then spent fifteen years working in the film industry and as a street infrastructure designer, maintaining an art practice on the side. When I resigned from my job and returned to SCA as an MSA student, I knew I needed to be amongst peers and staff who could inspire and develop my theoretical and conceptual processes. And my practice has been completely transformed.
Image courtesy of the artist
Stevie Fieldsend
The most surprising thing about the MSA was the high level of guidance and critical feedback I received on my artistic ideas and concerns – it was intense, challenging, nurturing and rewarding all at the same time. But this gave me a clear sense of the direction I wanted for my work, as well as a critical understanding of where my ideas fit in the contemporary landscape.
Image courtesy of the artist


The Master of Studio Art is a dynamic program that supports the development of a career in contemporary art practice, and offers a potential pathway to postgraduate research study for mature, established practitioners. The degree is coordinated by Ms Robyn Backen. Find out more about Robyn, her career and how she understands the MSA program here.

In semester 1, 2014, Dr. Tom Loveday will be acting in Robyn's role while she completes her Australia Council Fellowship.

MSA students work in a community of students & artists who intellectually support and challenge each other. The degree is primarily self-directed, flexible, and cross-disciplinary, and has a strong record of providing students with exhibition opportunities, initiating the careers of many artists in Sydney.

Course structure

MSA students propose and develop a self-initiated visual arts project based in one major discipline. Seminars in art practice concentrate on the practical, theoretical and material context of contemporary art and the relationship with students’ individual studio practice. The seminars may include gallery visits and guest lectures. History and theory seminars provide a forum for discussion on key theorists and philosophers appropriate to contemporary visual art practice. Each student attends regular individual studio tutorials with an SCA academic to assist the development of the project through dialogue and supportive critical feedback. Students are examined on their studio project at the completion of their study.

The MSA is offered full time over one year or part time over two years and enrolments are accepted each semester.

Further course information

Detailed application instructions and requirements are available here.