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Contemporary Arts China - MA

Currently viewing course to start in 2023/24 Entry.

Developed with our internationally-renowned partners, this course offered by the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) will enable you to gain expertise in contemporary arts in China, as well as professional experience, while developing your own research and practice....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location Margaret Street
  • School Birmingham School of Art
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media


Developed with our internationally-renowned partners, this course offered by the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) will enable you to gain expertise in contemporary arts in China, as well as professional experience, while developing your own research and practice.

The course is aimed at ambitious researchers and practitioners who want to pursue an international career in the arts, and want to become research-led practitioners and professionals. Its focus on professional development makes it ideal for recent graduates, curators, artists, designers, art historians, writers and others.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

This award has been developed with our industry partners, galleries and museums in UK and China, who are also engaged in course delivery.

It has been designed to support individuals who want to gain specialist knowledge, while working in an interdisciplinary research environment. The course offers you the opportunity to conduct original research in an exciting and expanding field, cutting across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

You will learn about the complex issues and challenges within Chinese contemporary arts in in its local, regional and global context, while developing your own practice/research and gaining professional experience through an extended work placement, live research project or residency.

You will have the opportunity to work closely with the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at Birmingham City University, as well as our prestigious partner organisations in China, UK and EU.

You will also be introduced to broader issues of transcultural communication and the global arts ecology, and you will be encouraged to respond creatively to a wide variety of cultural contexts and stimuli.

You will be located at Birmingham School of Art in Margaret Street, where you will have access to a wide range of workshops and facilities and be welcomed as part of a diverse, exciting postgraduate community. 

Why Choose Us?

  • The MA Contemporary Arts China offers a unique provision which blends research and practice with a strong focus on professional development.
  • Birmingham School of Art provides a distinctively dynamic, stimulating and diverse artistic and intellectual environment.

  • The staff team consists of a professional and dedicated group of researchers, practitioners, curators, artists and educators with extensive expertise in their individual specialist subjects in the field of transdisciplinary practice and curating, contemporary China, Chinese contemporary arts, design and visual culture and working.
  • MA Contemporary Arts China students will encounter a diverse range of staff members depending on the modules you take and you will also be able to request tutorials from other academic and technical members if relevant to your particular project.
  • The programme includes presentations from guest speakers, academics, curators, artists and designers from China, Europe and UK, and the opportunity to assist on major curatorial projects and conferences. Our students will also have an opportunity to visit the top art galleries in the UK as part of their course.

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.


Join us for an on-campus open day where you'll be able to explore our campus and facilities in person. Booking for the next event isn’t open yet. Register your interest below and we’ll email you as soon as booking goes live.

Next Event: Saturday 24 June

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Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements

An upper second-class degree (or higher) in a relevant subject.

Extra information for EU/International students

International applicants should note that this is a demanding course that requires a high standard of reading, writing and listening skills, full-time students are expected to have a minimum English standard of IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands.

International Students

Entry requirements here

  • We welcome non-traditional applications, particularly from applicants with substantial professional, practitioner or production experience and accredit prior experiential learning and professional experience. This would be evaluated using the University’s APL and APEL procedures.
  • We can assist you in choosing which mode of attendance (full-time and part-time) is most suitable.
  • All suitable candidates will be interviewed in person (home) or via Skype (EU and international)
  • Please note: It may also be possible to transfer credits from modules completed in prior learning experiences, if applicants can provide evidence.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £8,500 in 2023/24
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £9,350 in 2023/24
  • £945 per 20 credits

Fees for Part-time students

This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year.

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £16,870 in 2023/24
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £18,557 in 2023/24

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of safety equipment in order to use the workshop facilities.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

*Professional Placement option

The Professional Placement version of the course is optional and is offered as an alternative to the standard version of the course.

This will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability skills which will, through the placement experience, allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market. Furthermore, by completing the Professional Placement, you will be able to develop and enhance your understanding of the professional work environment, relevant to your chosen field of study, and reflect critically on your own professional skills development within the workplace.

You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement. The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will also benefit from support sessions delivered by Careers+ as well as advice and guidance from your School.

Placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course. All students who do not find a suitable placement or do not pass the competitive selection process will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.

Personal Statement

Your supporting statement should be unique to you and tailored for the course to which you are applying. It is an essential part of your application and gives you the opportunity to identify your individual skills, strengths, passion and academic and/or professional ability.

We would like to hear about your particular research and/or practice-led interests, and why you want to study in the field of transdisciplinary practice, Chinese contemporary arts, design and visual culture. Additionally, outline how the course will benefit from your particular contribution, experience, expertise and participation.

For more information, please see: ‘Personal Statements for Postgraduate Applications’.

Please Note: Practitioners (artists, curators or designer), your application must be accompanied by evidence of your arts, curatorial or design practice. We require 12 images of recent work on power point, with accompanying information regarding title, media, date, size if appropriate. If your work is web, film, audio, performance or video based you will need to upload them onto vimeo, youtube, Youku or similar and send us the appropriate link.

Course in Depth


In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 160 credits):

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Download course specification

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You will develop independent research projects that expand and respond to the exciting, shifting and complex field of contemporary arts in China. You will produce work that demonstrates intellectual rigour and innovation, while also gaining experience with our international partners. 

The core Contemporary Arts in China and the Global China modules will provide you with an overview of the development of the subject, examining current debates and practices within its local, regional and global contexts, and multiple cultural frameworks.

You will be introduced a number of significant historical, cultural, socio-political concepts from the Cultural Revolution through to the present day, and consider how Chinese cultural identities are currently constructed, disseminated, interpreted and translated through curatorial, textual, art and design practices.

The sessions will be delivered through seminars, lectures, and events and examination of curatorial, textual, and art and design practices. The latter will include photography, video, performance, global, political, social art practices and developing art markets.

The Professional Development and Professional Practice modules focus upon your personal development to assist you in achieving your goals. You will have the opportunity to work and network with our industry partners as well as other academics and professionals in the field during seminar talks, events and on placements.

The course has also been specifically designed as a ‘route-in’ to PhD, providing research training and assistance in preparing a PhD proposal if this is a route that you wish to follow.


As part of your Professional Practice module, you are required to undertake a work placement, a live research project, artist’s residency or an equivalent. You will be encouraged to take advantage of the extended placements on offer with our partner organisations. These longer more intensive placements last between one and three months, and will provide you with hands-on experience and an in-depth insight of working or research within the contemporary arts field.

You will be invited to apply for these opportunities through a professional selection and interview process and will be provided by a mentor at your placement organisation.

You are responsible for arranging and funding your travel and accommodation (with advice) and should budget accordingly. You will need to have the necessary funds to undertake the placements you apply following the recommended guidance:

UK: £1,000-1,500 per month for accommodation and living costs.

EU: £1,000 - 1,500 per month for accommodation and living costs,  £200 - 400 for flights depending on destination (Please note: there may be additional visa costs for international students)

China: Accommodation and living costs vary dependent upon location

£400-800 per month, £1,000 for flights and visa

Please note: You will be responsible for sourcing and funding accommodation costs. We will, however, provide you with information gained from local knowledge and contacts. If you are unable to undertake a work placement, you will be offered the opportunity to participate in a live research project or professionally-oriented brief to ensure that you can fulfill the module requirements.



MA Contemporary Arts China has been created as a response to market demand and increasing interest in this area. The course has been developed and delivered with our cultural and creative industry partners in the UK, EU and China.

The course has a strong emphasis on employability and provides you with the opportunity of gaining professional experience and transferable skills within a global context, enabling you to gain a unique insight into and invaluable first-hand experience of working within the sector.  

Our partners include:

As a student on this programme you will become part of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts and be invited to participate in its events and research programme. The CCVA provides students with unique access to an extensive professional network, visiting scholars and artists and the opportunity to engage in live research projects, events and more. 

More about CCVA

After you leave us

MA Contemporary Arts China graduates, through ongoing professional development, workshops, talks, seminars and placements, will be equipped to pursue an international career in the arts and creative industries for example as a Curator, Artist, Designer, Writer, Studio Assistant, Researcher, Arts Administrator, Cultural Producer, Project Manager, Cultural Ambassador, Arts Outreach and Education worker.

The course has also been designed as a “route-in” to PhD, where the ‘Research in Practice’ module and the activities of the Postgraduate Research (PGR) Studio at BCU will introduce you to key research methods. Staff will assist you in developing a research proposal whilst preparing you for the demands of doctoral level study.

High achieving graduates from the MA will also have the opportunity to apply for relevant grants. The options change year on year but currently include, Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and University sponsored bursaries. Applicants/students will be notified of opportunities.


MA Contemporary Arts China offers professional development opportunities for students to engage with our partners in China, EU and UK, and access to the CCVA's international network, through event, tutorials, seminars and placements. Students are also encouraged to organise and undertake their own international research trips. 

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year - there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently located, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Explore some of the good reasons why you should study here:

Facilities & Staff

Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA)

The Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) aims to foster new understandings and perspectives of Chinese contemporary arts, design, media and culture through transdisciplinary creative practices and theoretical studies. CCVA has extensive regional to international partnerships and brings together artists, designers, curators and researchers who are working with, or are interested in, contemporary contexts of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to share expertise, understand, critique, innovate and create.

Using its unique position in the UK, CCVA continues its on-going transcultural dialogue by questioning existing histories of Chinese contemporary arts, design media and culture whilst fostering new ways of thinking and modes of knowledge in relation to today’s global-Chinese situation. From 2017 the CCVA will host the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art published by Intellect, the sole peer reviewed journal in the field worldwide.


If you have any questions regarding this course please send an email to:

More about CCVA

Parkside Building

The Parkside Building in the City Centre Campus is home to Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, School of Fashion and Textiles, School of Visual Communication and Birmingham School of Media. Our art and design students work from a core of workshops in the centre of the five-floor building, with studio space around them. There is also ‘collision space’ where students and staff from different courses will see each other to pass the time of day, and exchange thoughts and ideas. The Parkside Gallery is a leading art and design exhibition space within the Parkside Building, with an emphasis on, but not confined to, design-led practice.

Birmingham School of Art

The Birmingham School of Art’s inspiring Victorian design features original stained glass windows, mosaic floors, and hand-carved bannisters, alongside contemporary architecture, glass lifts and the latest specialist student workspaces.

Located next to the city centre’s Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the School is just a five-minute walk from the new Library of Birmingham and Ikon Gallery.

Our staff

Professor Jiang Jiehong

Professor Jiang Jiehong is Head of Research at School of Art, Director of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, and he is also Principal Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (Intellect). Jiang has extensive research and curatorial experience in contemporary art and visual culture. Jiang...

More about Jiang