Student Portal

Programme Structure

Graduation project 'The Fountain' | Maja Klaassens, Fine Arts 2014, Winner Royal Academy Thesis Award

Image: Graduation project 'The Fountain' | Maja Klaassens, Fine Arts 2014, Winner Royal Academy Thesis Award

More than 30 artists support students in their learning. With respect to their own practice and interests, these artists divide into three groups: sculpture, painting & printing and ‘autonoom’. Students choose one of the groups as a home base for their learning from year two onwards. The shared interest for two dimensional art forms combined with a specific affiliation to drawing, determines the choice for painting & printing.

'Autonoom’ indicates here artistic interests which can differ from those in the other groups, more oriented towards concepts, performance, time based works and other strategies. But students joining the other groups can also choose freely which form of artistic realisation they apply to their ideas. Students can change their affiliation to a group in the course of their studies.

Six art historians, art theorists and artists with a strong theoretical and research-oriented practice form the critical inquiry group and develop and deliver a theory based programme. All four groups develop the curriculum in close contact to each other.

All students follow a curriculum constructed out of:

  • studio practice 
  • professional practice 
  • critical inquiry 
  • electives 
  • and the propaedeutic studio practice

Studio practice

The studio remains the nucleus for all learning and teaching. In the studio the process of learning itself is made visible, for the student as well as for others. We see the studio as a space, where you can leave a thought behind and it is still there, when you return the next morning. The studio is the ‘flight simulator’ for professional practice. The studio in the context of an art school allows students to establish a critical and supportive community, and builds future networks and opportunities for a contemporary art practitioner.

The core of the learning in the years two, three and four of the BA-Fine Arts curriculum is studio practice. Increasingly more time and credits are allocated for individual artistic work. The development of ideas and its transformation into works of art and artistic strategies stands in the foreground.

Dedicated studio spaces are made available and highly qualified artists follow students with support, guidance and critical feedback. Artist-teachers provide critique and support in regular individual tutorials and in group activities. Students are strongly advised to engage in group activities and discussions as a necessary counterbalance to the development of their individual work.


We aim to provide students with decent workplaces. They might be small at times. Students in their final year usually have access to a studio under their command. Students in year 3 and 4 share spaces as a group. It is important that the group itself takes charge of the management of the space und negotiates its use at any given time.

To maintain a working environment which is safe and accessible for everyone it is stressed how important an orderly studio regime is. The use of studios as storage should be minimised to what is absolutely essential to produce works of art at a given time. We strive to provide limited storage for art works, which have not been presented yet. Food, bottles and other leftovers must immediately be disposed.

We arrange regular cleaning days and expect from all students to participate in them. The hall ways must be kept empty under all circumstances as they are emergency exits.

Professional practice

Art is a highly individual practice and can often have a high degree of self-reflection and self-reference: but it is always a professional practice. The role of the artists has changed over the centuries and keeps changing with an accelerating speed in contemporary times. An art market has blossomed which provides fortunes for some investors, dealers and selected artists. Collecting works of art can be a cultural and an economic act at the same time. The desire for culture and art grows as the continuously increasing number of people visiting exhibitions, biennials and festivals shows, leaving a substantial residue for businesses and tourism. National and regional governments and city councils have developed ingenious systems to support the arts. With this as a backdrop we understand professional practice as the necessity to understand the economy of the artists now and in future.

Through a programme of lectures and seminars we want to enable the artists of the future to understand their own economy and their contribution to the economy of our societies, rather than waiting for a volatile market to pay attention and the sheer skill to attract subsidies. We invite experienced artists, curators, museum directors, collectors, gallerists, economists, legal advisors and specialists from the wide range of science and society to present their thoughts. At the same time, we engage students in the thinking of the many artists’ initiatives and collectives active in the Netherlands and abroad and aim to provide access to alternative thinkers, political activists and institutional critique. Furthermore, students exercise in organising a few group shows. The aim of professional practice is to pay tribute to the changing roles of artists and to enable the reinvention of our economy as artists.

Critical inquiry

Art history, art theory and reflections on artistic research firm under the heading critical inquiry. Understanding the history of the arts as embedded in the history of our societies is crucial to maintain a reflected stand as a contemporary artist. The contemporary discourse in art related theories inevitably provides the resonating body and the timbre for every artist today.

All students follow a mandatory programme of lectures, seminars and projects in art history and theory and in relation to artistic research. A written thesis is part of the final exam. Studio teachers and theory teachers work in close contact to each other. This culminates in the docking station project.

In addition to the mandatory programme students can join additional reading groups as electives to go deeper into specific issues. They can also sign up for a wide range of offers provided by Leiden University.


It is a tradition at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague that students spend a certain amount of time of their studies to widen their horizon beyond their discipline. This is called the individual study trajectory (IST). IST projects are offered academy wide and foster collaboration between the ten departments. You find a list of such offers here. As part of the IST programme students can also get access to many offers made by Leiden University

In addition to this, the Fine Arts department has developed a range of electives, relevant for the studies of fine art and broadening the horizon at the same time. They also provide time to go deeper into specific subjects and themes.

Students in year one and two must choose at least four electives or IST offers while students in year three must choose two electives in a year.

The following electives are planned for the academic year 2016/17 :

  • Pleasure of Research:
    a project which brings selected students from the Photography department and the Fine Arts department together 

  • Drawing lab:
    a project, open for students across the academy, who want to go deeper into the subject of drawing ¥ On sound: a project for Fine Arts students, who engage with the production and application of sound in the arts

  • Photography and video practice:
    a project for first year Fine Arts students to engage deeper with the practice of photography and video

  • Digital Media lab:
    a project for students across the Academy who want to engage with accessible possibilities of virtual reality

  • Printing lab:
    a project for students across the Academy who want to engage with the various forms of printmaking

  • Painting lab:
    a project for fine art students to improve their skills as painters

  • Ceramics lab:
    a project for fine art students to experiment and practice with ceramics

  • Big Model project:
    a project for fine art students to learn skills for large scale sculpting projects

  • On video and film:
    a project for fine art students to learn about video as an art-form in the latest years

  • Artists and Composers:
    a project of collaboration for selected students of Fine Arts and students of Composition from the Royal Conservatoire The Hague

  • Peace and justice project:
    a project to engage with the visibility of peace and justice in The Hague (in collaboration with students from the Design Academy Eindhoven)

  • Reading groups:
    provided by artists and theory teachers to engage collaboratively with selected texts ¥ A theatre project: a project in collaboration with the Dutch theatre group ‘nieuwe vide’

  • Internships:
    A possibility for students to be an intern with an artist or an art-organisation over a longer period of time. Students have to arrange the initial contact themselves. Internships can also be arranged as an international exchange.

  • Academy wide IST offers

  • Leiden University offers

Propaedeutic studio practice

In the first year of their studies students follow a specific programme. It prepares for studying at the Fine Arts department, introduces to the KABK, embraces some of the basic techniques of art making and gives initial access to a theoretical background. The programme consists of classes, projects and assignments, introduces the three artistic sections (sculpture, painting/printing and ‘autonoom’) and is enriched by lectures and seminars in and across the department as well as by electives.

Study trips

We frequently organise study trips to visit exhibitions and major international art events. Students have to finance study trips themselves, but we aim at costing such trips as low as possible.

Full-time studies and part-time studies

In addition to full-time studies we also offer a variation of the programme in part-time mode. Full-time and part-time mode lead to the same degree. The learning appointments for part-time students are arranged to accommodate their specific living conditions and the conditions of their jobs, where necessary. A greater proportion of independent learning is expected from them. The harmonisation between the full-time curriculum and the part-time curriculum is currently under development. In some instances a complete synchronisation might not be achieved this year.

Double Degree

The double degree pathway leads students to the achieve two bachelor degrees in parallel within four years, one in fine art and one in art history, The BA in art history is provided through the Art, Media and Society programme at Leiden University. A system of exemptions from curriculum elements has been developed to guarantee the validity for the award of the bachelor degree. In many cases the fine art elements of the curriculum resemble those for the part-time students.

The double degree programme and the part time mode are not open for incoming exchange students.

Find more information about the study programme, including the double degree in this Study Guide

Print friendly

Last updated: 2017-07-07

      Copyright © 2010-2017 KABK Den Haag
All Rights Reserved