Study programme

The Bachelor Fine Arts can be pursued either at a full-time or part-time capacity. A third option is the Double Degree route, which leads to a BA in Fine Art as well as a BA in Art History provided through the Arts Media and Society programme delivered at Leiden University. All three routes, are offered as four-year programmes, where you learn how to handle a great deal of freedom within the structure of a well-balanced curriculum.

The first year is intended to introduce you to the aims and learning methods of the programme and to a wide range of disciplines including painting, drawing, printing, video, sculpture and performance. In the following years, you will explore all of the practical and theoretical facets of being an artist. Your final study phase concludes with a thesis and a solo presentation in the graduation show.

The department of Fine Arts at the KABK aims at aligning the past of fine art with its present and its future. We embrace history and traditions and root our discourse firmly in the contemporary. At the same time we research and imagine the future of fine art as an indispensable contributor to culture, society and economy. We try to equip future artists with skills, competencies, strategies and confidence to shape their future and the future of the arts.

Students get the opportunity to expand their artistic and other skills, such as collaboration, communication, self-management, observing from unexpected angles, decision making, critical reflection and critical distance to yourself - skills that are of high value for the arts and many other professional careers in the future.

Making art can be an isolating process. As a fine art department we provide the community and the critical context that breaks this isolation. Through this community, we sustain a meaningful relationship to life and to higher art education that is at once pragmatic and idealistic. It is this collective ethos that strengthens our commitment to maintaining the high-energy of creative ambition and engagement that continue to attract students and staff to work with us.

Teaching strategies

The individual learning of the student is the kernel of our teaching strategies, which are:

  • Artistic practice
    invigorate continuous individual practice in the context of the BA Fine Art community
  • Tutorials
    one on one sessions between a student and a tutor (artist teacher), reflecting on the learning so far, the conversion of strategies into artworks and jointly developing advise for future steps
  • Independence
    encourage students to work independently out of experience and experiments, with an understanding for the quality of the making, the context of the work and its strategical position, and to learn how to develop and trust intuition
  • Guidance
    support students through individual feedback and guidance
  • Communities
    foster discussions in peer situations to enable students to benefit from the context of a group
  • Workshops
    create an awareness for the wide options of techniques and technologies, relevant for the production of artworks
  • Presentations
    challenge students to rehearse the presentation of work as exhibitions and as verbal presentation
  • Seminars, lectures and reading groups
    provide an entrance to art history and art related theories as crucial contextual knowledge
  • Theory and practice
    link theory and practice through team teaching, involving teachers with experience from both fields
  • Research
    help students to understand research as an essential part of the artistic process and encourage to play with it
  • Professional Practice
    assist students to understand, what roles artists play in our societies, what economic, cultural, social and political conditions they have and enable them to design their future and that of the arts
  • Context
    assist students to understand their making in the wider context of contemporary art and contemporary societies

Aim & Objectives

The aim of the programme is to enable students to participate actively in the continuous renewal of art as an important contribution to the cultural, economic and social well-being of our societies.

The objectives of the programme are to enable students:

  • to develop ideas independently out of experience, critical reflection and contextual awareness and to transfer them into works of art
  • to make informed decisions about the application of techniques and technologies in the execution of their ideas
  • to recognise making and thinking in the context of contemporary fine art and its historical development
  • to reflect critically upon the own work and that of others
  • to present their work to a wider public and to reflect upon it verbally
  • to contextualise the making and the development of strategies in the making itself, in a discursive sharing of the work and in writing about it
  • to understand research as an essential part of the artistic process.

These objectives refer to the general national learning outcomes and are expanded by them.

Related studies

Full-time, Part-time and Double Degree

We provide three pathways for our programme: Full-time, Part-time and Double Degree. All three lead to the BA Fine art degree. Please note that the Double Degree programme and the part time mode are not open for incoming exchange students.

The most common mode of studies is the full time mode. Most applicants seek to devote their full attention to studying fine art. The full-time mode gives best access to all offers, including excursions and academy wide organised options.

Part time students have an important impact on the quality of our discourses. We appreciate applications from those who have professional commitments or family and developed enthusiasm to aim for a professional career as artist later in their life. For these applicants we offer the part-time mode with an even greater emphasis on independence. Part-time students are different, but they are not more different than other student groups. We aim for full integration of all student groups.

In principle part time students follow the same curriculum as full-time students, with some exceptions and a stronger emphasis on individual learning. Please see the full credit overview for details. PT students can however join every offered curriculum element, also when it is not mandatory in the credit-list for them. PT students have access to the same tutors FT students. It is important that PT students themselves take the responsibility for regular contact with all tutors of a section.

The Double Degree pathway allows BA students in Fine Art at the KABK to simultaneously obtain a BA in Art History, through the Arts, Media and Society programme at Leiden University. The programme emerges from the longstanding and fruitful relationship between Leiden University and the Royal Academy of Art under the roof of the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA).

The main challenge for students taking the Double Degree pathway is to balance between an academic approach to art with a sufficient portion of critical distance and the artistic approach with the closest proximity to the own making.

The BA Fine Art programme at the KABK acknowledges the necessity to join artistic skills with intellectual capacities. In fact, artistic skills are understood as the firm merger of making and thinking. The Double Degree programme consequently takes this a step further. It encourages students to develop their skills in the supportive community of art practitioners at the Academy and at the same time to define their reflective capacities in the community of art history students of one of the leading universities.

Acceptance to the Double Degree pathway is only possible after successful completion of the propaedeuse year at the KABK.

To enable students to study in two parallel programmes, a list of exemptions has been agreed upon. At the end of the second semester interested students are invited to apply for the double degree programme with a short assignment, usually a piece of writing reflecting on a current exhibition or art project in the nearer surrounding. This text is the base for a short interview with a team of colleagues from KABK and Leiden University.

We offer more detailed information to interested students during the second semester of the first year.

Programme structure - Curriculum

The curriculum spans over a period of four years and is constructed out of the following blocks at all year levels. Blocks contain specific courses.

  • Artistic Practice
  • Critical Practice is the heading for three distinct elements:
    • Critical Inquiry (all years)
    • Research Practice (year 2)
    • Professional International Practice (year 3)
  • IST (Year 2 and 3)

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 Art 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 stand 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.

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. To align theory and practice in the process of making art, theory tutors are available for studio visits and studio tutors are invited to speak in theory seminars.

Research practice gives year 2 students the opportunity to get acquainted with various modes of research in and through the arts. Through seminars, projects and guest lectures by artistic researchers students will understand what importance research has for the production and perception of art and how art practice and art works contribute to our knowledge as mankind and societies, on eye level with and as an important counterpart to science. Students are provided with the opportunity to play with various notions of artistic research to inform the decision if they want to pursue research as artist actively and in what form.

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 Professional International Practice wants 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 International Practice is to pay tribute to the changing roles of artists and to enable the reinvention of our economy as artists.

It is a tradition at KABK 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. As part of the IST programme students can also get access to many offers made by Leiden University. The final exam project contains 12 credits of IST as individual learning and practice.

Further education

The Bachelor Fine Arts enables you to continue studying at a master and even a PhD level. A typical master programme that follows the Bachelor Fine Arts is the Master Artistic Research at the KABK. More master programmes, relevant to fine art, are under development. The University of the Arts, The Hague is one of the few art schools in the Netherlands that offers a PhD route.

Many of our graduates have continued on to attend postgraduate art schools in the Netherlands, such as De Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten and De Ateliers in Amsterdam, and/or have excelled at master programmes in Europe and abroad, e.g. Glasgow School of Art.