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.

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

  • 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
  • Groups: 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 context: assist students to understand, what roles artists play in our societies, what economical, cultural, social and political conditions they have and enable them to design their future and that of the arts

40 artists and six art historians, art theorists and artists with a strong theoretical and research-oriented practice support students in their learning. With respect to their own practice and interests, they divide into three groups: sculpture, painting & printing and autonoom. Autonoom indicates artistic interests which can differ from those in the other groups, more oriented towards concepts, performance, time based work and other strategies.

Students choose one of the groups as a home base for their learning from year two onwards. Joining a section does not limit students in their choice for artistic realisations. Students can change their affiliation to a group in the course of their studies. 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.

Full-time, part-time and double degree

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Research practice gives 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 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, among others 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 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. In addition to this the fine art department has developed a range of electives, relevant for the studies of fine art. Students in year two and three must choose at least 2 electives or IST offers per semester. The final exam project contains 12 credits of IST as individual learning and practice.


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 their 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 their making and the development of their strategies in writing

  • 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.

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.

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