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Visual Culture

Are you fascinated by images? Are you interested in the forces that have shaped the objects, images and buildings which form our world? And are you curious about what it will look like tomorrow? The BA in Visual Culture offers a unique opportunity to study the history, theory and analysis of art, design, architecture, fashion, film and screen culture in the setting of a leading art and design college. Visual Culture embraces not only the output of celebrated artists, designers and architects, but also forms of anonymous design and popular culture in the modern world. It examines the ways in which artworks, moving and still images, spaces and objects of all kinds are shaped by society and, in turn, have marked effects on the societies that produce them.

Who should apply?

The programme is suitable for anyone with a broad interest in culture, history and society. You do not need to have any prior knowledge of the field of visual culture before starting.

How will I study?

Taught by some of Ireland’s leading art and design critics and historians, the programme combines lectures, seminars (small group classes), workshops and one-to-one tutorials, and is designed to encourage high-level writing, research and presentation skills. Students also undertake optional study visits in Ireland and Europe, and a work placement in their final year. The programme draws upon a network of supporting institutions including the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Ireland, the Irish Film Institute, the Science Gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland, as well as many other dynamic arts organisations in Dublin.

We also turn to the expertise of the skilled artists, designers and technicians who work at NCAD to understand how and why images and objects take the form that they do. Some classes are shared with studio based students who are developing practices as artists and designers. As your degree progresses, you will have increasing choice to select the subjects that you research and write about with a choice of classes in specialist areas like fashion history, sound and music, film and gender studies. We will support you to develop skills as a writer, researcher and thinker whether you chose to work on subjects closely connected to Irish culture today, or international and historical themes.

Year 1

Year 1 has been designed to introduce students to key methods and concepts in the study of Visual Culture. Introduction to Key Concepts in Art & Design; Introduction to Visual Culture; Technologies of Visual Culture; Histories of Art and Design 1; Introduction to Techniques, Materials and Practices of Making; Professional Practice: Mediation (with a focus on the dissemination of Visual Culture); and specialist ‘electives’ on a wide range of themes from curatorial studies to systems art.

Year 2

Year 2 is shaped to allow you to develop your own particular interests. Histories of Art & Design II; Professional Practice (making and writing about exhibitions); Understanding Digital Culture; Students select four specialist ‘electives’ from a wide range of themes from tactical media to the history of cross-dressing; and from the psychology of space to 19th Century Irish art.

Visual Culture+/Erasmus & BA Visual Culture (International)

Visual Culture+ is an optional year of study between the 2nd and final year. Students can choose from a range of study or placement options located either in NCAD, or in cultural organisations and community projects on its doorstep. You can choose to spend a semester (or two) fully immersed in one of the studio disciplines at NCAD, or to undertake a work placement in a cultural organisation in Dublin (or both). Visual Culture+ can also include a work placement abroad or a study abroad period through the Erasmus programme with internationally recognised institutions partnered with NCAD. Students who choose Visual Culture+ will complete a 4 year BA in Visual Culture or a 4 year BA Visual Culture (International).

Final Year

Final Year encourages a more independent approach to study. Students are supported to develop a major writing and research project of their own choosing and to engage in different collaborative projects with art or design organisations in the city. Economies of Visual Culture; Situations of Visual Culture (focusing on art and design in Dublin since the 1990s); Professional Practice, Work Placement; Collaborative Practices; Research Practices (a major student-led research project); specialist ‘electives’ on a wide range of themes from phenomenology to sound art.

How will I be assessed?

Assessed coursework may include essays, presentations, portfolios of writing, curatorial and event-based projects, and forms of self-publishing.

Opportunities after graduation?

During their studies, Visual Culture students acquire a broad understanding of the workings of contemporary culture which, together with the opportunity to acquire professional work experience and undertake 'live' projects with public institutions and other partners, opens a wide range of local and international opportunities up to them. Recent graduates have gone on to work in arts administration (in contemporary and heritage contexts); in exhibition curation and education, in festivals and events organisation, and in the media.

Many of our graduates have progressed to further study at postgraduate level to refine their creative and critical abilities. The School of Visual Culture offers a range of highly regarded masters programmes, including the MA Art in the Contemporary World and the MA Design History and Material Culture, as well as PhD level study in Visual Culture.

Visual Culture

BA Visual Culture
NFQ Level 8

3 or 4 Years


Course code/s:
AD215 Visual Culture

Entry Requirements:
Leaving Cert: 6 subjects, 2xH5 and 4xO6/H7
Subjects must include Irish, English and one of the following: A 3rd Language or Art or Design Communication Graphics (DCG)

QQI/FETAC: Level 5 or Level 6:
5 Distinctions, Full Award from a linked QQI FETAC award

A Level/GCSE: 2x A Levels at C+ and 4x GCSE Ordinary or AS level
Subjects to include English and Art or a second language

Portfolio Requirement:

Degree awarded:
BA Visual Culture/BA Visual Culture (International)