Master of Visual Art Programme provides a unique opportunity to extend beyond the boundaries of art education methodologies available in Pakistan. Whereas the undergraduate programme at the NCA attempts to introduce students to the basics of fine art practice, with an emphasis on the acquisition of technical skills, the MA Programme proposes to emphasize intellectual growth and critical discourse in the context of an already established art practice.

In a time when it is recognized that various disciplines within art practice are converging, it is essential that students are offered the opportunity to understand this change in approach to art practice and discourse so as to locate themselves and their work within a local and a global context. The Programme provides a theoretical and visual infrastructure that discusses local practice and discourse within the broader contexts of South Asia and the rest of the world. The Programme addresses the issue of exchanges of information, and politico-historical realities that have created the hierarchies currently existing in the world with reference to the visual arts. The proposed ethos of the course springs from the necessity to understand these dynamics in view of the advent of globalization and multiculturalism.

South Asia is a region that has continuously been in a state of flux and the result has been a potentially rich cultural context for the making of art that is both eclectic and dynamic. This perception of geopolitical reality is a phenomenon which is not simply a part of historical debate, but is concurrent with contemporary issues in art. This awareness can exist only if these issues of the local and the global are tackled at the level of graduate study, in order to establish a generation of young artists who are cognizant of the realities of discourse, criticism and visual perceptions within the context of their own work and that of others. The Programme has, therefore, been structured to provide an interface between art theory and art practice, as well as between the historical and the contemporary.

It is important to recognize the historical and geographical uniqueness of Pakistan within the context of the visual arts and to locate the Pakistani artist within the framework of international debate. The Programme is structured to encourage students to interact with the wider environment of the city and specifically to establish links with traditional practitioners and artists who may fall outside of institutionalized art practice. The course is designed to raise questions and examine pre-established notions of western hegemony within art practice and discourse. Thereby reclaiming and validating the rich cultural heritage of this region and its contribution to art practice the world over.


To introduce a program of studies that draws its strength from a two-pronged project of theory and practice. It augments graduate students’ ability to create a strong link between their art practices and theoretical concerns through contextualizing research models in the local as well as global art expression.
• To build a link between theory and studio practice by exploring relationships between ideas and skills.
• To develop an intellectual discourse while drawing from disciplines such as Philosophy, Anthropology, History and Psychology.
• To develop skills in traditional art and crafts and enable students to translate conceptual concerns into visual expression.
• To inculcate research and writing skills and develop a multidisciplinary approach.


• Applicants with minimum 16 years of education or equivalent qualification in the relevant fields with minimum 60% marks from an HEC recognized institute are eligible to apply.
• Candidates must pass NCA's own aptitude test at par with GAT.

Total Number of Credits 42
Taught Subjects (Credits) 36
Thesis (Research & Design Credits) 06
Total Number of Semesters 04
Semester Duration 18 Weeks
Classwork 16 Weeks
Testing and Evaluation 02 Weeks
Course Load /Semester 9-12 Credits
Studio Courses 60 %
Theory / Seminar Courses 40 %

Semester 1

Course Code Courses Contact Hours Studio / Theory Credit Hours
VA-5101 Art Theory and Criticism I 3 Theory 3
VA-5102 Third Space Seminar I 3 Studio 3
VA-5103 Research Seminar I 3 Theory 3
VA-5104 Studio Practice I 6 Studio 3
Total 12

Semester 2

Course Code Courses Contact Hours Studio / Theory Credit Hours
VA- 5201 Art Theory and Criticism II 3 Theory 3
VA- 5202 Third Space Seminar II 2 Studio 2
VA- 5203 Research Seminar II 3 Theory 3
VA- 5204 Studio Practice II
a. Course work
b. Placement with a traditional practitioner
8 Studio 4
Total 12

Semester 3

Course Code Courses Contact Hours Studio / Theory Credit Hours
VA-6101 Elective Course (Theoretical Course) 3 Theory 3
VA-6102 Third Space Seminar III 3 Studio 3
VA-6103 Research Seminar III 3 Theory 3
VA-6104 Studio Practice III 6 Studio 3
Total 12

Semester 4

No Course Title Credit Hours
1 Visual Art Thesis 6
Total 6

A range of mandatory and optional courses will be offered. Students will be required to follow an individual course of study in all the art practice options available within and outside the campus after consultation with their course tutors.

a. Theory
Art Theory and Criticism

The Art Theory and Criticism course shall consist of a weekly lecture followed by a seminar. The purpose of this course is to equip students with a greater understanding of the cultural and socio-historical context in which art is produced/practiced. This will enable them to contextualize the emergence of certain movements and trends in art, thereby providing them with a theoretical tool box with which they can engage critically with art practice.

This will include a lecture series in history so that students can identify a chronological historical order. The course will address the development of the philosophical, economic and political base from which art emerges with an emphasis on the last 200 years In addition, other issues such as appropriation, globalization, colonization, nationalism and other more general topics, which are central to this discourse, will be addressed.

These lectures will enable students to draw parallels and acknowledge the visual and conceptual exchanges between western and non-western cultures (with an emphasis on South Asia) and understand the nature of the hierarchies that exist in the world today.

Third Space Seminar

The Third Space Seminar will be conducted as a follow up to the Art Theory and Criticism course. This is essentially a bridge between studio practice and the theoretical part of the course; and will be conducted in the form of weekly seminars. The seminars will enable students to understand the relationship between Art Theory and Criticism, and Art Practice in order to develop the ability to relate it to the context of their own work and that of others.

Research Seminar

The research seminar will be conducted weekly over a period of two years. It aims to develop individual critical abilities and articulation skills through a study of the philosophical, structural and formalistic moorings integral to art. A number of prevalent research methodologies will be a taught component of the seminar. These will enable students to execute the written requirements of the Master programme, including the mandatory extended essay. A broader understanding of the creative arts will be achieved through Seminars on the Arts of South Asia conducted with a more holistic approach to include dance, theatre, music, film and literature. The student’s ability to conduct research shall be assessed by written exercises and through individual/group presentations.

Extended Essay

The Extended Essay is a compulsory component of the Research Seminar Course. This comprises a written paper of 8000-10000 words in Chicago formate with supporting documentation (audio/ visual, etc.) if necessary.


Optional / Elective Course will run during the third semester of the programme. Students will be required to take a minimum of one optional course over a period of two years.
i) Anthropology of Art
ii) Philosophy of Art
iii) The History and Practical Theory of Miniature Painting
iv) Issues in Contemporary Art
All optional courses are subject to change depending on availability of faculty.

B. Art Practice

The programme provides a structured learning experience in which the theoretical and practical parts of the course are devised in a way that they do not operate in isolation but compliment each other. Students are expected to pursue a rigorous course of study during which they design and pursue an individual line of research, through active participation and articulate their concerns both visually and theoretically.

The emphasis of the course is to develop individual ideas and intellectual capabilities, particularly with reference to critical, evaluative and conceptual concerns for the production of works of high professional quality. The Programme therefore caters to mature individuals with a high level of commitment to independent art practice.

Art does not happen in a vacuum, but occurs within its own social and cultural context. A multidisciplinary approach acknowledges the interconnectedness between disciplines and thereby promotes a non-isolationist view. Part of the ethos of the programme is to break down hierarchies in art, particularly in the context of Pakistan and the region where historically the boundaries between art and craft did not exist. This programme encourages students to explore and question these boundaries, which in turn provides the opportunity for them to go where their research leads them.

The role of art practice is to create a space for individuals to realize their self-expression and to communicate their ideas with a wider audience. Multiculturalism, as opposed to the singularity in approach, is an integral part of the ethos of this course. It is essential, therefore, that students have access to information and interaction with artists from all over the world. By drawing on international resources, students will be able to engage with cultures, both similar and dissimilar to ours; thereby equipping themselves with a varied conceptual and visual base that will enable a greater understanding of their own visual tools.

The Master of Visual Art programme aims to pursue an approach in which students will be expected to find the best means of translating conceptual concerns into visual expression.

The art world has become increasingly aware of the fact that the traditional boundaries between disciplines and mediums are being removed for the benefit of art practice. The programme aims to approach art practice through a broad base, in which various disciplines and techniques may be used. Students will be free to pursue an in-depth exploration of any discipline of their choice, or to cross interdisciplinary boundaries, which allows greater flexibility in areas of concern.

Technical Support for Art Practice

Although the emphasis of the programme is not on the development of technical skills, it is felt that there are a number of technical support structures that need to be made available in order to facilitate practice. These are listed below. The list also includes a number of more specialized technical support courses that can be accessed on demand by individuals or by a group of students. These are deemed necessary because they provide the opportunity for students to broaden their technical base when the need arises.

List of Technical Support Structures

1. Grinding and making of pigments
2. Oxidation prevention
3. Papermaking
4. Printmaking
(a.) Silkscreen
(b.) Lithography
(c.) Etching
(d.) Woodcut
5. Clay and plaster
6. Fiber glass
7. Ceramics
8. Squirrel brush making
9. Bookbinding, embossing and stamping
10. Basic circuitry
11. Gilding
12. Marbling
13. Egg tempera pigments
14. Encaustic
15. Calligraphy
16. Photography
17. Weaving and Dyeing
18. Geometry
19. Biomorphics
20. Botanical drawings into Design Motif
21. Multi-media Digital Technology
22. Wood workshop/metal workshop

Placement with Traditional Practitioners

The aim of the course is to question existing distinctions between art and craft, and to learn the processes, techniques and methodologies of traditional practices. All students are required to complete a 4-6 week placement with a traditional practitioner. This will enable them to extend their studio practice and engage with an alternative cultural and visual experience. Students will be expected to submit a written paper (800-1000 words) with documentation. All students are required to make a presentation based on their placement experience in addition to the report. Presentation stemming from this placement may take any form including the production of a piece of work done in a traditional manner to the translation of any aspect of traditional practice into other dimensions.

Statement of Intent

A 500-1500 word statement of intent is to be submitted prior to the mid course external assessment and then for the final external assessment. The aim of the statement is to encourage students to articulate the intention behind their work thereby bringing focus and clarity to their conceptual concerns and enabling them to critically analyze their own work.

Examination and Assessment Rules

1. In theory courses, which comprise of 18 credits, 50% of the total marks will be distributed in assignments and mid-semester examination. The final examination will carry 50% weightage and will be conducted in terms of the following:
• Essay and Critical Analysis
• Research Paper
• Oral Presentation and Written Report (800-1500 words)
2. In practical courses, which comprise of 18 credits, students are required to work on individual projects, which will be progressively marked.
3. By the end of the programme, students will be required to write a Research Report (8000-10000 words), which will be assessed on the basis of 1) Conceptual Clarity, 2) Idea Development, 3) Comprehension and Understanding, 4) Critical and Analytical abilities, 5) Originality and Creativity, 6) Consistency in Style (Chicago)
Prof. Dr. Murtaza Jafri

Principal NCA
Programme Director
BFA National College of Arts, Lahore
MA Chelsea College of Arts, London
PhD (Fine Arts), Post Doc. Research Fellow AVA, London
Advanced Drawing, Concordia University, Montreal

Shireen Bano Rizvi

Associate Professor
BFA, NCA Lahore, Pakistan
MA (Hons.) Visual Art,NCA Lahore, Pakistan

Ms. Saamia Ahmed

Associate Professor
BFA, MA (Hons.) Visual Art
NCA Lahore, Pakistan

Rabeya Jalil

Associate Professor
Ed.M (MPhil) Art Education
Columbia University Newyork

Saulat Ajmal

MFA (Painting, Printmaking)
Virginia Commonweath,
University, USA

Zobia Yaqoob

BFA, MA (Hons.) Visual Art
NCA Lahore, Pakistan

Ali Baba

BFA, MA (Hons.) Visual Art
NCA Lahore, Pakistan

Sajjad Nawaz

MA (Hons.) Visual Art
NCA Lahore, Pakistan

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