MA: Comparative Media Arts

The SCA's MA in Comparative Media Arts thinks across the arts with an intermedial perspective. Students gain a well-rounded, interdisciplinary expertise by examining their chosen object of study (such as an artwork or movement) through theoretical and historical perspectives from art history, cinema studies, performance studies, and digital arts.

The program’s strong practical focus includes funded research travel, editing the CMA Journal, arts internships, funding and support for curating, holding the graduating symposium, and intensive professional preparation for publishing, public presentation, job and grant applications, and reaching varied audiences. Most of our graduates work as curators, programmers, arts administrators, arts writers, and practicing artists. Some go on to do PhDs in the fine and performing arts.

With its intimate scale, interdisciplinary design, and faculty of international reputation, the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU provides a rich environment for scholars of the fine and performing arts. Working in parallel with students in the MFA program, MA scholars are immersed in an environment of creative experimentation.

For information about applying to the program, please follow the links at the Future Students section of our site.

Program Information

The MA in Comparative Media Arts is a four-semester program. Under the per-term fee arrangement, students may take as many courses as they want. Students are required to take six courses, complete two extended essays (or one essay and one project), and participate in the graduating symposium.

Required courses:

CA 821-4 Research methods in comparative media arts
CA 822-4 Research colloquium in comparative media arts
CA 829-6 Extended essays in comparative media arts

And at least three of:

CA 823-4 New approaches in visual art and culture
CA 824-4 New approaches in moving-image studies
CA 825-4 New approaches in digital art studies
CA 826-4 New approaches in performance studies
CA 827-4 Practicum in comparative media arts

And one elective graduate course relevant to the student’s research, either

  • within the School for the Contemporary Arts (please see suggestions below); or
  • from another department, with permission of the MA Program Coordinator and the faculty member teaching the course.

MA Application Process

Applications for entry into the MA in Comparative Media Arts program are now open. Apply online here.

February 15: Last Day to START Application
February 21: Last Day to SUBMIT application
February 23: Last Day to Upload Supporting Documents

Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in visual culture, art history, cinema studies, performance studies, cultural studies, communications, literary studies, or other degrees focusing on the arts. Applications with Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees that include substantial scholarly studies will also qualify.

All applicants who submit complete applications will be notified of their status by the end of March. Candidates accepted into the MA program will begin their courses in September.

Please be sure that your mailing and e-mail addresses are current, as you will be notified of application results by e-mail and by letter.

The only hardcopy documents we need to receive are your official sealed transcripts, please submit everything else online.


1. On-line Application for Graduate Studies

If you have not submitted the online application you will not be considered for the program.
All graduate program applications are processed through the Dean of Graduate Studies office. In order to use the online application system, you will need to pay an application fee of $90 CAN (students with Canadian transcripts) or $125 CAN (students with international transcripts) by credit card (MasterCard or Visa).

The on-line application includes a checklist of the documents that you will need to submit to us to support your application. This checklist will be updated on line as we receive your documents. Please refer to the on-line checklist to ensure that all documents are received - due to the number of applications, it is not possible for us to monitor every applicant's checklist closely.

2. Official sealed Transcripts of all post-secondary education. Sealed transcripts should be sent directly to the address below by the academic institution. Non-English language transcripts must include an official English translation.

SCA Graduate Program Assistant
SFU School for the Contemporary Arts
Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B 1H4

3. A Curriculum Vitae.

4. A Statement of Research Interests, which is a concise one page written overview of your research interests in relation to your proposed object of study.

5. A sample of Academic Writing, 2000-3000 words. Acceptable samples include senior undergraduate essays or other academic writing and published articles.

6. Three (3) Letters of Reference from (preferably) academic or professional sources. Letters can be uploaded online directly by each reference. He or she will receive login information and instructions for uploading his or her letter, once you have named him or her as a reference. We do not have a template for reference letters; your referees can use their preferred format.

7. International students: English is the language of instruction and communication in the University. The School for the Contemporary Arts requires English proficiency as outlined on the Dean of Graduate Studies website.

Please note that we must receive test results directly from the testing agency. Copies of documents sent by the student will not be accepted.


Students are eligible for fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. We also encourage students to apply for funding before entering the program, including through SSHRC


These courses are suggestions only. Other relevant graduate courses across SFU can be taken as an elective with permission of the MA Program coordinator and the faculty member teaching the course.

CA 811-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar I
CA 812-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar II
CA 877-5 Selected Topics in Fine and Performing Arts
CA 889-5 Directed Study in Fine and Performing Arts
CMNS  855-5 Selected Topics in Communication Studies
CMNS  857-5 Selected Topics in Communication Studies
ENGL 811-4 Studies in Theory II: Performance and/in the City
ENGL 820-4 Studies in Print Culture Theory
ENGL 821-4 Studies in Manuscript, Print and Media Culture
GSWS 823-5 Graduate Seminar in Feminist Art/Literary Criticism
HUM  802-5  Themes in the Humanities
HUM 805-5 Special Topics
IAT 810-3 New Media
IAT 811-3 Computational Poetics
IAT 832-3 Exploring Interactivity
SA 875-5 Ethnographic Methodology: Social/Cultural Anthropology


Dr. Henry Daniel
Research specialization: Research-creation; performance studies; dance theory and criticism; dance and new technology.

Dr. Peter Dickinson
Research specialization: Perfomance studies.
Institute for Performance Studies,,

Dr. Arne Eigenfeldt
Research specialization: Generative art; computational creativity; new media and performance.

Dr. Claudette Lauzon
Research specialization: Contemporary art; visual culture; critical theory; conflict studies.

Dr. Laura U. Marks
Research specialization: Film theory; new media art; experimental media; art and philosophy; Islamic art and philosophy; Arab cinema.

Dr. Denise Oleksijczuk
Research specialization: Visual culture; photography; pre-cinematic media arts; nineteenth-century British art; curating.

Dr. Christopher Pavsek
Research specialization: Non-fiction cinema and art; cinema studies; critical theory; Marxist theory.

Dr. Eldritch Priest
Research specialization: Sound studies/art; philosophy of experience (specifically libidinal philosophies, affect theory, pragmatism); media theory (dealing with aurally, embodiment, simulation); composition; experimental music; postmodernism; ‘Pataphysics; Hyperstition.

Professor Judy Radul
Research specialization: Video; contemporary art and theory; art and law; performance; performativity; questions of the image.

The Comparative Media Arts Journal (CMA Journal)

The CMA Journal is a newly established open-access, student-run, peer-reviewed journal, publishing the best of graduate and postgraduate essays, artworks and experimental content, created and run by SCA MA students.


Issue One: FAILURE
Issue Three: BARE LIFE
Upcoming: Issue Four: SLOWNESS


Audain Visual Artist in Residence program

The SCA's Audain Visual Artist in Residence program brings artists and practitioners to Vancouver who have contributed significantly to the field of contemporary art and whose work resonates with local and international visual art discourses.


For an archive of past Audain Visual Artist in Residence guests, exhibitions, and projects, please click here.

The program is generously funded by the Audain Foundation Endowment Fund.


611 Talks

With approximately four talks per term, the free and public 611 Talks series at the Alexander Studios, which is organized by the SCA Visual Art area, features curators, international and local artists, both distinguished and emerging, and other cultural producers presenting on their practices, projects, and ideas. The series is a productive occasion for working artists and students to discuss their methods and concepts and to explore the contexts and theories of contemporary art while also engaging with visual culture in a broader way.

For an archive of past 611 Talks guests, please click here.