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Interactive Arts and Technology

Master of Arts

The master of arts (MA) is one of three degrees offered in SIAT in art, design, media and information technology with particular expertise in the interactive aspects of digital technology and media related to topics including art, design, learning, business, cognition, performing arts, social science and cultural studies. The program is geared toward students who wish to learn about interactive technologies and the implications of their design and use in a human-centred context. Methodological approaches in this degree are primarily drawn from traditions of inquiry in the social sciences, humanities and artistic disciplines.

The program has the following objectives: research into the acts of designing, making, and managing technology; inquiry into and use of research methodologies that enable interdisciplinary collaboration and the development of new technologies; and application of new technologies in society and industry, particularly in creative areas of art, design and media.

Admission Requirements

There will be annual admission with the possibility of early or out-of-cycle admissions in special cases. 

Applicants must satisfy the university admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulations 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. The school aims to admit students with diverse backgrounds, across the broad areas in which our faculty have disciplinary expertise. The following admission requirements encourage such diversity while setting minimum standards for acceptance into the program. 

Students will be admitted to study for either the master of arts (MA) or master of science (MSc) degree. Students may articulate between the MA and MSc degrees by meeting the admission and program requirements of the degree to which they articulate and with the approval of the graduate program committee. A student may make one application for articulation.

Minimum Standard Entrance Requirements

  • an undergraduate degree in a field related to the proposed program of study. For example: BSc computer science, BASc engineering (electrical, communications, computer engineering), BA or BSc in education, management, economics or communications, BFA in art, design or performing arts, BA in art, art history, architecture, linguistics, psychology or philosophy, BArch, BLArch, BID.
    • OR an undergraduate degree in a field related to the proposed program of study in another, related discipline. In this instance, applicants must establish the relationship between the discipline in which they hold their previous degree(s) and this program, and explain how they would benefit from this program.
  • a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better at a Canadian university, or equivalent, for the undergraduate degree.
  • two reference letters from suitably qualified persons.

Portfolio/Interview

Candidates who are considered for admission may be required to submit a work portfolio and/or be required to attend a personal or telephone interview during the latter stages of the admission process.

Students will be admitted to the thesis or project options based on their letter of intent and recommendations from the Graduate Admissions Committee.

Program Requirements

This program consists of course work and a thesis for a minimum of 33 units or course work and a project for a minimum of 30 units.

Students must complete

IAT 803 - Science, Technology & Culture (3)

Introduces the core values of interdisciplinary scholarship through engagement with history, theory and practice in the study of science, technology, society and culture. This course will be a reading-intensive, extended seminar style investigation of theoretical and historical references in science and technology studies and broader societal implications of technologies. Prerequisite: SIAT Graduate Student.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G200 Kate Hennessy
Tu 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
SRYC 3240, Surrey
IAT 804 - Foundations of Research Design for Human-Centred Design of Interactive Technologies (3)

Provides an introduction to different epistemological worldviews, research approaches and methodological traditions of inquiry that are used to conduct research within SIAT. Students are introduced to a range of ways of knowing and inquiring in human-centred design, development and analysis of interactive technologies including scientific, social science, humanities, design and art-based approaches. Prerequisite: SIAT Graduate Student.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Alissa Antle
Mo 10:30 AM – 1:20 PM
SRYC 5360, Surrey
IAT 806 - Interdisciplinary Design Approaches to Computing (3)

Introduces students to computer programming that encompasses knowledge of art/design history and practices, and introduces a deep approach to design thinking in creating interactive software projects. This programming-intensive course includes an introduction to Interactive Design Computing and the history of ideas that lead to modern interactive computing systems and emphasizes decision making in software design process, historical perspective of art and design, interactive software objects, iterative design cycles and design rationale in producing interactive software and introduces a historical perspective on these techniques. Prerequisite: SIAT Graduate Student.

and six units of graduate course work which may include up to three units from outside of IAT*

and two academic terms of research colloquium

IAT 805 - Research Colloquium (0)

Through an interdisciplinary speaker series, presents research topics relevant to the SIAT graduate program. Engages students in discussion and debate on the utility, results and methods of research. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisite: Enrollment in the SIAT graduate program.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Kate Hennessy
We 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
SRYC 5380, Surrey

and the requirements from one of the options below

Thesis Option

and a thesis

IAT 897 - MA Thesis (18)

Students who are working on their Master of Arts thesis enroll in this course. This course will not count towards the course work requirements. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 TBD
G200 TBD

Project Option

and an additional nine units of graduate course work which may include up to three units from outside of IAT*

and a project

IAT 895 - Master of Arts Graduation Project (6)

Students in the MA project-option will enroll in this course to complete an interdisciplinary project on designing, making, and managing technology with balanced theoretical and practical applications in society and industry, particularly in creative areas of art, design and media. Students are required to make an oral presentation of their projects and its report will be examined by two faculty members and submitted to the library after approval. Students may only enroll in this course once for credit. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisite: Enrollment in the SIAT MA project-based option and completion of SIAT 803, 804, and 806.

*Subject to supervisory committee approval and graduate program committee approval, students may fulfil this requirement through other appropriate graduate courses at Simon Fraser University or elsewhere (the latter subject to Simon Fraser University rules on external courses). Only one directed reading can be counted towards the program requirements.

Accelerated Master's

SFU students accepted in the accelerated master's within the School of Interactive Arts and Technology may apply a maximum of nine graduate course units, taken while completing the bachelor's degree, towards the upper division electives of the bachelor’s program and the requirements of the master’s degree. At least six of the nine graduate course units must come from IAT 803, 804, or 806. For more information go to: https://www.sfu.ca/gradstudies/apply/programs/accelerated-masters.html.

Program Length

Students are expected to complete the program requirements in six terms.

Other Information

Supervision of the Thesis Option

The supervisor is appointed as per GGR 1.6.3 and the supervisory committee is composed as per GGR 1.6.4 and typically consists of the student's supervisor, at least one other SIAT faculty member, and additional committee members as appropriate.

Supervision of the Project Option

Students will be assigned a program advisor (a member of the SIAT Project Advising Committee) to help students in course selection, project planning and general graduate student guidance. The advisor has two main tasks: advising the student on issues related to study within the program and assisting the student in identifying and approaching potential project supervisors. There is no requirement that the advisor has a role in supervision.

A project supervisor will be assigned to the student by the time of their enrollment in the Project Course. The project supervisor will help the students complete the MA Project, and will supervise the selection of the second project reader, pursuant to GGR 1.6.3.

Students will choose an area of specialization and submit a project report. Project topics will be related to research areas in IAT and decided upon with an assigned project supervisor. Project students can enroll in IAT 895 (MA Project) once to conduct and complete their project work. A student can enroll in IAT 895 (MA Project) a second time only with special permission of the Graduate Program Committee. Students are required to complete a project report and make an oral presentation. The project is examined by two faculty members. The report is required to be submitted to the library as per Graduate General Regulation 1.11.

Directed Readings

Directed readings should be distinct from work undertaken toward the thesis. Students should not expect to complete a directed readings course when a substantively comparable Simon Fraser University course exists. Normally, a directed readings course may not be taken from the student's supervisor(s).

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.