Contemporary Arts Practice

Our MA in Contemporary Arts Practice (MA CAP) is an interdisciplinary programme covering the areas of Fine Arts, Sound Arts, Literary Writing and Literary Translation and Performance Art.

This degree programme:

  • is intended for students with a BA (or equivalent) in Fine Arts, Sound Arts, Literary Writing and Literary Translation, Performance Art or a related field;
  • allows you to choose among the four specialisations of Fine Arts, Sound Arts, Literary Writing and Literary Translation and Performance Art or take a multidisciplinary approach;
  • allows you to design your own studies;
  • engages an internationally connected team of lecturers from the areas of creative arts, composition, performance, artistic and cultural sciences, and curation as well as authors;
  • integrates you into a network of students active in a range of content areas and media;
  • provides you with the opportunity to work individually or collaboratively to develop your own artistic approach and identity;
  • prepares you for engaging and acting at the intersection of various artistic fields and disciplines;
  • offers access to generous studio spaces and fully equipped workshops.


  • Title/Degree Master of Arts (MA)
  • Specialisations Fine Arts, Sound Arts, Literary Writing and Literary Translation, Performance Art
  • Mode of study Full-time (4 semesters), part-time (in exceptional cases only, 6 semesters)
  • Start date 16 September 2019
  • Application deadline 1.4.2019
  • ECTS credits 120 ECTS credits
  • Study language German, French, English
  • Location Bern
  • Department Bern University of the Arts
  • Programme Handbook

Study programme guide Master Contemporary Arts Practice

Structure + Content

Your artistic practice and final project form the core of your studies.


Artists of all stripes join together in CAP, where they share a focus on the question of artistic identity. Ours is the only programme in Switzerland to divide studies into the areas of Fine Arts, Sound Arts, Literary Writing and Literary Translation and Performance Art. We draw from both national and international networks. The degree programme is unique to Bern University of the Arts (HKB) and has produced countless graduates who have established themselves on the art market.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the programme, you will:

  • be equipped to reflect upon your own artistic position;
  • be conversant in current artistic debates and media opportunities;
  • embrace the power of networking;
  • feel confident taking a position in various artistic debates;
  • understand the social and political relevance of artistic work;
  • be experienced in presenting your artistic practice to the public and professional audiences alike;
  • have a sense of your career prospects;
  • enjoy a professional network of artists, organisers and facilitators;
  • be acquainted with the many forms of artistic research.

Specialisations + Areas of focus

The four specialisations of Fine Arts, Sound Arts, Literary Writing and Literary Translation and Performance Art allow you a wide range of options for study.

In the Fine Arts specialisation,

  • current developments and historical foundations of art provide the framework for student work;
  • you may work in static or animated images, in either analogue or digital form;
  • sculpture or installation projects are allowed, as are conceptual or performative approaches;
  • you may also explore social processes and documentary strategies;
  • you have access to HKB workshops and may enrol in introductory workshop courses;
  • your studies are shaped by ongoing exchange with other CAP specialisations.

In the Sound Arts specialisation, you will

  • focus on sound arts, experimental and electronic music;
  • develop your own compositions, sound installations or other sound-oriented artworks;
  • learn compositional strategies and gain comprehensive knowledge of composition and artistic work today, as it applies to your own creative process;
  • discuss and analyse seminal works in sound arts, both past and present;
  • have the opportunity to take courses in programming, hardware hacking, audio technology and interfaces;
  • engage with students in other CAP specialisations to explore the interplay between visual, performative, literary and audio elements.

In the Literary Writing and Literary Translation specialisation, you will

  • work on your own texts in all genres;
  • receive individual mentoring and support;
  • examine the interactions between literature and other arts;
  • enjoy a wide range of lecturers and students from diverse backgrounds;
  • explore the tension between contemporary art production and its reflection;
  • view literary translation as an art form in its own right (with source language choices of German, French, Spanish, Italian, English and Russian and target language choices of German, French or English).

In the Performance Art specialisation, you will

  • examine specific questions around situating the body in space and time;
  • develop your own forms and skills in performing, viewing and listening, in both your practical work and theoretical reflection;
  • come to see performance as physical presence and real or conceptual action in various artistic areas;
  • benefit from a diverse and open understanding of performativity;
  • experience performance in close connection to music, the fine arts and literary writing.

Mode of study + Duration

Our master's degree programme is offered on a full-time basis and comprises 120 ECTS credits. It is typically completed in four semesters. In exceptional cases only, it can be extended up to 6 semesters.

Curriculum + Modules

Your artistic practice, including your master’s project, forms the core of your studies. We create a balance between teaching and self-study, providing a disciplinary foundation and encouraging transdisciplinary growth. You are free to customise your studies, with options ranging from a focus on a single area to cooperative, multidisciplinary approaches. Your creative process is supported by the combination of individual instruction and targeted specialisation in technical and theoretical fields as well as exchange with peers and experts in various networks and forums.

Your individualised profile determines the modules you will take and which members of the teaching staff will mentor your creative practice. Your educational background, master’s project, professional aspirations and personal interests provide the foundation for designing your studies. Our leadership team works with you to determine your individual profile. We review your progress together and make adjustments as needed at the end of every semester.

Student mobility

Are you a Swiss student interested in living, working or studying in another country? Or do you want to spend a semester at another Swiss university? Or maybe you’re an overseas student who’d like to spend a semester at Bern University of Applied Sciences? Mobility opportunities offer unique and valuable experience. During your studies, you will have the opportunity to spend exchange semesters and experience work placements elsewhere in Switzerland or abroad.


Lukas Bärfuss, Renate Buser, Teresa Carrasco, Raphaël Cuomo, Maria Iorio, Cathy van Eck, Ellen Fellmann, Andrea Gohl, Michael Harenberg, Stefan Humbel, Valerian Maly, Tine Melzer, Markus Müller, Benoit Piccand, Annaïk Pitteloud, Arno Renken, Hans Rudolf Reust, Peter Scherrer, Dorothea Schürch, Kristina Scepanski, Andi Schoon, Anselm Stalder, Lara Stanic, Thomas Strässle, Marianne Wagner, Daniel Weissberg

Collaborations + Partners

HKB is affiliated with a number of universities in Switzerland and abroad and frequently collaborates with international partners on various projects. The university is also a member of several international networks.

MA CAP's partners:

Eligibility + Entry

You must apply with an ambitious artistic project to develop and implement over the course of two years. You will shape this project based on constructive criticism from your mentors, instructors and fellow students.

Entry requirements

The number of places available on our programme is limited (‘numerus clausus’). We administer an entrance examination to review your aptitude for our programme. We look for motivation, stamina, resilience and independence in our students as well as a readiness to participate actively in university-level projects.

Academic requirements

BA (or equivalent) in Fine Arts, Sound Arts, Literary Writing and Literary Translation, Performance Art or a related field. If you do not hold a BA in one of the areas listed above or a similar field, we may make an exception for applicants with outstanding portfolios.

Knowledge + Abilities

  • You have conceptualised an ambitious artistic project that you wish to execute within the context of a master’s degree programme. You view this project as part of your artistic development.
  • You are interested in artistic discourse in a multidisciplinary context.
  • You possess the theoretical and practical knowledge needed for active participation in the programme.
  • You have experience in developing, networking and presenting your creative works independently.
  • You wish to examine topics and methods in artistic research.

Language skills

Lectures are held in German (primarily), French and English. All courses in Literary Writing and Literary Translation are conducted in German and French. Individual mentoring is available in German, French and English.

Applying from abroad

Foreign nationals require valid travel documents recognised by the Swiss government. A visa is often required. Exchange students must also apply for a residency permit and purchase health insurance before their studies begin. Please research your specific entry requirements carefully.

After reviewing application materials, we will invite selected candidates for an interview, in which we will focus on your motivations and goals for the master’s degree programme. If you have a background in performance art or sound arts, you must prepare a performance. This is optional for applicants in other fields.

Qualification + Career prospects

Following graduation, you will be ready to work as a professional artist or in art-related fields, particularly where there is demand for collaboration and dialogue between artistic scenes.

Title + Degree

Master of Arts (MA) in «Contemporary Arts Practice»

Career prospects


  • If you specialise in research during your studies, you may continue this work within the framework of a PhD programme, for instance at the Graduate School of the Arts Bern.
  • The professional training, research experience and associated pedagogical qualifications you gain with your master’s degree position you to take up a teaching position at a college or comparable institution.
  • You may even a enter an entirely new professional field that you have not yet considered.


  • Fine Arts: Prepares you to further your own work as a professional artist or in art-related fields.
  • Sound Arts: Enables you to design creative musical media projects and compositions and realise interactive pieces for concerts and performances, soundscapes, sound installations and film scoring.
  • Literary Writing and Literary Translation: Equips you to work in various fields involving experimental writing (such as performance) or literary translation.
  • Performance Art: Following graduation, you will work as a professional performance artist.

Practicalities + Application

Please note the deadlines and application requirements specific to each area of study.

Start date: 16 September 2019
Application deadline: 1.4.2019
Admissions interviews: 23 April – 2 May 2019
Final admission decisions are announced starting 7 May 2019.

The following fees are charged for degree programmes and examinations at HKB:

Application (per application) and aptitude assessment*  

CHF 250


CHF 100

Tuition fees (per semester) 

CHF 750

Tuition fees for overseas students*** (per semester)

CHF 950

Examination fee (per semester)  

CHF 80

Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)  

CHF 24

Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)

CHF 15

Leave of absence fee (per semester) 

CHF 100

* plus CHF 10 processing fee if paying by deposit slip / paper invoice
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** ‘Overseas students’ refers to all citizens of foreign countries who were not official residents of Switzerland or Liechtenstein at the time they were admitted to the university programme.

There is also a fixed fee for materials whose amount depends on the degree programme as well as additional costs for teaching materials, specialist literature, supplies, etc.

The application fee can be paid by credit card during the online application process. Alternatively, applicants can pay the fee by deposit slip / paper invoice within 10 days. In this case, a processing fee of CHF 10 will be charged. There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications.

The application is processed after payment has been received.

Auditing a course

CHF 150 per course and semester, covering one weekly lecture hour. Only passive participation in classroom instruction is possible (selected lectures and seminars, no individual instruction).

Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course.

Cantonal grants

Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents.

Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.

Further information (incl. financial aid calculator):

The websites ausbildungsbeiträ, and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.

The City of Bern also offers students support under certain circumstances. For more information, see the City of Bern website.

Foundations and funds

There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.). Other sources include the foundation directories for individual cantons and private foundations.

HKB-Fund for the Payment of the Tuition Fees

Many HKB students live in precarious financial circumstances. The opportunities to earn money while undertaking demanding and time-consuming studies are limited. And the cost of living in Switzerland is one of the highest in all of Europe. A doctor’s bill, a healthy diet, and paying the rent or semester and examination fees can become pressing problems. The HKB scholarship fund provides targeted support in such cases. If you are a student at HKB and require the assistance or advice of the scholarship fund, please complete the corresponding application form and submit it to the secretary’s office of your degree programme. The deadline for applications for a semester fee waiver is 15 May to 15 June (for the following autumn semester), or 15 November to 15 December (for the following spring semester).

The following foundations offer funding specifically to BFH students and students from other universities:


If you have any questions regarding scholarships and loans please contact Wanda Lehmann.

At Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH, we promote balance between study, work and family.

A limited number of nursery places are available to BFH staff and students. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, the relevant documents can be found on the BFH Intranet. The fees are based on your income and are in line with the cantonal rates described in the Verordnung über die Angebote der sozialen Integration (Decree on Social Integration Offer ASIV) issued by the Canton of Bern. You can apply for a nursery place using the online form on the BFH Intranet. If you’re a new student or member of staff and don’t have access to the Intranet, please contact Corinne Badertscher (Tel. +41 (0)31 848 33 01, There is no legal entitlement to a nursery place.

Swiss students have to complete compulsory service while studying too. Make sure you start planning and coordinating your studies and compulsory service early.

We strongly encourage you to complete basic military training and your first block of civilian service before starting your studies. If you complete these activities during your studies, you may miss classes. As a result, the duration of your programme may increase.

General information on recruitment and civil service


You can get help with coordinating your studies and your compulsory service from HKB's Student Administration (+41 31 848 49 49).

Would you like to take a course at Bern University of the Arts? Then apply now. By applying online, you’ll be kept up-to-date at every stage of the process.

Online Application

You should have the following documents available in electronic form (passport photo: JPG / remaining documents: PDF). No document should exceed 1 MB.

  • ID card or passport
  • Passport photo
  • A diploma qualifying you for university studies (such as Matura from a Gymnasium, "Berufsmaturität", "Fachmaturität", Abitur)
  • A detailed CV
  • A description (max. 2 A4 pages) of your project, showing your goals for the Master`s programme as clearly as possible. Demonstrate what you wish to focus on and how you aim to reach your goals. (There are special requirements for the area of studies Literary Writing.)

For foreigners, in addition:

  • Residence permit (if available)

If you were already matriculated at another university:

  • A confirmation of your exmatriculation
  • Your diploma and/or a transcript of records

If you do not yet have one or more of the required documents, please state why in the Comments section.

Submission deadline online application and portfolio: 1.4.2019


Together with the application, you should submit a portfolio with an expressive selection of your previous work. The content of the portfolio documents your artistic, musical, performative or literary work with concrete examples. Please label the portfolio in the top right corner with your Name, First Name and the tag MA CAP, as well as the current year. The HKB does not assume liability for submitted portfolios.

Special Requirements for Literary Writing/Translation:
Instead of the motivational statement, please submit a project outline of a maximum length of five A4 pages. In this, you should describe your goals for the Master`s studies as precisely as possible, show what you would like to focus on and how you aim to reach your goals. Outline the project, which you aim to work on primarily (focus, working method, goals). The portfolio should contain one or more literary texts you have written, with a minimum length of 20 pages and a maximum length of 50 pages (2000 characters per page, including spaces). All genres are allowed. Please attach five copies of all texts.

Bern University of the Arts
Schwabstrasse 10
CH-3018 Bern

In addition, please send the documentation/portfolio digitally to:


At HKB, you can expect an open mindset and a friendly, informal atmosphere. Come and see us.

Student advisory service

Please contact the CAP office if you would like to arrange a personal consultation with us.

Info events

No info events are scheduled at this time.

Locations + Facilities

You will benefit from fantastic facilities tailored to your specialisation in the MA CAP.

Main building at Schwabstrasse 10

  • bright studios and classrooms
  • exhibition spaces
  • analogue photo laboratory
  • kitchen and large rooftop terrace

Fellerstrasse 11 (located 200 m from main building):

  • Printing workshop: fully equipped workspace, in which all manual printing techniques are practised
  • MediaLab: work spaces, editing rooms and various studios as well as all the equipment needed for audio-visual design and photography
  • Multimedia library: comprehensive selection of books, magazines and films related to the areas of design, art and transdisciplinarity
  • Workshop: professional facilities for work in wood, metal, synthetics, ceramics and textiles
  • MaterialPool: extensive collection of patterns for various materials

Experts are available to lend practical assistance or answer questions in all of the service centres named.

Papiermühlestrasse 13

  • Sound studio for sound productions, even complex assignments, with modern equipment, large control room and multifunctional rooms linked by analogue and digital networking
  • Music library

Swiss Literature Institute in Biel/Bienne

Library for the Literary Writing and Literary Translation specialisation

Studio spaces and seminar room at PROGR – Zentrum für Kulturproduktion in the heart of Bern

This central location promotes connections with the local art scene.