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MA Fine Art

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  • Academic Title
    MA Fine Art
  • Course description
    The University of Sunderland's Faculty of Arts, Design and Media is part of the arts infrastructure of the North East region that includes Baltic, MIMA, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Vardy Gallery, Waygood and Workplace Gallery.

    The MA Fine Art programme is primarily studio based and builds on student's established Fine Art practice. There are three main reasons why artists choose to undertake Masters level study in Fine Art at the University of Sunderland to develop their personal practice - individual student's concerns/projects are at the of centre the programme to extend their professional experience and expertise through the range of live projects that the programme offers and to engage or re-engage in debate about contemporary art and design.

    The MA programmes in Fine Art invites applications from artists, (usually, but not always, possessing a BA (Hons) in Fine Art), who want to develop their existing art practice in a creative, supportive and critically challenging environment. Students demonstrate through a statement of intent at interview and through their portfolios, (portfolio and statement of intent for international students), their suitability for postgraduate level study. Full-time, (45 weeks) and part-time (90 weeks) modes of study are available.

    Increasing numbers of international students are attracted to the programme and enhance the diversity of the learning environment.

    Many artists and others working within the creative industries are likely to consider part-time study as it enables them to maintain, develop and enhance their careers whilst studying at Masters level.

    Each artist on the MA Fine Art programme negotiates a personal course of study some participants use the first (experimental) stage of the programme to include work in previously untried media so as to challenge and expand the way that they usually work - others develop ideas which demand the use of media and processes that are new to them.

    Student learning is supported through an excellent provision of individual and group tutorials, reviews, critiques, lectures and seminars. All Fine Art staff are practicing artists, and each student is allocated a personal tutor whose research interests align with their own.

    Employers value postgraduate qualifications as indicators of high-level skills, knowledge, academic maturity, intellectual ability and commitment. On completion of the programme graduates have gone on to undertake commissions, exhibit their work regionally and nationally, and to take up a variety of opportunities in the cultural industries.

    Course Content

    Stage 1
    Postgraduate Certificate (PgC) 60 credits

        * Teaching is through Critical Studies, negotiated study and directed learning

    The Critical Studies modules (20% of programme in total), focus on an analytical and critical re-examination of contemporary and emerging issues in art and design. This element of the programme, which is designed to support individual student's practice, is undertaken alongside MA Glass students.

    Stage 2
    Postgraduate Diploma (PgD) 60 credits

        * Stage 2 is an opportunity for continuing analysis, questioning and research, designed to test and deepen your personal practice

    In Stage 2, in addition to the continued development and testing of student's own work, a unique feature of the MA Fine Art programme at the University of Sunderland is the focus on a range of issues relating to professional practice.

    External professionals including curators, artists, gallerists and arts entrepreneurs give talks and practical workshops on a range of topics from fundraising to self-presentation. Students also have the opportunity to take part in external professional events, these have included exhibitions at Nissan NMUK, and the Customs House Art Centre, South Shields, where they take responsibility for curation and all practical details. MA Fine Art students also have the opportunity to develop proposals for a site-related art competition at South Tyneside Hospital Trust and in 2004 four students were awarded bursaries that have enabled them to refine their proposals towards realisation.

    Other students have taken up opportunities to work in educational settings including gallery education, mentoring Art and Design Foundation students and leading art projects in a special school. Everyone who took part in these opportunities gained new insights, knowledge, skills and ideas that contributed to their ongoing personal practice as well as to their knowledge of the artworld and provided real practical and aesthetic experience that will underpin their future careers.

    Stage 3
    Masters (MA) 60 credits

        * Teaching is through negotiated and directed learning

    Stage 3 culminates in a Public Exhibition following an intense period of work during which you will find a form for your ideas that will communicate your intentions to the audience.

    Students work as a group to realise the practical issues relating to the Public Exhibition. Curatorial/aesthetic issues are the responsibility of individual students.

    You will write a short, critical report that will record the progress of your work and ideas throughout the programme.

    Stage 3 of the MA Fine Art programme culminates in the final Public Exhibition where students exhibit the results of the intense engagement with their work and ideas that the programme provides an experience that will have been demanding, productive, enriching and some have said life changing.

    Teaching and Assessment

    The MA Fine Art programme is based on student's individual projects, supported by seminars, individual and group tutorials, critiques, lectures, group work and a Visiting Speaker programme.

    Studio work is assessed in Stages 1 and 2 through a studio presentation of artworks. Critical Studies modules are assessed in the form of presentations that are then expanded into short essays.

    Critical Studies modules are taken in the company of MA Glass students, this provides a broader platform for discussion of issues relating to contemporary Art and Design.

    The Public Exhibition (80%) and a written report (20%) form the basis of the Stage 3 assessment.

    Students who wish to transfer to one of the other MA programmes in visual arts may do so at the end of Stage1 or Stage 2.

    Work Experience

    You can undertake placements at Stages 1 or 2, organised either by yourself or by the University.

    We have good links within the region including:
    # The Customs House Art Centre in South Shields (exhibitions and placements)
    # South Tyneside Hospital (site-related commissions and prizes)
    # Nissan (exhibitions)
    # Tudor Grove Pupil Referral Centre (workshop placements)

    # Art in Northern Churches.

    Career Opportunities

    Graduates from this programme have gone on to practice as artists, to undertake commissions, to direct and manage community arts initiatives and projects, and to a wide range of self-employed and employed opportunities within the cultural industries.

    Supplemental Information

    Employers value postgraduate qualifications as indicators of high-level skills, knowledge, academic maturity, intellectual ability and commitment. On completion of the programme graduates have gone on to undertake commissions, exhibit their work regionally and nationally, and to take up a variety of opportunities in the cultural industries.

    Each year, visits are organised to major art events in the UK and there is an annual international visit, and these have been made to New York, Barcelona and Berlin.


    The Fine Art department has excellent workshop facilities for printmaking, sculpture and digital media (video etc).

Other programs related to Art

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