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Postgraduate Contemporary Arts and Music

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  • Entry requirements
    We welcome enquiries about these programmes and are happy to meet informally with you to show you around the facilities and talk through any aspect of the course. In many cases, prospective students sit in on MA classes to get a sense of what we do and to talk to current MA students. Please feel free to email any questions or telephone to talk to us about the courses. You can apply online or phone to ask for an application form. We welcome applications from experienced artists and composers who may not have conventional qualifications.
  • Academic Title
    MA / PGDip Contemporary Arts and Music
  • Course description
     MA / PGDip

    The MA in Contemporary Arts and Music is one of four taught postgraduate courses for artists, composers and interdisciplinary practitioners offered by the School of Arts and Humanities at Oxford Brookes University. The other three courses are:

        * MA in Composition and Sonic Art
        * MA in Contemporary Arts
        * MA in Social Sculpture.


    These interdisciplinary courses broaden awareness of cross-art-form concerns, question the boundaries of contemporary art practice, provoke shifts in perception and help to develop work which is relevant to contemporary life. A concern for location, context and audience is central. All projects culminate in a public presentation or performance.

    A special feature of these courses is the MA forum, in which students and staff meet to discuss each other's work in a supportive and stimulating environment. Students are offered the opportunity to spend a semester at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. Students have 24-hour access to excellent studios and workshops. The courses are situated in the Richard Hamilton Building on our beautiful Headington Hill site, one and a half miles from Oxford city centre.
    Course content

    MA Contemporary Arts and Music students take two compulsory modules - Creative Strategies, and Research and Development - together with one of three elective modules and an appropriate Major Project.

    PGDip students take one compulsory module - Research and Development - together with one of three elective modules.

    Modules may change from time to time; an indicative list is shown below.

    Interdisciplinary modules

        * Creative Strategies is shared by all four MA programmes. This module explores methodologies and strategies for generating contemporary and cross-art-form work, sonic art and musical composition, social sculpture and related expanded art practices. You are encouraged to become aware of your working process as a creative practitioner and to understand the influence that certain methodologies and strategies have on the kind of work that you do. Through individual and collaborative practice-based work, staff-led seminars and feedback discussions, attention is focused on how we generate practice-based work. Strategies that encompass the intuitive, spontaneous, interventionist, discursive and analytical are used, individually or in collaboration with others.
        * Research and Development provides the opportunity to identify an area of interest as a starting point for  investigation and speculation. You will develop project proposals through deliberate, rigorous and sustained research and exploration. The module emphasises practical research processes relevant to your own concerns.

    Specialist modules

        * Contemporary Practice in Art and Music allows you to explore your conceptual concerns and develop your technical skills as they relate to a specific aspect of creative practice. You will develop a body of practical research and reflect upon this through seminar feedback sessions and by articulating, in a written self-evaluation, the concerns in your evolving practice. In addition, you will pursue a research topic that explores contemporary practice, for instance through the analytical study of the work of a composer or artist, or by considering in detail an issue that can be identified in cross-art-form and interdisciplinary practices.
        * The Theories and Practices of Social Sculpture explores the idea of social sculpture with special reference to the proposals, projects and legacy of Joseph Beuys, and examines the broader field of expanded art practices. You will have the opportunity to study relevant theoretical and philosophical frameworks underpinning these ideas, and to examine contemporary research and practice that explores the relationship of social sculpture to ecological sustainability. You will also explore relevant practice-based methodologies and research strategies as the basis for developing your own practice-based, interdisciplinary social sculpture and expanded art projects.
        * Composition and Sonic Art Practice explores a range of conceptual approaches to your practice in a series of group seminars and individual tutorials informed by relevant technical and theoretical discourses. You can focus on acoustic composition, electro-acoustic composition, improvisation, work with live electronics, sound art, or any combination of these. Site and context will be discussed as essential elements in an artist's frame of reference. You will develop a body of practical research, which may include scores, recordings, video documentation of installation works, and reflect upon this through seminar feedback sessions.

    At the end of the course there is an annual degree festival of the MA work. The Major Project is the culmination of your course of study. You can take an active role in organising, marketing and running the festival, which in previous years has taken place at a variety of sites around Oxford, as well as in the Arts Department's exhibition spaces.
    Teaching, learning and assessment

    Our teaching methods include:

        * lectures and seminars
        * team teaching in group seminars, involving research methodologies for practice-based research
        * feedback from staff during group feedback sessions, in which staff provide constructive criticism and analysis of your work
        * staff-led group discussions arising out of students' practical work presentations
        * individual tutorials that address your research concerns
        * introductions to creative strategies for generating and making practice-based work
        * introductions to the technical facilities of the Department of Arts
        * induction sessions with subject librarians.

    The learning methods include:

        * regular forums where staff and students formulate and articulate responses to work
        * creative practice presentations
        * presentations of practical research
        * the researching and writing of reports, assignments and evaluations
        * private research and study
        * presentations to peers and group feedback.

    The assessment methods include:

        * practical presentations of resolved artworks
        * written self-evaluations for each creative project
        * a written research portfolio
        * written assignments and reports
        * a final presentation of practical work as part of the MA exhibition/event.

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