MA Fine Art

MA Fine Art determines and challenges the boundaries of art while locating theory at the centre of practice. In a dynamic learning culture that celebrates diverse backgrounds and ambitions, you’ll develop a critical art practice that will shape your career as an international artist. The MA Fine Art studios are located in an independent building in Archway, so the course offer allows students a self contained studio building facilitating their independent working practices and self-organisation alongside all the benefits of the King's Cross campus.

This course is part of the Art programme.

Scholarships, Awards and Funding available:

The Mona Hatoum Bursary

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships:
Home/EU | International

Caspian Arts Foundation Visual Arts Scholarship
Cecil Lewis Sculpture Scholarship
Jane Rapley Scholarships

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.

MA Fine Art interim show.

Enterprising Practice: Postgraduate Breakfast at Show One 2015

Martin Cordiano, MA Fine, 2013

Reasons to Apply

  • MA Fine Art enables you to pursue your studies whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities. You are expected to commit 30 hours per week to your studies; your taught input will normally be scheduled over a maximum of two to three days per week during term time. 
  • You’ll be part of our Postgraduate Art Programme, which offers valuable opportunities to build transferable professional knowledge and skills through shared units, reading groups and debates and helps establish stimulating and productive networks.
  • You’ll benefit from our professional practice lecture series featuring guest speakers plus opportunities to attend symposia and critique work in progress across different subject areas.
  • Our graduates exhibit widely and participate in residency programmes, performance festivals and practice in the community as well as pursuing careers as critics, writers, curators, teachers. Some progress to further research degree study.
  • You’ll develop your research skills including interviewing, literature search and review, archival skills, software for use in research and e-resources, feasibility studies, data analysis, referencing, citation and bibliographic conventions, and ethics.
  • Recent graduates of the course are regularly featured in exhibitions such as Bloomberg New Contemporaries and the Threadneedle Prize.


Course Leader

Louisa Minkin

Course Location

King's Cross and Archway, London. 

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course LengthPG Cert: full time over 15 weeks Masters: full time 2 years (60 weeks)
Home/EU Fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £4,500 per year. Please note that fees for subsequent years of study will be subject to an inflationary increase of up to 5%.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

International Fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £11,510 per year.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

Start DateSeptember 2017
Autumn Term DatesMonday 25 September 2017 – Friday 8 December 2017
Spring Term DatesMonday 8 January 2018 – Friday 16 March 2018
Summer Term DatesMonday 16 April 2018 – Friday 22 June 2018
Application Route

Direct application

Content and structure

Synergies in our Fine Art Programme - incorporating BA Fine Art, MA Fine Art, MA Photography, MA Art and Science, MRes Art: Exhibition Studies, MRes Art: Moving Image, and MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy - create a dynamic context for exploring practices and issues within contemporary culture.

In its extended full-time mode MA Fine Art gives you the flexibility to access London's richly varied opportunities for work and study while maximising your personal and professional development.

MA Fine Art provides an extensive final unit of 120 credits (45 weeks) enabling continuous development and realisation of a significant programme of work.

MA Fine Art supports and is shaped by:

  • Diversity of professional directions, aspirations and cultural perspectives
  • Reflective research-based practice including writing as practice in fine art
  • An interrogation of what informs making and how making generates knowledge
  • Independent study and practice and critical reflection on definitions of art and its potential within social space
  • Exploration of the parameters of contemporary art, building on knowledge of the contexts and frameworks of practice
  • Dialogue to determine the conditions of possibility for contemporary art.

About this course

  • MA Fine Art lasts 60 weeks structured as two consecutive periods of 30 weeks each (i.e. two academic years) in its 'extended full-time mode.'
  • MA Fine Art is credit rated at 180 credits, and comprises 3 units. Unit 1 (40 credits) and Unit 2 (20 credits) run concurrently and last 15 weeks. Unit 3 (120 credits) follows after the completion of Units 1 and 2 and runs for 45 weeks.
  • Students successfully achieving Units 1 and 2 may exit at this point with the award of Postgraduate Certificate.
  • All three units must be passed in order to achieve the MA, but the classification of the award of MA derives from the mark for Unit 3 only.

In year one we expect you to commit an average of 40 hours per week. In year two your study is predominantly self-managed but we expect you to commit an average of 20 hours per week. Across the two years, therefore, you're expected to commit an average of 30 hours per week.

Course rationale

Artists today recognise the breadth and diversity of the social, cultural, economic and technological contexts for contemporary art. This MA Fine Art course engages with and contributes to change and development in the expanded field of art. Although its core concern is with practice, it promotes the hybrid nature of current art practices by exploring the boundaries of, and the interface between, art and critical ideas.

MA Fine Art actively promotes its identity as a multidisciplinary course focusing on criticality and process through a flexible, mobile approach to contemporary fine art practice and its discourses. We support innovative and experimental practice through the application of ideas, media and materials. At graduation you'll have achieved a resolved level of critical thinking, deepened your understanding of contemporary debates and research methods, and made your practice more professional.

International contemporary art increasingly celebrates the integrated nature of theory and practice. Central to your experience of the course is a growing awareness of the relationship between these elements. MA Fine Art provides a unique and challenging environment in which to establish agendas that will shape the cultural environment of tomorrow.

Course outline

MA Fine Art combines an innovative experience of fine art practice with the integral development of research and writing skills. You can work in and across disciplines that include painting, video, film, installation, sculpture, photography and electronic media.

MA Fine Art emphasises individual learning by negotiating an approach to practice and theory with you. It means you'll be able to locate your practice in the professional and intellectual contexts within which you'll operate as an artist. This commitment to individual practice acknowledges the international models of art practice that inform contemporary art's debates.

MA Fine Art attracts applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities. Influences from this diverse intake resonate within each cohort and are key to driving the course's agendas and debates, transcending disciplinary or cultural boundaries. The postgraduate course's critical approach is based on theoretical and analytical discourses that, in today's global art world, reflect influences from beyond Europe and North America.

From the outset, an essential programme of study develops your research skills and knowledge of research modes in art-related fields. Your learning extends across our Postgraduate Art Programme, offering invaluable opportunities for peer association and familiarisation with the college's research community. Research underpins the critical exploration of your work, its structuring, context and communication, and drives insight into contemporary cultural debates.

MA Fine Art supports the development of your thinking and practice through a study plan or 'study statement', introduced and developed during the first 15 weeks. The statement helps you manage your individual practice and articulate concerns as they arise or develop. Your practice is supported through lectures and seminars exploring key theories and critical issues with a range of specialist staff and visiting speakers.

Your study statement, considered alongside work in progress, leads to an agreed individual study programme for Unit 3. This programme addresses your learning and aims as a whole, taking in ideas, research methods and projected forms, as well as the theoretical and professional contexts for your practice.

Unit 1 - Introduction to Critical Practice

Drawing on tutorials, critiques and technical workshops, this unit enables you to orient and develop your practice by investigating and implementing practical and critical processes in line with the aims set out in your study statement.

Seminars focus on critical reflections on art, contemporary debates and current themes, developing your ability to evaluate and progress your practice in relation to external bodies of knowledge while building articulacy in critical discussion and writing. You're encouraged to identify, analyse and engage with creative problems.

Your practice is supported and challenged through group discussion. Workshops equip you to implement your studio practice in tandem with your developing critical awareness. There are opportunities to work with key institutions - you're encouraged to engage with these both individually and collaboratively in line with your developing professional interests.

Your work in progress informs the production of your study statement, supported by studies in the parallel Unit 1, addressing issues of relevance, validity and feasibility.

Unit 1 is assessed through a body of written and practical work, including your study statement. Feedback at this point confirms your study programme or advises on developments as appropriate.

Unit 2 - Thinking as Practice (Research Methodologies 1)

This unit, common to all courses within our Postgraduate Art Programme, helps you engage with the postgraduate and research community at CSM.

Unit 2 introduces the fundamental research skills that enable you to make informed decisions about appropriate methods to use in your chosen area of study and your professional future. The unit examines specific research skills and different kinds of research. Skills and knowledge areas covered include interviewing, literature search and review, archival skills, software for use in research and e-resources, feasibility studies, data analysis, referencing, citation and bibliographic conventions, and ethics. Seminars and workshops emphasise participation and the building of core research skills through practical exercises and small group projects.

Lectures ask how arts research and discourse is developed, shared and understood. The focus is on methods of learning, thinking, evaluation and interpretation as both practice based and theoretical forms of enquiry. The diversity of research activity at CSM provides a broad range of models and examples, with particular attention given to the place of practice in research projects.

Unit 3 - Realisation of Research and Practice

This unit has two parts. You'll undertake the first in the second half of year one and the second (more independently) in year two. The unit's 45 weeks represent a major opportunity to bring your practice to a level of resolution. The first 15 weeks focus on your developing practice according to objectives defined in your study statement and the aims of your research paper. The unit takes an ambitious approach to practice, heightening your awareness of current ideas in the professional arena.

Work in progress is reviewed at the end of year one. Outstanding issues affecting agreement of your study programme are negotiated and resolved at this point. Your study agreement includes a commitment to forms of submission and to appropriate mentoring and supervision arrangements.

During year two you're supported in the production of a body of work for exhibition, and in the completion of your agreed written work. Support takes the form of tutorials, technical advice, and bookable workshops.

A spring term exhibition or symposium bringing together staff and peers from across the Postgraduate Art Programme, as well as professional practitioners and critics, challenges you to debate key questions arising from your work. Student directed, this initiative offers useful experience of the skills required to organise a professional event and to present and discuss your work.

By the end of Unit 3 your exhibition and written work reflects a synthesis of reflexive, conceptual, practical and professional abilities. Your mark for Unit 3 determines the classification of your MA award.


Our Postgraduate Art Programme offers valuable opportunities to build transferable professional knowledge and skills. The exchange of perspectives with others through shared units, reading groups and debates helps establish stimulating and productive networks.

The focus on proposing and developing a major independent programme of study is supported by a shared professional practice lecture series featuring guest speakers plus opportunities to attend symposia and critique work in progress across subject areas. The Postgraduate Art Programme has wide-ranging links with professional organisations, collections and galleries, and includes opportunities for interaction and networking according to your personal career direction.

Career possibilities for fine art graduates have expanded in recent years in line with increased opportunities in contemporary arts generally, in London and internationally. Alternative pathways for MA Fine Art graduates include residency programmes, performance festivals, teaching, and practising in the community. There are also opportunities in critical writing, curating and further research degree study.

Recent MA Fine Art alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of student activity within the subject, with many of our fine art graduates prominent in galleries, competitions and events.

In 2007 Mark Melvin won the Nationwide Mercury Art Prize, Gemma Pardo was selected for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries, and Ayan Farrah founded Front Room Projects. In 2008 Sachiyo Nishimura was selected for New Contemporaries. In 2009 Maurice Citron was part of the Saatchi New Sensations show with his work being seen on Channel 4, and New Contemporaries showcased work by students Johanna Piesniewski and Hannes Ribarits. In 2010 graduates exhibited widely - shows included Bibi Katholm at 2 Taekker Space, Berlin, and the Vegas Gallery, London, and Filipo Caramazza at Hayles Gallery, London. Students Francesca Simon and Gwen Yip were shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize 2010.

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit the Student Jobs And Careers section.


Entry requirements

Selection to MA Fine Art is determined by the quality of your application (including a written indicative study statement and supporting material). You'll also need to meet the minimum entry requirements as indicated below, but please note that these qualifications alone won't be sufficient to secure entry to the course.

Minimum entry requirements

We consider applicants who have already achieved an educational level equivalent to an Honours degree. You can demonstrate this educational level by:

  • Having a relevant Honours degree or an equivalent academic qualification
  • Having a professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required
  • A combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning that, taken together, can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required

English language requirement

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you send us an English language test score together with your application to prove your level of proficiency. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please clearly indicate this on your application form. When you have received your test score, please send it to us immediately. The standard English language requirement for entry is IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in any one paper, or equivalent. For further information visit the Language Centre website.

Applicants who will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa should check the External English Tests page which provides important information about UK Border Agency (UKBA) requirements.

What we look for

We're seeking imaginative, resourceful individuals who are committed to exploring art practice.

Student selection criteria

Your application, indicative study statement and supporting material will be assessed for:

  • The quality of the applicant's practice
  • The appropriateness of the applicant's skills, experience and practice to the area of interest identified for development in the course
  • Effective communication of intentions, purposes and issues
  • The level of contextual awareness and expression of perspective
  • The potential for realisation of the stated objectives within the timeframe of the course and envisaged resources
  • Evidence that the applicant has the confidence and ability to benefit from and contribute to the learning environment at postgraduate level.

The interview (for applicants selected following submission of the application form, indicative study statement and supporting work) is used to evaluate the extent to which a candidate demonstrates:

  • A thoughtful and responsible approach to practice
  • The capacity for independent research
  • Appropriate critical and reflective abilities
  • An awareness of the cultural and social context within which they practice
  • Appropriate communication skills
  • A preparedness to participate caollaboratively in debate, practice and presentation

Portfolio and interview advice

The portfolio you submit as part of your online application should include up to 20 images of your work. Those working in film and video should submit a compilation show reel lasting not more than ten minutes.

References and interviews help determine whether your personal and professional aspirations are compatible with the aims and outcomes of the postgraduate course. The interview also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate an objective, critical and reflective relationship to your work. If possible, it's a good idea to bring examples of current work (e.g. since application).

MA Fine Art welcomes discussion with potential applicants about the appropriateness of their initial proposals. We encourage applicants to use every opportunity to make contact with us before applying.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form: 

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history
  • Referee details (this course requires two references, at least one of which should be an academic or professional reference).

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form.

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a confirmation email that includes links to where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Indicative project proposal

Briefly describe the project that you are interested in undertaking and developing, including the following: 

  • Overall aims, objectives and rationale
  • Personal relevance of work proposed: refer to your skills /experimental /experiential background and plan for continuing professional /educational development 
  • What areas of fine art will your work investigate, contribute to and/or challenge?

Methods and resources

  • Briefly explain your proposed approach, demonstrating an awareness of planning and timescales, including the following:
    any problems you may encounter and how you hope to solve them
  • what resources will be involved, for example materials, processes, archives, collections etc

Sources and references

Indicate the importance and relevance of previous related studies by providing evidence of key texts, (theories/ approaches/ sources

Any final points

Please briefly indicate any particular questions or further points in relation to your project intentions


We would like to see up to 20 images of your work. Those working in film and video should submit a compilation show reel lasting not more than ten minutes. Your portfolio should evidence your current creative practice.

Please note, you can submit text and as many website links as you need to, but the portfolio form does not allow you to upload files.

Start your application now

Applications can be submitted throughout the academic year. Places are limited, however, so we advise you to submit your application as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Deferred entry: Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required.

What happens next?

We read and consider all application forms and personal references. Please note we give particular attention to your Project Proposal and references.

Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your study statement and documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview. For candidates applying for external funding, interviews will be scheduled prior to funding body deadlines.

Can't attend the interview

If you're a home/EU or international applicant unable to attend for interview, the MA Fine Art Course Leader would hope to discuss your application by telephone.

In the case of applicants unable to attend for interview and unable to discuss their application by telephone, a decision regarding the offer of a place on the course will be made on the basis of a review of the application materials. We keep notes about decisions made following the initial application review and the interview process.

Selection is by two members of staff (normally the Course Leader and one other), and offers of places are made on the basis of our selection criteria. Applicants are informed of the decision via either the Student Administration or the International Office.

Open days

Open days are a great opportunity to meet staff and students and to find out at first hand about courses, teaching and student life. Visit the open day section for dates to book your session. Bookings can only be made online, not by phone or email.

Industry collaborations

Working with paying clients on live briefs will give you valuable commercial experience which may mean your work being taken forward for production or, if so desired, in the purchase of your intellectual property. All paid projects are conducted within a carefully developed legal framework, which includes student agreements to protect your work and help you realise its commercial value. 

Recent client projects in the Art programme include: Red Mansion Foundation. Find out more about the Dr Martens client project.

Once you’ve graduated, you may be picked as part of a small team to work on a live creative brief, organised by our Business and Innovation department, under the supervision of an experienced tutor. This can be a valuable first step in working professionally in a chosen discipline and has resulted in graduates being hired by clients.

Enquire about this course

If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for or want to ask us a question about this course, please fill out our enquiry form.

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