Our MA Art and Design: Interdisciplinary Practices develops your professional practice while engaging with the hybrid nature of art and design in contemporary culture. You will apply art and design methodologies to challenge conventional viewpoints. A multidisciplinary team of expert staff encourages you to work across mediums, processes and working methods (such as photography, installation, print, digital media, sculpture, illustration, curatorial practice, textiles, drawing, sound, graphic design, site-specific art, participatory arts or 3D design).
This stimulating course offers you an education in contemporary art and design from an interdisciplinary perspective. You will be supported as creative individuals from a range of tutors and practitioners, with the aim of pushing your existing practice in new directions. The course helps you develop a wider contextual understanding of your practice, while gaining strong research skills in order to develop interdisciplinary projects underpinned by contextual and theoretical debates.
You will be encouraged to develop independent study in relation to different cultural perspectives and a range of contemporary art and design practices, such as fine art, curation, visual communication, fashion, product and interior design.
Our graduates progress into many different careers including graphic design, independent contemporary art practice, typography, gallery education, arts administration, event management, photography, community arts and education. Our course prepares you for life as a creative professional, a PhD researcher or work in other career areas.
There is scope to work on external live projects and our academic staff are highly experienced with national and international research profiles.
Programme Leader, Andrew Gillespie is a contemporary artist. He has recently exhibited at the New Art Gallery Walsall and also runs Recent Activity, an artist-run initiative based in Birmingham.
Year on year our programme has achieved high rankings and favourable responses in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES). Overall full time student satisfaction in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) 2015- 16 for Art-based Masters programmes was 82%.
The school achieved high scores in areas such as staff enthusiasm and support, enhancement of academic abilities, research skills development, student experience and quality of delivery.
We also achieved high levels of achievement and success in other areas such as 42% of our students graduating with Commendation and 47% of our students graduating with Distinction. The survey results also reflected high levels of employment and employability as a result of studying the course.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Course Director: Andrew Gillespie.
Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate open day.
This course is in the final stages of approval to ensure it meets the very highest standards of quality, creativity and applied learning.
BA (Hons) Degree in Art and Design, Fine Art, or other Arts-based Degree course, related subject. The minimum academic qualification required is a 2:2 award. Those with equivalent prior professional or life experience will also be considered.
|MA||Sep 2019||FT||12 months||£7,100 per year|
|MA||Sep 2019||PT||24 months||£3,550 per year|
|MA||Sep 2019||FT||12 months||£12,300 per year|
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.
You are required to submit a digital portfolio of no more than 12 high quality images of your recent art and design work. You may submit it as a power-point, comparable form of presentation such as Prezi or direct us to your website.
If you are working with video or sound you must submit a show-reel of selected work no more than 20 minutes in length.
All items must be accompanied by the title of the work, date, media, and size. For time-based work you must state the length of each individual work.
Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.
Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?
Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.
Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.
Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?
You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.
The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on your course. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.
All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.
On receipt of your application form, your application will be considered and you may be called for interview. After interview, if you are considered suitable for the course you will receive an offer of a place.
We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?
All art-based Master’s (ABM) programmes consist of two core modules (specialist and discipline specific); two common core modules (followed by all students) and a range of option modules (shared by all students) from which you choose to undertake one in stage one.
The art-based Master’s programme is an integrated framework that allows you to build your own course of study in the modules you choose. You will have an opportunity to engage with students from diverse learning and professional experiences. Various freestanding options are available.
Advanced Practice 1
This module is self-directed and allows you to build on your artistic practice in relationship to a range of option modules thus helping to challenge your thinking whilst re-orientating your practice through experimentation in relationship to theory and context. You’ll have an opportunity to acquire new skills in other media.
Select one option module.
See modules tab for full list.
You will take the Advanced Practice 2 module, plus Research in Practice (40 credits).
Advanced Practice 2
This module builds on Advanced Practice 1 and helps you develop and evaluate your artistic practice in relationship to your developing research. You will deepen your knowledge and understanding of art practice towards the production of a body of work that culminates in an interim show open to the public.
Research in Practice
This module introduces you to various research strategies in the arts via sessions on methodology, writing and making workshops and student led seminar presentations. It enables you to adopt approaches applicable to your own artistic practice and assists you in applying the knowledge you have gained in a productive way.
Major Presentation / Dissertation
This module marks the culmination of your study and enables you to bring your work to fruition through the synthesis and resolution of your artistic practice or dissertation. You will work with other students to organise a final public exhibition as a means of showcasing the work you have done.
The Art Based Master’s Programme is an integrated framework that allows you to build your own course. Core modules in any given course become option modules in all other courses. You will have an opportunity to engage with students from diverse learning and professional experiences. Optional modules are subject to availability.
Contemporary Philosophy and Aesthetics
This module examines why and how the fine arts can be explored when the foundations of modern and contemporary political philosophy and its relation to the social are at the forefront of scholarship. It sets the stage, epistemologically and methodologically, giving you a critical knowledge of the complexities underlying our contemporary world.
Creative Publishing and Public Dissemination
This module explores publishing as a dynamic contemporary art-form, a vehicle for disseminating ideas and an exploration of radical formats for bringing your art to a wider public arena. Emphasis is placed on practical outcomes and the exploration of creative modes of dissemination whilst exploring contemporary debates surrounding artists' publishing.
Discourses in Art and Design
This module examines key concepts in western art and design from mid-nineteenth century onwards. Through chronologically arranged presentations, topical issues are introduced from across art and design. Indicative topics include: the western canon; approaches and methodologies; design ethics; the changing role of the artist; primitivism and ethnography; postmodern fashion and gender.
Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice
The module examines: curatorial practice and exhibition making; the museum and gallery as context and framework; artist-run space; the rise of the artist/curator and alternative curatorial practices and contexts; curating for new media and technologies and craft and design. It considers issues of audience and project development for social inclusion.
Photography as Research
Employing theoretical and practical methods this module explores the spectrum of therapeutic photography when the image is a tool for enhanced self-awareness. A key question concerns the role of the technology of photography in framing our world. The module therefore examines the ethical and participatory concerns of therapeutic photographic practice.
Queer Strategies in Practice
This module explores queer models of practice that examine the complex relationships between image and text, making and writing, modes of representation, performativity and queering. Indicative topics: historical representation and societal change, queer practices beyond representation, queer figures, affective reading, contemporary art, activist and interventionist strategies, film and collaborative practice.
Small Arts Business Set-up
This module explores entrepreneurship and small business start-up within the arts and creative industries and how entrepreneurial ideas are formed. Indicative topics: arts and creative industries; cultural entrepreneurs; economic development role of entrepreneurship within the arts, creative industries and society; practicalities of business start-up and business operations within the sector.
Social Practice in the Visual Arts
This module examines art as social practice and models of art practice in social contexts: urban, rural and transnational contexts and places of labour, health, post-conflict and post-traumatic societies. It considers the history and development of social practice and the impact it has as a generative and transformative artistic activity.
Technical Methods, Workshop Practice and Learning
The module is workshop-led e.g. print, plaster, lens based, digital media, 3D modelling and printing that enables you to engage in practical hands on experience. You will demonstrate the breadth and depth of what you have learned by developing a portfolio of evidence recording your engagement with processes or skills.
Art and Transcultural Communication
This module provides a grounding in arts and transcultural communication, using artistic practices and discursive frameworks to highlight and examine issues related to linguistic, curatorial and artistic communication. Communication, but also translation and interpretation intended from a linguistic, visual, cultural and curatorial perspective, are crucial when working internationally (and locally) with different communities. The purpose of the module is to prepare you to work effectively in a transcultural global environment.
Preparation for Masters Practice (Extended PgCert Module)
This module has been designed to enable you to engage with the ABM Programme over an extended period. It enables you to review your practice in response to the demands of Master’s study and introduces you to contemporary ideas in art and theory enabling you to develop your study plan.
On this course, you’ll learn by taking part in a variety of activities, including:
Full-time students have access to the School daily. Part-time students are expected to be on-site on Tuesdays and on evenings throughout the week depending on which taught modules they choose.
Part-time students have open access to the facilities. Some students use them one day per week, others throughout the week. Part-time students have the opportunity to work on-site in the summer months in the run up to the final shows.
Full-time students are expected to commit a minimum of 20 to 37 hours per week to their study, whereas part-time students are expected to commit approximately 10 to 18 hours per week. However, this is flexible depending on the choices you make and your work pattern as you move through the programme of study. You will find that everything is negotiable and we are here to enable you to achieve your goals.
Articulation of Ideas (100%)
At Level 7 the category ‘articulation of ideas’ involves the examination of your ability to research, conceptualise and realise your ideas in your arts based and/or written practice.
This process is additionally informed by your Critical Evaluation of your own work in which you are required to take a step back to reflect upon and critically evaluate what you have achieved.
Teaching will be dynamic, collaborative and exploratory, providing a platform for the independent development of your practice.
You will be involved in group tutorials and student-led seminars that invite you to present your research and practical work for the group to consider and critically evaluate. The intention here is to share your ideas with other people who become critical friends to help you think through your work in new ways.
Throughout the course, students are encouraged to make public exhibitions and events, opportunities to test and to showcase work. Alongside this, students are invited to contribute to the Interim Show as well as the Final Masters Exhibition. These are well-attended public events that attract people from all over the region and further afield.
Our students have a reputation for being ambitious and year on year our shows are exciting and thought provoking. All of our students work towards the shows with support of the technical support team and you will be enabled to test out your work and gain feedback from your peer groups, academic staff and the public.
As a result of the final shows numerous students have gone on to establish their profiles internationally.
Visual artist Claire Hickey makes self-responsive sculptural objects, installations and multiples. Her residency and exhibition venues have included AirSpace Gallery; RBSA Gallery; Kingshurst Arts Space; National Trust’s Croome Court; Women’s Art Library and the Museum of Motherhood. She co-founded Make/Shift/Space, a portable structure hosting artists’ public projects.
As an Art Based Master’s student you can study abroad through the Erasmus + scheme. This enables you to work abroad in an institution or professional organisation or one of our many international academic institutional partners for example in Rotterdam, Gent, Dublin and Rome. You’ll be expected to research their proposed destination before making an application in consultation with your Course Director. The study period may be organised during or upon completion of your course and can last for up to 18 months. It offers a unique opportunity to network, make friends, enhance your CV and experience new cultures.
By joining this world-leading research environment, you will be eligible to apply for the prestigious Midlands Three Cities Consortium (£14.6million research fund) AHRC doctoral training award. This consortium enables strong research within the Midlands. A significant number of graduates have been highly successful as doctoral researchers receiving fully funded scholarships from Birmingham City University, the AHRC and the Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest.
As a Master’s student, you’ll benefit from the trips run annually by Birmingham School of Art. Recent visits have included: Berlin, Florence, Liverpool, London, New York and Venice. However, you’ll be encouraged to operate independently and visit regional and national cultural centres such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon, Eastside Projects, the New Art Gallery Walsall, Nottingham Contemporary, Tate Modern, ICA, Tate Liverpool and independent and alternative spaces in Birmingham and beyond.
Graduate employment is high. In the 2014-2015 DLHE survey 100% of full time and 87% of part time students who joined the Art-based Masters programme graduates were in employment with graduates from 2013-2015 earning between £20,000 and £35,000 per annum. A high number of 2014-2015 graduates reported that the programme prepared them well or very well for employment.
While most artists are self-employed many already have or wish to gain employment in a range of related professions across the creative industries. Some people are looking for ways to enhance their skills set, some are seeking ways to advance in the profession they already have whilst others are seeking a change in direction enabling them to do what they have dreamed of.
The acquisition of transferrable skills: creative problem solving; communication and presentation skills; adaptability and flexibility; independence and teamwork and good time management is important. Specific modules have been designed to address employability e.g. Managing Arts Events and Projects; Technical Methods, Workshop Practice and Learning; Small Arts Business Set Up and Creative Publishing and Public Dissemination.
From the sample detailed in the employability section a significant number of our graduates have become highly successful arts professionals. Numerous others have been employed in a number of other professions including:
A significant number of our graduates have been appointed in Higher Education Institutions nationally and internationally.
Placements are one of the possible ways of fulfilling your Research in Practice module and numerous students across the ABM Programme have chosen this route. There is scope for placements with a number of organisations in the city and beyond, however it is your responsibility to plan and organise your placement with the organisation you wish to work with. Placements can last for a few weeks or last for a longer period of time. They provide you with a great opportunity to gain insight into how an organisation works and your reflection on their activities can be useful to them as you develop your research. You will also find that this is a great way to meet and network with people in the creative industries. Our members of staff are able to guide and support you through this process.
Flora works at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in the Learning Department. Her art and design practice involves printmaking, visual communication and spatial design. Flora’s BA(Hons) was in Visual Communication and Illustration.
Flora’s practice considers the changing role of Art and Design education and emerging interdisciplinary course structures. She explores how practitioners use space within art institutions and how the functionality of space has evolved to reflect the needs of practitioners and art educators. Flora asks what this means for the future of the Art School. Her interdisciplinary practice uses illustration and printmaking to design a flat pack style, functional workspace that reflects the professional reality of today’s artists and designers – encouraging social awareness and trans-disciplinary or collaborative projects.
Images: Flora Kay (2016) / Flora Kay (2016)
Jo is a visual artist, illustrator and costume designer. She teaches on the BA (Hons) Illustration course at BCU and her previous collaborations have included clients such as Royal Shakespeare Company, Crafts Council, Welsh National Opera, ITV London, Tatler and Cosmopolitan.
In 1993 Saddam Hussein systematically converted 6000 square miles of wetlands in Southern Iraq into a desert, removing all natural life and reed beds. This displaced the Nomadic Marsh Arabs known as the ‘Ma‘dan’, completely annihilating a 5000 year old culture. Jo says of her work, “I aim to challenge how people think about the every day life of the ‘Ma‘dan’ with the aim of preserving and protecting this unique community of nomadic craftsmen and women”.
Images: ‘Nomadology: Wandering Habitats 2’ (2016) / ‘Nomadology: Wandering Habitats 2’ (2016)
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Many graduates continue as practising artists and work in arts-related occupations, it is anticipated that students graduating from the course would pursue careers in the creative industries, graphic design, textile design, photography, digital design, exhibiting artists as well teaching. Others are encouraged to pursue higher or research degrees.
With our partners, New Arts West Midlands and Eastside Projects, our students are actively linked with up-to-date local and regional opportunities. We maintain excellent connections with major institutions such as Ikon Gallery, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Selfridges, Birmingham City Council, the Lunar Society, the Longbridge Light Festival, Birmingham Hippodrome to name a few. We are also members of the Colmore Row Business District.
The School works with Savills, Capsticks, Associated Architects and Deutsche Bank who sponsors of an annual award (£10,000) to support artists’ career development. Numerous graduates have achieved excellent profiles as professional artists in the sector.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
The Art Based Master’s Programme is an international community of aspiring researchers and professionals and the programme attracts candidates from all over the world including: Africa, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Taiwan and the USA. This diversity provides you with an opportunity to study with people from diverse social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and who bring a wealth of experience to the programme. This gives the ABM programme a dynamic energy that enriches everyone’s educational experience.
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.
Birmingham School of Art (an impressive purpose built Grade 1 listed example of Venetian Gothic architecture) was the first major renovation project undertaken by the university (£5.5m refurbishment). The School provides an incredible resource for the production of art and its associated fields of study. The building has a range of facilities available including studios, workshops, specialist art and design library, bookable spaces and lecture/seminar rooms.
The building is open Monday to Wednesday 8am – 10pm and Thursday from 8am- 8pm and Friday from 8am to 7pm.
Full Time students have access daily across the week whereas Part Time students are expected to be on-site on Tuesdays and also on evenings across the week, depending on which modules they choose to take.
Part Time students have open access to the facilities and while some students are only available to attend one day and evening per week, others use the facilities across the week. Part Time students also have the opportunity to work on-site in the summer months when there is more flexibility in the space available, which is particularly helpful in the run up to the final shows.
The MA Art and Design: Interdisciplinary Practices staff team are regionally, nationally and internationally recognised for their expertise and experience in a range ofpractical, professional and theoretical specialisms including digital media, textiles, critical design, curating, fine art, drawing, installation, photography, print, and critical writing. Programme Leader, Dr Daniel Hinchcliffe co-edited the book ‘Speculative Strategies in Interdisciplinary Arts Practice’ and was previously Head of Visual Arts at the Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts.
Lisa holds a B.Soc.Sci in Media, Culture and Society, an M.A. in Fine Art and a Ph.D. in Art and Design. She is an artist and lecturer specialising in the relationship between practice and theory within Art and Design. Her research through art practice PhD: ‘Glittering Orientations: Towards a non-figurative queer art practice’, was completed in April 2014.
Lisa is currently directing her attention to what slips by exploring (dis)orientation and how we might experience provisional embodiments through encounters with non-representational art. Her work is particularly informed by the tensions between queer theory and phenomenology and how what we 'know' might be usefully troubled by what we 'feel'. Other interests include fabulation, secret languages, vulnerability and critical design. She also writes about werewolves.