Our MA Fine Art Master’s course embraces art practice, in whatever form it takes (drawing, painting, sculpture, print, photography, installation, lens-based media, performance, participatory, interdisciplinary and expanded practice) and in whichever circumstance it occurs.
It is conceptual at heart, pursuing strong ideas and challenges of art in real life. The artist Joseph Beuys, working in Social Sculpture, famously said: "Each and every man has the most precious building in the world in his head, feelings and free will. And the French poet Baudelaire said: the best form of art criticism is another work of art."
We agree and so art is considered in relationship to philosophy, art history and theory, contemporary discourse and global contexts, establishing critical frameworks in which artists make work. We also have strong links with art galleries and artists communities, including Eastside Projects led by Gavin Wade and Céline Cordorelli.
This expansive programme offers you a specialist education in Fine Art with both core practice modules and optional modules, that change to reflect contemporary ways of practising. These have included: Philosophy and Aesthetics; Social Practices in the Visual Arts; Creative Publishing; Technical Methods; Small Arts Business Set up; Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice and Photography as Research. These help develop and frame your practice whilst also introducing you to contemporary contexts and debates.
It will enable you to take risks, be imaginative and self reflexive in the development of your work. It builds your confidence, enhances your critical and analytical skills and prepares you for a career in the creative sector.
Numerous alumni have gone on to be successful: presenting work at the Venice Biennale and becoming a Turner Prize judge. Uniquely, you will be encouraged to personalise your learning therefore preparing you for life as a professional artist or PhD researcher. Collaboration and personal development are encouraged alongside attention to pastoral care.
This programme is lead by Esther Windsor a curator, artist and writer with a Practice based PhD in Fine Art and a team of practitioners, including a highly experienced painter and staff located in the knowledge of the regions history of radical practices.
You will be located at Birmingham School of Art (Margaret Street Campus), an impressive Grade 1 listed purpose built resource, with a specialist team of friendly, experienced and dedicated technicians.
"The self-directed nature of the MA and options available allowed me to design my own pathway and enhance my critical thinking in a vibrant and experimental studio environment leading to PhD research. Staff support is second to none and the Birmingham art scene provides access to an established professional network." Grace Williams Graduated - MA with Distinction
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art or Art and Design, 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 2018||FT||1 year||£6,900 per year|
|MA||Sep 2018||PT||2 years||£3,450 per year|
|MA||Sep 2018||FT||1 year||£12,000 per year|
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 artwork. 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.
UK / EU 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.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
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.
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.
For more information please contact the School Admissions Office. Tel: 0121 331 5150 / Email email@example.com
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.
When you complete your application form, tell us something about your artistic, educational and/or professional experience thus far. Tell us why you want to apply to the MA Fine Art course and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your application must be accompanied by evidence of your art-based practice. We require 12 images of recent work on power point. If your work is film based you need to prepare a show-reel and if your work is web-based you need to direct us to it with the appropriate link.
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 chose 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 - core module
This module is self-directed and allows you to build on your artistic practice in relationship to a range of option modules. It helps you challenge your pre-conceptions whilst re-orientating your practice through experimentation in relationship to contemporary thought and global contexts. You may choose to acquire new practical skills.
Select one option module.
See option modules tab for further information.
Advanced Practice 2 - core module
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 - common core module
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.
Select one option module
Choose one option module, but only if Research in Practice is followed at 15 credits.
See option modules tab for further information.
Final Presentation or Dissertation - common core module
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. Various freestanding options are available.
Arts Policy and Cultural Planning
This module examines arts’ processes and contexts and their relationship to the State. It considers the UK’s history of cultural policy since WWII and the impact of the Arts Council. Main themes include: the history of arts policy, contemporary policy‐making, and examining various funding systems to develop successful grant applications.
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: 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 include: 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 Method, Workshop Learning and Practice
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.
Well-being and Mindfulness: Context and Environment
This module explores well-being and mindfulness in relationship to historical and contemporary debates on creative practices that are context based and environmental in nature. The module considers the history of arts practices, land art and environmental art, towards an understanding of the nature of contemporary art as collective and shared.
This module is an opportunity for you to develop skills that will contribute to the acquisition of key graduate attributes. You will be encouraged to engage with an appropriate organisation or community in order to develop a project of a professional standard that you can self-evaluate and reflect upon critically.
The staff team is highly professional with extensive expertise within their individual specialist subjects and fields of research. As an MA Fine Art student you will be able to request tutorial support from other academic and technical members of staff and the PHD student group if it is important to your study.
Learning strategies include:
Full-time students have access to the School daily. Part-time students are expected to be on-site on Tuesdays and on evenings across the week depending on which taught modules they choose.
Part-time students have open access to the facilities some use them one day per week, others across 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.
Core and option theory seminars are run in the evenings, normally from Monday to Thursday, 5 to 7pm or 7 to 9pm in terms one and two. Some seminars run for 10 weeks across the term whilst others are delivered over five weeks and are augmented by a Saturday event 10am to 4pm.
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.
The programme begins with an evening induction event culminating in a meet and greet with drinks and nibbles. You will join our Pecha Kucha sessions where you will be invited to present your work. This is a fun and light-hearted way of introducing you to each other.
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.
There is a fantastic opportunity to show your work by contributing to the Interim Show and the Final Masters Exhibition. Both events are open to the public and they are major well-attended 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 the 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.
Grace is an artist and lecturer, currently based at De Montfort University. After her graduation from the MA Fine Art course she became the Gertrude Aston Bowater award holder for practice-led PhD research working toward the thesis 'The Supernatural Sex: Women, Magick & Mediumship: Assembling a Field of Fascination in Contemporary Art'.
Traversing photography, film and installation her work explores the performance and sexual politics of the female body within the fields of Mediumship (channeling conduits) Magick (Occult, black magic), Magic (vanishing women) and pre-narrative cinema; with a specific focus on the materialising mediums within the Thomas Glendenning Hamilton photographic archive, for which she received the T.G Hamilton research Grant from the University of Manitoba, Canada.
Images: Escamotage / After Cecil Beaton
Losa is a sculptor, installation artist and poet. Her work is concerned with the experience of women in Taiwan and the expectation of traditional gender roles that she works to subvert in a nuanced way through the creation of anthropomorphic post-human creatures and partial body parts. Her work uses a range of material but most commonly involves the use of clay, wax, fabric, text and sound.
Images: Strange Attractors (2016) / Untitled Creature (2016)
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: Rotterdam, Gent, Dublin and Rome.
Candidates are expected to research their proposed destination prior to making an application in consultation with your Programme Leader. The study period may be organised during or upon completion of your programme and can last for up to 18 months. It offers a unique opportunity to network, make friends enhance your CV and experience new cultures.
Many students progress from undergraduate to postgraduate study. For some it is an opportunity to build on what they have achieved so far, for others it is about consolidating what has yet come to fruition. For all it is about identifying new directions within a research context.
MA Fine Art graduates have been highly successful as doctoral researchers receiving fully funded scholarships. By joining us if you decide to progress to higher degree research you will be eligible to apply for the prestigious M3C AHRC doctoral training award (£14.6million research fund) that enables strong research to emerge in the Midlands.
Art-based Master’s students have benefited from the trips run annually by Birmingham School of Art. Recent visits have included: Berlin, Florence, Liverpool, London, New York and Venice. Master’s students are encouraged to operate independently and visit regional and national cultural centres on a regular basis, such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG), Ikon, Eastside Projects, Grand Union, New Art Gallery Walsall, Nottingham Contemporary, Tate Modern, ICA, Tate Liverpool and independent and alternative spaces in the city and beyond.
“Visiting the Venice Biennale was incredible and impacted positively on my approach to my work. There was so much to see and digest and as a part time student the visit came at the right time and in preparation for year 2. It repeatedly informed my work in the second year and gave me great confidence to do what I wanted to do.”
Julie Robertson - Graduate - MA Fine Art
As you study this course you will develop a set of transferrable skills such as creative problem solving, communication and presentation skills, adaptability and flexibility, independence and teamwork, and good time management.
Specific modules have been designed to address employability, for example; Managing Arts Events and Projects, Technical Methods, Workshop Practice and Learning, Small Arts Business Set Up, and Creative Publishing and Public Dissemination.
Placements are one of the possible ways of fulfilling your Research in Practicemodule 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Andrew was previously curator of International Project Space, Birmingham, UK and assistant curator at Norwich Gallery, UK.
He regularly organises independent projects. Freelance exhibitions include The Affirmation, Chelsea Space (2007), Writing in Strobe, Dicksmith Gallery (2006) and Like Beads on an Abacus Designed to Calculate Infinity, Rockwell (2004). Publishing activities include the imprint Slimvolume, produced on a yearly basis since 2001. He is also reviews editor at Untitled, a regular contributor to Frieze, Art Monthly and a number of other journals. He is currently editing three books about contemporary art criticism collectively titled Laboratory of Synthesis with the critic Robert Garnett, to be published by Book Works during 2008 and 2009.
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.
Located next to the city centre’s Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the School is just a five-minute walk from the new Library of Birmingham and Ikon Gallery.
Students benefit from an environment which thrives on the everyday interaction of education, culture and professional practise.
Our studio spaces make excellent use of height and light, and a special screening system allows each full-time student a dedicated area to work in throughout their course.
Workshops include one-to-one technical support and operate throughout the building, allowing you to develop ideas and skills working with print, wood, metal, plaster, photography, video, textiles, 3D printing, laser cutting and prototyping.
The School of Art library contains a wealth of artists’ biographies, catalogues, art and design magazines and DVDs, all of which are updated throughout the year. The library is also linked to others across the University so you can order any additional materials you might need.
A new student-led social space, designed by School of Art students, is a great place to relax, grab a coffee, and catch up with friends. Students also display their work, host film showings and private-view receptions in this space.
There are purpose-built spaces throughout the building to present your work, including areas for cabinet, wall and floor pieces, and installation project rooms.
You will also be able to use facilities at our nearby Parkside Building, a new five-floor campus site packed with fashion design workshops, studios and social ‘collision spaces’ where you can share ideas with students and staff from different courses.
The MA Fine Art staff team have a wealth of experience from a range of practical, historical, theoretical and philosophical backgrounds who work in both discipline specific and trans-disciplinary modes. These modes include drawing, digital media, installation, painting, photography and lens based media, print, sculpture, web-based practices and critical and creative writing. The staff are regionally, nationally and internationally recognised for their expertise in the field.
David studied painting at Maidstone School of Art and sculpture at the Royal College of Art. Cheeseman primarily works with sculpture, installation and photography and his work often has an interdisciplinary focus. He is particularly interested in the methodologies and materiality of science. Cheeseman was awarded the Gulbenkian Rome Scholarship in Sculpture and The Henry Moore Fellow in Sculpture at Coventry University. Last year he completed a residency at The Lydney Park Estate in association with Matt’s Gallery London and also presented a Fig.2 at the ICA in collaboration with Ole Hagan and astrophysicist Roberto Trotta.