History and Theory in Art and Design - MA

Full Time, Part Time
September 2016, September 2017
£6,500 for UK/EU Full Time 2016 entry (view all fees)

MA History and Theory in Art and Design has a well-established and long-standing reputation. This specialist course enables you to research particular aspects of art and design from the early modern period to the present day through the exploration of a number of discourses, whilst considering the changing paradigms of twentieth century and twenty-first century art and design in relation to social, political, cultural and theoretical issues.

What's covered in the course?

This stimulating course offers you a specialist education in History and Theory in Art and Design. The course has a long-standing reputation within the University and the region. William Morris’s daughter May famously taught needlework at Birmingham School of Art, while its alumni include the renowned artist Edward Burne-Jones, stained-glass designer Florence Camm and Arts and Crafts furniture-makers Ernest and Sidney Barnsley.

Given the region’s historical position as 'the workshop of the world', this rich local tradition makes the course distinctive, as does its focus on the history and theory of art and design. You will have the opportunity to personalise your learning through the modules you choose. This prepares you for life as a professional art and/or design historian, a PhD researcher or professional in other career areas.

There is scope to work on external live projects where the module requires it and the public dissemination of your work is encouraged. The staff team is highly experienced with national and international research profiles, for example the course director Dr Sue May is a widely published Renaissance scholar.

You will be located at Birmingham School of Art (Margaret Street), a fine example of Venetian Gothic architecture and an impressive purpose built Grade I listed art school.

The course was clearly structured and well organised. It presents a wide range of topics of current academic interest, delivered by high quality scholars from both within and outside BCU. This gave me the confidence and support I needed to complete new research, leading me towards preparation of a publication and a PhD. The environment at the School allows one to mix with and learn from others who are art practitioners, art educators and students of philosophy (amongst others): as such, my eyes were widened more than I had expected when I signed on the dotted line. Andrew Pottinger, PhD candidate, graduated with distinction

Why Choose Us?

  • Birmingham School of Art is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for art-based learning and research.
  • You will become a valued member of the Centre for Fine Art Research.
  • The History and Theory in Art and Design course is aimed at those from both theoretical and practical art and design disciplines or related fields of study who wish to strengthen their theoretical and historical knowledge-base.
  • You will be able to investigate debates in the field, art historical canons and methodologies and analyse case studies from visual culture in their socio-political and cultural contexts.
  • You will be able to interact with students from other Master’s courses in the School of Art and the wider faculty/university.
  • You will be supported by a highly professional staff team in a caring and supportive environment.
  • We have strong links with international galleries, museums and the wider arts community.
  • A high number of graduates have been awarded fully funded Arts and Humanities Research Council and Birmingham City University Scholarships for PhD study.
  • Financial support for full time study may be available via Birmingham City University Scholarships and the Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest.
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Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be in Autumn 2016. The date will be confirmed soon and registration will open shortly.

In the meantime, register your details and we'll contact you when more information is available.

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This course is open to International students

School of Art

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Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

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New £10,000 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,000 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Entry Requirements

UK students

We would normally expect you to hold either a good first degree in a relevant subject, or equivalent qualifications or experience.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2016 FT 1 year £6,500
PT 2 years £3,250 per year
Sep 2017 FT 1 year TBC
PT 2 years TBC

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2016 FT 1 year £12,000
Sep 2017 FT 1 year £12,000

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Additional costs

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 specific courses. 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.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is available part-time

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

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.

For more information please contact the School Admissions Office. Tel: 0121 331 5150 / Email art.admissions@bcu.ac.uk

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

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?

Postgraduate loans

Stage 1: PgCert

All Art Based Master’s (ABM) courses consist of two core modules (specialist and discipline specific); two common core modules (followed by all ABM students) and a range of option modules (shared by all ABM students) from which you chose to undertake two in Stage 1. You may also follow another option module in Stage 2. 

Discourses in Art and Design - core module
30 credits

Through a series of themed presentations, this module examines art and design from the early modern period to the present day in the light of socio-historical context and appropriate discourses. The following topics are indicative: the western canon; design ethics; craftsmanship; architecture and stylistic revival; the changing role of the artist.

Select two option modules
15 credits

See option modules tab for further information.

Stage 2: PgDip

Changing Paradigms - core module
30 credits

This module explores visual culture past and present focusing on methodologies and historiography of the disciplines. Various analytical tools include iconographical analysis, formalism, semiology, queer theory and the social history of art and design. Sessions address identity construction through fashion, the problematics of nationhood, cultural politics, gender/performativity, exhibitions and globalisation.

Research in Practice - common core module
15/30 credits

This module enables you to develop and apply the knowledge and understanding you have gained and introduces you to research strategies in the arts in a series of methodology talks, workshops and student led seminars. It gives you the opportunity to adopt approaches in research applicable to your own activities.

Select one option module
15 credits

You will select one option module, but only if Research in Practice is followed at 15 credits.

See option modules tab for further information.

Stage 3: Masters

Final Presentation or Dissertation

This module allows you to build on the knowledge gained so far and enables you to synthesise and resolve your artistic practice or dissertation. You will work together to organise a public exhibition, develop an equivalent presentation or submit a dissertation. You may also present both practical and written work.

Option modules

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.

Art in the Public Realm
15 credits

This module addresses ways in which art can be mobilised to improve people’s lived experience. It considers how notions of the public, public and community art are defined and examines issues and debates of inclusion, access, identity/difference, government and regional arts policy and the importance of documentation, accountability and evaluation.

Arts, Health and Therapeutic
15 credits

This module explores art and the therapeutic benefits of making, practice as a set of three activities concerning the relationship between three elements: the creator, the art object and another who facilitates. The module explores professional meanings and theoretical frameworks, equipping you with the knowledge to negotiate the field.

Arts Policy and Cultural Planning
15 credits

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 Curatorial Practice
15 credits

You will work collaboratively to present/develop artworks that relate to a specific context or setting whilst developing an awareness of issues of space, place and location and the interrelationships between individual works in a given site or context. You will work as a team toward the realisation of the project.

Contemporary Philosophy and Aesthetics
15 credits

This module examines why and how the fine arts can be explored when the foundations of modern/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
15 credits

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.

Global Innovations in Arts Practice Education
15 credits

This module examines arts and education since 2000. It maps contemporary educational and artistic trends, and the political and cultural contexts within which art education is located internationally. Indicative topics: Governmental initiatives, new technologies, globalisation, intercultural considerations, application to contexts, formal school-based, museum and gallery education and participatory community arts.

Managing Arts Events and Projects
15 credits

This module examines the role of events and exhibitions: selecting venues, interpersonal skills, audience development and qualitative and quantitative analysis. The module explores concepts and themes in event management: developing relationships, integrating multiple sub-events, sustaining and developing brands. You will also consider the marketing, planning, managing and evaluating of events.

Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice
15 credits

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.

Narratives in Arts and Design Education
15 credits

This module explores histories of art and design education between the fifteenth and late twentieth centuries. Narrative themes are introduced in relationship to art and art educational practices and the influence of educational beliefs upon the nature of art education. These periods and influences are also examined within ideological/cultural frameworks.

Photography and the Archive
15 credits

This module explores the relationship between photography and the archive, the definition and application of documentary photography in relationship to the archive through theoretical and practical methods. It interrogates ideas of objectivity and indexical veracity, demanding an inquisitive approach to questions on the uses of historic and contemporary archive material.

Photography as Research
15 credits

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
15 credits

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
15 credits

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
15 credits

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.

Strategic Marketing for the Arts
15 credits

The module addresses the central role of marketing in modern business and explores the design and construction of brand identities, the role of creativity in advertising and marketing, and the importance of understanding consumers. Indicative topics: advertising; marketing strategy; market research and consumer psychology in the arts and creative industries.

Technical Methods and Workshop Practice
15 credits

The module is workshop-led and enables you to engage in practical hands on experience in media such as print, plaster, lens based, digital media, 3D modelling and printing. 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.

Untimely Meditations
15 credits

This module focuses on exploring the shift from an understanding of identity, selfhood and sexuality, as linked to representational logics, to introduce you to non-representational methods of practice. You will investigate the radical consequences of such moves to re-situate time, space and speed as relative conditions to identity and art.

Well-being and Mindfulness: Context and Environment
15 credits

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 embeddedness of contemporary art as collective and shared.

Preparation for Masters Practice (Extended PgCert Module)
15 credits

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:

  • Independent learning
  • One to one tutorial support
  • Group tutorials
  • Taught staff led seminars
  • Student led seminars
  • Studio seminar series (visiting artists/professionals’ talks)
  • Lectures and conferences
  • Library research/resources
  • Field trips (where appropriate).

Arts Based Masters brochure

Student stories – Lisa Travers

Studying art history with Birmingham City University quite literally changed my life, giving me the opportunity for a sustained and focussed period of study, which centred on my own interests and artistic aspirations. The research work I began during my studies continues to inform and fuel my work as an artist.

View more examples of student work...

Overseas opportunities

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 your proposed destination prior to 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. 

Further Study

By joining this world-leading research environment, you will be eligible to apply for the prestigious Midlands3Cities Consortium (£14.6 million 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. 

Trips and visits

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. You'll also 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.

Enhancing your employability skills

Studying an arts based Master’s course, will help you to pursue or develop your career in a range of related professions across the creative industries. This course will help to enhance your skillset and employability and either progress in your existing role or achieve your career ambitions in a new direction.

Many of our graduates have achieved regional, national and international recognition as professional artists in the creative industries sector. Several modules on this course have been specifically designed to equip you with valuable transferable skills, for example Managing Arts Events and Projects; Contemporary Curatorial Practice; Small Arts Business Set Up and Creative Publishing and Public Dissemination. These transferable skills include:

  • Thinking in a creative, imaginative and speculative manner.
  • Demonstrating communication and presentation skills in practical, written and verbal forms.
  • Demonstrating adaptability and flexibility in a range of contexts.
  • Reflecting and communicating in an articulate, informed, confident and effective manner.
  • Working independently while demonstrating initiative and self-reliance.
  • Demonstrating motivation, organisation, planning and effective strategising skills.
  • Showing a capacity for good time management.

With our partners, Turning Point West Midlands (TPWM), Eastside Projects and The Art Market, our students are actively linked with up-to-date local and regional opportunities.

We maintain excellent connections with major city centre institutions such as Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (BMAG), Selfridges, Birmingham City Council and the Lunar Society, to name but a few, and are members of the Colmore Row Business District.

The School works with Savills, Capsticks, Associated Architects and Deutsche Bank, which also sponsors an annual award of £10,000 to support artists’ career development.

Our highly successful alumni

Rebecca and Craig Struthers

Rebecca's story

Rebecca Struthers tailored her MA in History of Art and Design to study antiquarian horology and is now one of Britain’s leading experts in the field. Managing Director of Struthers London, Rebecca works with husband and master watchmaker Craig Struthers, using the decades of experience acquired between them to combine the fine art of watchmaking with the worlds of goldsmithing, engraving, enamelling and stone setting, joining award-winning design with traditional fine hand skills. Rebecca is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and volunteer researcher and conservator at the British Museum. She has been recognised by the AHRC with the award of a doctoral studentship.

Anneka's story

Anneka French was awarded a Gertrude Aston Bowater Award to study in 2013-14 and won the Dr Robert Boyd Prize and Curated Selection Prize 2014 (Axisweb). She is Editorial Manager at contemporary art magazine ‘This is tomorrow’ and reviews for other publications including Photomonitor and Apollo Magazine. Anneka was writer in residence at In Between Time festival in 2015 and continues to develop an artistic practice through text. She has worked at galleries including Tate Modern, Ikon Gallery, New Art Gallery Walsall, Vivid Projects and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.


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 give you 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 available to guide you through this process.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

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.

Our OpportUNIty students

Two Art Based Master’s students, Jodie Wingham (MA Fine Art) and Tadas Stalyga (MA Radical Media Arts Philosophy) have been employed as workshop mentors.

Graduate jobs

Graduates of MA History and Theory in Art and Design work in a variety of professions, for example lecturing in universities, teaching in schools, researching and writing on art and design, working in museums, galleries and archives, or in arts and heritage administration. Others are practising artists, designers, critics and curators. Many of our graduates go forward to undertake doctoral and post-doctoral research.

Graduate stories – Louise Chapman

Louise is a Lecturer in Costume Design and Making. Her dissertation topic was ‘Coenesthesia and the Gaze: Lace as a Feminized Textile’ and graduated with commendation.

International Students

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:

Our international students

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.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

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.

Learn more about BCUIC

Our Facilities

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, lecture/seminar rooms and ARTicle Gallery.

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.

Social space

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.

ARTicle, our professional art gallery space, has proved a huge success and offers a diverse and exciting variety of shows every month.

Parkside Building

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.

Meet our staff

The staff team is a highly professional and dedicated group of art and design historians, artists, philosophers, theoreticians and educators with extensive expertise within their individual specialist subjects and fields of research (see the CFAR website for details). As an MA History and Theory in Art and Design student you will encounter a diverse range of staff members depending on which choices you make. You will be able to request tutorial support from other relevant academic and technical members of staff and the PhD student group if it is important to your study.

Dr Sue May (Course Director) is a specialist in the visual culture of the Renaissance. The staff team also includes: Associate Professor Henry Rogers, artist and author: I See What You’re Saying (Ikon), Professor Johnny Golding: The Eight Technologies of Otherness (Routledge), artist and curator Mona Casey, Beth Derbyshire (project development), Professor Jo Longhurst (dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel), Dr Sian Vaughan (Public Arts’ Scholar/Keeper of ADM Archive) and Lee Hewett (creative publishing).

Dr Susan May

Senior Lecturer in History of Art and Design

Sue May is Course Director of the MA History and Theory in Art and Design at Birmingham School of Art. A specialist in the visual culture of the renaissance, she has published detailed analyses of painted, sculptural and architectural programmes, addressing issues of scholasticism and humanism, neoplatonism, theological discourse, cosmology, ecclesiastical history and socio-political context in Rome, Perugia, Florence, Siena and Pienza.

Henry Rogers

Reader in Art and Queer Studies

Henry Rogers is the Arts Based Masters Programme Director, MA Fine Art and MA Queer Studies Course Director and a PhD supervisor in the School of Art, BIAD. In 1987 he gained a first class pass in Drawing and Painting from Edinburgh College of Art where he was awarded the Watt Medal for Excellence in a field of study.

In 1989 he gained a Masters in Painting from the Royal College of Art. In 1990 he was awarded the Mark Rothko Memorial Trust Award to live and work in the USA and in 2001 he became an Abbey Fellow at the British School at Rome. Since 1990 he has worked in art schools in the UK and between 1986 and 2002 he lived and worked in Florence, Paris, New York and Rome.

He is an interdisciplinary practitioner working with drawing, painting, photography and writing. He is concerned with formality, mediation and mimesis in art with particular reference to queer theory and queer strategies in art practice.

The MA Queer Studies in Arts and Culture (an internationally unique M level award) has emerged from his research. He has initiated projects addressing the impact of performance and performativity on art-based production.

Professor Sue (Johnny) Golding

Director of the Centre for Fine Art Research

Professor Sue (Johnny) Golding is the Director of the Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR) and holds the Chair in Philosophy and Fine Art at the School of Art, Birmingham Institute of Art & Design (BIAD). Internationally renowned for her philosophy enactments, installations and sound-scape exhibitions, her research covers the intra-disciplinary intersections of fine art, digital/electronic arts, and aesthetic epistemologies, captured through the lens of contemporary philosophy, meta-mathematics and modern physics.

Her most recent publications include: Dirty Theory: Philosophy After Metaphysics; Fractal Philosophy, Trembling the Plane of Immanence: The Small Matter of Learning how to Listen (or Attunement as the Task of Art); Conversion on the Road to Damascus: Minority Report on Art; The University Must be Defended; and Assassination of Time (or the birth of zeta-physics). Executive Editor of Z e t e s i s: an internationally peer-reviewed journal for contemporary art, philosophy and the cultural condition (London/ Birmingham: ARTicle Press), it foregrounds research driven by experiment, risk and curiosity.  

Professor Golding has Supervised 11 PHDs to completion and, since 1997, has brought in over £900k in research grants. Previously:  Director, Institute for the Converging Arts & Sciences (2009-2012), Professor of Philosophy in the Visual Arts & Communication Technologies (2000-2012 UoG); Teaching Fellow at The Slade School of Fine Art (Jan-June 2011 UCL) and Head of the Theory Department / Lead Researcher, The Jan Van Eyck Academie, Experimental Research in Fine Art, Design & Theory (Maastricht) 1998-2003.  Was awarded an honorary Professorship in Philosophy and Imaging, Dundee School of Art (2009). 

She was born in New York City, lived in Toronto, and took postgraduate/PHD study at the University of Toronto and Cambridge. She lives by the old adage ‘Romanticism is not just for fools and horses; and hindsight is not just 20/20 vision.’

Mona Casey

Course Director, MA Contemporary Curatorial Practice

Mona Casey co-ordinates Slice, which circulates work through exhibitions, publications and online. She is also co-director of The Event, a bi-annual presentation of artist-led galleries and projects in Birmingham.

Beth Derbyshire

Beth Derbyshire

Researcher, Centre for Fine Art Research

Beth Derbyshire is a multi-disciplinary visual artist working in innovative ways in the public realm, embracing subjects such as war, remembrance, nationality and environment.

Professor Jo Longhurst

Artist, Professor of Photography and Fine Art Practice

Jo Longhurst is an Artist, Professor of Photography and Fine Art Practice and Research Fellow at the Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR). She enjoys international recognition for her compelling explorations of ideas of perfection and traditions of photographic practice through photography, video, performance and installation.

Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and events, including Other Spaces, Mostyn, Llandudno; 'The Worldly House', Documenta (13), Kassel; 'Artists' Symposium on Perfection', Whitechapel Gallery, London; 'Photography in Britain since 2000', Krakow 'Cocker Spaniel and Other Tools for International Understanding', Kunsthalle zu Kiel and Ursula Blickle Foundation 'Becoming Animal, Becoming Human', NGBK (New Society for Visual Arts), Berlin; 'New Works: Pavilion Commissions', National Media Museum, Bradford; and 'The Refusal', Museum Folkwang, Essen.

Longhurst studied Russian with Politics at Leeds University, and Photography and Multimedia at the University of Westminster. She gained her PhD from the Royal College of Art in 2008, and between 2008-12 was Leverhulme Fellow at the European Centre for Photographic Research, University of Wales, Newport.

Her work is held in many public and private collections and in 2012 she was awarded the Art Gallery of Ontario's 'Grange Prize' (now the AIMIA/AGO Photography Prize), Canada's highest award for excellence in international photography.

Dr Sian Vaughan

Senior Research Fellow and Keeper of Archives

Dr Sian Everitt Vaughan is currently Senior Research Fellow and Keeper of Archives. An art historian, she has previously worked teaching art and design history in Further and Higher Education. Her doctoral research was in the field of public art: "Defining Roles: the work of the Public Art Commissions Agency (PACA) 1987-1999" (UCE 2007). She has also recently completed a Masters in Education, focusing on the research student experience.

Following a BA in History with History of Art and an MA in History of Art and Design, she joined Birmingham City University in the late 1990s, first as a visiting tutor in art history and then as a Research Assistant on the HLF-funded Public Sculpture Project. She became Research Assistant for the Archives in 2000, promoted to Keeper in 2004 and Senior Researcher in 2010. She was also Acting Course Director for MA Contemporary Curatorial Practice for 2010.

Her current role includes research and consultancy, postgraduate teaching and PhD supervision, and the management of the Faculty's archives and collections (including: collection documentation; staff supervision; facilitating student and public access; exhibitions and dissemination).

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 5975