Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products - MA

Course Overview

The essential course information

Award:
MA
Attendance:
  • Full Time (1 year)
  • Part Time (2 years)
School:
School of Jewellery
Faculty
Birmingham Institute of Art & Design
Campus:
School of Jewellery
Course Graphic - Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products MA

MA in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products is the overall title of the course. Jewellery and Silversmithing is the conventional means of defining the products. This is however a very limited and traditional description when one considers the wide variety of products that are within the province of the designer who has knowledge and expertise in the area of personal ornaments, body signification and decorative metal objects. The variety of materials, manufacturing techniques and processes available to the designer in this field is far larger and of much greater potential than is indicated by the term ‘jewellery and silversmithing’ and has some affinities with industrial design, fashion design, fine art and sculpture and is often informed by intellectual engagements like general philosophy, conceptualisation or critical theory.

The creative industry for the provision of jewellery, silverware and associated products is characterized by diversity of possible applications and markets. It comprises craft workshops, exhibiting studio artists, designer maker workshops, designer of innovative products for galleries, mail order outlets, luxury brand retailers and high street shops. There are also industries related to jewellery and silversmithing, which include clocks and watches, small sculpture, souvenirs and other decorative items. Another aspect related to our subject area, which gained commercial and critical momentum in recent years, is the hybrid area related to fine art and fashion.

The course philosophy addresses the existing and potential relationships within this sector, and educates its students to recognize, identify, understand and operate within this diversity. The philosophy of the course is embodied within a structured project programme that requires students to address vocational and academic research in design by applying their developing abilities and interests to a wide range of issues. Design experiences include ideas generation focused through strategies for concept development, the analysis of design problems and reflection on the relationships between personal objectives, cultural values, market identities, prototyping techniques and new technologies, thus enhancing knowledge and understanding, as well as facilitating the formation of professional studio methodologies.

At Postgraduate Certificate level, students apply concept origination and development techniques, prototyping facilities, market and other research techniques to facilitate the development of individual design projects.

At Postgraduate Diploma level, students apply new and unfamiliar technologies and skills, project planning techniques and strategic thinking to further develop their individual design strategy, which informs the direction of personal and professional objectives and studio practice.

At Master of Arts level, students apply accumulated contextual information to the conduct and documentation of a Major Design Study, which addresses the relationship between individuals' skills and objectives, professional planning and career aspirations.

School of Jewellery website

MA 2011 catalogue (1)

MA 2011 catalogue (2)

MA 2010 catalogue

MA 2009 catalogue

Key Facts

  • Jewellery and Silversmithing is the conventional means of defining the products but the variety of materials, manufacturing techniques and processes available to the designer in this field is far larger and of much greater potential.
  • The course address the existing and potential relationships within the specialist area of jewellery, silversmithing and related products.
  • Provides structured, project-based activities which develop creative, design and making skills and enhance your professional skills.

Why Choose Us?

  • The School of Jewellery has been located in the heart of Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter since 1890, an inspiring location for your studies.
  • Staff are experts in their field and support award-winning students through their chosen course and into professional life.

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

Candidates must satisfy the general admissions requirements of the programme:

  • A good degree in Art and Design or recognised equivalent subject (degrees in business related and other theoretical subjects without evidence of advanced creative practice are not recognised as equivalent subjects).
  • International students must hold a qualification recognised as graduate status and agreed by the Academic Registrar. The must also have appropriate English language skills.
  • Candidates may be admitted without a first degree via APEL/APL subject to agreement of the Academic Registrar, eg high level of educational, industrial, or professional experience.
  • A study proposal that indicates development potential supported by evidence of high level creative work.

Initial selection is made from evidence given on the application form and the submission of a portfolio/CD-Rom showing recent work and indicating possible future developments.

The applicant should be able to provide evidence of experience as detailed below:

  • The interview is an opportunity for applicants to show a selection of their work and the portfolio. In the interview the applicant is expected to be able to verbalise work related content, context, development potential and their personal, as well as professional, aims and objectives.
  • The portfolio will need to indicate the following:
    • Creativity and imagination, leading to practical experience in three dimensions and an interest in skilful technical application.
    • Demonstrating the ability to generate ideas and pursue considered design development.
    • An ability to use primary research methods in drawing or other visual means to communicate and develop ideas. It is essential that this is demonstrated in the work itself and not by using desktop publishing, website design or any other commissioned or external visual help.
    • Evidence of a working familiarity with basic artistic concepts/concerns, such as colour, texture, pattern, dynamics, structure etc. This may be documented in two or three-dimensional work.
    • Evidence of a working familiarity with basic artistic concepts/concerns as they relate to theoretical and art historical concerns.
    • An indication of enthusiasm and motivation towards, plus enjoyment of, creative professional work – An inquiring attitude to the creative process is likely to result in knowledge of other creative media like fashion, fine art, sculpture etc. and an understanding of more intellectually driven working methodologies.

Application Details

Please apply direct to BIAD via our Admissions office. For more information please contact BIAD Admissions Office. Tel: 0121 331 5150 / Email biad.admissions@bcu.ac.uk

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. Application forms are available from BIAD Admissions or can be downloaded here:

Application form for postgraduate courses

Guide to the Design Process and Portfolio Preparation

Design is not a simplistic step by step process, however it can be broken down "into the following elements: Analysis, Research, Concepts, Development Evaluation.

This stage is quite likely to be done in conjunction with the Research element, the one feeding the other. Ask yourself what the brief is actually about. Is there only one obvious answer? Are there likely to be many answers or interpretations? What are your immediate responses? Perhaps you might care to write down a list of pros and cons. Quite possibly after this, on further reflection, your reactions and interpretation of the brief will change; it is very likely to do so once you begin to undertake some research. Above all, have an enquiring and lively attitude to it all.

Research

a) Search for relevant examples in response to the brief. These may be directly related to the brief. Find exciting examples of other designers work. Always keep a reference of where you found the information and who the designer is. Notes relating to materials, finishes, mechanisms are also important Some honest personal observations give research a point - what have you learnt from the research? Present what you have found in a visually stimulating manner. Start to build up a visual reference library of ideas/shapes/forms etc.

b) Technical researches - read and digest. Be selective. Choose relevant points, and summarise the information which you feel will be useful for that particular brief.

Generation of Ideas and Concepts

Recognise and respond to what you would like to achieve and what is required by a brief. Set realistic limits. Concepts often develop after some research has been carried out; you may spot an area of potential that has been untapped until now.

It is important that you explore a number of ideas in order to be selective - remember that you are selecting the idea with most development potential. These ideas will be in the form of sketches or may still be in the research phase, eg when exploring an articulating piece of body adornment, there are a number of areas you could look at - armor, natural forms such as insects, skeletons, the tailoring of clothing etc. Lateral thinking is required - word association exercises are often useful. You may find it useful to analyse the brief by brainstorming diagrams - do this and write everything down. This can help to narrow down a brief and force you to question exactly what is required. Keep these as a reference to come back to if you find yourself going round in circles. They can be used as a quick way of rationalising and visually/verbally explaining the project to someone else.

Idea Development

This is also more formally known as synthesis. You should be pulling a number of ideas together in a recognisable form e.g. a drawing or a soft model. As synthesis begins, ideas will probably be confused, disorganised and over complex. It is via drawing and modelling that you are able to organise and re-organise thoughts quickly and easily. At this stage your ideas do not necessarily need to be recognisable as '"products" ¬ - they may still be abstract. Recognise when you can move forward more quickly via drawing or modeling. Try to advance your work into 3D modelling or in drawing form by acknowledging how junctions of materials work. Expand and extend your drawing work into details - which can quickly lead you to rationalise your design. Drawings can deceive - get into 3D as soon as possible - spend time manipulating the materials.

Keep an open mind so that modifications can be incorporated into your work through the interaction that occurs between you the designer/maker, and the material. You may discover some aspect you had not previously considered.

Evaluation

This comes at the completion of a project. Be as objective as you can. Refer back to the original brief and your research notes. Does your solution answer the brief? Is it innovative, visually interesting, economic, viable, dangerous, successful, unsuccessful? Of course nothing in design is ever quite as black-and-white as that but be as honest with yourself as you can. By recognising faults you can improve on weaknesses and build up strengths.

Visual Work

Should you be interested in applying you need to send the finished application form and a portfolio showing your work (this could be in a CD-Rom format, using PowerPoint). The application should provide evidence of academic, visual and practical experience.

Our MA in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Product emphasizes the individual and so your portfolio should visualize your unique way of how you generate and process ideas, and your aims and objectives of what you want to achieve in this one year of advanced and self-directed studies.

Your portfolio will need to indicate the following:

  • Creativity and imagination, leading to practical experience in three dimensions and an interest in skilful technical application.
  • Demonstrating the ability to generate ideas and pursue considered design development.
  • An ability to use primary research methods in drawing or other visual means to communicate and develop ideas. It is essential that this is demonstrated in the work itself and not by using desktop publishing, website design or any other commissioned or external visual help.
  • Evidence of a working familiarity with basic artistic concepts/concerns, such as colour, texture, pattern, dynamics, structure etc. This may be documented in two or three-dimensional work.
  • Evidence of a working familiarity with basic artistic concepts/concerns as they relate to theoretical and art historical concerns.
  • An indication of enthusiasm and motivation towards, plus enjoyment of, creative professional work – An inquiring attitude to the creative process is likely to result in knowledge of other creative media like fashion, fine art, sculpture etc. and an understanding of more intellectually driven working methodologies.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2014 FT 1 year MA £6,000
Sep 2014 PT 2 years MA £3,000 per year
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2014 FT 1 year MA £10,500

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.

For information on fees please contact BIAD Admissions. Tel: +44 (0)121 331 5150. Email: biad.admissions@bcu.ac.uk

Birmingham City University Loyalty Bursary 2014/15

Birmingham City University is offering a loyalty bursary of up to a maximum of 10 per cent off the published postgraduate and research degree 2014/15 full-time fees. Students entering a part-time option of a course may be offered up to 50 per cent of the equivalent full-time bursary.

Criteria
  1. You must have studied and been awarded an undergraduate degree from Birmingham City University. (For example: BA (Hons), BSc (Hons), BEng (Hons), BMus (Hons), BEd (Hons) or an LLB (Hons).)
  2. You must be progressing without interruption directly from your undergraduate degree to an art and design postgraduate course (Graduate Diplomas are not eligible for this award).
  3. You must have a Home or EU fee status.
  4. You must have met all of the course requirements and hold an unconditional offer for the art and design postgraduate course for which you are applying to enter in September 2014.
  5. The Postgraduate Loyalty Bursary is not available to students entering the MArch and PgDip/MA Landscape Architecture programmes in 2014/15 but is available for the MA Zero Carbon Architecture and Retrofit Design programme.
  6. If you subsequently withdraw from or interrupt your course you may have to pay back the bursary awarded.

This loyalty bursary will be reviewed each year and can be withdrawn by the faculty at any time.

Birmingham Institute of Art and Design - Dean’s Discretionary Scholarship for Taught Postgraduate and Research Degrees 2014/15

Birmingham Institute of Art and Design is offering an additional discretionary scholarship of up to a maximum of 10 per cent off the published Postgraduate and Research Degree 2014/15 full-time fees of the Faculty, in addition to the existing 10 per cent loyalty bonus offered by the University.

This applies to home, EU and international students but all applicants would normally meet the criteria set out below:

Criteria
  1. You must have studied and been awarded a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.
  2. You must be progressing without interruption directly from your undergraduate degree to a BIAD postgraduate course.
    OR
    You must be progressing without interruption directly from your postgraduate degree to a BIAD research degree.

The Executive Dean will consider progression with interruption on a case by case basis.

  1. You must be able to demonstrate exceptional commitment to Birmingham Institute of Art and Design and your subject. This must be supported and evidenced by your Course Director.
  2. This applies to Home, EU and International students.
  3. You must have met all of the course requirements and hold an unconditional offer for the BIAD postgraduate course or research degree for which you are applying to enter in September 2014.
  4. If you subsequently withdraw or interrupt from your course you may have to pay back the bursary awarded.

This scholarship will be reviewed each year and can be withdrawn by the Faculty at any point in time. To find out more about eligibility for the discretionary scholarship either contact us by calling +44 (0)121 331 5803 or email john.salmon@bcu.ac.uk.

Financial Support

Postgraduate students must find ways of funding their tuition fees and living costs rather than relying on government grants and loans. We offer further information on possible financial support.

International Students

International Students at BCU

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 reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

University Approach to Employability

Our close links with business and the professions mean that our courses are always relevant, up-to-date and meet the exact needs of the current marketplace. Wherever possible, we involve employers in planning the curriculum, while many of our lecturers come from and maintain their links with industry, ensuring they are up to speed with the latest developments.

Employability will be an integral outcome of your studies.

Employment Opportunities

Our graduates work for companies such as Cartier, H&M, Domino and Bicknells.

Graduates of the course with appropriate skills, knowledge and understanding will be able to develop of their own practice, either full or part time, as artists or designer makers; generate and facilitate industrial, design-orientated and artistic change through the creation of innovative products and objects; lead product development and initiate technology transfer in either the designer-maker or the artist-maker sector, the design-led product or the volume market.

Further Studies

For further information on courses Tel: +44(0)121 331 5595 or go direct to the courses section of the website.

Course Structure

As well as jewellery and silversmithing, there are affinities with industrial design, fashion design, fine art and sculpture and by intellectual engagements of general philosophy, conceptualisation or critical theory. The philosophy of the course is embodied within a structured project programme that requires students to address vocational and academic research in design by applying their developing abilities and interests to a wide range of issues. Design experiences include ideas generation focused through strategies for concept development, the analysis of design problems and reflection on the relationships between personal objectives, cultural values, market identities, prototyping techniques and new technologies.

Course Modules

The structure of the course, the modules, levels and credit ratings, and the awards, which can be gained are shown below. Personal Development Planning is an integral part of all modules. Successful completion of Level 1 leads to the award of Postgraduate Certificate, successful completion of level 2 leads to the award of Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Diploma and successful completion of Level 3 leads to the award of a Master of Arts or Master of Arts with Commendation/Distinction. Part-time study follows the same pattern of levels and awards but over a total period of two academic years.

Full-time or Part-time

The course can be followed either full-time or part-time with the possibility of changing from full to part-time attendance and vice versa at the end of each examined level if circumstances require it. Alternatively, there are negotiated arrangements between an individual student and the Course Director that are timetable negotiated and are likely to include aspects of distance learning or in-company experiences.

Credits and Awards

Module 1 - Design Project: Diagnostic: 15 credits
Module 2 - Design Project: Design Development: 30 credits
Module 3 - Research Project: 15 credits
Award: Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)

Module 4 - Design Project: Research & Innovation: 45 credits
Module 5 - Professional Practice Project: 15 credits
Award: Postgraduate Diploma (60 credits)

Module 6 - Master Design Project: 60 credits
Award: Master of Art

Course Module Descriptions

Postgraduate Certificate

Module 1
Design Project: Diagnostic
Two design projects emphasise the origins of design ideas. These comprise of a project based on previous experience which demonstrates current design development skills, and a diagnostic development project that addresses design development, visual research methodologies, aims and ambitions, critical contextual and cultural considerations.

Module 2
Design Project: Design Development
The project requires students to identify and design a product/object or range of products/objects, investigate and describe its contexts and aesthetic identity. The researched material, material investigation and possibilities of technical application inform the design development process.

Module 3
Research Project
Seminars, tutorials and workshops are structured around the research needs of students, the development of whose own research ideas is an essential ingredient. The module covers subjects such as definitions and applications of research methods, the planning and management of research projects, the identification of sources of information and their analysis, and the presentation of research findings.

Postgraduate Diploma

Module 4
Design Project: Research and Innovation
This module provides the opportunity to expand the student's range of technical knowledge, including development of a broader understanding of the use of up-to-date technologies, manufacturing processes and materials leading to experimental product/object development.

Module 5
Professional Practice Project
This module gives an introduction to professional practice in relation to presentation skills, professional appearance, interview experience and public lecturing. The module requires reflection on appropriate research methodologies, dissemination techniques and contextual practice in relation to the students’ already developed design projects.

Master of Arts

Module 6
Masters Design Project
This module requires the consolidation of an individual design brief, including self-directed research and experimentation necessary to inform the project for advanced aesthetic and functional problem solving culminating in the presentation of a body of work. An accompanying Design Report records the progress and resolution of the project, including contextual and market related research.

Assessment Methods

Studies include structured, project based learning activities which develop creative, design and making skills, research and investigative abilities, evaluation and independent learning to an advanced level. It includes individual and group tutorials, tutor-led and student-led seminars, lectures, and workshops as well as report writing and project work.

Case Study Graphic - Drew Markou

Drew Markou

Graduated in 2012

Drew Markou is a self-employed artist and jewellery designer-maker. Since graduating, Drew has gone on to wow crowds at the RHS BBC Gardeners' World Live show, where his design was named 'Most Creative Small Garden', winning a Silver Gilt award.

For me my MA was a milestone in achieving a higher level of education and thinking about the way in which I work. It was vital for me to gain a greater understanding about my own art and design work as well as a greater understanding of the context and industries in which it fitted. Without undertaking my MA I would not have been able to achieve this.

After I finished the course, I successfully applied to become an artist in residence at the School of Jewellery, as well as setting up as a self-employed designer-maker. I also got accepted onto the Craft Council's Hothouse scheme, which offers support to emerging designers.

It's going really well – I've been accepted into exhibitions in the UK, the USA and parts of Europe and also major selling events in the UK. That's really how it is as a designer-maker – you have to stick with it and just get your stuff out there.

Enquiries

Prospective students from the UK or EU
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
Prospective students from non-EU countries
  • International enquirers from non-EU countries may enquire via the International Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us +44 (0)121 331 6714.

Prospectus

For an overview of our postgraduate courses and a range of other information please download our Postgraduate Prospectus (6Mb).