Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products - MA

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

This innovative postgraduate jewellery course explores the huge design potential within the area of jewellery, silversmithing and related products.

Based in the heart of Birmingham’s thriving Jewellery Quarter, you will benefit from unrivalled expertise and facilities as you develop your creativity in inspirational surroundings.

The course encourages an entrepreneurial spirit to enable you to set up a successful creative business.

What's covered in the course?

Our postgraduate degree in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products is a highly respected, innovative course which develops your creative potential and in-depth knowledge of theories, processes and techniques.

The focus is very much on developing your entrepreneurial spirit and helping you become the designer you want to be.

You will use a variety of materials, manufacturing techniques and processes, of much greater potential than indicated by the term ‘jewellery and silversmithing’.

The scope for design is very broad and builds on knowledge in the area of personal ornaments, body signification and decorative metal objects.

There are affinities with industrial design, fashion design, fine art and sculpture and content is often informed by philosophy, conceptualisation and critical theory.

Project-based activities will develop creative, design and making skills and enhance your professional skills. You will develop concepts and products, analyse problems and reflect on the relationships between personal objectives, cultural values, market identities, prototyping techniques and new technologies.

The course is based at our internationally renowned School of Jewellery, in the heart of Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter. The historical facade of our Vittoria Street building conceals a contemporary environment including workshops, a specialist library, an atrium gallery and exhibition space.

Why Choose Us?

  • Founded in 1890, our internationally-renowned School of Jewellery is the largest in Europe, located in the heart of Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter. An estimated 40 per cent of British jewellery is still made there today and you’ll gain contacts, inspiration and experience.
  • Staff are experts in their field and support award-winning students through their chosen course and into professional life.
  • The broad scope of design potential gives you the freedom to be creative and develop your own unique style.
  • We have an excellent reputation for highly employable, creative graduates and professional outstanding links with industry to help you develop your career.
  • Our nearby Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) offers expertise in a range of industry-related techniques, including CAD and manufacturing, rapid prototyping, surface finishing, reverse engineering and project management.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Event

Our next Postgraduate Open Event is Wednesday 25 November 2015.

Book your place

This course is open to International students

School of Jewellery

Discover the School of Jewellery

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

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Birmingham City University School of Jewellery
  • Zoila Jewellery

And in jobs such as:

  • Self Employed Artist and Designer
  • Self Employed Jewellery Maker

Entry Requirements

UK students

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).

A study proposal that indicates development potential supported by evidence of high level creative work.

EU/International students

International students must hold a qualification recognised as graduate status and agreed by the Academic Registrar. They 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.

UK or EU students

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

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

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.

Portfolio Guidance

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.

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.


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 - armour, 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 modelling. 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.


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.

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.

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.

Postgraduate Certificate

At Postgraduate Certificate level, you’ll apply concept origination and development techniques, market and other research skills to develop individual design projects.

Modules explained:
Design Project: Diagnostic
15 credits

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.

Design Project: Design Development
30 credits

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.

Research Project
15 credits

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

At Postgraduate Diploma level, students you’ll use new and/or unfamiliar technologies and skills, project planning techniques, prototyping, and strategic thinking to further develop your individual design strategy.

This helps you decide the direction of personal and professional objectives and studio practice.

Modules explained:
Design Project: Research and Innovation
45 credits

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.

Professional Practice Project
15 credits

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 Art

At Master of Arts level, you will use your accumulated contextual information for a Major Design Study, which supports your professional planning and career aspirations.

Master Design Project
60 credits

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.

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.

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.

Full-time or Part-time

Part-time study follows the same pattern of levels and awards but over a total period of two academic years.

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.

Examples of student work

Further Study

We offer a wide range of postgraduate courses, all of which involve innovative research and provide vocationally valuable experience.

You may wish to continue your academic career and apply for a PhD.

Trip and visits

Students take part in a trip to Munich for Schmuck, the biggest and most famous international contemporary Jewellery event of the year. Jewellers travel from all parts of Europe, America, South America and Australia to be part of it.

Nuala Clooney, who is now an Artist in Residence for the School of Jewellery, said: “It is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience the contemporary jewellery world. They get to see work that we normally look at in books or on websites. They get to see what other graduates and students are up to, make contacts, wear a piece of their own jewellery and test it, talk about it amongst experts in the field.

The atmosphere is a friendly and exciting one, which will and does - shake up students to think about their own making practice more. They come back inspired and fired up from being exposed to other people in the field.

Student storiesv Drew Markou

Self-employed jewellery designer-maker

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.

Enhancing your employability skills

The skills you learn help you develop confidence in your style and creativity and you will have the chance to showcase your work and get noticed.

There is a strong focus on developing your entrepreneurial skills and many of our graduates are successfully self-employed.

You will understand the design concepts involved in new product development and have comprehensive knowledge of current practices.

Through the body of work you will have designed and created, you will have developed the creative, imaginative skills necessary to plan, organise, evaluate and implement a chosen design direction.

You will also develop essential networking, communication and presentation skills that are required in a competitive industry.

The course gives you an in-depth knowledge of concepts and theories and develops your creative and critical thinking.

You will have shown you can manage projects from concept to delivery, using the relevant resources and timeframes. These skills are invaluable when working on commissions or design briefs either for clients or companies, or in a self-employed capacity.

The course also helps you to develop a range of transferable skills, such as how to communicate ideas and solve problems, as well as developing negotiation and planning skills.


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.

Graduate jobs

Many graduates of the postgraduate jewellery, silversmithing and related products course become successful designer makers and artists. They generate and facilitate industrial, design-orientated and artistic change through the creation of innovative products and objects; lead product development and initiate technology transfer.

Drew Markou is a self-employed artist and jewellery designer-maker whose work is exhibited internationally. 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.

He said: “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.”

Lucy Harvey completed a commission for the National Glass Centre in collaboration with recycling company, Nulife Glass. The work explored the alchemical processes used by Nulife in separating lead and glass from cathode ray tubes found inside old TVs.

She has showcased her artefacts and jewellery collection at various exhibitions and fairs.

Farrah Al-Dujaili is a British Art Jeweller. She set up her own workshop to continue her practice. Her work has been exhibited internationally in shows including ‘Talente’ and ’25 Years of Galerie Louise Smit’. Farrah was also the recipient of the Art Jewelry Forum ‘Emerging Artist’ award and subsequently had her work exhibited at SOFA New York in 2012.

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 international reputation and outstanding location in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter attracts students from all over the world. Our course is particularly popular with students from the Far East who want to study advanced design techniques from top professionals.

Julia Toledo, Brazil

"After releasing my first jewellery collection in a small home-studio I decided I wanted to engage in further exploration and study of all possibilities of jewellery design. 

"I found out about the School of Jewellery online and after extensive research was really attracted by the idea of studying in a well known university abroad. 

"Through the images and explanations on the MA description online I saw the possibility of opening my practice to a practical engagement between other areas of design such as industrial design, fashion, fine arts and intellectual content that I had not yet applied to jewellery, such as,  philosophy, conceptualisation or critical theory.

"Until then I had never imagined that jewellery wouldn’t 'need' to be a wearable object! Coming to the School of Jewellery was altogether a big challenge, a mind blowing surprise and a great opportunity to let go of old boundaries and explore the new and unexpected field of 'related products'.

"I've joined the team of Artists in Residence at the school, working directly with new MA Students. I have also started my small business where I develop a range of wearable jewellery applying both my jewellery background and the contemporary concepts.

"Since 2013 I’ve joined exhibitions in England and internationally. And have been recently awarded Artistar Jewels 2015 – Best Goldsmith Craftsman Award, and the first prize at Arts & Crafts Design Award – 2014."

Atushi Verma, India

Atushi is now a jewellery designer maker. She said: "I found my way into the western education and now a Contemporary Jewellery Maker, Designer and Artist; looking to create my niche, whilst straddling both my loves: contemporary and 'fine' high-end jewellery."

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

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our jewellery and silversmithing course is most popular with international students from:  


Vittoria Street building

The School of Jewellery's Vittoria Street building is inspirational and functional. A blend of traditional historic and cutting-edge contemporary, it is light, spacious and extremely well-resourced.


An extensive refurbishment programme integrated the Victorian Gothic building of 1863 with the adjacent 1912 extension and a site further down the road. The architects’ success in doing so resulted in awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Civic Trust.

Equipment and Machinery

The Basement contains machinery and equipment that requires higher levels of supervision. As well as conventional tool room machines such as lathes and milling machines, this area includes rooms for casting and electro-plating, and a tool and material store.


Our atrium area is a lively exhibition space with a frequently changing range of shows and displays.

Horology facilities

Horology students also have dedicated areas, as well as the latest CAD equipment. You’ll also have access to specialist equipment, a subject specialist library, seminar rooms and lecture theatre.

Studio Workshops

Studio Workshops provide cut-out work benches with lights and gas torches plus design work stations. Students can use these rooms between 8am and 8pm (5pm on Fridays), independent of staff supervision.

Process workshops

Process workshops contain larger soldering hearths under extraction hoods with pickling and cleaning facilities. These workshops also have polishing machines and other bench mounted powered equipment. Each studio workshop has access to one of the process workshops.

Professor Jivan Astfalck

Course Director, MA Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products

Jivan Astfalck is a visual artist, jeweller and academic. Born in Berlin, where she was trained and qualified as a goldsmith, she has been living in the UK for more than 20 years. She obtained an MA in the History and Theory of Modern Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design and a PhD in Fine Art at the University of the Arts, London.

Jivan is now Professor at the School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University, and combines studio practice, which she exhibits internationally, with teaching as the MA Course Director for Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products.

Her main focus and research interest is in using hermeneutic philosophy, literary theory and other appropriate thought models as tools to investigate narrative structures embedded in body-related crafts objects. In her view, the convergence of crafts, design and fine art practices is conducive to extending the theoretical vocabulary and map out new territories where crafts practices contribute to cultural production and dissemination.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

+44 (0)125 350 2917

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389


Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295