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Art and Design: Interdisciplinary Practices - MA

Our MA Art and Design: Interdisciplinary Practices develops your professional practice while engaging with the hybrid nature of art and design in contemporary culture. You will apply art and design methodologies to challenge conventional viewpoints....

Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses.  Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.  

 

Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location Margaret Street
  • School Birmingham School of Art
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

Our MA Art and Design: Interdisciplinary Practices develops your professional practice while engaging with the hybrid nature of art and design in contemporary culture. You will apply art and design methodologies to challenge conventional viewpoints. A multidisciplinary team of expert staff encourages you to work across mediums, processes and working methods (such as photography, installation, print, digital media, sculpture, illustration, curatorial practice, textiles, drawing, sound, graphic design, site-specific art, participatory arts or 3D design).

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

This stimulating course offers you an education in contemporary art and design from an interdisciplinary perspective. You will be supported as creative individuals from a range of tutors and practitioners, with the aim of pushing your existing practice in new directions. The course helps you develop a wider contextual understanding of your practice, while gaining strong research skills in order to develop interdisciplinary projects underpinned by contextual and theoretical debates.

You will be encouraged to develop independent study in relation to different cultural perspectives and a range of contemporary art and design practices, such as fine art, curation, visual communication, fashion, product and interior design.

Our graduates progress into many different careers including graphic design, independent contemporary art practice, typography, gallery education, arts administration, event management, photography, community arts and education. Our course prepares you for life as a creative professional, a PhD researcher or work in other career areas.

There is scope to work on external live projects and our academic staff are highly experienced with national and international research profiles.

Programme leader, Demitrios Kargotis is a designer and artist that works and lives in Birmingham, UK. Since graduating from the Design Products course at the Royal College of Art, he established the design action group Dash N’ Dem in collaboration with Dash Macdonald. The wide-ranging participatory projects centre on political education and engagement. Ideas inhabit varied media and platforms as a vehicle for agitation, using co-creation as a form of activism that provokes diverse audiences to speak out and think critically and creatively. Their work is exhibited nationally and internationally and regularly develop public talks, workshops, events and summer schools.

He is also co-founder of Post Workers Theatre (PWT), a design troupe investigating the future of politically engaged performance, reimagining historic forms of creative resistance for a contemporary context. Working across a rich profusion of forms, using co-production to confront social issues and create a shared learning experience. The aim is to work with diverse groups to explore and express complex topics in accessible ways. Through performance and play PWT look to share narratives of hope and resistance.

This course gave me the opportunity to become a member of a thriving artistic community and meet interesting, young and more established artists from very different artistic backgrounds.

Sonia Fergadioti, Graduated– MA with Commendation

Why Choose Us?

  • The course has a growing international reputation with alumni worldwide, with strong professional profiles and working in a range of institutions and organisations.
  • Birmingham School of Art is an internationally recognised (REF 3*/4* rated) centre of excellence for art-based learning and research.
  • You will become a valued member of one of Birmingham School of Art’s research centres.
  • You will have the opportunity to interact with students from other Master’s courses located at Birmingham School of Art and the wider faculty or university.
  • You will be supported by a highly professional staff team, doctoral researchers, technical demonstrators and artists in residence in a caring and supportive environment.
  • We have good external links with internationally recognised galleries (Ikon, BMAG, Tate) and organisations in the creative industries (ELIA) and the wider community.
  • Financial support may be available via the Postgraduate Loan initiative, Birmingham City University Scholarships, the Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest and Mike Holland Trust.
  • Enhanced blended learning - which includes face to face studio and online learning.
  • Year on year our programme has achieved high rankings and favourable responses in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES). Overall full time student satisfaction in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) 2015- 16 for Art-based Masters programmes was 82%.
  • The school achieved high scores in areas such as staff enthusiasm and support, enhancement of academic abilities, research skills development, student experience and quality of delivery.
  • We also achieved high levels of achievement and success in other areas such as 42% of our students graduating with Commendation and 47% of our students graduating with Distinction. The survey results also reflected high levels of employment and employability as a result of studying the course.

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements

BA (Hons) Degree in Art and Design, Fine Art, or other Arts-based Degree course, related subject. The minimum academic qualification required is a 2:2 award. Those with equivalent prior professional or life experience will also be considered.

IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands.

International Students

Entry requirements here

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 12 months
  • £7,900 per year
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £8,690 per year
  • Part Time
  • 24 months
  • TBC

Award: MA

Starting: Jan 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 12 months
  • £7,900 per year
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £8,690 per year

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 12 months
  • £16,300 per year
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £17,930 per year

Award: MA

Starting: Jan 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 12 months
  • £16,300 per year
  • Full Time
  • 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £17,930 per year

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

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of safety equipment in order to use the workshop facilities.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

*Professional Placement option

The Professional Placement version of the course is optional and is offered as an alternative to the standard version of the course.

This will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability skills which will, through the placement experience, allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market. Furthermore, by completing the Professional Placement, you will be able to develop and enhance your understanding of the professional work environment, relevant to your chosen field of study, and reflect critically on your own professional skills development within the workplace.

You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement. The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will also benefit from support sessions delivered by Careers+ as well as advice and guidance from your School.

Placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course. All students who do not find a suitable placement or do not pass the competitive selection process will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

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

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

Course in Depth

Modules

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 160 credits):

This module is self-directed by you and allows you to develop your individual art and design practice through an interrogation of processes and the relationship of theoretical and/or contextual research to your practice. You will engage with rigorous testing, experimental making and the exploration of ideas and their application to professional contexts through practical outcomes. This module will create a developmental platform for your practice supported by the opportunity to acquire new practical skills in alternative media and/or related disciplines where relevant.

Advanced Practice 2 40 credits

Research in Practice 20 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practical outcome with accompanying reflective, critical and contextual material. The main consideration when choosing your topic is that it must be relevant to your programme and you should consider the relevance of this topic to your future academic or professional development.

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

This module, Contemporary Philosophy & Aesthetics explores how Fine Art is made and understood conceptually. How thinking in Fine Art works. This may inform research into practice via the meeting of philosophy, visual culture and social contexts within Fine Art practices. We may look at exhibitions artists and cultural discourses. For example: texts, films, music, fashion and events. It sets the stage for developing your own critical knowledge of the complexities underlying modern and contemporary life and in so doing, building your concepts and language, in your own practices.

The purpose of this module is to introduce you to contemporary curatorial thinking. Throughout the module, you will encounter a range of concepts, themes, approaches and methodologies relevant to your discipline including the role of the curator and exhibition making; the museum and gallery as context and framework; the role of the artist-curator-artist, curating for new media and technologies and curating global exhibitions. You will be supported to develop skills in confidently articulating your knowledge in verbal and written forms.

This module attends to both historical and contemporary models of practice in relationship to the emergence of queer theory. We will explore a range of art practices and queer methods that critique or subvert dominant modes of representation and operation. Focus is given to the following areas: Introduction to queer theory, Art beyond representation, Queer Speech, Queer horror, Education and transgression, Queering the Archive; Care; Queer reading.

This module provides you with an insight into entrepreneurship and small business start-up within the arts and related sectors. Its focus is an exploration of the practicalities of starting-up a creative business. It also covers the nature of the creative industries as a whole as well as the significance of entrepreneurship within the arts and society as a whole.

The acts of photographing and researching are intrinsically linked. They are both activities concerned with expansion and contraction. If we imagine a photograph as a means to isolate a sphere of reality (with all of the caveats this statement demands) that are rendered, most often, in fractions of seconds. Then we could think in a similar way about research. An effort to know more and more about less and less.

This module will explore publishing as a dynamic contemporary art form, a vehicle for the dissemination of ideas and an exploration of radical formats for bringing your art to a wider public. You will be introduced to artist-made books, self-publishing, digital publishing and other non-gallery modes of sharing and communicating art.

The module will be based on a specific workshop process (e.g. for example in the print room this might be etching, screen-print or lithography etc.), technical method (e.g. for example this might be around casting techniques, film and video making, 3D modelling etc.) or material (e.g. for example this might be an investigation into the material properties of clay, stone, a textiles material, etc.). You will independently identify and investigate your chosen line of enquiry to enable you to engage in practical hands on experience of a fabrication/production process.

The module examines art as a social practice, its relationship with our present time and links to historical works and contexts. You will be introduced to key examples and debates within Social Practice with focus given to the following areas: Activism, Antagonism, Participation, Collaboration, Community, Environmentalism, Relational Aesthetics, Socially Engaged Practice, Dialogical Art & Institutional Critique.

This module provides a grounding in arts and transcultural communication, using artistic practices and discursive frameworks to highlight and examine issues related to communication. Communication, but also translation and interpretation intended from a linguistic, visual, cultural, artistic and curatorial perspective, are crucial when working internationally (and locally) with different communities. This module is for those students who aim at working and researching in a transcultural global environment more critically and effectively.

Art and Ecologies 20 credits

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

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 seminar
  • Student led seminars
  • Studio seminar series (visiting artists/professionals’ talks)
  • Lectures and conferences
  • Library research/resources
  • Field trips (where appropriate)

Classroom activities

Teaching will be dynamic, collaborative and exploratory, providing a platform for the independent development of your practice.

You will be involved in group tutorials and student-led seminars that invite you to present your research and practical work for the group to consider and critically evaluate. The intention here is to share your ideas with other people who become critical friends to help you think through your work in new ways. 

Throughout the course, students are encouraged to make public exhibitions and events, opportunities to test and to showcase work. Alongside this, students are invited to contribute to the Interim Show as well as the Final Masters Exhibition. These are well-attended public events that attract people from all over the region and further afield. 

Our students have a reputation for being ambitious and year on year our shows are exciting and thought provoking. All of our students work towards the shows with support of the technical support team and you will be enabled to test out your work and gain feedback from your peer groups, academic staff and the public.

As a result of the final shows numerous students have gone on to establish their profiles internationally.


Student stories

Claire Hickey profile

Claire Hickey

Visual artist Claire Hickey makes self-responsive sculptural objects, installations and multiples. Her residency and exhibition venues have included AirSpace Gallery; RBSA Gallery; Kingshurst Arts Space; National Trust’s Croome Court; Women’s Art Library and the Museum of Motherhood. She co-founded Make/Shift/Space, a portable structure hosting artists’ public projects.

Employability

Enhancing employability skills

Graduate employment is high. In the 2014-2015 DLHE survey 100% of full time and 87% of part time students who joined the Art-based Masters programme graduates were in employment with graduates from 2013-2015 earning between £20,000 and £35,000 per annum. A high number of 2014-2015 graduates reported that the programme prepared them well or very well for employment.

While most artists are self-employed many already have or wish to gain employment in a range of related professions across the creative industries. Some people are looking for ways to enhance their skills set, some are seeking ways to advance in the profession they already have whilst others are seeking a change in direction enabling them to do what they have dreamed of.

The acquisition of transferrable skills: creative problem solving; communication and presentation skills; adaptability and flexibility; independence and teamwork and good time management is important. Specific modules have been designed to address employability e.g. Managing Arts Events and Projects; Technical Methods, Workshop Practice and Learning; Small Arts Business Set Up and Creative Publishing and Public Dissemination.

From the sample detailed in the employability section a significant number of our graduates have become highly successful arts professionals. Numerous others have been employed in a number of other professions including:

  • Conference/ exhibition organisers
  • Web designers
  • Health professionals
  • Graphic designers
  • Business professionals
  • Insurance underwriter
  • Industrial relations officers

A significant number of our graduates have been appointed in Higher Education Institutions nationally and internationally. 

Placements

Placements are one of the possible ways of fulfilling your Research in Practice module and numerous students across the ABM Programme have chosen this route. There is scope for placements with a number of organisations in the city and beyond, however it is your responsibility to plan and organise your placement with the organisation you wish to work with. Placements can last for a few weeks or last for a longer period of time. They provide you with a great opportunity to gain insight into how an organisation works and your reflection on their activities can be useful to them as you develop your research. You will also find that this is a great way to meet and network with people in the creative industries. Our members of staff are able to guide and support you through this process.


Graduate stories

Flora Kay profile

Flora Kay

Flora works at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in the Learning Department. Her art and design practice involves printmaking, visual communication and spatial design. Flora’s BA(Hons) was in Visual Communication and Illustration.

Flora’s practice considers the changing role of Art and Design education and emerging interdisciplinary course structures. She explores how practitioners use space within art institutions and how the functionality of space has evolved to reflect the needs of practitioners and art educators. Flora asks what this means for the future of the Art School. Her interdisciplinary practice uses illustration and printmaking to design a flat pack style, functional workspace that reflects the professional reality of today’s artists and designers – encouraging social awareness and trans-disciplinary or collaborative projects. 

Flora Kay- student work 3 Flora Kay- student work 2
Images: Flora Kay (2016) / Flora Kay (2016)


Jo Newman profile

Jo Newman

Jo is a visual artist, illustrator and costume designer. She teaches on the BA (Hons) Illustration course at BCU and her previous collaborations have included clients such as Royal Shakespeare Company, Crafts Council, Welsh National Opera, ITV London, Tatler and Cosmopolitan.

In 1993 Saddam Hussein systematically converted 6000 square miles of wetlands in Southern Iraq into a desert, removing all natural life and reed beds. This displaced the Nomadic Marsh Arabs known as the ‘Ma‘dan’, completely annihilating a 5000 year old culture. Jo says of her work, “I aim to challenge how people think about the every day life of the ‘Ma‘dan’ with the aim of preserving and protecting this unique community of nomadic craftsmen and women”.

Jo Newman- Wandering Habitats 2 Jo Newman ‘Nomadology: Wandering Habitats 1’
Images: ‘Nomadology: Wandering Habitats 2’ (2016) / ‘Nomadology: Wandering Habitats 2’ (2016)

OpportUNIty

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.

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:

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 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.

Facilities and Staff

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £340 million on new learning facilities.

Birmingham School of Art (an impressive purpose built Grade 1 listed example of Venetian Gothic architecture) was the first major renovation project undertaken by the university (£5.5m refurbishment). The School provides an incredible resource for the production of art and its associated fields of study. The building has a range of facilities available including studios, workshops, specialist art and design library, bookable spaces and lecture/seminar rooms.

Our staff

Demitrios Kargotis

Course Leader: MA Art and Design Interdisciplinary Practices

Demitrios Kargotis works as part of the design action group Dash n’ Dem. Since 2010, their wide-ranging participatory projects centre on popular education and critical and creative citizenship participation. The open-ended, collaborative structure of their practice explores how co-creation can act as a form of activism that empowers different audiences to confront and reimagine reality. 

Dash n’ Dem make work that aims to make politics more assessable and engaging. For instance, providing a group of teenagers at the South London Gallery with a David Cameron lookalike to take over and create their own party political broadcast in the run up to the 2015 UK general election. Or, revisiting an 80’s post-punk compilation cassette Dump it on Parliament produced in opposition to a proposed nuclear waste dump in Bedfordshire, inviting emerging bands today to develop cover versions and write new songs of protest. 

Demitrios is also a founding member of Post Workers Theatre (PWT), a collective of designers and artists who produce projects that consider what politically engaged performance could be, utilising democratic forms of production to co-author creative outcomes with a variety of community and educational groups. Their creative goal is to reconsider the history and function of worker’s theatre of the past, and the current conditions for workers today through political, technological and social lenses. The aim is produce projects that can highlight future facing issues of social equality and alternative ways to discuss important issues.

More about Demitrios

Steve Bulcock

Head of Undergraduate Studies

Steve Bulcock works across a range of digital media including animation, motion graphics and digital drawing systems. He is Head of Undergraduate Studies at Birmingham School of Art. His research interests are concerned with challenging the notions and expectations people have in relation to their interactions with digital technology. Recent work has involved collaborations with artist Sean O’Keeffe as part of an interdisciplinary research programme at Vivid in Birmingham, which also toured the UK with the Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition.

He is currently studying for his PhD, which seeks to investigate notions of the algorithmic surface, computer interface design and authorship in the creative drawing process.

More about Steve