Our MA Fine Art Master’s course embraces art practice, in whatever form it takes (drawing, painting, sculpture, print, photography, installation, lens-based media, performance, participatory, interdisciplinary and expanded practice) and in whichever circumstance it occurs.
It is conceptual at heart, pursuing strong ideas and challenges of art in real life. The artist Joseph Beuys, working in Social Sculpture, famously said: "Each and every man has the most precious building in the world in his head, feelings and free will. And the French poet Baudelaire said: the best form of art criticism is another work of art."
We agree and so art is considered in relationship to philosophy, art history and theory, contemporary discourse and global contexts, establishing critical frameworks in which artists make work. We also have strong links with art galleries and artists communities, including Eastside Projects led by Gavin Wade and Céline Cordorelli.
This expansive programme offers you a specialist education in Fine Art with both core practice modules and optional modules, that change to reflect contemporary ways of practising. These have included: Philosophy and Aesthetics; Social Practices in the Visual Arts; Creative Publishing; Technical Methods; Small Arts Business Set up; Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice and Photography as Research. These help develop and frame your practice whilst also introducing you to contemporary contexts and debates.
It will enable you to take risks, be imaginative and self reflexive in the development of your work. It builds your confidence, enhances your critical and analytical skills and prepares you for a career in the creative sector.
Numerous alumni have gone on to be successful: presenting work at the Venice Biennale and becoming a Turner Prize judge. Uniquely, you will be encouraged to personalise your learning therefore preparing you for life as a professional artist or PhD researcher. Collaboration and personal development are encouraged alongside attention to pastoral care.
This programme is lead by Esther Windsor a curator, artist and writer who has curated at The ICA, Camerawork Gallery and Darkroom, The Photographers’ Gallery and established two art school galleries, the waiting room, University of Wolverhampton and mirror, LCP London. She was director at Hull Time Based Arts and co directed 1000 000 mph, London. She previously taught Theory and Practice on MA Art and Space with Cullinan and Richards at Kingston University. You will also be taught by staff with different specialisms, including painters and staff located in the knowledge of the regions history of radical practices.
You will be located at Birmingham School of Art (Margaret Street Campus), an impressive Grade 1 listed purpose built resource, with a specialist team of friendly, experienced and dedicated technicians.
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art or Art and Design, or other Arts-based Degree course, related subject. The minimum academic qualification required is a 2:2 award. Those with equivalent prior professional or life experience will also be considered.
Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.
|MA||Sep 2019||FT||1 year||£7,100 per year|
|MA||Sep 2019||PT||2 years||£3,550 per year|
|MA||Sep 2019||FT||1 year||£12,300 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. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.
You are required to submit a digital portfolio of no more than 12 high quality images of your recent artwork. You may submit it as a power-point, comparable form of presentation such as Prezi or direct us to your website.
If you are working with video or sound you must submit a show-reel of selected work no more than 20 minutes in length.
All items must be accompanied by the title of the work, date, media, and size. For time-based work you must state the length of each individual work.
Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.
Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?
Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.
Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.
Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?
You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.
The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on your course. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.
All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.
For more information please contact the School Admissions Office. Tel: 0121 331 5150 / Email email@example.com
On receipt of your application form, your application will be considered and you may be called for interview. After interview, if you are considered suitable for the course you will receive an offer of a place.
When you complete your application form, tell us something about your artistic, educational and/or professional experience thus far. Tell us why you want to apply to the MA Fine Art course and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your application must be accompanied by evidence of your art-based practice. We require 12 images of recent work on power point. If your work is film based you need to prepare a show-reel and if your work is web-based you need to direct us to it with the appropriate link.
We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 160 credits):
Advanced Practice 1
This module is self-directed by you and allows you to develop your individual and/or collaborative practice in whatever form it takes in relationship to the development of your theoretical and/or contextual research. In the first instance it is anticipated that you will reorientate your practice and that this will be moved forward through practical experimentation and research towards the creation of a developmental platform. There is also an opportunity to acquire new practical skills in alternative media and/or related disciplines where relevant.
Advanced Practice 2
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.
Research in Practice
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.
Discourses in Art and Design
The module examines a range of works of art and craft, designed objects, ethnic artefacts and architecture from periods embracing the early modern to contemporary, considered in the light of socio-historical contexts, intellectual discourses, theoretical models and methodological approaches. Students are thus introduced to different historical periods, products of art and design from within those periods, the cultural politics and technological developments that have helped shape them, and research questions and methodologies that can be brought to bear on them. Weekly meetings present independent topics, not necessarily in chronological order, but selected so as to demonstrate the wide diversity of objects from visual culture for potential study and the range of approaches that can be applied to them. Students are encouraged to reflect on and evaluate their own practice, to locate their approach in the field and develop a clear rationale for their approach.
Contemporary Philosophy and Aesthetics
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.
Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice
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.
Queer Strategies in Practice
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.
Social Practices in the Visual Arts
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.
Small Arts Business Set Up
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.
Photography as Research
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.
Technical Methods, Workshop Practice and Learning
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.
Art and Transcultural Communication
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.
Creative Publishing and Public Dissemination
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.
Please note list of optional modules is indicative only. Students’ choice will not be guaranteed for optional modules but a fair and transparent process will be adopted and shared with students.
The staff team is highly professional with extensive expertise within their individual specialist subjects and fields of research. As an MA Fine Art student you will be able to request tutorial support from other academic and technical members of staff and the PHD student group if it is important to your study.
Learning strategies include:
Full-time students have access to the School daily. Part-time students are expected to be on-site on Tuesdays and on evenings across the week depending on which taught modules they choose.
Part-time students have open access to the facilities some use them one day per week, others across the week. Part-time students have the opportunity to work on-site in the summer months in the run up to the final shows.
The programme begins with an evening induction event culminating in a meet and greet with drinks and nibbles. You will join our Pecha Kucha sessions where you will be invited to present your work. This is a fun and light-hearted way of introducing you to each other.
You will be involved in group tutorials and student-led seminars that invite you to present your research and practical work for the group to consider and critically evaluate. The intention here is to share your ideas with other people who become ‘critical friends’ to help you think through your work in new ways.
There is a fantastic opportunity to show your work by contributing to the Interim Show and the Final Masters Exhibition. Both events are open to the public and they are major well-attended events that attract people from all over the region and further afield.
Our students have a reputation for being ambitious and year on year our shows are exciting and thought provoking. All of our students work towards the shows with the support of the technical support team and you will be enabled to test out your work and gain feedback from your peer groups, academic staff and the public. As a result of the final shows numerous students have gone on to establish their profiles internationally.
Grace is an artist and lecturer, currently based at De Montfort University. After her graduation from the MA Fine Art course she became the Gertrude Aston Bowater award holder for practice-led PhD research working toward the thesis 'The Supernatural Sex: Women, Magick & Mediumship: Assembling a Field of Fascination in Contemporary Art'.
Traversing photography, film and installation her work explores the performance and sexual politics of the female body within the fields of Mediumship (channeling conduits) Magick (Occult, black magic), Magic (vanishing women) and pre-narrative cinema; with a specific focus on the materialising mediums within the Thomas Glendenning Hamilton photographic archive, for which she received the T.G Hamilton research Grant from the University of Manitoba, Canada.
Images: Escamotage / After Cecil Beaton
Losa is a sculptor, installation artist and poet. Her work is concerned with the experience of women in Taiwan and the expectation of traditional gender roles that she works to subvert in a nuanced way through the creation of anthropomorphic post-human creatures and partial body parts. Her work uses a range of material but most commonly involves the use of clay, wax, fabric, text and sound.
Images: Strange Attractors (2016) / Untitled Creature (2016)
As an Art-based Master’s student you can study abroad through the Erasmus + scheme. This enables you to work abroad in an institution or professional organisation or one of our many international academic institutional partners for example: Rotterdam, Gent, Dublin and Rome.
Candidates are expected to research their proposed destination prior to making an application in consultation with your Programme Leader. The study period may be organised during or upon completion of your programme and can last for up to 18 months. It offers a unique opportunity to network, make friends enhance your CV and experience new cultures.
Many students progress from undergraduate to postgraduate study. For some it is an opportunity to build on what they have achieved so far, for others it is about consolidating what has yet come to fruition. For all it is about identifying new directions within a research context.
MA Fine Art graduates have been highly successful as doctoral researchers receiving fully funded scholarships. By joining us if you decide to progress to higher degree research you will be eligible to apply for the prestigious M3C AHRC doctoral training award (£14.6million research fund) that enables strong research to emerge in the Midlands.
Art-based Master’s students have benefited from the trips run annually by Birmingham School of Art. Recent visits have included: Berlin, Florence, Liverpool, London, New York and Venice. Master’s students are encouraged to operate independently and visit regional and national cultural centres on a regular basis, such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG), Ikon, Eastside Projects, Grand Union, New Art Gallery Walsall, Nottingham Contemporary, Tate Modern, ICA, Tate Liverpool and independent and alternative spaces in the city and beyond.
“Visiting the Venice Biennale was incredible and impacted positively on my approach to my work. There was so much to see and digest and as a part time student the visit came at the right time and in preparation for year 2. It repeatedly informed my work in the second year and gave me great confidence to do what I wanted to do.”
Julie Robertson - Graduate - MA Fine Art
As you study this course you will develop a set of transferrable skills such as creative problem solving, communication and presentation skills, adaptability and flexibility, independence and teamwork, and good time management.
Specific modules have been designed to address employability, for example; Managing Arts Events and Projects, Technical Methods, Workshop Practice and Learning, Small Arts Business Set Up, and Creative Publishing and Public Dissemination.
Placements are one of the possible ways of fulfilling your Research in Practicemodule and numerous students across the ABM Programme have chosen this route. There is scope for placements with a number of organisations in the city and beyond, however it is your responsibility to plan and organise your placement with the organisation you wish to work with.
Placements can last for a few weeks or for a longer period of time. They provide you with a great opportunity to gain insight into how an organisation works and your reflection on their activities can be useful to them as you develop your research. You will also find that this is a great way to meet and network with people in the creative industries. Our members of staff are able to guide and support you through this process.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Graduate employment is high. In the 2014-2015 DLHE survey 100% of full time and 87% of part time students who joined the Art-based Masters programme graduates were in employment with graduates from 2013-2015 earning between £20,000 and £35,000 per annum. A high number of 2014-2015 graduates reported that the programme prepared them well or very well for employment.
A significant number of our graduates have become highly successful arts professionals. Numerous others have been employed in a number of other professions including:
A significant number of our graduates have been appointed in Higher Education Institutions nationally and internationally.
Andrew was previously curator of International Project Space, Birmingham, UK and assistant curator at Norwich Gallery, UK.
He regularly organises independent projects. Freelance exhibitions include The Affirmation, Chelsea Space (2007), Writing in Strobe, Dicksmith Gallery (2006) and Like Beads on an Abacus Designed to Calculate Infinity, Rockwell (2004). Publishing activities include the imprint Slimvolume, produced on a yearly basis since 2001. He is also reviews editor at Untitled, a regular contributor to Frieze, Art Monthly and a number of other journals. He is currently editing three books about contemporary art criticism collectively titled Laboratory of Synthesis with the critic Robert Garnett, to be published by Book Works during 2008 and 2009.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
The Art Based Master’s Programme is an international community of aspiring researchers and professionals and the programme attracts candidates from all over the world including: Africa, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Taiwan and the USA.
This diversity provides you with an opportunity to study with people from diverse social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and who bring a wealth of experience to the programme. This gives the ABM programme a dynamic energy that enriches everyone’s educational experience.
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
Our students come from around the world but our fine art course is most popular with international students from:
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.
Birmingham School of Art (an impressive purpose built Grade 1 listed example of Venetian Gothic architecture) was the first major renovation project undertaken by the university (£5.5m refurbishment). The School provides an incredible resource for the production of art and its associated fields of study. The building has a range of facilities available including studios, workshops, specialist art and design library, bookable spaces and lecture/seminar rooms.
The MA Fine Art staff team have a wealth of experience from a range of practical, historical, theoretical and philosophical backgrounds who work in both discipline specific and trans-disciplinary modes. These modes include drawing, digital media, installation, painting, photography and lens based media, print, sculpture, web-based practices and critical and creative writing. The staff are regionally, nationally and internationally recognised for their expertise in the field.