Jewellery and Related Products - MA
- Level: Postgraduate Taught
- Starting: September 2021
- Study mode: Full Time
- Location: School of Jewellery
Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year 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.
Our postgraduate degree in Jewellery and Related Products is a highly respected, innovative course, which develops your creative potential and in-depth knowledge of theories, processes and techniques.
Students on our course demonstrate understanding, and a critical awareness of current issues and/or new insights.
Expert help and advice
Our graduates are shaping the world, achieving things they never imagined.
Drew Markou gives you his top tips on how to get ahead in jewellery, silversmithing and succeed in your chosen career.
What's covered in the course?
The focus of this course 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.
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.
You will demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to your own research and advanced creative activity, alongside exhibiting originality in the application of knowledge.
You will demonstrate your practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in our discipline and create innovative new designs in jewellery and related products.
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 staff expertise includes a very wide range of industry-related techniques, including CAD and manufacturing, rapid prototyping, surface finishing, reverse engineering, creative project management and the curation of exhibitions.
Attending one of our Virtual Open Days is a great way to find out more about the courses we offer and get answers to any questions you might have. Our next postgraduate Virtual Open Day is taking place on Wednesday 28 April.
This course is open to International students
Discover the School of Jewellery
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
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:
- Jewellery Designer
- Higher Education Teaching Professional
- Graphic Designer
New £11,222 postgraduate loans
You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £11,222 available for postgraduate study.
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 and portfolio that indicates development potential supported by evidence of high level creative work.
Extra information for 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.
IELTS 6.0 with 5.5 min in all bands.
Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.
- UK students
- International students
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 1 year
- £7,700 per year
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 1 year
- £15,900 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
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.
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.
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 can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £11,222 for some courses and options?
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 160 credits):
The purpose of this module is to introduce you to some of the key methods and approaches of arts enquiry. You will be guided through the process of developing your proposal, and encouraged to engage with a range of methods for testing ideas, exploring materials and process and taking creative risks. You will be supported to develop skills in articulating your ideas in a range of forms: visual, verbal and written.
This module provides the framework to explore your initial ideas in greater depth and with a higher level of intellectual engagement. Creative risk taking will be at the core of your enquiry and a rigorous approach to identifying and solving problems will be a continuous threat throughout your investigation. You will conclude the module by collating this body of work as a portfolio of evidence, illustrating the breadth of your enquiry via practical, visual and written investigations.
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 a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.
This module will introduce you to a range of discipline-specific approaches to research, and guide you through the process of exploring an aspect of your practice in a systematic way, bringing both theory and practice into play. You will be supported to select and apply an appropriate methodology, manage the project, analyse the results, and critically reflect on the insights gained.
The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and BCU Careers. It is also possible to fulfil this module via a shorter placement duration and a linked ‘live’ project set by the employer.
The course is delivered through a variety of formats including: self-directed studio time, e-learning, formal lectures, tutorials and workshop activities. Staff contact and group work will enable the free exchange of knowledge and experience through discussion and practical exercises.
Alongside a staff team of professional, practising artists and designers, you will also engage with professional practitioners who are Artists In Residence, study visits and other live projects. The School can offer support through a variety of interdisciplinary methodologies and techniques through its specialist staff and technical support team. Practice-led, knowledge-based learning enables key skill based competencies to be individually developed, building in complexity throughout the duration of the course.
You will then apply the skills you learn to the development of your own self-directed and self-motivated design project. The project will allow you to explore and appreciate the potential of your design abilities, and your emerging knowledge and understanding in a professional context, while building a portfolio of work which will reflect a high level of professional accomplishment and leadership in the field.
You are supported to work individually, and in group settings, to develop interpersonal communication and collaborative skills. You will continue to develop your reflective practice which helps to develop self-confidence and the responsible and methodical approaches required by the industry, the art and design ‘world’ and other culture of entrepreneurship.
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.
Competitions and exhibitions
MA Jewellery and related products alumni are selected for the prestigious TALENTE competition in Munich, Germany. TALENTE is a highly competitive international exhibition for under-30 new artists and designer in the applied arts.
Graduate, Wen-Miao Yeh, won the ITAMI 2015 prize for best material exploration in Itami, Japan.
Graduate work was also selected to exhibit at LOOT 2012 at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York and graduate, Katherine Richmond, was commissioned to make new work for the permanent collection.
In 2013, the San-Francisco based gallery Velvet-da-Vinci dedicated an entire exhibition to MA Jewellery and Related Products alumni work called ‘Magic City’ and the director of Craftspace in Birmingham, wrote the introduction essay to the catalogue.
Student stories 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
Our course philosophy encourages your individual enquiry and innovation. Modules are structured to enable progressive identification of assessable outcomes throughout, and require research based engagement with creative practice to enable you to make choices, solve problems and define your individual direction. This practice progressively leads to ownership, independence and employability. We incorporate activities, which involve you as active learner.
We embrace a high, professional level of excellence appropriate to the industry and area of focus for each student. Excellence is demonstrated in artistic integrity, a self-directed and ambitious design project at Master of Art level. Professional practice and employability skills are demonstrated in team projects and by accessing external audience appreciation. In all of our activities we celebrate and foster innovation and entrepreneurial enterprise in an international context.
MA Jewellery and Related Products graduate outcomes are of high profile and are leading in the field, as is widely evidenced in the successes our graduates. They represent Birmingham City University’s graduate qualities of being professional and work ready, they are creative problem solvers, enterprising and have a global outlook.
Links to industry
The MA in Jewellery and Related Products course has built particularly strong links to galleries, arts agencies and professional bodies, which support the creative industries and provide relevant real world experience, support and advice.
The course is proud to have professional links which include: Craftspace Birmingham, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG), Midland’s Art Centre (mac), Jewellery Quarter Museum, British Crafts Council, AXIS, The South Square Trust, Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Handwerkskammer Munich, Germany, and the international e-platforms and web-hubs: Klimt04 (Spain), Kitandcaboodle (Germany), Crafthaus (USA), Art Jewelry Forum (USA).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many of our very successful international students returned to their home countries to set-up their own businesses and design studios. Some work in shared studio collectives and work through an international network of galleries and design shops. Others work as sole-owners designing and making bespoke pieces of jewellery of their own designs.
For example one graduate opened a very impressive space in Chongqing in China, a combination of designer gallery and lifestyle meeting place. Another opened her own gallery and studio in Copenhagen.
Some of our alumni have been able, on return from their MA studies, to compete for prestigious teaching jobs, including at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, and the China Academy of Art.
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.
Popular home countries
Our students come from around the world but our jewellery and silversmithing course is most popular with international students from:
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.
You’ll have access to industry standard equipment, studio workshops with specialist tools and a shared machine workshop with a wide range of powered equipment, a casting facility and an electroplating laboratory. The School’s main computer suite includes CAD design software and Adobe Creative Suite, and you’ll have access to a specialist library.
Our staff are experts in their field and support students on their journey through their chosen course into professional life.
Lecturer, MA Jewellery and Related Products
Iona McCuaig is a jeweller, artist, researcher and educator. Her work explores the themes of narrative, value and materiality through object making. Historical references are strongly embedded in her practice and are playfully juxtaposed with contemporary observations. This results in a re-appropriation of history, allowing for a commentary of contemporary life often drawing on cultural, social and political influences. Researching topics and uncovering information drives her creative practice as she applies her training as a jeweller alongside mixed media techniques.
Iona has over ten years' teaching experience within the visual arts, teaching in secondary schools, at undergraduate and postgraduate level and is involved with museum and gallery education.