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Prepare for a career as a professional artist. Independently develop your practical work, research skills and critical thinking, with support from our experienced staff and visiting artists. Test out your ideas in a professional environment and gain invaluable experience of exhibiting, curation and collaboration.
- Gain invaluable experience of exhibiting, curation and collaboration
- Follow careers in museum and gallery management, public arts projects, artist in residence schemes
- Benefit from links with local art organisations
- Engage with debates about contemporary art practice with artists and staff
- Study in Cambridge, with its many galleries and exhibition spaces, and just a quick train journey from London
Our Master’s course will allow you to investigate a range of approaches used in fine art, from painting, sculpture, and printmaking, to more contemporary media such as photography, video, digital media, installation, sound and performance.
You will spend much of your time working and researching independently – but you will also learn about recent theories, contexts and practices in lectures, seminars and one-to-one tutorials.
We will give you the chance to test out your ideas in a professional environment, and to pick up important transferable skills for your career through group and individual presentations and critiques, exhibiting, curation and critical writing.
Here at Cambridge School of Art, you will be supported by lecturers who are themselves experienced artists. So as well as having access to artists who are working across many disciplines at the forefront of contemporary art practice, you will receive invaluable advice and direction for your future career.
As well as preparing you for work as a practising artist, you will pick up skills and knowledge that will equip you for other roles. Our past students now enjoy careers in further and higher education, museum and gallery management, public arts projects, artist in residence schemes and fellowships opportunities, both in the UK and abroad.
Or you might decide to continue on to a research degree, like our PhD Fine Art.
Our links with local art organisations, such as Aid & Abet, Changing Spaces, Wysing Arts Centre and Cambridge Artworks, will give you the chance to take part in professional exhibitions, portfolio reviews and live projects. You will also be able to take part in Fine Art Professional Practice and networking initiatives for both students and alumni.
Our Fine Art Research Unit (FARU) runs fortnightly lectures that will give you a chance to hear contemporary artists and staff talk about their work, and engage in debates about art practice. Recent speakers have included Phillip Allen, Juan Bolivar, Rebecca Fortnum, Danny Rolph, Hayley Newman, Günter Herbst, David Kefford, Cally Spooner, Tim Ellis, Andrew Grassie, Lilah Fowler, Jemima Brown, Caroline Wright and Matthew Derbyshire.
MODULES & ASSESSMENT
Fine Art: Critical PracticeYour knowledge and understanding on this module will be established through a sustained body of self-directed Fine Art research. This will be supported by supervisory tutorials, peer group learning and a seminar series exploring critical and theoretical aspects of practice. The specific content and mode of work within the module will be contingent upon the research direction of your individual project, which will be analysed within a critical and cultural context. You will be encouraged to articulate your ideas about your own research through and considered use of process, media and context. Aims, methodologies and achievements will be recorded and reflected upon through the Personal Development Plan (PDP). Your practice will be evaluated through supervisory tutorials, self-assessment and peer group presentations. Summative assessment of the research project will take place through a portfolio presentation and PDP on conclusion of the module.
Making MethodsThis module will introduce you to a range of core research methods in the creative and visual arts, and examines the implications of considering practice as research within art and design disciplines. You will explore the interaction of critical theory and studio practice within art and design, and the relationships between scholarship, reflective analysis and creative impulse. You will also address the distinctive character of research in the visual arts, and consider the concepts of practice-based research and practice-led research through a range of exemplars from different art and design disciplines. You will examine a range of different research approaches within the visual arts and across the broader field of the arts, humanities and sciences. This wide-ranging enquiry is designed to assist and inform your conception, development and documentation of creative projects, and to provide a ‘toolkit’ of research methods for both your practice and critical work.
Acts and DiscoursesYou will develop a body of self-directed Fine Art research that reflects a clear awareness and engagement with curatorial issues. A seminar series within the module will introduce you to various areas in curatorial and exhibition practices on both a theoretical and practical level, with a strong emphasis on the contemporary scene in relation to developments that have taken place over the last three decades. Themes will include: 1) Exhibiting Practices, an introduction; 2) Frames; 3) Neutrality: the „white cube” and its legacy; 4) „Alternative” spaces; 5) Environmental approaches; and 6) The politics of cultural representation. You will record and reflect on your aims, methodologies and achievements through the Personal Development Plan (PDP), which will give you a transparent mechanism by which to map the progress of your individual research. You will critically and theoretically analyse your studio research, supported through supervisory tutorials, peer presentations and seminars.
Master’s Dissertation Art and DesignThis module forms the major written element of the MA programme. On it, you will be invited to choose a topic related to your area of study, as the basis for a research essay of up to 6,000 words. The essay should demonstrate an awareness of current critical debate in the subject, through appropriate reference to relevant examples both from visual practice and critical writing. Your subjects may be thematic and issue-based, or may focus upon the critical analysis of a particular body of work. It is expected that you will use the module to investigate the use of critical writing as an aspect of your own creative development, by investigating issues and preoccupations for which you feel a particular affinity or concern, and that you will use the dissertation as an instrument of enquiry into the debates, conventions and values which define your own field of practice. In group tutorials you will explore the use of different modes of critical method and conventions of art and design research, and the production of critical writing as an aspect of an individual’s creative and professional practice.
Master’s Project: Art and DesignThe Masters Project represents the culmination of your learning on the programme, giving you the opportunity to develop and resolve a major area of enquiry. This is a self-directed visual project negotiated with the staff team and peers. You’ll need to negotiate, manage, co-ordinate and bring to successful conclusion a complex, practice-based project within your field of art, media or design. You’ll start by formally presenting your research proposal to staff and peers, and will be expected to build on your previous modules to identify a complex area for investigation and enquiry, as well as research methods appropriate to the project. Following negotiation with staff, peers and, where appropriate, outside agencies, you’ll then submit a written research proposal. Your project may involve external engagement alongside a personal exploration of themes and concepts in your specialist field. You’ll need to show your ability to innovate, think strategically and be sensitive to changing cultural and social climates. You’ll be assessed by portfolio (a body of work comprising a written project proposal, and developmental and final visual work) and a 1200-word reflective commentary. This commentary will specifically outline the methodological and ethical considerations relevant to your portfolio work, and evaluate your final visual work.
Visual Research PracticesOn this module you will explore the role of visual practices as research methods. You will explore and document the ways in which practice informs the development of method, and the manner in which experimentation within your practice is used to test propositions, verify findings, and demonstrate these through your outcomes. These ideas form the main precepts of practice-based research, and will be explored through a self-proposed project developed in consultation with your tutor. The module provides a context within which to explore the ways in which the processes associated with your practice, serve as tools of investigation and analysis. In the course of the module you will identify the key research questions implicit in visual projects, develop strategies and experimental methods for addressing these questions, and contextualise these methods in relation to precedent within your discipline. This will also enable you to locate your method within the wider context of research methodology addressed in the companion module Making Methods. During the development of your project you will investigate and critique your method to ensure that it is appropriate to the investigation of your question and to the expression of your findings. You will review the ways in which practice shapes and refines experimental method, and the analysis of experimental findings informs successive phases of the practical outcome. According to the context of the project and the nature of your practice, this may involve different considerations of audience, purpose and impact, as well as reference to a variety of sources and precedents. You will be assessed through the body of visual coursework, a research logbook kept during the development process, and an evaluative commentary of 500 words reflecting on the work after completion.
On most of our core modules, you will demonstrate your progress through visual research outcomes supported by a written evaluative statement, except for the Master’s Dissertation where you will submit a 6,000-word contextual essay.