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Design and carry out your own visual projects, exploring the relationships between word and image, as you prepare for a career as a visual artist in a growing creative industry.
- Cross the divide between fine art and applied art created by other UK degree courses
- Join a course led by internationally-exhibiting artist Jim Butler, with collections in the Tate Britain and British Library
- Benefit from a 150-year tradition of drawing and inspiring creativity at Cambridge School of Art
- Study in Cambridge, with its many galleries and exhibition spaces, just a quick train journey from London
Whatever your artistic background, our Master’s course will develop your visual practice in areas that are important for illustrators and book artists, such as visual sequencing and visual text. It will challenge you to cross the divide between fine art and applied art found on many undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, making it a unique course for the UK.
Studying in our purpose-built studios at Cambridge School of Art, much of your work will be practice-based. You’ll propose and undertake self-directed projects, attending group critiques and tutorials that will help you develop your creative skills.
You’ll also attend a series of integrated lectures and seminars. These serve two purposes. You’ll explore aspects of illustration and book art, such as the relationships between word and image, narratology and visual language. And you’ll receive guidance on research methods and critical writing – which you’ll put to immediate use on the course, as well as in your future career.
Throughout the course, you’ll collaborate and discuss your work with staff, visiting professionals and fellow students, giving you an invaluable opportunity to see how others respond to it. All of our teaching team are practising artists, so you’ll hear about the latest news and issues in the industry, and have access to sound careers advice.
Course Leader Jim Butler is well known for his artist’s books, winning the professional books category in the World Illustration Awards 2018 for his piece ‚Blackrock Sequence,’ and having publications purchased for public collections at the Tate, the British Library and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.
Our course will prepare you for a career as a freelance illustrator or freelance book artist. In recent years these roles have been increasingly in demand thanks to the growth of interest in artists’ books, graphic novels, self-publishing, e-books and an awareness of small, batch publishing. You’ll also gain skills that will be useful in many other fields, such as bookbinding or teaching. You might even find a way to combine it with your current career, as did Dr Katy Shorttle, whose artwork on health issues was recently featured by The Guardian.
Or you might decide to move on to a research degree, like our PhD Fine Art.
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.
Sequence and SeriesOn this studio-based module, you will develop your personal visual language visual work through a consideration of series and sequential imagery. In lectures and seminars you will explore contemporary theory and practice in relation to visual language, narratology, composition, structure and editing of sequential and serial visual work. Ultimately, you will be expected to propose and resolve a self-contained project or projects. A large proportion of the teaching and learning activities will focus around the development and resolution of your research project, with group critiques and tutorials centred on developing visual practice. Self-directed study and the ongoing development of visual work on a weekly basis outside of taught sessions is a necessary part of the module. You will be assessed by a portfolio comprising a written project proposal, developmental and final visual work and a 500-word reflective commentary.
Visual TextThrough self-directed visual projects you will explore the relationships between text and image, words, authorship and the artist’s voice. In lectures and seminars you will look at the role of text and typographic identity in the generation of meaning, and text and image relationships. Ultimately you will be expected to propose and resolve a self-contained project or projects. A large proportion of the teaching and learning activities will be focused around the development and resolution of individual student research projects, with group critiques and tutorials centred on developing visual practice. You will also be expected to take part in self-directed study and the ongoing development of visual work on a weekly basis outside of taught sessions. You will be assessed by a portfolio comprising a written project proposal, developmental and final visual work, with a 500-word reflective commentary.
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.
You’ll show your progress through your self-directed visual projects, which will include written project proposals, developmental and final visual work, and a reflective commentary. On the Master’s Dissertation module, you’ll submit a 6,000-word essay. Finally, the Master’s Project will allow you to build on all previous modules to design a visual project which shows mastery of your subject.