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Duration: 1 calendar year full time

The MA Visual Arts combines advanced studio-based work, contextual studies and critically reflective research, allowing students to increase the sophistication of their work in preparation for the transition to professional practice. The MA is an intensive programme of study that includes taught units and an independent project comprising practical and theoretical work.

MA students can expect:

  • Support in further consolidating studio practice to a level appropriate for accomplished practitioners
  • Access to facilities, workshops and expertise for the fabrication of artworks relating to the individual student's ambitions
  • Opportunities to employ innovative approaches to practical making through which conceptual ideas are tested and informed by use of selected media
  • To gain a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research and scholarship
  • Develop originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the Visual Arts
  • To consolidate a systematic understanding and critical awareness of current debates in contemporary art practice
  • To further develop aptitude for professional practice, independent research or employment, including opportunities for public exhibition
  • To possess independence, self-reliance, as well as promotional enterprise skills, motivated toward professional practice or employment

Learning Environment:

  • Large individual studio spaces
  • An excellent staff-to-student ratio with the possibility for weekly tutorial support
  • A specialised programme of lectures, seminars and workshops
  • Input from regular Visiting Lecturers and artists
  • Expert support for a dedicated team of workshop technicians
  • Professional development provision for gallery visits and other external events
  • Contact with a regular series of professional Artists-in-Residence based in the Visual Arts studios throughout the academic year
  • An immersive environment with rich connections to art history, particularly Surrealism, through the legacy of college founder Edward James

Facilities

All full-time Visual Arts students are provided with a large individual workspace in the Edward James Studios. In addition to specialist spaces dedicated to Painting and Drawing, Sculpture and Tapestry and Textile-based work, the studios also include Seminar Room, a materials and tool store, a small photographic darkroom, bookable exhibition and research spaces, plus an IT suite with digital editing software. A self-contained Print Room offers specialist facilities for etching, aquatint, monoprinting, woodblock and linocut. Students can work on a large-scale in the Sculpture Courtyard, which is also suitable for work in stone carving.

Students are encouraged to collaborate with other College departments - particularly the full-time programmes in the School of Conservation - making the most of the wide range of specialist knowledge, materials and equipment that is available. The Short Course programme also allows students to access a wide range of visiting tutors and specialist techniques that can further enhance their studies.

West Dean House and Estate offers students access to ambitious exhibition opportunities and unique research material. Students are able to submit site-specific proposals throughout the year and are encouraged to take part in the annual Open House event. The Edward James Collection is an outstanding resource for full-time students, given them access to a range of significant, even iconic, works of art as an ongoing source of inspiration and research.

The College's Arts and Conservation Library gives students access to thousands of specialist books, journals and databases to support their studies.

The Main House also contains West Dean Tapestry Studio, one of the world's leading producers of hand-woven tapestry. As well as having close contact with the expertise of Master Weavers and designers, students have access to the studio's Dye Rooms, a specialist facility for the dyeing of yarn. Find out more about the professional Tapestry Studio here.

View some of the work exhibited at Divergence, the West Dean Visual Arts Summer Show 2015.

Gallery

Christopher Walker, Critical Paths Summer Show
Nicola Ferrie, MA Visual arts
Visual Arts Students with Curator Dr Annabelle Gorgen Lammers from Hamburger Kunsthalle
Deborah Ravetz, Critical Paths Summer Show
Cathy Griffiths, MA Visual Arts
Visual Arts Studio Space
Jill Laudet, MA Visual Arts
Visual Arts Studio Space
June Ngan, MA Visual Arts

Entry Requirements

The following qualifications will be considered for entry on to the MA in Visual Arts programme:

  • A good Honours Degree or equivalent qualification in Visual Arts or a related discipline
  • Relevant work experience in an arts-related field which demonstrates the ability to study at postgraduate level
  • Portfolio: including evidence of current practical work, sketchbooks and evidence of critical writing. An appropriate level of engagement with current debates in contemporary arts and making is required

English language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.5.

Visual Arts Blog

Delve into Visual Arts department news, events and student and staff work on the Visual Arts blog.

Fees

  • UK/EU Fee: £13,540
  • International: £18,080

Tuition fees include much more than is typical of universities, i.e. tuition fees plus basic materials, lunch, morning/afternoon tea/coffee. Included is mandatory study trip cost of £250, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study. For one day study trips lunch is provided, while for residential study trips meals are not included.

Additional costs
Accommodation and living expenses are additional.

Funding available - find out more

Artist in Residence Programme

The Artist-in-Residence programme sees a series of professional artists living and working onsite, amongst Visual Arts students. They offer tutorial sessions with students as well as public presentations on the work produced during the residency and their wider practice.

Find out more

Tutors

David Stent

Visual Arts Subject Leader, Dr. David R J Stent is an artist, writer, curator and musician. His diverse practice draws on various media including drawing, photography, digital and print publishing, film and video, sonic and sculptural installation.

Philip Sanderson

Philip Sanderson studied both at Middlesex University and the Royal College of Art before joining the Professional Tapestry Studio at West Dean College in 1993, and his current role is as a Master Weaver Designer. Philip has designed tapestries for numerous clients, notably for the New Parliamentary Buildings in Westminster.

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is Curatorial Assistant at West Dean College and Visiting Lecturer on the full-time Visual Arts programmes . She is a practicing artist, performer, and composer, working across sculpture, improvised music, composition and publishing.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course or would like further information please contact admissions either by enquiring online or calling the number below. To make your application you will need to download and fill out our application form.

+44 (0)1243 818 291

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West Dean is part of a registered charity and relies on the support of generous donors, friends, legacies to help us deliver world-class education in conservation and the creative arts and maintain our award-winning gardens.

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