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The MFA (Master of Fine Art) at West Dean College is a two-year full-time programme of study designed to further advance students' capacities in practical, theoretical and professional domains, with an emphasis on specialist studio practice. The two-year structure provides students with sustained periods of studio-based activity, with dissertation requirements coming early in the second year of study. The emphasis on practice is nonetheless informed and supported by theoretical and professional Study Units throughout the academic year. Whether specialising in a single discipline or working across media, MFA students will have time to develop and expand their studio work to the highest standards, bringing in relevant historical, theoretical and professional perspectives.
MFA students can expect:
All full-time Fine 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.
You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops, individual and group tutorials, critique sessions, oral and written presentations, and external visits.
On the Master of Fine Art (MFA) you typically have around 11-12 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:
When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-directed study. Typically, this will involve:
33% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching
and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 785 hours
Independent learning: 1615 hours
Programme Structure Year1
Programme Structure Year 2
The following qualifications will be considered for entry on to the MFA:
Course fees are the same for UK and international students
Includes study trip costs of £400 which typically includes
tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to
the programme of study.
Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more
Student Scholarships and Bursaries
Approximately 60% of students receive some form of funding.
"It's difficult to put into words how amazing it is to be here, I feel very privileged and I don't want to waste a day."Agata Bogacka, Master of Fine Arts student
Each year students stage a series of public exhibitions, including an annual fundraising exhibition and the celebrated Summer Shows that are held at the College and in London. Through these students develop skills in the requirements of exhibition management, such as production, installation and marketing. View the 2019 Summer Show Gallery
As well as being encouraged to exhibit externally, both locally and nationally, during their studies students also have the unique opportunity to propose installations within West Dean House, as part of the annual Arts & Craft Festival, to build upon their existing practices and enhance their professional profile. Project proposals are encouraged to reflect the rich heritage of West Dean and the legacy of College founder Edward James. See the 2018 installations
"After studying for a BA in Fine Art, I wanted to further my education and gain more manual skills. West Dean College seemed a perfect choice because of its interdisciplinary teaching and access to workshops and short courses.
My art practice is based on materiality and the variety of teaching available and importance put on making has been amazing. I have introduced ceramics, textiles and printmaking into my art practice, all because of the access that I have had to real experts in these fields.
Thanks to the support of the Edward James Foundation, I have been able to fully immerse myself in my art and creativity. I know that having an MFA qualification is going to be life changing." Nicola Ferrie, MFA
The Artist-in-Residence programme sees a series of professional artists living and working onsite, amongst Fine Art students. They offer tutorial sessions with students as well as public presentations on the work produced during the residency and their wider practice.
Fine Art alumni are based all over the world and regularly exhibit their work in a variety of venues including the APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale, Malta; Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, London; Malamegi Lab, Italy; and Art Rooms, London.
In 2018 MFA alumna, Lotti V Closs, completed a month-long residency at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop with support from her recently awarded a-n Artist Bursary for 2018, a prize supporting self-directed professional development projects.
MA graduate Laura Luna Castillo, working in collaboration with another West Dean alumnus, Conservation of Clocks graduate Jonathan Turner-Bishop, completed a Kamiyama Artists' Residency in Japan with an exhibition during October 2018. Their piece, Yorii-za theatre, was the culmination of several months working on site in the town of Kamiyama.
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 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 is a Subject Tutor on the full-time Fine Art programmes and Curatorial Assistant in the College's Collections Department. She is a practicing artist, performer, and composer with a long standing interest in alternative modes of living, creative agency, and acts of resistance.
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.