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MFA (Master of Fine Art)
Duration: 2 academic years (36 weeks pa) full time


Register now for Open Day on Friday 6 December.
Find out more about funding opportunities.


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:

  • Support in 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 studio practice 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
  • To 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 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 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.

Contact Hours

Teaching

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:

  • 2 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 2 hours of one-to-one/group tutorials
  • 1-2 hours of critique sessions
  • 4 hours of practical workshops
  • 1 hour of external visits (on average)

Independent learning

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:

  • working in the studio
  • developing supporting material and research portfolios
  • undertaking research in the library
  • reading journal articles and books
  • working on specific unit assignments
  • preparing presentations and self-assessments.

Overall workload

33% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 785 hours
Independent learning: 1615 hours

Programme Structure Year 1

Programme Structure Year1

Programme Structure Year 2

Programme Structure Year 2

Entry Requirements

The following qualifications will be considered for entry on to the MFA:

  • An Honours Degree or equivalent qualification in Fine Art or a related discipline
  • Relevant work experience in an arts-related field which demonstrates your ability to study at postgraduate level
  • Portfolio: including evidence of current practical work, sketchbooks, documentation, 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 2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.

Fees

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

  • £3,600 per term (£10,800 per year)

Includes study trip costs of £400 which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study.

Additional costs
Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more

Student Scholarships and Bursaries

Approximately 60% of students receive some form of funding.

Find out more about 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

Exhibition opportunities

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

Student perspective

"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

Artist in Residence Programme

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.

Find out more

Alumni

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.

Read more alumni profiles

School of Arts blog

Banner Culture at the British Textile Biennial 2019

A banner made during a workshop at West Dean College is currently on exhibition as part of the British Textile Biennial 2019. Banner Culture presents a retrospective history of protest in the UK, from traditional processional banners from heritage collections to contemporary DIY messages from local campaign groups. The exhibition is open in the iconic Brierfield Mill, Lancashire, from 3rd... Find out more

Visual Arts MA Show 2019

The MA Show 2019 showcases artworks by graduating students from the Visual Arts MA programme at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. The free exhibition, held in the College's Edward James Studios, will display painting, sculpture and textiles from Emma Hurst, Dennis Joroen and Emma Straw.

Preview: Thursday 12 September, 5-7pm Open: Friday 13 September - Sunday 15 September... Find out more

Visual Arts Exhibit in Margate

The Visual Arts programmes were recently showcased with an exhibition on Margate seafront, hosted by a brand new space, Artgame, a short walk from Turner Contemporary. This was the latest iteration of the 'external' show staged by West Dean Visual Arts - including work from graduating students from the Graduate Diploma and MFA programmes - which have in previous years taken place in various... Find out more

Finalist for Prestigious Australian Tapestry Award

by Emma Straw, student

Every two years the Australian Tapestry Workshop announces an open call, The Kate Derum and Irene Davies Award for Emerging Tapestry Artists. When the award was announced earlier this year I had just completed the Creative Research Strategies module on the MA Visual Arts programme here at West Dean College; the research module gave me access to the extensive... Find out more

Meet the Artists - West Dean Summer Show 2019

The West Dean Summer Show 2019 will showcase original work by emerging artists studying for their Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts, Graduate Diploma and MFA qualifications. The free exhibition, held in the College's Edward James Studios, will display a diverse range of practices including sculpture, installation, print, painting, film, ceramics, and textiles. The Visual Arts students... Find out more

Read more School of Arts department news, events, and student and staff work on the School of Arts blog.

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 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.

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.

Open Day - register today

Come and find out what makes West Dean College of Arts and Conservation such an amazing place to study. Explore the studios, take a tour with students, discuss your study options, and find out about funding at our next Open Day on:

Friday 6 December 2019

Register your place and find out more