The next Open Day will take place on Saturday 4 February 2017. Learn more

Duration: 2 academic years (36 weeks pa) full time

The MFA (Master of Fine Arts) 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 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

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

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

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.

Entry Requirements

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

  • 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.

Gallery

Sarah Heenan's Variations on a Theme, MFA
Visual Arts Studio Space
Lotti V Closs, MFA Visual Arts
Sarah Cliff, MFA Visual Arts

Fees

  • UK/EU Fee: £10,245 per annum
    • International: £13,140 per annum
      Fees payable by term, 2 weeks in advance of term start date

      Application deadline for 2017 entry: 1 March 2017.

Funding available - find out more

Tutors

David Stent

Visual Arts Programme 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. As both Master Weaver and Creative Director of the Studio, Philip has designed tapestries for numerous clients, notably for the New Parliamentary Buildings in Westminster.

Jon Shaw

Jon K. Shaw is a writer, educator and editor. His academic research concerns unilateral difference and retroactive causation in the work of Antonin Artaud. Jon also teaches in the Department of Art at City and Guilds, and the Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths.

Marcus Rees Roberts

Marcus Rees Roberts has taught at the Slade and was Head of Printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art. He now makes paintings, prints, artists' books and short films

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is Research 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.

Program advisors

The Visual Arts programmes are supported by a core team of regular teaching staff supplemented by a number of visiting tutors. Students gain insight into from the ongoing practices and research interests of staff, including the Programme Leader and Associate Tutors. This includes international exhibition profiles, ongoing research and publishing projects, and evidence of collaboration with other institutions, academic symposia and related events.

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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