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:
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 Arts (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 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, and preparing presentations and self-assessments.
33 per cent of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 785 hours
Independent learning: 1615 hours
Programme Structure - MFA Year One
Programme Structure - MFA Year Two
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.
The Visual Arts Summer Shows for 2018, taking place first at West Dean and then in London. The exhibitions showcase the work of students graduating from the full-time Visual Arts programmes, including Graduate Diploma and Master's degrees, as well as interim exhibitions by first year MFA students. Find out more
The following qualifications will be considered for entry on to the MFA:
English language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.5.
"Access to workshop facilities, alongside an interdisciplinary approach with excellent tutorial support, has been a huge stimulus. Close contact with painters and sculptors has enabled me to develop my work along unexpected and exciting pathways"Susan Evans, MFA Student
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.
Accommodation and living expenses are additional.
Currently a third of all tuition fees are met through
bursary or scholarship funding.
In 16/17 almost 60% of students were in receipt of some support. Find out about funding here.
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.
"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
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 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.
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.