Skip to content | Accessibility Information

Fine Art

Fine Art
MA 1 year (full-time), 2 years (part-time)
MFA 2 years (full-time), 4 years (part-time)

MA/MFA Fine Art provides a stimulating environment in which you will be guided to develop your creative aspirations, reach a critical maturity, and gain the self-confidence and skills that will enable you to work as a successful artist.

The course is studio practice driven and relies on experimentation and critical reflection supported by individualised mentoring, lectures, seminars and group critiques. It emphasises the articulation of ideas, development of working methods and the realisation of independent work. Seminars are structured to investigate a broad range of themes relevant to the practicing artist and provide a rich diet of inspiration.


  • The course is taught by practicing artists and maintains active links with an international network of art professionals and organisations.
  • You will have your own spaces within communal studios, with full access to the School's workshops and other resources.
  • Regular programme of artists talks and studio visits from professionals working in the field.
  • Regular programme of talks by visiting artists organised in association with The Whitworth Art Gallery.
  • The University library has outstanding Art and Design holdings, including a special collection of artist’s books and ephemera.

Course Content

The MA Fine Art is made up of five units totalling 180 credits.

The programme is practice driven and focussed on the development of your existing practice. It will enable you to identify and explore new concepts and approaches negotiated through an individual Working Synopsis.

You will also be encouraged and supported to extend your experience in the professional sphere either through a practical project, research context, exchange, work experience, or other negotiated professional set of interactions with an external partner, groups of students or other art world partner. 

Towards the end of the programme you will consolidate your  research and practice into fully realised body of work for exhibition or other form of public situation as appropriate.  You will also have developed a strategy for the continuation of your practice located and contextualised to the profession or discipline.

If you choose to progress to MFA Fine Art award you will study a further two units of 60 credits each. 

This award is focussed on the continuation of your practice aligned to the research and selection of appropriate public or professional venues and platforms to disseminate a significant body of work. You will be required to produce work for a public audience in the most relevant and appropriate form along with any implicit publicity and dissemination material. 

Year 1 (MA Full-Time)

The MA Fine Art is made up of five units totalling 180 credits.

Option Units (Subject to Change)

Practice 1: Art: working synopsis

This unit is focused on the reformulation and development of the your existing practice within the context of Fine Art, Drawing or Collaborative Practice. It is practice-driven and allows for the identification and exploration of new concepts, theories, issues and topics as negotiated through an individual Working Synopsis.

Practice 2: Art

This unit is focused on the continuing development of individual practice. It is practice-driven and encourages the further exploration of practical working approaches, concepts, theories, issues and topics as negotiated through an individual Working Synopsis.

Practice 3: Art: Fine Art

Driven and focused on the development of your practice through the realisation of a comprehensive and coherent body of work, this unit builds upon the previous practice 1 and 2 units and provides an opportunity to sustain the development of practice over a concentrated period of time.  Within this unit you will be expected to resolve a comprehensive understanding of their practice, its place in relation to the broader related discipline and the potential professionalisation and sustainability of future practice.  You will be expected to be able to communicate the summary learning journey of their programme of study, the relevant methodologies used to develop the practice and the future professional pathways being exploring.  There is a break within this unit to allow for a period of reflection that will contribute towards the final written component necessary for assessment.

Professional Platforms

This unit extends your experience into the professional sphere, either through a practical project, research context, exchange, work experience or other negotiated professional set of interactions with an external partner, groups of students and creative industry. Projects and placements take place in a set network of art, design and media organisations in the region, but can also be arranged by individual students if based on similar frameworks of professional development and experience. The PDP also takes place in this unit.

Contested Territories

This unit will address the contested nature of the conceptual and material territories upon which human identities and cultures are developed.

Digital Futures

This unit offers focused opportunity for students to extend and enhance their practice by including, exploring and developing digital content in a wider research community.

Health and Wellbeing

This unit focuses on public health and wellbeing with an emphasis on Inequalities; Prevention; Promotion and Protection. By building on the strong legacy of art/design in clinical environments, this unit will expand your understanding of theory and practice in the emerging public health agenda and through real-life research opportunities, will offer exploration of individual practice in diverse contexts: e.g. mental health, long-term conditions, healthy ageing and proactive wellbeing.

Images and Archives

This unit explores theoretical, critical and practical perspectives on art, photography and the archive.

Making Our Futures - Ecological Arts and Sustainable Design

How might we tackle the most pressing issues of our time? This unit will address the future conceptually, tangibly and critically through ecological arts and sustainable design practices. Adopting a 'question-based learning' approach to 'real world' challenges, students will consider their potential to intervene and reinvent social and cultural systems, environments and lifestyles. Through presentations, interactive design activities, and ‘Open Space Technology’ techniques students will engage with the Unit Team from the Ecology In Practice (EIP) research group and the Education for Sustainable Development initiative from the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT ESD). Students will develop a project of their own that will involve different forms of theoretical and practical research methods and may engage third sector organisations and/or place-specific issues.

Negotiated Study

This unit offers you an individual focused opportunity to extend and enhance your practice by including a self-negotiated study. This will enable students to:

  • Extend ideas and proposals developed in Practice 1
  • Facilitate a deeper level of learning in a particular workshop or subject discipline, or conceptual paradigm
  • Pursue an external project or competition brief appropriate to your practice.

Object and Context

This unit will introduce you to notions, ideas, principles and practices concerning objects. A series of delivered lectures, seminars and workshops will discuss and explore the role of objects in design. It will enable the location of these ideas into individual or collaborative practice and give experience of individual and collaborative practice.

The Museum and The City

The unit explores the relationship between the museum and the city and the city as museum. Attention shifts between theoretical and historical models, as well as making use of specific locations and institutions in the city.

Writing Research and Funding Proposals

An introduction to writing proposals to funding bodies such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Arts Council England (ACE).  This unit will cover such topics as: generating fundable ideas; developing critical and conceptual frameworks; establishing credible methodologies and approaches; awareness of the the parameters of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, AHRC and ACE; the importance of collaboration; working in groups, public engagement and impact; presenting ideas to the group, giving and receiving informed criticism; developing an effective writing style; structuring proposals and writing to length.

Year 2 (MFA Full-Time)

The MFA Fine Art continues with the following two units totalling 120 credits.

Practice 4: Contextualising

This unit is centred on continuation of your practice aligned to the research and selection of appropriate public or professional venues or platforms with which to disseminate a significant body of work. Through the unit you will be asked to approach, propose, negotiate and progress a plan for the dissemination of your body of work.

Practice 5: Realisation and Publication

This is the final unit towards an MFA award in which you are required to realise a significant body of work for a public audience in whatever form is most appropriate, along with any implicit publicity and dissemination material. Work at this level is significantly self-determined and, as such, you will be asked to define and appraise your own learning outcomes through negotiation.

You can find further details about the curriculum in the Programme Specification Document


We have developed a dedicated postgraduate area occupying an entire floor of the main School of Art building, offering an exciting space to be, both intellectually and practically. The centre is located in the newly refurbished Chatham Tower with studios, design laboratories, seminar rooms and extensive workshops that form the nucleus of this vibrant, cross-disciplinary learning environment.

Find out more about Manchester School of Art's facilities.

Student Work

Visit our online MA Show galleries to see examples of recent work by our postgraduate students.

MA Show 2016 - View Work Online       MA Show 2015 - View Work Online

MA Show 2014 - View Work Online       MA Show 2013 - View Work Online

Making an Application

Entry Requirements

You will normally have an undergraduate UK honours degree (or international equivalent) or a degree-equivalent postgraduate diploma or a professional qualification. Alternatively, you may be admitted if you can demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills at honours degree standard. In addition, you may also need to submit a Digital Portfolio.

How to Apply

Please apply online using the link below. In your personal statement please include a web address to an online portfolio containing a selection of images or videos of your past work. You should also explain how you would like to develop your practice during the course.

Download Application Form

Fees 2017 Entry

Fees for this course have yet to be confirmed and will be updated shortly.

Eligible alumni receive a 20% discount on their postgraduate tuition fees. Find out more about our Alumni Loyalty Discount.

Also see Postgraduate funding and financial support.

Course Leader