Fine Art MFA

Why choose this course?

The new MFA in Fine Art at Kingston School of Art offers a unique blend of studio and theoretical training. On the programme you will develop your practice as an artist while critically reflecting on and locating that practice within a changing social, political and cultural context. You will have the opportunity to take one art theory module with the world-renowned Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), and work across a range of media, taking advantage of the School's new cutting-edge workshops.

This course is studio-based and research-centred. Developing your personal vision and understanding of collaborative practice, you will create clear and meaningful work to consolidate and strengthen your position as an artist and creative practitioner.

You will produce self-initiated work from the outset. Individual tutorials, seminar presentations and practical workshops will support your studies.

You will be able to develop a major body of practical work that engages with the context of a critical understanding of contemporary fine art practice.

Through a student-centred approach to teaching and learning you will be encouraged to work on individual projects as well as experiment with collaborative modes of production and exhibition, developing relevant artistic and curatorial strategies both within the field of contemporary art and across broader cultural contexts. A programme of lectures, studio seminars and personal tutorials will connect you to a network of artists, curators, writers and gallerists as you explore what it means to make art in the 21st century.

Current faculty members include Jo Addison, Dan Kidner, Mike Nelson, Peter Osborne, Elizabeth Price, Morgan Quaintance, Alexis Teplin and Roman Vasseur.

Recent guest lecturers and speakers include Ed Atkins, Helen Cammock, Mandy El-Sayegh, N. Katherine Hayles, Mark Leckey, Every Ocean Hughes, Amalia Pica, Prem Sahib, Patrick Staff, Leslie Thornton, Zoé Whitley, Issy Wood and Abbas Zahedi.

Kingston School of Art is an internationally recognised art school with a reputation for excellence and innovation in research across disciplines. The school is located a 20-minute train journey from the heart of London on a campus that includes the Stanley Picker Gallery and the newly rebuilt extension designed by architects Haworth Tompkins.

The School of Art includes departments of architecture, film, photography, fashion and product design. The School is part of Kingston University whose neighbouring sites include the Town House, a building designed by the RIBA Gold Medal-winning, Grafton Architects and the Visconti Music Studios at Kingston Hill. The School works closely with galleries, museums and institutions in London including the ICA, BFI, LUX, and Chisenhale Gallery.

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 2 years 3 - 5 days a week September 2023
Location Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • You will be part of a small cohort based in dedicated studios in the Fine Art Department within a thriving and diverse community of undergraduates, post-graduates and researchers.
  • This course offers a unique blend of studio and theoretical training. You will develop your practice as an artist while critically reflecting on and locating that practice within a changing social, political and cultural context. Tutorials and lectures by artists, curators and thinkers of international standing support your development.
  • You will have the opportunity to take one art theory module with the world-renowned Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP).
  • You will work across a range of media, taking advantage of the School's new cutting-edge workshops located next to the dedicated MFA Fine Art studios.
  • The MFA studios are situated directly adjacent to the newly refurbished, world-class technical facilities, the Stanley Picker public gallery with its events programme and a campus shared by artists, designers and theorists.
  • This course is taught by practising artists, curators, writers and other invited professionals, offering a broad range of cultural, intellectual and practical experience. Regular lectures are enhanced by a programme of public talks at the ICA London.
  • You can opt to select one option module delivered by Kingston University's Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP).

The Art School Experience

As part of Kingston School of Art, students on this course benefit from joining a creative community where collaborative working and critical practice are encouraged.

Our workshops and studios are open to all disciplines – enabling students and staff to work together, share ideas and explore multi-disciplinary making.

Two students collaborate on a design project.

What you will study

This course will help you to enhance your research and analytical skills as an integral aspect of your studio practice.

Your own research is augmented by collaborative work, seminars and talks. Within a diverse cohort of students, you'll challenge one another's world views, towards an in depth understanding of cultural production.

You will amass a substantial body of work, develop and apply highly attuned analytical skills, practice innovative exhibition strategies and hone your confidence as an artist.

Typically students must complete 120 credits at each level, totalling 240 credits by the end of the degree.

Year 1 modules

Final year modules

The teaching in the first year supports students in establishing their studio practice and critical skills. Sessions with key professionals in contemporary art then go on to assist students in developing the research and professional skills they need to sustain a career. This is then followed by a period in which students (in dialogue with their peers) explore their strengthened individual practice and research through making and reflecting on modes for disseminating art.

Core module (plus the modules in option 1 OR option 2)

Practice and Critique

60 credits

This module aims to enable you to develop a body of artwork with reference to artworks, art historical, theoretical, inter-disciplinary and wider cultural contexts. The module integrates theory and practice to allow you to develop and apply individually developed critical tools in order to make and analyse your own work and the work of your peers. You will become able to express your abilities to reflect and be critical through making, recording, documentation and evaluation of ideas from within your discipline and from the wider interdisciplinary environment. The Practice and Critique module introduces making, verbal and written communication skills to allow you to position your developing practice. This enables you to begin to understand the field of your practical research and your potential contribution to that field.

Option 1

Extended Research and Professional Skills

60 credits

This module builds on the grounding work of the Practice and Critique Module by developing research skills alongside a range of professional skills. The module aims to provide you with comparative models of what research means in the context of a fine art practice alongside differing models of professional practice. To this end students will understand for example the difference between research-led practice and practice-based-research. You will be expected to understand how issues of funding, project management, institutional frameworks and organisation impact on the production and reception of artworks. You will learn the conceptual implications of these structures on your art as you further define the field of your research. The module will develop written, presentation, technical, artistic and communication skills as ways and means of expressing research. You will also begin to establish professional and organisational structures that are appropriate to your research and arts practice. These methods of organising and making your work public will enable you to successfully complete the course and sustain your research and art after graduating. The distinguishing feature of the larger credit version of this module (60 credits) is a fully costed project or exhibition proposal with documentation of current and past work.

Option 2

Research and Professional Skills

30 credits

This module builds on the grounding work of the Practice and Critique module by developing research skills alongside a range of professional skills. The module aims to provide you with comparative models of what research means in the context of a fine art practice alongside differing models of professional practice. To this end students will understand for example the difference between research-led practice and practice-based-research. You will be expected to understand how issues of funding, institutional frameworks and organisation impact on the production and reception of artworks. You will learn the conceptual implications of these structures on your art as you further define the field of your research. The module will develop written, presentation, technical, artistic and communication skills as ways and means of expressing research. You will also begin to establish professional and organisational structures that are appropriate to your research and arts practice. These methods of organising and making your work public will enable you to successfully complete the course and sustain your research and art after graduating.

Art Theory: Modernist, Avant-Garde, Contemporary

30 credits

Based on a study of artists' texts, art criticism, art history and philosophical writings on art, this module comprises a critical examination of the legacy and possibilities of modernist and avant-garde criticism in contemporary art theory. As well as introducing students to some of the major texts and ideas in these traditions of art theory and art criticism, the modules aims to enable students to reflect critically on works of contemporary art in the light of their study.

In the second year of the MFA you are given the time, teaching, support and discursive framework to consolidate their independent practice and research. You will work towards the completion of a final major exposition of work that signals a critical engagement with notions of dissemination and publication in the field of contemporary art. The final major exposition is the culmination of the technical, critical, professional and organisational skills learnt earlier in the course.

Core modules

Extended Practice

60 credits

This module aims to enable you to develop your practice with reference to individually identified cultural and social contexts and begins to examine in more depth the relation of artworks to audience. You will be encouraged to apply developed critical tools in order to make and analyse your own work and the work of your peers. You will consider a wider interdisciplinary environment, working individually and collaboratively to investigate and disseminate your work inside and outside of the studio. During the module you will be expected to present your work in the public arena and may work together or individually to test the most appropriate platform for the dissemination of your work. The Extended Practice module allows you time to focus on your strengthened individual positions through making and testing and reflection on appropriate modes for disseminating work.

Final Major Exposition

60 credits

This module is the bringing together and culmination of the strands of learning from earlier modules. This includes but is not limited to a consolidation of your skills with regard to critique, professional frameworks and organisation, research and studio practice. Having tested strategies for disseminating work in the previous module this module focuses on the realisation of an ambitious project with an accompanying publication. It is expected that your final project and publication will fully realise and expresses the conceptual terrain that your current research and art has mapped out and take a form appropriate to the enquiry you are making. The publication will take a form pertinent to your art and research and is understood as a visual and written culmination of the thinking carried out in the previous modules. The Final Major Exposition module allows students enough time to achieve an ambitious final project and publication that signals a critical engagement with notions of dissemination and publication in the field of contemporary art.

Please note

Optional modules only run if there is enough demand. If we have an insufficient number of students interested in an optional module, that module will not be offered for this course.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

Applicants should have a 2:2 or above honours degree in fine art or an equivalent British or overseas qualification.

We will also consider applicants with relevant work experience. Your application might also be considered if you aren't a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but you must have relevant experience of the visual arts and can demonstrate you have the capacity to work at postgraduate level.

Applicants will be asked to upload an online portfolio as part of the application process.

Portfolio guidance

You will be required to submit a digital portfolio of work and an artist statement to support your application.

We are not able to carry out interviews so your digital portfolio will be very important in helping us to learn about you and your work and your readiness for postgraduate study. The ability to communicate your work, processes, thinking and understanding of contemporary art should be evident in your portfolio and artist's statement. We want to know what your interests are and how you critically reflect on those interests.

We also want to see how much you understand about the course you are applying to and how it is different from other post graduate courses but also how this course would suit you and the development of your work. The course is unique amongst London's postgraduate fine art programmes in that it takes only a relatively small number of students. We need to know what you will contribute to the dynamic of the group, understand how you will work individually and with others from diverse backgrounds.

Digital portfolio

In your portfolio we would like to see a collection of work that illustrates your range of skills and expresses your visual and aesthetic sensibilities. It will show us your practical and thinking skills as well as your creative interests.

We are interested in all forms of media and techniques you consider to be relevant, for example drawing, collage, photography, sculpture, painting, printmaking, video and performance.

We recommend that you use the following structure to prepare your portfolio:

  • Your portfolio should have a maximum of 20 carefully prepared pages.
  • You can compile the pages in PowerPoint, Photoshop, Word etc. but please save the finished portfolio as a single PDF.
  • Label images clearly with the title of the work, date it was made, medium and dimensions. Please try to give a clear sense of the scale of the work.
  • Where the work is video, sound work or performance you can include screenshots of the piece in your PDF but should also provide us with a link to a site such as Vimeo for example where we can view the work.
  • Do not exceed a total file size of 50 MB. There are lots of online sites that will compress your pdf to a smaller file size so it's easy for us to see.

Artist statement

Please also include a statement about yourself and the work you have presented. You can provide this in one of two ways:

  • A written statement (600 words max), or;
  • A short film (2 minutes max). Please provide us with the link to this at the end of your portfolio.

Whichever method you choose, please address the following questions:

  • Why do you want to study Fine Art at Masters level? And why the MFA at Kingston School of Art? Demonstrate to us that you have read and understood what the course has to offer. Are you interested in taking the art theory option module delivered by the philosophy department for example?
  • Can you tell us about a particular artist or artwork and how you have used this to develop your art?
  • What are the urgent questions for your work that you feel time on an MFA would help you to address?
  • How do you go about generating and developing ideas? Tell us what interests you e.g. what you look at, visit, read, listen to.
  • Which aspect of your studio practice do you look forward to developing most on an MFA? What do you want to address technically in the work?
  • How might your fellow students and staff benefit by working alongside you in group work or discussion?
  • A short list of contemporary art galleries, museums and exhibitions that you have either recently seen or read about. This list can sit outside of the 600 word-count.

If you have questions about the course or about what to include in your portfolio and artist statement then please contact Joint Course Leader Roman Vasseur.

International

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Student work gallery

Teaching and assessment

The course employs a range of approaches to teaching and learning. Lectures, seminars, group critiques, individual tutorials, optional study visits, presentations, workshops and assessed expositions of work support the development of your practice and research.

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy documents and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.

Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.

Your timetable

3 - 5 days a week; the main teaching days for students are Monday and Wednesday.

MFA Fine Art is a two-year, full-time course. The timetable is carefully designed to facilitate progression.

Your full attendance is expected in timetabled sessions and at all other times we expect you to be engaged in self-directed study within the university.

We would normally expect you to be in attendance 3-5 days per week. Key teaching days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Missing key sessions will inevitably affect your marks. Similarly, non-submission of work at assessment will impact on results.

Whilst we recognise the necessity for some students to take employment to support studies, we strongly advise that this should not exceed 16 hours per week or you will find it difficult to keep up.

Your workload

Type of teaching and assessment

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Year 1

Final year

Year 1
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 110 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1090 hours
Final year
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 90 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1110 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises a presentation of practical work (eg exhibitions, performance) and supporting coursework (eg contextual written documents, research folders, evaluative reports, portfolios, presentations).

The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 100%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Ongoing feedback is provided at group and individual tutorials, module sessions and at tutorials with departmental professors and visiting artists and professionals. Summative feedback is given after each assessment point and we aim for your individual tutor to provide feedback within 20 working days of your work being assessed. These are occasions when the strengths and weaknesses of the work are highlighted and discussed in order to progress the work.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 12 students and lecture sizes are normally 25-150.

However this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course?

This course is delivered by academics at Kingston School of Art, all of whom are professional artists, curators or writers. Their specialisms include but are not limited to: artist's film and video; painting; performance; sculpture; art and urbanism; art and informatics; art and political philosophy; art and questions of pedagogy.

Alongside core teaching, there are opportunities for tutorials with Professors Elizabeth Price and Mike Nelson. Invited artists, curators, gallerists, writers and critics offer further input into the teaching and the opportunity for students to compare and discuss differing models for the production and dissemination of art.

A highly distinctive aspect of the course is that one option module is delivered by the internationally renowned Kingston University Philosophy Department, the Centre for Research into Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP). CRMEP is internationally recognised as the leading centre for postgraduate level study and doctoral research in continental philosophy in the UK and its work is characterised by an emphasis on broad cultural and intellectual contexts, including contemporary art and a distinctive sense of social and political engagement.  Fine Art students are also welcome to attend the CRMEP talks programme.

The Fine Art Department has within it a highly innovative practice-based Fine Art PhD programme. Artist researchers give presentations to the MFA on their research projects allowing students, who are considering developing a PhD proposal in the future, exposure to practice-based research.

Staff teach between all the programmes within the Fine Art Department including the undergraduate programme that ranks amongst the top ten of undergraduate Fine Art courses in the UK. This means that an enormous range of expertise, research and art practices are available to students.

A regular artist's talks programme takes place on site and has included artists Ed Atkins, Helen Cammock, Mandy El-Sayegh, Mark Leckey, Every Ocean Hughes, Amalia Pica, Prem Sahib, Patrick Staff, Leslie Thornton, Zoé Whitley, Issy Wood and Abbas Zahedi. The department also collaborates with the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Central London on a public talks programme that has recently included artist Steven Warwick and literary critic and author of How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, N. Katherine Hayles.

Student work gallery 2

Fees for this course

2023/24 fees for this course

Home 2023/24

  • MFA full time £10,900

International 2023/24

  • MFA full time £18,700

2022/23 fees for this course

Home 2022/23

  • MFA full time £10,260

International 2022/23

  • MFA full time £18,200

Tuition fee information for future course years

This is a two-year full time course with the published full time fee payable in each year of study.

If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.

If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.

Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.

Textbooks

Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free Wi-Fi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.

Travel

Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Facilities

MFA Fine Art students are based at the University's Knights Park campus. Kingston School of Art is unique in offering a close-knit community occupying a recently refurbished riverside campus. Friends and colleagues share student life, ideas and conversation, just a 30-minute train ride from London's world-leading galleries, museums and creative industries.

The MFA Fine Art programme takes place in dedicated studio spaces directly opposite the recently refurbished state-of-the-art technical areas, the Stanley Picker Gallery and the undergraduate fine art studios.

The workshops and studios at Knights Park are open for creative exploration and offer you plenty of opportunities to collaborate on projects and share ideas, whether you are studying or researching. Building on this open approach, there are many adaptable Architecture studio and workshop spaces, designed by Stirling Prize winning Haworth Tompkins to provide technical workshops that specifically serve artists and designers.

At the heart of the building are new state of the art workshop facilities, which include:

  • 3D workshop, with ceramics, concrete, resin-casting, plastics, metalwork, woodwork and a bronze-casting foundry, as well as a Big Build space for Architecture, set design and large-scale model making
  • Animation and postproduction studios
  • Digital Media workshop
  • Fashion (knitting and sewing workshops), with digital and analogue facilities, plus a working dress archive which includes pieces from 1750 to the present day
  • HackSpace (for collaborative, creative, solutions-focussed projects)
  • Letterpress and printmaking workshop, with digital and analogue facilities, to experiment creatively
  • Moving Image workshop, with studios, editing suite, and industry-standard equipment
  • Photography workshop, including studios, colour, and black and white darkrooms, processing facilities
  • All our facilities are open access, meaning you can use them whenever you want, and irrespective of what degree you're studying.

Galleries

The University also has its own on-site galleries, including:

  • Dorich House - the former studio home of the sculptor Dora Gordine and her husband the Hon. Richard Hare, a scholar of Russian art and literature. Now Grade II listed, the building was completed in 1936, to Gordine's design, and is an exceptional example of a modern studio house created by and for a female artist.
  • Stanley Picker Gallery - one of the leading examples of a university gallery in the UK. Its public activities are dedicated to the research, commissioning and presentation of innovative new practice across the fields of art, design and architecture for general, academic and specialist audiences. Each year the gallery hosts a fellowship in design and a fellowship in art that culminates in projects by practitioners at key stages in their careers.
  • Project spaces at Knights Park campus, which you can book for the exhibition of large-scale work.

Resources in London

Kingston is just a 20-minute train journey away from central London. Here you can access the city's major museums, galleries, artists' spaces, archives and events. These include Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the British Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, the National Gallery, Hauser & Wirth, the Royal Academy and Frieze Art Fair. Kingston School of Art works closely with the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in central London where internationally acclaimed exhibitions, events, talks and screenings are held that students often attend. Staff members' professional contacts with central London institutions means that opportunities arise for students to meet arts professionals as part of optional visits to galleries, museums or archives, for example.

Artists Talks programme

After you graduate

Our graduates have progressed to careers in curation, arts administration, project management, arts education and PhD study, and have established arts collectives internationally.

Whilst the course does not offer progression onto the Fine Art PhD at Kingston School of Art it is understood that the programme supports those interested in developing a practice-based PhD proposal in the future with which they can apply to PhD programmes nationally and internationally as well as at Kingston School of Art.

Links with business and industry

Our students are encouraged to engage closely with the diverse businesses that make London one of the most important centres for the creative industries. Our industry connections mean we provide unique study opportunities, such as:

  • the chance to have your work seen by eminent members of your profession;
  • 'live' projects, site visits and placements in prestigious companies or institutions; and
  • project work and workshops with visiting lecturers and industry specialists.

Our excellent reputation means that industry leaders regularly visit our student shows to see the best of the new talent.

Research areas

Kingston School of Art is internationally renowned for research excellence and innovation across disciplines.

The Fine Art Department is home to a highly innovative practice-based Fine Art PhD programme and undergraduate programme that ranks amongst the top ten of undergraduate Fine Art courses in the UK. Working within a campus that is conducive to creative dialogues and exchange, students often choose to collaborate across different levels and disciplines.

Our faculty research centres explore practices, histories and theories of contemporary art, design and material culture.

Specifically, within the Department of Fine Art, The Contemporary Art Research Centre explores innovation in contemporary fine art, focusing on:

  • art and social context;
  • art and technology;
  • art and epistemology; and
  • art and materiality.

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.