Fine Art MFA

Why choose this course?

Kingston School of Art is an internationally regarded art school with a reputation for excellence and innovation in research across disciplines. The newly restructured MFA Fine Art course invites applicants to critically engage with contemporary art and identify what the urgent questions for contemporary practice are. Artists joining the course are asked to reflect on the historical, social, political, technological and intellectual conditions for artistic production. We believe students will then be equipped to understand and question contemporary art and lead rather than follow developments in the field.

Teaching on the course is designed to carefully nurture the core methods, ideas and approaches of its students. The course is studio based with world-class technical facilities and teaching that will consolidate and strengthen students' positions as practicing artists.

Professors in the Department of Fine Art include Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price and Mike Nelson who represented Britain at the 2011 Venice Biennale.

Recent guest lecturers and speakers include Caroline Achaintre, Barby Asanti, Dexter Dalwood, Mark Leckey, Chooc Ly Tan, Amila Pica, Anahita Razmi, Grace Schwindt and Issy Wood.

The course also offers the option to take one module with our internationally renowned Philosophy department (CRMEP).

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 2 years 3 - 5 days a week September 2020
Location Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • You will benefit from our dedicated MFA studios, which are situated directly adjacent to the newly refurbished, world-class workshop facilities, the Stanley Picker public gallery and events programme, within a vibrant community of artists and designers.
  • This course is taught by practicing 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 ICA London.
  • You can opt to select one option module delivered by Kingston University's Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP).

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.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

Applicants should have a good BA (Hons) 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.

English language requirements

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.

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

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 document 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 or teaching and assessment

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Year 1

Final year

Year 1
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 110 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1090 hours
Final year
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 90 hours
  • Guided independent study: 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 Grace Schwindt, Dexter Dalwood, Hannah Catherine Jones, Steve Claydon, Caroline Achaintre and Travis Alabanza. This year's programme includes Mark Leckey, Patrick Staff, Issy Wood and Leslie Thornton. 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.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MFA full time £9,500

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MFA full time £17,600

Additional costs

Part of your tuition fee covers basic course materials, workshop and studio provision and technical support, however, over and above this you may incur extra costs associated with your studies, which you will need to plan for.

However, if students elect to use materials that are not supplied as standard via their workshop or course, they will bear these costs. Spending extra money in this way will not have any bearing on your marks.

Field trips are paid for by students, but these are optional. Optional study trips to London are also encouraged the cost of which will also be borne by students. Fees do not include travel to and from the University. Students who need to resit a module may be subject to extra costs.


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:

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 on a recently refurbished riverside campus, where friends and colleagues share student life, ideas and conversation, only a 30 minute train ride away from London's world-leading galleries, museums and creative businesses.

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, alongside active breakout spaces.

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 post production 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.
  • project spaces at Knights Park campus, which you can book for the exhibition of large-scale work.

Resources in London

Kingston is just a 30 minute train journey away from central London. Kingston is just a 30 minute train journey away from central London. Here you can access the city's unrivalled wealth of exhibitions and galleries, including the Tate Modern and the National Gallery. 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 member's professional contacts with central London institutions means that opportunities arise for students to meet arts professionals as part of an optional visit to a gallery, museum or archive 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.