The aim of the course is to examine and critically engage with the practice of art making. It is designed to stimulate and influence individuals to develop independent language in fine art through ambitious and disciplined studio practice.
The course structure facilitates and actively supports broad range of activities (from painting to live art) with the aim of questioning and articulating historical and contemporary art contexts and practices.
The MFA is a studio based programme, supported by excellent facilities and workshops and taught by nationally and internationally renowned practicing artists whose experience and knowledge of the subject facilities dynamic, dialogue-based learning environment.
Course Structure and Content
The course is made up of 6 modules of which 2 are research modules and the remaining 4 are studio modules. The individual programme of studio work is negotiated with the personal tutor in order to establish and develop studio practice with the aim of becoming professional artist and practitioner.
Progress is guided by scheduled and optional group and individual tutorials, and by group critiques led by staff and visiting lecturers.
A programme of seminars and discussions, which are designed to inform but also challenge the pre-established ideas about art are scheduled into your teaching and provide the context for the studio work. Through practice of making and researching, the studio programme is designed to help you develop confident and informed approach to work. There are regular study visits to galleries and museums in London as well as international trips to support your research and provide critical framework for the studio modules.
Teaching Methods and Resources
The programme has three trimesters and runs for 45 weeks – from October to January, February to June and June to September. Full-time students will be provided with the studio spaces. Part-time students provide their own working facilities in the Bath area and the university may be able to assist with these arrangements.
All students have access to workshops with excellent facilities, including painting, photography, print, sound and video as well as the specialist Art and Design library. Specialist facilities include computer studios with over 70 Macs, as well as flatbed and transparency scanners. There is a recently re-equipped digital media studio.
The course is organised in conjunction with the Artist Teachers Scheme (supported by the National Society for Education in Art and Design and the Arts Council) through which specialist art teachers prepare for Master’s level study.
At the end of each trimester the modules completed are assessed by internal staff, moderated by an external examiner. Assessment of each stage of the studio element of the course is by exhibition and all related materials and the research modules are assessed by an oral/visual presentation made by the student of their practitioner ‘position’ at the Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma stage.
A good first degree in Fine Art or its equivalent in terms of learning or experience. Fundamentally you will be selected on your ability, as demonstrated in a portfolio and interview, to succeed on the course.
Bath Fine Art graduates from BA and MFA courses have worked and exhibited widely as professional artists, had work purchased by the Tate and other institutions, represented the UK in exhibitions such as the Sao Paulo Biennale and have been nominated for the Turner Prize. Graduates work as curators and gallery professionals in public and private galleries and for arts councils and organisations, and write for journals. Successful graduates have had their work shown in public and private galleries on completion, progressed to successful artist residency schemes and been awarded prizes in open competitions. We anticipate that with the collaboration of the Artist Teacher Scheme there will be regular recruitment from the profession and that a number of graduates will return to teaching or become lecturers. Some MFA graduates pursue further study at PhD level.
Quotes from graduates of the course
I chose to do the Master of Fine Art at Bath Spa because of the reputation of the course and the tutors. Also being based in Bath was a big bonus and linked closely to my practice; I combined starting the course with a permanent move the South West. Bath Spa has some of the most beautiful and inspiring campuses of any university and the School of Art and Design has recently been refurbished with excellent facilities. I particularly liked the small size of the course, it meant it was more intimate with regular contact with tutors – not only the formal meetings, but some of my most valuable conversations were with tutors passing through the studio space. This was invaluable and something I think larger art schools might not provide. The visiting lecturers were great, as was the studio space – it meant I could work on huge canvass which was really liberating. Since finishing the course I have been painting full time-working from an artist studio in Bristol. I have also been exhibiting work and developing my practice. Completing this course has given me credibility to apply for residencies, competitions and opportunities to exhibit. I now have a network of artists that I met through the course – we get together and critique each other’s work, and put on shows together. If you are considering doing MA Fine Art I would advise you to get together a strong portfolio of work, research other artists, and have an idea of how you want to develop your practice and what you want to get out of the course. Lydia Halcrow
I chose to do the MFA in Fine Art as I wanted to devote time to focusing on the development of my work. I completed the programme part-time and liked the structure of the MFA at Bath Spa. I particularly valued the small size of the group and the ease of communication with staff. Postgraduate study takes financial investment and I felt that the programme respected this and provided “value for money”. The nature of this course has given me the confidence and understanding of how to carry on developing my work. Since completing the course in 2009 I have made a successful application to join new studios in Bristol; been selected for two exhibitions; joint curated an exhibition; and have been invited to exhibit work in a show. Deborah Feiler
I wanted a studio based course that would allow me to develop my work and contextualise it in the contemporary art field. There is a good balance of staff support and student led learning at Bath Spa University. There are some excellent tutors who are successful practicing artists with a width of valuable knowledge and experience. The critical group sessions were good as they gave me the opportunity to hear feedback from my peers and helped me build my confidence in speaking about all types of art, not just my specialist area. Bath Spa has an excellent reputation and is located in an amazing city. The beautiful campus, Sion Hill, was a peaceful and idyllic place to learn and the studio spaces were large, light and airy. After my Fine Art degree from Leeds Metropolitan University, I did a secondary PGCE in Art and Design and taught art full time in a school in Oxford. I’ve been very busy since finishing the course, enjoying residency at the Meantime Space in Cheltenham culminating in my first solo show. The qualification has helped me to secure teaching positions in better schools and colleges and will enable me to work in arts education within galleries or museums. Kristy Campbell
Who should apply?
Recent art graduates or mature students who are keen to develop their own work and deepen their understanding of contemporary art and the context in which artists work.
What resources are available to us?
Full-time students have studio spaces and all students have access to the relevant well-equipped School Workshops including photography, printmaking, digital imaging, video, sculpture and library.
What is the dissertation requirement?
The dissertation stage (Master’s) of the degree takes the form of an exhibition of work accompanied by a written statement. The programme contains a short written essay component at PG Cert stage alongside a verbal presentation with visual material (Pg Cert and Dip).
How many days a week is the course?
There is one key day each week when all students, full-time and part-time, attend together for lectures, critiques of work and seminars. Tutorials and other teaching can be on other days. The study week is 40 hours full-time and 20 hours part-time.