Ceramics MA - University of Sunderland

Course overview

‌This course is for people who want to develop a specialism in ceramics, making use of the outstanding facilities at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. We don’t require previous study of ceramics, but most students have experience in a subject related to art and design.

This programme is for individuals who wish to develop both their practice and critical understanding with regards to ceramics. The subject is explored and contextualized in its widest sense through both practical and theoretical investigation and application, where a deeper knowledge and understanding of ceramics is developed from its vernacular sensibilities to the expanded field of possibilities.

We do not have a ‘house style’; instead, you will develop your own focus with expert support from both academic and technical staff. You will be encouraged to develop your independent creativity, improve your technical and theoretical skills, and develop academic skills in research and communication.

You’ll be joining the largest glass and ceramics department in Europe, made up of an international team of creative and experienced educators and practitioners. All academic staff on this course are engaged in professional practice or research and are at the forefront of their discipline.

Sunderland is a thriving research hub and hosts the Ceramics Arts Research Centre (CARCuos), which aims to develop, support and disseminate new knowledge and scholarly activity whilst also providing a platform both practically and theoretically for discussion aligned to the ceramic arts.

Graduates from Sunderland have gone on to work throughout the creative industries. MA graduates have also wished to extend their work through a research degree either at MPhil or PhD level and continue studies within CARCuos the ceramic arts research centre at the University.

A video presenting the facilities designed for the students from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media:

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Ceramics 1 (60 Credits)

  • Ceramics – Self-negotiated Study 1
  • Studio Work and Critical Studies

We will encourage you to reflect on your previous practice and develop new approaches.

Ceramics 2 (60 Credits)

  • Ceramics – Self-negotiated Study 2
  • Studio work and Critical Studies

Developing skills in consolidation and professionalism.

Ceramics 3 (60 Credits)

The final stage of the course is focused on a public exhibition of work. This showcases your talents and brings together all of your learning throughout the course. To support your portfolio of work, you will prepare a report that places it within its academic context.

Teaching and assessment

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working. The course aims to stretch your creativity and maximise your sense of personal fulfilment.

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, seminars, critiques, workshops and practical demonstrations. These are supported by a range of guest speakers from diverse academic and industry backgrounds. You will also have high levels of contact with tutors who give regular feedback and support.

Assessment methods include your practical work with supporting reports that place the work in its academic context. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

Facilities for this course include:

  • 13 ceramic kilns and two large gas kilns
  • Ceramics mould-making and glaze workshops
  • Printing facility for ceramics, glass and other surfaces
  • Decal printer
  • Project and exhibition space
  • Multi-function creative and social space
  • Lampworking and future light workshop
  • Computer suite and project space
  • Arts and Design Library

Journals and research

We subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date articles. Some of the most important sources for your course are:

  • Key Glass and Ceramics magazines and journals
  • Art Full Text + Art Abstracts, which is a major resource for arts information
  • Design and Applied Arts Index, which covers journals featuring both new designers and the development of design and the applied arts since the mid-19th century
  • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences

National Glass Centre

The Glass and Ceramics Department is based in National Glass Centre, a nationally recognised glass production and exhibition centre with a world-class programme of creative projects.

Studying here puts you at the heart of an international network of professionals in the ceramics sector. You will be exposed to the latest ways of working through visiting artists and designers, and you can become involved in exhibitions that help launch your career.


National Glass Centre

Liberty Way, Sunderland, SR6 0GL

Entry requirements

We may also consider applicants who have relevant experience and who can demonstrate their suitability for the course.

If you are suitably qualified, we will invite you to an interview to assess whether this is the right course for you.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,750 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,500 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

Postgraduates are highly employable and, on average, earn more than individuals whose highest qualification is an undergraduate degree. On completing this course you will be equipped for roles throughout the creative industries.

Recent Sunderland graduates are now working as self-employed practitioners as well as being employed in arts administration and education.

During the course we encourage you to gain professional industry experience which will enhance your skills, build up a valuable network of contacts and boost your employability.

The University has close links with arts organisations including Arts Council England, the BALTIC, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Tyne and Wear Museums Service and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. We also have international links in USA, China and Czech Republic.

A Masters degree will also enhance career opportunities within Higher Education and prepare you for further postgraduate studies.

The Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751
Email: enterprise@sunderland.ac.uk


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Personal Tutor at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Further support is provided by our technicians who help you make the most of the University’s equipment and software.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"Both the academic and technical staff were really supportive, not only when I was studying but also after I graduated."

Katherine Butler, case study image

Katherine Butler

Ceramics business owner

“During my time at Sunderland I knew that my skills and creativity were being enhanced and developed. Both the academic and technical staff were really supportive, not only when I was studying but also after I graduated.

“I didn’t live in Sunderland during my course so I didn’t take advantage of the social scene but I really enjoyed the beautiful coastline near the University.

“Soon after leaving I formed my own creative business and opened a studio. I teach ceramics in the community, in schools and for organisations such as Crisis, a charity helping to give skills to the homeless. I’ve been an artist in residence for the past year at the University, making work for exhibition and helping students. Last summer I visited Vietnam to work in a pottery.

“You’ll be offered lots of opportunities, I would advise you to take them if you can. I would also tell them to embrace the support and knowledge of the tutors and technicians.”

"The staff have been very supportive, allowing me to explore quite unconventional methods to achieve my goal, without trying to influence my decisions."

Eileen Downs case study

Eileen Downs

Independent Artist

“I really like Sunderland and the National Glass Centre has amazing facilities that allow you to explore a wide range of ceramic processes.

“My work mainly involves slip casting and printing on ceramic surfaces so I chose to make a large slip-cast punch bowl in bone china for my final piece, which is quite an ambitious project.

“The staff have been very supportive, allowing me to explore quite unconventional methods to achieve my goal, without trying to influence my decisions.

“I have so much more confidence in myself as an artist. Undertaking the MA has allowed me to explore working with bone china whilst also refining my skills in printmaking to support surface decoration.

“Prior to undertaking my MA, I had a small garage studio. However, now that my skills have expanded sufficiently it has given me the confidence to take a studio at the National Glass Centre. I will continue to develop my ceramics and print skills making saleable pieces of work.”

"The facilities are outstanding, and you are encouraged by the staff to experiment, explore and push the boundaries."

Annie Jones

Annie Jones


After graduating from BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics at the University of Sunderland, Annie went on to study MA Ceramics.

“The thing I enjoyed most about the course was to be around enthusiastic staff, fellow students and visiting artists who are very supportive of you as a person, a creative thinker, and a maker.

“Everyone is very friendly, and there is a vibrant creative community both in Sunderland and Newcastle. It is lovely to be near all the local beaches, pubs and galleries.

“The facilities are outstanding, and you are encouraged by the staff to experiment, explore and push the boundaries. All of the staff encourage you to fulfill your potential, and this has given me a lot of confidence.

“During my time on the course I applied for residencies and exhibitions and took part in an international sculpture festival in Gambia.

"I now have a deeper understanding of my place within contemporary art and how I can use my skills in a spectrum of potential jobs, and career paths.

“Since graduating, I have been to New Zealand to expand my connections to international galleries and artists. I am also working on research to support my application for a PhD and I am currently enjoying studying for a PGCE in Secondary Art, Craft and Design.”

"We were a serious melting pot of different approaches and this encouraged creativity and experimentation."

Kay Robson case study image

Kay Robson

Lecturer at Newcastle College

"Staying in Sunderland enabled me to develop links with the existing local art community, which meant that on leaving uni, the support network was already there. I did not need to return home and start all over looking for like-minded individuals.

"I teach part time at Newcastle College's art department, an incredibly rewarding job. I am also a practicing artist - exhibiting locally and occasionally nationally and internationally. My work is subject-led rather than material-led and currently centres on the theme of gender and stereotypes in society.

"I am also the manager/supervisor of an art space in Seaham named Art Block which was set up by EDAN (East Durham Artists Network). This is a new venture which aims to support and promote local artists and artists' groups, as well as providing workshops and classes for creative people to attend and events and activities for kids and the local community.

"These are all qualities inherent in individuals, rather than something that can be taught, but are also qualities all students need to be successful. University encourages the growth of the individual to find these qualities.

"University is the easy part, the bit where you still have help and support, whether direct advice from peers and lecturers, or simply from the facilities around you. Students should use these well, but try to be as independent as possible. Always ask yourself if you could work it out yourself if you had no support, this way, when the support vanishes, you won't feel cut adrift.

"You need to put yourself in a position where you know you can succeed after University, not just in University."

Student work

Work by MA Ceramics graduate Emily Hesse.

Emily Hesse student work ceramics three

Emily Hesse student work ceramics five

Emily Hesse student work ceramics four

Emily Hesse student work ceramics one

Emily Hesse student work ceramics two

Apply for this course

To apply for this course use the relevant link below.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact the Programme Leader:

Cate Watkinson
Tel: 0191 515 3090
Email: cate.watkinson@sunderland.ac.uk

Read more about some of the staff that would teach you on the MA Ceramics course:

For more general information, contact:

Tel: 0191 515 3000
Email: student.helpline@sunderland.ac.uk

Social media: To see what events we run and to ask a question about this course, contact the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media on Facebook and Twitter.

Programme Starts  
Monday 16th October 2017 Apply now

The details

Course Name Ceramics
Classification MA
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 16 October 2017
UK/EU Fee £4750
Intl Fee £11500

Entry requirements

Honours degree in art, design or related subject

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