Glass MA - University of Sunderland

Course overview

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

This course will help you develop a synergy of creative ideas and technical skills. You might focus on one of the three main areas: hot glass, kiln glass, or architectural glass - or combine approaches, and in doing so establish yourself as a professional glass artist.

National Glass Centre logoYou will be using world-class facilities, and have access to 26 glass kilns, a state-of-the-art water-jet cutter, a hot glass workshop, two cold working studios, a glass mould-making workshop, architectural glass studio and glass and ceramics print studio.

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

During the course, we encourage you to develop your personal practice through studio work, critical studies, professional practice, research, critiques, analysis and questioning.

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 tutors’ specialisms include glassblowing, print for glass, kiln forming, and digital fabrication methods.

Sunderland also hosts the Institute for International Research in Glass (IIRG), which promotes and facilitates glass research, develops new working methods and informs teaching. The IIRG has a lively visiting speaker programme of invited professional artists and curators, and also organises conferences, master classes, exhibitions and specialist training.

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

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Glass 1 (60 Credits)

  • Glass – Self-negotiated Project (20 Credits)
  • Studio Work (20 Credits)
  • Critical Studies (20 Credits)

During this initial stage, we will work with you to review your ideas and approaches. Then we will introduce additional ideas and approaches that complement what already works for you. This is a time to experiment.

Glass 2 (60 Credits)

  • Glass – Self-negotiated Project (20 Credits)
  • Studio Work (20 Credits)
  • Critical Studies (20 Credits)

Building on the first stage, we will help you to consolidate your technical skills and to refine professionalism in your practice.

Glass 3 (60 Credits)

  • Glass - Exhibition and Contextual Report (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.

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.

We organise field trips so that you can experience international work in your field. Destinations include cities such as Prague, Berlin and New York.

Assessment methods include reports, essays, your portfolio of work and the final exhibition. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Course Leader

The MA Glass Course Leader is Dr Jeffrey Sarmiento. Dr Sarmiento is an award-winning glass artist who has exhibited and taught around the world. He is the winner of the International Glass Prize 2012 in Belgium, and a recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Denmark.

With an expertise in print and waterjet applications to glass, Dr Sarmiento has taught masterclasses at the renowned Pilchuck Glass School and throughout Europe. His research explores ethnic contexts through the development of creative approaches to combining the graphic image and glass.

Facilities & location

The University of Sunderland has the largest glass and ceramics department in Europe, with one of the world’s best-equipped studios for creative glassmaking.

Facilities for this course include:

  • 26 glass kilns, including a large glass casting kiln
  • Hot glass workshop with international-quality equipment
  • Glass mould-making workshop
  • Cold working studio for sandblasting, cutting, grinding and polishing
  • Architectural glass studio
  • Printing facility for glass, ceramics and other surfaces
  • Water-jet machine/Computer Aided Design
  • Lampworking workshop
  • Computer suite and project space
  • Project and exhibition space
  • Multi-function creative and social 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 the 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 glass 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 don’t require previous study of glass, but we usually require applicants to hold an honours degree in an art or design discipline.

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

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.


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

Given the strong practical element in the course, we invite applicants to share their portfolios and creative aspirations with us at interview stage. We are eager to explore how to develop each person’s individual interests and ideas.

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.

Many recent Sunderland glass graduates are now working as independent artists with their own workshops and are successful practitioners of glass art around the world.

Our graduates exhibit in venues such as the British Glass Biennale, SOFA Chicago, the European Glass Context, COLLECT at Saatchi Gallery, and the Bombay Sapphire Prize in Milan, and they have been published in texts including Contemporary Glass (Black Dog) and Corning Museum of Glass’s New Glass Review.

Some graduates have moved on to lecturing positions at universities around the world or have chosen to move into other areas, including ceramics, painting, sculpture, jewellery, architecture, interior design, engineering and photography.

During the course we encourage you to gain industry experience which will enhance your skills, build up a valuable network of contacts and boost your employability. This experience can take the form of working on live commissions, entering competitions and exhibiting work in public exhibitions.

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


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.

"Thanks to the University of Sunderland I was given a fantastic opportunity."

Kathryn Wightman case study image

Kathryn Wightman

Self-employed Hot Glass artist

“I had started studying for a degree in Psychology and knew it wasn’t for me, so I asked if I could change to something suited to my practical nature. After a great deal of help, I went on to study glass and ceramics - a world away from my original course - and when my degree finished I went on to do an MA in Glass.

"I am now based in the National Glass Centre in Sunderland which is the perfect place to be. I produce specialist screen printed glass works which I show at exhibitions and competitions all over the country.

"It’s amazing to think that when I started studying I was heading in a completely different direction. Thanks to the University of Sunderland I was given a fantastic opportunity which has really shaped the rest of my life."

"The support from staff and my peers in the department has been unbelievable."

Erin Dickson case study image

Erin Dickson

PhD Student

Making the most of opportunities and support while at university to develop a professional track record.

After graduating with an MA in Glass in August 2010, 23-year-old Erin Dickson is now working on a prestigious Arts and Humanities Research Council funded PhD.

After studying architecture, Erin from South Shields, was looking for a new career direction and wanted to come to Sunderland for the excellent facilities and the beautiful riverside location of the National Glass Centre.

The world class facilities, the warm and friendly atmosphere and constant support from amazing staff are the things Erin finds she benefits from most. Erin said, "The support from staff and my peers in the department has been unbelievable, without their knowledge and support I definitely wouldn't have achieved as much as I have in the last year."

Erin had not worked with glass before, but during her studies she won one of the six prizes at British Glass Biennale, she was nominated as emerging artist for Newcastle/Gateshead Art Fair and a finalist of The Art of Giving, held at the Saatchi Gallery in London. This resulted in an impressive CV before she graduated.

Erin has some good advice for new students, she said, "Make sure to take full advantage of all the fantastic facilities you have at your disposal. The tutors and technicians are there to help, don't worry about bugging them to death, they are the experts."

"Making good work and having professional pictures taken has helped me the most in my career."

Shaun Griffiths case study image

Shaun Griffiths

Community Lecturer and Glass Artist

It was the Glass and Ceramics staff, Professor Kevin Petrie and Dr Jeff Sarmiento, along with the integrated print department that encouraged American student Shaun Griffiths to apply for MA Glass.

“The facilities, particularly the water jet cutter and large kilns, were the things I found most beneficial whilst studying at the University of Sunderland. Also, the diversity within the faculty: curators, academics, and practicing artists.

"I enjoyed my proximity to the thriving art venues in Newcastle and London. The Baltic’s library collection of contemporary art books is unrivalled and offered immense inspiration. London can only perhaps be compared to New York in its enormous amount of art available to view at any given time.

"Sunderland also has perhaps the greatest selection of locally brewed beer that I have ever tasted!”

Since graduating, Shaun has been teaching glass at a local non-profit in San Jose, California and working for an artist utilising the glass printing skills he acquired in Sunderland. He is also a graduate student at Alfred University in New York working towards an MFA in Sculpture/Dimensional Studies.

“I think making good work and having professional pictures taken has helped me the most in my career, in that it enables me to represent myself the best I can with my portfolio, whether seeking work or applying for grants and scholarships.”

Shaun would advise new students that university is what you make of it. He said: “Use who and what is available and do something great with it.”

"It has been the tutorials that have helped me the most during my career so far."

MiKyoung Jung case study image

MiKyoung Jung

PhD student at Sydney College of the Arts

MiKyoung Jung, from South Korea, graduated with an MA in Glass in August 2007. It was the expertise of the tutors and the facilities in the Glass and Ceramics department that encouraged her to apply to the University of Sunderland. The location of the course, in the National Glass Centre, was also very attractive.

During her course MiKyoung felt she really benefited from the visiting artists who came in to share their knowledge and expertise. She also found it useful to attend conferences both in and outside of the University.

When asked what she enjoyed the most about studying at the University of Sunderland, MiKyoung said: "Developing my artwork and using all the excellent facilities were the things I enjoyed the most."

She went on to say: "It has been the tutorials that have helped me the most during my career so far."

MiKyoung would advise all new students to take advantage of as many challenges as possible and to make the most of all the opportunities on offer.

After graduating from Sunderland MiKyoung headed off to Australia to study a PhD at Sydney College of the Arts. As well as continuing with her studies MiKyoung is also a practising artist. She will soon show her work at the prestigious 'International Exposition of Sculptural Objects and Functional Art' (SOFA) in Chicago, USA.

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

For more general information, contact:

Tel: 0191 515 3000

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 Glass
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 or design

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