Fine Art MA

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Course starts: 15 October 2018Apply now

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Pursue your passion at an advanced level and with professional support. Push the boundaries of creativity, within a framework of academic rigour and contextual research. Tackle issues that face Fine Art professionals and boost your employability.

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Course overview

This course is built around your personal interests and aspirations. We’ll encourage you to develop your personal practice through research, critiques, analysis and questioning. Given the strong practical element we invite applicants to share their portfolios and aspirations with us at interview stage.

At Masters level, the specialisms of tutors are an important factor. Sunderland’s research expertise includes painting, printmaking, studio-based drawing and collage, sculpture, collaborative practice, art in architecture, video and digital art.


Why us?

  • This course is built around your personal interests and aspirations - it allows you to push the boundaries of creativity, within a framework of academic rigour and contextual research
  • 95.8% of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2015/16 (based on UK postgraduate students)
  • You will be allocated an individual studio space and have access to university gallery spaces
  • We tackle key issues that face Fine Art professionals, from fundraising to self-presentation, to help you to boost your professional skills

Course structure

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.

We organise field trips and visits to galleries and art events throughout the UK. Destinations include cities such as London, Edinburgh and Liverpool. There are also opportunities to visit international venues in places such as New York, Barcelona, Venice and Berlin. Assessment methods include reports, essays, your portfolio of work and the final exhibition.

Fine Art 1 (60 credits)

You will develop your own projects and approach, with support and critiques from Sunderland’s tutors. During this initial stage you will be working alongside students on MA Glass and MA Ceramics, in order to foster creativity and encourage the sharing of ideas. You will also undertake Critical Studies and directed learning in order to refine your theoretical understanding and skills.

Fine Art 2 (60 credits)

You will continue to develop your personal practice through analysis, questioning and research. You will undertake projects which interlock with your interests and aspirations, and which are negotiated with your tutors. In addition, we address broad-based issues that face Fine Art professionals, from fundraising to self-presentation.

Fine Art 3 (60 credits)

The focus of the final stage is a public exhibition, which involves intense work as you find a form for your ideas and work with other students on the exhibition’s logistical details. The preparation and presentation of work is a demanding and enriching experience that is potentially life-changing. You will support your practical work with a written report that records and reflects upon the progress of your work and ideas.


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Priestman Building,
Green Terrace,


  • The University has invested in modern facilities that include generous studio space for each student and a fantastic Arts and Design Library. Facilities include:

    • Workshops for wood, metal and printmaking
    • Project spaces
    • Student gallery
    • Digital studio with video, sound editing and screening facilities
    • Digital suites with open-access Apple Macs
    • Digital sewing and embroidery facilities
    • Students also have access to facilities within Fablab on City Campus
    Modern facilities
  • We subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date articles.

    Students are helped to develop their research skills working with lecturers and library staff to develop their awareness of art history as well as contemporary art and design and the wider contexts of the subjects.

    Some of the most important sources for your course include:

    • Art Full Text + Art Abstracts: A major resource for media and arts information
    • Design and Applied Arts Index: Covers journals featuring both new designers and the development of design and the applied arts since the mid-19th century
    • British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC): Provides resources for the production, study and use of film and related media
    • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’): Provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
    • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles
    • Screen Online (BFI), which is an online encyclopedia of British film and television, featuring clips from the vast collections of the BFI National Archive
    Journals and research - art


This course is based at the Priestman Building on City Campus, just a few minutes from the main Murray Library and close to Sunderland city centre. Thanks to a major renovation programme, the Priestman Building provides state-of-the-art teaching space and resources as part of a vibrant and outward-looking learning environment.

Entry requirements

We usually require applicants to hold an honours degree in Fine Art or related art and design disciplines. We will consider applicants from other fields, as well as those with professional experience in the creative industries, if their portfolio is suitable.

We ask applicants to present a portfolio of work. Your portfolio should demonstrate your skills and creativity through a collection of Fine Art-based work. This should be presented as original pieces, photographs or in digital form.

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

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £6,200 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £12,600 if you are an international student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

Students graduating at the Stadium of Light


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 media and cultural industries, for example as a practitioner, curator or educator. Opportunities could include arts development, public arts projects, community art organisations, social and art therapy support units, galleries and festivals.

Employment opportunities

Recent Sunderland graduates have set up their own creative businesses, undertaken commissions and exhibited their work regionally and nationally. 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.

Past placements have included exhibition work in a range of public contexts such as galleries, schools and hospitals. A Masters degree will also enhance career opportunities within Higher Education and prepare you for further postgraduate studies.

Meet our academics