Fine Art MA

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Course starts: 14 October 2019Apply 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
  • Get to work alongside other students from creative subjects and see how artists live, work and thrive in our ‘Creative Lives’ lecture series

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. If you choose to study the course full-time, you will complete six modules over one year. Taught sessions are normally on Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday mornings.

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.

Core modules 

  • Contemporary Fine Art Studio Practice: Test it 

Advance your studio skills appropriate to current and new projects.

  • Critical and Professional Contexts in Art and Design

Develop your critical and analytical understanding of contemporary fine art practice.

  • Contemporary Fine Art Studio Practice: Do It

Build on previous studio-based research to realise and implement personal projects.

  • Contemporary Fine Art Professional Practice: Digital Document

Develop confidence in professional practice and dissemination.

  • Contemporary Fine Art Research Project: Reflect

Develop critical awareness and advanced knowledge of contexts relevant to your own fine art practice.

  • Contemporary Fine Art: Exhibition

Develop skills for public exhibition and dissemination of art work.


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
  • The University Library has an exceptional collection of photography books and monographs and subscribes to a comprehensive range of academic journals and databases so you can access reliable and up-to-date information.

    A dedicated Academic Liaison Librarian supports students and staff in the arts, design and performing arts disciplines.

    The key resources for your course include:

    Discover: The Library’s multi-disciplinary search tool

    Art Full Text: A major resource for media and arts information

    JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’): Giving access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences

    Lexis: A major resource on full-text newspaper articles and legal information

    Library Services - arts and design


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

Our typical offer is

  • 2:1 classification or equivalent from a Canadian bachelor's degree
  • 2:1 classification or equivalent from a USA bachelor's degree

in a subject related area.

We will consider applicants from other fields, as well as those with professional experience in the creative industries, if their portfolio is suitable.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

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.

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £6,500 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £13,000 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.

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