Art and Design: Contemporary Fine Art

Industrial Placement
Part-time study available
Work placement opportunity
International Students can apply

3 good reasons to study Art and Design: Contemporary Fine Art at Salford


Develop your knowledge and skills relating to current debates and practices


Enjoy access to your own studio space and workshop support


Tap into long-established associations with key creative and professional networks

Course Summary

This course is designed for students to refine their subject specific practice through creative industry experience, studio based experimentation, contextual research and critical dialogue to enable them to graduate as professional artists within the wider context of contemporary arts networks.  

During your time with us, you will be encouraged to undertake independent contextual and theoretical research that will improve your capacity for independent enquiry, creativity and professional practice. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in group exhibitions, residencies and live projects as we work closely with key cultural organisations within the North West. These include; The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Hotbed Press, Islington Mill, Castlefield Gallery, International 3, Salford Museum & Art Gallery, Artworks, Mark Devereux Projects and HOME.

The course is focused on developing your arts practice through via a practice based research agenda. By the end of the programme you will have established an independent studio practice that will give you the skills to work as a professional artist.

Course Details

This course embraces a range and diversity of practices and aims to:

  • Develop creative, critical, analytical and intellectual competencies informed by contemporary professional practice
  • Develop an advanced understanding of research methods in general and those of importance to creative practice and industry in particular
  • Enhance your knowledge and understanding of professional and collaborative frameworks
  • Provide the opportunity to develop industry experience and understanding through contact by placement, project and/or contact with professional practitioners.

MA Art and Design: Contemporary Fine Art is for committed artists who wish to develop their personal creative practice towards a higher, professional level. It actively encourages the pursuit of individual agendas for study and for personal choice of media/disciplines selected from the range of practices within the field. You will contextualise your work via rigorous analysis of relevant cultural discourses and reflective studio-based practice.

This course will nurture your appreciation of cultural imperatives and mechanisms and enables you to establish your own criteria for sustainability. There are also valuable project work opportunities with local, national and even international companies.

Studio production is emphasised as a key driver for practice development and there is a challenging seminar programme and a comprehensive schedule of visiting or visits to artists/art professionals. A wide range of in-house staff can contribute to teaching on the course and all academic staff for MA Art and Design: Contemporary Fine Art are practitioners in the field of contemporary fine art.

Course Structure

On MA Art and Design: Contemporary Fine Art your independent studio practice is supported by creative research and methods of enquiry, contextual analysis and presentational strategies. The process of interrogation and investigation is centred on a series of action learning sets or seminars. These enable you to test your ideas about and explore the methods, techniques and rationales within your work. The aim is to build specialist knowledge, stimulate further enquiry and contextual awareness, and expand on production in a studio context. Throughout the MA Art and Design: Contemporary Fine Art, you will evolve a personalised theoretical document in parallel with, and driven by, your practice.

The course comprises of three 14-week semesters totalling one full year

  • Semester 1 - October to February
  • Semester 2 - February to June
  • Semester 3 - June to September

You will take five core modules with lectures and seminars taking place one day per week, you will be expected to work independently in the studio, workshops or library for the rest of the week. Additional optional activities such as gallery and studio visits, life drawing workshops and exhibition opportunities take place across the week.

Semester 1

During the first semester, focus is placed upon you investigating, critically-reflecting and presenting ideas and findings; developing an understanding of research methods for practice; experiencing different strategies and a broad approach to the subject area.

Importance is placed on developing:

  • the ability to explore, manage and present research content/drivers and potential of your individual practice
  • the ability to identify and articulate practice-derived and research issues from your studio production or live projects
  • the ability to analyse, critically reflect and present your developing concerns and any potential outcomes.
This module identifies core research methods and activities for the art, design and creative and cultural industries sector in order to allow you to develop an individual approach to your postgraduate studies at MA level. Once core principles are established, you can tailor your approach to research and enquiry according to your individual perspectives.
This module enables you to identify your place in the context of the notion of specialist practice in the art, design and creative and cultural industries sector. You will define your intentions in terms of your personal programme of self-directed study in order to develop appropriate outcomes that relate to a specialist area of practice.

Semester 2

This semester focuses upon developing student knowledge, ability and application to explore different practical and theoretical issues relating to a variety of practices in art and design, and the creative and cultural industries.

The creative and cultural industries embrace a range of professional subjects. Given the transversality of these industries, it is important for you to have sufficient knowledge about the sector and its wider contexts, enabling you to identify and acquire professional skills within and across relevant sub-sectors. It is also important to enable you to understand and have experience of working in a multidisciplinary environment and an international context.
This module deals with the theoretical and practical issues faced by practitioners in the context of art and design, and the creative and cultural industries. The module supports you in developing new ideas through research and practice and through an appraisal of the context in which they operate. Particular emphasis is placed on contexts that emerge from international perspectives and from contemporary debates around creativity.

Semester 3

This semester focuses exclusively on either self-directed major project: practice/or major project: dissertation.

The aim of the self-directed major project: practice is to offer you the opportunity to critically engage in a major practice-driven project in which the emphasis will be on production, analysis and critical reflection in response to your practice-drivers and concerns; or major research project: dissertation, in which the emphasis will be on developing a constructive response to a research question.

During the 'major project’ you are provided with a supporting supervisor, in developing concerns and practice-drivers accrued throughout the chosen programme of study, via a programmed series of tutorials. Individual tutorials and peer interaction/group discussions are integral to the development of the major project.

The aims of the major project are to offer you the opportunity to critically engage in a major research project in which the emphasis will be on defining and analysing through action research, and developing a constructive practical response to a line of inquiry or research question while formulating your own resolutions or conclusions from your body of work.

Entry Requirements

Relevant undergraduate degree, normally at 2:1 or above, and supporting portfolio of practice. Applicants with an undergraduate degree of 2:2 will be considered where a high quality portfolio of practice is presented.

Applicants are required to present a portfolio (or equivalent) at interview. Applicants are also asked to provide a short statement describing their practice to date and motivations for study.

Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International applicants must also provide evidence of proficiency in English (some countries are exempt from this- detailed information can be obtained from the International Relations Office). Evidence of proficiency in English takes the form of IELTS 6.5 band score.

If your current English language qualification is below this level, you may be able to take one of the many pre-sessional English courses in our School of Languages. For further details, please search for English on Course Finder.

Suitable For

This course is for committed fine art or creative practitioners who wish to develop their personal practice to a higher, professional level. It actively encourages the pursuit of individual agendas for study and for personal choice of media/disciplines selected from the range of practices within the field of contemporary fine art.

Applicant profile

All students working in any media or discipline need to demonstrate a commitment to an ongoing career as a practising artist and a willingness to challenge the scope of their practice.


This course uses a range of teaching and learning settings including lectures, seminars/workshops, tutorials, situated learning (e.g. ‘live’ projects) and independent learning. The combination of these aims is to develop an environment that allows students to progressively take ownership and direction of their learning so that they may develop as independent, life-long learners. The process of Masters level study, relating to an individual and independent arts practice, is one of dense critical self-reflection; this is achieved by including self-directed projects where students have the opportunity to negotiate their learning and assessment requirements.

Indicative to the course are:

  • formal lectures
  • seminar presentations
  • workshops
  • critical analysis and independent learning.

Award specific learning activities include exercises; team and peer-based learning, studio practice and critical seminar-events, site visits, visiting professionals, work placements, online activities and critical debates. Students will have the opportunity to engage in a range of course-work activities in order to foster active learning through contribution to participatory exercises and through formal and informal presentations of their work.


Assessment methods used on the course include:

  • Practical, oral and written assignments (80%)
  • Group presentations (20%)

You will be assessed throughout the course on:

  • Body of work and contextual research: e.g studio/portfolio/exhibition/publication/etc.
  • Reflective journals: log or sketch-book/statement/seminar or other presentation*  

All submissions are comprised of a body of arts practice: ‘studio’ plus a contextual and critical research portfolio, and reflective logs/journals. As the ‘thesis’ is embedded in the practice there is no requirement for a separate, written dissertation - although you may elect to do so, if appropriate, by negotiation with final award Course Team.  

*You can negotiate the format of your submissions, in response to the needs and priorities within your practice, and in line with contemporary professional practice habits.

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Sam Ingleson

Programme Leader for MA Art & Design; Creative Education

Sam Ingleson is a multimedia visual artist. Her art practice is centred in social engagement and participatory performances. Her core research themes are the exploration of creative space and engagement in the formation of artistic strategies that include makers and performers. Sam's current interest is collaborating to developing board games that bring groups of people together to celebrate, learn or reflect. This has led to the publication of the chapter, 'An artist's approach to board games ', in: Moseley, A & Whitton, N (eds.), New Traditional Games for Learning: A Case Book.

Sam is currently working with the Institute for Dementia at The University of Salford using game based methodologies to raise awareness and generate personal narratives around dementia. This is part of an ongoing body of work looking at how we can use games to engage with and widen the dementia debate.

Sam was previously the artistic director of Artists and Education (2003-2010), a company with a database of over 100 artists that devised, delivered, and evaluated artists’ residencies with young people. The company worked extensively in the North West with external partners including: Creative Partnerships, the Arts Council, and Salford and Manchester City Councils.

SEEK Profile -


Our graduates have exhibited successfully in a range of venues and biennales. Many graduates establish themselves within the local creative economy and develop a studio presence in the region and beyond.  

We encourage students to pursue an international profile and presence as soon as possible in support of their professional reputation. Opportunities via MediaCityUK will facilitate internationalisation of practice on individual terms.

Many of our students succeed through related professions in: education, community development, healthcare environments or enterprise. Some graduates prefer to apply their creative practice to commissioning, consultancy or other professional outcomes.

The majority of our graduates continue with their creative careers. Graduates are particularly visible in the region – in group studios, exhibitions or events. Many graduates support their practice via teaching or demonstrator roles in further or higher education establishments. A number of graduates find work with museums or galleries. Our graduates are particularly proactive in initiating art-based projects – establishing new venues and curating group exhibitions, for example. A number are successful each year in securing artist residencies at home and abroad. 

The School co-ordinates a range of enterprise projects and initiatives that can benefit graduating students, in order to assist their career opportunities or routes into self-employment.

Career Prospects

Alumni Profile

Graduate, Ben Gwilliam

Ben has established a highly successful career in the field of sound art. He has performed and recorded extensively with acclaimed exponents in this field such as Espen Jensen, Jez Riley French, Helmut Lemke, Rhodri Davies and others. In 2008, Ben was nominated for the Jerwood Artist Prize and was also international artist-in-residence at Artists Unlimited, Bielefeld, Germany. He performs and exhibits internationally and has founded his own publishing label.

“The course provided a critically-rich environment where peer-to-peer relationships further expose the individual’s artistic concerns. With the wealth of staff backgrounds and knowledge, the MA gave me crucial support that was self-reflective and influenced my own critiques. Much more than an extension of undergraduate art…”

Links with Industry

93% of Art & Design graduates go on to employment and/or further study within 6 months of graduating.DLHE 2010

Further Study

Graduates from this course pursue professional practice via a range of enterprise, employment and self-employment strategies and contexts. Continuing practice-based and driven research is supported via MPhil/Phd courses at the University of Salford. 

Graduates can become associate members of the School of Arts & Media Research Centre or other Research centres as appropriate to individual practice drivers. Graduates are currently engaged in further study via PhD courses as well as contributing to art and theory research group.

Research in the School of Arts & Media is coordinated by Rosie Miller. There are over 30 fully research-active academic staff and a number of embryonic and early career researchers engaged in a range of innovative creative practice in art and design and in advancing the boundaries of theoretical investigation.  Find out more

Fees and Funding

Fees 2016-17

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,017 per 30 credits
Full-time International£12,500, part-time £2,084 per 30 credits
Full-time PgDip£4,068, part-time £1,017 per 30 credits

Fees 2017-18

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,230 per 30 credit module
Full-time International£13,500

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We offer awards to help you study through our:

  • Vice-Chancellor's Excellence Scholarship
  • University of Salford student loyalty discount
  • Country bursary scheme for International students only

There are also other sources of funding available to you.

For more information please see our funding section

The Postgraduate Bursaries and Scholarships for 2017-18 entry are currently under review and subject to change. A revised schedule of scholarships and bursaries will be published in February 2017.


The MA Art & Design programme is based at Allerton studios. Students working on site have access to their own studio space and a postgraduate base room. Facilities at Allerton Studios include

  • Printing Facilities
  • 3D workshop
  • Fibre Workshop
  • Photography studio which includes a lighting set-up
  • Computer suites
  • Bookable project spaces

You will be inducted into the workshops, which covers how to use all the machinery, by trained workshop technicians.

Students also have access to a further 3D workshop at centenary Building which boasts up to date wood, metal and plastic facilities, spray shops, hot metal, laser cutting and rapid prototyping resources including CNC and 3D printing.

You are also encouraged to use the facilities and resources at MediaCityUK for project- based activities and exhibition opportunities.