Art, Society & Publics MFA

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Art & Design

The MFA Art, Society & Publics course explores through students’ individual interests, taught content and projects with partner organisations the relationships between art, society and publics. It supports students to experiment with and understand the different contexts and sites where art unfolds. Art production, thinking through art and art’s place in the world are investigated through exposure to the intersection between established arenas such as the museum and gallery and non-art sites and platforms.

Are you a creative, intellectually and professionally engaged person?

Our course will develop you as an artist and creative practitioner with a strong identity in contemporary society.

Why study this course at Dundee?

A central aim of the course is to foster subjective artistic concerns by deepening students’ individual art practice, research interests and professional knowledge. Students are taught how to develop and sustain an art practice.

All forms of art practice and media-specific approaches are embraced including sculpture, painting, photography, drawing, printmaking, audio and video to performance, installation, (durational) work in the public domain, writing (critical, and writing-as-visual-art) and curating. Students can explore a particular approach to practice or combine approaches - appropriate to the conceptual statement they are formulating – and will be encouraged to transcend boundaries by exploring visual knowledge and expression across a range of platforms. In tandem, historical and contemporary positions in art and visual culture will be investigated through exposure to ideas and experimentation in artistic research, aesthetics, critical theory and curatorial practice.

By providing the skills to function in academia students are additionally enabled to identify a potential long-term academic context for their practice. For those interested in working in the two distinct areas of art world and academia, each with its own values, students are helped to develop PhD study proposals.

What is so good about this course?

The course is practice-led and is directed by the artist Tracy Mackenna (SCOT/IT) who teaches alongside collaborative partner Edwin Janssen (NL). The course focus is guided by the key areas in their internationally active art practice: art making, artistic research, presentation, art writing, collaboration, engagement, exchange, education and reflection. Tracy and Edwin are highly committed to the value of art education in society, and carefully selected complementary staff enriches the course with bespoke content.

A video introduction to our MFA in Art, Society and Publics

Who should study this course?

The MFA ASP course welcomes students from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, professions and nationalities and helps students to position their practice within the framework of contemporary art. Students are supported and challenged to extend their work and its relationship to the visual world. Art's place in society and its relationship to a range of audiences is actively explored on the course, which provides the creative and intellectual framework through which to understand current attitudes and phenomena in contemporary art, culture and society.

You will be stimulated to develop a highly ambitious and informed art practice by engaging both individually and through collaborative opportunities. We believe that students learn most from their peers, guided by a well-structured, content-rich course that is led by committed teachers. Practice and research-based work is supported through events such as (interdisciplinary) seminars with internationally active DJCAD staff and visiting artists and speakers. Professional skills such as presentation of practical and theoretical work are developed through situations and opportunities that focus on engagement and building professional relationships. Optional specialist masterclasses on performance, sound and lighting are some of the elective activities that bring undergraduate and Masters students together for short, intense working periods.

The course actively engages with unique resources and expertise such as DJCAD Exhibitions, abcDundee (Artists' Book Collection Dundee), DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) and Hospitalfield Arts to provide on-site learning opportunities.

Develop an ambitious, informed art practice by engaging in studio-based practice and research-based work. Take part in seminars with visiting artists, curators, writers and speakers. You'll get opportunities and take modules that focus on making, engagement and building professional relationships. This will develop your production, presenting, communicating and debating skills for practical and/or theoretical work.

Our course includes a combination of teaching situations:

  • one-to-one
  • group critique
  • seminar
  • exhibition
  • performance
  • conference
  • workshop
  • salon
  • study trip

This will let you investigate accepted modes of practice and production in contemporary art. You will consider a range of art practices, presentation modes, artistic strategies, technologies and social, cultural and critical contexts.

A high level of staff contact will help you develop a diverse range of individual practices and projects. We will mentor you in how to present at and take part in projects. This includes public art, seminars and conferences. You'll collaborate on curated public presentations and events. And you can elect to devise and lead projects with undergraduate students.

Students have contributed to staff practice and research activities and lead their own personal projects. These include

  • Nederlands Fotomuseum
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery
  • National Health Service
  • StAnza International Poetry Festival
  • Discovery Point
  • The Maria Gugging Clinic & The Maria Gugging Museum, Vienna
  • Summerhall, Edinburgh
  • Deveron Arts
  • Museum Services, University of Dundee
  • Artists’ Book Collection Dundee
  • Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre
  • Dighty Connect, Douglas Community Centre, Dundee.

 

The course is led by the artist and Professor Tracy Mackenna in close working with Edwin Janssen (artists who share an expanded collaborative art practice). Module content is delivered and projects are led by staff including Graham Fagen (artist; research and non-medium-specific practice focuses on ‘cultural formers’; representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale 2015); Ellie Harrison (artist; investigating, exposing and challenging the capitalist system and the impact free-market forces have on our society and day-to-day lives); Dr Sarah Cook (curator of contemporary art, writer, new media art historian); Scott Myles (artist); Professor Murdo Macdonald (Chair of History of Scottish Art); Bob and Roberta Smith (artist, educator; proposes and tests approaches to artist as a public space); Jonn Herschend (interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, co-editor THE THING Quarterly); John Dummett (artist; practice-led PhD student researching ‘visual, textual and verbal representations of ‘the public’’); Joanna Foster (artist and musician; practice-led PhD student researching ‘walking practice and oral narrative in site-responsive practice’); Jonathan Baxter (Dundee Urban Orchard) and many others

This is a forty-five week course, across three semesters for full-time mode, or six semesters for part-time mode.

The academic year is divided into three award stages each comprising teaching and assessment weeks. The first week of semester 1 is an 'Induction Week’ when students are introduced to the exceptional range of facilities and resources available in DJCAD, and to partner organisations. The course culminates with the public ‘DJCAD Masters Show’ when students present their work in a curated exhibition in DJCAD’s Cooper Gallery, external sites, in publications and online.

The course comprises a complementary series of modules to form a structured programme.

Modules include:

  • Art, Society and Publics 1
  • Artistic Research & Writing 1
  • Art, Society and Publics 2
  • Artistic Research & Writing 2
  • Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (available to Part-Time students)
  • Arts, Society and Publics 3 

All modules are relevant to future careers as an artist, in art, in creative practices or to academic progress through M.Phil/PhD.

Students are assessed on studio work, evidence of inquiry, written work and verbal presentation. At the end of the course a body of work is presented at the public ‘Masters Show’ and across a range of other platforms.

Assessment for each module is conducted by module tutors. The assessors employ a variety of styles specific to the module. The course has developed a unique ‘verbal presentation’ form where students present to peers and staff. This highly effective method makes a learning experience of the assessment process and is another way in which students’ presentation, communication and discursive skills are developed. Written components take many forms including reflective reports, artist’s statements, study reports, essays and often embed practical art components.

The programme has two early exit points: Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma.

The first cohort of MFA Art, Society & Publics students graduated in 2014. They are practicing as artists, curators, lecturers, researchers, running artist-led organisations. Others are undertaking practice-led PhD study.

During the course the students worked with groups, individuals and resources with whom many continue to work. including The Maria Gugging Clinic and The Maria Gugging Museum, Vienna; Summerhall, Edinburgh; Deveron Arts; Museum Services, University of Dundee; Artists’ Book Collection Dundee; Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre; Dighty Connect, Douglas Community Centre, Dundee.

The many graduate achievements and recognition include:

  • a-n (artists-newsletter) bursary to attend the 56th Venice Biennale preview week (one of 21 artists from UK)
  • Presentation of a collective public artwork ‘Proposition for a Reading Group’ at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre, Uist
  • Funding from Broad Reach, ATLAS Arts
  • Selected artist, FOCAL micro-residency, exhibition, events for artists living and working in the Uists and Barra
  • Collaborating artist, Vancouver Biennale ‘I have a Dream’, a global art, farming & peace project
  • Commissioned artist, Comann Eachdraigh Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist Historical Society) WW1 Project, ‘An fheadhainn tha laighe sàmhach / They lie silent and still’; Practice-led PhD study, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Dundee
  • Practice-led PhD study, Faculty of Arts, Design and Media - Birmingham City University, AHRC funded
  • Artist in Residence, Dighty Community Group, Dundee; Micro-residency, ’May meet in Mutual’, plus exhibition of site- responsive sculptural and performance work, Baxter Park, Dundee
  • Exhibiting artist, ‘Decision Time’ Centrespace, exhibition with art works, performances, talks and dialogues exploring decision-making in the context of the Scottish Referendum on independence, VRC, Dundee Contemporary Arts and University of Dundee campus
  • Award, ‘Dundee Visual Artists’ funding scheme, Leisure & Culture Dundee, Dundee City Council
  • Lecturer post, University of Highlands and Islands, Perth Campus
  • Academic paper/conference presentation, ‘Artist’s book as landscape: Scattered words – trails of posterity’, (part of International Word and Image Studies panel), College Art Association Conference, New York City, USA
  • Exhibiting artist, ‘Members Show’, Generator projects, Dundee
  • Exhibiting artist, ‘Ex Libris Artists’ Book fair, Aye write!’, Glasgow’s Book Festival, Glasgow
  • Designer, Artmagik, Art/Interior Architecture company, Akobe city, Kazakhstan
  • Co-ordinator Art & Media Placements, DJCAD, University of Dundee
  • Exhibiting artist, ‘Art Amnesty’ MOMA PS1, New York, USA.


Dominique Cameron, 2014 Alumna

"The course produced a student that through engagement graduated with a strong sense of themselves as an artist able to question the role of the artist in contemporary society.”

Laura Donkers, 2014 Alumna

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to take up this high level course on a combined attendance/distance-learning basis. It does not allow complacency, but challenges you right up to the last week to seek out what you truly wish to express. The training for this is within the diverse and vibrant array of tutors, visiting lecturers, practitioners and performers who challenge, confuse, question, and enlighten throughout the duration. I do now feel much more articulate, clear, enlivened and ready to meet society as a professional artist.”

Year of Entry: 2015

Entry Requirements: Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in a visual discipline. Those with other qualifications or relevant professional experience will also be considered.
You will need to upload a portfolio of up to 15 examples of work. These can be images, short video or sound clips. You'll need to submit a brief for each item with descriptions, media and dates. You can also submit a link to an online portfolio.

EU and International students visit our EU and International webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country.

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.0
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

Please check our English language requirements page for details of equivalent grades from other test providers, and information about the University of Dundee English language courses.

 

English Language Pre-Sessional Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional programmes throughout the year and Foundation Programme(s) for both undergraduate and postgraduate students which start at the beginning of the academic year.  These programmes are all designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.  Successful completion of these programmes guarantees progression to various degrees at the University of Dundee as long as you hold a relevant offer.

The 30 week (one Academic Year) Foundation Programme(s) allow applicants who have not met our typical academic entry requirements, and require additional English Language support by up to 1.0 IELTS, to gain the necessary qualifications to enter the University of Dundee degree programmes in the following year.

The 24 week Pre-Sessional programme (March – August) provides additional English Language tuition for students who do not meet our minimum English Language requirements by up to 1.0 IELTS and the 10 week Pre-Sessional programme  (June – August) (October – December) provides specialist English Language tuition for students who are 0.5 IELTS below the requirement for their degree programme.

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee statusFees for students starting 2015/16
Scottish, Rest of UK and EU students £4,500 per year of study
Applicants for this course may be eligible for a PSAS tuition fee loan
Overseas students (non-EU) £12,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

We are different. We're committed to providing the creative and intellectual framework and the conditions for students to navigate from where they are now to where they'd like to be. The MFA ASP course is led by artists who work at an international level, and for whom education is an important aspect of their art practices. Students’ previous experiences are highly valued and are considered when helping define their new challenges and ambitions; this informs the projects they develop and undertake. As an art college within a research-led university, DJCAD is particularly well-placed to nurture interdisciplinary relationships.

We expect our students to be undertaking a Masters course at different stages of their careers, and for different reasons. For some, practice including exhibiting is an established part of their activity, and we reflect and support this within the programme. Several current students have incorporated into their study projects that were established with external partners before they started the MFA ASP course. The course also focuses on developing professional abilities and networks through external activities. A popular supplementary module that focuses on career development, available to part-time students, is ‘Learning and Teaching in Higher Education’.

No, but you should be able to demonstrate that you have an understanding of historical and current issues in art (and related fields where appropriate to your proposed study programme) and that you are able to visualise, conceptualise or embody ideas. We welcome students with a high level of motivation who have established an individual voice through a body of work at Undergraduate study or through professional experience. Alexandra Ross, an MFA student who went on to complete a practice-led PhD at DJCAD investigating issues in curating undertook the Masters course with previous degrees in Law and Museum and Gallery Studies.

Yes. The UK Pass application form provides guidelines. Alternative forms can be discussed by contacting the MFA ASP Director.

This academic year, module teaching is delivered on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Full-Time and Part-Time students are often together during these sessions, creating a dynamic, shared environment. There are times when this schedule may vary depending on the range of duties MFA ASP staff carry out beyond their commitment to this course. We acknowledge that candidates often apply to the course with a range of work or family commitments that would have a bearing on their study, so you should feel free to discuss flexible working patterns with the Course Director. 

The MFA ASP Director likes to speak to candidates before or after an application is submitted. This can take the form of a meeting, a phone conversation or a Skype session. Contact Professor Tracy Mackenna t.mackenna@dundee.ac.uk to arrange this.

The research community of artists and designers at DJCAD is diverse and highly regarded. In the latest national research excellence framework (REF), a UK government census to measure the quality of research outputs, community and their impact across all academic disciplines, DJCAD came top in Scotland and amongst the top 10 in Art and Design in the UK. For students this means staff are engaged and active in their discipline, they produce work that is internationally and often world leading, and regularly win funding for projects.

Please read the Postgraduate "How to Apply" section for information on how to upload relevant documents to UKPASS before proceeding with your application.

Apply online via UKPASS


Course Contact

Professor Tracy Mackenna
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design
t.mackenna@dundee.ac.uk
+44 (0)1382 385225