Art, Society & Publics MFA

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 1 year
  • School: Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

Do you want to be part of a vibrant artistic community to develop your art practice and critical awareness of contemporary art discourse? The MFA course aims to challenge and extend its students' work and relationship to the visual world by providing the creative and intellectual framework for the exploration of current attitudes and phenomena in the context of contemporary art, culture and society.

Art, Society & Publics at the University of Dundee

The course will develop your skills in creativity, aesthetics and artistic technique.

Why study MFA Art, Society & Publics at Dundee?

The MFA course draws on the diverse, unique and internationally acclaimed research conducted at DJCAD. In the RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design was rated as the top institution in Scotland for research in art and design, and one of the best in the whole of the UK. We have been described as "the outstanding Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, regarded as one of the top colleges in Britain." (Sunday Times University Guide, 2008).

The current MFA group is developing a diverse range of individual projects supported by a high level of staff contact, and have collaboratively curated the joint public exhibition, A Matter of Process. Participation in public projects, seminars and conferences include DJCAD and Wellcome Trust's Shared Imagination, focusing on future art-science partnerships; DJCAD Exhibitions and Bruce McLean +, performance and exhibition A CUT, A SCRATCH, A SCORE and An Action of Words, with writers in residence from RCA MLitt Critical Writing course).

As part of MFA staff research activities, students are participating in public interdisciplinary seminars in the performative discursive exhibition environment The Museum of Loss and Renewal, Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen and WAR as EVER! exhibition and symposium at the Nederlands Fotomuseum; Missing, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, with Graham Fagen. Students are concurrently developing their work by undertaking placements with the National Health Service, StAnza and Discovery Point amongst others.

Watch a presentation from organiser Professor Tracy Mackenna to learn more about the course. 

What's so good about MFA Art, Society & Publics at Dundee?

This course is taught by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design which has been rated as the top institution in Scotland for research in art and design, and one of the best in the whole of the UK (RAE 2008). The MFA Art, Society & Publics course will develop your skills in creativity, aesthetics and artistic technique.

DJCAD is committed to the sharing of knowledge and experience across teaching resources and opportunities, and these include the possibility of collaborating throughout the year on creative and critical projects that aim to integrate art practice, art-writing and curating. For the individual student, the MFA course leads to a curated public exhibition, the Masters Show.

The course benefits from a truly international environment; postgraduate students come from all over the world including China, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Ireland, Iran, Greece, USA and Germany.

Who should study this course?

Individuals with a first or upper second class honours degree in a visual discipline and a keen interest in advancing their knowledge and skills in art. Those with other qualifications or relevant professional experience will also be considered. We welcome art practitioners engaging in any form of art practice.

You will be stimulated to develop a highly ambitious and informed art practice by engaging in studio-based practice, research-based work and (interdisciplinary) seminars with international visiting artists and speakers. Professional skills such as presentation of practical and theoretical work will be developed through presentation opportunities and elective modules that focus on engagement and building professional relationships.

This is a forty-five week course, across three semesters for full-time mode, or six semesters for the part-time route. The course comprises a complementary series of modules to form a structured programme.

Modules include:

  • Art, Society and Publics 1
  • Artistic Research & Writing
  • Art, Society and Publics 2
  • Futures Modules, Placement or Learning & Teaching in Higher Education
  • 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.

For more information visit the course webpage

Students are assessed on studio work, evidence of inquiry, written work and oral presentation. At the end of the course a body of work is presented at the Masters Degree Show.

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

Ashley Nieuwenhuizen, graduated in 2010

"The MFA course at Duncan of Jordanstone was an exciting period in my development as a professional artist. It pushed me to really challenge my practice in the space of a very short year. I forged links with other artists and groups, and explored beyond the territories of my research, ecologies of the species; animal and human. I found the emphasis on research: artists, environments and happenings in my case, extremely beneficial to my creative practice, fuelling methods with deliberate madness (proven during a performance on the university roof). The experience on the MFA gave me an understanding and insight into why I do what I do. At present I am doing a lot of youth work alongside my practice. I was lucky to be given the time to participate at a recent month long residency at Hospitalfield House, Arbroath, working beside renowned international artists in residence. I was involved in a group exhibition at this years Edinburgh Fringe titled, (Dis)ambiguation, and have an upcoming film screening at Sierra Metro. Having recently moved house, I have only just acquired my very first studio and I plan to focus on several drawings and small sculptural works."

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