• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Art & Design
  • Study Mode: Full Time
This course is not currently open for new applications.

The Art, Society & Publics MFA challenges and extends students' perception of their work in the context of contemporary art, culture and society.

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

On the MFA Art, Society & Publics programme tutors work with students to develop their individual art practices. A rich and dynamic range of taught content is delivered through events and projects with partner organisations. The key focus of the programme is on the inter-relationships between art (production and the artist’s role), society (current societal issues) and publics (diverse audiences). Students are challenged to investigate, understand and experiment with the multiple contexts and sites where art unfolds. Thinking through art and art’s place in the world are tested through exposure to the intersection between established arenas such as the museum and gallery and non-art sites and platforms.


A Questionnaire for self-understanding'

In June 2017, we, the collective group of artists completing the MFA Art, Society & Publics course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, met with Cristina Garriga (My Bookcase) for a four day workshop. The aim was to build a collaborative publication for our Masters Degree Show. We began with a discussion around our different artworks, websites and areas of work. Common themes emerged of collage, remix and mash-ups. These collective thoughts then developed into the assemblage of works which you can find inside this publication.

Download 'A Questionnaire for self-understanding' (PDF)

A Question of Understanding

A central aim of the programme is to identify and nurture individual artistic practices by deepening students’ individual approaches and methods, research interests and professional experience. Students are taught how to develop and sustain an art practice, with consideration of relevant economies.

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, (art)writing, critical theory and curatorial practice.

By providing the skills to function in academia, the programme equips interested students 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.

The programme is practice-led and is directed by the artist Tracy Mackenna (Scot/It) who teaches alongside collaborative partner Edwin Janssen (NL). The programme 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 programme with bespoke content.

YouTube Poster Image (Cached)

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

The MFA Art, Society & Publics programme 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 programme, which provides the creative and intellectual framework through which to understand current attitudes and phenomena in contemporary art, culture and society.

The course has 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.

Dominique Cameron

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.

Laura Donkers

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

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 programme 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 continuously through situations and opportunities that focus on engagement and building professional relationships. Optional specialist masterclasses on performance, sound and editing are some of the elective activities that bring undergraduate and Masters students together for short, intense working periods with focussed outcomes.

Programme content is designed to actively engage students with unique partners, resources and expertise such as DJCAD Exhibitions, abcDundee (Artists' Book Collection Dundee), DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts), Deveron Projects, Hospitalfield Arts, The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery & Museum, artconnexion (Lille), Spaces of Uncertainty network etc. This provides on-site learning opportunities, stimulates collaborative and co-operative working and builds students’ professional networks whilst undertaking the programme.

How you will be taught

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 participate in staff practice and research activities and lead their own personal projects with partners that 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 Projects
  • Museum Services, University of Dundee
  • Artists’ Book Collection Dundee
  • Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre
  • Dighty Connect, Douglas Community Centre, Dundee
  • University of Lille, France
  • artconnexion, France
  • Chabot Museum, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
  • TENT, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
  • The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery & Museum

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:

  • 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.

How you will be assessed

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 DJCAD ‘Masters Show’. Presentation on platforms such as online, publication, off-site etc are strongly supported.

Assessment for each module is conducted by module tutors. The assessors employ a variety of styles specific to the module. The programme has developed a unique and highly praised ‘verbal presentation’ form of assessment 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, analytical and discursive skills are developed. Written components take many forms including reflective reports, artist’s statements, study reports and essays. Students are strongly encouraged to experiment with the inter-relationship of practical art components and textual/written work, particularly through the Artistic Research & Writing modules.

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

What you will study

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.

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


40 credit module that will enhance a student’s practice through investigation and development within the broader framework and understanding of art’s relation to society and publics. Students pursue individual enquiry through personal projects and collaborative opportunities.

20 credit module that will develop a student’s understanding and knowledge of, and skill in, research methods and processes relevant to contemporary art practice and their own creative-academic investigation, focusing on outputs in a range of written and textual and creative formats.

40 credit module that will further develop students’ abilities to identify, research, contextualise, reflect and articulate material for practical and intellectual application in their own individual practice within the broader framework and understanding of art’s relation to society and publics.

20 credit module that develops PgCert module Artistic Research & Writing. Individual artistic research processes and methods will be enriched through exploration of relationships between textual and artistic practices. A range of writing practice/art practice models are explored through the examination and testing of approaches, processes, and definitions.

60 credit module that forms the final stage of the MFA ASP programme. It enables the learning outcomes of all previous modules to come together, co-locating all aspects of practice, research and the production of a substantial body of work, presented across a number of public platforms.

Related course

Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education (Optional)
This course provides a high quality continuing professional development (CPD) programme in academic practice designed for professionals who are / who intend to teach or support learning in an HE environment. Students could elect to undertake the module, at their own cost, alongside the core MFA ASP modules.

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.

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 qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.0
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are 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.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

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 2019-20
Scottish and EU students £7,300 per year of study
Rest of UK students £7,300 per year of study
International students (non-EU) £17,275 per year of study
Fee statusFees for students starting 2020-21
Scottish and EU students Suspended
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students Suspended
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
International students (non-EU) Suspended
See our scholarships for International applicants

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students will increase by no more than 5% per year for the length of your course.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your education at the University over and above tuition fees in an academic year.

Examples of additional costs:

One off costOngoing costIncidental cost
Graduation feeStudio feeField trips

*these are examples only and are not exhaustive.

Additional costs:

  • may be mandatory or optional expenses
  • may be one off, ongoing or incidental charges and certain costs may be payable annually for each year of your programme of study
  • vary depending on your programme of study
  • are payable by you and are non-refundable and non-transferable

Unfortunately, failure to pay additional costs may result in limitations on your student experience.

For additional costs specific to your course please speak to our Enquiry Team.

You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

You'll need to upload relevant documents as part of your application. Please read the how to apply page before you apply to find out about what you'll need.

  Degree Course code

Course Contact

Professor Tracy Mackenna
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design
+44 (0)1382 385225

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