Postgraduate MA

Contemporary Fine Art

School of Arts and Media




One year

Next enrolment

September 2020


In a nutshell

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.


students accepted

Course details

All about the course

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

  • Provide the skills needed to professionalise careers through embedded creative placements and live projects with industry and community organisations.
  • Develop creative, critical, analytical and intellectual competencies appropriate to master's level degree study, which is informed by current industry practice.
  • Develop advanced understanding of research methods in the context of contemporary art and design practice and to understand how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research.
  • Enhance your knowledge and understanding of professional, contextual and collaborative frameworks appropriate to their experiences and objectives by establishing intellectual debate to enable the articulation and dissemination of their propositions.
  • Assist you at an advanced level in developing, extending and applying complex strategies and approaches to the development of a professional studio practice, embedding the knowledge and skills required to establish you as an arts practitioners within the wider context of contemporary arts networks.

You will contextualise your work via rigorous analysis of relevant cultural discourses and reflective studio-based practice. Running alongside this, is the notion of embedding this practice within the creative industries through public exhibition as well as responses to opportunities provided by our industry partners. 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 and venues.

The programme structure consists of five modules, four of which are delivered within a collaborative framework allowing all students across the master's in art and design programmes opportunities to engage with your peers whilst working through individual assignments focused around each programme. The remaining one module is tailored to the specific programme learning outcomes.

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, and the ability to analyse, critically reflect and present your developing concerns and any potential outcomes.

Semester two 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.


Semester one

Creative Research Methods


This module focuses on the understanding of and the application of a range of practice based research methods. You are initially encouraged to develop an individual line of inquiry that will be explored through a variety of creative research methods of which you are supported through lectures, seminars and tutorials.. This module has two assessment points at week seven and 12 and submissions will generally be project based (70%) with an underpinning written component (30%).

Expanded Studio Practice

Within the module you will examine how your studio practice can be applied to external contexts such as notions of site specific activity/ exhibition and commission. You will be expected to commitment to a establishing a mature studio practice and evidence your research focus through this.


Semester two

Real World Context

Through the Real World Context module you will undertake a placement in a relevant work place to gain new experiences and test out developing ideas and activities. 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.

Exploring Theory and Practice

This module deals with the theoretical and practical issues faced by practitioners in the context of art 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 three

Definitive Practice

The aims of the major project are to offer you the opportunity to critically engage in a major 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. The culmination of this module is an exhibition or other form of public exposition. 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.

Part-time study structure

Year One

  • Creative Research Methods (30 credits)
  • Expanded Studio Practice (30 credits)
  • Real World Context (30 credits)

Year Two

  • Exploring Theory and Practice (30 credits)
  • Definitive Practice (60 credit

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What Will I be Doing?


Practical projects


Reflective writing and essays


Group presentations and exhibitions


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 you to progressively take ownership and direction of your learning so that you may develop as independent, life-long learners. The process of master's 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 you have the opportunity to negotiate your learning and assessment requirements.

You will take five core modules and will study one day a week. Full-time students will have concentrated module delivery in both the morning and afternoon. If studying part-time, you will have concentrated module delivery in the mornings alongside full-time students.

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.


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/critical writing/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.

School of Arts and Media

The School of Arts and Media is the largest School at the University of Salford with more than 4,000 creative students. Across sites at MediaCityUK and the University's Peel Park campus, we offer a huge variety of courses, from fashion image making and styling, television and radio, creative writing and music to journalism, animation, design and performance.

This broad range of disciplines offers enhanced opportunities for specialist and interdisciplinary study, including collaborative work across subject areas.


This programme is based at New Adelphi on the main campus. The facilities include:

  • 2D and 3D printing facilities
  • 3D workshop
  • Fibre workshop
  • Photography studio which includes a lighting set-up
  • Computer suites
  • Gallery spaces

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

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

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 during the programme offer exhibition experience and encourage students to make professional links with arts networks in the region.

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, for example establishing new venues and curating group exhibitions. A number are successful each year in securing artist residencies at home and abroad.

Some 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 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.

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 and Media Research Centre or other research centres as appropriate to individual practice drivers.

Career Links

We work with key cultural organisations within the north-west. These include the Center for Chinese Contemporary Art, Hotbed Press, Islington Mill, Castlefield Gallery, International 3, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Artworks, Mark Devereux Projects and HOME.

Opportunities for student collaboration range from artist in residence positions and exhibition opportunities to volunteering at the organisation, live projects and mentoring. Members of staff from the organisations visit to provide careers advise and guidance as well as inviting our students to events and talks with professional artists at their venues


What You Need To Know

This course is based at our Peel Park campus.

To join this MA you should have a second class honours degree, 2:2 or above.

  • Interview 
  • 250 word Statement of why you want to study Socially Engaged Arts Practice at Masters Level
  • Portfolio

The programme is suited to those with a background in or responsibility for delivering; creative skills, disciplines and media. This course is intended to support your professional development and encourage your independent expertise and facilitation skills. It focuses on developing individual creative habits and strategies to be shared within a community context.

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.


International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5, with no element below 5.5, is proof of this.

Standard entry requirements

Standard entry requirements

To join this MA you should have a second class honours degree, 2:2 or above.

  • Interview 
  • 250 word Statement of why you want to study Socially Engaged Arts Practice at Masters Level
  • Portfolio
Alternative entry requirements

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

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).

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home/EU 2020/21 £7,920per year
Full-time international 2020/21 £14,670per year
Additional costs

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

Apply now

All set? Let's apply

Enrolment dates

September 2020

UCAS information

Course ID N/A

Institution N/A