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MA by Research* — Overview

MA by Research* is an exciting opportunity for you to study at Masters level in the dynamic and transdisciplinary arts environment of the college, whilst following an area of your own creative interest under the supervision of specialist academic staff. 

MA by Research runs for two years (part-time) and enables students to explore aspects of knowledge at the forefront of an academic or professional discipline, with research areas negotiated with you on application. Your final submission will be by written thesis and is differentiated from our other practice-led MA courses, with a stronger focus on written outcomes.

Students are expected to demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge during the course, to gain an understanding of how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research and to deal with complex issues systematically and creatively. 

You will be autonomous and specialist in your approach to your studies, with an emphasis on collaboration and invention through the sharing of expertise and ideas that echo present and emerging research areas.

Claire Twomey visits and briefs students as part of Tate Exchange 2017.

The MA by Research course fosters meaningful research and/or knowledge transfer partnerships, industry-based projects and collaborations to increase the impact and reach of students’ research profile.

Existing and emerging research partnerships include: Tate Exchange Research Centre (through the college’s status as founding Associate member), Making Futures, Making Learning, Freelands Foundation, Counterpoints Arts, Anglia Ruskin University, Land2 research network, Black Mirror research network and The Box.

Here you will be equipped to take up positions in a wide range of sectors requiring research and presentation skills, team working, the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility; and decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations and will acquire the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

Core specialisms include: all academic areas currently offered through the Schools of Art + Media; Design + Communication; and Cultural + Critical Studies.

Plymouth College of Art Research 

MA students benefit directly from Plymouth College of Art’s emerging research culture. Postgraduate Centre staff are all practising artists, designers and academics: active makers in their fields of expertise.

Staff researchers have networks with international reach, from University of Gothenburg, the Asia Society and Museum (New York), the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Centre for Contemporary Photography (Melbourne), Photo Kathmandu (Nepal) and Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice published by Intellect Books.

Research specialisms include creative education across the age continuum; entrepreneurship for creative practices; fine art, design, media and craft specialist practices; global curatorial practices; material investigation and innovation. Research-active staff at the college are aligned to research groups: Art & Social Action, Making Learning, Making Futures, and Memory, Site & Artifact, which reflect the wider institutional strategic aims.

Recent contributors to the course include…

  • Dr Dave Beech - Chelsea College of Art
  • Ultra-Red - Sound Art Collective
  • Katie Treggiden - Design writer and consultant
  • James Edgar - Designer and head of Plymouth Design Forum
  • Sophie Mellor - Contemporary artist
  • Beth Richards - Contemporary artist
  • Lucy Rollins - Curator and producer
  • Tim Mills - Producer at the Box, Plymouth 
  • JR Carpenter - Poe

Find out more about the the Postgraduate Centre.


*Subject to validation. 
We are excited to launch this new course for 2020. Courses listed as subject to validation are in the final stage of our rigorous approval process, designed to ensure they accurately reflect the course content and opportunities for students.

Please note, this programme is only available for part time study, a full time study offering is not available.

Our active postgraduate community extend their research practice into the biennial Making Futures / Making Learning symposia.

MA by Research* — Modules

Study undertaken at Masters level runs for a year (full-time*) and two years (part-time) and explores aspects of knowledge at the forefront of an academic or professional discipline discussed with you on application. You will be expected to demonstrate originality in your writing and application of knowledge during the course, and to develop a breadth of competencies that enable you to deal with complex issues systematically and creatively.

The model of 3 x 60 credit modules remains unchanged from the MA awards currently on offer. The modules follow a trajectory of: PG101 Research & Experimentation; PG201 Live External Project; PG301 Final Masters Project (submission of a written thesis of 10-12,000 words). This structure allows a flexible approach to the investigation, development and resolution of students’ projects. PCA emphasises an interdisciplinary ethos across its postgraduate programmes, which is supported by the structure that they share and the mapping of common learning outcomes across the awards. 

The common modules, combined with specialist tutors, assignments, delivery and personal project proposals for each Masters programme, ensure depth and specialisation within each subject area but also equip you with robust approaches, methodologies and techniques to negotiate the emerging spirit of collaboration evidenced in the commercial, social and public sectors after graduation. Whereas other MA programmes are framed around specific disciplinary areas (e.g. MA Painting, MA Printmaking, MA Drawing, MA Ceramics), the MA by Research allows you to negotiate a bespoke engagement with PCAs postgraduate delivery and research expertise, suited to your research proposal. 

As an MA by Research student you will articulate, test and refine a research proposal during module 101, supported by taught delivery focused on questions relevant to research design in Art, Design and Media disciplines. Throughout your studies, you will negotiate your engagement with the academic and technical resources provided by PCA with a subject tutor. This process is recorded at set intervals on a research plan, which is an ongoing reflexive document which supports the development of your research trajectory.

Find out more about the Postgraduate Centre.

*Please note MA by Research is only available as a part-time programme.

MA by Research* — Staff

Dr Stephen Felmingham

Dr Stephen Felmingham
Head of School | Critical + Cultural Studies and MA Subject Tutor

Stephen Felmingham is an artist and educator and has lectured extensively in drawing, painting, print and contemporary art practice on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across the UK, including University College Falmouth, Norwich University College of the Arts and Leeds College of Art. He studied at Middlesex University and the University of the Arts London (Wimbledon) where he completed an MA in Drawing in 1999.

He was nominated a member of the LAND2 Research Network in 2009, was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in the same year and was a finalist in the Celeste Art Prize, New York, in 2010. He speaks regularly both on drawing and art and design pedagogy and his work is represented in collections nationally and internationally and he has exhibited widely in the UK and in Europe.

Stephen exhibited The Violet Club in The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art in 2014, a body of work made in response to the Cold War bunkers of the Royal Observer Corps that still exist, abandoned, across the UK.

Dr Steven Paige

Dr Steven Paige
Senior Lecturer & MA Subject Leader

Dr Steven Paige is Senior Lecturer & MA Subject Leader at Plymouth College of Art.

He maintains his practice as an artist, incorporating installation, video, print, performance, drawing and artist publishing. He explores ideas around instruction, and how the body can engage with recent and historic artefacts to generate new knowledge. He attempts to reanimate historic sources through re-enactment strategies where repeating, rhythm, memory and failure test how and when we do and don't learn. Recent practice research has been in exploring moving image archives and their potential in art making - drawn both from analogue and digital sources.

He is keenly interested in the voice of the artist, and how this manifests in research, practice, writing, events, dialogues through commissions, online projects, residential exchanges, curatorial projects and artist-led activity. He has also worked and has strong relationships with galleries and cultural organisations across the South West, including Tate St Ives, Newlyn and Exchange Gallery, KARST,  Back Lane West, Plymouth Arts Centre, Exeter Phoenix, Arnolfini and Spike Island.

Recent projects & exhibitions include AHRC IPS Kluge Fellowship, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA, 2017, We Lost Our Tails, Proto Gallery / M E N, Hoboken New Jersey, USA, 2016, Let's Go Bowling, Plymouth Arts Centre, UK, 2016, Plymouth Contemporary Open, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University, UK, 2016, A Treatise on Beasts (after Physiologus), Forum, Exeter University, UK, 2015, Moral Development, Motorcade Flashparade, BV Studios, Bristol, UK, 2013.

Steven has a BA (Hons) and MA in Fine Art and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. He currently sits on the AIR Council, an advisory committee to a-n's The Artist Information Company and completed his AHRC 3D3 Practice Research PhD at Plymouth University in 2019.

Dr Natalia Eernstman

Dr Natalia Eernstman
MA Subject Tutor

Dr Natalia Eernstman is an artist, educator and researcher, specialising in (community) learning through artful and performative means.  She is a senior lecturer on the MA Creative Education: Making Learning and runs (research) projects in the field of creative education, community-engaged art practice, intergenerational learning and environmental art. She works in communities and with universities, often around climate change and bridging (social) science and art.

With over 10 years of experience Natalia is a skilled facilitator and she has run large-scale site-specific art events. She was part of the Education Department at Wageningen University in The Netherlands and holds a PhD from University Arts London / Falmouth University. 

Current collaborations are with the University of Gothenburg in a project called ‘Imaginative Disruption’. And she is in the process of setting up a CIC that connects children and their families in creative, collaborative learning to translate debilitating feelings of eco-anxiety in agency. She is also involved in organising the biennial symposium Making Learning at Plymouth College of Art.

Dr Kim Bagley

Dr Kim Bagley
MA Module Leader and MA Subject Tutor

Kim studied a BA (Hons) Visual Art and an MAFA, both specialising in ceramics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. She completed the first practice-led PhD in Ceramics at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham in 2014.

Alongside teaching and research, Kim has developed her own practice in sculptural and installation-based ceramics that explore and comment on social issues in South Africa and the UK.

Kim has taught at UCA Farnham, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, 318 Ceramics and Surrey Adult Learning. Kim has worked as a research associate at the University of Westminster as part of the Ceramics Research Centre – UK.

Kim contributes to teaching and learning across the 3D Design Crafts programme and delivers specialist teaching in Ceramics and Contextual Studies.

Judith Noble

Judith Noble
Head of Academic Research and Associate Professor

Judith Noble is our Head of Academic Research here at Plymouth College of Art. She is joint coordinator of the Black Mirror research network with Dominic Shepherd (AUB), Jesse Bransford (NYU Steinhardt) and Robert Ansell and Merlin Cox (Fulgur). Her research interests centre on experimental, avant-garde and artists film and the occult and magic. She has published extensively on Maya Deren and on Kenneth Anger and Derek Jarman.

She has recently completed work on Maya Deren and Surrealism and is preparing a monograph on Deren. In 2014 she organised the Visions of Enchantment conference with Dan Zamani and Rachel Parikh. Before returning to Higher Education in 2007, she worked for many years in arts funding and the film industry. From 1984 - 96 she was Film and Television officer at South West Arts; from 1996 - 2001 she was Chief Executive of the South West Media Development Agency and from 2001 - 2006 she was Head of Production at Sgrin Cymru Wales, where she was responsible for executive-producing and developing feature films supported by the Wales Lottery Film Fund. These included Peter Greenaway’s Tulse Luper Suitcases trilogy (in competition at Cannes and Berlin 2002 - 4), Amma Asante’s A Way Of Life (BAFTA winner 2005), Patagonia (Gruff Rhys) and Sleep, Furiously (Gideon Koppel). In 2007 she joined the staff of the BA (Hons) Film Production course at Arts University Bournemouth. She held an AUB Research Fellowship in 2010-11, trained as a PhD supervisor and became Course Leader for BA (Hons) Film production in 2014 before taking up her current post at Plymouth College of Art.

Judith is a Member of the Modernist Studies Association, ESSWE and a Trustee (and founding Chair) of the Friends of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (Boscastle, Cornwall). Judith holds an MFA from Reading (1980) and a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent (1978).

Dr Mohini Chandra

Dr Mohini Chandra
MA Module Leader and MA Subject Tutor

Mohini Chandra’s work on the international flows of people and culture in our globalised world has exhibited in venues such as the Asia Society and Museum (New York), the Queens Museum (New York), the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Centre for Contemporary Photography (Melbourne) as well as the First Johannesburg Biennale, Photo Kathmandu (Nepal) and in ‘Now! Now!’ at Chelsea College of Art (presented by Iniva and BAM).

Mohini has received awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Autograph ABP, the Arts Council England, the British Council, the Australia Council for the Artsand Asialink. Recent projects made in the Pacific region and in India have been exhibited at the Third Oceanic Performance Biennial (Auckland) and in the Biennial Focus Festival of Photography (Mumbai). She has recently been awarded an Australia Council funded Cite Residency in Paris to research the Asia-Pacific collections of the Musée du quai Branly and will exhibit at the next international Houston Foto Fest Biennale in 2018.

For Mohini, the combination of photography, found and archival material, moving image, sound and other installation media enables the visual expression of personal experience and a ‘mapping’ of alternate narratives within the complex conditions of globalisation. Her research encompasses both thinking and making around photography through a range of curatorial, writing and publishing projects. Her recent article Plane Views was published by Taylor and Francis in the Journal of Photography & Culture, while artist publications include the photobook ‘album pacifica’, published by Autograph (ABP).

Her work is held in international collections including the Arts Council Collection UK and included in major survey publications such as Phaidon’s Art and Photography by David Campany. With a PhD from the Royal College of Art, and with extensive undergraduate and postgraduate teaching experience both in the UK and abroad, Mohini has a depth of experience in successfully integrating research and professional experience into the academic and studio-based learning environment.

Associate Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks

Associate Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks
Academic Dean

Academic Dean with strategic academic leadership of the School of Arts + Media, and School of Design + Communication.

As Academic Dean, Paul leads the undergraduate and postgraduate portfolios across both Schools, and is a member of the College’s Senior Leadership Team. In addition, Paul contributes to the development of an emerging research culture at the College. His own research includes both practice-based and pedagogic strands of enquiry, relating primarily to the production of and consideration for, artefacts within an expanded field of contemporary drawing practice; and to the discourses that inform new perspectives on collaboration and interdisciplinary learning in and through art and design higher education.

His studio practice is largely concerned with landscape and place-oriented practice, and the materiality of drawing, with his work exhibited in a wide range of related projects including, most recently: Imagined Landscapes, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol (2016); Anonymous Drawings 2015, Galerie Nord Berlin Germany (touring 2015-16: Galerie ARTQ13 Rome Italy/ Galerie GEYSO20, Braunschweig, Germany); Drawology, Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham (2013) and Lanchester Gallery, Coventry (2014). Paul has exhibited in the UK, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, Japan and Australia, and has work in both public and private collections.

Paul is currently on the editorial board for Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice published by intellectbooks, and a co-editor of the international peer-reviewed drawing research journal Tracey, published by Loughborough University. He was a co-director of Tracey between 2011-2014. Recent research has been published and presented in academic journals and international conferences including: The Journal of Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education; Tracey Drawing and Visualisation Research Journal; ‘Exploring Territories: The Changing Landscape of Art & Design Higher Education’, GLAD Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University; ‘Arts Without Borders’ (conference), Helsinki University of the Arts, Finland; ‘ENACT: Learning in/through the Arts’, 7th ELIA (The European League of Institutes of the Arts) Teachers’ Academy, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Peter Barker

Peter Barker
Head of School | Design + Communication

Peter Barker is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an MA in Industrial Design graduate from the Royal College of Art and former Head of Industrial & Communication Design at Design School Kolding. His role at Plymouth College of Art saw him return to England after three years in Denmark at Design School Kolding, which is regularly ranked as one of Europe’s top 50 design schools. During his time there Peter created opportunities for students to work with global brands such as NASA and provided design consultancy for brands including LEGO Group.

With over thirty years of international experience in industrial design practice and design teaching, including working with the LEGO Foundation to create a new MA Design for Play programme, Peter joined Design School Kolding in August 2015, first as Head of Industrial Design, then as Director of Education, and finally as Head of Industrial & Communication Design.

Prior to this Peter was BA (Hons) Product Design Course Leader at Central Saint Martins, UAL, Assistant Professor in Industrial Design at California State University, Long Beach, and Programme Manager for Coventry University Industrial Design courses. Before switching to design education, he spent over a decade working first as a designer at the Moulton Bicycle Company, and then as a design consultant in London and the Midlands across a range of disciplines.

As an educator, Peter has facilitated opportunities for students to work with international brands including Oakley, Jaguar Land Rover, Rodial Cosmetics, Flying Tiger Copenhagen, Razor USA, and Sebastian Conran.

As the Head of School, Design + Communication here at Plymouth College of Art, Peter has worked closely with our Academic Dean to develop our new School of Design + Communication. As Head of School, Peter brings new ideas and expertise to bear on the consolidation, development, and innovation of the programmes that we offer, supporting the college’s commitment to creative pedagogy, interdisciplinary exchange, collaboration, and social impact.

The staff listed on this programme are correct at the time of writing. Students will be notified if there are any changes to key staff (i.e. Programme Leaders and Lecturers).

MA by Research* — Student Work

MA by Research* — Students Say

MA by Research* — Careers & Alumni

Alumni of the Postgraduate Centre pursue careers in the fields of fine art, craft and design, as practising artists, teachers, curators, and as gallery, theatre and technical professionals. Others go on to prepare for doctoral study, and set up viable projects as socially engaged and community-based practitioners.

Our programmes offer professional skills development to support our students as they progress within industry, self-employment (in the Creative Industries sector) and further Level 7 and 8 studies. The second module offers an opportunity to test out the practices being investigated by individual students within an appropriate, live setting.

MA by Research* — Entry Requirements

MA by Research* — Resources

We continue to invest in our resources, workshops and studios, having spent over £12 million in the last five years on capital projects alone. We have recently invested £8 million in integrating 21st century and traditional creativea techniques and processes within an outstanding craft, design and fabrication workshop complex. This new facility offers Computer Aided Design and Manufacture (CAD/CAM) within our FabLab, alongside Printing, Printed Textiles, Ceramics, Glass and Small Metals workshops.

In addition, computers campus-wide are installed with graphics, media and design software. We offer dedicated Painting, Drawing, Fashion, Photography, Film and Animation studios. We also house a public facing Gallery on campus, with national and international exhibitions and a programme of visiting artists.

Our Library provides specialist Media, Art and Design and Fine Art materials, and our intranet-based Managed Learning Environment gives you access to online support and information.

Facilities include:

Animation, Film and Photography Studios

Our students make full use of our industry-standard dedicated studio spaces – including our infinity cove, green screen, and specialist sound studio (with Foley pit and vocal recording booth) – plus our stop-motion suite, our darkrooms, and plenty of individual edit suites, all up-to-date with the latest industry-standard software.

Ceramics and Glass Workshops

With a glass furnace that works at 1,100 degrees, 10 potters wheels, resources for hot, warm and cold glass processes, a plaster room for mould making, 16 kilns, a well-stocked glaze mixing area and individual studio space, our Ceramics and Glass Workshops have a real ‘wow’ factor, rivalling any art school around the country.

Our Photographic Studios.

Drawing Studios

With north-facing windows, a ‘methods and process’ area, individual studio space and a specialist life-drawing studio, our impressive, open-plan, triple-height Drawing Studio is a huge space, perfect for many different activities and specialisms.

Fab Lab

Our ‘fabrication laboratory’ is kitted-out with the latest in digital design technologies – from 3D printers to 3D scanners, a vinyl cutter, CNC milling machine, CNC router and laser cutter. It adds a whole new level of opportunity for students across all creative walks of life.

Fashion Studios

This large professional studio offers a real-life fashion experience in a fabulous space with sea views. Specialist industrial and domestic sewing machines, a range of knitting machines and a wide stock of fabrics and knitting yarns sit alongside a media and marketing Mac suite, a fully operational CAD cutting facility, and a library of designer garments to inspire.

Our Glass Studio in our Ceramics and Glass Workshops.

Fine Art Printmaking Studios

A fantastic facility supporting fine art printmaking, our dedicated space caters for a wide range of programmes and processes. You’ll get access to a 150-year-old Columbian press, an Albion press, an historic and rare wallpaper press, and an automatic FAG proofing press, plus a broad selection of metal and wood type, vacuum screen-printing beds, and four etching presses.

Jewellery Design Studio

Housed in our fantastic new Craft, Design and Fabrication Workshops, this stunning space provides everything for contemporary and traditional techniques in jewellery design, including benches supplied with gas and oxygen, in-house metal casting resources, hand and machine-forming tools, facilities for vitreous enamelling, and a separate chemical room for etching, anodising and patternation. We also have larger metalwork equipment for welding, brazing, cutting and grinding.

Textile Studios

With views out to sea and 35 metres of print tables to encourage experimentation, our Printed Textile Design Studios also boast a fantastic Mimaki fabric printer, digital embroidery resources, industrial sewing machines, sublimation printers, a dye lab, heat presses, a tufting gun and a Mac suite. It’s got to be one of the best printed textile workshops in the UK.

Our Drawing Studios.

Digital Print Bureau and Equipment Resource Centre

Our Digital Print Bureau offers affordable and quick print services for all our students who are looking for anything from large-format or solvent printing, to photo printing, scanning or vinyl cutting, and a wide range of finishing services. Our highly experienced Equipment Resource Centre staff can advise you on which of our 6,000 pieces of industry-standard kit – from underwater cameras to traditional large format cameras and all free to hire – will best meet your needs.

Woods and Plastics Workshop

Alongside the latest in new technology, we value the long-standing traditions of making in wood and plastics – and have developed an excellently-resourced workshop that is open to all our students. It boasts a wide range of kit, including an impressive CNC router, plenty of saws and lathes, and strip-heaters, as well as greenwood-working facilities.

Our FabLab.

CNC Milling Machine in our Woods and Plastics Workshop.

Our Fine Art Printmaking Studio.

Find out more about the Postgraduate Centre.

MA by Research* — Interview

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