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Master of Fine Art (MFA) — Overview

Our Master of Fine Art (MFA) programme gives you the opportunity to enhance your creative profile by executing an ambitious, time-limited project that results in a significant body of creative work. 

The MFA is suitable for artists, designers and creative practitioners with a well-developed practice, who have usually completed an MA, and wish to refine and consolidate a professional body of work suitable for public dissemination.

Students exhibit their final work at the annual postgraduate show.

As an MFA student, you will develop a robust research proposal into a substantial and resolved creative outcome that will be exhibited and assessed in a public venue. With the support of staff who are specialists in your area, and with access to regular group critique and lectures, you will hone your sense of your audience and disseminate your work in an appropriate form. 

The course lasts one academic year full-time, or two years part-time, and culminates in an exhibition of creative outcomes. The models of delivery and support that will apply to your work are built around the negotiated proposal that you will provide on application, and that you will refine into a robust project plan during the first weeks of the course. 

You will work with your tutors to fashion a programme that is tailored to the needs of your project. We offer a dynamic study environment, with access to workshop areas across the college.

Find out more about the Graduate School.

Master of Fine Art (MFA) — Modules

The comprehensive Masters structure, which is shared across our specialist programmes, enables our postgraduate students to focus on creative strategies and processes. Through three sequential phases or modules, we support our students in investigating, testing and developing their ideas in depth. The core tuition includes advanced training in specialist disciplines, research methods, critical thinking, research ethics, project design, professional codes and conceptual frameworks, and an opportunity for negotiated study under specialist supervision. All of our programmes have access to our outstanding workshop facilities.

By combining our generic modules with specialist assignments and personal project proposals, we provide depth and specialisation within each subject area, while also equipping you with robust approaches, methodologies and techniques that can be applied across the commercial, social and public sectors.

All students are asked to submit an initial research proposal on application to the course. This proposal should explain the kind of work that you want to create in the course of the MA or MFA programme, and identify your key professional aims. Of course, we understand the creative practice is all about change and development, so you won’t be stuck with these initial ideas. Instead, they will form the starting point for a dialogue with your tutors about your work.  The first module on the MA examines the role of research methods in creative disciplines. The focus will be upon refining your research proposal through a process of making to ensure that it can act as a robust framework for your study. The second module supports you to identify the kinds of collaborations and public-facing opportunities that will strengthen your identity as a creative practitioner.  The final module of each programme may be submitted as a dissertation or as practice, depending on which pathway best suits your concerns as a creative practitioner.

Find out more about the Graduate School.

Master of Fine Art (MFA) — Staff

Dr Stephen Felmingham

Dr Stephen Felmingham
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 Kim Charnley

Dr Kim Charnley
Senior Lecturer and MA Programme Leader

Kim Charnley is the Programme Leader of the Masters provision at Plymouth College of Art, overseeing the Graduate School Interdisciplinary Programme, a forum for practice-based research in art, media and design that is attended by all MA students at the college.

Kim completed his PhD in Art History and Philosophy at the University of Essex. He is a theorist who writes about a wide range of subjects related to contemporary art, photography, film and craft.

He is particularly interested in the way that communities, collectives and networks have become more visible across creative disciplines over the last two decades. This focus involves investigation of the politics and economics of contemporary creativity, especially of art activism and its histories.

Kim has edited and provided an introduction for Delirium and Resistance (Pluto Press), a collection of essays by the noted artist, critic and activist Gregory Sholette. He is working on a book entitled Sociopolitical Aesthetics for the Radical Art/ Radical Aesthetic series published by Bloomsbury Press.


Dr Natalia Eernstman
Senior Lecturer

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 and environmental art. She works in communities and with universities often in the field of climate change and bridging (social) science and arts practice.

With over 10 years of experience Natalia is a skilled facilitator, and has run large site-specific arts events. She holds a PhD from UAL / Falmouth University.

As senior lecturer on the MA Creative Education: Making Learning here at Plymouth College of Art, Natalia runs all four modules that are part of the course, and engages in research practice related to education and creative learning. She is also involved in organising and running of the biennial symposium Making Learning.

Current collaborations are with the University of Gothenburg and Wageningen University in a collaborative project ‘Imaginative Disruption.’

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).

Master of Fine Art (MFA) — Student Work

Master of Fine Art (MFA) — Students Say

Master of Fine Art (MFA) — Careers & Alumni

Alumni of our Graduate School 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.

Find out more about the Graduate School.

Master of Fine Art (MFA) — Entry Requirements

Master of Fine Art (MFA) — 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 creative 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 Fab Lab, 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 Graduate School.

Master of Fine Art (MFA) — Interview

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