Course details

Study options

Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: 2 years

UK fee

£6,550 for the full course or £730 per 20 credits* (2021/22)

International/EU fee

£14,700 for the full course (2021/22)

Course level




Start date



Markeaton Street, Derby Campus

Course description

The highlights

Work creatively across disciplines

This MA Arts is an exciting, challenging and rigorous programme of study, which offers you a choice of two pathways — Photography or Fine Art — so you can focus on one particular discipline and graduate with a named award in that.

At the same time, as the boundaries between visual arts disciplines continue to blur, this Masters will encourage you to take part in a diverse range of activities and collaborate with other art and design students — especially those on the alternative pathway to you — so you develop as a multifaceted, original artist and practitioner.

This programme will bring together a community of photographers and artists in a multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary environment, to explore the interface between media (both traditional and digital) in a stimulating and creatively enabling way. This will provide a unique and exciting opportunity for those who wish to specialise in the interpretation of time and space working creatively, practically and intellectually across disciplines. Discussions and debates around the differences and commonalities of the subject areas will both critically inform and support individual creative practice, including the relevance of the written word through narrative form and theoretical studies.

You will undertake taught studio-based research, while gaining a strong theoretical awareness of contemporary practice. There will be lots of lively debates involving students and staff from a range of disciplines, giving you the opportunity to hear a rich range of voices and contribute your own. 

You will also become part of our thriving research culture and be able to attend the staff research seminar series, where colleagues discuss their latest projects.

At the end of the programme, you will take part in the University's Degree Show: a large-scale exhibition of work from final year undergraduate and postgraduate arts students. You can see the highlights from the 2019 MA Degree Show here as well as a video from the 2018 show below.

Some student work on display at the Masters Degree Show

View Masters Show 2018 video transcript

MA Arts (Photography) pathway

The University of Derby has a long history of excellence in photography, with high student satisfaction ratings and top 20 league table positions. On this MA Arts (Photography), we teach photography as a fine art practice, offering a contemporary and exciting programme. By developing your own projects, you will have the freedom to focus on what interests and excites you. 

You will have access to well-resourced facilities that will allow you to experiment with different image-making methods, working across analogue, digital, still or moving image and multimedia installation.

Our University hosts FORMAT International Photography Festival in collaboration with Derby QUAD, which attracts artists from all over the world. This provides you with a unique opportunity to showcase your work and build contacts within the industry.

You will be encouraged to maintain a professional profile during the course. Previous arts students have exhibited at venues such as The Crypt Derby CathedralPickford House MuseumThe Orangery DerbyQUADWirksworth Visual Arts FestivalDerby Museum and Art Gallery, Una Notte al Museo in Milan, Italy, Campbell Works Gallery London, and Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts. 

We will inspire you to shape your individual creative practice with relevant theoretical knowledge and experimental approaches, informing a personal voice and engagement within the creative industries. 

A collection of abstract images featuring people and hands with writing on top of the photograph
Sofia Rodrigues

MA Arts (Fine Art) pathway

This pathway is open to fine art undergraduates as well as people who have studied other art and design disciplines, and who now want to develop their skillset in a fine art context. 

On this pathway, we'll encourage you to critically reflect on your personal practice and become more aware of the relationship between your work and your audience. You will consider aspects of curatorial practice and how art works are received by general and specialist audiences. 

You will have access to well-staffed and well-resourced fine art studios and a range of 2D/3D making workshops (printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, wood / metal) plus the University's other arts facilities, such as an equipment loan store, digital print workshops and video editing software.

A close up of a students work
A close up of a students work
A close up of a students work

“I fantasise about you too” by Paige Holmes, “Echoes of Silence” by Sara Brighty, “Videas Lumen” by Zoe Collishaw, MA Fine Art graduates 2018.

A photo of a young male wearing sportswear turning his head to the side whilst standing in front of colourful graffiti

Why established artist Adam chose our masters

Adam Neal is making challenging and exciting work thanks to the freedom and support he receives as a postgraduate student.

Read about Adam's experienceRead about Adam's experience
A negative photo of a tree in a field on curved glass stands in front of a sepia image of a woman leaning forward

Here & Now exhibition

Explore a collection of work by postgraduate students that was showcased at an Artcore Derby Virtual Exhibition.

Discover 'Here & Now'Discover 'Here & Now'
Multi-Faith Centre, Kedleston Road

Postgraduate Open Event

Join us at an upcoming Postgraduate Open Event, where you will get the opportunity to meet our expert academics and find out more about your course.

Book your Postgraduate Open EventBook your Postgraduate Open Event

What you will study

You will study modules such as: 

These modules fully integrate both theory and practice and are written and placed to encourage ideas and learning to be balanced and exchanged between the two. 

Practice, Theory, Curation (Fine Art or Photography) (20 credits)

This module introduces you to curatorial debates and ideas within the arena of Fine Art and Photography practice, reflecting on and responding to visual and written texts that engage critically with the subject.

Reflective Processes and Visual Enquiry (Fine Art or Photography) (40 credits)

This module will explore examples of reflective and self-critical practice from a personal historical perspective. Students will present an account of work to date, relating it to current theoretical issues, and use this as a “bridge” to re-evaluate and reassess in order to begin the development of a new corpus of visual work. 

Critical Study (Fine Art or Photography) (20 credits)

This module is an opportunity for you to undertake a critical study of your own, current artistic or photographic practice within the contemporary international context of art and/or photography. It will enable you to develop your knowledge and understanding of the relationship between practice and theory to a more advanced level, through scholarly research and production of an essay.

Negotiated Study (Fine Art or Photography) (40 credits)

Within this module you will articulate the context in which your work might be sighted. Clarifying where and how your work might be staged and viewed, with reference to audience engagement and interaction, it is intended to bring the critical aspect of forming judgements about your work. The module will support your development of key research skills and working practices preparatory to the ‘Independent Scholarship and Critical Reflection’ module.

Choose one module on the third and final stage of the programme:

  • Independent Scholarship and Critical Reflection in Photography or
  • Independent Scholarship and Critical Reflection in Fine Art or
  • Artistic Research and Critical Practice
Independent Scholarship and Critical Reflection (Fine Art or Photography) (60 credits) 

Alongside the major practice element of this module (the Degree show exhibition) you will be asked to ‘critically reflect’ and ‘analyse’ your practice; this is designed to develop and enhance your ability to critically discuss and evaluate work in order to contextualise, develop and propose plans for your future professional practice. In this module, practical and research skills acquired in preceding modules will be employed and developed to produce a coherent and sustained body of exhibition quality work to a professional standard.  

Artistic Research: Theory and Practice (Fine Art or Photography) (60 credits) 

You will be able to conduct a major, extended, in-depth critical review of the theoretical and historical dimensions of your artistic or photographic research alongside the development of your practice. Forming the culmination of your programme of study, it will be appropriate to those who have discovered that their creative interests and strengths lie primarily in the theoretical and historical aspects of artistic research and who may be considering applying to undertake practice-based doctoral research.

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

This MA Arts is a professionally taught programme delivered through seminars, tutorials, workshop, peer reviews and guest lectures. We also take part in UK and international study trips to galleries, arts centres and other cultural institutions and have good links with regional galleries such as QUAD and Derby Museum and Art Gallery. 

There is a rich programme of specialist visiting practitioners. In the past, we've hosted:

We've also heard from visiting speakers such as:

How are you assessed?

We'll assess you at the end of each module and provide written and verbal feedback on your progress. We use a range of assessment approaches, including the presentation of practical work, essays, reports including reflective journals, proposals and presentations. In between assessments, we will also give you regular feedback on your work. 

Who you'll meet

The programme leaders for this course are as follows:

Entry requirements

We aim to attract well-motivated students who wish to further their study in a stimulating and professionally orientated learning environment.

All applicants will be expected to submit a portfolio of artwork and Creative Positioning Statement to the Programme Leader in advance of the interview. The portfolio should be a thematic body of work that explores a range of approaches underpinned by a conceptual understanding of context - in short, a coherent range of work exploring a theme/issue/set of ideas etc. A Creative Positioning Statement in the form of a description of your practice and the themes, issues or concerns you would like to explore or develop through this MA programme will be required. The length of the document will be approximately 500 words. Send us your portfolio via email through to Rodger Brown We understand that some of your work will not be in a digital format, for any physical pieces of work please take a photograph of it and submit the photograph.

For international students you will need to have qualifications and experience that are at the same level as for a UK student applying for the same course. If English is not your first language, you'll also need an IELTS score of 6.0 or equivalent. 

UK and EU Entry Requirements

You will normally be expected to have an appropriate fine art, or other first degree appropriate to apply for the MA (Minimum 2:2 or above), or a professional qualification of equal standing, or significant practical or professional experience gained following your initial qualification that would support your application. You should bring your portfolio to the interview normally arranged at the University. You will also be asked to provide a plan of how you intend to use the time on the MA to further your practice.

If English is not your first language, you'll also need an IELTS score of 6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area), or equivalent. 

Please contact the programme team with any queries.

Fees and funding

2021/22 Fees (August 2021 - July 2022)


£6,550 for the full course or £730 per 20 credits*

£730 per 20 credits


£14,700 for the full course


Please note fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase after one year of study.

* UK full-time fees paid within one academic year are rounded down to the nearest £50 if applicable

2022/23 Fees (August 2022 - July 2023)


£6,550 for the full course or £730 per 20 credits*

£730 per 20 credits


£14,700 for the full course


Please note fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase after one year of study.

* UK full-time fees paid within one academic year are rounded down to the nearest £50 if applicable

About postgraduate awards

Please note at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the respective awards. If you have any questions please contact us.

Postgraduate Certificate60 Credits
Postgraduate Diploma120 Credits
MA or MSc180 Credits

This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.

Funding your studies

Find out more about fees, postgraduate loans and support you may be entitled to.

Find out about funding your studiesFind out about funding your studies

Alumni discount for Derby graduates

We offer a discount on postgraduate course fees for all Derby alumni.

Find out about the Alumni discountFind out about the Alumni discount

Students chatting to each other

International student scholarship

We're offering a £2,000 scholarship for all eligible international students studying a full-time postgraduate taught programme (PGT). Terms and conditions apply.

Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship

How to apply


We have strong links with employers and cultural institutions, which we encourage you to maximise throughout this programme. There are also many opportunities to showcase your work and build a following.

As a graduate from this programme, you will have developed a mature body of work in photography or fine art, as well as gaining the language and skills you need to locate and explain your practice in the professional art world. You will be well-placed to forge a career as an independent artist/photographer, or look for employment in sectors such as the creative industries, education, museums, libraries and archives, or publishing and broadcasting.

Derby University students have made a major contribution to our city’s vibrant arts culture. Many have been inspired by the area's rural and industrial heritage, and have established studios, start-up businesses or exhibited work locally. Students Sarah Blandford and Sofia Rodrigues were awarded the Banks Mill Student Residency 2021-22.

A close up of a mill building with a sign that says Banks Mill Studios

Banks Mill Studios

We also provide support for graduates starting out in the creative industries in the form of Banks Mill, an innovative space for creative and digital industries located in a landmark building within the heart of Derby city centre.

Find out more about support servicesFind out more about support services

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

Contact us Contact us

Additional information about your studies

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.