Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: 2 years
£7,175 for the full course or £800 per 20 credits* (2023/24)
£14,900 for the full course (2023/24)
Markeaton Street, Derby Campus
- We're looking for fine artists and photographers who are strongly motivated and independently minded. We will help you to shape your individual creative practice by encouraging reflection and re-evaluation, research and experimentation
- Our academic team have a wide range of backgrounds with expertise in fine art, photography, film, public art, performance, curatorship, critical theory, art history, philosophy and criticism, residencies and commissions. We're sure you'll thrive in this diverse creative community
- You will have access to outstanding facilities, including darkrooms, equipment and software that are the envy of most professional photographers, and recently refurbished Fine Art Studios in our historic Britannia Mill site.
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 2021 MA Degree Show here as well as a video from the 2018 show below.
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 Cathedral, Pickford House Museum, The Orangery Derby, QUAD, Wirksworth Visual Arts Festival, Derby 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.
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.
Student work from left to right: Deb Rogers, Henrietta Ellis, Ana Torrejon (top right) and Zoe Collishaw (bottom right)
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.
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.
Student work from left to right: Thomas Wynne, Holly McGhee, Finn Dahlhaus (top centre) and Paige Holmes
Visiting practitioners and speakers
There is a rich programme of specialist visiting practitioners and speakers. In the past, we've hosted:
- Jonny Briggs
- Dave Smith
- Lisa Watt
- Dario Srbic
- Nicola Williams
- Henrietta Simson
- Alberto Condotta
- Duncan Wooldridge
- Jennifer Wright
- Ian Whitfield
- Mike Shaw
- Dr Paul Kilsby
- Mark Wright
- Will Jennings
- Eleanor MacNair
- Marlene Smith
- Louise K Wilson
- Jaqueline Butler
- Alexander Pollard
- Dan Hays
- Ines Coehlo
- Bettina Von Zwehl
- Sarah Jones
- Vanely Burke
- Peter Kennard
- Dr Bharti Parmar
- Cristina Nuñez.
- Philosopher Dr Malcolm Barnard
- Art council and members of the creative industry - Elizabeth Hawley, Peta Murphy, Wendy Mason and Sarah Reed
- Curators Peter Bonnell and David Gilbert.
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
You'll meet the following members of the teaching team, including Programme Leader, Vered Lahav:
- Vered Lahav, is a photographer and installation artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally. Vered is the recipient of awards from the Shapira Foundation, the Avi Fellowship and the ACAVA award. In addition, she has received Arts Council Grants for Individuals in 2004, 2008 and 2013.
- Dr Teresa Forde, is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Arts. She oversees the MA Arts theory modules. Teresa’s research interests include curation and exhibition, and she has been researching the work of Marion Adnams, a twentieth-century Derby-based artist who is defined as a surrealist. Teresa has co-curated an exhibition on Adnams and contributed a video piece to the exhibition. She also organises a symposium on 20th-century women artists in the Midlands, with a focus on Marion Adnams.
- Colin Wilson, is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Arts. He is working across all formats of analogue photography, specialising in large format 5x4 and 10x8 cameras and mural printing. The practice of making and exhibiting art for Colin is a mindful, embodied communion with the world. Early works explored themes of Perception, Consciousness, and Experience, where real places become imaginary places and imaginary places become real places.
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 email@example.com 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.
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. The test must be taken within the last two years leading up to the course start date and must still be valid when Visa is issued.
Please contact the programme team with any queries.
2023/24 Fees (August 2023 - July 2024)
£7,175 for the full course or £800 per 20 credits*
£800 per 20 credits
£14,900 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
Additional costs and optional extras
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 Certificate||60 Credits|
|Postgraduate Diploma||120 Credits|
|MA or MSc||180 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 studies
Alumni discount for Derby graduates
We offer a discount on postgraduate course fees for all Derby alumni.
Find out about the Alumni discount
How to apply
Please look at our application deadlines before you 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.
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
Additional information about your studies
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.
Additional costs and optional extras
We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.
Please also note that due to the current Covid-19 situation, if your course offers fieldtrips, the location of these may change or be cancelled. If this happens, you will be communicated to in advance and we will do our very best to seek out other practical opportunities to ensure your experience is not affected.
The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.
Included in your fees
- Additional access to wider University Arts' facilities including equipment loan store and other facilities, such as digital print workshops or video editing
- Specialist equipment and access to a range of 2D/3D making workshops (printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, wood / metal)
- Participation in the University Degree Show - including the physical building of the exhibition space
- Here at Derby, we provide excellent learning resources, libraries and specialist laboratories and studios
- The programme benefits from a visiting speaker each semester
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
- We recommend students using photography or film/video to have their own camera, however our equipment loan store holds most needed equipment to complete student coursework
- Approx. £100 per year for printing research material for journal work
- Additional materials (printing, stationery, portfolio sleeves, folders, USBs/hard drives etc. £100 - £300)
- There will be occasions when you will be expected to attend exhibitions, screenings, performances and festivals. You will need to budget for these over each academic year
- National trips - coach (Approx. £8 - £12 , London £30+) International trip (Approx. £500)
- Individual project work - towards the end of each of the three stages - this can range from £100 - £1000 depending on the activity
Optional costs not included in your fees
- Additional course related publications (approx. costs £100)
- Specialist software/hardware (costs up to £1500)
- Final year project costs (costs determined by student £200 - £600)
- Travel for work placement opportunities (costs will vary dependant on location
- We provide full details of all course fees, but extra costs may include field trips (approx. cost £200 - £400)
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.