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Course details

Study options

Full-time: 1 Year, Part-time: 2 Years

UK/EU fee

£730 per 20 credits* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,700 for the full programme (2020/21)

Course level




Start dates

January, September


Markeaton Street, Derby Campus

Course description

The MA Fine Art programme is an exciting, challenging and rigorous programme of study that addresses the multifaceted needs of today's visual artist.

The programme will provide you with the opportunity to engage in taught studio-based research, under-pinned by a strong theoretical awareness of contemporary practice.

It will encourage critical reflection on personal practice and awareness of the relationship that your work may have to an audience. The programme will help you connect with a wide diversity of cultural industries on a national and international level. It will enable you to consider aspects of curatorial practice and the public reception art works involving general and specialist audiences.

We are looking for applicants who are strongly motivated, reflective and independently minded. Contemporary Fine Art practice embraces a wide and diverse spectrum of activity and you will have access to well-staffed and resourced workshops and studios. We place great value on interdisciplinary debate that utilising the collective knowledge and experience of both students and staff.  We are also interested in non-standard applications from other art and design disciplines who have a skill set they wish to develop in a Fine Art context. We can offer bridging studies, if necessary, in the Autumn semester for those seeking a January start.

Take a look at highlights from the 2019 MA Degree Show 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

You will become part of our lively research culture with access to see visiting speakers on all School of Arts courses and staff research seminar series where colleagues present their research.

The MA enjoys the provision of a rich programme of specialist visiting practitioners such as Calum Colvin, Wendy McMurdo, Simon Le Ruez, Marcus Coates, Hannah Collins, Nick Thursston, Lei Cox, Doug Fishbone, Brian Griffin, Steel Vine, Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, Ellie Harrison, Paul Rooney, Karen Knorr, Pak-Keung Wan, Jem Southam, Peter Kennard, Doug Cocker, Rachel Maclean. In the wider context students benefit from  the knowledge offered by visitors such as philosopher Jonathan Rea, artist/ curator/ commentator Alfredo Cramerotti, curator and social historian Anna Douglas, exhibition designer Calum Storrie and Fred Mann, gallery director/artist/record producer.

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. All members of staff are practicing artists, writers or theorists and members of Research Groups. 

Derby University students have made a major contribution to the city’s vibrant arts culture. Many have taken advantage of the areas rural and industrial heritage as inspiration, to establish studios, start-up businesses or exhibit work. The School of Arts also has strong community links such as Derby Theatre, DédaDerby Museum and Art Gallery and QUAD

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.

What you will study

You will study modules such as: 

This stage is an opportunity to reflect on your creative practice, investigate and evaluate strategic approaches, and produce a body of practical work that demonstrates your research.  You are encouraged to develop your ability to contextualise and critique your work and the work of others.  You are supported in this by studying contemporary debates and theories that will help to underpin your practice.

Reflective Processes in the Visual Arts

This double module focuses on reflection and re-evaluation, research and experimentation using a wide variety of learning methods.  It is an opportunity to consider the implications of your ideas in both the context of contemporary debate and practice and, more broadly, the ever-changing social, technical and economic context that working artists face. This module provides you with a foundation of creative and critical knowledge on which to build your Masters project.

Art in Theory

This single module will extend your knowledge and understanding of international contemporary art practice. Through identifying and examining your aims and methods for producing and disseminating art, you will develop the theoretical knowledge needed for independent research. You will be guided in research methodology and study skills, gaining an understanding of scholarly conventions and ethical issues. Assessment is by oral presentation and response to questions (40%) and a revised written and illustrated version of your presentation of approximately 1,500 words (60%).

The benefit of this stage is that it will support you in a process of defining and refining your personal creative project, along with the ongoing development of your subject knowledge and critical development. This is an opportunity to consider how the meaning of your work is manipulated by such elements as display, location, audience and medium, whilst evaluating and rehearsing a range of presentation skills appropriate to the professional standards of postgraduate study. To complement your creative practice you are asked to identify and study the work of other artists who share similar concerns as your self. This stage has its own distinct identity but may also be seen as a preparation for a major practical project in stage three. 

Negotiated Study

This double module provides the chance to identify and focus on a research question, producing some creative practical responses through a body of creative work. The emphasis of the module is on personal evaluation and developing your individual voice as an artist.

Critical Study

This module will help you to acquire the language and skills needed to locate and explain your practice in the professional art world. By undertaking a critical study of your practice in relation to the international context of contemporary art, you will be empowered by an advanced level of knowledge and understanding of art and art theory. As a result going on to articulate what is original and distinct about your own practice. You have the opportunity, through scholarly research and an extended essay, to demonstrate that you can explain, justify, and critique the aims and methods of your practice with the academic rigor and authority appropriate to Masters level study.

At this stage you will be expected to demonstrate your capacity for independent scholarship. Whilst continuing to benefit from the support of the school’s research community you will also have the challenge and stimulus of critical questions from fellow students and staff. You will be expected to take a high degree of ownership of your learning and full responsibility for the critical judgments you take of your own creative practice.  The focus of this stage is on the realisation of a practical body of mature work and your understanding of its place and significance within the context of contemporary practice; your locus standi.

You will choose modules such as:

Independent Scholarship and Critical Reflection

This triple module is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your deep engagement with the subject, your intellectual and critical awareness and apply your own creativity and imagination to your project. You will be expected to produce a significant and mature body of practical creative work that demonstrates the realisation of your individual practice and its location within the award you have chosen.

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.

Side-on black and white portrait of a young student looking to the sky for inspiration with bokeh lights

Postgraduate Live Online Events

While we’re not able to welcome you in person to our campuses at the moment, we’re not going to let that stop us showing you all the great things about studying at Derby.

We’re currently planning our autumn Open Events to bring you the best possible online and on-campus experience.

Book your Live Online EventBook your Live Online Event

How you will learn

The MA Fine Art course is a professionally taught programme delivered through seminars, tutorials, peer reviews and guest lectures.

We have good links with regional galleries such as QUAD and Derby Museum and Art Gallery. We also guide you in visiting national and international venues, appropriate to your working practice.

The School has a well-established visiting lecturer programme and this is open to all students across Art and Design. All postgraduate students will benefit greatly from this exposure to practicing artists. Visiting artists have included: Calum Colvin, Wendy McMurdo, Simon Le Ruez, Alfredo Cramerotti, Marcus Coates, Hannah Collins, Fred Mann, Nick Thursston, Lei Cox, Doug Fishbone, Brian Griffin, Steel Vine, Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, Ellie Harrison, Paul Rooney, Karen Knorr, Pak-Keung Wan, Jem Southam, Peter Kennard, Doug Cocker, Rachel Maclean.

How You Are Assessed

Assessments are carried out at the end of each module and you will get written and verbal feedback on your progress. Further to this you will regularly receive feedback on how you are progressing with your work. Assessments are based on the appropriate presentation of all practical work and essays, reports including reflective journals, proposals and presentations.

Who will teach you

Rodger Brown

Rodger Brown
Programme leader

As a Programme Leader for MA Fine Art, Rodger Brown teaches across a variety of modules including Reflective Processes in the Visual Arts and Independent Scholarship and Critical Reflection. He is also Programme Leader for Year Zero Art and Design, teaches on the BA (Hons) Fine Art Programme, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Entry requirements

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

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 or equivalent.

Interview information

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees (August 2020 - July 2021)


£730 per 20 credits*

£730 per 20 credits*


£14,700 for the full programme


*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.

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.

Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.

Additional costs and optional extras

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


This course builds on the success and experience of our previous postgraduate programmes and is informed by the importance of adaptability in a rapidly changing, pluralistic, and complex world.

Strong employer links have already been established within our courses, which have been designed to take into account the needs of a diverse range of potential employers. In addition to continuing to progress individual fine art practice, students find employment in education, museums, the libraries and archives sector, publishing and broadcasting as well as finding the skills acquired through postgraduate study to support a wide range of entrepreneurial activity.

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

Download programme specification

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.

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.

The information below is correct for entry in the academic year September 2020 - August 2021 only. Entry for future academic years may be subject to change.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees



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.