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Work by Cheryl Field

MFA in Fine Art

  • Length
    2 years full-time, or 4 years part-time, or 3 years combined full-time and part-time
  • Department
    Art
Work by Cheryl Field

Course overview

This MFA, described as one of the most influential MFA programmes in the world, subjects art-making to critical scrutiny. Artists on the programme strengthen the motivation, self-reflection and ambition of their practice and its leading ideas.

While on the programme you will continually engage with what it means to practise as an artist today and the position taken by an art-practice in relation to art's complex history and its currency in wider social and cultural processes.

Given the wide international breadth of artists on the programme and the open range of media welcomed in it, a primary concern in discussion is how a particular artist's work and ideas are understood in and across different social, artistic and intellectual contexts.

Our primary emphasis is on how artists look to shift prevalent expectations and whether their work does so – perhaps then transforming what art might be. We place a strong emphasis on student-centred learning, particularly in the studio seminars and personal tutorials based on your art-making, its key concerns and ideas and their mutual interdevelopment. A lecture programme will in addition contribute to your understanding of concerns relating to contemporary art in broader contexts.

The degree has been described as one of the most influential MFA programmes in the world.

Visit us

Why not visit one of our Postgraduate Art Open Days? You can also explore our exhibitions and events archive

You can also view our programme activities and projects on art.gold, follow staff, student and alumni activity on Facebookand get course announcements on Twitter.

Guest Research Student

If you are an international student and would like to study with us as part of a short term visiting research student programme then you may want to consider applying as a Guest Research Student.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Sadie Murdoch

Modules & structure

Structure

The programme is divided into two parts:

Year One (Diploma stage) can be taken either full-time for one year (until late July) or part-time for two years (until late July in both years). This year seeks to establish the core conecerns and ambitions of your art.

Year Two (MFA stage) can be taken either full-time for one year (until late August) or part-time for two years (until late July, and then until late August in the final year). This stage of the programme enables you to address your ambitions for your art with an awareness of how it is situated.

Applicants who are already in possession of 120 grade credits for postgraduate study from another programme are able to apply for direct entry into Year Two of the programme on either a full or part-time basis. You may also take advantage of an exit point at the end of Year One of the programme and graduate with the Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art.

What you study

This two-stage programme is designed to subject the making of art work, the ideas and concepts involved, and the works of art themselves, to artistic and critical scrutiny. This will include individually directed research to review, consolidate and strengthen your individual position as an artist. Students accepted onto the programme work in media areas including painting, sculpture, printmaking, installation, performance, art writing, textiles, digital media and video. The programme places a strong emphasis on student-centred learning – especially on your individual response to the divergent views you will experience in relation to your practice.

Among other qualities, you are expected to: contribute actively in tutorial and seminar discussions; to welcome and encourage sustained analysis of your practice by tutors and fellow students; to understand that the production of contemporary art takes place in a demanding and testing environment; and to take an independent path in developing your practice and its concerns.

Learning on the programme is primarily achieved through an appropriate combination of self-initiated and directed work in studio-practice and Critical Studies. Individual tutorials, seminars, lectures, workshops and research laboratories support this work. All parts of the programme are mandatory for all students. There are no optional modules on the programme. Modules and assessments are structured similarly on both parts of the programme.

Studio seminars

Seminars help you develop the confidence and ability to discuss your own work and the work of others, and to use the combined knowledge and experience of the group to assist in understanding and developing your own practice. This element of the programme is student-led with tutors responding to the needs and concerns of the participants. Studio seminars are organised by groups and take place weekly. Each student presents work for a seminar once in each term.

Tutorials and group tutorials

These develop your practice within contemporary art and current debate. You receive scheduled one-to-one tutorials with your Group Tutors and other staff from the study area. Two tutorials a term are scheduled with the core studio staff. In addition, you are expected to select a number of visiting tutors relevant to your practice for tutorials. These tutors are chosen in consultation with your Group Tutor, and cover a wide range of specialisms – discussion with them should further your understanding of your work in terms of the development of your practice. You are expected to write a report immediately after each tutorial summarising what took place and recording your considered responses to it.

Critical Studies

You are expected to identify and initiate the discussion of the critical concerns and interests of your practice. These concerns are developed through studio-based teaching and in discussions with your Critical Studies tutors, and developed further through the Critical Studies seminar and essay. For this reason, and in contrast to many other programmes, Critical Studies for the MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths does not offer a series of subjects taught and learnt through seminars, group reading and discussion, but bases the teaching and learning of Critical Studies primarily in relation to your own practice.

Lectures

These introduce and develop issues of critical significance in contemporary culture and fine art by presenting arguments and discursive frameworks for contemporary practice. Lectures run through the first two terms on a weekly basis. They provide an opportunity for you to critically engage with your own practice in terms of wider cultural debates with which they may be unfamiliar. The lectures also provide an occasion for all members of the postgraduate programmes to meet on a regular basis.

Taught workshops

Each workshop will comprise four staff-led discussion-based sessions on a philosophical, theoretical or historical topic relevant to contemporary art practice, and will involve texts to be read in advance. Each student takes two workshops during the first year (students may apply to substitute part of this requirement with structured independent study).

Collaborative seminars

Student-led collaborative seminars, supported by staff and teaching assistants around a topic of mutual interest, are held during the second year. These will involve engagement with the professional art community, may take place outside the college in collaboration with other institutions such as museums and galleries, and may culminate in an open event or publication.

Assessment

The three examination elements for both Year One and Year Two are: Collection of Tutorial Reports, Exhibition, and Critical Studies Essay. All three elements must be passed to successfully complete each part of the programme. Each element of examination has both progression and final points of assessment.

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Department

We have a world-leading reputation that brings together
students and researchers from all over the globe

Art

We specialise in making, curating and writing about contemporary art in a dynamic, critical and interdisciplinary environment.

And we work with a network of artists, curators, galleries and museums in both London and internationally to create an inspiring and dynamic place in which to study and develop an artistic practice.

Our alumni go on to do great things. Many of them are among the most recognised names working in art today, and since 1990 they’ve been nominated for the Turner Prize more than 30 times, winning the prize on seven occasions.

Find out more about the Department of Art

Staff

Find out more about staff in the Department of Art, and about our Visiting Tutors and Lecturers. 

Student work

Adam Wallace

"In my work I look at body dysmorphia, with especial regard to fat as an issue of body politics."

Read more

Stephanie Gervais

Stephanie Gervais works around language, translation, storytelling and ornamentation through the mediums of sculpture, text and image.

Read more

Skills & careers

Graduates from the MFA in Fine Art Goldsmiths go on to success in a range of fields. As well as the many internationally reknown artists who have studied at Goldsmiths, others have gone onto become gallerists or curators or have entered the fields of art administration, education and other cultural industries.

The course at Goldsmiths enables you to focus on the development of your own skills and aspirations and to equip you with the resources to succeed in your chosen profession.

See our full MFA art alumni list.

Student profiles

Mary-Ruth Walsh

"My work has continued to grow since I left Goldsmiths; I attribute it to the strong theoretical foundation and close analyses of my work while on the programme"

"I choose to come to Goldsmiths to get a better perspective of my art practice from outside my country and to see how my work would fit into an international context. Also to immerse myself in the London art world, absorb the works I thought important to me and to make connections with my new colleagues and other art professionals. From the well-honed one-to-one tutorials and group critiques my art practice made a quantum leap while on the course. The tutorials were in depth and professional. I think the programme was greatly enhanced by the non-segregation policy of the College as the Fine Art programme included painting, sculpture, installation, film, photography and performance in the one programme. The technicians who ran professional workshops enhanced the practical part of the course. As Goldsmiths is part of the University of London it was easy to attend lectures from other departments, or even in other colleges on cultural issues that I was interested in, these cultural exchanges further helped the development of my art practice. My work has continued to grow since I left Goldsmiths; I attribute it to the strong theoretical foundation and close analyses of my work while on the programme. From this solid platform my work continues to developed and is now finding a specific niche as an art practice in an international context. Although Goldsmiths was one of the most demanding experiences, it has also been one of the very best things I did."

 

Aisha Abid Hussain

"I owe all my personal and artistic growth to London and to Goldsmiths."

"When I decided to apply for MFAs, Goldsmiths became my eminent choice among other Art institutions in London for having a diverse and cutting-edge programme. I was seeking an environment that can play a pivotal role in pushing me out of the comfort zone, artists are prone to reside in. As a practicing artist, I was interested in developing a new visual idiom to find my place within the Contemporary Art Scene. I choose Goldsmiths because what I learned about the Institute and programme was exactly what I needed at that point. I consider it to be the best time of my institutionalised life.

"The programme did open up the horizons I was struggling against. Interaction and exchange of ideas with fellow artists coming from such diverse backgrounds actually changed my perception about art making. Great facilities and help of experts around made it possible for me to explore new mediums in my practice. What Goldsmiths provided me as an artist is an enhanced vision/intellect to analyse various art forms and to look at things from a different perspective all together. 

"The MFA Programme at Goldsmiths provided me with an opportunity to reflect on my practice in such a way that I could bridge it to the context I was probably shying away from. A chance to share ideas with many contemporary artists, writers and theorists coming in as tutors filled me with an immense confidence to believe in the visual narrative I was daring to explore in my practice. The way I was pushed at the beginning of the programme to achieve clarity in my ideas was the key to a much articulate practice by the end. I owe all my personal and artistic growth to London and to Goldsmiths."

www.aishaabidhussain.com

Doug Fishbone

"Goldsmiths gave me the time and focus to develop ideas properly, and a sense that a project could be nurtured and pursued even if I did not have the skills to do it immediately on my own."

"As someone living in New York at the time I was considering doing an MA, I thought London might be an exciting place to study, and submitted an application to Goldsmiths. I came to visit and liked the vibe very much, especially after speaking to the people on the course. It was a bit of a leap of faith deciding to study in a different country, but I am delighted I took the chance. Goldsmiths was an excellent place for me, especially as someone without a traditional art background. My BA had been in music, not fine art, so I'd had not spent much time studying art formally prior to coming to the MA. I had lots of ideas and great enthusiasm, but few particular notions how to develop things into work. Goldsmiths turned out to be the perfect place for me – it supported me in experimenting and developing my voice, providing the right mix of structure, infrastructure and independence for me. I am deeply indebted to the technicians there, especially Tolga Saygin and Mike Riley, who helped me to find my voice in a medium I had not tried before, and might not have tried without their guidance. Goldsmiths gave me the time and focus to develop ideas properly, and a sense that a project could be nurtured and pursued even if I did not have the skills to do it immediately on my own. I can't really overstate the importance of this in my own development as an artist, especially given my non-traditional background. The confidence and independence that this offered – knowing that I could explore an idea with expert guidance, wherever it might lead  – has stayed with me, and sits at the heart of my practice. I am very glad I went to Goldmiths. I could not have found a better place."

Mina

"Thanks to the critical quality of Goldsmiths in general, I'm more conscious of my interests in depth and that connect different mediums that I'm doing together."

"I chose Goldsmiths not only for its fine art department but also for other humanities departments. Art is very closely related to philosophy, visual culture, politics, sociology, film, music, and theatre. This is unique about Goldsmiths as other art colleges in London have more of a combination of science or design departments, which are interesting too. However they don't feed to fine art as much as humanities. Here most departments are open to all students and eventually university (and not just your course) offers more than you can accommodate in the calendar. This system is very important for collaborations and collective learning. I was offered to do set design of Goldsmiths opera this year only by sitting in their rehearsals during my spare time.

I have done painting, interior design, sculpture. When I came to Goldsmiths video, script writing, and performance added to the diversities; yet thanks to seminars and critical quality of Goldsmiths in general, I'm more conscious of my interests in depth and that connect different mediums that I'm doing together. I hope I can keep critical thinking, self development, and relevant network after graduation."

Amanda

"Goldsmiths is a place where an artist can be 'active', 'engaged' and 'affective' rather than passive to arts' potential political power."

"Goldsmiths presented an atmosphere where making art was coupled with thinking about art in a critical context, and its reputation for cultivating this type of 'thinking practice' through seminars and discussion was central to how I saw my work developing at that time. To me, Goldsmiths represented a place where an artist could have an 'active', 'engaged' and 'affective' practice rather than offering a passive attitude to arts' potential political power. The programme was intensive and challenging. It allowed me to work through the question of how an artwork could sustain a vital and generative critique in and beyond its own context. Unlike other programmes, Goldsmiths was more focused on enabling the student to make those difficult decisions about practice and to test them out in focused seminars on practice. The programme enabled me to develop a method of working in my practice, where theory and practice were not combative; nor were they illustrative of each other. This led to the development of an area of practice that I had previously not considered as an artist, that of publishing writing and public speaking. This led to my undertaking a practice-based PhD. Goldsmiths foregrounded the relevance of key skills in approaching practice from different perspectives, as well as the importance of understanding the core motivations of the work that I wanted to make. Leaving an MA with an idea of what I wanted to say as an artist, and how my practice could be developed independently by producing my own discursive contexts for art production were lasting benefits of the programme."

 

Entry requirements

Applicants for Year One full-time and part-time (home/EU only) Diploma stage: undergraduate degree of at least second class (or international equivalent) plus experience as an artist.

Applicants for entry directly onto Year Two full-time and Year Three part-time of the programme (home/EU only) routes: you must already be in possession of 120 grade credits for postgraduate study from another programme to apply for direct entry into Year Two of the programme on either a full or part-time basis.

Requirement for part-time study: you need to have your own studio space in which to work over the four years of the programme.

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 7.0 (including 7.0 in the written test)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • Your digital portfolio

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

Submitting your portfolio

We prefer that you send up to 20 images in a PDF file, movie clips or web links as your portfolio via our online application system. You will be asked to do this when you apply online. Please include information on the size, media, duration and year of works as appropriate.

Only complete applications together with portfolios can be considered. We examine portfolios, and may invite you to attend an interview. International (non-EU) students who are invited for an interview, but can't attend Goldsmiths, will be interviewed via Skype.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.

Application deadline: 31 January. We may consider late applications if there are vacancies. Interviews are usually held in March.

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.

Find out more about applying.

Fees & funding

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

Find out more about tuition fees.

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