Work by Theo Turpin

MFA in Fine Art

  • Length
    2 years full-time, or 4 years part-time, or 3 years combined full-time and part-time
  • Department
Work by Theo Turpin

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, follow staff, student and alumni activity on Facebookand get course announcements on Twitter.

Contact the department

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

Modules & 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 concerns 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.


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.


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. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

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


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


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


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

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

Ruth Waters

"Applying to Goldsmiths was the best thing I could have done"

"I had been living in London for 3 years before I applied to Goldsmiths and it was the best thing I could have done. Prior to the course I had few contacts in the art world in London but through the course I have made a great network of friends, tutors and visiting tutors that have opened doors to lots of opportunities.

Since leaving I still see my ex-classmates all the time. I'm working on multiple projects with them. Having previously done a BA in Photography, it was great to come to Goldsmiths where there was no limitations on the mediums I could work with. The workshops and the technicians are great and working with the technicians towards achieving my ideas has been one of the highlights of the course." 

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."

Joey Holder

"Goldsmiths taught me to continuously push my work forward and take risks."

"After my BA I didn't want to focus on a particular medium and wanted to expand my knowledge and practice. After seeing the work in the MFA Fine Art degree shows and visiting the University I felt that Goldsmiths was the best place to challenge and rethink my ways of making, which was reflected in the wide range of work on display. I made a great number of friends and peers who have been invaluable to my development as an artist during and after studying at Goldsmiths. Without these networks there would be less opportunities to show work and share ideas. The feedback I received from the tutors, visiting tutors and students helped me to understand my work from an outside perspective. My work developed in ways that I could never have imagined as I was able to experiment with different media and modes of display. The seminars and tutorials helped me to think 'critically' and question different forms of contemporary art and discourse. Goldsmiths taught me to continuously push my work forward and take risks. Since leaving Goldsmiths I have been lucky enough to take part in numerous exhibitions and awards in London and overseas. I believe that many of these opportunities wouldn't have come to fruition without the knowledge and networks I have maintained from my time studying at Goldsmiths."


See more profiles for this 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 with a 7.0 in writing

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

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • 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: Wednesday 31 January 2018

Shortlisting will take place following the application deadline. Applications received after this date will be considered if there are still places available.

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 & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

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.

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