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.
Image Credit: Tyler Eash, "and that lump at the back of your throat is all you know that's real". Goldsmiths MFA Fine Art Degree Show 2019.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Simon Martin.
What you'll study
For 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of certain programmes are delivered. To check what changes affect this programme, please visit the Programme Changes page
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
What our students say
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.
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing and no element lower than 6.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.
Fees, funding & scholarships
In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.
There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.
Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.
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
- A 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 mandatory if you have studied outside of the UK, and is required for your application to be properly assessed)
- 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 2021
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.
Students studying this programme are based in dedicated postgraduate studio space in Lewisham Southwark College at Deptford Bridge.
Deptford is home to a burgeoning creative community with centres such as BEARSPACE, a gallery run by a former Goldsmiths student.
The postgraduate studios are a short walk from the art practice areas in New Cross. You may also choose to travel by bus between the two sites, which would incur a small travel cost.
Graduates from the MFA Fine Art Goldsmiths go on to success in a range of fields. As well as the many internationally renowned 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.