The course provides you with a dedicated context to develop a bespoke strategy for your professional development, including applying for opportunities such as work experience, finding mentorships, residencies or internships, helping you to develop industry contacts, build your CV, develop your creative portfolio, and to prepare you for work in a variety of roles in the cultural and creative industries, as well as establishing an independent art or design practice.
Our collaboration with industry partner, Hearst Magazines UK, is a distinctive feature of the second term of the course. Through an initial series of industry-related talks, curated by Hearst Magazines UK, and open to all students, Hearst employees provide invaluable perspectives on employment in the post-pandemic creative industries. Then, each year sees a different department at Hearst setting a competitive creative brief, resulting in an invitation to our MA students to pitch their creative responses to the brief in one of the board-rooms at House of Hearst, in Central London. A panel of Hearst creatives selects their favourite responses, and the shortlisted students then progress to a work experience/shadowing stage, during which they spend some limited time with creative teams at Hearst, experiencing the work of those teams at first hand. Out of this experience, the selected students write a Professional Context report, for submission to the module Creative Futures. Whilst the scheme is not a guarantee of further engagement with Hearst, previous students have gone on to further work experiences with Hearst across departments at Esquire, ELLE, Red, and ELLE Ukraine, Digital Spy, the Hearst Accreditation teams, as well as other departments. These experiences, and the perspectives arising from them, have helped previous students develop lasting professional contacts.
Students may identify their own limited period of work experience whilst on the course, during study block 2, which then forms the basis for the writing of their own Professional Context report. This is also a means of developing working relationships with potential industry partners. Most recently, an MA student who developed a Professional Context report on the subject of NFTs and cryptocurrency used the experience to obtain a graphic design job at Wyre, a company providing crypto infrastructure for the New Economy.
INDUSTRY PROJECTS & LIVE BRIEFS
In addition, you will gain insight into industry through competitions, external projects and opportunity to engage in live briefs. Our art & design collaborations with the University of Cambridge provide unique opportunities for our students to engage with a range of opportunities to add this prestigious educational context to their CVs. Successful application to the Cambridge Creative Encounters scheme sees MA students receiving funding for developing art and design collaborations with University of Cambridge research students. Our programme of Visiting Lecturers includes innovative professionals working across art and design, including Professor Timotheus Vermeulen; Futurologist Anne-Lise Kjaer; Inter-disciplinary fine artist, Alison Gibb; Elana Jeeaoo, Senior Visual Designer at Zoe; and Rifke Sadleir and Dan Baragwanath of DXR Zone, to name but a few.
The course provides students with the experience and expertise to pursue career possibilities in the expanding creative industries and cultural sector in the UK and worldwide.
Graduates of MA Art & Design have gone on to careers in magazine design and publishing; freelance and in-house graphic design; teaching and art and design education; fashion business and retail.
Career advice is embedded throughout the programme. Teaching is provided by a team of experienced and industry-active staff and supported by Visiting Lecturers in practice and/or industry, working in the fields of fashion design, graphic design, digital media and communications, photography, illustration, fine art, curating and criticism, craft and product design and design research.
Semester 1 helps you build your knowledge of the essential skills in your chosen area of art or design, establishing the confidence to try out new ways of thinking through new ways of making.
This module promotes experimental approaches to creative practice. We will begin by working together during a diagnostic phase to assess your skills, experience and ambitions, and create a personalised approach to your learning. You will build your knowledge of essential skills and core knowledges relevant to the practice and discourse of your chosen specialism.
You will think about concept generation, where ideas come from, and how our physical engagement with materials and methods informs both our knowledge and the direction of the creative process.
You will undertake a series of individual and collaborative projects that help you strengthen your understanding, develop your own creative and visual language, and explore new methods and materials, both traditional and digital. Group and individual project briefs will provide the supportive structure for practical activities that interrogate the ideas and influences at play in creative problem-solving.
In this module you will learn alongside artists, designers and visual communicators from across our MA programmes. You will develop advanced research skills and methods, understand the importance of primary and secondary research, analysis of objects, images and texts, develop your critical thinking, and build confidence with academic study skills and conventions needed for successful study at postgraduate level.
You will go on to apply these skills to research projects that explore the theoretical landscape of contemporary creative practice. You will examine case studies from a variety of different disciplines that make use of current critical methodologies—including archives and collections, design activism, institutional critique, collaboration, participation and co-design, material and object studies, culture jamming, hacking and disruptive design, and identity, ethnography and auto-ethnography as the dynamic research tools through which concepts are created, analysed and critiqued.
Semester 2 looks to the future, and helps you find a focus for your practice.
This module gives you the opportunity to put into practice what you learned last term, focusing your ideas and ambitions and pursue an individual direction.
Inter-disciplinary dialogues set up in Semester 1 are continued through regular crits and project reviews with tutors and peers, engaging all students in critical discussion and sharing of knowledge.
To build your portfolio, you can take part in live and industry projects, and you will be encouraged to build a public profile for your practice or brand. These briefs will help you build an autonomous approach to independent enquiry-based projects that form the heart of the module. Through self-initiated projects you will develop your independent thinking, problem-solving and problem-setting skills, enabling you to show real engagement with current issues and critical or theoretical contexts that shape your field of practice. You will apply your subject knowledge, research skills and critical enquiry to propose an original project that responds to or challenges issues, situations and problems encountered on the course, engaging appropriate critical methodologies to identify a contemporary question or issue, in so doing focusing on a defined area of art or design practice as a ‘testing ground’ for your Independent Major Project next term.
Your position as an emerging designer will be strengthened through Creative Futures, in which you will work with other MA students to explore art and design in a social context, exploring the critical, technological, environmental, geopolitical and ethical issues that impact on contemporary creative practice—and the ways in which artists and designers today are responding to the challenges we face today, while speculating about what tomorrow may bring.
As part of this module you will have the opportunity apply for an internship (including competitive internships offered by our partner Hearst Magazines UK). Alternatively, you will identify and approach an industry mentor, or design and develop a professional or industry-facing project around your own emerging practice. By building on your engagement with the contemporary professional practice of your discipline and the exploratory projects you have completed, you will have the confidence to develop a proposal for your final MA project to be realised in Semester 3.
Final Major Project
In the final semester of the programme, over the summer term you will focus on your final Master’s project that gives you the freedom to take your practice in your own individual direction. This is the culmination of the course, and the opportunity for you to develop and exhibit an enquiry-based independent project, that demonstrates all of the practical, theoretical and professional learning throughout the year.
You will lead the project—but you will be supported throughout the journey, will regular group seminars, 1:1 tutorials, and technical support to realise your final outcomes that show off the depth of your research and your professional skills and expertise.
We encourage you to think about the dissemination of your work, building relationships with your audience or future customer, and developing your online presence or personal brand. You will also be supported in perfecting a professional portfolio that suits your future plans, whether that be applications for jobs in the creative industries, critical art practice, freelance design, exhibitions, grant or residency applications or further postgraduate study.
The MA culminates in a group show where you will all consider the professional and public presentation of your final projects, working together to design and promote a public event that celebrates the end of your postgraduate studies—and marks your next step in an exciting creative future.
Past projects have included new fashion magazine; participatory installations; social campaigns; interactive design including app design for language learning, self-help and mental health, charity campaigning, and fashion retail experience; holographic and augmented reality; artificial learning; digital experience for interior design; children’s and book illustration; experimental fine art textiles; fashion branding.
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