Art - Fine Art

The MFA Fine Art programme is aimed at artists and Fine Art graduates who are interested in advancing their art practices, engaging with contemporary art and theory and considering what art might be in relation to today's social, cultural and political worlds. The MFA Fine Art is a practice-based course, structured through key pathways of contemporary art such as media, painting, print, sculpture whilst also supporting practices that emerge from transdisciplinary spaces like performance, moving image, archival, text-based and other expanded practices. There is an emphasis on interdisciplinary dialogue and debate while supporting specialized practice in the above areas.

Students are encouraged to develop their individual research pathway in finding new ways of making, modelling and connecting their projects to the professional field of the visual arts and wider audiences and situations. The spine of this programme is centred upon an experiential art practice engagement with structured components that explore research methods and contemporary practices. The advanced study required at masters level is informed by contemporary practice based co-ordinates delivered by leading practitioners in the field, including artists, curators, writers and other relevant professionals. The core components of the course are the studios and technical facilities, project spaces, written elements and critical seminars where students present work and reflect on their approach to materials and the theoretical and historical frameworks informing their practices. Through participation in these seminars, regular exhibition opportunities and other events, MFA students develop the ability to test and extend their work in an informed way.

MFA students are based in the Annex, NCAD's postgraduate hub at 101-103 James St. This facility contains dedicated studios, seminar rooms and a project space for testing new work. The MFA Fine Art programme also hosts an annual Studio Award opportunity for an experienced contemporary artist to work alongside MFA students at the Annex studios. The inaugural recipient was Níamh McCann, followed by Mark Clare, Jaki Irvine and Alan Phelan. The current Studio Artist is Lee Welch

The core components of the course are practice-based modules where students reflect critically on how they make work, take a rigorous approach to the materials they use and articulate the theoretical frameworks for their practices. Through participation in regular studio seminars, students work on developing the skills necessary to reflect critically on their work, to test work in new contexts and to present their work to a peer audience.

The second core strand of the course is the Contemporary Art Practices module, a weekly lecture series featuring visiting artists, curators, critics and other art professionals. Significant discursive frames for the multitude of current contemporary practices are explored through these lectures. Recent themes have included 'the postcolonial', 'the artist as historian', 'possibilities in painting' and 'what is contemporary about contemporary art?'

All aspects of being a contemporary artist are developed on the course from making work to mediating it in both verbal, written and other formats. Students maintain a regular system of writing up tutorial reports which form a record of decision-making and reflective writing on their project. In their first year all MFA students take a module in Research Methods which assists them to understand and write about their work as research. In the second year, students can choose from different writing submissions which are supported through Visual Culture modules in art writing and key theories in contemporary art.

The MFA features regular opportunities for students to exhibit their work through interim shows and other types of outcomes. Students are encouraged to identify alternative ways and contexts for making work public, to find sites of production and to connect with different audiences.

Subjects taught

1st year
The programme is structured across specialist pathways in painting, fine print, media, sculpture and expanded practices, textiles, ceramics and glass with workshops, resources and technical support provided in these areas.

Every student has his or her own studio space working alongside each other in a supportive group environment. Specific research strands can emerge out of the 'studio–lab' and lead to productive collaborative projects, exhibitions and events.

Each MFA student has a personal tutor or supervisor who oversees their progress on the course and also has access to the team of MFA course tutors within the School of Fine Art. The MFA teaching team represent a wide range of practices and research within the field of contemporary art. Where possible visiting lecturers to the programme also work with students.

In addition to the core practice and theory modules, students may also choose from elective modules offered by the Schools of Visual Culture, Design and partner courses in UCD.

In the first year, second semester, of the MFA, students can travel to a partner college of NCAD under the Erasmus scheme. During the first year students are responsible for developing an interim public outcome which may take the form of a public exhibition or other event. In previous years students have worked with external curators and writers on these events and have exhibited work in different locations and venues.

2nd Year
In the second year, first semester of the MFA, students submit a written submission which represents an aspect of their research interests.

In the second semester of this year, a Professional Development module is designed to assist students to mediate their work from writing a press release to giving a performative lecture. The course finishes with a major practice project and a public exhibition of the graduating MFA Fine Art. These graduate exhibitions are accompanied by a publication and have taken place in a variety of significant cultural venues in Dublin city centre over the years as well as on the NCAD campus itself: the RHA gallery, the Hugh Lane gallery, the Douglas Hyde gallery and Frawleys former department store. The current external examiner is the artist Adam Chodzko

Entry requirements

Educational Standard - All Masters Programmes
An approved Bachelor degree at minimum level of 2nd class honours.

Applicants who do not meet the mimimum academic entry requirements may be considered on the basis of prior work or learning experience (RPEL). Candidates may be required to pass a qualifying examination set by the relevant department before being accepted to a Masters degree programme. Attendance at selected undergraduate lecture courses at NCAD, together with related written work may be prescribed.

Application dates

Please contact the Admissions Office for application dates at

1. A Statement of Interest - 500 words framing your reasons for applying to the programme. Please indicate a subject/discipline area that you believe can best advance your practice.

2. A recent CV

3. Certified transcripts of previous programmes followed

4. Certified copies of degree/ certificates and/or other appropriate third level qualifications bearing the official stamp of the institution.

5. Reference 1 (Academic - Head of School/Department preferred)

6. Reference 2 (Tutor or Current/Recent Employer)

Note: Please supply the reference. Some referees prefer to submit the reference directly to the college. If this is the case, please instruct your referee to email a standard reference for the attention of Fiona Cleary to

Please make sure all references contain the letterhead and the institution contact email address for the referee.

7. Applications for Fine Art programmes must be supported by visual or other documentation that best represents your practice. Applicants are requested to upload a document via the online application which contains a link to an online portfolio or to a portfolio folder on Google Drive. The portfolio / folder should contain 10-15 images maximum. Weblinks to Vimeo or YouTube should be submitted for viewing video clips. Clips should be no longer than 10 minutes.

Clear titles, sizes, dates, media, dimensions and contextualisation of the imagery must accompany your submission on an Image Description Sheet.

NOTE: Links to artists' websites, online galleries, or other online art sites will not be accepted as a portfolio. Failure to submit a 10 to 15 piece portfolio will render your application incomplete.


120 ECTS credits / Taught masters


A two-year taught studio programme with pathways in Fine Print, Digital Art, Painting, Sculpture and Expanded Practice, Ceramics / Glass, and Textile Art & Artefact.

Enrolment dates

To find out more about the entry requirements, application process and tuition fees visit -

Post Course Info

The MFA is widely recognized as a mark of professional achievement within the artworld and related industries. Our graduates have gone on to build careers as artists, gallerists, curators, writers, lecturers, studio founders and leaders of artist run initiatives. Some have gone on to pursue practice based PhDs. The course has a large body of alumni who are active within the field of contemporary art and the wider culture.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time

  • Apply to

    Course provider