City scape

Art - Fine Art

The MFA Course was established in 1979 and has a proven track record as a rigorous studio-based programme delivered with the expertise of a core staff of internationally recognised artists. Within the studio environment the diversity of teaching input by its staff reflects the range of approaches and contexts it embraces.

It recognises contemporary art practice as being open and pluralistic, encouraging dialogue between diverse disciplines. A multi-disciplinary approach facilitates working in a flexible manner to offer maximum opportunities for individual practice and engages with systems of enquiry that explore traditional exhibition formats alongside broader models of production and dissemination. Critical discourse on practice with an emphasis on analysis and self-reflection, contributes to an understanding of art located within larger cultural, social and political contexts.

The course produces artists of international reputation including Turner Prize, Paul Hamlyn, Becks Futures and Bloomberg New Contemporaries award recipients and international biennials such as Venice and Sao Paulo. Our contribution to the region's economic, social and cultural fabric is demonstrated by the range of artist-run galleries and studio collectives initiated by MFA alumni. We maintain a symbiotic relationship with these organisations, providing opportunities for our students in professional arena.

Many of our graduates go on to establish successful studios, exhibiting internationally, gaining public art commissions, residencies, fellowships and awards. Others develop careers in other arts sectors such as curatorial practice, art writing, community arts, education, research and administration.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements

Applicants must hold a degree with at least 2:2 Honours standard or equivalent or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL).

Applicants must be able to satisfy the panel via portfolio and/or interview that their work is of a required standard that will allow them to deal with the creative, intellectual and material rigours of the course.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.



The programme is also offered in 3 part time pathways. All of the part-time modes require the student to have their own studio space independent of the institution.

Part-time route 1:4 years part-time model of the 2 year course.

Part-time route 2: 3 years. This model allows a student to study the first year full-time with transfer to the part-time mode for the second year. It is envisaged that this route will be most appropriate to a student for whom the necessary infrastructure is not initially in place to allow them to undertake the course part-time. This may include candidates from abroad who by the second year have become familiar enough with the local setup to have acquired a studio and relevant support structure.

Part-time route 3:2 years. This model is based on candidates convincing the course team that the quality of their work over a number of years is of sufficient standard and that learning outcomes of the modules Practice 1 and 2 have been met to enable them to enter the course with compensation for prior learning.

Advanced standing
Advanced standing is possible – where an applicants experience is taken into account in order to be exempt from certain aspects of the programme. This may apply to full or part-time attendance. Please contact us to discuss this if it is something that may be appropriate to you.


The MFA programme is offered in full-time mode over 2 academic years. There is an exit qualification of Postgraduate Diploma after one academic year, with a further one academic year for MFA completion.

Attendance: Full-time independent studio practice. Classes Monday – Friday 9.30 am - 5.00 pm.

Formal teaching input is delivered through tutorials, weekly studio critiques and student or staff-led seminars and lectures. Independent study and self-directed learning are fundamental aspects of the course.

Assessment:Through exhibition of studio practice and supporting written and oral presentation.

Advanced standing
Advanced standing is possible – where an applicants experience is taken into account in order to be exempt from certain aspects of the programme. This may apply to full or part time attendance. Please contact us to discuss this if it is something that may be appropriate to you.

Careers or further progression

Career options

As practising artists, many of our graduates go on to establish their own studios, successfully exhibiting nationally and internationally, gaining public art and gallery commissions, residencies, fellowships, awards and prizes. Others develop careers in other sectors of the arts, such as curatorial practice, arts writer, art critic, community arts, education, academic art research, art facilitation and administration, while others have built reputations in the wider creative fields where innovative artists are highly valued as problem solvers.

Alumni lists and example career profiles are available here:

Further enquiries

Christine Harbinson
T: +44 (0)28 9536 7202
Mary McIntyre
T: +44 (0)28 9536 7414

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Enrolment and start dates

Year of entry: 2020/21

Postgraduate Information Session 5 March 2020
Register at:

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