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MA Fine Art

Course overview

Start date

Subject area

Arts and Digital Industries





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Course summary

Our course encourages you to develop your ambitious and innovative work within the supportive atmosphere of studio-based practice and under the close supervision of some of Britain’s leading artists.

We’ve been providing opportunities for ground-breaking talent since the Chapman brothers started making their dramatic impression back in the 1980s.

Now, Professor Grenville Davey, the 1992 Turner Prize winner who runs the course, believes it just keeps getting better. 

The core elements of the course are designed to be challenging and enjoyable, to offer a rich, vibrant and varied experience in the fine arts.

There is a strong professional practice element so you will be encouraged to get involved in ‘real world’ projects – usually exhibitions, commissions, or residencies.

The course culminates in the degree show, which is a significant showcase for your work, attracting large numbers of visitors from the art world as well as the general public.

Contact us

If you have any questions, talk to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

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Industry experts

You will be learning from the best. The leader of the course is the brilliant, friendly and accessible Turner Prize-winning sculptor, Professor Grenville Davey.

Course reputation

This course has an impressive reputation for producing fine artists of considerable originality and quality.


You will have excellent opportunities to exhibit your work and take advantage of our close relationships with many galleries and of our regular engagement with professional venues and practices.

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What we're researching

We’ve maintained an international reputation for artistic innovation and research excellence due in large part to the work of our world-leading practitioners in sculpture and installation, 

Among our renowned academic team are Senior Lecturer Faisal Abdu'Allah, whose extraordinary work crosses the borders of photography, the printed image and lens-based installation. He’s exhibited at Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery.

Senior Lecturer Susan Stockwell has also enjoyed critical acclaim for her elegant drawings, sculptures and installations, which have been exhibited all over the world from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern to China’s Shenghua Art Centre.

Susan was commissioned by the National Army Museum to lead a two-year research project exploring the interconnected themes of the Army, conflict and rehabilitation.

Working in workshops with soldiers from two UK recovery centres, encouraging them to use drawing, sewing and quilting to unlock their memories, the collaboration led to the creation of a remarkable patchwork quilt, entitled Peace Makers – a symbolic flag for peace, justice, equality and humanity.

Professor Grenville Davey, the Turner Prize-winning sculptor who leads our MA course, has produced a number of high-profile public art projects, including Well, which was commissioned by Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Inter Alia – a commission for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The latter was an installation reflecting human presence in the form of a series of hand prints cast in aluminium bronze.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

Elizabeth Bond

MA Fine Art

My advice to MA students would be to make use of the freedom and the general friendliness of UEL to try out lots of different things, to grab tutors and technicians in the corridors and ask them for advice.

Also make use of what London offers — major galleries with major collections, all free! Read a lot, think a lot, draw a lot, go to exhibitions a lot and put a website together.

It can be a long, difficult haul, particularly in these hard times, but I couldn’t do anything else.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.2 Honours in Fine Art or related Creative Arts subject.
We would normally expect you to have Grade C in GCSE English and Maths. All applicants are required to attend an interview and submit a portfolio of their work.


(Including European Union)

We accept a range of qualifications from across the world. Please see our country pages for information on specific entry requirements for your country.


Your portfolio should contain between ten and fifteen works in any medium, e.g. drawing, painting, video, sculpture, installation, etc – that demonstrate your interest in developing as an artist.

Large or site-specific works should be represented photographically.

You should include some preparatory work, e.g. drawings or sketchbooks, as well as completed pieces. In addition to questions about your portfolio you will be asked about artists who interest you and exhibitions you have visited.

Overall IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

As an inclusive university we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course. We welcome applications from those who can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to study and have relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course. We will assess this from the information provided in your application (particularly your personal statement) and may ask you to attend an interview or submit a piece of work to help us decide on your eligibility for the course. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.

You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre. Please click here for details.

What you'll study

  • Creative Practice/Critical Concepts (core)
  • Personal and Professional Practice (core)
  • Independent Project/ Exhibition (core)

How you'll be assessed

We’ll assess you via a 3,500 word critical concepts essay, two digital portfolios and a 2,000-word report on a live project that you initiate yourselves.

We also assess your independent summer project, which you present as an exhibition of your work in the August of your final year.

Course specification

How you'll learn

We believe our course is taught by such an array of brilliant artists that you will find it hard to match in any other university.

The course is led by Professor Davey, whose remarkable work, HAL, involving steel forms, won him the Turner Prize in 1992 and whose Inter Alia wall now graces the nearby Olympic Park.

“I’m here, accessible all the time,” says Professor Davey after his fourth one-on-one tutorial of the day. He and Karen Raney, the multi-talented writer and painter who edits Engage, the international journal of visual art and gallery education, are your main teachers.

Beyond that, though, there are great opportunities to learn from our talented lecturers, including world-famous sculptor Richard Wilson and Susan Stockwell, whose drawings, sculptures and installations are exhibited worldwide.

Others include the hugely-admired photography artist Faisal Abdu’Allah, pioneering filmmaker John Smith and Alexis Harding, the award-winning painter. “And they’re keen to talk to and work with you,” says Davey.

Their inspiration helps our students produce inspirational work. So does the quality of the technical support – in every area from digital technology to graphics to film – as well as the outstanding facilities and creative space that you will enjoy at our superb AVA building in Docklands.

We also deliver public engagement projects that have a positive impact and directly benefit society. These include major art projects such as Plunge, commissioned by Artsadmin and the London International Festival of Theatre and created by Michael Pinsky (Reader in Fine Art).

Seen by more than half a million people, it sought to draw attention to the city’s great history of public art while also raising awareness among Londoners about climate change.

“I love it here,” says Professor Davey. “I’ve taught at a number of colleges but I particularly love the buzz of this one. It’s a buzz that stays with you even after you leave.

“The development here over the last few years has been incredible, with the quality of technical support and accessibility to technology and professionals now exceptional. The key is that everyone you’ll meet here on this course is a practising artist.”

What you'll learn

On our fast-paced course, your development as an artist in the studio will be underpinned by a programme called Critical Concepts. This is a series of seminars, presentations and lectures introducing, and centred upon, the theoretical debate around contemporary fine art practice.

You will organise and curate group shows, both as part of the curriculum but also beyond it amid east London’s thriving art scene. Previous exhibition venues have included the RK Burt Gallery, Parfitt Gallery, New Realms Gallery, Seven Seven Gallery and Star Gallery.

Through the Professional Practice element of the course, we will encourage you to develop a wide understanding of the relationship between studio practice and the life of a professional artist.

There will even be opportunities for you to enjoy work experience. For instance, some of our students have worked with Professor Davey on his art projects in the past.

Though there are two written elements over the duration of the course, your final key piece of work will be assessed through an exhibition of your art. It will stand as your major showcase.

Your future career

“I’d say we have a really good reputation. An excellent one in fact,” says Professor Davey. Perhaps that accounts for why so many of our MA graduates go on to artistic success in many fields.

Some are enjoying success by either exhibiting or selling their work from studios they have set up. Others have developed careers as curators and gallery directors or assistants.

What delights Professor Davey most, though, is that of all the students who graduate from our course, often with distinction, he cannot think of any who are no longer creating and producing fine art in some capacity.

Our success stories from the course are plentiful. Mark Lawrence, who graduated in 2014, was selected to exhibit at major exhibitions for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and the ING Discerning Eye.

Another graduate, Elizabeth Bond, won an Arts Council grant and travelled to China to make a series of prints while Natalia Jezova, a 2014 graduate, has exhibited her work at several different London galleries.

The effervescent and multi-talented Gloria Shizico Yi, a graphic artist and filmmaker, runs her own company now, designing and creating her own fashion.

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