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Postgraduate Course

Fine Art MFA

Develop as an artist and refine your creative practice. Experiment, explore and encourage your professional practice to emerge.

Close up of a student working in an art studio.

Our Fine Art MFA enables you to enrich your existing practice and develop as a professional artist in a creative community. You will produce a mature body of work, coexisting with debates at the forefront of your discipline. The course focuses on making, informed by technical knowledge. We will support you to research, develop and refine your ideas, as your practice and your academic understanding become inseparable.

York campus

  • Duration – 2 years full time
  • Start date – October 2024, October 2025
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum entry requirements

    2:1 honours degree in a related subject

    Interview artist statement and portfolio

Tuition fees

    UK 2024-25 £4,400 per year full time

    International 2024-25 £14,000 per year full time

Course overview

Whether you have recently finished an undergraduate degree, or are returning to learning, this could be the postgraduate course for you. As a student on our Fine Art MFA you will develop a deeper knowledge of your creative practice.

Identify and explore the qualities that this stage of your career requires. Expand your material knowledge through:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Critiques
  • Briefs and live projects
  • Field trips and participatory events

Explore your own potential as a citizen of the world, understanding your creative work in terms of both ethics and social justice.

Build on your knowledge of fine art through creative thinking and critical theory. Our lecturers and technicians will support your independent work. Your experience in professional and scholarly fields will become integral to your studio practice.

Special features of this course include:

  • Guest speakers, technique classes and networking opportunities
  • Access to specialist studios and workshop spaces
  • National and international field trips
  • Group exhibitions and networking opportunities
  • Opportunities to engage with staff research
  • Opportunities to present your work at student symposiums

Course structure

How you will study

This postgraduate course must be studied full time for 2 years.

You will study:

  • 3 compulsory modules in year 1
  • 2 compulsory modules in year 2

You can find out which modules are available in each term in the Course Specifications.


Credits: 40

Compulsory module

This module is a playful circuit breaker to prepare you for MFA level study. It provides an experimental space to explore the boundaries of your current practice, by finding creative solutions to a research question stimulated by new modes of thinking. Through this you will develop confidence and experimental strategies so that you are well-prepared to explore a personal practice flexible enough for the contemporary cultural environment.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

This module will help you to develop the self direction, specialisation, and originality required for postgraduate level study. You will grow in your understanding, evaluation, and use of philosophical frameworks as they relate to your studio practice. You will also gain the confidence to recognise and enact the inseparability of theory-driven and studio-based approaches to research. The module will provide you with crucial training in artistic research methods.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

This module demands a slower, more rational and considered process of thinking through practice. You will begin to properly explore various avenues prompted by aspects of the Experiment module, but without the pressure that these explorations have to culminate in anything more than test studies. At this stage the scope of your practice of will remain expansive.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

This module represents a personal research trajectory, focusing your practice. Through it you will find workable solution to the problems your creative practice exploration generates. You will research through making, within a relevant critical context and in a focused way. This will enable you to strengthen, extend and apply your advance knowledge, skills, and critical awareness.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

This module is the culmination to of your MFA study. It is designed to bring your explorations and personal practice into focus. This will give you the confidence to produce a coherent project to a standard that is appropriate for professional publication or exhibition.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

Our focus on professional experiences and project work means you will be a co-creator of your learning. We keep our group sizes small so we can get to know your creative personality and support your aspirations.

We recognise your status as a graduate student, and place a significant emphasis on independent learning, encouraging you to take responsibility for managing your own learning and its outcomes. Our Academic Support team can help with written English, study, research, and technology skills if needed.

We deliver your modules through:

  • Workshops
  • Studio sessions
  • Group discussions
  • Supervised projects
  • Group crits
  • Project work

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.


There are no formal examinations on this course. You will be assessed through live events and coursework, which will include:

  • Portfolio work
  • Exhibitions
  • Presentation of visual works
  • Written work

You will receive continuous informal feedback on works in progress through a combination of group crits, tutorials and peer to peer discussions.

Entry requirements


Minimum entry requirements

    2:1 honours degree in a related subject

    Interview artist statement and portfolio

If your degree is in an unrelated subject, but you can provide a strong portfolio, your application may still be considered.

International students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Artist's statement

Before the interview, you will need to provide an artist's statement that explores your studio practice as a research activity. This must indicate how your work relates to comparable practices, as well as theories, contexts and ideas relevant to your practice. The statement should specify what kind of questions your practice will work to answer. A successful submission will also identify the experimental and rigorous processes you will use to answer them. (max 750 words). 

Your artist’s statement should be accompanied by a digital portfolio of work. With a focus on your recent practice, the portfolio should contain examples both finished work and document projects still in progress.  

Please provide captions with titles, dates and information about materials and dimensions or durations. Where necessary, give very brief descriptions that may help explain aspects of the work. You can include a link to your website along with the submitted portfolio. Please note that the work on your site cannot be considered as a replacement for the submission. 


Entry onto this postgraduate course is subject to attending an interview.

At interview you will be asked to give a short presentation about your work, showing a selection of your portfolio and exploring your work's ideas.

We are happy to arrange interviews through Microsoft Teams for international students.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

If you do not have traditional qualifications, you might be able to provide evidence of professional experience in the subject as an alternative way to meet the entry requirements. This is called Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). Appropriate references and records of employment would need to be presented to support your case for admission.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and funding

UK 2024 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry to this postgraduate course is:

  • £4,400 for full time study

This cost applies to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

Funding opportunities

International 2024 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry to this postgraduate course is:

  • £14,000 for full time study

This cost applies to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your postgraduate studies.

International Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

    UK 2024-25 £4,400 per year full time

    International 2024-25 £14,000 per year full time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for alumni

Additional costs and financial support

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Career outcomes

Where could Fine Art MFA take you?

This course is designed to give you significant industry exposure to increase your opportunities for employment once you graduate. You will study specialist modules that require you to work with external partners in publishing, exhibitions, agencies and education. This will help you to establish networks and gain relevant experience with industry professionals. You will gain transferrable skills in creative problem solving as well as critical thinking, writing and presenting.

This will give you an advantage in careers such as:

  • Artist
  • Advertising art director
  • Commercial art gallery manager
  • Community arts worker
  • Exhibition designer
  • Museum or gallery curator

Stand out from the crowd with postgraduate study.

Far fewer people have postgraduate degrees than undergraduate qualifications. This gives you something extra to set yourself apart in a competitive graduate job market. Those with a postgraduate qualification will earn an average of £7,000 a year more than those with only an undergraduate degree. (Department For Education Graduate Labour Market Report 2020)

Our careers service, LaunchPad, provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support does not end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain the experience and confidence you need to succeed.

Apply for this course

For postgraduate degrees you must apply directly to York St John University using the links below. This will take you to the application form you need to fill out for this specific course. 

To complete the online application form you will need to create login details. 

Please contact 2 referees before submitting your application. An automated request for a reference will be emailed to them as soon as you submit. Your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

Fees and key information

Apply now

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