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MFA Programme

The Ruskin MFA degree is an intensive, interdisciplinary programme in the practice of contemporary art, designed to support studio-based and theoretical components of your artistic practice.

MFA Installation. / Alistair Debling

MFA Performance. / Yan Can

‘Camouflage’. Oil on dyed canvas. 140 x 110 cm. 2019 / Hannah Ferreira

The course will provide an intensive course of one-to-one tutorials and weekly studio seminars, focused upon your own art-making, its key concerns and ideas, and your inter-dependent development with the other artists in the MFA group.

This studio-based learning programme will be supported by a regular seminar series engaged with current debates in contemporary art history and theory. The curriculum of reading and discussion will be tailored to the emergent concerns of the group and their dialogue with wider discourses of contemporary art and visual culture.

This student-centric approach to your own art making, as well as its historical and theoretical context, will be possible because of the uniquely small scale of the Ruskin MFA. Great attention will be paid to individual concerns, whilst generating a collective dynamic of mutual participation in generous and robust discussion. Through this process, you will have a uniquely demanding and supportive opportunity to engage with what it means to work as an artist today, considering how an artist's work and ideas are understood in and across different social, artistic and intellectual contexts.


MFA Studio Space.

The course benefits from the extraordinary resources of knowledge across the University, placing special emphasis upon the experimental histories of art and art education, and their potential to transform knowledge, forms and situations. You will be expected to develop your artistic practice within the programme, researching and generating an advanced body of art work, employing the technical resources and facilities of the Ruskin and drawing upon Oxford’s extensive library and museum resources.

Varied teaching situations will be employed to identify and provide for individual students’ needs, and to draw individual artistic concerns into group dialogue to promote robust contextual knowledge and awareness. These include:

  • A studio programme of individual tutorials over all three (or six for part-time students) terms, with an allocated tutor who will oversee your academic development. An additional provision of elective tutorials will also be made, enabling you to benefit from the individual research strengths of other permanent staff as well as regular visiting staff across the school, complemented by input from high-profile visiting lecturers;
  • Two programmes of group seminars throughout the first and second terms, one dedicated to the presentation and analysis of studio work (such as group critiques) and one to the reading and analysis of contemporary art history and theory. These will be timetabled to facilitate the attendance of part-time students; and
  • Complementary support through access to technical training for new skills and techniques, delivered by the Ruskin’s regular technical staff, as well as occasional skills workshops.

The MFA will have three main modes of assessment:

  1. an exhibition or presentation of a fully realised artwork or body of artworks made by you during the MFA programme. This will require you to develop, create and present a coherent, thoughtful exhibition, or other presentation as appropriate, of artwork. Other presentations may include websites, live performances, etc;
  2. an extended written text of 4,000 words. This piece of written work will require you to reflect upon your studio practice, drawing together aspects of the technical and formal processes of art making and considering them in relation to art-historical contexts and theoretical debates;
  3. a portfolio of documentation of studio work. Throughout the programme, you will be required to make thorough, scholarly documentation of your work, to be submitted at the conclusion of the programme. This supports the assessment of the final exhibition or presentation in demonstrating the provenance of the processes, strategies and ideas manifest there.

Part-time study

UK residents have the opportunity to study part-time over two years. For part-time students the equivalent of one year's full-time tutorial supervision and teaching provision will be spread over two years.

Graduate destinations

Many alumni from the Ruskin have pursued careers in the fine arts as practising artists, teachers, curators and gallery professionals in both public and private galleries. Others have gone on to pursue careers in diverse areas such as education, finance, architecture and the film industry.

Graduate Open Day

The Open Day for graduate applicants is on the afternoon of Tuesday 12th November 2019 at Bullingdon Road.  To register for this event please email Heather Savage (Graduate Studies Administrator) at graduate@rsa.ox.ac.uk with your details.

last edited: January 8th 2020