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MFA Programme

The Ruskin MFA degree is an intensive one year studio-based programme in the practice of contemporary art. You will be part of a small cohort on a course designed to direct and develop your artistic practice and theoretical knowledge in a supportive environment.

MFA Installation. / Alistair Debling

MFA Performance. / Yan Can

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

The programme encompasses a diversity of disciplines including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, art writing, installation, video, sound, performance and other expanded and experimental forms in contemporary art. It aims to encourage experimentation while supporting the development of a critical focus for the work.

The MFA is located on one floor with a series of individual studio spaces, alongside shared and open spaces, all of which contribute to an intimate environment of self-directed peer learning, supported by permanent and visiting staff of the highest calibre.  It is an exceptional artistic environment, distinct from larger art schools in the UK.  

The course encompasses regular one-to-one tutorials and weekly studio seminars, focused on your art-making, your key concerns and ideas, and inter-dependent development. A program of dedicated masterclasses and skill-based workshops, designed specifically for the MFA, is available alongside a weekly school-wide high profile and diverse Visiting Speakers Program. 


MFA Studio Space.

Our studio-based learning programme is facilitated through a regular seminar series characterised by a collective dynamic of mutual participation in generous and robust discussion; engaging with what it means to work as an artist today and considering how an artist's work and ideas are understood in and across different social, artistic and intellectual contexts. As part of this holistic approach to practice and theory, dissertation tutorials with specifically allocated tutors take place on a regular basis in the studios. You are encouraged to understand your work contextually and to discuss it in relation to contemporary, theoretical and historical discourse. Your personal artistic interests, and those of the cohort as a whole, are embedded into tutorials, seminars and presentations, determining the direction of your creative development, guided by the Ruskin faculty. 

You will also have access to Humanities and Sciences lectures and seminars in  affiliated departments and colleges across a world-leading University. The University’s specialised libraries are open to Ruskin students as are activities generated by the Colleges. Oxford offers a wide range of cultural engagements, including the Ashmolean Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum as well as Modern Art Oxford.

Varied teaching situations will be employed to identify and provide for individual student’s needs, 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 artistic development alongside a dissertation tutor to support your academic input. An additional provision of elective tutorials will also be made, enabling you to benefit from the research strengths of other permanent staff as well as regular visiting staff across the school, complemented by input from a weekly program of visiting speakers who are also available for individual tutorials. 
  • Two programmes of group seminars throughout the first and second terms; one dedicated to the presentation and group analysis of your own studio work and one to the reading and discussion of contemporary art and its associated history and theories. 
  • Complementary support through access to technical training for new skills and techniques in the areas of welding, metalwork, printmaking and media, delivered by the Ruskin’s regular technical staff, alongside supplementary skills workshops.
  • Masterclasses in the areas of writing, performance and research methodologies, amongst others.

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 of artwork as appropriate, including websites and live performances. This presentation or exhibition benefits from its proximity to the adjacent BFA degree show and attracts local and national visitors.
  2. a written text of 4-6,000 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 a 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. methods and ideas manifest there. 

Graduate destinations

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

last edited: September 3rd 2021