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Postgraduate Study in Fine Art

Fine Art at Newcastle University offers a two-year master’s course in Fine Art - the MFA, and two practice and research-led postgraduate degrees - the MPhil and PhD.

Postgraduate Taught

MFA Fine Art: 

Our MFA (Master of Fine Art) is a two-year full-time studio-based programme in contemporary Fine Art practice. It is designed for graduates in Fine Art and for those with other backgrounds who wish to establish or extend their position as leading practitioners in the contemporary art world.

The programme seeks to provide a community for creative collaboration, exchange and discussion, where students can sound out ideas and materializations in a challenging, critical and nurturing environment. It is one in which students take responsibility for directing their studies through setting goals and managing time and resources effectively. The course is based in studios in the heart of Newcastle's city centre campus, close to the city's vibrant art scene. 

The programme is led by Jane Millican.

We admit a maximum of 15 students per year on to our MFA course.

The 2020 MFA Degree Show can be viewed here:

The MFA at Newcastle University is designed to enable students to develop careers as professional artists. The programme also offers a grounding for those hoping to progress to PhD degree study. 

You will participate as an active, thoughtful and responsible member of a community with the ultimate aim of defining you own professional identity through self-reflection and an understanding of the creative economy. The MFA creates a platform to help students push their current practice forward through exploratory experimentation and to nurture an environment for the development of a method of working that is inventive, rigorous, focused, and confident.

We want to enable students to become articulate, curious and generous, willing to step out of their comfort zone, but also to stand by their intentions and own their practice. We expect students to have an understanding of cultural, social or political contexts, related to the art world and beyond. This is encouraged through exhibiting, seminars and peer group discussions.

The course is based in excellent purpose-built studio space and combines intensive personal studio practice with critical scrutiny. Approximately 80% of the course is your self-directed studio work, and your dissertation and professional practice training make up the remaining 20%. The course also encourages you to exhibit in the city, make connections in the region, and set up contacts for use beyond the degree. Each year culminates in a Degree Show held throughout the Fine Art Building and the Hatton Gallery.

You will be taught by a wide range of distinguished and internationally celebrated practicing artists and you will be working in an exciting, well-equipped and expanding practice-led research environment. Whether your practice involves painting, sculpture, digital media, drawing, performance, photography, printmaking, installation or video art, the course at Newcastle enables the student/artist to pursue professionalism and excellence in their practice. We encourage and support the practice and study of art through thoughtful and informed investigation, experimentation and speculation.‌

You are expected to pursue your practice and research with a high level of independence but are supported by a supervisor who regularly meets with you to discuss your work and through cross-disciplinary seminars, group studio discussions and lectures by distinguished visiting artists. Our weekly Visiting Speakers Programme enables some of the most interesting and original artists, critics, curators, historians and art professionals working today to present and discuss their projects.

You will have 24-hour access to your studio and towards the end of June, when the undergraduate students are no longer in the building, the MFA students have access and the use of all the studios in the building in which to work over the summer and to subsequently exhibit. 

We very much encourage participation in the research culture of the department through workshops and research seminars, including:

  • Chairing seminars with eminent visiting artists and researchers
  • Involvement in exhibitions
  • Professional networking
  • Collaborative activities

In addition, the Newcastle University's Institute for Creative Arts Practice aggregates the critical mass of creative practitioners and researchers within the University and will encourage you to collaborate and create work that has a global significance.

How to apply and further course information.

Postgraduate Research - MPhil and PhD

Postgraduate Research in Fine Art, Digital Cultures and Art History

Fine Art at Newcastle supports a wide range of both theoretical and studio-based practice and research in Fine Art, Digital Cultures and Art History and welcomes proposals from prospective students who wish to undertake a PhD with us.

Fine Art has a thriving community of approximately 30 PhD students; it has built a strong reputation for quality of supervision, and for excellent resources for practice and research.  

Staff at Newcastle engage with innovative research in contemporary art practice and Art History. This includes all areas of Fine Art, digital cultures, digital and time-based art, sound, performance, collaborative and interdisciplinary practices, and critical engagements with approaches to curating contemporary art. The department is strongly committed to supporting artists' individual practices through practice-led research. 

We are particularly interested in attracting research proposals from students who will benefit from the specific research expertise of individual members of staff within Fine Art and Art History.  Research students can also benefit from the resources and training available through, for example, the Institute for Creative Arts Practice, and the expertise of Culture Lab, a multi-user digital media facility that supports interdisciplinary research at the interface of art, digital cultures, humanities and science.

In addition, we also welcome proposals that would benefit from the extraordinary range of resources, supervision and interdisciplinary research opportunities that are available across the School of Arts and Cultures and the university as a whole. As part of the Northern Bridge Consortium, this potential extends to supervisors from our partner institutions: Durham, Teesside, Northumbria, Ulster, Queen's Belfast and Sunderland Universities.

For both the MPhil and the PhD, students may propose a research project that is practice-based or a research project that is solely research and text-based.

The MPhil is a research degree requiring a year of study full-time or two years part-time. The project for the MPhil can be practice-led or theoretical, and the final submission can be a text (a thesis of not more than 40,000 words) or a combination (50/50) of studio practice and text.

A practice-led PhD would require three years of full-time study (or six years part-time) and the final submission for the PhD would be a combination of an exhibition of creative work made over the period of study/research and an accompanying written text. The written part of the submission would typically be 30,000 words, which constitutes approximately 30% of the degree.

A text-based PhD would require three years of study (or six years part-time) and the final submission would typically be a thesis of 80,000 words.

PhD students should normally have completed a master’s level course prior to their PhD. This requirement, in exceptional cases, may be wavered if it can be demonstrated that the student has equivalent research and other skills.

Supervision, Researcher Development Training and Seminars

Supervisors appropriate for your research project are allocated from within Fine Art, and if required, from elsewhere in the university, following detailed discussion with the student about the proposed research project. Your 'supervisory team' usually consists of three members of staff. All staff are research-active professionals, artists, researchers and academics, and thus provide up-to-date practice-led teaching, supervision and professional experience and knowledge.

Throughout your time here, we encourage you to exhibit your work in appropriate venues and attend and make presentations at our regular postgraduate seminars, which aim to encourage intellectual and practical exchange between academic staff, our visiting artists and students. We also very much encourage our postgraduate research students to present at external conferences and symposia.

The Fine Art Research Student Seminar Programme includes subject-specific lectures and an evolving programme of seminars and round-table discussions that inform and contextualise research and provide subject-specific research training. These also offer the opportunity for doctoral researchers to exchange ideas and engage in conversation across disciplines with staff, fellow students and visiting artists, scholars, curators and critics.

Throughout their studies, extensive support and training in research methods is provided by both the Institute for Creative Arts Practice and the Faculty Postgraduate Research Training Programme. This is available to full-time and part-time research students in the humanities and social sciences at Newcastle University throughout their time studying for their research degree. It provides training in professional/key skills, research techniques and supports both personal and intellectual development.

How to Apply

It is essential to bear in mind the staff's research interests (including any cross-disciplinary plans) and the facilities within the department - and the University, when deciding to apply for a research degree at Newcastle.

Prior to submitting the formal application form that is required by the University, we would strongly advise you if possible to contact us in order to discuss your proposed research project. We would ask you to first submit to the Head of Postgraduate Studies visual documentation of your work, if appropriate, and an initial research proposal of 1,000–1,500 words. We can then discuss the feasibility of your proposal and indicate whether we might be able to support your project with the appropriate resources and supervisors. We would also be able to indicate whether there is any specific information, documentation or change to the proposal that we would require before your formal application was submitted.

The proposal needs to be well-written, clear and jargon-free. There is no strict template for the structure of the proposal. However, it is recommended that applicants include the following information:

  • A provisional title, which might for example be in the form of a question;
  • If appropriate, a short introduction to your current art practice;
  • An introduction to the research theme/idea (and, where appropriate, an initial review of other practice-based work or other research in this area) to set the scene;
  • A well thought through 'research question' that the research will aim to answer, or a thematic to be explored;
  • An outline of the kinds of studio practice or methodology that will be used to achieve the research aims and help answer the research question;
  • Clearly defined reasons why the research is important to pursue - both to yourself and more broadly;
  • How have your prior qualifications and/or professional experience equipped you for doctoral study - in terms of the studio practice, research skills and subject knowledge that might be needed to undertake the project;
  • Why is your project particularly suited to being investigated at Newcastle? Which staff do you think would be appropriate to supervise your project and what resources are needed for your research?

Please contact our Head of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Ed Juler, if you have any questions. 

Full details on how to apply


The Northern Bridge Consortium is a Doctoral Training Partnership funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

It offers up to 67 fully-funded studentships per year to outstanding postgraduate researchers across the full range of Arts and Humanities subjects, including Creative Practice disciplines.

The consortium brings together the cutting-edge expertise and exceptional resources of Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Queen’s University Belfast, Sunderland University, Teesside University and Ulster University and their strategic external partners.

Please visit the Northern Bridge Consortium website for further information.

Please contact our Head of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Ed Juler, if you have any questions.