Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

MA Honours in Fine Art

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: n/a
Final award: M.A. Honours
Programme title:

Fine Art

UCAS code: W150
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): History of Art, Architecture and Design
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: ECA Quality Assurance Director
Date of production/revision: 17 Jul 2012 

External summary

The MA Fine Art degree programme combines the studio practice of fine art with the academic study of the history of art, and is unique in its duration and the fact that equal weight is given to each side of the course over the five years of study. The intention is to produce graduates who have a professional understanding of artistic practice and who also possess an extensive and well-based knowledge and understanding of art history and the methods of its study.

The theoretical and historical elements of the degree are principally taught in ECA’s History of Art Department while the visual research and studio-practice elements are taught in ECA’s School of Art. While undertaking your practice-based study you will work in purpose-built studios in a friendly and challenging creative practice environment; the other half of your studies will be spent with students from a wide range of humanities subjects (especially in the early years) studying the intensive Art History component of the programme. Main aims:

  • to develop your practical creative, technical and intellectual ability through projects, installations and exhibitions.
  • to equip students with a broad knowledge of the evolution of the visual arts and a critical understanding of visual culture.
  • through the combination of practical and academic study, for students to acquired an understanding of the history of art underpinned by a deep understanding of art practice, and for their practical work will be informed by a critical understanding of their place in the history of art.

Educational aims of programme

  • On the academic side, the programme aims to equip students with a broad knowledge of the evolution of the visual arts and a critical understanding of visual culture in relation to the wider historical and social circumstances in which works were created. 
  • On the practical side, the aim is to equip students with skills in making, and with research strategies that feed individual practice.
  • It is also intended that synergies will derive from the combination of practical and academic study: graduates will have acquired an understanding of the history of art underpinned by a deep understanding of art practice, and their practical work will be informed by a critical understanding of their place in the history of art.
  • It is intended that students will develop skills in the documentation, presentation and exhibition of work.
  • Great importance is attached to students learning to confront the object so as to develop their powers of critical and visual analysis.
  • Full advantage is taken of the fact that the city of Edinburgh possesses a remarkable array of museums and galleries, as well as a rich architectural heritage.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

During the course of the five-year degree programme, we expect our students progressively to develop:

  • Knowledge of the major artistic achievements of a wide range of cultures, from ancient Greece and Rome to the present.  Material from the Western canon is complemented by Islamic and Chinese art from the Eastern tradition. 
  • An informed awareness of the various methods and theoretical models that have shaped the ways in which art historians, past and present, have interpreted works of art. 
  • A capacity to place works of art in their appropriate contexts, which might include available stylistic and technical resources, the concerns and evolution of individual artists, the determinants of patronage and prevailing social, economic, political, intellectual or religious circumstances and beliefs.
  • An ability to understand works of art as the outcome of a complex process of thought, which might be illuminated by documents, preparatory work, or adjustments and alterations evident within the actual making of the work.
  • Experience of a wide range of materials and techniques, in painting, sculpture, printmaking and intermedia art.
  • An informed and critical knowledge of contemporary art practice and of underlying research strategies.
  • An understanding of current practice in the light of the historical development of the visual arts.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

  • Use critical evaluation to appropriately present individual and coherent work.
  • Critical analysis of a wide range of research material.
  • Employing the diverse resources that are available for obtaining information, ideas and images, such as books, journals, the internet, and slide and image libraries.
  • The synthesis of explorative research and making to establish an individual visual language.
  • Taking account of the element of interpretation that is necessarily involved in the display of any work of art, including the conservation to which it may have been submitted. 
  • Engaging in independent and small-group work.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

By engaging with and completing the degree, graduates will be able to develop and demonstrate:

  • appropriate intellectual scepticism, and a willingness to challenge received assumptions.
  • ability to evaluate the different positions and arguments that arise in solving particular art-historical problems.
  • Ability to read secondary texts critically, with an awareness of the assumptions and attitudes that underpin interpretation.
  • Significant responsibility to provide a critical basis for meaningful and enduring praxis.
  • Resourcefulness and creative in working process from conception to execution.
  • eveloped personal practice viewed in relation to a national and international communal culture.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

By engaging with and completing the degree, graduates will be able to develop and demonstrate the ability to:

  • Communicate an approach to a particular issue in a concise, lucid and coherent form, both oral and written
  • Critically identify, and develop, appropriate methods for presenting personal practice, and for presenting contextualised work, to an informed audience
  • select the appropriate means and style of communication, in order to put ideas across effectively to differing audiences
  • Establish an appropriate and coherent dossier of contemporary Art research.
  • Demonstrate significant engagement in collective cultural production

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

By engaging with and completing the degree in History of Art, graduates will be able to develop and demonstrate

  • Evidence of quantification of materials and costing for professional practice.
  • Where relevant, utilise the most appropriate technologies that effectively communicate working methods and ideas at an advanced level.
  • the capacity to respond positively and creatively to criticism and feedback, while maintaining confidence in their own abilities.
  • an understanding of the variety of contexts within which individual thought and practice operate.
  • an awareness of personal strengths and areas for development.
  • effective time management.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

  • Synthesis of individual ideas with a considered range of contemporary Art.
  • Document and present individual practice in the most appropriate format.
  • Utilise and critically evaluate contemporary approaches to installations.
  • Contextualise individual practice through discussion and material production;  a sophisticated grasp of specialised terminology current within the discipline, including a capacity to describe the material, technical and formal features of a given work of art.
  • Develop and present an idiosyncratic approach to visual research
  • Knowledge of how to use and construct bibliographies.
  • The use of information technology, including word-processing, e-mail and on-line resources.

Programme structure and features

Years 1 and 2

In Years 1 and 2, you will be working in studios alongside students studying the BA (Hons) subjects (Painting, Sculpture, Intermedia Art, Printmaking, Photography) in the School of Art. You will be introduced to different methods, materials and approaches to art practice, and then elect to focus on a subject whilst accessing skills and resources from across the School.

Within History of Art, you will take History of Art 1 and 2 respectively (running in both semesters), and one more semester-long course each year. This covers the period from the fall of the Roman Empire until the end of the counter-Reformation, and the period from the 18th century until the present day. You will also study Classical Art, which examines the heritage of Greece and Rome.

Years 3 and 4

In Years 3 and 4, you will proceed in the studio with advanced work in your chosen specialism. A minimum of 19.5 hours studio work per week is required, which is tailored to fit in with the art history programme.

Year 4 is similar to Year 3 but, for your project work, you will produce a portfolio of exhibition reviews. Within History of Art you may choose from a wide variety of specialised topics including aspects of ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern art in Europe, and also of Islamic and Chinese art.

You will be free to choose those subjects that particularly interest you. You will also write an analytical report either on a particular work of art, or on an important critical text, or on a gallery display.

Year 5

In your final year you will write a dissertation on a topic of your choice. The major part of the year is taken up with research and production of art in your specialist area of study and this will constitute 50% of the final degree classification grading.

PROGRAMME OF STUDY:

Year 1 COMPULSORY COURSES This year has 3 compulsory course(s).

Code

Course Name

Period

Credits

HIAR08009

History of Art 1

As available

40

HIAR07004

MA Fine Art Studio 1

As available

30

HIAR07003

MA Fine Art Research 1

As available

30

COURSE OPTIONS This year has 1 set of course options with the following rules: Select exactly 20 credits from Level 7 and 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, as available

Year 2 Entry into 2nd year normally requires a pass in History of Art 1, a pass in the outside subject and satisfactory progress in practical work.

COMPULSORY COURSES This year has 4 compulsory course(s).

Code

Course Name

Period

Credits

HIAR08012

History of Art 2

As available

40

CACA08009

Classical Art 2A: The Development of Greek and Roman Art

As available

20

HIAR08024

MA Fine Art Studio 2

As available

30

HIAR08023

MA Fine Art Research 2

As available

30

COURSE OPTIONS This year has no course options.

Year 3 Entry into the 3rd year normally requires passes in all subjects taken in the first two years. A pass (40%) in History of Art 2 and Classical Art 2A must be achieved at the first attempt along with satisfactory progress in practical work.

COMPULSORY COURSES This year has 3 compulsory course(s)

Code

Course Name

Period

Credits

HIAR10031

History of Art Analytical Report B

As available

20

HIAR09005

MA Fine Art Research 3

As available

30

HIAR09006

MA Fine Art Studio 3

As available

30

COURSE OPTIONS This year has 3 sets of course options with the following rules: Students must select at least one course from the first set OR at least one course the second set, plus a further course from the third set.

Course sets: Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available:

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10082

The Rise of Islamic Art

20

HIAR10068

Sinners, Saints and Seers: Scottish, Irish and English art from 600-900

20

HIAR10008

Antiquity Recovered: Imag(in)ing Pompeii and Herculaneum

20

HIAR10070

Rome: From Imperial Capital to Holy City, c. 300-1300

20

HIAR10013

The Detailed Imagination: Netherlandish Painting in the Age of Jan van Eyck

20

ARHI10035

Scottish Architecture: Context and Conservation

20

OR Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10078

Velázquez in context

20

ARHI10005

Evolution of the Edinburgh Townscape

20

ARHI10031

Leon Battista Alberti: Theory & Practice of the Visual Arts in 15th-century Italy

20

HIAR10108

Romanticism to Expressionism

20

HIAR10114

How to Make Italian Renaissance Art: Media, Methods and Materials in Theory and Practice 1400-1550

20

AND Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10082

The Rise of Islamic Art

20

HIAR10068

Sinners, Saints and Seers: Scottish, Irish and English art from 600-900

20

HIAR10008

Antiquity Recovered: Imag(in)ing Pompeii and Herculaneum

20

HIAR10013

The Detailed Imagination: Netherlandish Painting in the Age of Jan van Eyck

20

HIAR10029

Europe 1900: Nationalism and Decadence at the Fin-De-Siecle

20

HIAR10035

Scottish Art in the Age of Change 1945-2000

20

HIAR10078

Velázquez in context

20

HIAR10070

Rome: From Imperial Capital to Holy City, c. 300-1300

20

HIAR10097

The Death and Life of Painting

20

HIAR10104

Dada and Surrealism: The Shattered Subject

20

ARHI10027

Architecture and Empire in Britain and the British Colonial World 1783 - 1947

20

ARHI10032

Barcelona and Modernity

20

ARHI10035

Scottish Architecture: Context and Conservation

20

HIAR10107

Modern Art in Shanghai, 1840-1930

20

HIAR10066

Sexual Politics and the Image

20

ARHI10005

Evolution of the Edinburgh Townscape

20

ARHI10031

Leon Battista Alberti: Theory & Practice of the Visual Arts in 15th-century Italy

20

HIAR10108

Romanticism to Expressionism

20

HIAR10114

How to Make Italian Renaissance Art: Media, Methods and Materials in Theory and Practice 1400-1550

20

Year 4 COMPULSORY COURSES

This year has 3 compulsory courses:

Code

Course Name

Period

Credits

HIAR10025

History of Art Critical Portfolio

As available

40

HIAR10100

MA Fine Art Research 4

As available

20

HIAR10101

MA Fine Art Studio 4

As available

20

COURSE OPTIONS This year has 3 sets of course options with the following rules: Students must select at least one course from the first set OR at least one course the second set, plus a further course from the third set.

Course sets: Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available:

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10074

Persian Painting

20

HIAR10014

Expanding Vision: Visual Culture in France from the Limbourgs to Leonardo

20

HIAR10106

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: The Elite World of China

20

HIAR10084

Eve's Children: Art and Gender 600-1400

20

ARHI10035

Scottish Architecture: Context and Conservation

20

OR Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available:

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10053

The Renaissance Body

20

HIAR10014

Expanding Vision: Visual Culture in France from the Limbourgs to Leonardo

20

HIAR10009

From Jacobitism to Romanticism: The (Re)invention of Scotland in Visual and Material Culture

20

HIAR10016

Rubens and His World

20

ARHI10005

Evolution of the Edinburgh Townscape

20

ARHI10031

Leon Battista Alberti: Theory & Practice of the Visual Arts in 15th-century Italy

20

AND Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, as available:

Code

Course Name

Credits

HIAR10074

Persian Painting

20

HIAR10014

Expanding Vision: Visual Culture in France from the Limbourgs to Leonardo

20

HIAR10030

France, 1850-1900: Visual Culture and Social Change

20

HIAR10077

Impressionism, Decadence, Rhythm: Artists in France and Britain 1870-1914

20

HIAR10034

Myth and History in Scottish Modern and Contemporary Art 1945-2000

20

HIAR10016

Rubens and His World

20

HIAR10053

The Renaissance Body

20

HIAR10009

From Jacobitism to Romanticism: The (Re)invention of Scotland in Visual and Material Culture

20

HIAR10109

Expressionism, Dada, Bauhaus and Beyond

20

HIAR10106

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: The Elite World of China

20

HIAR10084

Eve's Children: Art and Gender 600-1400

20

HIAR10065

The Aesthetics and Politics of Contemporary Art

20

ARHI10005

Evolution of the Edinburgh Townscape

20

ARHI10027

Architecture and Empire in Britain and the British Colonial World 1783 - 1947

20

ARHI10032

Barcelona and Modernity

20

HIAR10105

Art After Photography

20

HIAR10086

Francis Bacon and his Artistic Affinities

20

ARHI10031

Leon Battista Alberti: Theory & Practice of the Visual Arts in 15th-century Italy

20

ARHI10035

Scottish Architecture: Context and Conservation

20

Year 5 COMPULSORY COURSES This year has 3 compulsory course(s):

Code

Course Name

Period

Credits

HIAR10005

Fine Art Dissertation

As available

40

HIAR10102

MA Fine Art Studio 5

As available

40

HIAR10103

MA Fine Art Research 5

As available

40

COURSE OPTIONS This year has no course options

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims and the nature of the disciplines studied – in this case, both studio practice-based work and scholarly humanities learning and research.

As the degree unfolds, there is gradually less emphasis in the teaching on formal lectures, and more on small group seminar teaching and personal direction and reflection.   At each stage within the degree, courses and independent learning projects are conceived as progressively more challenging for students.

Facilities: Each student has an individual studio workspace through Years 2 - 4 and this is supplemented by three distinct bookable installation spaces.  There are a wide range of workshop and technical facilities available to students to support creative practice in many mediums, including sculpture, painting, printing, photography, digital and sound work and intermedia art.

Students have access to the specialist book and journal collections held in the ECA Library, Evolution House and Art and Architecture library, Minto House, as well as to the other University libraries.  There are a range of other library facilities in the city, including the Fine Art department of Edinburgh City Library and the National Library of Scotland, situated very near ECA’s buildings.  

Edinburgh’s many galleries and museums provide not only collections and exhibitions useful for teaching and personal research, but also an extensive range of educational events, from lectures to conferences.

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Innovative Learning Week

The University of Edinburgh Innovative Learning Week is scheduled in Week 6 of Semester 2. During this week ‘normal’ teaching is suspended which provides space outwith the curriculum for staff and students to explore new learning activities. Some examples of the types of activities held in Edinburgh College of Art were: practical workshops exploring theories, creating works, or encouraging open participation musical performances; collaborative projects with other disciplines, including Chemistry and the Business School; symposia exploring a masterwork from different disciplinary perspectives; alumni and postgraduate students talks, sharing experiences and career options.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 126740
Year 222780
Year 317830
Year 412880
Year 57930

Assessment methods and strategies

Examinations in the History of Art elements of the programme are held at the end of both semesters in Years 1 and 2 and at the end of the year in Years 3 and 4.

Assessments of practice work within the School of Art are held at the end of each year during years 1 to 4 for progression purposes.

The degree is awarded on the basis of the student's final-year exhibition of work produced in the studio (and displayed at the Degree Show), together with the third and fourth-year examinations and the fifth-year dissertation on History of Art.  Equal weighting is given to exhibition work and the dissertation in determining the grade or class of the final degree.

Students in all years for the programme are encouraged to attend and participate in research seminars and the wide range of public lectures, exhibitions and cultural activities arranged by ECA and the University throughout academic year, and also with the many wider opportunities for engagement with the wider creative culture of Edinburgh, Scotland and beyond as they present themselves.

Teaching and Learning Activities

In All years

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials, including presentations
  • Studio practice, including project work, individual and group reviews, exhibition of work, critical review of exhibtions

In Honours years

  • Personal research work via dissertation

Feedback:

Progress in creative practice is continuously monitored and students receive individual tutorial reviews and formative assessment throughout the year.  Regular timetabled meetings are conversational one on one sessions.  These practice-based discussions focus upon the student’s work, addressing what has just been made in light of what has been made previously, towards establishing what might occur in the future. 

Written work or the History of Art component is usually returned, and feedback provided, at individual tutorials.  Project Work is supported by supervision and group discussions, the Dissertation by the supervision of an individual member of staff who specialises in the area.

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 122078
Year 217083
Year 317083
Year 425075
Year 500100

Career opportunities

Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art in the University of Edinburgh prepares you for a range of careers in the art world such as curatorships in galleries and museums, art journalism, publishing, art dealing, tourism, graphics, advertising and auctioneering. Some graduates use their skills and experience for careers in management or teaching, while some choose to go on to further study.

Other items

Many of our academic staff have been involved in exhibiting in, and/or curating major international art exhibitions.

The University’s own Talbot Rice Gallery exhibits work by leading contemporary artists alongside important historic collections and students have access to Edinburgh’s renowned art galleries and museums.