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Our Arts and Design by Independent Project MA is a highly individual course offering you the opportunity to propose and develop your own academic programme in a particular field of craft, design, communication or image-making within a stimulating educational context.

A central project forms the core of the course. The project encourages experimentation and innovation in a specific field. You will develop and consolidate your project in consultation with academic staff throughout the course, utilising facilities and drawing on expertise from our other arts and humanities courses, as well as other areas of the university.

There is an extensive programme of lectures, events, films, and seminars throughout. We ask you to keep a critical diary during the course and to write a project report at the end of each year. This report is a considered critique of your studio-based work and decision making.

Course structure

You can study on a part-time or full-time basis:

  • Part-time, for two years, is designed to fit in with your professional life and allows more time for reflection. Part-time students work on the course for two days a week – one day on site and one day working independently.
  • Full-time, for one year, is an intensive year of study. You work four days a week: two days with the course and two days independently.

Lectures, seminars, reviews and assessments are held at fixed times on Wednesdays. Other patterns of attendance vary according to individual circumstances. During holidays you will be engaged in independent study.

Your work will be predominantly project based, which may comprise of one or more parts focusing on a central theme or idea. A single project or investigation will in most cases sustain a student through the entire duration of the course, but at stage assessment, in consultation with tutors, it may naturally evolve into a new or related area of study.

The nature of the subject demands the continual interaction between research, analysis, and practical realisation, as well as an extended period of development for ideas to become fully meaningful. Throughout this investigation you will receive support and guidance from the course tutors.

Areas of study

As the course develops, there is increasing opportunity for independent and self-directed work, though each student is allocated a personal tutor who oversees the planning and content of individual projects. Besides practice-based work, the course also includes a written element in which you will be asked to reflect critically on the research and development of your project.

The Visual Narrative module includes lectures, themed group events and small practical activities such as the Surprise Project, where you are asked to deliver a surprise though a sequence of six images or objects with the module group as your target audience. From this experience, you learn the nature and importance of surprise in basic storytelling and develop a vocabulary for narrative. In scheduled theme day events, such as Modern Cautionary Tales, you work in groups to challenge your quick-thinking skills in the invention, planning and presentation of a story.

While students accepted on the course should come with the technical skills necessary to fulfil their projects, access to the diverse workshops facilities – for example in bookbinding, letterpress, printmaking and photography – will be made available as appropriate to your project. There is also a substantial specialist library and a full range of computer facilities.

In order to bring together a variety of students and approaches, this course coexists with the Sequential Design/Illustration MA. Both are based at our Grand Parade campus.

Stage 1

  • Independent Project (Stage 1)
  • Visual Narrative: The Art and Design of Storytelling
  • Practice Based Research Methods

Stage 2

  • Major Independent Project (Stage 2)
  • Applied Research Methods
  • Completion Statement

Careers and employability

Because of the diversity of our students and the projects they create, their professional achievements are equally wide-ranging. Successful commercial enterprises have been established, research degrees undertaken, books published, collaborative design groups formed, and work exhibited in major galleries and institutions. Graduates have also participated in festivals and conferences around the world.

Recent graduates include:

  • an art and display technician at the Littlehampton Academy
  • an associate teaching fellow at the University of Southampton
  • a book designer at Flukso Design
  • a designer and associate lecturer at the Open University
  • an exhibition and graphic designer at Hello Museum
  • an illustrator at Helen Murphy Freelance Illustration
  • a lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts
  • a mobile game designer at TieSense Information Company.

Many of our graduates cite the course as having been a strong influence on their success. Kate Adams MBE, founder of Project Art Works, described the course as "richly diverse in the practice it promotes and encourages". She went on to say: "The analysis of working methodology was really formative and important for me. I founded Project Art Works a few years after completing the course and felt it had a big influence on how we expressed the conceptual and political drive of our early projects."

Visit the Arts and Design by Independent Project (MA) page on the University of Brighton website for more details!




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