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MA Design: Ceramics

Course Description

Ceramics aims to develop individual abilities within the subject, whether through practice or historical or theoretical study. Approaches range from sculpture and installation to studio ceramics and design for products. The course is distinctive in offering you the opportunity to specialise in ceramics as a medium allied to a breadth of possibilities, and establishing negotiated individual modes of practice.


We offer Ceramics full or part time, lasting one year (3 trimesters) FT, 6 trimesters PT. Your first two trimesters is made up of taught sessions and assessed projects, the Master’s Project in the final trimester is by negotiated project only. Completion of the first 2 modules on the course lead to the award of the Postgraduate Certificate, completion of the first 4 modules leads to the award of the Postgraduate Diploma. Subsequent completion of the MA double module leads to the award of MA.

In the first trimester you will undertake a module in research methodologies in conjunction with students from other design disciplines. You will be establishing and initiating your studio based creative practice through individual and group tutorials and critiques. This teaching covers issues of technique together with aesthetic and design ideas and their interpretation and context within contemporary practice. This approach to studio work will be further developed in the second trimester, alongside an individual analysis of the relevant theoretical, cultural and social context for your work. The four modules taken in the first two trimesters lead to the postgraduate diploma (PGDip).

The final trimester, leading to the MA, comprises an individually negotiated and self-initiated body of work building on knowledge and skills already acquired. You will be supervised by tutorial through to completion. The project will be selected from options giving an emphasis either to individual expression or a more design-based approach.


Students may opt to take some or all of the modules on this course by distance learning. Teaching and tutorial support will be delivered via a combination of computer-based learning and campus visits, with assessment matched to the particular interests and needs of individual students.

This route is open to all students on the course. You may pursue both practice based and/or historical approaches to the study of ceramics by this means. The route will be of particular interest to those geographically distant from Bath, or who would find attending campus regularly difficult. The technology used is simple and accessible. You will need access to a computer linked to the internet as materials are delivered through a standard web browser. We welcome enquiries from anyone interested in this option, and will be delighted to answer any questions you may have.


Research Methodologies - This module is intended to provide students with a strong sense of methodological purpose when thinking in, through and about their practice. Research Methodologies will outline established models of academic enquiry - both practical and intellectual - proposing ways to gather, analyse and communicate a wide range of data and ideas.

Initiating Creative Practice - A practice module, where students produce work based upon a programme negotiated and agreed with staff, designed to set an agenda and working plan.

Developing Creative Practice - A practice module, where students make work based on visual research on a programme negotiated and agreed with staff to develop studio work, awareness and understanding of relevant concepts.

Analysis of Contemporary Context - A module where the practitioner engages in a contextual consideration of their work by referring to cultural, critical, theoretical and historical perspectives employing advanced research methods alongside development of a proposed programme for the final MA module.

Advanced Studio Practice - You are expected to submit a comprehensive body of creative ceramic work which meets the agreed objectives, accompanied by documentation of visual and other research. It should include a written evaluation of the ‘journey’ and outcomes of your project, and aspirations for future developments.


Theoretical elements will be delivered as a concurrent contextualisation of your practical work along with study of the relevant research methodologies. In this way your practical work is firmly based in the theoretical and critical awareness of its context and potential market.

Ceramics students have workspaces in well equipped workshops, including CAD facilities. There is an excellent glaze laboratory and a range of electric and gas-fired kilns, including outdoor firing facilities for salt and raku. There is also a dedicated space and kilns for large-scale work. All students have access to workshops in photography, sound and video, etching and litho, as well as the specialist Art and Design library.


• Jane Gibson Mdes RCA (design and ceramic production and curating)
• Keith Harrison MA RCA (time-based installation)
• Nick Lees MA Cardiff (tableware, ceramic sculpture, critical writing)
• Jo Dahn MA PhD UWA (history and theory)
• Graham McLaren PhD RCA

These staff will be supported by an extensive team of part-time staff, whose wide range of expertise is available on a regular basis. There are also 3-4 visiting artists each year.

• Marion Brandis MA (public art, commissioned projects)
• Steve Brown MA (ceramic print)
• Ian Byers BA (ceramic sculpture)
• Helen Harris BA (photography)
• Simon Hulbert MA (gallerist, potter)
• Penny Grist BA (printmaking)
• Aimee Lax MA (ceramics)
• Malcolm Ross-White (drawing)
• Zeita Scott MA (tableware, studio ceramics)
• Sasha Wardell MA (tableware and giftware)
• Professor Takeshi Yasuda (tableware, studio ceramics)


Typical career destinations include exhibiting, ceramic design and museum work, arts administration, public art and research.


The four taught modules in trimesters one and two are assessed through studio exhibition of work with a supporting statement, or the presentation of a document, accompanied in both cases by evidence of appropriate research. The final module for the MA is assessed through exhibition or exposition, according to the nature of the work, of all work for the module or a record of it, addressing the issues agreed in the initial proposal. There are no written examinations.

Visit the MA Design: Ceramics page on the Bath Spa University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Jo Taylor

I have a BA in 3D Design: Ceramics, and before starting the MA I was teaching ceramics as well as making and selling ceramic tableware. I wanted to move my practice on as it had become stale and this MA enabled me to do that. I particularly liked the fact that the studios were much larger than other universities and were also readily available, with a good range of equipment on offer. It gave me freedom to explore practice. This qualification will better position me in a competitive teaching market and will also give me more credibility and confidence as an artist. If you are considering this course be prepared to use all the facilities available as an independent learner, this way you will get the most from all there is on offer.


Entry Requirements

Admission is normally based on a good undergraduate degree in ceramics or equivalent experience. Successful applicants will have a BA (Hons) degree in Ceramics or equivalent experience. This could include a first degree in other disciplines together with subsequent studio practice. The key is the potential of the candidate, in the view of the interview panel, to successfully complete the programme.

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