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Course content

Summary

At the Belfast School of Art we strive to develop unique photographic voices, which sit firmly at the cutting-edge of a contemporary international context, while also mining the specifics of our unique geographical and cultural position.

We have been profiled by the British Journal of Photography as one of the most significant photography schools in Europe. Our graduates work internationally between the book, gallery, web and magazine, continually challenging photography’s place within contemporary society and the way we photograph now.

The teaching team is comprised of contemporary practising photographers, writers and thinkers who exhibit and publish internationally. These are Professor Paul Seawright, Ailbhe Greaney, Dr KayLynn Deveney, Ken Grant, Peter Neill and Clare Gallagher as well as two members of the prestigious Magnum agency, Martin Parr and Donovan Wylie. We have a progamme of Guest Lecturers, recently including Hannah Starkey, Liz Wells, and Louise Clements. Throughout the programme students develop an awareness of photography as it exists in a culture of evolving technologies. They are challenged to rethink their practice both visually, theoretically and contextually. Our close links with photographic galleries and photography festivals helps students to build networks and professional practice. The programme is complemented by a series of master classes and advanced skill workshops; an annual field trip to Paris and regular site visits to a variety of cultural institutions such as museums and galleries in Ireland, the UK and Europe.

About

The MFA Photography has an international reputation and is available for study on campus in Belfast (Thursday delivery) and fully online (eLearning) for students living and working outside Ireland. A Master of Fine Arts degree is a creative degree, which centers around practice in a particular field, in this case Photography. The qualification provides students with a high level of specialisation and allows graduates to teach at University level.

The MFA Photography degree exposes students to key critical debates in photography and offers a dynamic environment in which to develop a major body of photographic work for exhibition and publication. Staff are leaders in the field of photography. Internationally recognised photographers, artists and researchers regularly review student projects, give lectures and critique photographic work.

Guest Lecturers include: Hannah Starkey, Brian Griffin, Mark Power, Anna Fox, Wendy McMurdo, Doug DuBois, Simon Roberts, Chloe Dewe Mathews, Léonie Hampton, Gareth McConnell, Raphaël Dallaporta, WassinkLundgren, Rob Hornstra, Raimond Wouda, Lotte Sprengers, Corinne Noordenbos, Stephen Bull, Gerry Badger, Louise Clements, Pete James, Tim Clark, Adam Murray and Liz Wells.

The course looks to recruit photographers that are serious about challenging their working methods and extending their visual vocabulary. The course has excellent links with galleries and museums and draws on an exemplary network of artists to create a study environment that is stimulating and encourages experimentation.

Structure & content

The programme is delivered through a range of learning methods, including seminars, presentations, tutorials and group critiques, to enable students to acquire the cognitive skills of a self-reflexive independent learner. There are optional exit points for students to exit with a PGDip or MA.

Modules:

Semester I

  • Reviewing Practice (40 credits)
  • Photography and Culture: (20 credits)

Semester II

  • Contemporary Contexts (40 credits)
  • Photographic Futures (20 credits)

Optional Exit Award - PGDip (120 credit points)

Semester III

  • Master's Project (Involves a major piece of practical photography work with accompanying contextualisation. Creative written and photographic resolution of a major body of work is emphasised here.) (60 credits).

Optional Exit Award - MA (180 credit points)

Semester IV

  • Master's Project (Involves a major piece of practical photography work with accompanying dissertation. Resolution of the Master's Project through publication via book and/or exhibition is emphasised here.) (60 credits).

Final Award MFA (240 credit points)

Attendance

Full-time 4 Semesters - Belfast Campus or Online: September - January; January - June; September - January; January - June;

All the core teaching takes place on Thursdays and you should expect to be on campus from 10am - 7pm. During this time you will engage in one-to-one tutorials, a lecture programme delivered by staff and visiting guest speakers, group seminars, group critiques and technical workshops. The rest of the week is spent attending optional tutorials/workshops and engaging in independent study.

The primary assessment method is the evaluation of photographic work in progress. Students work over the duration of the course on a major body of work that is subjected to regular and rigorous critique by staff and internationally renowned visiting photographers. Other assessment methods are visual presentations, seminar presentations, essays and a final year dissertation. There is an interim exhibition which is assessed at the end of the first year, usually in a public gallery.

Work placement / study abroad

The programme is complemented by a series of master classes and advanced skill workshops; an annual field trip to Paris and regular site visits to a variety of cultural institutions such as museums and galleries in Ireland, the UK and Europe.

Career options

Graduates are prepared for advanced careers in the field of photography. Graduates work as photographers in the fine art and commercial sector, as well as industry professionals. An MFA develops the ability to perform research related to the photographic arts, while also building communication skills and introducing students to new aesthetics and new technology. Such key skills enable graduates to work as photographic curators, editors and critics, within museums, galleries and in publishing. MFA graduates may also pursue a career in education.


Visit the Photography - MFA page on the Ulster University website for more details!

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