The Slade School of Fine Art is a world leading art school with a reputation for excellence. As part of UCL, London's Global University, the Slade provides an open and supportive environment for engagement with the process of art making at the highest level, attracting an international community of students. Students are supported to realize and strengthen their creative potential through experimentation, dialogue and fine art making in all its forms.
There are around 110 full-time graduate students at the Slade studying on either the MA in Fine Art or the MFA in Fine Art. The MA is a 24-month studio-based programme, which has a taught History and Theory of Art component. The MFA is an 18-month studio-based programme (two academic years) with a two part, written and oral, Critical Studies component. All students follow the same studio programme, working alongside each other in an open studio environment, electing to work in the Sculpture, Painting or Fine Art Media studios. There is lively cross over between all areas.
Watch the video: Graduate students discuss their Slade experience.
See the work from the Slade Degree Show 2019.
The aims of the MA and MFA are:
- to provide an intellectual and creative environment in which talented fine art graduates may further develop their individual potential as professional artists;
- to enable students to continue independent research in their chosen studio area;
- to enable students to continue to develop a high degree of critical awareness of the broadening intellectual and cultural contexts of fine art;
- to provide teaching and tutoring and promote peer-group learning which are responsive, critical and challenging; and a forum for debate through which students become increasingly professional and articulate in their questioning;
- to provide practical and technical resources and guidance across a range of creative media;
- additionally for MA students, to develop further an ability to pursue independent research and articulate ideas in writing through a sound understanding of a range of historical, theoretical and philosophical approaches to art and an understanding of the relevance of these to their work.
Painting in the MA and MFA programmes
Lisa Milroy - Head of Graduate Painting
The Graduate Painting area celebrates painting in all its diverse contemporary forms, and in its long tradition in western art and art of other cultures. Students engage in the practice of painting through a range of approaches, including panels and stretched canvas, wall painting, installation-based painting and painting determined by architectural contexts. Painting is also developed through experimentation with other art forms such as printmaking, photography, film and video, sound, performance and object making.
Drawing is a fundamental concern. Students are encouraged to explore painting at a high level by focusing on the connections between thinking, feeling, looking and making. An inquisitive, enquiring approach to craft is essential to the enrichment of the students’ intellectual and emotional understanding of the medium. Analysis and actualisation of the pleasure and beauty of painting in all its complexity is at the heart of the area. Discussion and debate fuel and sharpen the students’ critical awareness of the nature of painting within a contemporary art context and their ability to question the position of painting today.
Graduate Painting leads two current research projects: the Material Research Project, since 2010, and the Discourse Project, since 2014, both situated in the Methods Room within the Graduate Painting studios.
Sculpture in the MA and MFA programmes
Karin Ruggaber - Head of Graduate Sculpture
The Graduate Sculpture area invites students working across a range of media to work within an environment of making, experimentation and ideas. It is a practical, studio based area investigating objects, placement, form, space and composite activities, seeking to explore what is distinctive about sculpture and finding out what is possible.
The ethos of the course is to embrace a broad range of sculptural practices - from transitory spatial interventions with light, sound or text to the most solid, obstructive forms, such as working with stone, bronze, plaster and clay. The studios are a productive, active environment - space is seen as a shared, flexible resource and the forum for critical attention, debate and imaginative experimentation. Students are expected to work independently within the framework of the graduate programme and wider criticality and awareness of contemporary and historical discourse.
Fine Art Media in the MA and MFA programmes
Jayne Parker - Head of Graduate Fine Art Media
Students in the Fine Art Media area pursue their creative ideas through a variety of media, which are supported by both academic and technical staff who hold a broad level of expertise. Currently there are students working with photography, film, video, performance, text, sound, installation, printmaking and all manner of object and image making.
There is no limit or expectation as to the media used in the Fine Art Media area. Although most graduate students in the School will have studied fine art, some may have come to fine art through studying other disciplines, for example music or literature. The wide range of creative activity and cultural experience of the students makes for a rich and diverse studio culture. The aim of the Fine Art Media area is to foster a strong sense of community and group responsibility within the studio, to create a vibrant and stimulating working atmosphere that is informed and critical yet supportive and to help students develop and trust their own judgement and creativity, encouraging independence of vision and thought.
The Studio Programme
Students on the MFA and MA follow the same studio course and are based in one studio discipline: painting, sculpture or fine art media (which includes electronic media, photography, print, performance, sound, film and video). Both programmes are research-centred. The main difference between the MFA and the MA lies in the distinction between the critical studies in the MFA and the history and theory of art in the MA.
The teaching takes place through individual tutorials, small cross-area group tutorials made up of both first and second year students from each subject area, studio critiques and critical studies seminars, where students present their research interests and contextualise their work to their peer group.
In addition there are opportunities to participate in research projects at the Slade Research Centre. These week-long projects provide an opportunity to explore ideas alongside students who are based across all three areas, and to make work on a larger scale. In addition, a programme of visiting artists is arranged throughout the year.
The first year incorporates a taught programme (delivered through lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops) to upgrade theoretical and technical skills, but primarily demands a considerable degree of investigation and experimentation.
The second year prioritizes individual research (conducted under supervision), building on and consolidating the learning and experimentation of the first year, leading to original results by graduate students capable of organising and implementing an independent programme at this level. The course offers several opportunities for the presentation of work to the wider public and culminates in the final graduate exhibition.
One of the Slade's great strengths is the wide range of facilities and expertise that it offers to students, regardless of their study area. In the School there is a strong commitment to the teaching of both traditional and emerging techniques, and analogue and digital technologies. These include film and video, analogue and digital photography, screen printing, etching, stone lithography and bookbinding, alongside continually updated digital resources supported by online tutorial learning.
There is a comprehensive workshop supporting woodwork, metal work, hot metal, ceramics, foundry work and casting, as well as access to laser cutting and CADCAM. The painting studios house a Methods Room for canvas and paint preparation and investigation into pigments supported by the Materials Research Project.
Preliminary inductions to all the workshops within the Slade take place at the beginning of the year and are mandatory in order to use the facilities. Further sessions are available to teach new skills or build on existing skills, for instance specialist workshops on black and white and colour photography, 16mm film-making, photographic lighting, video editing, chroma key and the sound studio.
Each area has a programme of visitors including artists, critics and curators who give tutorials, lectures and participate in seminars. Recent visitors include:
Ignacio Acosta, Mania Akbari and Douglas White, Jane Bustin, Matt Calderwood, Gillian Carnegie, Marcus Coates, Enrico David, Tom Debenham, Nicolas Deshayes, Mel Gooding, Brian Griffiths, Anne Hardy, Melanie Keen (Director, Iniva), Mark Leckey, Christina Mackie, Anthony Malinowski, Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock, Eddie Peake, Heather Phillipson, Amalia Pica, Nicola Pozzani (Bespoke Perfumer at Floris, London, and Scent educator London College of Fashion and Y-Institute, Bern University of Arts, Bern, Switzerland), Ruth Proctor, Prem Sahib, Alex Sainsbury (Director, Raven Row), Meekyoung Shin, John Smith (film-maker), Yonatan Vinitsky, Lynette Clarrie Wallis (Curator of Contemporary Art, Tate Britain and Tate Modern), Bruno Wolheim, Yiadom-Boakye, Toby Ziegler
History and Theory of Art in the MA
Joy Sleeman - Head of Taught Courses
The History and Theory of Art programme of the MA involves both coursework and individual research. The taught component comprises a series of weekly seminars in the autumn and spring terms of the first year. In the second year, students write a Research Report on a topic of their choosing guided by a supervisor from the History and Theory of Art area.
In the taught component students are expected to:
- participate in discussions on a wide range of historical, theoretical and philosophical approaches to art which both add to their general understanding of contemporary debates and contribute to their approach to their research project;
- develop an ability to read a philosophical or theoretical text in depth and develop their ability to articulate their ideas in writing;
- consider the various possible relations between history, theory and practice, and develop the relation between their studio work and their research.
In the research component students are expected to:
- pursue independent research in depth;
- develop an individual perspective, supported by thorough research and argued with clarity and coherence;
- develop an ability to relate ideas to specific works and cultural phenomena with vividness and accuracy;
- achieve a high level of quality in presentation, including proper use of footnotes, bibliography and illustrations.
The taught course work is assessed by means of termly essays that are essential for the development of study and writing skills and must be passed. The Research Report and assessed course work contribute 25% to the final degree award (10% in Year 1, 15% in Year 2) and studio work contributes 75%. The Research Report is meant to stand independently from studio work and is assessed separately. There may, and indeed should, be a connection with studio work, but this may be indirect. The topic should in some way be related to art, art history, art theory, aesthetics, visual theory, cultural studies or curating.
During the first year students attend a seminar programme extending over the course of the academic year which introduces them to a varied body of ideas and approaches, encourages them to consider the relations between theory and practice, and gives them the opportunity to gain extra experience in writing. It includes practical sessions on research and dissertation writing. These seminars provide students with the opportunity to participate in a stimulating and supportive environment for intellectual work. Students are expected to develop an approach to research and writing that is both inventive and rigorous. Students must pass this component of the programme on the basis of their attendance and essays.
In the first year MA students:
- write three essays with the second and third essays are worth 5% of the degree each;
- decide on their topic for independent research in consultation with course tutors and based upon the MA proposal submitted at interview stage.
During the second year MA students:
- participate in the MA research seminar in which they each make a presentation to their peers, based on their research project;
- participate in an all-graduate research forum with students on the MPhil/PhD programme;
- develop their independent research project in consultation with course tutors and their allocated supervisor;
- produce the MA Report (10,000 words) which comprises 15% of the degree.
- Students are required to submit an abstract of their intended study by the end of the summer term of the first year and a first draft on returning to the Slade for their second year in September. This will be a basis for discussion with the students' tutor or head of area. Tutorial support will guide the development of ideas, theory, research and the different forms of expression and presentation of the final study.
Critical Studies in the MFA
Critical Studies are assessed in two forms:
Part 1: a written paper that should consist of 3000 words, or equivalent (but not exclusively visual materials).
- Part 1 must be submitted at the end of the penultimate week of the autumn term of the second year. The study must be in a form that can be conveniently assessed by internal and external examiners and stored. (Any three-dimensional work must be documented.)
Part 2: an oral presentation of twenty minutes' duration to the internal assessors and the student's peer group, followed by five minutes for questions. Students are expected to present their research orally and visually placing their studio work in a critical context.
- Part 2 takes place in the penultimate week of the spring term.
- A feedback session on the study will take place early in the spring term.
Critical Studies are a key component of the MFA programme and students must pass both parts in order to be awarded the MFA in Fine Art. Both parts should demonstrate the student's ability to develop, contextualize and articulate their research critically in preparation for professional practice.
Each part is marked Pass/Fail. The evaluation of the Critical Studies Part 1 and 2 are subsumed into the final degree marking scheme.
Visit the Slade
Applicants can take a tour of the Slade during the autumn term which includes a talk by the head of area and a tour of the studios and facilities. Alternatively, you can visit us during our Open Studios on Wednesday 11 December 2019 from 10am - 4pm or the Degree Shows in the summer term.
Application procedure for the MFA, MA and Graduate Affiliate Study in Fine Art
The deadline for applications is 7 January 2020. All applicants for the MA in Fine Art, the MFA in Fine Art and Graduate Affiliate Study should Apply Online. Late applications will not be considered under any circumstances.
The Online Application
Applicants must complete the online form. All applicants should use the Supplementary Personal Statement section on the online application form to submit a study proposal outlining the projected nature of their study and research on the programme. Describe your academic interests and reasons for applying. Outline the ways in which you will use the programme, resources and staff expertise at the Slade (and UCL) to develop your work and ideas. Include any relevant professional achievements.
All applicants must also upload the following supporting documentation:
- An electronic Transcript from your undergraduate degree programme. If you have also taken a Master's programme, you should upload a second transcript.
- Your CV.
- Those students whose education has not been conducted in the English language should upload their most recent English Language Test Certificate.
- MA applicants only should upload:
- Research Proposal (2 A4 pages) containing a clear and succinct statement of your proposed area of theoretical research which includes a working title for your history and theory dissertation; the reason why you have chosen the subject; a summary of the knowledge you already have of the subject; the objectives for the research; what areas of study you think the research will involve; what methods you will employ in the research; what sources you will use for the research, i.e., libraries, museums etc, and a brief bibliography.
- A recent piece of written work 2,500 - 3,000 words in length (upload this as the Additional Document).
When you have completed the online form and entered contact emails for your referees, they will be contacted automatically giving them instructions on how to upload their references. All applications must include two references that must be uploaded by your referees. References are an important part of the application and it is your responsibility to ensure that your referees upload their references promptly so that the entrance examiners have them when they view your portfolio. It is recommended that you complete the online application in advance of the deadline to give your referees time to complete their references, and give your referees plenty of notice that you intend to apply.
Reference should be uploaded by 21 January 2020.
All applicants must submit a portfolio for consideration by the entrance examiners. The portfolio inspection takes place in late January. Once you have submitted your application, you will be sent the instructions and link to the Slideroom portfolio site. Please note that the deadline for portfolios to be submitted is 11.59pm (GMT) on Friday, 17 January 2020.
Format of Portfolio
Painting and Sculpture
- Following the submission of the UCL application, applicants will be invited to submit a portfolio online via Slideroom. Instructions will also be available for applicants who do not wish to use Slideroom.
- Up to twenty images should be submitted with each image no larger than 5MB. Titles should be included for each image including the date the work was made, size and materials.
- Painting and Sculpture applicants with time-based or performance elements to their work may include a showreel with a maximum duration time of five minutes in QuickTime, no larger than 2GB.
Fine Art Media
- Following the submission of the UCL application, applicants will be invited to submit your portfolio online via Slideroom. Instructions will also be available instructions for those applicants who do not wish to use Slideroom.
- Up to twenty images should be submitted with each image no larger than 5MB. Titles should be included for each image including the date the work was made, size and materials.
- Applicants can also include a Quicktime movie/showreel of not more than five minutes' duration and no larger than 2GB. (Time-permitting, shortlisted candidates may be able to play longer pieces at interview.)
Results of Portfolio Inspection
Applicants are informed of the results of the portfolio inspection through the UCL application system.
Interview of shortlisted candidates
It is our policy to invite all shortlisted applicants to interview and in 2020 these will take place in the week beginning 24 February. Interviews cannot be conducted at alternative times or by telephone or skype. If you are invited for interview but unable to attend, you must make sure your portfolio is at the Slade to be viewed by the examiners when final decisions are made. Indicate your availability for interview on the application form. Final decisions and offers of admission are made after the interview period is complete. You should receive final notification by 27 March 2020.
MA in Fine Art
Applicants will be required to hold a first degree in Fine Art at second-class UK Honours level or above (or its overseas equivalent) and will be required to satisfy the School that they have an appropriate level of academic achievement. Exceptionally, an applicant with a first degree in a related subject (such as Art History) will be considered, but evidence of a high level of achievement in the chosen studio discipline will also be required.
MFA Fine Art
Applicants will normally be of graduate standing. Exceptionally, an applicant may be considered whose previous education and professional experience are deemed by UCL to be equivalent to graduate level.
Graduate Affiliate Study
Applicants will normally be of degree standing.
English Language Requirement
Students whose education has not been conducted in English must reach a satisfactory level of proficiency in English language before starting their studies at the Slade.
Various English language qualifications are acceptable. For the MA the Advanced level is required. For the MFA and Graduate Affiliate Study the Standard level is required.
UCL Centre for Languages and International Education offers a range of approved English language courses.
For all enquiries about either the MA or MFA programme, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information, see our fees and funding section for information about tuition fees, funding, scholarships and bursaries.
Yes, all applicants are encouraged to visit the Slade and there are a number of opportunities to do so.
Ideally, you should come on a Tour of the School during the autumn term; this is bookable online. These include a talk by a member of academic staff and the opportunity to ask questions, followed by a tour.
In the last week of the autumn term there is an Open Studios event where you can meet academic staff, see the School and spend some time at the event, perhaps listening to a crit or talking to current students. For details, click here. Booking is not required.
If you miss the Tours and Open Studios, but you are shortlisted for interview, you will have an opportunity to meet a current graduate student and have a tour of the building on the day of your interview.
You can also visit the end of year Degree Shows in June.
Please note that the studios are private working spaces and ad hoc or unplanned visits can not be arranged.
We offer two graduate programmes, the two academic year MFA in Fine Art and the two calendar year MA in Fine Art. For information on programme content, please see above.
All applicants for the MA in Fine Art, the MFA in Fine Art and Graduate Affiliate Study should Apply Online by 3 January 2019.
No, late applications will not be considered.
MFA applicants should include a study proposal in the Supplementary Personal Statement on the application form outlining the projected nature of their study and research on the programme. Describe your academic interests and reasons for applying. Outline the ways in which you will use the programme, resources and staff expertise at the Slade (and UCL) to develop your work and ideas. Include any relevant professional achievements. MFA applicants do not need to submit a separate Research Proposal or writing sample.
I am applying for the MA, do I have to include BOTH a supplementary supporting statement and a proposal for theoretical study?
Yes, submit your study proposal in the Supplementary Personal Statement on the application form outlining the projected nature of your study and research on the programme, focusing in particular on your studio work. Describe your academic interests and reasons for applying. Outline the ways in which you will use the programme, resources and staff expertise at the Slade (and UCL) to develop your work and ideas. Include any relevant professional achievements. MA applicants should also upload a Research Proposal (two A4 pages) containing a clear and succinct statement of your proposed area of theoretical research which includes a working title for your history and theory dissertation; the reason why you have chosen the subject; a summary of the knowledge you already have of the subject; the objectives for the research; what areas of study you think the research will involve; what methods you will employ in the research; what sources you will use for the research, i.e., libraries, museums etc, and a brief bibliography. MA applicants must also upload a recent piece of written work 2,500 - 3,000 words in length (upload this as the Additional Document).
You should apply for either the MA or the MFA. For details about the difference between the two programmes, please look at the MA/MFA Degrees section above. There is not a quota for each programme, so the best candidates will be selected regardless of whether they have applied for the MA or MFA.
My first language is not English, what qualification can I take to meet the English language entrance conditions?
If English is not your first language you must provide recent evidence that your command of the English language is adequate for you to benefit fully from the programme at the Slade. For full details of the qualifications that are acceptable and the minimum levels required in them, please see UCL's English Language Proficiency Requirement.
The UCL Centre for Languages and International Education offers a range of programmes recognised for the purpose of satisfying UCL's English language proficiency requirement.
Yes, you can. You will need to demonstrate that your experience and portfolio are of comparable quality to applicants who have studied Fine Art at undergraduate level. Your previous degree may be in a related discipline, e.g. architecture or art history, or you may have graduated some time ago but built a career as a practising artist independently. The strength and appropriateness of your portfolio, study proposal and cv will be crucial in determining whether or not your application is suitable.
All applicants should Apply Online and submit a portfolio for consideration by the entrance examiners.
All applicants will be able to check the progress of their application through the UCL Portal. You will create a username and password for the UCL Portal when you submit your online application.
No. Applicants shortlisted at the Portfolio Inspection are invited to attend a personal interview at the Slade with their portfolio and further work.
If you are invited for interview and are unable to attend at the time you have been given, call or email the person who has sent you the email giving details as soon as possible. Alternative dates and times can only be arranged during the scheduled interview week, where space is available.
All shortlisted applicants are invited for personal interview, regardless of where they live. We understand that not all candidates can attend if they live overseas, though you are encouraged to do so if possible. If you can not attend, you must make sure your portfolio is available for viewing by the entrance examiners during the interview week.
All applicants should check the UCL Portal regularly for updates on the status of their application. If you are successful, you will be able to view your offer letter via the UCL Portal. You should respond to the offer through the UCL Portal as soon as possible. Applicants who are unsuccessful will also receive confirmation via the UCL Portal.
Offers may be 'unconditional', which means that you have already satisfied the entry requirements, or 'conditional' if they are subject to you completing a course you are currently taking, or passing any exams you may have pending, or on obtaining certain grades. Applicants with conditional offers should inform the UCL Admissions Office of their results as soon as they receive them.
Deferrals are granted in exceptional circumstances. If you wish to defer your place, you must apply in writing (to the Academic Manager at the Slade) outlining the reasons. In most cases, we prefer candidates to reapply. This enables the examiners to view your most recent work.
We have a number of scholarships. There is no application procedure, all students who receive an offer will be considered for the scholarships and a shortlist ismade primarily according to entrance examination performance and academic merit. See Fees and Funding.
You are strongly advised to begin your search for funding opportunities as soon as possible as many deadlines are very early. In the past graduate students at the Slade have been successful in achieving funding from a range of organisations including the following: British Council, Association of Commonwealth Universities, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, IKY, Samstag Scholarship, SAAS, Pola Art Foundation, DAAD, Inlaks Foundation and Charles Wallace India Trust.
Yes, as well as feedback and teaching which is informed by the professional 'art world' knowledge and international perspective of Slade staff, the Slade runs its own bespoke series of careers talks for all final year students, in conjunction with the UCL Careers Service. Sessions are led by Slade staff, with invited guest speakers, and cover various topics such as artist fees, pricing work, fundraising and writing successful grant applications, finding a studio, how to write press releases etc. The programme has been recognised as 'best practice' across the wider University. For more information see: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/case-studies/2017/jun/getting-students-career-ready-ucl-slade-school-fine-art.