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 MFA Fine Art or the MA Fine Art. The MFA is an 18-month practice-based programme (two academic years) with a two part, written and oral, Critical Studies component. The MA is a 24-month practice-based programme, which has a taught History and Theory of Art component. All students follow the same practice programme, electing to work in the Sculpture, Painting or Fine Art Media areas. There is lively cross over between all areas.
See the work from the Slade 2020 Showcase.
Slade Graduate Open Day Presentation
Presented by the Director of Graduate Studies, Karin Ruggaber
This video outlines the Slade MA/MFA programme and how to apply.
The aims of the MA and MFA are to:
- provide an intellectual and creative environment for fine art graduates to further develop their individual potential as professional artists;
- enable students to continue independent research in Painting, Sculpture or Fine Art Media;
- enable students to continue to develop a high degree of critical awareness of the broadening intellectual and cultural contexts of fine art and the artist’s role in shaping contemporary culture;
- provide responsive, critical and challenging teaching and tutoring; creating a forum for open and formative discussion, and promoting peer-group learning;
- provide practical and technical resources and guidance across a range of creative media;
- understand and articulate, through writing and speaking, the things that inform their practice and the context in which they are making art in the MFA;
- develop independent academic research and ideas, articulated through writing, based on a sound understanding of a range of historical, theoretical and philosophical approaches to art in the MA.
The Practice-based Programme
Students on the MFA and MA follow the same practice-based course and are based in one studio area: Painting, Sculpture or Fine Art Media (which can include electronic media, photography, print, performance, sound, film and video). Each area has a dedicated staff group and focused discourse. Both the MFA and the MA programmes are research-centred.
The course is practice-based. Teaching takes place through individual tutorials, crits, where students present their work in their subject areas, as well as organised events, such as talks and workshops.
A programme of area-specific visiting artists is arranged throughout the year.
Technical facilities are open to all students. Technical inductions are given to new students at the start of the Academic Year. For the 2020/21 session, workshops will initially operate a bureau service.
The first year supports an experimental and investigative approach to art making, which is consolidated in the second year leading up to the degree exam. Throughout the course practical and theoretical skills are addressed, enabling students to work towards realising their creative potential, and developing confidence to organise and implement an independent programme at this level and sustained approach to their own practice.
One of the Slade's great strengths is the wide range of expertise that it offers to all students. It is an art school run and taught by practising artists. There is a strong commitment to the teaching of both traditional techniques and emerging technologies, encompassing analogue and digital formats. Our facilities support film and video, analogue and digital photography, screen printing, etching, stone lithography and bookbinding, alongside continually updated digital resources supported by online tutorial learning. Our workshops are supporting woodwork, metal work, foundry work and casting, as well as access to laser cutting, CADCAM, 3D Printing and ceramics. The painting area leads a methods teaching and research platform for preparation and investigation of pigments and paint materials.
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 specialist sessions are available to teach new skills or build on existing skills across all subject areas.
The MFA and MA Practice-based Programmes
Estelle Thompson, Head of Graduate Painting
The Graduate Painting area celebrates painting in all its diverse forms. We have a passion for the history and craft of painting and are committed to its evolution within contemporary art. The students work as a community encouraged by a team of artist/tutors to expand and develop their critical awareness, interest in cultural and social contexts, knowledge of making and individual research and practice.
Our focus is on making, and reflection through open and lively discussion and exchange supporting a wide range of conceptual and material approaches. Students investigate the many possibilities presented by painting today. These includes wall painting, installation-based painting and painting determined by architectural contexts. Students may also work with a variety of other media alongside their practice of painting.Graduate Painting leads on two current research projects: the Material Research Project, and the Discourse Project.
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. Graduate Sculpture is practice-based and offers a dedicated and specialist, as well as experimental, approach to what sculpture means in a broader context of contemporary culture today.
The ethos of the course is to embrace a broad range of sculptural practices and a variety of different approaches and forms, from working with objects and materials such as plaster, clay, stone and metals, to transitory spatial interventions with light, sound or text. The area is a shared, flexible resource and the forum for critical attention, debate and imaginative experimentation, encouraging a strong sense of community and spirit of collaboration. Students are expected to work independently within the framework of the Graduate Programme, and the wider criticality and awareness of contemporary and historical discourse.
Fine Art Media
Jayne Parker, Head of Graduate Fine Art Media
Students in the Fine Art Media area pursue their creative ideas through a variety of approaches, 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.
Some students in Fine Art Media 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 environment. 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, critical and supportive; to help students develop and trust their own judgement and creativity, encouraging independence of vision and thought.
Each area has a programme of visitors including artists, critics and curators who give tutorials, lectures and participate in seminars. Recent visitors include:
Ed Adkins, Jannane Al Ani, Michael Armitage, Simeon Barclay, Rana Begum, Matt Calderwood, Gillian Carnegie, Alice Channer, Marcus Coates, Enrico David, Siobhan Davies (Choreographer), Nicolas Deshayes, Charlie Fox, Brian Griffiths, Tina Gverovic, Anne Hardy, Vlatka Horvat, Kenny Hunter, Dean Kenning, Mark Leckey, Tonico Lemos Auad, Christina Mackie, Oscar Murillo, Katrina Palmer, Janette Parris, Eddie Peake, Heather Phillipson, Amalia Pica, Nicola Pozzani (Perfumer), Ruth Proctor, Prem Sahib, Tai Shani, Polly Staple (Tate Curator), Alex Sainsbury (Director, Raven Row), Yonatan Vinitsky, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Clarrie Wallis (Tate Curator), Jonathan Watkins (Director, Ikon Gallery), Toby Ziegler, Zadie Xa.
Key Differences Between MFA and MA
The MFA has a Critical Studies component and the MA has a taught seminar programme, an individually supervised written research project and assessed written work requirements. All students follow the same practice-based course.
MFA Critical Studies
The aim of the MFA Critical Studies is to encourage students to reflect on their work, its context and the things that inform and inspire their studio practice in preparation for professional practice.
Students are assessed by a written paper and an oral presentation in their second year. 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.
History and Theory of Art in the MA
Joy Sleeman, Head of Taught Courses
The History and Theory of Art component of the MA involves both coursework and individual research.
The MA written research project, assessed by an essay at the end of the first year and a Report at the end of the second year, is meant to stand independently from practice-based work and is assessed separately.
During the first year MA students attend a weekly seminar programme extending over the first two terms 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 helps develop an ability to read a philosophical or theoretical text in depth. The first coursework essay must be passed, but does not count towards the final degree mark. The second coursework essay contributes 5% to the final degree mark.
In consultation with course tutors, students begin to work on their independent written research project beginning with the MA proposal submitted at interview stage and guided by a supervisor from the History and Theory of Art area. The third (research) essay is submitted in the September before the beginning of the second year. It is worth 5% of the final degree mark.
During the second year students participate in the MA history and theory of art research seminar in which they each make a presentation to their peers, based on their written research project. Students develop their independent research project in consultation with their allocated supervisor and produce the MA Report (10,000 words), submitted in September after the second year, which comprises 15% of the final degree mark.
Visit the Slade
Applicants for the MA and MFA Fine Art are encouraged to attend one of our virtual open day events. These are scheduled for December, and you can book a place for the 9 December 2020, 6-6.45pm (GMT) or 15 December 2020, 12-12.45pm (GMT). During these events, you will be able to speak with our tutors and ask any questions that you may have. Unfortunately, we do not expect to host our usual Open Studios event in December 2020.
Application procedure for the MFA and MA Fine Art
The deadline for applications is 5 January 2021. All applicants for the MA and the MFA 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 also 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).
Please combine these into one file and upload as a single additional document.
When you have completed the online form and entered contact emails for your referee, they will be contacted automatically giving them instructions on how to upload their reference. All applications must include one reference that must be uploaded by your referee. The reference is an important part of the application and it is your responsibility to ensure that your referee uploads their reference promptly so that the entrance examiners have it when they view your portfolio. It is recommended that you complete the online application in advance of the deadline to give your referee time to complete their reference and, as courtesy, give your referee plenty of notice that you intend to apply.
The reference should be uploaded by 19 January 2021.
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, 15 January 2021.
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 500MB.
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 500MB. (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
We expect interviews to take place in late February or early March.
If you are selected for interview, you will be sent a date and time. Interviews in 2020/21 are planned to take place using Microsoft Teams, in order to provide resilience and reduce the risk of postponement or cancellation due to Covid.
Details of entrance requirements, including grades for international qualifications and English language requirements can be found in the UCL Prospectus.
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.