Study an MA in Fine Art with OCA

OCA’s MA Fine Art is a unique postgraduate course delivered by distance learning at Level 4 (HE7).

It’s ideal for tutors who want to develop their own practice to inform their teaching, artist practitioners seeking to develop their practice further, those with an undergraduate degree who wish to move into creative sectors of employment, and undergraduate students looking to progress to postgraduate study outside the conventional higher education system.

Course Overview

OCA’s MA Fine Art is a three-year, part-time programme offering students academic challenge and innovative delivery. Launched in 2011, it was the first MA Fine Art in Europe to be offered by open learning and is OCA’s first step into postgraduate provision in its 28-year history.

OCA’s MA Fine Art prepares students for professional practice in their chosen discipline, supporting the existing practice and aspirations of students working in a wide range of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, installation, performance, time-based work, digital art and photography. The emphasis of the programme is on studio practice, with theory, context and professional practice integrated throughout.

The flexibility of the MA Fine Art programme, through online delivery and being part-time, makes it accessible to students who, because of work and family commitments, would not otherwise be able to consider studying at higher degree level.

Students travel through the course together in a cohort, sharing experiences and learning through group and individual work. The curriculum builds from a more structured programme towards autonomous study, with an emphasis on enquiry, critical reflection and exploration. Through lectures, seminars, tutorials and critiques as well as one-to-one tutorial support, students benefit from the expertise of core course tutors and guest lecturers and tutors, who have a range of expertise including curation, media and marketing, art theory, professional practice and related disciplines (for example anthropology).

Progression routes are individual as well as collective. For some students, progression comes from receiving commissions for work. For others, it is about exposure of their work to a growing audience through exhibiting in specific galleries. Equally important evidence of progression for students is increasing the range and impact of their peer networks nationally and internationally or moving on to further, related study or work in the arts.

Course Philosophy

The course encompasses a broad, practice-based philosophy in Fine Art, allowing flexibility of practice from skills based work through to conceptual practice. The course includes:

  • One to one tuition via phone and email
  • Online seminars
  • Video updates
  • Peer group discussion and critiques
  • Group projects online
  • Access to the world class Bridgeman Education Art library
  • Online Group Orientation and Study workshop sessions.
Download the MA Fine Art Programme Specification

Caroline Wright - Programme Leader for MA Fine Art

“My practice encompasses site responsive visual and performance work using media as diverse as glass and gold. I have made work for cities and rural spaces, community spaces, galleries, theatres, churches, on desolate uninhabited islands and for audiences in the 100s and of ones…”

Course Content

There are a total of 180 HE credits in this degree, which cover essential elements including the following aims:

Visual Enquiry

  1. Gain an understanding of a range of appropriate methods of enquiry, and the communication skills and academic language relevant to the subject field
  2. Cultivate speculative and exploratory approaches to art practice through the application of reflection, evaluation and synthesis
  3. Produce a body of work that demonstrates the integration of theoretical and practical concerns, critical awareness and an understanding of contemporary context

Studio Practice

  1. Extend an appropriate area of investigation and establish parameters for your exploratory activity
  2. Analyse the conceptual context of your practice to generate creative ideas and practices
  3. Demonstrate personal responsibility and independent thought through an integrated approach to practice and contextual issues

Final Project

  1. Demonstration of advanced scholarship in your art practice and contextual work
  2. Demonstrate sophisticated understanding of complex concepts through written and professional studio practice presentation
  3. Demonstrate developing self-sufficiency and a clear vision and strategy to enable sustained professional practice beyond the course

More Information

  • Your personal tutor is both a practising artist and an experienced HE teacher. Visit our tutor page here to see profiles of the tutors who support our MA in Fine Art.

  • The duration of the course is 3 years and is enrolled on a cohort basis, which is different to the other OCA courses.

  • The course is delivered primarily by e-learning technologies, incorporating online seminars and peer group discussion. Independent research and studio practice is a significant element of the course.

  • Consideration has been given to the possible participation of overseas students within the MA programme. We recognise that overseas participants may be in a different time zone and hence structured, so online participation within the UK’s time zone may be a challenge. Because of this such sessions will be carefully scheduled, bearing in mind the location of overseas participants. In addition, OCA will allow participation on many of its required online events to be optionally synchronous or asynchronous.

  • Prior to application, an IT survey must be taken to ensure sufficient skills, knowledge and internet / online capabilities. Advice is then given if necessary.

  • Entry to the MA Fine Art at OCA is via application form, portfolio and interview. It is not a requirement to have a previous degree in Fine Art, though this may be an advantage. Your portfolio and personal statement should demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of your art practice and of contemporary art and an ability to articulate your thinking verbally and in writing. The type of practice that this MA Fine Art embraces is broad ranging from figurative painting, through photography, and textiles art, to video and installation art. If you are interested in applying for a place on the MA Fine Art course, please email

  • This course is extremely flexible and its structure means you can earn while you learn and at the same time advance your career prospects. People studying this MA will be better placed to gain higher level teaching posts in the field of art, or move into creative sectors of employment.

  • Residents of the European Union, including the UK:

    £2,865  sterling for 2018/19.

    The cost for the three-year programme is therefore around £9,000 sterling, taking into account a small cost-of-living adjustment each year.

    Residents of the rest of the world:

    £4,000 sterling for 2018/19.

    The cost for the three-year programme is therefore around £12,000 sterling, taking into account a small cost-of-living adjustment each year.

    All OCA courses are listed with Student Finance England, Wales, and Northern Ireland allowing eligible students to apply for a Student Loan to cover the cost of fees. You may also be able to apply for a maintenance loan and/or Disabled Students Allowance to assist you with the cost of study.

    The OCA Learner Support Scheme can provide partial bursaries towards course fees for students who are not eligible for funding via Student Finance, based on financial hardship.

     Other sources of funding may include employer contributions, Enhanced Learning Credits (for Armed Forces Serving Personnel and Service Leavers) and Prisoner Education Trust.

     As a student with OCA, most reading materials can be accessed through the digital library services and eBooks, or sent to you in the post.

     Other costs you may find on your degree include purchasing materials/books/texts to assist in your practice and research. These can be  around £350 at HE7. Students are also encouraged to attend exhibitions and costs may vary. Work is largely submitted to tutors and for assessment through the OCA Learn VLE or by email, however postal costs are expected to be around £40 per assessment for sending materials depending on quantity and weight of materials. Rates for overseas students will be higher and depend upon the country of origin.

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