Whether or not to study a postgraduate degree in the arts is a question pretty much every undergraduate will ask themselves. But it is a pertinent question particularly within the arts, as the option to spend a few more years developing as a creative is tempting.
University of the Arts London (UAL) knows this as a university which offers both bachelors and postgraduate courses for upcoming creatives. With six colleges in London – Central Saint Martins, Camberwell College of Arts, London College of Fashion, Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication and Wimbledon College of Arts – it houses more than 2,200 postgraduate students studying over 100 creative courses, including MAs, MBAs and MFAs.
There are many questions surrounding the decision of whether or not to progress to postgrad. It’s a commitment which means delaying your time in industry and investing more money into your personal practice. In an effort to make the decision a little easier, UAL have helped us to dispel some myths and outline the benefits of choosing to study a postgraduate arts degree at one of its colleges.
Studying a postgraduate course can help a creative develop their personal and professional practice
Dedicating another year or more to studying a creative subject at university allows a student to look inwards and consider a future practice they hope to develop in industry. During a postgraduate degree, UAL encourages students to “develop the knowledge, skills and experience to realise personal ambitions and to find your own individual style,” as well as allowing students “to delve deeper into your critical and conceptual consciousness.” The environment is one that enables its students to “amplify and expand” thinking in a “nurturing network of staff and students” too.
This network is one that, of course, involves general day to day creative practices, but also includes a high level of critical analysis and feedback in order to help “individuals to make constructive developments in their practice.” Therefore, if weighing up two courses at separate universities, UAL recommends considering “who is teaching or contributing to the programme as they can have an influence on how their work may develop.”
Studying a postgraduate course can also open unexpected doors for an individual, with UAL pointing out how an MA in fine art may inspire an interest in teaching alongside a practice: “By achieving a higher qualification, they may progress to teach at a more advanced level and gain both personal and professional development along the way.”
A postgraduate course could be the opportunity to develop a new skillset
An undergraduate degree, particularly in the arts, is an area of exploration for a creative. In turn, it’s very common, and valid, for students to be introduced to a new vertical of creativity during this time and want to study a different subject at postgraduate level.
While it isn’t always guaranteed, UAL do offer the opportunity to switch subjects at a postgraduate level, dependent on the course you’re considering undertaking. For instance, a subject such as architecture may require previous experience, whereas a bachelor’s course like fine art might prepare a student for MA photography, as long as you can show your skills in an application portfolio.
This is a more common process for those who have spent time in industry after studying and gained “professional experience that would allow them to qualify to study a different subject.” UAL offers “graduate diploma courses” to bridge any gaps for students who aren’t quite ready for a postgraduate level course.
UAL additionally offers a number of courses which merge practices, attracting students from creative and non-creative undergraduate degrees.
Studying at UAL offers six colleges in one
Considering UAL’s colleges sprawl across various areas of London, its students are exposed to a unique “large and diverse community of creatives,” it explains. As Europe’s largest postgraduate community, it encourages students to work collaboratively “with a dynamic cross-section of the university’s community”.
UAL’s Postgraduate Community encourages students to cross collaborate through a series of events across colleges, such as pop-up common rooms, forming “an informed, connected and confident network of creative professionals” which lasts beyond their time at university.
Alongside the social benefits of studying at UAL, it has a widely recognised reputation, ranking as the second university for art and design according to the 2019 QS World University Rankings by subject. Contributing to UAL’s reputation, a large number of its students go on to become industry leaders with an impactful network in the arts.
There are several funding options available to support your postgraduate degree
It’s well known that investing your time into a postgraduate degree means investing money too. However, if you’re considering a postgrad course but feel it is impossible, UAL offers a number of funding options to help.
UAL offers 150 UK/EU postgraduate scholarships including a £5,000 fee waiver. This is available for eligible students from the UK or EU applying for a full-time course at any of the UAL Colleges in the upcoming 2019/20 academic year.
If you’re an international student the university also offers six £25,000 scholarships covering tuition fees and a contribution towards the cost of living, offering student accommodation too. If you’ve already studied at UAL for a bachelor’s, there is also the possibility of a UAL alumni discount.
Aside from scholarships, UAL also offers various payment plans to aid students. This includes flexible payments to be paid in instalments, as well as the option to study flexibly in order to work part-time. Many students find part-time jobs through UAL’s jobs and work placements website, Creative Opportunities, and in-house agency, ArtsTemps. You can read some personal experiences of UAL scholars here as well as further details about postgraduate loans here.