What postgraduate study is really like

Postgraduate student
Luke Wade: MA Visual Arts Printmaking, Camberwell College of Arts

Wondering what it's like to study an arts MA? Here's what two UAL students found

Whether you’re an undergrad who’s unsure about your future career path; you want to develop a deeper understanding of your industry, or you just want to get a competitive edge over your peers – postgraduate study can open up a world of opportunities.

But don’t take our word for it. We spoke to two students studying for their arts postgraduate at the University of the Arts London – here’s what they had to say.

Amy Scarlett Nicholson-Jones, MA Theatre Design student at Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL

“When I started my undergraduate degree in Fashion Design with Design for Performance, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But over those three years, I developed an interest in the wider area of set and lighting, as well as designing costumes for shows and theatre.

“The MA in theatre design at UAL covered all the areas I was interested in learning more about. The course also focuses on teaching the core transferrable skills needed to be a designer and work in the industry.”

Aside from covering all the areas she wanted to study further, Amy explains that she chose to study at UAL because of its excellent reputation. UAL is ranked second in the world for Art and Design, according to the 2019 QS World University Rankings by subject, and is home to Europe’s largest postgraduate arts and design community.

“UAL also offers outstanding financial support. The bursary I received towards my tuition has had a massive impact on my learning. My university experience would have been completely different without it.

“So far, I’ve had such an amazing experience and I’ve learnt so much about the theatre industry. The MA is a lot more intense than an undergraduate degree but has so much more variety. The teaching also feels a lot more personal.

“I love that I get my own workspace and access to a range of facilities. Wimbledon College of Arts even has an on-site theatre, which I’ve been able to use for my projects. I’ve been able to visit theatres, get backstage tours, and partake in numerous talks from visiting designers. Our lecturers’ invaluable contacts have even landed a few of my classmates with jobs and work experience. I already feel more confident in my skills as a designer and now feel like I know what to expect when I go into the industry.”

Amy also says she really enjoys the collaborations her university offers: “I’ve been able to go to free lectures at the National Theatre through the university’s connection with the Jocelyn Herbert Foundation, which has been invaluable.

“There’s also a really unique and creatively-stimulating environment here. UAL is made up of six equally-renowned colleges, and its access to cross-college and cross-disciplinary opportunities, networking and the opportunity to generally be surrounded by other creative people means there is always some kind of creative event going on. Wimbledon College has a really friendly and welcoming vibe. It really does feel like a community.”

So, what’s Amy advice for students considering a postgrad?

“If you’re thinking about postgraduate study, I’d say fully embrace every opportunity and throw yourself into your work. The year flies by so quickly and I think it’s really important to make the most of it. I’m genuinely sad this course is only a year; I could quite happily stay another year or two. But when I graduate in September, I hope to become a theatre designer, or something closely related.”

Alaa Kassim: MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts

Zoe Pritchard, MA Printmaking student at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL

“After finishing my BA in printmaking, I was still really excited by the artistic practice and wanted to expand my knowledge further. I was drawn to UAL because its MA has an excellent reputation, and I was impressed by the technical resources available to students and the technicians’ extensive knowledge.”

Zoe also shares how her postgrad has set her up for the future:

“The course outline and teaching methods here have really supported my way of learning. The postgrad course has given me deeper knowledge and understanding of printmaking techniques that are vital for teaching and running workshops, which is one of my career aspirations. My goal is to share my knowledge with people who may have not had access to the arts before.

“My course has already met my expectations and my art practice has flourished alongside my professional development. It’s helped me gain more confidence and has given me invaluable opportunities including teaching, running workshops, curating exhibitions, and meeting artists.”

When discussing her favourite part of studying at UAL, Zoe says:

“The real sense of community spirit among students and staff alike is one of my favourite things here. All the staff are extremely supportive and encouraging in all areas of university life. The postgrad community also means there’s always workshops, exhibitions, talks or artist visits. There’s never a dull moment.”

When offering advice for prospective postgraduate students, Zoe says:

“My advice would be to visit as many open days as you can. Get a real feel for the university and make sure you’re making the right decision for you. Also, take every opportunity that comes your way – you never know what doors it could open!”

Zoe also came on TSR to answer some of your questions - check out her Q&A here.

UAL offers over 100 postgraduate courses, including Postgraduate Diplomas, MAs, MBAs, MFAs in areas such as art, design, fashion, screen, media, communication and performing arts. Find out more about postgraduate study at UAL here.