MA Graphic Arts
Please note that new student recruitment to the part time route of this course has been suspended for the September 2021 intake. Applications for 2022 part time should be made from October 2021.
Page last updated 8 February 2021
The course attracts a broad range of students from the UK, Europe and beyond, and is an exciting mixing pot for creative ideas and collaborative experience.
This creative and experimental MA in Graphic Arts brings together graphic designers, illustrators, and individuals from related industries to engage with communication design practice at a deeper level. You will research, investigate and debate the nature and dynamics of communication, and explore how they can produce meaningful outcomes using conventional and unconventional forms.
You will develop your design process: from creative strategies for generating ideas; gathering and analysing information; producing text; to producing final outcomes to industry standards. Skills development is embedded throughout and a vital re-skilling stage, a series of technical workshops delivered by experienced technical staff, ensures you are up-to-date and industry-ready.
Students value the experience and expertise of staff and the extensive, cutting-edge facilities and workshop areas covering digital and traditional print, media, film and animation, fabrication, photography, and apple mac suites.
This course is based on Bristol's historic waterfront at the Arnolfini. Situated above this internationally renowned centre for contemporary art you will be at the heart of Bristol's creative and cultural community, with access to UWE Bristol's City Campus and all it has to offer.
Engaging with industry
You will benefit from the opportunities generated by the University's strong links to the creative and media industries. Regular guest speakers from industry and live collaborative projects provide invaluable opportunities to gain real-world knowledge and experience. Our students continue to perform well in both local and national awards and competitions.
For examples of work by current and previous postgraduate students please visit our course blog: withnoroof.
Watch: The learning and teaching experience
The course will offer you the chance to extend your practice and explore new areas in the changing world of industry and design. Learning to be independent, to research effectively, to question and to be critical, and to sustain practice for the long term.
Students learn up to date technical skills in design for print, web, motion graphics, and fabrication.
Introduction to Graphic Arts (30 credits)
This module introduces the subject through practical work and debate. You will consider and reflect on your initial perception of graphic arts and your own motivations for investigation, study, and practice within the broad scope that it offers. You will familiarise yourself with the resources available to you and begin to negotiate a programme of independent study.
Research Practice (30 credits)
Primarily concerned with building academic skills, this module offers a series of choices, each of which has specific sets of concerns related to the practice and theory of art, media and design. These options are: Research by practice; Critical Research and Research in Enterprise (in the Creative Industries).
Analysing Practice in Graphic Arts (30 credits)
You will explore and consider the different forms available to visual communicators, including print, screen and 3D/environmental outcomes. Through individual proposals you develop your work responding to a given text. Technical skills workshops enable you to explore the subject further and experiment with your ideas.
Developing Practice in Graphic Arts (30 credits)
This module builds upon your skills as a practitioner and seeks to develop concepts and ideas through an understanding of the self and critical position. You will research and submit a proposal for the development and realisation of a body of practical work that continues to the final module. There are also collaborative and day projects with invited guest speakers.
Extended Practice in Graphic Arts (60 credits)
You will undertake to produce a self-directed body of work with a choice of media, that shows your ability as an innovative and creative visual communicator, capable of creating meaningful and interesting content for an identified audience. The body of practical work is complemented by a substantial evaluation report which contextualises your particular approach to Graphic Arts.
The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.
Learning and Teaching
You will be based in the department's Graphic Design studios at one of our city centre locations. You will study through a combination of one to one tutorials, group tutorials, seminars, lectures, technical workshops and day projects. Initially there are set briefs to assist you in writing your own study proposal for the MA stage.
For more details see our glossary of teaching and learning terms.
Students may join the course either full-time or part-time. A semester is a period of study and generally runs September to January and February to May/June.
Full time - the course is delivered on two main days a week and students typically study for three semesters over 18 months.
Part-time- students study for six semesters over three years with one day a week contact time.
You will be assessed by a combination of practical and written work at the end of each module.
For more detail see our full glossary of assessment terms.
The course offers occasional day projects on location with invited speakers. In the past we have held a language workshop with the poet and BBC broadcaster Ian McMillan; concept workshop with architect Carlton Bodkin at Birnbeck Island; a collage workshop at Bookbarn International, Bristol, and a workshop with the Centre of Voice, Bristol. Students value the industry insight and opportunities to make connections during these sessions.
As an MA Graphic Arts student you will have access to extensive workshop facilities and highly skilled, dedicated technical staff. You will have increased access to specific workshop areas as you tailor your programme of study to your own individual needs.
The City Campus at Arnolfini occupies the top three floors of the Arnolfini building on Bristol's harbourside and offers studio and teaching spaces for Graphic Arts students. Computing facilities and student support services are available. Visual Culture modules and a range of guest lectures are delivered here as well as at other sites within the City Campus.
You are able to access the range of resources available at other City Campus sites, including Bower Ashton. Bower Ashton houses the main library supporting the creative and cultural industries, student support services, as well as the extensive resource base that make up the technical resource areas.
As well as computer and digital media laboratories, the facilities include: comprehensive video and animation resources; cutting-edge print studios incorporating letterpress, screen and digital wide format; photographic workshops and studios; and fabrication for traditional contemporary materials, including laser cutting, electronics and robotics.
Photographs from our technical workshops can be found on our MA Graphic Arts Flickr Gallery.
Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.
Live projects and competitions
Students working with motion graphics and animation have had the opportunity to collaborate with MA Animation students, pitching ideas for the BBC Food and Farming Awards, and also working on live projects for the Shark and Coral Conservation Trust. Other live design projects have come from the Committee of University Chairs, UK.
Our students continue to perform well in awards and competitions e.g. winning the Mark Magazine's 50th cover award, Amsterdam; shortlisted for the Situations Book Cover Design prize in Bristol; Clarke Willmott young artist of the year award, Bristol; and 11th Francisco Mantecon International Poster Design Competition, Spain.
Showcase your work
Careers / Further study
Many of our graduates enter or continue employment in the creative industries as freelance designers whilst others run their own companies or work for large clients. Recent graduates have taken up positions at: The Creative Place Ltd, London; Graham & Green, London; and Proctor & Stevenson, Bristol. Others have secured work producing packaging design for supermarkets like Asda and Lidl. Some work in the education sector at Universities and Colleges in this country and beyond including University of Liverpool, University of Gloucester, Southampton Solent University, Filton College, Weston College, plus institutions abroad.
Students can also progress to PhD study at UWE and elsewhere.
Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.
We are looking for highly motivated students with skills and experience in graphic design, illustration or related subjects. Usually applicants will have an undergraduate degree, but applicants with other qualifications or professional experience are also encouraged to apply.
For country specific entry requirements, please find your country on the Country Information pages.
As part of your application we ask for a personal statement (approximately 500/600 words) with detailed responses to:
- Why have you decided to study for an MA at this point in your career?
- How you see your work and its link to Graphic Arts research? (practical, theoretical or both)
- What are your creative influences and how do these frame your thinking?
- What creative work or collaborations have you initiated yourself? (professional or personal)
- How do you see yourself working in the future?
All applicants are carefully reviewed and shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview. Interviewees should be able to show a portfolio of their current practical work that includes evidence of developmental stages and process, as well as final outcomes. We look for an awareness of current debates within design and a commitment to developing original content for the production of new work. Skype or telephone interviews will be arranged for international applicants.
English Language Requirement
International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).
*The University accepts a large number of UK and international qualifications in place of IELTS. To find details of acceptable tests and the required grades, please visit English Language requirements.
English language support
If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.
Read more about our pre-sessional English programme.
How to apply
We accept applications throughout the year but if you are working to a funding deadline, you should build this into your application process.
For further information
- Email: Admissions@uwe.ac.uk
- Telephone: +44(0)117 32 83333