MA by Project - MA

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Why study this course?

Our MA by Project is a master’s degree that offers you the opportunity to develop a research project based on your own unique and distinct practice. This arts-related course will offer you the skills and support to position yourself as a practitioner or to take your next step towards doctoral research. The course draws on the multiple subject areas of The Cass, offering both an interdisciplinary context and the subject specific expertise of project supervisors from across the School.

More about this course

The MA by Project is an innovative multidisciplinary research degree that gives you the opportunity to set your own agenda as a practitioner / researcher. You’ll be introduced to the theoretical, methodological, and practical tools with which to undertake an independent research project as preparation for doctoral study or professional practice.

Through one-to-one supervision and a series of seminars and forums you’ll be supported to pursue an individual practice-based research project, making your own work central to your programme of study throughout the duration of the course. Research outputs may take many forms including made objects in a variety of media, performances, exhibitions or live events, a portfolio of work or a text-based output.

Research projects can be developed in all of the Cass subject areas including architecture; curating; creative writing; fine art; furniture and product design; film and animation; graphic design and illustration; interiors; photography; silversmithing and jewellery; textiles and theatre and performance. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the course, supervisors will also welcome project proposals that work across or combine any of the above disciplines.

For more detailed information on the course programme and modules, please see the Programme section.


At the end of each semester work is submitted for assessment.

Fees and key information

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Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • an honours degree in the subject of the project

Applications are also considered from those with degrees in related disciplines and those with related professional or BTEC qualifications.

Consideration will be given to those without standard entry qualifications who have gained non-certified experience through prior learning, provided evidence is given that this is commensurate with entry qualifications for a postgraduate course.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Modular structure

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2018/19 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Monday evening

    This module forms the significant and vital bedrock for the main project work within the course. It requires students to undertake critically self-assessed study that is normally studio-based, from which their later work will develop. It is expected that the work at this stage will form a coherent enquiry that is inventive, reflexive and that engages with relevant contexts and theories of practice as identified by the evolving research project.

    This module aims to:

    • facilitate a sustained and focused exploration of key aspects of students’ agreed programmes of work, thus furthering exploration of and experimentation with research methods and strategies for planning, acting, observing and reflecting;

    • allow students to sustain and progress an agreed area of research that demonstrates a capacity to reflect upon, analyse and assess their methods and processes;

    • facilitate exploration and experimentation in relation to the agreed project in practical, analytical, and reflective modes and to modify the project as appropriate.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning

    The main focus of this module is the development of personal practice that establishes the basis for the student’s output in their major project, which will be developed into a substantial body of work including, if appropriate, for public presentation.

    Through the thematic context set by the studios (Master of Fine Arts (MFA)) or individual student (MA by Project (MAbP)) at the start of the year, students will be expected to propose and test out a range of propositions to identify and develop their practice. They will explore approaches to work through technical and conceptual explorations, contextualising their practice in group presentations, seminars and discussions. Students will be encouraged to participate in outward facing activities, such as, exhibitions, blogs, workshops and live projects, which will enable them to understand through direct experience some of the complexities of the social and cultural functions related to their field of study.

    Students will be encouraged to understand their work in the contexts of contemporary networks and opportunities for a presentation and reception of research and practice outcomes. The development undertaken in this module will make use of the learning achieved in the concurrent (or prior for part-time students), module ‘Research for Practice’ (MFA) or ‘Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design’ (MAbP).

    The strategic aim of the module is to provide students with the opportunity to develop their personal practice, focusing on testing, development and planning.

    The module aims to:

    • develop students’ practice and enable them to question conventions and set their own agendas as artists or designers;
    • encourage dialogue, exchange, experimentation, heuristic learning and professional practice;
    • encourage a proactive approach to finding opportunities for and organising live projects and events;
    • support students to identify their ambitions and enable them to develop skills and ideas required to complete a significant research project, exhibition work or design proposal;
    • prepare students with the necessary self-reflective skills to tackle the challenges and demands of a contemporary practice;
    • develop students’ ability to reflect on process and contextualise practice in writing (MAbP)
    • encourage experimentation in form of reflective writing (MAbP);
    • provide students with an educational framework from which they can explore and understand the social, ethical and sustainable responsibilities associated with their developing practice;
    • prepare students fully for the conduct of the following major project module.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Monday morning

    This module provides an introduction to research in Art, Architecture and Design, and is particularly suitable as an introduction to creative practice-based and creative practice-led research. It offers research training that can be used as preparation and foundation for MPhil and PhD research and the development of professional practice. Research approaches suitable for practice-led disciplines are introduced and written work will make use of scholarly conventions.

    The module explores the nature and definitions of research in art, architecture and design based disciplines. Students are introduced to interdisciplinary research methods from a range of perspectives. Understanding of research is demonstrated through the development of a research proposal, and through practical exploration and experimentation conducted, recorded and analysed as a research project.

    This module aims to:
    • enable students to understand what is meant by research in art, architecture and design;
    • furnish students with the intellectual skills to enable them to develop a research proposal for M level and doctoral level research;
    • furnish students with the critical skills to explore the ways in which they may analyse their own work within appropriate intellectual frameworks;
    • develop students' abilities to reflect on their practice and their understanding of the relationship between practice and theory;
    • engender understanding of the research project through experimentation and practical exploration;
    • engender an open and experimental approach to the development and use of research methods;
    • enable students appropriately to use formal research methods, conventions and apparatus.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start)
    • summer studies - Thursday afternoon
    • summer studies - Thursday morning

    This module supports the completion of the individual research project. It builds towards the completion of a body of work for final submission.

    This module supports the completion of project work across the final phase of full-time and part-time study. Reflection upon practice and review of the overall direction of project work, research questions, aims and methods are important aspects of this stage of the course. The project will be completed to an appropriate standard and presented in a manner consistent with the project aims, agreed by the appropriate course team and subject supervisor. A submission of project work is made along with a critical and evaluative research report (6-8000 words).

    This module aims to:
    • enable students to complete a research project within a supportive academic context and research culture;
    • enable students to present an agreed body of work in order to demonstrate an appropriate level of attainment, professionally and intellectually, which may contribute to continuing professional practice or further studies;
    • enable students to reflect critically on their practice in order to realise their personal objectives and understand the methods by which they have been achieved;
    • enable students to demonstrate precision in the use of materials, techniques, and forms;
    • facilitate critical thinking and analysis to support the realisation of the project and an understanding of its social, cultural, philosophical, and ethical dimensions;
    • enable students to engage with a range of critical debates and vocabularies applicable to their approved programme of work.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Monday afternoon

    This module examines a number of key perspectives from which students may explore the contexts and implications of their own practice and the works that they produce. Seminars encourage group discussion of a range of theoretical frameworks, and their controversies and criticisms, through examination of selected texts and projects.

    The module culminates in the production of an essay on themes and issues identified as relevant to the student’s own practice and evolving research project, through negotiation with the student’s supervisor.

    The module aims to:
    • enable students to refine their understanding of debates and issues which are integral to their project;
    • further develop and consolidate critical and analytical thinking;
    • define understanding of the relation of theory to practice (and practice in relation to theory);
    • enable students to engage with a range of critical debates and vocabularies applicable to their work.

    Read full details

After the course

The MA by Project will help you further your practice, cultivate your professional profile and explore new careers in the creative fields. You'll be encouraged and supported in building your own network of contacts as your progress towards the next stage in your career.

Past students have used the MA to launch new businesses as well as further their careers in a variety of professions. The MA by Project provides the opportunity to progress the theoretical development of your practice to a higher level and is a suitable base for the development of a PhD.


From the outset, you’re encouraged to think about your practice as a process of research. The Research Methods module explores the nature and definitions of research in art, architecture and design based disciplines. You’ll be introduced to interdisciplinary research methods from a range of perspectives, and your understanding of research will be demonstrated through the development of a research proposal, practical exploration, experimentation and the recording and analysing of your findings as a research project.

The Sustainable Practice module offers you the opportunity for wider interaction and collaboration with your peers. You’ll make important connections between your own area of practice and the wider concerns that cut across subject disciplines, audiences and markets. By understanding the context in which your practice operates, you’ll better position your research in an identified professional field.

Through the Theoretical Studies module, you’ll have an opportunity to interrogate the relationship between theory and practice, and to consider what it might mean to “practice” theory. This builds upon the Research Methods module to engage with theory as a critical methodology, which will inform the development of your research project. You’ll examine a number of key perspectives from which you may explore the contexts and implications of your own practice and the work that you produce. Seminars that examine selected texts and projects will encourage group exploration of a range of theoretical frameworks as well as their controversies and criticisms.

The Project Development module offers an opportunity to develop your personal practice with support from an assigned supervisor and developing conversations amongst fellow researchers. This project development establishes the basis for the major research project output.

Throughout the summer study period (or the second year for part-time students) you’ll work towards the completion of the Research Project. This is a substantial body of work that will include a public presentation and may take the form of made objects in a variety of media, a performance exhibition or live event, a portfolio of work, or text-based output. This work is accompanied by a critical and evaluative report which draws upon the personal investigation of methodology, theory and context.

Additional costs

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

How to apply

Initial enquiries can be made to the Course Organiser, Danielle Hewitt, at

Please submit the application form, which is available online, with a portfolio of work related to the proposed project if this is appropriate, and a brief outline of the project.

When to apply

You are advised to apply as early as possible as applications will only be considered if there are places available on the course.

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