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Undergraduate Studies
Graduate Studies

MFA Fine Art/MFA Digital Art

The aim of this programme is to produce advanced art that actively engages with contemporary society and the public sphere.

What to Expect

The MFA Fine Art programme is aimed at artists and recent graduates who want to advance their art practices, engage with the relationships between contemporary art and theory and consider what art might be in relation to today’s social, cultural and political situations. The MFA programme recognises that contemporary art is transdisciplinary in spirit, contributing to the diversity of life today. It supports a range of practice-based inquiry across the fields of contemporary art including public art, performance, moving image, digital media, painting, print, sculpture, expanded and emergent practices. Themes addressed by MFA students include bodies, objects, spaces, images, gender, sexuality, language and immaterial labour. Students are encouraged to develop their individual research pathway in finding new ways of making, modelling and situating their projects in relation to the spectrum of contemporary art discourse and practice and wider audiences. The spine of this programme is centred upon an experiential art practice engagement with structured components that explore research methods and lectures in contemporary art practices. The advanced study required at masters level is delivered by leading practitioners in the field, including artists, curators, writers and other relevant professionals. The core components of the course are the studios and technical facilities, project spaces, written elements and critical seminars where students present and test work and reflect on their approach to materials and the theoretical and historical frameworks informing their practices. In their final year of study MFA students produce a major practice project for public exhibition, and also choose between working on a collaborative exhibition project or an extended writing project.

Opportunities to Engage

These programmes have their foundations in a consistent commitment to the ‘publication’ of practice through exhibition. These moments of public exhibition are visible in interim opportunities to test work within and outside the academy, and in the public exhibition of the student’s major research project at the end of their studies with invited responses from curators. MFA exhibitions and events have been developed in a variety of locations and venues such as Rua Red, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Solstice Art Centre, the Lighthouse Cinema and the Point Depot and are a significant feature of the Dublin and Irish cultural landscape. The programme is developed around a pathways model that affords specialism in relation to known and expanded conceptions of contemporary art. You choose engagement with a range of discursive seminars and lectures across areas of socially engaged practices, digital world perspectives, theoretical coordinates and interdisciplinary components - some drawing upon our close relationship with University College Dublin. Regular field trips to major international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, Liverpool Biennial and Glasgow International and alternative art venues are a core part of the programme experience in addition to a programme of visiting lectures and masterclasses with international artists and art professionals. Recent contributors include Alan Phelan, Jaki Irvine, Michael Hill, Lívia Páldi and Georgina Jackson.

Programme Team:

The MFA team, based within the School of Fine Art encompasses a wide variety of specialisms and skills across the field of contemporary art. These include painting, print, the moving image, object based, participatory and expanded forms of sculpture, performance, physical computing and art writing. It is their ongoing effort to resource their research, to develop and exhibit work and to be a part of contemporary debate in all its forms, that are understood as critical to contributing to an effective and informed teaching culture. The MFA Fine Art hosts a Studio Award scheme, for different international artists to contribute to the programme each year. For 2020-21 the resident artist is Lee Welch.

For further information contact:
Professor Philip Napier:
Dr Sarah Durcan:

Dr Sarah Durcan

Dr Sarah Durcan is a lecturer in contemporary art practice and theory. She is the author of Memory and Intermediality in Artists’ Moving Image, forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan, 2021. Her practice and research interests include ‘documentary fictions’, moving image, art writing and contemporary painting practices. She has exhibited widely internationally, supported by Arts Council of Ireland funding and residencies. Recent projects include the curated screening The Memory Image in collaboration with aemi and the IFI and publication. She is a contributor to Extended Temporalities (2016), Moving Image Review & Art Journal and Screening the Past.

The School also offers:

MFA Art in the Contemporary World (with the School of Visual Culture): Students who successfully complete taught elements of the MA Art in the Contemporary World can proceed on the basis of a suitable portfolio to a second year of studio based study towards an MFA degree.

After Your Degree

An MFA qualification is generally accepted as a prerequisite for further professional development in art and related fields. The alumni of the MFA at NCAD have gone on to pursue a variety of careers as artists, curators, academics, doctoral researchers and entrepreneurial arts professionals in expanded fields. Ireland has a vibrant visual arts sector that embraces contemporary art museums, formal gallery spaces, private galleries, artist initiated/artist run spaces. Dublin is home to a smart, dynamic, curious, friendly and youthful population that contributes to its reputation as an active, engaging and outward-looking European city. Irish culture has an international profile across the arts in literature, music, film, theatre, visual art and architecture that combines rich traditions with youthful risk taking innovation.


The programme is open to graduates with an honours degree award of 2.2 or higher, or an equivalent academic or professional qualification in a related discipline. The College also takes into consideration prior learning and experience. English language: Students who have not been educated through English must show proof of achieving IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6 in the writing section on the academic version) or an equivalent score in another recognised English language assessment.

MFA Fine Art/MFA Digital Art

Duration: 2 years
120 ECTS credits/Taught masters

Apply now:
Programme Contact

Philip Napier:

MFA Fine Art
Sarah Durcan:

MFA Digital Art
Leah Hilliard:


To find out more about the entry requirements, application process and tuition fees visit –