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Course overview

The Ecologies pathway is part of our MA Art and Design programme. It takes ‘ecology’ in its widest, philosophical sense to mean the study of connection and interrelationship. It is intended for art and design graduates who wish to develop the ecological dimension of their practice, and for humanities or science graduates who are interested in how ecology and visual practice can inform one another. It is a research-preparation Masters programme that can be taken either as a theory–practice or a purely theoretical route, and is taught in conjunction with the Philosophy pathway.

Course content

The Ecologies pathway focuses on the capacity of art and design to generate ways of acting and making that explore the connection between self and world, and enhance our relationship with others, where the ‘other’ might be, for example, an animal, a community or a location. Subjects covered extend from environmental questions of participation, landscape and place, to economic and philosophical questions of embodiment, work and institutional critique. We also incorporate ecological theory and practice in the design of the seminars and assignments, by considering the forms they might take and the relationships they might create. Other core elements include:

• Key thinkers and concepts in the philosophy of ecology, from Plato to the present
• Aesthetics as ecology
• Contemporary debates in the art, design and philosophy of ecology, for example (to give three):
    – A world of objects versus a world of relationships. What’s the difference?
    – What can the senses teach us about our immersion in the world?
    – The possibility of ways of acting, making and thinking that do not rely on a dualistic, subject–object worldview.

Training in a series of cross-disciplinary research methods is given, and there is thorough engagement with key concepts and questions in ecology as it applies to art and design. From February, in the second semester, readings, seminars and workshops are tailored increasingly to the ecological interests of the group.

As an Ecologies MA (Art & Design) student, you will develop your own creative, theoretical and practical abilities, as well as a critical insight into your chosen area of ecological enquiry. You will work towards a certificate in academic research skills, and attend a series of research seminars. Your period of study will culminate in the presentation of new, practice-based or theoretical work, and the writing of a dissertation. More particularly, the Ecologies MA (Art & Design) will encourage you to develop your practical and theoretical interests in relation to a body of work whose raison d’être is rooted in social and cultural relevance. To achieve this, you will:

• Formulate an original, professionally designed and managed project that extends your knowledge, understanding and practice of ecology in relation to art, design, and philosophy.
• Reflect on the knowledge, skills and understanding that you need in order to develop this body of work.
• Familiarize yourself with a range of contemporary research positions within the field.
• Be involved in debate and discussion relating to art and design ecologies at an advanced level.
• Toward the end of the course, produce a high-level final exhibition of practice-led or theoretically- situated outcomes and academic scholarship that synthesizes the knowledge, skills and understanding acquired on the programme.

Staff teaching on the Ecologies MA (Art & Design) programme are actively involved in producing or writing about the ecological dimensions of art and design. They bring this knowledge and experience to the programme, entering into an ongoing dialogue with you in order to develop and strengthen your professional practice and intellectual outlook. On completing the programme, you will not only have a better understanding of the ecologies of art and design, but will also be able to contribute to wider social, cultural and political sectors by working as an artist, designer, communicator, entrepreneur, facilitator, administrator, teacher or researcher.

We anticipate that some of our Ecologies MA (Art & Design) graduates may choose to pursue their research to doctoral level, enrolling for a PhD at Cardiff School of Art and Design or elsewhere.

This programme is offered in both full-time mode (one year duration) and part-time mode (two year duration). In both cases, the programme is delivered on one day per week during the first and second semesters (October to June). You will be expected to be self-directed at all other times, negotiating your own programme of learning with your personal tutor.

Career potential:

Graduates of the Ecologies MA (Art & Design) programme are well placed to pursue their career as communicators in a variety of professional or creative industries contexts, including art or design practice, arts administration, journalism, marketing, new media, publishing, and social enterprise. Others may seek to develop their careers in education and academia, for example, teaching, lecturing or further research.


Dedicated studio space for those engaged in full time practice. Cardiff School of Art and Design offers an extensive range of spaces, workshops and equipment, creating a vibrant and creative learning environment, within a new purpose designed building and a fully renovated extension. Workshop and technical facilities include a foundry; and access to other workshops across the full range of Art and Design disciplines. Cardiff School of Art and Design has a wide range of tools and equipment for use by students; necessary workshop training in their use includes access to materials used as part of timetabled workshop inductions. You also have access to and use of recycled materials within workshop areas.

Indicative Coursework Costs for those engaging in Practice

If you engage in practice during the MA, you will need to purchase materials for individual projects used in studio and workshops as appropriate. Please note that costs will vary depending upon the scale and individual requirements of your work. Typically we suggest that you budget £600 for such projects during the MA Art & Design Programme.

Other Additional costs

Additional costs will be incurred for the one-off purchase of personal tools and equipment (particularly any personal equipment appropriate to your own field of practice or enquiry) and study trips if you participate in these. Other costs such as printing, the purchase of textbooks; and cost of optional placements will also need to be accounted for. Please ask your Programme Director for specific guidance when you accept our offer of a place.


Assessment is though a combination of portfolio review, essay, viva voce examination, dissertation and a final body of theoretical–practical work.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a good BA (Hons) (or equivalent) in a related field.

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Our Students' work

The 2014 Masters Exhibition was held between 6th and 12th September 2014. On show was work from our Master of Fine Art (MFA), MA (Art & Design), Master of Design (MDes), MA Ceramics and MSc Advanced Product Design programmes. View the 2014 Masters Exhibition online catalogue here.

Below is a list of other related courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Visit the courses page for the full list.
Postgraduate Certificate in Research Skills: Art & Design (CRS)
Ceramics - MA
Master of Fine Art (MFA)

Cardiff School of Art & Design is home to 1200 students, united by ambition and a true passion for creative enquiry. We are makers and thinkers in the fields of fine art, design, architecture and a range of craft practices. We have workshops and studios that ensure our students can operate as professionals from the moment they start their studies.

Why choose CSAD? Read three big reasons here.

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Our next Undergraduate Open Day for 2015/16 entry is 3rd June 2015.
Visit the Open Day web page for more information.

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