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Fine Art

stuart-birdMichaelis offers a vibrant mix of Fine Art study with courses in Studiowork, Foundation, Discourse of Art, Theory and Practice of Art in addition to a range of Humanities electives. Studiowork majors include Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Photography and New Media developing conceptual, critical and creative thinking about contemporary art practice. In addition to the majors in studiowork, electives are offered in third year including options in Videography, Animation, Curatorship, Lithography, Screenprinting, Computer Aided Design, Physical Computing, Social Responsibility and Historical Photographic Processes. Study at the postgraduate level is research led.

Michaelis is staffed by some of South Africa’s leading fine artists, curators and art academics. Internationally, the school is recognised as one of South Africa’s foremost institutions for the study of fine art and new media at an advanced level.

During their studies students have access to an impressive range of resources and facilities and Michaelis’s location on UCT’s Hiddingh Campus – adjacent to the historic Company’s Garden – ensures that students have access to many cultural institutions and heritage resources, including the Iziko South African National Gallery, the South African Museum and the National Library of South Africa, as well as some of the country’s leading commercial art galleries and creative hubs.

Michaelis currently offers the following Fine Art degrees:

Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art

The BAFA degree programme is one of full-time and specialist study. Students who register for this programme will be required to take studiowork and academic courses which are taught on Hiddingh and Upper Campus. Over the four-year degree students are introduced to the studiowork disciplines of Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Printmaking and New Media, and work towards an increased area of studiowork specialisation. The broad aims of the programme are:

  • To offer students an enriching and intensive education which will enable them to apply their skills with confidence as artists and creative practitioners.
  • To provide students with relevant technical, intellectual and inter-personal skills, both within and across the specialist subjects.
  • To facilitate an understanding of fine art, its practice and its theory, in philosophical, critical and social contexts, both contemporary and historical.
  • To foster the originality of individual vision and the ability to express it.
  • To cultivate a very high degree of visual literacy and awareness coupled ideally with an ability to formulate ideas in speech and in the written word.

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Post-graduate Diploma in Fine Art

The Postgraduate Diploma in Art is offered to provide a coherent, graduate study path for artists and teachers who have Fine Art degrees and wish to upgrade their academic status, or who have not acquired degree status, but who hold recognised diplomas in aspects of the visual arts. The programme provides a framework for a one-year course of practical creative study, technical study or material research in a chosen discipline, process or medium.

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Master of Arts in Fine Art

The MAFA is intended for those wishing to pursue advanced study in an aspect of contemporary art discourse, or the theory and history of art. Although the submission is likely to contain illustrative material, this need not have been by the hand of the applicant and the degree is otherwise theoretical. Examination is by way of a dissertation.
A candidate must be registered for at least two years.

  • A candidate must work under supervision of the appointed supervisor;
  • A candidate must present at least one seminar paper to the Masters class during each year of registration;
  • A candidate must submit for examination a dissertation which makes an original contribution to knowledge in some branch of Fine Art;
  • The degree may be awarded with Distinction where the whole submission receives a mark of 80% or more;
  • Make sure to download and adhere to the following documents:
    • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),
    • Addendum to MoU,
    • MoU Michaelis Annual Supplement,
    • Masters Intent to Submit form.
  • Download the MAFA guidelines from the downloads page.

Master of Fine Art

The MFA is intended for those wishing to pursue advanced study in any one of the following disciplines: Design, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, or Sculpture, or an interdisciplinary course of study approved by the School. Examination is by way of an exhibition of creative work, and an accompanying dissertation.

This is a full-time, self-directed, studio-based research degree conducted under the supervision of a staff member at the School. Students are encouraged to work with a high-level of independence while fulfilling various tasks required as part of the process of research and making. The degree is of two years duration and students are expected to complete during this period. Studio space, Michaelis-administered bursaries and scholarships are only available for this period. The focus of the research project in the MFA is the practical work. It is, however, essential that students read, write, and develop skills in the analysis and contextualisation of their practice.

  • A candidate must be registered for at least two years. Studio space will be made available for no longer than two years.
    • A candidate must work under supervision of the appointed supervisor;
    • A candidate must present at least one seminar paper to the Masters class during each year of registration;
    • A candidate must submit for exhibition a body of creative work which makes an original contribution to the selected field of art. This work must have been produced during the time of registration and not have been previously exhibited;
    • Work submitted must be photographically documented and described in a composite document, which must include a written explication of the theoretical basis of the work;
    • The degree may be awarded with Distinction where the whole submission receives a mark of 75% or more.
  • Download the MFA guidelines from the downloads page.

MPhil specialising in Fine Art

The Master of Philosophy in Fine Art is offered where specialist interdisciplinary research extends outside the usual master’s degree or where the degree confers a formal professional status. Examination is by way of a dissertation, and where appropriate, an exhibition or presentation of related creative work.

PhD specialising in Fine Art

Applicants must have the required academic background and submit an acceptable research proposal for which supervision is available. In Fine Art the application should include presentation of a body of work integral to the proposed course of study. The proposal should indicate the candidate’s plans for executing and presenting his or her creative work. A candidate for Art Historical Studies should have at least an upper-second-class pass in Art History honours or honours in a cognate field.
Acceptance is on the recommendation of the Head of Department and selection is based on the assessment of the research proposal and the availability of suitable supervision.

Examination is by thesis. In Fine Art the thesis may incorporate creative work integral to the overall argument. The creative work may comprise an original portfolio, installation or other audio-visual display, which together with the written component of not less than 40,000 words, forms a coherent whole. Otherwise a PhD thesis should not exceed 80,000 words.

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