Social Sculpture - September 2014


This course is run by the School of Arts

The MA in Social Sculpture is one of four taught postgraduate courses for artists, activists, cultural, social and environmental change practitioners, and sustainability, eco-citizenship and interdisciplinary practitioners offered by the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University.

It is one of four taught postgraduate courses for artists, composers and interdisciplinary practitioners offered by the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University. The other three courses are:

  • MA in Contemporary Arts
  • MA in Contemporary Arts and Music
  • MA in Composition and Sonic Art.

The course offers a special focus on social sculpture, agents of change and ecological citizenship, connective practices and cultural creative action. Alongside exploring strategies of engagement, and the relationship between imagination and transformation, it makes special reference to the proposals, projects and legacy of Joseph Beuys. The course also explores the broader field of expanded art practices, examining theoretical and philosophical frameworks; exploring the relationship of social sculpture to ecological sustainability; and developing practice-based methodologies and strategies as the basis for your own practice-based, interdisciplinary social sculpture and expanded art projects.


Why choose this course?

  • The School of Arts offers a unified hub for the arts in the Richard Hamilton Building, with state-of-the-art technical facilities and 24-hour studio access.
  • A special feature of all four interdisciplinary arts MA courses is the MA Forum, in which students and staff meet to discuss creative practice in a supportive and stimulating environment.
  • Innovative cross-disciplinary and socially-engaged creative practices, including internationally renowned programmes in sonic art and social sculpture.
  • A stimulating environment where creative practitioners and writers about the arts and culture work closely together to form specialist research units and interdisciplinary research clusters in areas including the Sonic Art. Popular Music, Opera and Social Sculpture.
  • Research and teaching programmes linked to some of Oxford’s leading cultural organisations such as Modern Art Oxford, Oxford Contemporary Music, and events such as the annual OXDOX International Documentary Film Festival.
  • You have the opportunity to spend a semester at one of the following institutions: the Bauhaus University in Weimar; Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam; or the Vilnius Art Academy.
  • The School of Arts has a thriving culture of practice-based PhD research students, linked to our specialist research units. Seventy per cent of these research students began on our MA courses.
  • Opportunities for international study, with students recently visiting the United States, Europe and Australia.

This course in detail

MA in Social Sculpture students take three compulsory modules - Creative Strategies, Research and Development and Contemporary Arts, and a fourth - in which they develop their Major Project related to their specialist concerns.

PGDip students take the three compulsory modules - Creative Strategies, Research and Development, and The Theories and Practices of Social Sculpture.

Modules may change from time to time; an indicative list is shown below.

Interdisciplinary modules

  • Creative Strategies is shared by all four MA courses. This module explores methodologies and strategies for generating contemporary and cross-art-form work, sonic art and musical composition, social sculpture and related expanded art practices. You are encouraged to become aware of your working process as a creative practitioner and to understand the influence that certain methodologies and strategies have on the kind of work that you do. Through individual and collaborative practice-based work, staff-led seminars and feedback discussions, attention is focused on how we generate practice-based work. Strategies that encompass the intuitive, spontaneous, interventionist, discursive and analytical are used, individually or in collaboration with others.
  • Research and Development provides the opportunity to identify an area of interest as a starting point for  investigation and speculation. You will develop project proposals through deliberate, rigorous and sustained research and exploration. The module emphasises practical research processes relevant to your own concerns.

Specialist module

  • The Theories and Practices of Social Sculpture focuses on social sculpture, agents of change and ecological citizenship, connective practices and cultural creative action. Alongside an exploration of strategies of engagement, and the relationship between imagination and transformation, it makes special reference to the projects and legacy of Joseph Beuys, whilst exploring the broader field of expanded art practices. You will have the opportunity to study the theoretical and philosophical frameworks that underpin these ideas, and to examine contemporary research and practice that explores the relationship of social sculpture to ecological sustainability and the shaping of a viable future. In addition, you will explore relevant practice-based methodologies and research strategies as the basis for developing your own practice-based, interdisciplinary social sculpture and expanded art projects.

At the end of the course there is an annual degree festival of the MA work. The Major Project is the culmination of your course of study. You can take an active role in organising, marketing and running the festival, which in previous years has taken place at a variety of sites in and around Oxford, as well as the University and exhibition spaces in the School of Arts.

Teaching and learning

Our teaching methods include:

  • seminars and lectures on creative practice and social sculpture
  • team teaching in group seminars, involving research methodologies for practice-based research
  • feedback from staff during group feedback sessions, in which staff  provide constructive feedback and analysis of your work
  • staff-led group discussions arising out of your practical work presentations
  • individual tutorials that address your research concerns
  • introductions to creative strategies for generating and making practice-based work, social sculpture and cultural activism
  • introductions to the School of Arts technical facilities
  • induction sessions with subject librarians.

The learning methods include:

  • regular forums where staff and students formulate and articulate responses to work
  • creative practice presentations
  • presentations of practical research
  • the researching and writing of reports, assignments and evaluations
  • private research and study
  • presentations to peers and group feedback.

The assessment methods include:

  • practical presentations of resolved artworks
  • written self-evaluations for each creative project
  • a written research portfolio
  • written assignments and reports
  • a final presentation of practical work as part of the MA Festival which includes exhibitions and events.

Specialist facilities

As a student in the School of Arts, you will benefit from excellent and well equipped facilities, 24 hour access to your own studio spaces and the help and support our team of practising artists and the other specialists in the field who work here.

The MA in Social Sculpture is situated in the Richard Hamilton Building, which includes a large lecture theatre, a smaller lecture room, studios and installation rooms, music practice rooms and a research room for postgraduate students. Access to the Richard Hamilton Building is available 24 hours a day for all arts students.

The department also has access to the drama studio where performances and installations can take place. This provides a live performance venue with versatile sound, lighting and staging possibilities, including surround sound, projections and raised staging and seating.

Arts related workshops and IT
Social sculpture students have access to well-equipped workshops run by technical specialists in Artists’ Books, Printmaking, Photography, Video and a range of processes including casting, metalwork and woodwork. General internet, email and office software are available as well as workstations with more specialist programmes including Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Audition 3.0; Sibelius 6; Cubase Essential 4; Pure Data; Hyperprism; GRM Tools and Composers Desktop Project.

Field trips

You have the opportunity to spend a semester at the Bauhaus University in Weimar; the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam; or the Vilnius Art Academy and well as volunteer and assist Social Sculpture Research Unit projects such as University of the Trees, Exchange Values and Earth Forum. 

Key facts


School of Arts

Course length

Full-time: MA: 12 months, PGDip: 9 months
Part-time: MA: 24 months, PGDip: 18 months

Teaching location

Headington Campus, Headington Hill

Start date

September 2014

UKPass code


Fees / Funding

Tuition fees

Home / EU full-time on-campus fee: £5,030

Home / EU part-time on-campus fee: £2,570

International full-time on-campus fee: £12,100

International part-time on-campus fee: £6,170

Where part-time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by approximately 4% each year.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

How to apply / Entry requirements

Entry requirements

The general entry requirements are:

  • a good honours degree, ie an upper second or first, in any subject
  • an internationally recognised qualification equivalent to a good British honours degree.
Applicants without a first degree, but with extensive experience in the arts or other disciplines relevant to our programmes may also be considered and individual courses may have additional entry requirements to these. Please contact the Admissions Tutor to discuss this.

Please also see the university's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Border Agency's minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements.Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

You apply for this course through UKPASS.

Once we have received your UK Pass application we will contact you to set up an interview, in person, or by Skype if you are not near Oxford.

At this point we will discuss further why you want to do this programme and will request to see previous practice. 

If you are not an arts practitioner we will need to hear about other work and experience, and understand how it equips you for this programme. 

Conditions of acceptance

When you accept our offer, you agree to the conditions of acceptance. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Careers and professional development


This unique programme enables students to develop excellent creative capacities, combining the rigour of a more traditional academic arts programme with innovative practical and vocational components which makes them  well placed for a variety of practice based or research careers in arts and sustainability, individual and community change processes, cultural and environmental activism and the creative sector as well as working as social sculpture or connective aesthetics practitioners.

Many Social Sculpture master's students who have developed their practice at postgraduate level continue as social sculpture practitioners or eco-cultural activists, whilst others develop careers related to their knowledge, expertise or interests, for example within social enterprise programmes, festival management, new technologies; arts administration; arts and music teaching, arts for health, ecological citizenship, and community cross artform and sustianbility activists.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.


How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Student Representation

The MA programme has a course committee meeting every semester which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the programme and academic planning, along with any changes to the programmes. The committee includes the course director, course tutors, the head of school and the subject librarian. The course committee also includes student representatives. The reps are also invited to attend the School Board meetings, which take place once a semester. An election for postgraduate student reps takes place at the beginning of Semester 1; reps normally serve for the duration of their time at the University. Student representation on the committee is important: it is the most effective way in which students can make their views known about the running of the course.

Personal tutor

Although MA students are not assigned a personal tutor, the Subject coordinato and Module Leaders are available to provide the support, assistance and advice that a personal tutor would offer at undergraduate level.

Programme evaluation

Evaluation gives you the opportunity to voice your opinions directly to those who teach you, and to make sure that changes are discussed in the light of your learning experience. It is therefore an important vehicle for student representation within the University and you are urged to make every effort to take part in course evaluation.

At the end of each module you have the opportunity to make a formal written evaluation of the content and teaching of the course. Many tutors also conduct an informal feedback session.

Tutors are committed to producing a digest of student evaluations and copies are given to student representatives or are available from the Subject Coordinator. Student feedback is taken seriously by staff and it often leads to changes in the way course elements are run. Staff undertake their own collective evaluation and student views are taken into account in their discussions.

You are given the opportunity to reflect on and evaluate the course at the end of your course. Your ideas and opinions are greatly valued, and you are urged most strongly to take a little time to fill out an evaluation form and if you wish to talk informally to a member of staff about your views on the course.


You may always seek advice and help about your work on specific units from unit and seminar leaders. Further advice on matters such as the choice of your Major Project and career possibilities may be sought from any member of the teaching team.

Student support co-ordinators are able to help with personal problems, but teaching staff may also be able to help; and certainly need to know if you are facing difficulties.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.


Research excellence

The four Interdisciplinary Arts courses are taught by a team of research-active practitioners. In the most recent research assessment exercise (RAE) 88 per cent of our work was judged to be of international quality in terms of originality, significance and rigour.  Our strong performance in the RAE has led to a 400 per cent increase in external research funding for the Arts at Brookes with awards from bodies including ACE, AHRC, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

Research areas and clusters


Our research centres provide a focus for research and a bank of expertise across the arts. They enable us to foster relationships with outside agencies and other academic institutions as well as facilitating debate and promoting interdisciplinary research within the University.


Interdisciplinary research clusters exist in the following areas:


Research degrees can be undertaking in the following areas:

  • Collaborative practice
  • Interdisciplinary and intermedia arts
  • Live art
  • Sound art
  • Art in architecture
  • Site specific installation
  • Social sculpture
  • Art, ecology and sustainability
  • Connective practices
  • Creative cultural action
  • Art and activism
  • Art and participation
  • The artist’s body
  • Performance art
  • Art theory
  • Curatorial practice