MA /MFA Art and Social Action Part Time

The MA/MFA Art and Social Action is a postgraduate programme focused on trans-disciplinary practice and thinking that privileges collaborative approaches to production and creative approaches to social transformation, emphasising the capacity of arts practice to imagine our world differently.

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Duration: MA - 3 trimesters (1 year) Full-time   MFA - 4 trimesters - Full-time

Starts: September 2024

Credits: 90

** Partnership rate of up to 30% of tuition fees is available through Creative Skillnet for this Programme **

What to Expect

This MA is suited to graduates from multiple backgrounds who are committed to developing their creative practices to address social issues, spatial injustices and civic life through community collaboration, public intervention or collective action.

Engaging with theory and practice, and delivered by a diverse team, this programme provides its student cohort with dynamic educational experiences in local and national contexts; across and beyond academic boundaries, to develop their practices in response to their own research and engagements within diverse contexts, including urban and rural place-based sites, temporary and online communities, and public and cultural settings.

Part time applicants will be required to be in Dublin one day a week to attend the taught programme. In year one class is on Monday, and in year two class is on Tuesday.  This means that their practice could be situated anywhere on the island of Ireland. While the early phases of practice on the programme will require the applicant to be based in NCAD to access in-person teaching, applicants will be able to undertake major projects in the 30 credit capstone module in settings of their own choosing. This would allow a successful applicant from abroad to undertake a capstone project in their home setting and to be supported remotely with occasional visits to Dublin.

Opportunities to Engage

Socially engaged artists, designers, activists, educators, community workers from diverse backgrounds with distinct benefits for peer-to-peer learning and breadth of experience. Based in an EU capital and taught through English, Dublin offers a significant arts infrastructure and arts community, strong cultural heritage and tradition across art forms, including a well established and thriving field of contemporary collaborative/socially engaged art practice. The location of NCAD, based in the heart of Dublin with long-standing connections to national and local practice, and a connection to multiple civic society and cultural organisations and institutions.

Vagabond Reviews

In 2023, guests Dr. Ailbhe Murphy and Dr. Ciaran Smyth of Vagabond Reviews led the module ‘Research Methods for Art and Social Action’ on the MA/MFA Art and Social Action. Vagabond Reviews is an interdisciplinary platform that seeks to bring the two registers of art and research together by developing creative and collaborative models of knowledge production, representation and distribution through a combination of art practice, research strategies and critical review.

Educational Standard

All applicants are expected to present an approved Bachelor degree at minimum level of 2nd class honours (2.2)

Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements may be considered on the basis of prior work or learning experience (RPEL). Candidates may be required to pass a qualifying examination set by the relevant department before being accepted to a Masters degree programme. Attendance at selected undergraduate lecture courses at NCAD, together with related written work may be prescribed. 

You may apply for the programme if you are currently completing your Undergraduate Degree. NCAD will review the rest of your application If necessary, we can make you a Conditional Offer. When your degree is completed and you send us final transcripts we will upgrade this to a Full Offer. 

Essential Supporting Documents

  • A Statement of Interest - A Statement of Interest - 500 written words or a 2 minute video/audio file framing your reasons for applying to the programme.

  • A recent CV

  • Certified transcripts of previous programmes followed

  • Certified copies of degree / certificates and/or other appropriate third level qualifications bearing the official stamp of the institution.

  • Reference 1 (Academic - Head of School/Department preferred)

  • Reference 2 (Tutor or Current/Recent Employer)

  • Portfolio / Evidence of previous work:
    • Applications must be supported by documentation that best represents your practice.
    • Applicants are requested to upload a document via the online application with access to a portfolio/collection of documentation of your previous work. This document can include a link to an on-line portfolio or a link to a folder on Google Drive.
    • Whatever your background or discipline, we do require evidence of previous work undertaken. What you include will depend on your experience and background. Whether you are coming from a background in art, education, community work, theatre, dance, youth work, music, architecture, activism or other related areas,  feel free to submit any material you feel showcases an aspect of your practice and skill-set that is relevant to the programme you are applying for.
    • We are open to reviewing written work, short video presentations, or any form of documentation of a project, including that which is theoretical or technical in nature. Some candidates may chose to describe projects they have been involved with in a "case study" format, eg. for the MA in Art and Social Action, you could consider writing or presenting a case study of a project you have been involved in, outlining the intentions, methods, approaches and challenges that were encountered and your role in the process. 
    • There is no set requirement on the number of pages, images or projects that you share with us - this is up to each individual applicant.

Document Description

When uploading documents please make sure you clearly label them using the Description Box like in the example below 

English Language Requirements 

All programmes in NCAD are taught through English. International Applicants are asked to provide proof of their English Language Proficiency.

Full details of acceptable tests and the standard required can be found at the following link English Language Requirement.

The Art and Social Action programme has been designed to support the professional practice needs of a range of learners. Although not a narrowly vocational programme, it recognises the value and importance of ‘real world’ learning, and so features modules which are offered in formal partnership with external organisations including Create – the National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts. 

Although students may choose to develop projects which constitute a deep investigation of theories of social-engagement in art, it is expected that the large majority of students on the MA/ MFA programme will engage directly with different stakeholders to realise public projects. As such, the programme is committed to supporting the acquisition of skills required for successful professional practice in art as well as in related fields such as education, public programming in museums and galleries and community based arts.


For information on tuition fees please follow this Link

There is a fee of €4,500 per year

There is an application fee of €55.00*


Step 1: Click on Apply Now button below | Step 2: Fill in your details

Step 3: Upload your Supporting Documents

  • You can also submit your application even before you upload the necessary documents. 

  • You can not add new documents after you have submitted. 

  • Additional documents can be sent to and we will upload them on your behalf. 

Step 4: Pay the application fee & submit your application to NCAD*

  • If you are applying for multiple Postgraduate Programmes then you are only obliged to pay the application fee once.

    • Complete your application as far as the fee payment page

    • Click save + exit

    • Email and let us know you are ready to submit and we will submit the application on your behalf. 

  • NCAD Graduates are not required to pay the application fee. 

    • Complete your application as far as the fee payment page

    • Click save + exit 

    • Email and let us know you are ready to submit and we will submit the application on your behalf. 

Programme Team

Dr Fiona Whelan

Dr Fiona Whelan is an artist, writer, educator and Programme Leader of the MA/MFA Art and Social Action at NCAD, teaching across all trimesters to support the development of students’ practices. Fiona’s own arts practice is committed to exploring and responding to systemic power relations and inequalities through long-term cross-sectoral collaborations with diverse individuals, groups and organisations. These processes are rooted in complex relational networks and typically accumulate over time through a series of public manifestations, including text-based, visual, performative and dialogical artworks.

Brian Hand

Brian Hand is an artist and educator. At NCAD he is Head of the Department of Sculpture and Expanded Practice and a core lecturer and tutor across all trimesters of the MA/MFA Art and Social Action. He has a deep interest in post-colonial historiography and the challenges of historical representation, his art practice is broadly concerned with creatively exploring and researching events in the past that can potentially disrupt a secure sense of the ‘present/future’, making temporary public work and time-based installations.

Dr Emma Mahony

Dr Emma Mahony is a programme leader and lecturer in the school of Visual Culture at NCAD. She teaches the modules ‘Critical Discourses in Social Practice’ and ‘Spatial Politics, Spatial Practice’ on the MA/MFA Art and Social Action. Emma’s current research investigates how publicly funded cultural institutions and grass roots community organisations adopt commoning and ecofeminist strategies to resist and rewrite the neoliberalisation of the public art sector in Europe.

Sarah Edmondson

Sarah Edmondson is a visual artist, museum and gallery educator, and lecturer at NCAD who leads the ‘Critical Pedagogies’ module on the MA/MFA Art and Social Action. Primarily concerned with the evolution of knowledge,  Sarah’s work is informed by her dual role as an artist and cross-generational art educator, critically analysing her supposed position of expert power in different contexts and communities.

Contact the Admissions Staff

Camille Rocca