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MA in Social Practice & the Creative Environment (Level 9)


What is Social Practice?
On the MA in Social Practice and the Creative Environment (MA SPACE) we have defined Social Practice as embedded in broad social goals, networks and cultural practice, it is an art and design practice that involves engagement with communities of interest. It requires the democratization of the relationship between creative practitioner and public and a sharing of ‘expert’ and ‘lay’ knowledge. Social Practice involves the valuing of difference as well as the need for shared understanding and agreement; it focuses on the skills, knowledge and understanding that people have innately in their private, family, community and working lives. Social practice has a broad range of forms and working methods which are not limited to but can incorporate both collaborative or transgressive actions.

It is not always important that Social Practice be recognized as ‘Art’ or ‘Design’ by its audience. The form of practice adopted by the postgraduate will be developed by the individual’s active research and project choice; they may use various methods and approaches as the situation dictates; any combination might be used with the intention of creating significance.

How do you define the Creative Environment?
“Artistic research and development is intrinsically linked with the changing role of the arts and artists in European societies. There is a strong trend in arts practice to move away from the classic way of looking at the artist, especially when operating in the public domain. Performers, designers and visual artists play key roles in interdisciplinary project teams. As an integral and recognised part of these new ways of working, artists, designers and performers increasingly need to be equipped to shape new knowledge and to embed this into academic and public domains.” (The European League of Institutes of the Arts - Strategy Paper May 2008)

What does the MA SPACE programme offer?
The MA in Social Practice and the Creative Environment is a programme which answers contemporary needs. Social Practice as a recognised discipline is strongly situated in current critical and theoretical art and design debates and writings. The contents and outlook of the MA respond both to current art practices in Ireland and the rest of Europe, and also constitute a viable outcome of current theoretical debates in the place where art theory and practice meet as praxis. From a historical perspective, a programme which deals with issues such as understanding of physical and social environments, social interaction, transaction and exchange, community concerns, history and culture, marks the shift from postmodern psychologism to a renewed social and collective dimension in aesthetics and art practice.

In practice, MA SPACE is a critically engaged programme which uses the city and region as a catalyst. The philosophy of the programme is driven by the focus on the region as a site for investigation and civic engagement. In this context, MA SPACE offers the city of Limerick as an urban resource for postgrads, a lab within which they can engage in social art and design practice.
MA postgraduates will immerse themselves in a challenging seminar programme which supports their engagement in a range of theoretical dialogues encompassing the position of artists, designers, cultural practitioners and other engaged disciplines in contemporary society. The seminar programme is supported by guest speakers from local and national stakeholder groups, and the research project opportunities will be in part generated by them. MA SPACE also has a high profile panel of visiting artists and practitioners, both national and international. We have invited curators, commentators, architects, engineers, sociologists, urban planners etc., as well as specialist creative’s, artist and designers who work in this field. Each visiting lecturer presents exemplars of their social practice, illustrating the diversity of the practice, or comes to share their disciplines frame of reference on this increasingly complex subject.

Who is providing this programme?
Masters of Arts in Art and Design; Social Practice and the Creative Environment is a Master of Arts programme, provided by Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), Limerick, Ireland.
It is validated by the Higher Educational and Training Awards Council (HETAC) and internationally recognised.

Where will the MA programme take place?
The programme is based at and is hosted at LSAD’s new Research Hub in George’s Quay Campus, George’s Quay, Limerick.

How long is the programme?
One year (October – October) full time.
See below for part-time options.

How is the year structured?
The year begins in September and ends in September. Semester One runs from September to January and Semester Two runs from January to September. In July and August students may continue their project work through independent study. The final assessment is at the end of Sept.

What is the level of attendance required?
Full-Time: Postgrads are required to attend lectures, seminars, classes and tutorials for three days each week (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays). The postgrads are expected to work independently fulltime on coursework at least another two days outside of the college contact hours.

Can I participate part-time on the programme?
Yes there are three possible options;

Indicative Part-time Attendance on the Programme – Option One
Take Module One and Two in your first year – ten week commitment of two and a half/three days per week. Take Module Three Four and Five in the Second year.
Indicative Part-time Attendance on the Programme – Option Two
Take Module One and Module Three in your first year. This is a twenty week commitment of two days per week. Take Module Four and Five in year two.
Speak with programme staff and custom design your own part-time programme based on a module by module structure over a longer time frame.

What are the components of the programme and how are they credited?
Each of the five modules carries credits, adding up to 90, in accordance with European standards and has its own mode of assessment.

Module 1: Commentaries – Critical Grounding, Taking a Position (15 credits). This module comprises a series of lectures complemented by student-led brief presentations. It introduces students to the critical thinking underpinning contemporary art and design practice and its relationship to social and cultural issues.
Module 2: Transactions, Roles and Research (15 credits). Module 2 looks at the different roles, ethical and logistical responsibilities involved in a social practice project and includes visiting lecturers who are practitioners.
Module 3: Practice – Analyse, Contextualise, Assimilate (15 credits). Delivered by guest lecturers, this module looks at case studies of art and design practitioners with a focus on social engagement.
Module 4: Social Practice: Major Project (25 credits). An exciting opportunity to engage with a community or a situation or space and deliver a socially engaged art or design project.
Module 5: Documentation: Critical Reflection and Evaluation of Major Project, involves documenting and reflecting on the chosen social practice project. (20 credits).

How are the five modules related?

The first stage of the course is structured around three modules which provide critical and theoretical frameworks current in the field of social practice. They are designed to fuel your practice, by providing the context for engagement in a variety of social contexts, as well as bringing students face to face with key artists, designers, policy makers, agencies and brokers of public situations, who will put forward models of best practice. The first stage of the course supports the second stage which comprises the major project and its documentation. It places the student as a practitioner working in her or his chosen area of interest to carry out a project (module 4) which you then analyse, document and present (module 5).

Who are the Visiting Lecturers?
Since 2010 the Visiting Lecture List includes the following National and International exemplars of best practice; New York based Artist and Educator Pablo Helguera; N55 Danish Artistic Platform; UltraRed Los Angeles, Berlin, NewYork, London, based Art Activist Group; Finish based Collaborative Artist, founder member Complaints Choir, Oliver Kotcha-Kallenin; Basurama, Madrid based Design Collective; Gareth Kennedy, Visual Artist;. Brian Flemming, The Spectacle of Defiance and Hope; Gerard Byrne, Visual Artist; Yvonne Cullivan, Socially Engaged Artist; Dr. Pauline Conroy, Sociologist; Owen Boss, Nua Productions Theatre Company; Ailbhe Murphy, Collaborative Artist, founder of Vagabound Reviews; Jesse Jones, Visual Artist; Paul Sullivan, Static Gallery Liverpool; John Comisky, Theatre Director; Kaos Pilots, Danish Social Design; Bikvanderpol, Dutch Collaborative Art Practice Wochenklauser, Danish Artist Collective; Superflux, UK/India based Design Company; Gideon Koppel, UK based Film Maker; Dr. Adam de Eyto, Sustainable Designer and Researcher; Sarah Browne, Artist; Sarah Tuck - Director of CREATE; Cliodhna Shaffrey, Independent Curator; Dr. Eileen Humphries, Sociologist/Researcher; Caroline Campbell - The Irish Visual Artists Rights Organisation (IVARO); Phillip Delamere, Arts Office, Roscommon County Council; Dr. Luigina Ciolfi, Research Officer, Interaction Design Centre; Rurairi O’Cuiv, Public Arts Office Dublin City Council; Liz Burns, Director Fire Station Artists’ Studios; Maria Brett, Arts in Health Artist; Mary McCarthy, Director National Sculpture Factory; Catherine Atkinson, CREATE; Noel Kelly, Director of Visual Artist Ireland; Kath Gorman, Programme Manager, Cork Midsummer Festival; Annette Moloney, Independent Curator; Pat Collins, Filmmaker; Eamonn Maxwell, Lismore Castle Arts; Bronac Ferran, Sustainable Design, Royal College of Art; Roddy Bucannon, Scotish Visual Artist; Jennifer Moroney Ward Director, Northside Learning Hub; Alan Phelan, Visual Artist; Anna McLeod, Visual Artist. John Paul Dowling, Bristol based Graphic Designer; Thinkk Public, UK based Collaborative Design Company.

Can I run the major project at a location outside of Limerick?
This is possible where your research has indicated the suitability of a site.

Am I required to write a Masters Thesis on the Programme?
To answer we draw attention briefly to the difference between thesis and exegesis in order to clarify the nature of the research enterprise we have in mind. A research thesis is normally conceived to answer, address and create a proposition that is advanced through an argument. Alternatively, the idea of exegesis - the Collins English Dictionary defines exegesis as an “explanation or critical interpretation of a text” – which is more suitable for practice-based visual arts research, involves documentation that contextualizes the work and helps to critique and give direction to theoretical ideas. In terms of delivering the exegesis students may also find their own form – for example a blog, video diary, journal, visual response or written response.

What will it cost?
Current academic fees (inclusive of registration, student services fees, and exams) are: Full-time €4,000 for Irish and EU students. For International Student Fees please contact the LIT International Office at international@lit.ie. International Student Scholarships available.

Part-time students pay pro-rata depending on the number of credits taken each year. A credit is approximately €45; therefore a 15 module credit costs €675 approximately. There are a total of five credits on the programme, consisting of; three 15 credit modules, a 20 and a 25 credit module. The three 15 credit modules must be undertaken before completing the 20 and 25 credit modules.

Where do I look for postgraduate student grants?
If you are resident in Ireland you may be able to apply to your local authority (County or City Council) or local VEC.
Assessment of your eligibility is solely between you and the grant authority.
Also see tax relief for third level fees here.

What are the visa guidelines for Non-EU applicants?
For further information on student visas, see the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Student Visa Guidelines.

What qualifications do I need to apply? Minimum Entry Requirements:
Candidates entering the course must have: A minimum 2.2 honours degree in their chosen Art, Design, Humanities, and/or related fields of study e.g. Architecture, New Media, the Performing Arts, Multi-Media etc
Equivalent qualifications including the pre-NFQ NCEA National Diploma. Applicants with equivalent qualifications on the European and International frameworks will also be considered. International students must evidence a proficiency in English language.

All qualified candidates will be interviewed in order to assess their interest in or previous experience in the area of Social Practice, and their potential contribution to the group dynamic.

Applicants will also need to undergo Garda Vetting. All Irish arts organisations commissioning artists working with young people, children or vulnerable adults, are required to complete the Garda Vetting Procedure form. As a matter of course all students on MA SPACE are required to complete a Garda Vetting Form to be returned to the Institute. Garda vetting documents are available here.

How do I apply for MA SPACE?

Please complete the Application Form and email it to muriel.dinneen@lit.ie

or post a hard copy of your application to:

Muriel Dinneen,
School Administrator,
Limerick School of Art and Design LIT,
Clare Street,

What do I bring to interview if I am called?
You may bring a number of things to your interview if you are called, this could include; artworks, publications, writing, references, evidence of your understanding of, practice involving or interest in, Social Practice.


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