VA7039 - Public Encounter

What will I learn on this module?

Public Encounter facilitates the development of skills and competencies necessary for the realisation of a sophisticated art practice, including the successful execution of challenging forms of artistic expression and presentation, and critical reflection upon them. The module will consolidate the diversity of experimentation that you have developed across the course, allowing you to integrate your principal theoretical concerns and artistic processes by creating a challenging public-facing project. Throughout the module you will intensify and focus your understanding of what motivates your practice by questioning and reflecting upon the processes and concerns that animate it. You will be able to confidently identify and utilize your key research strengths through engaging in critical debate and evidencing your independent research in reflective writing integrated into your exhibition submission. To assist you in this progression to establishing an independent, professional ‘voice’ there are opportunities to have discourse with high profile artists, writers and curators as visitors to the programme plus access to a broad range of researchers via the weekly lecture series and regular themed BxNU symposiums. Ultimately, from this source of ongoing personal and collective investigation, you will be empowered to articulate your practice in an appropriate manner and to present it within an exhibition, symposium and publication in collaboration with your peers. The aim of this module is to enable you to confidently position yourself as an emerging practitioner in whatever area of practice you choose to specialise in, with an appropriate knowledge base to pursue an independent and sustainable creative practice.

How will I learn on this module?

In this module, the academic teaching takes a number of forms, each designed to encourage you in your learning and to enable you to work and act with your peers to build a shared learning environment that is supportive, collaborative and outward-facing. Teaching in this module will offer some flexibility enabling you to build your pathway through the specialist research-led teaching offered by the academic team. Seminars reveal timely themes and discourses and take practical and creative forms, academic workshops focus on applied learning through instruction and rehearsal, and group crits foreground peer-based discussion, negotiation and critical reflection. Your learning in these sessions is collective and cross-cohort, supporting you to establish strong links and maximise the collective resource of your peer group. Tutorials with members of the academic team provide you with ongoing focused feedback on your work and practice, while external visits connect you with networks, collaborators, sites, venues and resources. Central to your learning on this module is the provision of collective and flexible studio space, which you are encouraged to organise, curate and develop with your peer group.

Technical teaching in this module is also selected choosing from specialist areas of photography, print, construction, casting and fabrication, video, sound and digital imaging.

In this module, your engagement with the BALTIC Research Exchange culminates in a professional public-facing symposium with academics, curators and educators from BALTIC and potentially network connections that you have initiated during your study.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You are supported through ongoing formative academic feedback of work in progress through tutorials, group tutorials and group critiques. Your studio tutor provides you with regular assessment of your progress through tutorials and supports you in working towards both the module aims, assessment briefs, and your own person goals. Written and verbal feedback at the end of the module supports your academic progress by assisting your reflection on and awareness of your achievements during the course. Pastoral support is available through your guidance tutor who can assist you and help you to access all relevant sources of academic and non-academic support through the University’s Student Central. MFA academics work closely with the University disability advisers to ensure those students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties are fully supported. Additional bookable and drop in study skills support is available through the Northumbria SkillsPlus Programme at the City Campus Library and via MyNorthumbria. In line with the University’s equal opportunities statement, all students that are confirmed with a disability are given every support to enable them to meet their full potential on the course. Meetings with the Module and Programme Leads offer the opportunity to discuss course and related matters. All MFA academics can be contacted via email and have regular in-person consultation and feedback office hours.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

The ability to advance and refine your artistic concepts through the practical production, logistical negotiation, and development of appropriate methods of dissemination in the completion of a public-facing project.

Evidence critical awareness in the contextualization of your own practice demonstrating awareness of a broad understanding of contemporary art practices.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

Demonstrate effective decision making and commitment in the application of your research methodologies towards the production of a critically responsive written submission.

Produce a sustainable body of artworks that evidence your abilities to work both independently, as well as openly and constructively with others in ways that are appropriate to the pursuance of a professional career.

The ability to utlilize and develop appropriate technical skills as required by your creative research agenda.

Develop clear articulation of your ideas and research concerns orally within the learning environment and within writing.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

Work within the Ethics processes and requirements relevant to a final public exhibition

How will I be assessed?

Summative Assessment
On completion of this module your assessment is summative. You are asked to demonstrate the development of your studio practice through the presentation of a highly resolved body of artworks (75% weighting), demonstrating clear decision making in relation to the development of an ambitious body of work which can effectively communicate to a public context. A concise, edited research portfolio is also required as part of this submission to elucidate key features of your research process (MLOs 1,2,3,4,5)

You will also be required to prepare and present at a BALTIC Research Exchange symposium. Your presentation can be innovative in form developed in ways appropriate to the contextualisation of the thematic concerns of the work you are presenting as your public output (25% weighting). Within the presentation you will be required to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the critical and communicative skills required for the professional dissemination of your artwork within the public arena. (MLOs 2,6)

Formative feedback

On a regular basis you will receive critical feedback delivered in sensitive and constructive ways that are imbedded into all aspects of the module delivery. You will benefit from hearing several perspectives on your evolving practice, through one-to-one tutorials, group critiques and seminars where diversity of opinions is offered in order to stimulate both risk-taking and independence of thinking. (MLO 1, 2, 5, 6)

The teaching methodology encourages strategies for you to achieve the highest levels of autonomy and objectivity necessary post-graduation (MLO 2, 4).

Engagement in seminars and professional workshops will facilitate the development of your skills of articulation, self-analysis and criticality. (MLO 6)


Practising Research Yr1, Sem 1: and Co-Production Yr 1, Sem 2 or equivalent

Art Worlds in Yr 2, Semester 1



Module abstract

This module encourages creative and critical exploration of the plural forms and presentational contexts of contemporary art practice. These include, but are not limited to, object-making, performance, and dialogical and collaborative processes as presented within gallery, street, virtual or other sites of exhibition. All these are supported within the MFA research environment. Public Encounter provides a framework for you to produce a highly resolved body of work, culminating in either an extensive group exhibition or through an alternative initiative that is appropriate to the social intentions of your practice. You will test the core questions and strategies active in your practice through ongoing conversations with staff, peers, and visiting artists and theorists and devise a final exhibition, symposium and publicity material with input from BALTIC’s curatorial, communications and technical teams. A rich studio culture supporting debate and experimentation will assist you in developing a mature approach to professional practice.

Course info

Credits 60

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years full-time

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2021

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Courses starting in 2021 are offered as a mix of online and face to face teaching due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Students will be required to attend campus as far as restrictions allow. Contact time will increase as restrictions ease, or decrease, potentially to a full online offer, should restrictions increase.

Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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