Thinking of Postgraduate Study in the Creative Arts?

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Artists and musicians have long been among the most popular and respected members of Irish society. Ordinary people rely on artists and musicians to brighten up their lives. Art and music transcend boundaries on all levels – geographical, cultural, social, economic and political – and the artistic expression and musical creativity of a nation can have a direct impact on its social and political spheres.

Though it can be hard to break into the world of creative arts – and even harder to obtain a well-paid career in the industry – the pursuit to succeed can be just as rewarding for individuals in this area as the success itself. Thus, those who have the talent and are willing to put in the time and effort required should not give up on their dream. Many are called, but few are chosen. And those who are chosen usually go down in history. Taking a creative arts course at postgraduate level gives the student time and space to hone their skills, receive expert guidance and tuition, meet other like-minded artists, and open up opportunities that can lead to a creatively rewarding and fulfilling creative arts career.

Entry Requirements

Entry onto a postgraduate course in the creative arts field is usually reliant on the candidate already having an undergraduate degree in their chosen discipline. On very few occasions, an artist who can demonstrate an exceptional skill or proficiency might be accepted, but this does not happen often. Most courses will ask for a demonstration of your ability in advance – by submission of portfolio, by performance, or by interview. The standard required at postgraduate level is often very high, and competition for places on courses can be tough. References from previous lecturers are usually also required.

Courses Available

Postgraduate courses are available in all of the many and varied artistic disciplines. The different fine arts disciplines provide many options for postgraduate study – from ceramics to fashion design, design communication, and sculpture. More theoretical subjects such as art history and visual communication are also offered at various third-level institutions around the country. Music provides rich pickings for postgraduate students, with a large number of different specialities and options available – everything from composition to performance, Irish traditional and technology. Drama and dance courses are also on offer in specialised postgraduate departments.

Potential postgraduate writers also have a number of different options, such as journalism and creative writing. Students more interested in analysing the media can choose from disciplines like film & television or media studies. Creative postgraduates with the technical skills and interests can look to postgraduate opportunities which feature new media technology. Irish third-level institutions offer programmes from multimedia systems to TV & video production.

Research Areas

The creative arts offer the postgraduate research student many options. Individual students can undertake research projects in many facets of the different disciplines and add to the existing body of work already undertaken with their own personal stance. Some research programmes at postgraduate level in creative arts subjects can include a taught element, where students learn skills such as research methods, business or IT subjects, which will be useful for their particular research project and their future career prospects. Creative arts postgraduate research students are usually assessed by a final project, which is submitted at the end of the course. If the student is concentrating on the history or theory of their particular subject they may deliver a written thesis, while others may produce a performance or work of art as the culmination of their project.

Career Paths

Job prospects in the creative arts can be unpredictable and postgraduate courses do not serve as apprenticeships for career paths in the way that accountancy and IT courses do. However, they do give a solid grounding in the chosen subject, allowing the student to concentrate full-time on their art, writing or music. The university sector is always important for nurturing and developing creative talent. Taking a postgraduate course can keep you within a structure, such as moving onto a PhD and possibly even into teaching, which can help creative artists reach their full potential. Other ways of making money in the creative arts sector include royalties and advances from publishers, paid employment as freelance writers/artists, cash prizes from competitions, and bursaries from organisations.


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  1. Hikmat Marahatta 16th June 2019 at 8:59 am

    how can i enroll for the course.

    1. Gemma Creagh 4th September 2019 at 12:07 pm

      Hello Hikmat,

      This article is actually a broad description rather than a course in itself. Each of the courses we list are run by a separate training provider, so your best bet is to narrow your field down to the postgrad you want, then contact them directly about what you need to apply (eg. Portfolio, transcripts etc). Here’s a list of courses broken down by category:

      All the best!

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