Arts and Ecology

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  • Focuses on the development of arts practice in the context of the climate crisis
  • Suitable for practitioners from any artform or creative discipline, including dancers/choreographers, musicians, story tellers, fine artists, installation artists, sound artists, architects and land artists, and those who see living and being as an art practice.


MA: 1 year FT, 2 years PT.
Other routes are available – see ‘Learning Pathways’


start date: April

2023-24 Term dates

Welcome Week: 19 – 21 April 2023

Term Dates

Term 1: 24 April 2023 – 16 June (Intensive: 24 April – 5 May)
Term 2: 3 July – 25 August (Intensive: 3 – 14 July)
Term 3: 11 September – 3 November (Intensive: 11 – 22 September)
Term 4: 20 November – 26 January 2024 (includes 4-day on-site assessment of Module 3 work, 20-24 November)

Term 5 – Major Project/Dissertation: 29 January – 22 March

Contact us for details of part-time programme patterns and deadlines.


2022-23 Term dates

Term Dates

Term 1: 25 April 2022 – 16 June (Intensive: 25 April – 5 May)
Term 2: 5 July –  25 August (Intensive: 5 – 15 July)
Term 3: 12 September – 3 November (Intensive: 12 – 22 September)
Term 4: 21 November – 26 January 2023 (includes 3-day on-site assessment of Module 3 work, 21-23 November)

Term 5 – Major Project/Dissertation: 30 January – 23 March

Contact us for details of part-time programme patterns and deadlines.


next application deadline

All upcoming application and decision deadlines can be found here.

Learning pathways

Our degree programmes are designed to suit the complexities of modern life, allowing you to live where you live and work where you work, whilst studying the subject you are passionate about as a member of our wide-reaching learning community.

Some qualifications are offered part-time – these are indicated below. Please note that we do not offer online-only pathways for this course.

To get the most out of their course and of being part of our learning community, many students choose a fully immersive experience for the residential taught periods of their course, staying on our stunning 1,200 campus on the banks of the River Dart with full board accommodation.

MAster's (ft/pt; 180 credits)

A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules and 1 x 60 credit dissertation or major project module. The taught (30 credit) modules are six weeks’ long. Teaching at Dartington is concentrated into two-week periods for each of the first four modules, with supported e-learning and independent learning inbetween.

MFA (ft/pt; Master's plus further study)

The MFA option involves a further 60 credits of study resulting in a significant, self initiated public outcome, performance, exhibition or publication. Participants will be drawn from our own MA programmes as well as those from other institutions.

Postgraduate Diploma (ft/pt; 120 credits)

A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules. Students taking the full-time option will study all four modules during the first two terms.  For full details on part-time pathways, please contact us.

Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)

A full-time programme with 2 x 30 credit modules. Students will study both modules during term one.

First module only (30 credits)

The first module from this course can be studied on a standalone basis, with 30 credits allocated per module.

To apply for the accredited single module option, apply in the usual way, selecting the ‘Module One’ option during the application process.

course content

Rather than a discipline-specific siloed approach, the Arts and Ecology programme engages students in problem-based and place-based learning. Any artist who is attentive in engaging with place will not only research and reveal environmental crisis but will do so in a complex, integrated and subtle fashion; the resultant work will avoid stridency and dogma, but will nevertheless inform, challenge, inspire and disturb in ways that only the arts can.

The MFA Arts and Ecology programme is designed for practitioners with an established practice, for artists working in any art form and for curators and producers. It aims to help these practitioners foster creative projects in the context of the climate crisis and the ecological, social, and ethical challenges we all face. The course takes a metadisciplinary approach and begins with the recognition that the world is alive and we can no longer act upon it as if it is inanimate. Through a series of themed labs utilising the interior and exterior spaces of the Dartington estate it enables students to develop their artwork.

Navigating and debating the varying definitions in this highly contested field, the programme encourages examination of arts and ecology as an academic field of practice. As well as theoretical, academic work, the programme provides an opportunity for arts practitioners to revisit and reshape their work through an ecological lens, supporting a broad range of creative forms and outputs. It encourages students to consider how creative outcomes developed on the programme can be broadcast to wide and diverse audiences. The programme is delivered through a series of practical and critical modules both in residence and through online learning.

programme structure & modules

Modules 1 and 2, and 3, run sequentially during term 1 and 2 with module 4 running concurrently but assessed at the end of term 2 this allows the modules to reflect and respond to each other. Module 5 runs for the whole of term 3 and is the final project for students exiting with an MA. For those wishing to undertake an MFA they will attend for a further 2 terms full time or 1 year part time. Below are draft modules, which are indicative only at this stage, though we hope to confirm more details soon.

Modules 1 and 2 run sequentially in term 1 (January – March) and modules 3 and 4 run sequentially in term 2 (April – June). Module 5 is a double module and runs for the whole of term 3. It is the final project for students exiting with an MA. For those wishing to undertake an MFA they will attend for a further 2 terms full time or 1 year part time.

Module 1: Introduction to Fieldwork

This module enables you to explore place-based and project-based enquiry and methods. You are reaching for a thorough understanding of how everything is connected. The module includes a foundational exploration of histories, theories, and methodologies in the field of arts and ecology. You will look at sites, systems and contexts and consider the relationship between arts and activism.

Module 2: Interdependent Systems

This module involves a deeper enquiry into the topic of interconnected systems (ecological, economic, social) and how they weave together. It moves towards metadisciplinarity and regenerative culture. You will explore how artists work in collaboration across disciplinary boundaries (science, technology, engineering, economics, etc.) to find rich ways of knowing and meaning-making.

Module 3: Beyond Human

This module ranges through contemplation of species, diversity, human consciousness, the more than human, trophic cascades, resilient adaptive systems, ecological balance, symbiosis, the expanded self, interspecies dialogue, the unmarked, ecocide, and empathy. It asks what is human without a notion of separateness. It considers how these enquiries can reflect into changemaking and networked learning.

Module 4: Trajectories

This module provides support for the student’s ongoing creative practice research and development in response to ecological concerns. It provides the foundation for the development of the major project / dissertation module.

Module 5: Major Project/Dissertation

This module supports the student’s growing arts and ecology artwork. Students will devise and negotiate an appropriate and relevant personal project which will enable them to demonstrate their practical, creative, theoretical and reflective practice. Through a process of negotiated project proposal, outcomes will be agreed and can take the form of a 15,000 word dissertation interrogating arts and ecology, or a creative project in the public domain, or a combination of both (50/50). Outputs from the module will evidence the depth of development and synthesis of knowledge from the programme.

Module 6: MFA Professional Project

This module is self-initiated from the outset and prioritises individual research, conducted under supervision with identified tutors and other mentors and external advisors considered essential to the study. MFA students learn from and contribute to the delivery of the module through their interaction with peers, tutors and the wider arts and cultural community. Emphasis is placed upon independence, originality, initiative and enterprise. Teaching and learning will be complimented by the wide range of visiting lecturers (e.g. artists, curators, ecologists, choreographers, directors, philosophers, performers composers, critics, producers, etc), providing the opportunity to discuss work with renowned experts. Students will develop individual opportunities with national and/or international venues, opportunities, agencies, etc., which may also result in working independently or at distance. Culmination of the module is the production of a substantial and resolved creative outcome that will be exhibited / performed / published and assessed in an appropriate public arena.

course delivery partners

UNESCO Learning Planet, Paris

Launched by CRI and UNESCO on the 24th of January 2020 on the occasion of the International Day of Education, #LearningPlanet is a growing, global alliance of organisations committed to learning and education. Its mission is to gather players from around the world in order to identify, celebrate, enhance and scale up innovative educational solutions towards sustainable futures that ensure the respect, well-being and fulfilment of oneself, the others and the planet.

CRI (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research), Paris

CRI is co-constructing and sharing new ways of learning, teaching, conducting research and mobilizing collective intelligence in the fields of life, learning and digital sciences, in order to address the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Cyland, St. Petersburg

Founded in 2007, CYLAND is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the intersection of Art :: Tech through an annual international festival, visual exhibitions, sound art, video art, and educational programming. Over the years, CYLAND has brought together artists, curators, engineers, educators and thinkers to create amazing projects around the world.

entry requirements

Qualification(s) required for entry to the MA

BA (Honours) Degree: A first degree in an arts, or humanities subject. All applicants will be required to present examples of relevant work. Where the first degree is not arts or humanities-related, a portfolio of work will be required in support of the application or experience that is equivalent and demonstrates interest or track record in related field.

Other non-standard awards or experience: A willingness to engage with the field of Arts & Ecology. Candidates will be considered with prior credited learning and prior experiences subject to interview.*

Interview requirements: All applicants are required to attend an interview, either at the School or online.

*For further information please contact our admissions team at


For full details on our fees, plus information about scholarships, student loans and bursaries, click here.



Alan Boldon

Alan Boldon is a practising artist and CEO of the Dartington Trust. He specialises in arts and ecology and systems thinking.

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Mike Edwards

Mike Edwards

Dr Mike Edwards is Senior Lecturer for MA Arts & Ecology. He has worked in the climate change and broader sustainability fields for much of his career.

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Natasha Rivett-Carnac

Natasha Rivett-Carnac

Natasha Rivett-Carnac is Curator of Arts and Ecology at Dartington School of Arts. She has been working in the arts and culture space for 20 years.

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Tom Rivett-Carnac

Tom Rivett-Carnac

Tom Rivett-Carnac is Associate Faculty for MFA Arts and Ecology at Dartington School of Arts. He s a political lobbyist for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and an author on climate change policy.

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Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas

Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas

Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas are Associate Faculty for MFA Arts and Ecology. Urbonas Studio have an interdisciplinary research practice that facilitates exchange amongst diverse nodes of knowledge production and artistic practice in pursuit of projects that transform civic spaces and collective imaginaries.

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The arts sector is increasingly concerned with the issues stemming from the climate crisis. This course will give creative practitioners deep, practical and long-lasting understanding of the issues facing the sector and ways to develop your own practice along these lines with real projects in mind. 

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latest news & blogs

New Arts and Ecology podcast kicks off

New Arts and Ecology podcast kicks off

In April this year, the MA Arts & Ecology returned to Dartington with a renewed focus on the development of arts practice in the context of the climate crisis. Now the team behind the masters programme have launched a new podcast about the vital role art and...

read more

Top image credit: Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas. Mycomorph Lab. Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies. Installation detail. XII Baltic Triennial, CAC Vilnius, 2015. Photograph by Giedrius Ilgūnas.