Doing Things Differently

We’ve been listening to what our students and applicants have to say about studying for a degree in the creative arts, and have decided to make some exciting changes to our undergraduate degree programmes. So if you’re joining us to start a degree in September, here’s a summary of the unique benefits of our creative courses

  1. Life-shaped learning:

Students will benefit from a compressed timetable

We recognise that our students are busy people. Many juggle jobs and family commitments. So, we take a blended approach to learning with the majority of time on campus on a compressed timetable and some elements of learning online, so that you can protect your family/work time. You will also be supported with online resources so you can catch up and revise. Of course, you will have access to our world-class facilities throughout the week, however, this way you can plan your time.

2. Build your Creative Identity:

Our courses are designed to help you find and grow your unique creative voice.

We focus on a nurturing/coaching/mentoring approach to learning and teaching. Once you’re a creative you’re always a creative. But how do you keep building and growing? Creativity requires resilience and mental strength. We have designed unique creative, reflective processes that will support you to see the patterns in your thinking. Using bespoke designed course planners, you will regularly use journalling techniques to support your creative identity development. Journalling is also known to support good mental health and wellbeing. Our programmes are shaped around the unique interests of our learners with projects forming the majority of assessments. You are located in a studio environment where you will develop the confidence to give and gain feedback from your tutors and peers so that you can grow and develop your personal resilience.

3. Fuel your Career:

Who you know as well as what you know!

Career development is built into your course from day one. Creative industries are growing faster than all of the economy with 1 million+ new jobs by 2030. We focus on supporting our students to develop the skills to compete in this dynamic environment.

On our courses, in year 1 and 2 you will study short, practical modules to give students a full understanding of how to build a career in the Creative Industries – you will focus on your specialist area but also explore the wider environment. In year three you will produce a portfolio as you develop your own unique professional identity. Throughout you will:

      • Gain behind-the-scenes insights, knowledge and build professional connections
      • Meet alumni in great jobs who can help you find your feet as you leave

4. Creative for Life:

Almost 30% of our students tell us that they are driven to study here because of their love for the subject.

Some of our students already have a career or want to work in adjacent areas (from marketing and PR to management) but they want to fulfil a lifelong ambition to develop their creativity. We fully embrace this ambition. We know that being creative will enhance your life in so many ways, and we create opportunities for you to develop your professional networks and your skills in areas such as funding applications or developing commissioning opportunities and outlets for your work. So, we support you in pursuing your passion alongside your career.

5. Find Focus and Flow:

Our course is designed to help you find your flow and creative focus.

Have you heard of the concept of flow? It’s how creatives to do their best work. We have taken lots of feedback from students. They find it challenging to study many modules at once. When you are fully immersed in a task and are fully present creatively new ideas emerge. You will grow creatively. We have designed our courses so you will only ever do two modules at one time. Most time is spent immersed in your creative studio with your tutors, specialist technical team, industry practitioners and peers as you learn through making and doing. This way, we help you get into your creative flow.

6. International Perspectives:

Our courses are designed to give you an international perspective from Teesside as well as opportunities to study abroad.

Being able to work and collaborate internationally will help you grow your career. Creative Industries are global! Our school has partnerships in Madrid, Milan, Prague, Rome through to India, Singapore, China and Turkey. We provide opportunities to work digitally with students studying internationally, to collaborate on projects or to travel and experience another country while progressing through your course. We actively encourage student mobility and support you in taking up these opportunities. We also identify and encourage students to enter competitions nationally and internationally to help you to gain recognition for your work.

7. Creative Making and Experimentation:

Risk-free experimentation is built into every semester allowing you to try things out and build new skills through MIMA Creative Week.

Throughout your working life you will need to keep experimenting, learning and trialling new things. We celebrate creativity by running a Creative Week where you go off timetable every semester so you can learn new skills and experiment creatively. From podcasting, studio photography, filming in a green-screen, screen printing to animal drawing – we have lots of opportunities for you to work in specialist facilities across our school to discover and develop new skills.

8. Becoming Digital:

Our future facing courses support you to be digitally confident and curious.

Every year new digital tools change creative production. Our students don’t just need to learn new software, they need to learn how to stay flexible and adaptive for a digital future. 

You will have access to a range of devices loaded with creative software to explore. All our courses adopt industry standard software. MIMA Creative Week offers a range of short, intensive digital courses. In-person content is backed up by material on our virtual learning platform, meaning that you can go back to view material at your own time.

All of our programmes are supported by Adobe with Teesside being the first European Adobe Creative Campus and we’re recognised as an Apple Distinguished School for our pioneering commitment to digital teaching and learning. We provide opportunities for students to gain accreditation via Microsoft, Adobe and Apple, to enhance future career prospects.

Here are the courses that you can study with us to benefit from this new and exciting approach to learning:

BA (Hons) Comics & Graphic Novels

BA (Hons) Fashion

BA (Hons) Fine Art

BA (Hons) Film and Television Production

BA (Hons) Graphic Design

BA (Hons) Illustration

BA (Hons) Interior Design

BA (Hons) Journalism

BA (Hons) Music Production

BA (Hons) Photography

BA (Hons) Sport Journalism

If you’d like to speak to a member of our team to find out more about studying in the School of Arts & Creative Industries, email and we’ll get straight back to you.

Art & Design Facilities video

Media Facilities video

Our ongoing journey

These developments have grown out of much discussion with staff and students and we will keep innovating and developing in the future- we’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback

Curating Happiness

George Vasey, Senior Lecturer in Curating at Teesside University, pursues happiness in the form of an exhibition

How do you curate an exhibition on the theme of happiness? Let me answer. With great difficulty. The subject of happiness has evaded the brightest minds. When my former colleague Laurie Britton Newell and I co-curated the exhibitions Joy & Tranquillity at Wellcome Collection, London in 2021 we were quick to understand our limitations. Let’s just say, spending two years studying the topic of happiness during the unhappiness of the Covid Pandemic was an illuminating experience. With this exhibition we really met our match with this vast and complex theme.

The exhibition recently toured to the Deutsches Hygiene Museum in Dresden, opening as Hello Happiness. Visiting the show on the opening, and seeing much of our original research, brought memories flooded back. On Happiness is expertly curated by Isabel Dzierson supported by the consultancy of myself and Britton Newell.

Deutsches Hygiene museum in Dresden. Photo: Oliver Killig

Working as a curator leaves you with lots of random facts. Here’s one for you: the word emotion was coined in the early 19th century by the philosopher Thomas Brown. Before then, we didn’t really have a concept for an emotional state. People used terms like passions to describe “stirrings of the soul.” These stirrings were to be resisted and the idea of emotion is a fairly recent phenomena.

So, where do you start on a project of this scale? Like any good researcher, we developed a series of questions that guided us through the topic. These included: what do people do to feel good and what does feeling great do to the body? Who defines what makes a happy life and who is excluded from this story? Can happiness be possible alongside unhappiness? Our research took us through ancient bloodletting rituals to Buddhism, 19th century yoga retreats, and medieval folk dances. We spoke to monks, activists, environmentalists, economists, scientists, historians and medical professionals, and commissioned artists and designers to bring the subject to life.


For all of its diverse forms, the ways to a happy life across history and communities share much in common. From creativity to meditation retreats, losing yourself on the dance floor to helping out in the local community, most forms of happiness revolve around a loss of the self. The philosopher Iris Murdoch called it “ego-loss” when the mind is occupied and the person is involved in something greater than the self. From secular to religious rituals, these paths towards ego-loss are found in every society since the dawn of time.

I learned that philosophically, feeling happy and the idea of happiness are slightly different concepts. The notion of a happy life is founded on the concepts of freedom, financial security, a sense of belonging and purpose. Scandinavian countries often feature high in international happiness surveys, many of their citizens benefiting from strong welfare support and high standards of living. Of course, emotions aren’t universally felt. How we feel is deeply physical and is constructed through memories and socialisation.


Feeling good can encompass a broad range of feelings from tranquillity to elation, catharsis to ecstasy and is often fleeting. Feeling good might accompany feeling bad. We might help others to feel good about ourselves or partake in destructive tendencies for that momentary dopamine hit. The quest for happiness can lead to perpetual unhappiness.

The most interesting aspect of my research involved talking to scientists and understanding the physical impact of hormones on the body. I talked to researchers who studied choir singers with evidenced levels of increased Oxycotin. This bonding hormone is involved in building trust and empathy. I talked to medical professionals who rhapsodised on the importance of Vitamin D and its ability to regulate mood. I learned that most of the feel-good hormone serotonin is in our stomach and not our brains and that a balanced diet is crucial in maintaining it. Did I learn any secrets to happiness while curating the topic? Sorry to disappoint but there are no quick fixes: regular sleep, exercise, a balanced diet and participating in cultural and community activities are all proven activities for improving wellbeing.


Isabel Dzierson has done a fantastic job of the exhibition, expanding on much of our original curatorial research. The exhibition boasts over 150 objects and artworks that bring the topic to life. The museum’s PR led with one of our original questions: why an exhibition happiness and why now? From the cost of living crisis to the environmental emergency, war in Ukraine to rising levels of political unrest seen across the globe, the question of what makes us feel good feels more vital than ever.


Hello Happiness runs from 27th May to 19th November 2023 at Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden.

George Vasey is a Curator and a Senior Lecturer in Curating in the School of Arts & Creative Industries, Teesside University.

Find out about our MA Curating

More about our Curator Degree Apprenticeship