Anxiety is generally my default position while prowling around a degree show. They can be unsettling affairs; filled with visual conundrums, screen puzzles, sudden sounds, dark glory holes and found materials repurposed to take on new and occasionally creepy forms.

Occasionally though, light dawns and my spirits lift. This happened as I took a walk through Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Master of Fine Art (MFA) degree show two weeks before it opens to the public this Wednesday night.

It took me a while to work out the source was Jack McCombe's audio installation, Symphony in Whistles No. 1 Between E and F Minor. I heard it before I saw it. The slightly off-kilter whistle parts echo through the post-industrial interior of this former adhesives factory, bouncing off other works and conjuring up long-gone workers who once toiled within its Victorian walls.

The whistle were contained by a curved, smoothly plastered timber womb, filled with surround sound. Usually, I high-tail it impatiently from an audio work before the end, but McCombe's work lulled me in and I stayed for the full 14 minutes.

McCombe is one of 26 students on the 2017/2019 cohort of this MFA course, which attracts artists from all over the world to study in the city of Glasgow. Unusually, he is from Scotland. This year's graduates on the multidisciplinary course come from as far afield as Australia, the US, Canada, China and South Korea.

It's a strong show, heavy on audio and screen-based work this year, echoing trends in the wider contemporary art world. Economic uncertainty, artificial intelligence, political instability and gender issues loom large. There is playfulness underpinning the work as a whole. I liked Korean artist, Darae Baek's two-channel self-hot video installation, Language made me an uncertain person, which sees her transported to Little Cumbrae, where she immerses herself in the unfamiliar landscape. Canadian Samuel de Lange reframes the fig leaf, teasing the viewer with varying fig leaf interventions scattered throughout the building. There's even a cute-ish rabbit disappearing down virtual holes in Owain McGilvary and Yan White's three-channel video installation, A Glorious Manifesto in Support of Holes.

Michael Collazo from Wisconsin takes a humble biro and turns it into a razor-sharp instrument for reorganising memories in his fabulously bonkers and detailed wall drawings which are a bit Manga meets comic book with a dash of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam.

What has led these artists from home and abroad to GSA's MFA programme? Ask any student or graduate of GSA and they will tell you that much as they love it, their art school has always been much more than The Mack; the blackened remnant of Art Nouveau beauty designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Today, the poor old Mack sits opposite the GSA's newer flashier Reid Building like a sleeping reproachful giant, wreathed in scaffolding following a second fire in four years which happened almost a year ago.

This summer, it's all change again for GSA as, for the first time since the 1960s, the college's School of Fine Art will be housed together in the same campus at the old Stow College building on Shamrock Street.

Among the new tenants will be postgraduate students on the MFA programme, who for the last seven years have been billeted in a ruinous but nourishing former nursing home on Hill Street, Garnethill.

GSA MFA alumni are bona fide international art world stars and include the most recent Turner Prize winner, Charlotte Prodger, as well as Hardeep Pandhal, selected to exhibit at last year's New Museum Triennial in New York. Other high-profile graduates include Turner Prize winners, Martin Boyce and Richard Wright.

The MFA programme was established in 1990 by artist, Sam Ainslie, who formerly worked alongside David Harding in the GSA's much-lauded Environmental Art course, a hot-house for art stars of the future such as Douglas Gordon, Christine Borland and Martin Boyce.

Graham Ramsay is one of five staff members teaching on the MFA course and the only full-time member of staff. He graduated from the course himself in 1997 and continues to work as an artist with John Beagles, as Beagles & Ramsay. He insists the two-year timescale is an important element of the success of the MFA.

"It's enough time if you want to make significant changes in your practice," he says. "The approach is to take apart and rebuild. There is not a house style and we don’t push any artform. We respond to the student's agenda."

Another key element of the course's success is its connection to the city art scene. "The teaching team here are all artists, writers and curators who are involved in the city art scene," he adds.

"It's totally distinct from being in London. Here in Glasgow, for a student, it feels like they are part of the art scene. It's much cheaper so they can sustain a practice after leaving art school. It's possible to get a studio and find a place to live because there is a strong and supportive grassroots art scene."

There's a longevity of connection which runs through the MFA course. Artist and writer, Francis McKee, also director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) on Sauchiehall Street, has taught part-time on the course for 25 years. The late and much missed John Calcutt, who died last year, wrote the course programme in the early day before becoming going on to lead the course until 2017.

Sam Ainsley, whom Calcutt succeeded as course leader, described him as "the most brilliant tutor, endlessly patient and supportive of students work but with the most refined critical sensibility I have ever known."

This ethos and critical sensibility continues to resonate with potential students. As M.E Smit-Dicks, a graduating Canadian artist on the MFA course put it. "I had a hunch I’d like it. It was the only school I applied to. And it worked out."

The Glasgow School of Art MFA Degree Show 2019, Glue Factory, 15 Burn Street,Speirs Locks, Glasgow, G4 9SA,, May 30 – June 9. Open 11am – 6pm, Daily

Critic's Choice

An exhibition of work by Lachlan Goudie is currently lighting up the ornate walls of the Glasgow Art Club's Gallery space, with its Charles Rennie Mackintosh frieze, panelled walls and elegant oak fireplaces.

Created over seven years on the Clyde and the Forth, Goudie's Shipyard captures the labour-intensive craftsmanship involved in contemporary shipbuilding. Goudie was granted unparalleled access by BAE Systems to its yards in Govan and Rosyth from 2009 to 2016 as the company world on constructing vessels for the Royal Navy. Some, such as the new aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales, are the largest ever built for the Navy.

The result is a vibrant in-depth portrait of an industry fighting back after being declared all but dead during the 1980s. Shipyard captured the intensity and scale of the work going on in the yards during this period, not to mention a sense of vibrancy and renewed optimism.

I wasn't prepared for the intense colours in this exhibition which light up the walls of the art club. Goudie, who is making a name for himself as a writer and broadcaster as well as an artist of note, has created intricate large scale drawings, paintings, woodcuts and 3D sculpture in for this exhibition of almost 60 works (many of which are for sale).

Goudie uses drawing as a cerebral brain-eye-hand activity to understand the complex make-up of a situation and there is an intensity about some of the works which could never have been achieved by turning a lens on it. This viewer found herself lost in the ever-changing scenes he created in the bellies of these massive under-construction vessels.

Using what Goudie describes as "the colours of health and safety", his boiler-suited figures in particular have a nobility about them; all dirt in lined faces and intense gazes. A must-see exhibition. The venue's not half-bad too.

Lachlan Goudie: Shipyard, The Glasgow Art Club, 185 Bath Street, G2 4HU, 0141 248 5210 Until June 7, Public access Mon – Sat, 11am – 5pm

Don't Miss

Tomorrow is the last day of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and Architecture Degree Show 2019 so hurry, hurry if you haven't visited yet (I include myself in this entreaty…). DJCAD always punches above its weight and I hear this year's show

is one of the best in years. It includes work by final year students graduating in diverse disciplines including; fine art, textile and jewellery design, architecture, illustration and graphic design.

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and Architecture

Degree Show 2019, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee,13 Perth Road, DD1 4HT. Until tomorrow (May 26). 10am – 4pm