Our history


Since its rapid growth in the eighteenth century, Birmingham has long celebrated its craft and manufacturing heritage and its cultural diversity. Famous for its designers, industrial pioneers, scientists and businessmen, such as John Baskerville, Matthew Boulton and James Watt, it was home to the Lunar Society, which fostered innovation and philanthropy. To cater for its industry, Birmingham welcomed people from all over Britain and Ireland, refugees from Europe and travellers from Africa and the West Indies.

School of Art

The School of Art has its roots in the 1843 Birmingham Government School of Design, a national attempt to improve quality in design.  The Margaret Street building opened in 1885 as the first Municipal School of Art, liaising closely with local industries. Designed by J. H. Chamberlain, it is in Ruskinian Venetian Gothic style, its many workshops testament to its Arts and Crafts principles. In the heart of the city and on the doorstep of cultural amenities, the School of Art is the ideal venue to study art and design-related subjects.


Founded in 1885, as the UK's first public art school, the School of Art in Margaret Street has achieved global recognition in developing students' visual art and design skills.

Until 2013 the School of Art operated across two sites, the other being the Bournville campus.

Today the BA (Hons) Art and Design course has relocated to Margaret Street, while the Bournville site now supports the Birmingham City University International College.


The School of Art is one of 10 schools in the University’s new Faculty of the Arts, Design and Media.

The Faculty embodies a strong creative and cultural offer and enables students to benefit from shared space and facilities, located primarily at our city centre campuses.


We are now progressing plans to further strengthen our national and international networks.

One example is the planned creation of a Visual Art and Culture top-up course at the Hong Kong Design Institute for BA (Hons) Fine Art students starting in September 2015.