Our Fine Art degree gives you the support of professionals to choose your own creative journey and flourish as an artist, curator, teacher or working in other creative fields.
Situated in our historic Grade I-listed art school, based in Margaret Street, you'll enjoy the freedom, space and support needed to establish your own artistic voice.
There are no set pathways to learning and this means you’ll have genuine freedom to experiment in any media appropriate to your ideas.
This course encourages you to experiment in or across painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, installation, film and video.
You'll be supported throughout your studies by our experienced and talented tutors and technical staff - all professional artists in their own right.
As well as learning important skills for your future career development from our practical and professional practice modules, you’ll also be introduced to the context and curation of art.
You will enjoy our close links to the Ikon Gallery, Ort Gallery, New Art Gallery Walsall and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and be inspired by the studios and galleries set up by former students, such as The Lombard Method, Grand Union, Stryx and Ort Gallery.
The course concludes in a public professional exhibition of your practical work supported by individual websites.
To welcome all new home and EU undergraduate degree students starting in 2018 or 2019, we're giving at least £150 worth of credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials. Even better, it doesn’t have to be repaid. Terms and conditions apply.
Our students have gone on to work in jobs such as:
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good physical or digital portfolio.
112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
|GCE A Level/ AS Level||BBC at A-Level or 112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A-Levels.|
|Access to Higher Education Diploma||Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway|
|BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years)||D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years)||DMM - 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years)||D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design||Distinction|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||
Obtain a minimum of 28 points overall. Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 14 points or above from three higher level subjects and alongside other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 112 UCAS Tariff Points.
|Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers)||Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 112 tariff points, achieved in four Higher level subjects.|
|Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher||Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades CCD. Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of CD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of CC in two Highers). Where only Highers have been taken a minimum of (BBCCC) are required.|
|Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options)||grade Pass plus grades CC at A-Level (or equivalent qualifications) to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.
Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need to submit a good digital portfolio.
|EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements|
|IELTS||6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).||
In addition to the above, applicants will also need:
International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2019||FT||3 years||£9,250 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2019||FT||3 years||£12,300 per year|
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.
UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.
There are three ways to apply:
Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.
If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.
If your application is progressed, you will be asked to submit a portfolio of your creative work. Your portfolio is your opportunity to show us examples of your work and creative interests to support your application.
If you are a UK home-based student this can be submitted digitally or you can physically bring it in. Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips and advice on putting your portfolio together.
If you are an EU or International student you will be asked to submit a digital portfolio as part of your application. Please see our international portfolio guidance page for guidance on how to create and submit your portfolio.
UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*
The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.
You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.
The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on your course. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.
All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.
We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
The first year introduces you to practice and context, workshop methods through projects, seminars and field visits.
You will begin to develop your own language, interests and understanding to enable you to establish a practice. Your practice is supported by presentations, seminar discussions of historical and contemporary themes and ideas, and collaborative practices with other students in the school or faculty.
Students Sebastian van Driel and Samantha Rhodes describe why they chose to study fine art at Birmingham City University and what their first year was like.
Our first year studying fine art
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).
Context, Methods and Making
This 14-week module acts as an effective bridge between your prior study and the start of the course recognising the span of the social, cultural and ‘life’ experiences within your cohort. We employ small group tutorials, group critiques, collaborative group activity and contextual lectures, each of which supports this transition, learning and development. In combination with online library resources, you will introduce you to digital research methods including Moodle and Lynda.com.
Themes and Concepts in Art
Themes and Concepts in Art supports and advances the historical and theoretical knowledge that informs your studio practice. It promotes intellectual curiosity and critical reflection to develop your confidence in speaking and writing about art. Using a broad range of different contexts and practice frameworks, this module is designed to help support you towards achieving a self-directed practice through the identification of “themes and concepts” in your own work. Carefully structured sessions will focus on and across approaches to: painting sculpture, drawing, video, film, installation, performance, sound, digital media, photography and print. With the appropriate support, you will also be required to present descriptive accounts and write and submit a 2,000-word essay for assessment.
The overarching aim is to introduce the skills and understanding necessary to initiate and organise a self-directed fine art practice in relation to contemporary art and historical precedents.
This 13-week core module will enable you to engage, and expand on, the knowledge and skills established in the first two studio-practice modules (supported by your art theory module) to define an individual fine art practice and develop a body of practical work.
To help facilitate the above, and provide an initial starting point, there are three over-arching frameworks to identify with. These may include: 1) Art and Other Worlds 2) Art the Subject 3) Art and Intervention.
The ability to work collaboratively in a team is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries. This module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create a group project with students from complementary disciplines.
The second year is about further exploration and development, testing out ideas and taking risks.
You will strengthen your own fine art identity through experimentation and reflective discussion in the form of individual and group tutorial sessions. You will also engage in a range of live projects, collaborative activities and placements with the additional option of an international exchange.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 80 credits):
This studio practice module enables you to build upon the technical, practical, analytical and research skills introduced in Level 4. As a further development and progression of L4 Establishing Practice module, it aims to provide the opportunity to reflect upon your prior approaches to art practice (related to both historical precedents and contemporary art practice), and to further explore how methods and materials are related to meaning and context.
Critical Theories in Art
This module focuses on the way in which people have written and thought about art in the 20th and 21st centuries. From a series of 10 weekly lectures, seminars, film screenings and study visits a series of key themes will emerge, articulated around different ways of being an artist. This idea is reflected in the titles of each lecture, ranging from ‘Artist as Revolutionary’, which looks at the relationship between art and politics, to ‘Artist as Digital Native’, which looks at the rise of digital culture within art. In this way the module encourages you to bridge theory and practice, enhancing the historical and theoretical knowledge that informs your studio work.
The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines, or with academic staff. Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities and with the support of academic staff. Within this module framework, several kinds of collaborative opportunities are available. For example, with the approval of your supervisor, you can determine a project based on your own interests; your supervisor may set you a predetermined project to enable you to work with other students in a way that is appropriate to your subject area; or there may be opportunities for you to collaborate with staff on research projects. In all cases, you must apply your subject skills to an interdisciplinary project which will be agreed in advance with your supervisor.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 60 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.
This module enables you to build upon the technical, practical, exploration and experimentation from the previous module and apply further rigorous analysis to speculative practical and contextual enquiry and research. This module also aims to provide you with a critical understanding of the presentation and display of art, the relationship of objects and images to space and audience(s) and the role of networks on developing an audience.
This module enables you to build upon the technical, practical, exploration and experimentation from the previous module and apply further rigorous analysis to speculative practical and contextual enquiry and research.
The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and ADM Careers+.
Typically, the placement duration is a minimum 70 hours, maximum of 140 hours. This can be achieved in one block, or can be dispersed over a longer period of time, if required.
Please note list of optional modules is indicative only. Students’ choice will not be guaranteed for optional modules but a fair and transparent process will be adopted and shared with students.
Our Professional Practice modules give you the confidence to consolidate your theory and practice and create a body of work which is a platform for your future career.
Our graduates include award-winning professional artists, designers, curators, teachers and professionals within Birmingham's thriving creative industries sector and beyond.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).
Practice and Professional Presentation
The Practice and Professional Presentation module builds on the student’s prior imaginative, practical and theoretical investigations. This sustained and extended period of individual self-directed study time requires careful planning and organisation. The module is a necessarily extended period of time allowing for deeper level of learning and for the synthesis of accrued theoretical, creative, technical and practical knowledge and skills. This is consolidated in a fully resolved and coherent body of artwork presented at a professional level.
This module enables students to develop, synthesise, consolidate and fully resolve their practice to a professional standard, in the form of a verbal and visual presentation. This module clearly relates to the Practice and Professional Presentation and the Major Project modules, encompassing the content from these to then be realised in a 10-15min ‘pitch’ and an online website portfolio. These transferable skills are highly appropriate to course sequels.
The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practice-based portfolio.
On our Fine Art course, you will be encouraged to experiment and investigate ideas which develop your individual creativity.
With no rigid pathways, the course gives you the chance to work in areas such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, film and video.
Contact varies between levels, but as a rough guide students will be engaged in lectures, seminars, studio and other guided activities for approximately three days a week.
Josephine made the decision to move from Berlin to Birmingham, as the self-directed study seemed to be a much fresher approach to teaching art, compared with local universities. She graduated in 2008 and is now the Director of Ort Gallery, an artist-led gallery space in Birmingham. Read more of Josie's experiences.
These independent reviews show what our students really think:
"Birmingham is good But the university is Better! I have loved my experience here and met so many new people. IT is better than what I expected. My course is amazing and the lectures are inspiring. My only advice would be to choose this university."
We are currently establishing a collaborative partnership with the Hong Kong Design Institute which will lead to future cultural visits and project opportunities.
If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.
It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.
You could progress onto a range of postgraduate studies, including an MA or PGCE. You could also potentially go straight to doctoral research study. The MA Fine Art programme at Margaret Street is a popular choice among graduating students.
For further information on courses Tel: +44 (0)121 331 5595 or go direct to the courses section of the website.
Some students recently visited the Venice Biennale at the beginning of their Level Five studies, and this had a profound effect on their personal practices. Other visits/trips include Berlin, New York, London and Barcelona.
Running Own Brand: CMYK London
Having graduated in Fine Art, Vicki Eggs initially used her passion for photography to create her own range of greetings cards. She now runs her own brand, CMYK London, featuring her own eye-catching designs on t-shirts, tea towels, mugs, bags and limited edition screen prints, which are already proving a hit with the buying public.
After graduating in 2005 I travelled around the world for eight months, taking literally thousands of photographs, and on my return decided to do something with them. I started making greetings cards and selling them to local shops and galleries in and around my home town of, Royston, Herts, leading me to set up my own greeting card company Ve Gallery in 2006. I then began working for a greetings card company with worldwide distribution. By the time I left two years later, to live in Sydney, I had designed over 200 cards and had developed a photographic style of working.
You will learn of range of skills which will be key to enhancing your future employability.
Specifically you will learn to:
You will also learn skills in a range of workshop practices in relation to individual development, including photography, casting, woodwork, metalwork, silk screen, etching, 3D printing, laser cutting, and printed and constructed textiles.
Professional practice guidance will teach you a range of skills such as CV writing; the use of social media and other platforms for self-promotion, presenting yourself and your work in a professional framework using a range of appropriate communication skills, such as video and various types of presentation software.
You will have the option of an international exchange, and the opportunity to get involved in a range of projects and placements.
Our students have recently been on placements with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, working with and alongside sculptor Rob Olins on a recent production of ‘The BFG’.
Students have also worked with the sound artist, Justin Wiggan, exploring the university archives in relation to the School of Art to create site-specific work.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Birmingham School of Art has a wide array of links with partner organisations regionally, nationally and internationally. These partnerships will provide work experience opportunities for you and contribute to your learning and teaching activities. Our overseas partnerships often result in opportunities for you to mix with students from different countries and gain different perspectives, as well as opportunities to undertake a period of study overseas.
Regional - Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Gallery, Eastside Projects, Midlands Art Centre, New Walsall Gallery, The Mead Gallery, VIVID, Capsule, Grand Union, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Library of Birmingham, and primary and secondary schools across the region.
International - Established links with other significant institutions both in Europe and the USA, as well as in Canada, Russia and Japan.
These include: The Sorbonne, the Metz/Pompidou (France); Studio for Electronic Instrumental Music, The Hague (Netherland); Ars Electronica (Austria); University of Cologne, Free University of Berlin, Leipzig Academy of Art (Germany); University of Ljubljana (Slovenia); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts College of Art, California Institute of the Arts, University of California (USA); Pacific Centre for Technology and Culture (Canada); Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (Japan); The Laboratorium (Russia).
Matthew graduated last year and is currently studying on an MA Fine Art course. His work was selected at the Fine Art degree show for a £10,000 commission at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. Working in collaboration with another student, this work has carefully evolved through consultation with staff and patients and is now complete.
Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.
Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.
Fine Art students like this course because the opportunities for them on graduation are immensely broad, and typically students will have multiple roles and jobs.
For example, graduates continue to work as a practitioner while curating and also go on to further study.
To be able to do this requires confidence, resourcefulness, flexibility and the ability to respond to, and create, opportunity.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
Our School is particularly popular with students from China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The school has a Visual Art and Culture top-up course at the Hong Kong Design Institute for BA (Hons) Fine Art students, which began in September 2015.
Our International Office in Shanghai was established in 2007 and we work hard to develop strong working relationships with countries in Asia.
We provide prospective students with a professional and efficient application and student service, and maintain close relationships with former students living in China.
We are the UK’s most successful recruiter for art and design in China and Malaysia, and we run courses in Hong Kong and Thailand.
The course provides the ability to study in one of the UK’s oldest art schools. You will learn to develop your own creative practice in a thriving creative community in the heart of the UK’s second city on a course which mixes traditional surroundings with current international debates.
The ability to develop your own individual practices alongside a range of local institutions and industries will give a unique insight into the culture and markets of the UK.
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.
Birmingham School of Art (an impressive purpose built Grade 1 listed example of Venetian Gothic architecture) was the first major renovation project undertaken by the university (£5.5m refurbishment). The School provides an incredible resource for the production of art and its associated fields of study. The building has a range of facilities available including studios, workshops, specialist art and design library, bookable spaces and lecture/seminar rooms.
All of our staff are practising artists, designers and writers, ensuring you will receive access to the latest thinking, activity and professional networks.
John Wigley is a graduate of the Sculpture School of the Royal College of Art and scholar of the British School of Rome, with interests in film and object making, exploring temporality and ‘still lives’. He has exhibited in the UK, Europe and USA.
He is a working artist, a maker and assembler of objects. He is interested in both the role of an artist and the intellectual and physical space required to develop and sustain a practice.
He teaches into the undergraduate BA (Hons) Fine Art course on the first and second year Establishing and Developing Practice modules, as well as the final year Professional Portfolio module. He is also module leader for two new modules: Collaborative Project and Collaborative Practice. They introduce interdisciplinary practice, where the cross-course sharing of knowledge and skills ensure that students have the experience of working effectively in ‘mixed’ teams. It involves some innovative learning and teaching, including the use of online teaching platforms.