Fine Art with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons) *

UCAS Code:
W10F
Attendance:
Full Time (4 years)
Starting:
September 2018

Our fine art BA course 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, encouraging you to experiment in or across painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, installation, film and video.

About foundation courses

This four year programme has been specifically designed to allow students who do not initially meet the entry requirements for a three year degree, to undertake additional level 3 study designed to ensure they are successful on their chosen degree programme.

After successful completion of your foundation year, you will have the flexibility to switch (should you wish to change direction) onto a number of related undergraduate degree programmes within Birmingham School of Art or the School of Visual Communication.

Why study a degree with a foundation year?

Foundation years are a great option if you have the talent, ambition and potential to thrive at Birmingham City University, but do not meet the entry requirements for your preferred course. It’s ideal if:

  • You want the flexibility of a year’s study on a more general course to find out the best degree choice for you.
  • You have changed your mind about your career since you chose your A-levels or BTECs and need to improve your skills in a different subject area.
  • You would like extra time and support to help you build your knowledge, skills and confidence before starting a full degree.

What's covered in the course?

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.

"The tutors were always on hand to help and were of great support. They were the ones who guided me through my work process, gave me confidence and, best of all, helped me gain a place at the Royal College of Art." Alicia Dubnyckj

Why Choose Us?

  • Birmingham School of Art is celebrating 130 years of art at Margaret Street – its Grade I-listed building has been the inspiration for countless artists and practitioners of international reputation over the years. There has also been a multi-million pound investment in facilities for photography, casting, woodwork, metalwork, silk screen, etching, 3D printing, laser cutting, and printed and constructed textiles.
  • You'll instantly become part of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media’s 6,000-strong student community, and you will  be supported by our highly experienced staff, who are all nationally and internationally active artists.
  • You will curate exhibitions, have the opportunity take part in work placements and exchanges, and go on national and international study visits.
  • Each year the onsite project space, the International Project Space (IPS), will be the hub for a series of residencies, exhibitions and events, and we will work with a number of local, national and international partners to deliver a range of projects with our students.

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place in 2018. Register your interest and we'll let you know details as soon as they are available.

Register your interest

This course is not open to International students

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work in jobs such as:

  • Artists
  • Graphic designers
  • Teaching and other educational professionals n.e.c.

Subject to approval

The content of this course has been refreshed and updated to make sure you graduate with the skills employers need in an ever-changing job market.

Our quality control experts are currently reviewing the content and we anticipate receiving formal approval shortly.

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students
Essential

At the point of enrolment, you must have GCSE at Grade 4 or above in English Language. Equivalent qualifications can be considered in lieu as long as the required subject is covered.

80 UCAS tariff points.

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2018/19
GCE A Level CDD at A-Level. Must be offered along with either one A-level or one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma qualification.
BTEC MM or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 80 UCAS points.
Other qualifications
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.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2018 FT 4 years £9,250 per year* Apply via UCAS

International Students

Sorry, this course is not available to international students.

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.

Portfolio Guidance

If your application is progressed, you will be asked to submit a portfolio of your creative work. This can be submitted digitally or you can physically bring it in. Your portfolio is your opportunity to show us examples of your work and creative interests to support your application.

Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips and advice on putting your portfolio together and hear our student's top tips on creating a physical portfolio below.

Additional costs

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.

View additional costs for this course

Sorry, this course is not available part-time

Foundation year

Working in a lively and energetic environment you will be given the freedom to expand your knowledge in conceptual development, practical skills and creative exploration underpinned by broad critical understanding and emerging theoretical principles.

You will work individually and collaboratively to develop a stimulating visual portfolio of work that evidences your enthusiasm for further study within a specific subject area.

BA teaching staff from across both Birmingham School of Art and the School of Visual Communication will work with you throughout the course and you will have full access to all of the University facilities.

The two first semester modules will run in conjunction with each other to enable understanding of the relationship between developing work and potential contexts.

These modules will form the building blocks for future work and will focus on developing confidences with techniques, learning skills and productivity. The two final semester modules will run in conjunction with each other to enable a positive integration between Perspectives on Practice and Creative Realisation.

Understanding Context
20 credits

To reinforce your understanding of the creative industry in context you will be introduced to a number of opportunities across the city and will engage with event partners, such as Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery [BMAG], Ikon, Hippodrome, Eastside Galleries, Type-Talks and further afield. 

Throughout this module you will be introduced to range of study techniques that build competencies with research and discussion, while analyzing appropriate contexts for your work.

You will be continually encouraged to question the relationship between Visual Arts and Communication and will begin to establish the direction of your work in context.

Creative Development & Production
40 credits

This module will give you the freedom to develop a strong visual language, and an understanding of relevant processes that will underpin your future creative studies.

You will work on projects that are written to explore multiple opportunities that focus on media experimentation, skills development and engagement with the University workshops.

While developing your ideas you will learn to establish key principles of documentation and research that integrate directly with your practical work.

New discoveries and invention will be the ethos for this module.

Indication of your development will be evidenced through sketchbooks, online platforms, one to one tutorials, group tutorials and presentations.

Perspectives on Practice
20 credits

Building on your understanding from of the first two modules you will engage with a series of discussions that begin to challenge your perception of creative approaches within Visual Arts and Communication.

You will have the opportunity to meet BA Staff from across the School of Visual Communication and the School of Art who will present lectures and workshops to broaden your approach to practical development.

You will be encouraged to challenge opinions by applying a critical voice to the meaning, perspective and position of your own work.

You will be given guidance on critical and analytical writing as a starting point for developing your research skills.

Creative Realisation
40 credits

Priority for this module will focus on expanding your visual vocabulary further through a project that develops your confidence and independence, providing you with recognisable skills that aid the smooth transition to Level 4 Undergraduate Study.

You will produce work that addresses context, creative production and innovation while identifying potential perspectives and connections to research.

Undergraduate Staff from both Schools will offer guidance on developing a constructive portfolio that affirms your potential for a rewarding creative future.

Successful completion of your Foundation year will guarantee progression to any of the accredited degree courses listed above.

Year one

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

Modules explained:
Context, Methods and Making
40 credits

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. 

Themes and Concepts in Art
20 credits

This module supports and advances the historical and theoretical knowledge that informs your studio practice. It promotes intellectual curiosity and critical reflection, developing your confidence in speaking and writing about art.

Establishing Practice
40 credits

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. 

Collaborative Practice 1
20 credits

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. 

Year two

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.

Modules explained:
Developing Practice
40 credits

This 14-week studio practice module enables you to build upon the technical, practical, analytical and research skills introduced in Level Four. As a further development and progression of the Establishing Practice module, Developing Practice 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
20 credits

This module focuses on the way in which people have written and thought about art in the twentieth and twenty-first  century. From a series of ten weekly lectures, seminars, film screenings and study visits a series of key themes will emerge, articulated around different ways of actually being an artist.

Live Project
20 credits

This module provides an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills to an external, professional context. In consultation with your supervisor, and it will be a ‘real life’ response to an appropriate problem or issue.

Work Placement
20 credits

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the workplace, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context.

In your second year you will get a choice of one of the following:

Collaborative Practice 2
20 credits

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.

Extending Practice
20 credits

This 14-week studio practice module enables students to build upon the technical, practical, exploration and experimentation from the previous Developing Practice module and apply further rigorous analysis to speculative practical and contextual enquiry and research.

Transcultural Art and Design
20 credits

This 14-week module aims to develop student’s knowledge and understanding of contemporary worldwide art and design practices. These include Europe-based practices by individuals from black and minority ethnic communities as well as practitioners in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania.   

Year three

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.

Modules explained:
Practice and Professional Presentation
40 credits

This 32-week module builds on your prior imaginative, practical and theoretical investigations. This is consolidated in a fully resolved and coherent body of artwork presented at a professional level.

Professional Portfolio
20 credits

This module enables you to develop, synthesise, consolidate and fully resolve your 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 Practice-Led Dissertation modules, encompassing the content from these to then be realised in a 10-15min ‘pitch’ and online website portfolio. 

Major Project
60 credits

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. You will be guided towards choosing a research topic, which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise.

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.

Hours in the classroom

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. 

Teaching breakdown

valuelabelcolor
30 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
65 Time in independent study RoyalBlue
5 Time on placement LightSkyBlue

Assessment breakdown

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96 Coursework FireBrick
4 Practical exams #fece5a

Student stories

Hope Chapman

Hope Chapman

Hope applied for the BA (Hons) Fine Art course with a longing to work in the art industry. Attracted by the phenomenal up-and-coming art scene in Birmingham, she knew the Birmingham School of Art would offer the perfect environment for her to develop her passion. She graduated in 2013 and now works for artist Pryce Lee in property development, filming coordination and modern art. More about Hope.

Josephine Reichert

Josephine Reichert

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.

View more examples of student work...

Reviews

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."
Emma
www.whatuni.com

Read all What Uni reviews

Overseas Opportunities

We are currently establishing a collaborative partnership with the Hong Kong Design Institute which will lead to future cultural visits and project opportunities.

Erasmus scheme

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.

Find out more

Further Study

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.

Trips and visits

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.

Student stories Vicki Eggs

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.

Enhancing your employability skills

You will learn of range of skills which will be key to enhancing your future employability.

Specifically you will learn to:

  • Develop your own practice and how to analyse this in relation to future employment options.
  • Identify the relationship of theory to practice and how this can be used to develop your own individual identity.
  • Negotiate, plan, exhibit and present to a professional standard.
  • Work independently and collaboratively.
  • Be a self-motivated, organised, effective learner.

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.

Placements

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.

The Fierce Festival and the Flatpack Festival regularly work with our Fine Art students.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

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.

Links to industry

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 GalleryIkon GalleryEastside ProjectsMidlands Art CentreNew Walsall GalleryThe Mead GalleryVIVIDCapsuleGrand UnionQueen Elizabeth HospitalBirmingham Children’s HospitalBirmingham HippodromeBirmingham Repertory TheatreLibrary of Birmingham, and primary and secondary schools across the region.   

National - Arts Council EnglandTate BritainTate ModernTate Liverpool.

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 CologneFree University of BerlinLeipzig Academy of Art (Germany); University of Ljubljana (Slovenia); MIT List Visual Arts CenterMassachusetts College of ArtCalifornia Institute of the ArtsUniversity of California (USA); Pacific Centre for Technology and Culture (Canada); Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (Japan); The Laboratorium (Russia). 

Alumni stories

Luke Perry

With a passion for art and engineering, Luke uses his expertise in both fields to design and build large-scale sculptures that celebrate the Midlands' industrial heritage. He is founder and director of Industrial Heritage Stronghold, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to "build public artworks which celebrate our industrial heritage in a very real way".

Matthew Evans

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.

Graduate jobs

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.

Final year graduate shows

View some of the final year students' work from the 2015 Graduate Shows, in this video. You can also see work of the degree shows of 2014, 20132012, 2011 and 2010.

Our Facilities

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.

Located next to the city centre’s Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the School is just a five-minute walk from the new Library of Birmingham and Ikon Gallery.

Students benefit from an environment which thrives on the everyday interaction of education, culture and professional practise.

Studios

Our studio spaces make excellent use of height and light, and a special screening system allows each full-time student a dedicated area to work in throughout their course.

Workshops

Workshops include one-to-one technical support and operate throughout the building, allowing you to develop ideas and skills working with print, wood, metal, plaster, photography, video, textiles, 3D printing, laser cutting and prototyping.

Library

The School of Art library contains a wealth of artists’ biographies, catalogues, art and design magazines and DVDs, all of which are updated throughout the year. The library is also linked to others across the University so you can order any additional materials you might need.

Social space

A new student-led social space, designed by School of Art students, is a great place to relax, grab a coffee, and catch up with friends. Students also display their work, host film showings and private-view receptions in this space.

Gallery

There are purpose-built spaces throughout the building to present your work, including areas for cabinet, wall and floor pieces, and installation project rooms.

Parkside Building

You will also be able to use facilities at our nearby Parkside Building, a new five-floor campus site packed with fashion design workshops, studios and social ‘collision spaces’ where you can share ideas with students and staff from different courses.

Albion Press - Art
Etching Press - Art
Screen Printing 1 - Art
Stone Litho - Art
Woodwork 1 - Art
Metalwork 1 - Art
Ceramics 2 - Art
Comp Lab - Art
Photography Lab 1 - Art
Photography Lab 2 - Art
Editing suite 1 - Art
Editing suite 2 - Art
Studio Space 1 - Art
Studio Space 2 - Art
Studio Space 5 - Art
Studio Space 4 - Art
Library 2 - Art
Common Area - Art

Our staff

All of our staff are practising artists, designers and writers, ensuring you will receive access to the latest thinking, activity and professional networks.

Meet all our staff

Franziska Schenk

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art

Franziska Schenk is an artist and researcher with an MA in Fine Art (with Distinction) and First Class Honours degrees in Fine Art (Birmingham City University), and in Art Education (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt). A well-qualified, experienced Lecturer in Fine Art at Birmingham City University and Honorary Research Associate at the University of Birmingham.

She is initiator of, and principal investigator on, funded art and science projects focusing on the conversion of nature’s iridescent colour to the painter’s palette – thereby introducing flow, dynamism, transience and an evolutionary element into painting.

Françoise Dupré

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art

Born in France, based in London and a permanent UK Resident, Françoise Dupré trained in London at City University (MA in Museum & Gallery Management), Chelsea College of Art and Design (MA History and Theory of Modern Art) and Camberwell College of Arts (BA (Hons) Fine Art-Sculpture).

Françoise is a self-employed artist-curator and a part-time senior lecturer in Fine Art at Birmingham City University, School of Art where she contributes to the Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR) strand: Art in the Public Sphere.

Read Françoise's full profile

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295