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Art and Design with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)

Currently viewing course to start in 2025/26 Entry. Switch to 2024/25 Entry

Maker? Thinker? Futurist? Coder? Performer? Technologist? Conservationist? Designer? Interested? Foundation Year This four-year Art and Design degree course with a Foundation Year has been specifically designed to allow you to undertake an additional year of study which will build stronger creative footings to ensure successful progression through your chosen degree course....

  • School Birmingham School of Art
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

This course is:

Open to International Students


This course offers a Creative Technologies pathway

This optional pathway will give you the opportunity to focus specifically on developing your digital skills. You can choose this pathway at the start of your studies, or transfer over to the pathway at the end of each academic year. Read more about the Creative Technologies pathway

Maker? Thinker? Futurist? Coder? Performer? Technologist? Conservationist? Designer? Interested?

Foundation Year

This four-year Art and Design degree course with a Foundation Year has been specifically designed to allow you to undertake an additional year of study which will build stronger creative footings to ensure successful progression through your chosen degree course.

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

There will be a range of opportunities to work on collaborative projects aimed to develop employability partnerships and to identify the role of developing practitioner. BA teaching staff from across all schools within the Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts (BICA) will work closely with you throughout the foundation year to prepare you for progression.

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 the Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts.

BA (Hons) Art and Design

Many innovative creative studios now define themselves as interdisciplinary, a word which we define as the fluid movement across the fields of art, design and technology. Rather than specialising in a particular creative discipline, our cutting-edge course reflects how these studios practice by exploring the intersection between art and design, with the implementation of new creative digital technologies.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

Our course will prepare you to be ready for employment within the creative industries by providing you with long-term creative skills to map out your creative future. With you at the centre, we will explore the intersections of art and design, providing a space where you can understand, develop and create a career in the evolving creative industries. You will develop the necessary self-awareness to question, make, play and create with others.

The versatility of our experimental studio environment will enable you to explore the necessary collisions that innovative ideas creation now requires, while enhancing a range of core skills including design thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and making.

Whether you choose to combine creative coding with foraging for natural materials, photography with artificial intelligence, or welding with audio performance, you will respond to live briefs set by real-life clients.

The flexible, student-centred approach to the curriculum, informed by professional practitioners, will enable you to be imaginative, confident and convincing in designing and shaping your role in tomorrow’s free flowing, boundary free creative industries.

Creative Technologies Pathway

All students will be introduced to the fundamentals of interdisciplinary art and design practice with a focus on new creative technologies, which forms the core ethos of this course. In line with the development of our digital futures we are introducing an optional pathway in Creative Technologies which will give you the opportunity to focus specifically on further developing your digital skills through a breadth of technological approaches.

If you choose the Creative Technologies pathway you will cover the same curriculum, but will opt for technology-based outcomes. You will be assessed in relation to your exploration, questioning and use of a range of contemporary digital technologies and your creative applications in relation to the module theme. Work may still embrace a sense of physicality, but the focus will retain an element of Creative Technologies. You can either choose the Creative Technologies pathway at the start of your studies, or transfer over to the Creative Technologies pathway at the end of each academic year. At the end of each year, during feedback with tutors, you can transfer over to the Creative Technologies pathway, but you will be required to evidence 80% engagement with the weekly Creative Technologies workshops, which you will document on a digital platform ‘Workshop Log’. If you have not engaged in workshops to 80%, you will need to evidence sufficient engagement over the summer.

I fully support the approach to cross-disciplinary teaching, using art, design and digital technology to explore design methodologies. There is a strong emphasis on collaboration, experience and preparing students for future employability – I think this is extremely important.

Jason Bruges, Founder of Jason Bruges Studio.

Why Choose Us?

  • Our cutting-edge course is future focused, and has been designed in collaboration with leading industry partners.
  • Creative Technologies are one of the leading future jobs markets.
  • You will work on live briefs set by real life clients, and in your second year you will have the opportunity to choose to do a work placement, or study abroad.
  • Our course explores and unites the fundamental creative principles that are common to all three schools of Birmingham City University’s Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts (BICA). These are the School of Art, the School of Visual Communication, and the School of Games, Film and Animation.
  • Our innovative programme combines in one BA course the leading-edge teaching and learning that is available across BICA, taught by interdisciplinary staff from across BICA.
  • Birmingham School of Art is celebrating 130 years of art at Margaret Street – its Grade I-listed building, located in the heart of the Colmore Business District, and in close proximity to the city’s cultural institutions and creative hubs, e.g. Ikon gallery, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Barber Institute and the Jewellery Quarter.

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to learn about this course in detail, chat to students, explore our campus and tour accommodation. In the week before the event, we’ll post you an event programme to plan your day and find your way.

Next Open Day: 29 June 2024

Book Now

Entry Requirements

These entry requirements apply for entry in 2025/26.

All required qualifications/grades must have been achieved and evidenced at the earliest opportunity after accepting an offer to help confirm admission and allow for on-time enrolment. This can also include other requirements, like a fee status form and relevant documents. Applicants can track their application and outstanding information requests through their BCU mySRS account.

Essential requirements

80 UCAS tariff points

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2025

Pathway: Art and Design

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2025

Pathway: Creative Technologies

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2025

Pathway: Art and Design

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2025

Pathway: Creative Technologies

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Project materials (mandatory)

This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of safety equipment in order to use the workshop facilities.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Personal equipment (optional)

Whilst not essential it is advised you own a computer or laptop capable of creative work. It might also be useful to purchase a digital camera during the first year. Advice can be given from the School once you have started the course.

Gallery visits (optional)

It is advisable for all Creative Arts students to visit exhibitions, galleries and other creative and cultural institutions and events depending on your own individual area of interest. Travel and entry costs may be associated with this.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Guidance for UK students

UK 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.

Applying through UCAS

  1. Register with UCAS
  2. Login to UCAS and complete your details
  3. Select your course and write a personal statement
  4. Get a reference
  5. Pay your application fee and submit your application

You are not required to submit a portfolio for this course.

Course in Depth

Foundation Year

Throughout the year you will be challenged with projects that question your current creative experiences and explore a breadth of experimentation to broaden your technical and critical understanding.

You will be encouraged to analyse methods and materials appropriate for creative development and to question your position in relation to historical, contemporary and future world scenarios. Both practical and written research tasks will be supported by one to one tutorials and small discussion groups to help you constructively build academic and social confidence.

The two first semester modules will form the building blocks for future work and will explore core principles of creative practice focussing on, the development of technical confidence, research, study skills and productivity.

The two final semester modules will give you greater autonomy, encourage positive integration between research and practice, challenging decision making and technical competency. This semester is designed to empower you with independent learning skills appropriate for your future BA studies.

In order to progress onto your BA Programme, you must successfully pass all four core modules (totalling 120 credits).

First Year

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits)

Second Year

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits)

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules:

Final Year

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 60 credits)

Plus one of the following CORE modules (totalling 60 credits):

This course focuses on rapid learning and experimentation, and you will engage in real-world challenges. The course will enable you to question, explore, experiment, make, play and create with others.

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.

Year One

Level 4 takes you and your peers from ‘I to Us’ to harness your self-awareness as part of how you learn and collaborate with others in your teams. You will navigate through ‘Labs’ that represent the fundamentals of interdisciplinary design process (defined as ‘between’ or ‘among’ defined disciplines). The term ‘Lab’ is used to communicate that the studio environment will be a place of experimentation. We define Lab as ‘a creative environment that encourages experimentation, play, risk-taking and making a mess.’

The three primary Labs are: Thought Lab; Materials Lab; and Digital Lab. You will iteratively move through these Labs in the first semester. Additional Labs will be introduced once the fundamentals of the interdisciplinary design process have been established. These new Labs are: Nature Lab; Performance Lab; and, Speculative Lab. What will connect them all is a sense of community and communal sharing. Throughout the module you and your peers will regularly bring your work together to share, display, discuss, and critique.

Throughout the course you will be asked to ‘creatively interrogate’ by examining, questioning, and then making a response to a given source, theme or object. These challenges are designed to expose you to new approaches to ‘sense making’ while considering different perspectives and different voices.

Year Two

Level 5 uses the emergent process developed in Level 4 to move you and your peers from ‘Us to We’, from working with each other to working as a unit with external clients. You will focus on real-world challenge-based learning, through live briefs that are locally, nationally and globally located, set by an external client, user, community or audience. Building on skills developed in the previous module, the scope is now bigger, with broader perspectives, an employability focus, and an emphasis on building professional communication skills. You will collaboratively question and explore a live brief, while iteratively moving through the Thought, Materials and Digital Labs as needed as your projects grow and develop.

Year Three

Level 6 encourages you to diverge to follow your own pathway, navigating your own way through the Labs. You may focus on one Lab, or a combination of Labs, or create new Labs of your own. You may choose to work individually or collaboratively. You will undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area of personal interest, and you will create a body of work. You will also integrate professional companies and the creative landscape to identify a future career path and develop a professional identity.

Trips and visits

You may have the opportunity to participate in exchanges, placement, external projects and go on national and international study visits.

In previous years School of Art international trips have included visiting the Venice Biennale, New York, Berlin and Barcelona. National trips have included visits to London, Liverpool and Bristol.


Enhancing employability skills

Our course seeks to respond to the rapidly evolving creative industries, to enable you to not only be ready for immediate employment, but also for future evolutions within the industries, by providing you with long-term skills and employability. Informed by professional practitioners and researchers, the course reflects pioneering practices that cross art, design, and creative technologies. The course will enable you to be imaginative, confident and convincing in taking up and even designing and shaping your future role as a creative leader and practitioner of change.

The course offers strong employability potential for students as the Digital Creative sector is the largest growth sector of the creative industries. All skills and capabilities developed on the course are highly transferable and will support you to develop a range of knowledge, skills, behaviours attributes and attitudes which will enable you to be successful not just in employment but in life. The breadth and fluidity of the course will enable you to build an awareness and development of the following transferable skills: adaptability; creativity; collaboration; problem solving; communication; listening; analytical reasoning; critical thinking; attention to detail; and, writing.

Key employability skills will also be acquired through:

  • Working on live briefs with real clients in an employment context, enabling you to collaborate, communicate effectively, build social skills and develop a global perspective.
  • The option of a work placement module, professional placement year, and multiple live briefs will be offered with potential employers as real partners in learning.
  • A Personal Tutor will help you reflect on your employability.
  • School Employability Leads, Academic Supervisors, Careers Advisors and Graduate Plus Teams will be able to provide support and advice.


As a student on our BA Art and Design course you will be offered the choice of taking one of the ADM Faculty Modules. Each module will have a live focus whether that be working across the City collaboratively with students from across the Faculty, working within industry in work experience placements or working on live project briefs.

You will have the option to take a year-long professional work placement sandwich year to spend time directly working in industry through our BA (Hons) Art and Design with Professional Placement Year. This presents a fantastic opportunity to gain confidence, build experience and develop workplace skills before graduating through a work-based learning opportunity. If you choose this route you will be supported by the course team in researching their chosen area of work and given advice to secure a placement (or placements) that enable you to develop key employability skills in a direct, interesting and meaningful way. It provides the opportunity to spend a year completing structured work experience anywhere in the world, before returning to Birmingham School of Art for the final year of the BA Art and Design course to apply what has been learnt working in industry.

Links to Industry

The course is directly supported by Jason Bruges Studio, and founder Jason Bruges is our Visiting Professor: Design Studio Practice.

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.


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 international students

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.

Facilities & Staff

Margaret Street exterior

Our Facilities

In 1884 Birmingham Municipal School of Arts and Crafts - the first municipal school in the country, opened at Margaret Street where Birmingham School of Art still stands today. This building, with its rich history and rare heritage of practice-led knowledge, is home to our BA Art and Design course. The School provides an incredible resource for the production of art and design, 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.

Our course is situated within an inclusive physical studio environment. This incubator space has making at it’s heart, it is a place of doing, enabling agility and iteration. The layout is flexible and open plan. Like a laboratory, our space brings together the exploration of art, design and creative digital technologies to allow for the necessary collision and serendipity that innovative ideas creation now requires. The layout is loosely divided into Labs, and equipment within the Labs will be on open display and ready to use. These resources will be in addition to the extensive workshops already available in Margaret Street, that include photography, casting, woodwork, metalwork, silk screen, etching, 3D printing, laser cutting, and printed and constructed textiles.

The specialist library, workshops and studio facilities at the School of Art provide a hub of creative activity for you to immerse yourself within.

Take a look around some of our facilities, classrooms, studios and workshops in our virtual walkthroughs, or take a tour of the School below.

View our walkthroughs

Tour the School of Art

Our staff

Jo Newman

Foundation Course Director and BA course leader

Jo chose a career in education so that she could provide students with learning environments where conversations, ideas and materials can be selected, combined, analysed and shared, offering them a way of socializing, caring and questioning to grow their learning with meaning for their futures.

More about Jo

Dr Lara Furniss

BA Art and Design Course Director

Lara has twenty years professional experience working internationally across many art and design disciplines. This extensive cross-disciplinary professional experience directly informs Lara’s teaching, with a primary interest in developing new pedagogic approaches to non-discipline specific problem solving. Lara’s research interests have emerged...

More about Lara