Fine Art with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons) *
September 2021 — UCAS code W10F
Please note: the degree content for this course is being updated for 2022/23 entry. This will not affect the Foundation Year content in 2021/22, but there will be changes to the degree programme you progress on to. Please see BA (Hons) Fine Art – 2022/23 for further information....
Call us 0121 331 6777
Clearing hotline opens Tuesday 10 August
Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Information about the arrangements the University has put in place for the 2021/22 academic year in response to Covid-19 and the emerging variants can be found here.
Should the impact of Covid-19 continue in subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
Please note: the entry requirements listed below are relevant for main cycle applications and may not be applicable during Clearing.
Please note: the degree content for this course is being updated for 2022/23 entry. This will not affect the Foundation Year content in 2021/22, but there will be changes to the degree programme you progress on to. Please see BA (Hons) Fine Art – 2022/23 for further information.
This four-year degree course 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.
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) Fine Art
Our Fine Art degree 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.
What's covered in this 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.
Why Choose Us?
- Your Foundation Year gives you the chance to explore Graphic Communication, Illustration, Design for Performance, Photography, Fine Art and Art and Design. 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.
- 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.
- Fine Art - BA (Hons)
- Illustration with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)
- Art and Design with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)
- Graphic Communication with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)
- Photography with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)
- Design for Performance: Theatre, Film and Live Events with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
80 UCAS tariff points.
|LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS|
|IELTS||Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.|
|Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications|
|A Level and Advanced VCE||
AS and AS VCE
|Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 80 pts|
Access to HE Diploma
Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)
IBO Certificate in Higher Level
International Baccalaureate Diploma
|Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall|
Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers)
|Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 80 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects.|
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma
Scottish Advanced Higher
|Pass overall (C or above on the core)|
UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design
UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology
UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts
|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.
Additional information for EU/International students
Please see your country page for further details on the equivalent qualifications we accept.
In addition to the academic entry requirements listed above, international and EU students will also require the qualifications detailed in this table.
|EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements|
Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.
If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.
Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.
Fees & How to Apply
- UK students
- International students
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 4 years
- £9,250 per year
- Apply via Clearing
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 4 years
- £13,200 per year
£150 free credit (home/EU students only)
For 2021 entry, all new home/EU undergraduate students will receive £150 worth of free credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials.
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.
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.
You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.
Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.
Free access to Rosetta Stone
All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.
Free Adobe Creative Cloud licence
Students studying on this course can request a free licence to install the entire suite of applications on up to two personal devices.
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.
Please note: the entry requirements listed below are relevant for main cycle applications and may not be applicable during Clearing.
You are not required to submit a portfolio for this course.
Course in Depth
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, study skills and productivity.
The two final semester modules will encourage a 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).
This module explores the term ‘practice’ as the process of making, developing and recording information. We will work with you to explore the development of your work based on a set project, looking at a number of documentation strategies while experimenting with a broad range of materials. You will have the opportunity to meet artists and practitioners through local gallery visits and in studio activities and will learn to analyse your work through tutorials and small group discussions.
Artists work in a globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world.
Their art is a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenge traditional boundaries and defy easy definition.
This module will look at experimental approaches to drawing to identify radical new solutions from the perspective of the contemporary world we live in.
During this module you will meet lecturers, researchers and partners from across BCU, the city and further afield to open your understanding of practiced based creative work.
Through lectures and workshops, you will be introduced to the versatility of subject areas in terms of ideas, development, research, materials, techniques and contexts.
Figuring out how the universe works might be a bit more than we need to do each day but paying attention to the future of the world we live in, is worth exploring.
Creative realisation is not just about the practice of producing creative responses, it is about identifying the factors that generate creative thinking and facilitating the process.
For this module you will draw on your own creative strategies to facilitate the development of a project that is appropriate for progression onto your chosen BA (Hons) course.
To identify the focus for your project you must research ‘Future Horizons’ from the rapidly changing world around you - anything that reflects new innovations, e.g. seismic changes, space travel, war, social conflict, internationalisation, environment, technology, architecture, bio-art etc. – whether great or small.
Undergraduate Staff from both Schools will offer guidance on developing a constructive portfolio that affirms your potential for a rewarding creative future.
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.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 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. In combination with online library resources, you will introduce you to digital research methods including Moodle and Lynda.com.
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 100 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.
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.
This module enables you to build upon the technical and practical exploration and experimentation from the previous module and apply further rigorous analysis to speculative practical and contextual enquiry and research.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.
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.
This module provides an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills to an external, professional brief. The brief will be set by an external client/ agency, in consultation with your supervisor, and it could be a ‘real life’ problem to be solved, or a simulation. It is an opportunity for you to engage in a professional manner with an aspect of your subject area, which contributes to the development of employability skills within the supportive infrastructure of the University. Where appropriate, the project may involve interdisciplinary collaboration with students from other courses. In this way, it reflects the collaborative, flexible nature of employment within the Creative Industries.
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+.
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.
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).
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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).
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
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.
Facilities and Staff
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £340 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.
Foundation Course Director
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.
She champions the integration of interdisciplinary approaches with her creative practice, which has a direct impact on her teaching and the student learning experience.
In line with the 2015 HEA report on the ‘Interdisciplinary Provision in Higher Education, Jo aims to facilitate collaborations and synergies between disciplines to challenge students to become inquisitive and to speculate on multiple ‘real life’ scenarios.
Course Leader BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging
Specialising in commercial and editorial photography for national and international clients Joe works freelance alongside his work for the University. Experienced in both film and digital photography he is currently working with RED cameras, combining moving and still image. His extensive list of clients include: BBC, British Telecom, Fulham FC, Hyundai, Liverpool FC, Marie Claire, Microsoft, Nivea, the Times, Sotheby’s, The Sunday Times Magazine Tesco and the Young Vic Theatre.More about Joe
Course Leader BA Fine Art
Rebecca Court works across a range of disciplines including performance, installation, photography, printmaking and sculpture. Her practice challenges the role and potential of the physical presence of the viewer in the exhibition space in the construct of staged participation and acknowledged/ unacknowledged co-collaborative production. She is Head of Postgraduate Taught Programmes at Birmingham School of Art.More about Rebecca
Jane is an interdisciplinary practitioner, and began her career in textile design. She has since worked as National Craft Advisor for the Women’s Institute in the charity sector, and has 20 years’ experience of teaching in higher education across a range of creative programmes. Alongside running the BA Art Business programme, Jane is also passionate about drawing and making, facilitating interdisciplinary approaches to creative practice and broadening our perceptions of what ‘practice’ might mean, and how ethical and inclusive work can benefit individuals, communities and the planet.More about Jane
Deputy Head of Institute of Creative Arts (Art)
Steve Bulcock works across a range of digital media including animation, motion graphics and digital drawing systems. He is Head of Undergraduate Studies at Birmingham School of Art. His research interests are concerned with challenging the notions and expectations people have in relation to their interactions with digital technology. Recent work has involved collaborations with artist Sean O’Keeffe as part of an interdisciplinary research programme at Vivid in Birmingham, which also toured the UK with the Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition.
He is currently studying for his PhD, which seeks to investigate notions of the algorithmic surface, computer interface design and authorship in the creative drawing process.More about Steve
Alis Oldfield is an artist whose practice is inherently multidisciplinary, using varying means to immerse the viewer in constructed worlds. Focussing on willing suspensions of disbelief, her work plays with the fictions we create for ourselves. Revealing their own construction, these worlds cultivate friction between fiction and reality – examining the edges of belief.More about Alis