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

This four-year BA (Hons) Fine Art with Foundation Year 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 course....

Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses.  Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.  


Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or 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.

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


This four-year BA (Hons) Fine Art with Foundation Year 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 course.

Working in a lively and energetic environment, students will be given the freedom to expand their 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 and individual projects aimed 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

Through the skilful manipulation of materials, processes and ideas artists are able to offer creative insights which shape who we are and how we exist in the world around us. These are valuable skills in the fast changing and interconnected web of ecological, political and socio-economic and philosophical contexts.

Our course embraces important traditional making skills such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, installation, digital media and performance, and places an emphasis on the fusion with new developments in creative practice framed within a professional working context to improve employability. This hybrid approach, coupled with discipline-specific studios and specialist workshops, will equip you to navigate the growing and changing face of the Creative Industries into the future.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

Our course is based on four key principles; Making Skills, Making Public, Making Communities and Making a Living.

Making skills are developed through our purpose-built studio spaces where you can explore the materials and processes of painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, digital media and performance. The acquisition and application of technical skills are also developed in our workshops and by working with fabricators from across the vibrant city of Birmingham and beyond. These skills will act as the means through which to test, interrogate, and transform art practice both conceptually and aesthetically.

Making Public is focused on exploring art practice in the public realm. This involves expanded ideas of exhibiting and sharing outcomes that generate participation with broad audiences. You will benefit from live projects and our close links to high-profile establishments including: Eastside Projects, Grand Union, Ikon Gallery and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. These opportunities will develop your thinking around the process of making your work public.

Making with Communities asks you to consider ways of building and sustaining meaningful relationships between your art practice and society. You will form Communities of Practice through studio groups before engaging with local, national and international organisations, gaining cultural and global experiences, perspectives and knowledge. This valuable experience will help you to define the kind of future practice you may wish to pursue.

Making a Living places an important focus on your own personal development and the multiple ways of building and growing a successful creative career. This involves establishing a professional context for your work through a situated knowledge of the art sector. The advancement of the digital world has afforded artists a wide variety of ways to thrive in a creative environment. You will be taught a whole set of new skills and behaviours necessary for you to be ready for the exciting challenges that await you in the world of employment beyond your studies.

Grand Union and the Birmingham School of Art are part of the same arts ecology in the city, the region and beyond. By embedding employability into all stages of the curriculum of the BA Fine Art course students graduate with the skills and confidence to flourish in the contemporary art world and the wider creative industries.

Cheryl Jones, Director Grand Union

Why Choose Us?

  • Margaret Street, the home of Birmingham School of Art, was the first municipal art school in the UK. Its Grade I-listed building has been the inspiration for countless artists and practitioners of international repute. It is a site of creative art practice that resonates with its rich history and as a fine art student you would be joining a community of like-minded individuals who learn, make and grow here.
  • You will work across specialist dedicated studio spaces which support the development of painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, installation, digital media and performance skills.
  • Our emphasis on Making Skills, Making Public, Making a Living and Making with Communities places a focus on the development of technical and practical skills, valuable not only to the production of artwork, but to your ability to make a living through employing these skills, post-graduation, within a number of sectors who you will build networks with.
  • You will have regular opportunities to exhibit your work through curating student-led exhibitions in the School of Art and in spaces across the city, culminating in the Graduate Show in your final year.
  • The course draws on Birmingham’s unique position as the No. 2 city in the UK. The city has a rich cultural and industrial history which is embedded in the course, students will engage with Birmingham’s past and with the exciting contemporary environment of the city today.
  • The courses central location, is positioned as part of the culturally diverse and thriving art scene of Birmingham. The relationship to the city and its range of communities, galleries and arts organisations is a defining and unique feature of the course. The course integrates skilled, informed and industry-ready students into the creative industries through public facing and live working opportunities with external partners.

Entry Requirements

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

UK students

80 UCAS tariff points.

IELTS 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.
Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • CDD / 80 UCAS points
  • A maximum of 4 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.


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

  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3.
  • Arts, Media and Publishing subjects preferred but other subjects also considered
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)

Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)

  • Pass
  • Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications to obtain 80 pts

IBO Certificate in Higher Level

  • Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 11 points or above from two Higher Level Subjects
  • Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications to obtain 80 pts

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

  • Achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades DDD
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of DD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of DD in two Highers).


Pass overall (C or above on the core)

UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design

Merit overall

UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology

Merit overall

UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts

Merit overall
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.
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

6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.

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.


Mature Applicants

Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Sorry but we are unable to display the fee breakdown for this course at this time. Please check back later.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Sorry but we are unable to display the fee breakdown for this course at this time. Please check back later.

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.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

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
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Portfolio Guidance

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, 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.

Year one

At Level Four you are given real world examples of diverse practitioners in order to gain knowledge and understanding of the structures and ecologies of contemporary art practice.

This is delivered concurrently with introductions to workshops and specialist studio spaces to allow you to begin to develop your own creative language, interests and skills whilst beginning to consider different ways of thinking about your own emerging practice and the world in which it sits.

You will learn how to research and drive forward ideas that will form the basis of your studio and workshop experiments. In turn you will learn what it means to make art as a practice and how to communicate and nurture it through varied approaches. These approaches will embrace working both individually and supportively with others to share your work with wide ranging audiences both within and beyond the University.

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

Acting as a bridge between your prior study and your development on the course, Making Studio asks you to respond to a series of short projects designed to encourage a thoughtful and experimental approach to art making. Each project is designed to help broaden your understanding of art, its modes of production and how it critically operates within the world. You will engage with a wide range of research, materials, methods and processes as well as being introduced to important contemporary and historical ideas and contexts. The studio plays a pivotal role in your development, working as a flexible, fluid and evolving site for art making, sharing and thinking: A space to make work, build communities and allow creative working relationships to form. The module is delivered through lectures, practical workshops, seminars and tutorials. An analytical and reflective account of all projects will be documented in individual process books.

At each level of the course you will think about making a living. At the heart of this will be the development of a personal portfolio of knowledge and skills that you will start at the first year of the course at Level Four and continue throughout. In this module you will begin to think about the way that other practitioners make a living, develop careers and sustain their practices through the application of their skills. You will consider the wider context for your practice through individual research and develop new skills that will underpin your development on the course and beyond. You will be inducted into a number of workshops across the School of Art developing important practical skills in woodwork, metal, printmaking or textiles processes for example. Alongside this you will develop technical skills that will support you in building your own website which will act as an online portfolio documenting your own unique set of skills and the development of your specific practice.

In Making Meaning you will build your own individual project brief. You will be guided through this process with the introduction of three key elements or building blocks, which consist of; a central interest or theme, an identified method and community. Having done so, you will undertake; research, material experimentation and critically reflect on and resolve outcomes. The research and reflection will underpin the writing of an essay that contextualises your work in relation to contemporary and historical art practices. An analytical and reflective account of this project journey will be documented.

Making Public explores the relationship between art and audience. You will investigate contemporary modes of dissemination, strategies of engagement and forms of communication. You will have the opportunity to; exhibit, broadcast, publish and perform, making your individual practice public. Working with your community of peers, you will organise public facing exhibitions, interventions, publications and/or live events to test your ideas. You will develop and produce external facing platforms and outputs that engage audiences and interrogate the notion of public production. Throughout this activity, you will develop essential professional skills. You will research the various roles that artists assume in making work public; the artist as curator, artist as exhibition coordinator, artist as marketing strategist, artist as technician and artist as producer. Through activating your practice and engaging audiences, you will gain an understanding of a range of professional contexts that exist in the expanding field of contemporary fine art.

You will learn strategies to activate physical and virtual spaces, working within the School of Art and the city. Working together on and off site, you will make your work visible in an ethical, inclusive and sustainable way.

Year two

At Level Five the emphasis shifts to encompass a more individually driven approach that provides the opportunity to build on the skills gained at Level Four to grow your ideas both conceptually and contextually. Level Five also highlights the value of working outside of the School of Art to test out ideas in real world contexts with external partners.

Through this instrumental experience you will gain insights into the relationship between theory and practice; contemporary theoretical and social contexts, to think through how they relate to your own work. You will begin to consider the ways that you might sustain your practice and/or secure employment after graduation through the skills and experiences you acquire throughout the stages of the course.

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

This module introduces you to practice based research and the notion of practice as a research activity which supports you in developing your individual practice. You will identify key ideas that frame your work and consider how these ideas inform the materials you work with, contexts you work within and the decisions you make in the studio and workshops. You will develop your own research informed output which you will work with peers to then publish to make public.

This module encourages you to consider ways of sustaining meaningful relationships between art practice and society in understanding the value and potentials of making a living by working with communities. Through building networks with diverse communities to create relationships with the city and the people that live here you will explore what values can be fostered by working with others in understanding the expanded role of the artist culturally. You will consider the meaning of your work and its potential impact both within the field of contemporary art and in its wider economic and social context in developing an outcome, project or initiative that has a shared goal for mutual gain.

This module expands your understanding of the relationship of theory and practice. Through this module you will be introduced to a number of key themes, each dealing with a different research topic and practical consideration aligned with studios and workshops as you engage with these as sites and communities of making. In response to these key themes you will explore what it means to take different theoretical ideas through various material, technical and conceptual processes in the development of a research-informed body of work.

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

This module enables you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through direct experience in the work place. Supported by academic staff you will research and build important communication skills through the process of arranging a placement in a context relevant to your individual potential career trajectory that you have begun to identify.

This module provides an opportunity for you to respond to and then apply your knowledge and skills to an external context. The module focuses on real-world, live learning through working with communities, organisations and/or audiences outside of the art school. This module supports you in gaining valuable links, networks, experiences and skills to prepare you for a career in the broad, ever-changing, creative industries.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Year three

In the final year of the course you will pursue an individual mode of study that is supported by a range of subject specific staff and the configuration of this will be dictated by your developing art practice.

At this stage in the course you will confidently consolidate thinking, ideas, research and making to create a body of work which has a clear understanding of where it sits in the world. The public outcome of your final artworks will act as a springboard platform for your future career which will be underpinned by the comprehensive plan you will have prepared for life after graduation.

As a community we value and encourage your engagement with us after your course ends and we have developed a number of helpful ongoing learning approaches to continue to support our important alumni.

Throughout the course your learning is supported by technical workshops, lectures, presentations, seminars and live project briefs. There are multiple opportunities to collaborate with others and to select your own individual pathway through the course (through optional module choices).

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 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. 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 takes the form of a written text and a practice-based portfolio.

This module will give you the tools you need to make your work public in ways that are responsive to the ideas, methods and materials that underpin your practice. You will exhibit, perform and show your work throughout the academic year and talk about your work in public with confidence and in a way that is generous to diverse audiences. You will use your personal portfolio of knowledge and skills to make a three-year plan that demonstrates your career ambitions. This should be ambitious but achievable and will evidence the research you have conducted, the knowledge you have gained and the technical proficiency you possess.

This module is about consolidating and resolving your own practice and realising it in a public facing way as you build on your prior imaginative, practical and theoretical investigations. You will continue to develop and extend ideas through experimentation, research and regular critical reflection. You will take part in a public facing exhibition, considering site and audience through the realisation of a resolved, professional and coherent output. You will also develop a process book which documents and communicates your practice in thinking about the dissemination potentials of your work and the communities it engages with; showcasing expertise, skills and concepts through a diverse range of Fine Art disciplines.

The Fine Art with Foundation Year course will give you the support, space and encouragement to enable you to develop your creative practice through experimentation, practical skills and investigative thinking.

The course enables personal transformation through a structure that recognises that each individual has their own interests, ambitions and ideas. Through skills-based teaching, live working and partnership networks, you will have the opportunity to achieve a range of valuable skills that build towards professionalism and employability across the sector.

Live Projects: students working with external partners across the city and beyond have in the past included projects with Tate Liverpool, Ikon Gallery, Eastside Projects, Dudley Zoo, Mosley Community Riding Stables, Turves Green Primary School and Fierce Festival.


(Birmingham City Allotments Live Project)


(Mosley Community Stables Art and Education Live Project)


(Ikon Gallery Live Project)


(Tate Gallery Live Project)

Trips and visits

You may have the opportunity to participate in exchanges, placements, 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 your employability skills

With an increased focus on the importance of visible and viable career routes, the BA (Hons) Fine Art with Foundation Year course at Birmingham City University explicitly deals with the importance of employability by embedding professional practice skills needed to allow graduates to ‘make a living’ in all modules. Digital competencies, project management, communication and problem-solving skills are a few of the key attributes the course develops.

The ambitious, student-centred approach to the curriculum, informed by professional practitioners and researchers, will enable you to become imaginative, confident and convincing in the taking and shaping of your future roles. Graduates will become creative leaders and practitioners of change.

Art is a highly individual practice and can often have a high degree of self-reflection but it is always a professional practice. Through a programme of lectures and seminars we enable you, the artists of the future, to understand your own economy and your contribution to the economy of our societies.

Live working is at the heart of the course. It enhances employability by offering you professional experiences and job opportunities which provide you with the competencies, strategies and confidence needed to shape your own futures and the future of the arts. By working with, for and alongside various organisations and stakeholders in the region, the course will demystify the hierarchical structures of the creative sector so you feel ‘at ease’ in these professional contexts.

Specifically you will:

  • Develop a range of technical making, professional and personal skills, transferable to a range of careers within the creative industries; from artists, to directors, educators, curators, arts administrators and project managers.
  • Develop your own practice and the ability to relate this to future employment options.
  • Negotiate, plan exhibit and present work to a professional standard.
  • Work independently and collaboratively.
  • Be a self-motivated, organised, effective learner.
  • Establish meaningful networks and connections in the city with individuals, organisations and communities.
  • Understand how to promote yourself through a CV, statement, the use of social media, LinkedIn and individual professional websites.
  • Be able to respond to the rapidly evolving creative industries, to not only be ready for immediate employment, but also for future evolutions within the industries through the long-term, future-fit skills you will acquire.


As a student on our BA Fine Art with Foundation Year course you will be offered the choice of taking one of the ADM Faculty Modules. Each module, delivered within the School of Art (across its BA courses), will have a live focus whether that be working collaboratively across the City with students from across the faculty, working in industry on work experience placements or working with community groups on live project briefs.

The Faculty-wide modules allow for the crossover and building of networks between courses. Through these modules you will be integrated into the City of Birmingham, engaging with local contexts and negotiating external relationships whilst developing key employability skills. Recent live projects have seen students working with; Eastside Projects, Wheatley Fellow Harun Morrison, Flat Pack Film Festival, Summerfield Stables in Hall Green, Turves Green Primary School and Tate Liverpool.

You will also have the option to take a year-long professional work placement sandwich year to spend time directly working in industry through our BA (Hons) Fine Art with Professional Placement Year with Foundation 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 your 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 course to apply what has been learnt working in industry.

Links to industry

Birmingham School of Art has a wide array of links with partner organisations regionally, nationally and internationally. These partnerships provide opportunities for live working in a professional context and are an important part of the learning and teaching activities on the BA (Hons) Fine Art with Foundation Year course. The course offers creative opportunities for you to gain direct experience of working with professionals within fine art and related fields on curatorial projects, cross disciplinary opportunities, specialist masterclasses, external live projects and research-based activities.

Regional partners include: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Gallery, Eastside Projects, Midlands Art Centre, New Walsall Gallery, Vivid Projects, Recent Activity, Grand Union, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Hippodrome, the REP, The Library of Birmingham, Selfridges, Primary and Secondary Schools across the region.

National partners include: Arts Council England, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool.

International partners include: BCU has established links with institutions both in Europe and the USA, as well as in Hong Kong and India.


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.

The creative and cultural industries play a significant role in unlocking innovation and growth in other sectors. The creative industries are defined by the UK government as “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property”. The creative economy accounts for 1 in 10 jobs across the UK and Birmingham City University is one of the largest providers of graduates in creative disciplines of any University outside London and the South East.

International Students

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:

The course is positioned within the School of Art, which has a longstanding and active internationalised profile and agenda. The specialist knowledge of the Centre for Chinese Art is drawn upon to broaden international partnership opportunities and to ensure that global perspectives are continually reflected in the curriculum.

The course provides the ability to study in one of the UK’s most historic 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.

The course directly responds to the cultural industries within the context of the West Midlands, as a lens in which to understand, approach and position ideas and skills amongst a global art sector. The BA (Hons) Fine Art with Foundation Year course considers the universal breadth of art practice as you are introduced to contemporary and historical contexts on an international scale; taking account of global, national and local perspectives.

Actively working to challenge the traditional canon, you will be exposed to practices and artists that reflect the diverse nature of our student body. Teaching and learning on the BA (Hons) Fine Art with Foundation Year course is an active experience, engaging you in a range of projects that involve working with industry partners from diverse cultures, backgrounds and contexts; nationally and internationally.

The communities of practice you engage with, and collectively establish, will have both a local and global focus and reach. You will be encouraged to become aware of ethical and inclusive practices and how this may shape your contributions to the creative and cultural sectors in the region, and beyond.

Facilities and Staff

Margaret Street exterior

Our Facilities

In 1884 Birmingham Municipal School of Arts and Crafts - the first 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 Fine Art course.

The studio is at the centre of fine art practice and this course utilises the unique purpose-built School of Art to offer studio spaces as sites of learning situated around specific discipline areas (painting and drawing, sculpture and installation, performance and digital media). As a student on BA (Hons) Fine Art with Foundation Year you will be able to work fluidly within and through the studios both individually and together with other students in a community of practice.

The course aims to celebrate and embed the history of the School of Art through the focus it places on technical, material and process-based fabrication skills. These skills are developed through and within our range of technical workshop facilities for 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.

View our walkthroughs

Our staff

Jo Newman

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.

More about Jo

Rebecca Court

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.

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Stuart Whipps

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art and Art and Design

Stuart Whipps is an artist based in Birmingham, UK. He often makes work about things he doesn’t understand and doesn’t know how to do. Recently this includes restoring a 1979 Mini with the assistance of former British Leyland workers, training to make geological thin sections at the University of Birmingham, and propagating Begonias at West Dean in Sussex.

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Dr Linda Stupart

Lecturer in Fine Art

Linda Stupart is an artist, writer, and educator from Cape Town, South Africa. They completed their PhD at Goldsmiths in 2016, with a project engaged in new considerations of objectification and abjection.

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Andrew Gillespie

Lecturer in Fine Art

Andrew Gillespie is a contemporary artist based in Birmingham. He is interested in the collision of surfaces, structures and materials. He regularly translates familiar imagery and objects through printmaking and casting, exploiting the shift in status and content that occurs with each gesture. He makes composed constellations of works that often conjure a specific landscape, personal experience or public context. 

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Alis Oldfield


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.

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Lee Hewett

Lecturer in Fine Art and Art and Design

Lee is an artist, designer, researcher and lecturer who works across a range of disciplines including sculpture, books/publications, web technologies, photography and moving image. Lee has worked on a range of funded research projects, edited journals and also has teaching experience covering a broad range of levels and subject areas including Fine Art, Art and Design and MA modules. He is currently undertaking a practice-led PhD at the Royal College of Art.

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Dr Catherine Baker

Associate Professor

Dr Catherine Baker studied Fine Art at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design followed by an MA in Drawing at Wimbledon School of Art, completing her PhD by Publication in 2012.

As a practising artist and researcher, she has lectured widely and participated in a number of international drawing initiatives including being invited to be International Artist-in-Residence at the prestigious National Art School in Sydney, Australia.

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Jennifer Wright

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art

Jennifer Wright is an artist and Senior Lecturer, teaching on B.A. (Hons.) and M.A. Fine Art programmes at the School of Art, Birmingham City University but also visiting and examining other Fine Art course in England and Holland. 

Originally trained as a painter, Jennifer has exhibited both in the UK and internationally since graduating from the M.A. Fine Art course at Birmingham. 

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Esther Windsor

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art and Art and Design

Esther has taught in Fine Art Theory and Practice for fifteen years. She is a curator, artist and writer and has curated at Camerawork Gallery and Darkroom, The Photographers’ Gallery, the ICA and The Royal British Society of Sculptors. Esther established two art school galleries, the waiting room, University of Wolverhampton and mirror, LCP London. She was director at Hull Time Based Arts and Co-directed, with Dallas Seitz, an artist led space 1000 000 mph, London. Her research looks at political subjectivities, femininity, re activated psychoanalytic texts and the exhibition as art work.

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John Wigley

Associate Professor Academic

Wigley expresses in his work the anxiety we attach to the temporary nature of things – an aspect of the human condition thrown in sharp relief by our times, where nothing seems sure or sacred. Fearing loss and uncertainty, that time and change eclipses us, he tries to secure the ephemeral, suspend the moment, make solid what is precious and fragile.

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Jane Watts

Foundation Lecturer

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.

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Joe Miles

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.

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