Foundation › Gemmology and Jewellery Studies with a Foundation Year - BSc (Hons)
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Work by - Wing Yan Law, Gemmology and Jewellery Studies
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Gemmology and Jewellery Studies with a Foundation Year - BSc (Hons)

Currently viewing course to start in 2022/23 Entry. Switch to 2023/24 Entry

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

  • School School of Jewellery
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

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

After successful completion of your foundation year, you will have the opportunity to switch (should you wish to change direction) onto a number of related undergraduate degree courses within the School of Jewellery.

Our BSc Gemmology and Jewellery Studies degree is one of the only courses of its kind in the world. This gemmology course will enable you to gain the highest level of professionally-recognised gemmological skills.

Based in the heart of Birmingham’s thriving Jewellery Quarter, you’ll benefit from unrivalled expertise and facilities as you explore precious gems and all relevant aspects of the jewellery trade.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

The Foundation year of your course will introduce you to the breadth of, and the possibilities within, the industries of Jewellery, Gemmology and Horology. You will gain an understanding of some of the key principals and relevant technical terminology, and have the opportunity to develop and apply some of the basic skills whilst gaining an overview of the key industry resources.

Alongside exploring the industry specific qualities, techniques and process you will gain an understanding of the requirements and methodology for further study at HE level. You will develop enhanced directed and independent learning techniques, focusing on your critical and reflective skills.

Our highly practical Gemmology and Jewellery Studies degree offers an introduction to gemmological theory and testing, diamond grading and jewellery valuation.

With our fully-equipped gem labs at your disposal, you’ll be able to carry out a range of standard and advanced gemmological tests used in the identification of gemstones.

You’ll have the chance to put gem materials under the microscope, from natural and synthetic gemstones through to imitation. There will also be a chance to learn complementary skills such as photography.

You’ll study at our brand new purpose-built facilities at the Assay Office, just a few minutes’ walk from the School of Jewellery and in the heart of Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter, where much of today’s jewellery is still made. Our staff team are all experts in their field, and have extensive industry experience. Our graduates go on to work in a wide variety of roles in the jewellery industry throughout the world.

We really enjoy studying on such a unique and specialised course, and find the different areas of study really interesting. We particularly like the diamond grading classes, and also the opportunity to handle so many different varieties of gemstones.

Edward Ferder and Maxwell Burden

Why Choose Us?

  • This Gemmology and Jewellery Studies degree is one of the only courses of its kind.
  • It is taught by industry experts and leading academics in their field.
  • You’ll work in state-of-the-art, purpose-built facilities, with an extensive range of both standard and advanced gemmological equipment.
  • You will have the opportunity to continue your study at postgraduate level with our ground breaking research team.
  • Our department has extensive links with industry, and sponsors include Garrard and Fellows.
  • You study where the industry practices – the course is based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, where an estimated 40 per cent of British jewellery is made today.
  • Founded in 1890, our internationally-renowned School of Jewellery is the largest school of its kind in Europe. 

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to explore our campus and facilities in person. You'll be able to hear more about your chosen subject area in our course talks.

Next Open Day: Saturday 25 June

Book now

Entry Requirements

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

Essential Requirements

80 UCAS tariff points.

LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS
GCSE
  • GCSE English Language at grade C/4 or above
  • GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level) See level 3 entry under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details
Scottish National 5
  • English Language at grade C or above
  • Maths at grade C or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands.
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.
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
  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3.
  • Arts, Media and Science 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)
MMP
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 other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 80 UCAS Tariff Points
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level Maths, grade 5 or above from the IB Diploma will be accepted
International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level Maths, grade 5 or above from the IB Diploma will be accepted
Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers) Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 80 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language and Maths taken at either Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016.
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma MMP
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).
T-Levels 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
Essential

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
IELTS

6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands.

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.

International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).

Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.

 

International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

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: BSc (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • 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: BSc (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 4 years
  • £13,500 in 2022/23

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

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.

Printing

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.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

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

Specialist equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of specialist equipment, including a basic gem testing kit which is available from Gem-A for £260 for a complete kit including carry case.

Excess printing (optional)

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

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Field trips (optional)

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

Conferences (optional)

You may wish to attend conferences, at extra cost.

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

UCAS

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

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

This module introduces you to the University, the School, and the expectations of higher education learning and teaching. You will gain an understanding of the support services and academic resources available to you through a series of inductions. The module will cover the breadth of opportunities within the Jewellery, Gemmology and Horology industry and the specialist requirements of each of these areas.

In this module you will cover drawing skills, the foundations of technical drawing, hand rendering, Photoshop, and will be applying your visual presentation skills.

This module will introduce key library learning skills and methods of academic research. It will include activities engaging you with methods of collecting, collating and evaluating information and knowledge. You will be developing critical reading, critical analysis and presentation skills.

This module gives you the opportunity to pursue an in-depth enquiry specific to your field of interest in Jewellery, Gemmology or Horology. You will investigate an aspect within the field of your specific interest that informs your progression route.

Year one

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

This module introduces you to gemmological theory, and the earth processes that create minerals and organic gemstones. You will study the underlying geology of gemstone formations and handle rough gem crystals, whilst learning how to explain the physical and optical properties of a wide range of different gem materials.

This module introduces you to the skills and techniques of practical gemmology where you will develop stone testing experience through the use of a range of standard gemmological instruments, and gain familiarity with a representative suite of gem materials, utilising the learning which you gain in the gemmology theory module.

History and Culture of Jewellery stimulates enquiry around the influences that have shaped attitudes to jewellery around the world from a historical and cultural perspective. It allows you to identify your own personal interest in sectors of the market by exploring material preferences, considering the social context and values, and discovering the global distinctions.

This module develops the learning from the Semester 1 theoretical module, and introduces synthetic, simulant and treated gemstones. You will learn the different production methods for a variety of synthetic gem materials, and how to identify these from natural stones.

This module builds on the practical skills that you gained in the Semester 1 introductory module, and further develops your techniques in coloured gemstone testing and identification. You will learn to identify a range of synthetic materials, common simulants, and treated gemstones using a variety of methods. You will also have the opportunity to test gemstones set into jewellery, and to develop your diamond grading skills to produce accurate plotting diagrams.

Year two

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

This module is designed to build on the Level 4 modules to further expand your knowledge of gemstone properties and characteristics, and to increase the range of gemstones that you are familiar with.

On completion of the module, you will be able to describe a wide range of gemstone phenomena and properties, and build further on the knowledge gained at Level 4 to explain more advanced gemmological concepts and theories. You will develop your basic gem testing abilities so that you can undertake critical analysis of testing techniques on a wide variety of organic, non-organic, ornamental, natural, artificial and treated stones, in rough and fashioned forms, both loose and mounted in jewellery.

Organic materials are amongst some of the earliest gem materials used by man. This module is designed to develop your specialist knowledge of a range of organic gem materials (pearls, coral, shell, jet, tortoiseshell, ivory, horn, and amber), to learn methods of identification, treatments, simulants, and methods of pearl culturing. Additionally, you will explore and debate the ethics surrounding the use of various materials, protection of endangered species, and restrictions in dealing and shipping of organic materials. The practical element of this module will teach you to detect organic gems by observational features, and the principles of pearl grading.

Jade is a gem material with huge commercial and cultural importance. Its history stretches back for thousands of years, and has not only been used in jewellery, but for ornamental purposes, religious artefacts, and even weaponry. This module is designed to enable you to explore jadeite and nephrite in greater depth, their history, geological origins, treatments, and common simulants, and to analyse and understand the cultural significance of these unique gem materials.

This module invites you to reflect on your intended position within the industry post-graduation, and to engage in a cycle of experiential learning to ensure that you capitalise on the opportunities available once you have left the programme.

Year three

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

Advanced gemmology and analytical techniques is designed to equip you with both the theory, intellectual context and application of the ‘state of the art’ scientific testing techniques utilised in both the gem and diamond industries. It will also provide you with the intellectual skills and confidence required to tackle challenges you will encounter in your future career. The module is designed to encourage you to explore, investigate and research as inherent aspects of the learning process. To allow you to develop the transferable skills of problem solving and self-reliance.

In commerce value is an intrinsic and fundamentally important aspect, therefore the skills and knowledge you gain within this module can find useful application in many aspects of the industry.

This module builds on your knowledge of the concepts of valuation covered in modules from level 4 and 5 of the degree. Your knowledge and understanding of gemstones, jewellery, metals and their relative valuations introduced at levels 4 and 5 will be enhanced in both breadth and sophistication.

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.

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Course Structure

Gain the highest level of gemmological skills, as well as knowledge of all relevant aspects of the jewellery trade, with our Gemmology and Jewellery Studies course. Our highly-practical course will give you the professionally-recognised attributes and experience you need to enhance your employability prospects.

You will work in our fully-equipped, purpose-built gem labs, carrying out a range of gemmological tests, as well as learning advanced-level analytical techniques, diamond grading and jewellery valuation.

You will be introduced to a range of gemmological testing equipment, as well as diamond theory, jewellery valuation and appraisal. You will also learn to grade diamonds to a professional standard, while sharpening your skills in photography and photomicrography.

As you become more skilled and familiar with the equipment, you get the opportunity to continue your gemmological studies to a greater depth. This will also include greater knowledge of jewellery valuation and appraisal, an extensive practical gemmology testing project, and specialist modules in Jade and organic gem materials.

In your final year, you will conduct advanced scientific testing of gem materials, as well as applying the use of spectroscopy to advance your study of diamonds. The knowledge of jewellery valuation and appraisal that you have commenced in your first few years will be further strengthened, and your increasing skills in analytical techniques will then be demonstrated in a research project of your own choosing.

Trips and Visits

Our trips vary each year, depending on what events are being held. They range from attending talks, conferences and museum visits, to field trips both in the UK and abroad. Examples are visits to the London museums, the annual Gem-A Conference, the Blue John mines in Derbyshire, geology field trips to Cornwall and Scotland, a week-long laboratory visit to the University of St Andrews, a three-day visit to the Antwerp Diamond District and a recent third-year trip to Cambodia and Thailand. 

Employability

Enhancing Employability skills

Employability and key transferable skills are embedded within the course ethos to maximise our students’ capabilities and understanding of potential career opportunities. Each module is designed to incorporate both generic and industry-specific skillsets to give students maximum flexibility in their chosen career path.

Modules are structured to include field visits and opportunities for students to observe and develop an understanding of potential routes to employment. Additionally, the course content includes extensive training in advanced analytical techniques which are required by laboratories worldwide. 

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Links to Industry

All of our tutors have worked within the industry, and therefore the course has excellent links with the jewellery trade. Our course has a number of industry sponsors, and they fund a great programme of visiting lectures from a wide variety of experts in the gemmology trade. We also have a number of industry sponsored prizes for high-achieving students, and work closely with other universities and gemmological professional bodies around the world. 

International

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:

Facilities & Staff

Gemmology Facilities Image

Facilities

Our Gemmology students are based in new, state-of-the-art premises at Moreton Street in the Jewellery Quarter, within the Assay Office Birmingham building.

The purpose-built workshops are spacious and superbly well-equipped with equipment, samples and books. Within the department, there is access to some of the highest specification of equipment available for gemmological education in the world. Our students also have access to the further advanced equipment housed within the Assay office’s AnchorCert laboratory. 

Workshops

Jewellery and Horology workshops are located on the main School of Jewellery site complemented with a Technology Hub including state of the art digital manufacturing equipment.

Gemmology

The Gemmology department is furnished with high specification interactive lecture facilities and is situated within the working environment of Birmingham’s Assay Office.

Exhibitions

Our students love the friendly, welcoming atmosphere of the School and return year on year to our annual exhibitions.

Our staff

Bridie Lander

Course Leader Foundation, Course leader Graduate Diploma

Bridie is an experienced jewellery designer/maker and lecturer. She spent several years as an artist and academic in Australia where latterly she was Coordinator of the Jewellery and Object Studio at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. Some of her work was recently included in a group exhibition, “Transplantation: British and...

More about Bridie

Miranda Wells

Course Leader - BSc (Hons) Gemmology and Jewellery Studies

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Andrew Fellows

Lecturer - BSc (Hons) Gemmology and Jewellery Studies

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Michelle McCormick

Lecturer on BSc (Hons) Gemmology and Jewellery Studies

After twenty years of working in the Jewellery and Gemstone industry and studying for numerous trade qualifications, Michelle graduated from the School of Jewellery with a First class BSc (Hons) in Gemmology and Jewellery studies in 2015. Michelle began teaching at Birmingham City University as a Visiting Lecturer and now teaches full time on the...

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