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BA (hons) Fine Art

Course Overview

Fine Art is a subject for ambitious and motivated students who wish to explore their experience of the world through the interrogation of ideas and concepts. The work of a fine artist is characterised by an ability to profoundly examine and sustain their creative, intellectual interpretations through physical means.

The undergraduate programme is intended for those whose ambition is to practice as a professional artist, to work as a professional in the creative industries or in education. You will need to be disciplined, motivated, organised and fully engaged with the course, which is designed to develop in you the skills, confidence and critical ability required of a professional artist in the 21st century.

Fine artists need both technical skill and creative insight as they work to convey complex themes from an original perspective. At CSAD, you will develop these skills through an engagement with materials within a studio practice culture. You begin by exploring the materials of the contemporary fine artist; from paint, wood, and metal to photography, video-installation, performance, or print – and all points in between. You may elect to study techniques employed within other disciplines, such as digital design methods, and you will have access to our music studio.

Download a BA Fine Art prospectus here

You will also develop your understanding of art history and theory, as well as the links between art, science and philosophy. In doing so, you will be continuously refining your own position and practice.

Equipped with a broad range of valuable skills and access to your own studio space, you will work with the academic staff in specific studio areas, defining and developing your interests and practices. Underpinning this will be a special emphasis on drawing as a means of questioning and engaging.

The structure of the course enables you to gather strong business experience, undertake a work placement within the industry, carry out research with one of our Professors and research staff, or travel to study fine art in countries where the traditions are very different. Fine Art has a particular relationship with Marymount College in California and Western Illinois University, involving both student and staff exchanges.

Holly Cook“I love the concepts and ideas, it’s all so clever and thought-provoking” Holly Cook

In the third year, Fine Art students can elect to undertake a business plan or a dissertation, preparing the way for your career on graduation. The choice is yours, and it’s there to help realise your ambitions – whether that is to continue your personal development through further study, build an audience for your work or the beginnings of your client list.


The focus of the degree is not only to develop you as a student and critical thinker, but to inspire your growth into a skilled and intellectual artist. These attributes, which are dependent on one another, combined with practical experience and an understanding of the fine art industry, will form the beginning of your career, and stand you in the strongest possible position to carry it forward.

The Fine Art programme is taught by a dedicated team of both academics and working artists; staff interests and research areas range from painting and printmaking, book arts, and photographic practice and theory, to sculpture and performance art.

Year One (level 4)

Subject: Material Form Discourse: Your introduction to Fine Art represents a strong course emphasis on the practice of drawing. Without being confident, fluent and proficient in drawing, students will find it hard to function successfully as an artist in any medium; it is means of exploring your visual perception whilst gaining an understanding of your relationship to the world as you develop ideas, communicate complex information and solve conceptual problems.

Fine Art in the City: In this module, you will be offered the opportunity to collaborate across subject disciplines. By tackling a set of concerns as a group, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your own strengths, skills and artistic insight in relation to the broader creative field.

Constellation – Concept: In term one, a series of keynote lectures from across the Constellation team will introduce you to the staff and their areas of interest and expertise. Through interdisciplinary working – such as collective presentations – you will be developing your academic and research skills, across concepts ranging from post-modernism, identity and globalisation to post colonialism, technology and embodiment.

Click here to read the full description of this programme (PDF format).

Year Two (level 5)

Subject: Practise Based Research: Your first module of Level 5 will revolve around the careful selection of a piece of work you find inspiring. You will identify an image, artefact, object or event (performance) from a museum, gallery or private collection; it may belong to any of the wide range of media associated with fine art practice but must be chosen as something with which you physically – rather than virtually – engage. Cardiff has many excellent visual, cultural and historical resources for you to consult, though you may opt to search further afield.

Field Project: You will be set a challenging project which will require you to negotiate and learn beyond the curriculum of your subject discipline. It may take you abroad for international study; to an existing company for work experience or voluntary social engagement; or result in working with School’s leading research teams or individual staff. Designed to encourage you to explore and experiment, individual projects will be graded by a common form of assessment.

Constellation – Critique: In terms one and two you will attend a series of seminars lead by different Constellation team members, thus engaging in a diverse range of topics where you will be able to put your academic skills into practice. This will include critiquing current literature as well as contemporary journals and exhibitions, with the purpose of examining a range of modern research ideas; from interactivity and design to metaphor, critical theory, ecology, art and science. In doing so, you will be introduced to additional research methodologies, such as ethnographic research, content analysis, archival research.

Click here to read the full description of this programme (PDF format).

Year Three (level 6)

Subject – Consolidation: This module is student-led in terms of content as you work towards the Manifesto weeks, where you will be asked to formally present your ideas in a form that is publicly available. It is an opportunity to cater to your own interests and aspiration, set within the context of your chosen studio, where your progression through the brief will be supported through tailored seminars. Within these, you can expect peer-to-peer support as well as staff input as you consider different artistic approaches. Lectures, meanwhile, led by practitioners from within the School and beyond, will guide your critical understanding of how your work sits within a broader contemporary context.

Exhibition: Built around a major project and an exhibition brief, the module will see you produce a professional presentation of your artistic collection; this being the culmination of your creative practice, often serving as the launch-pad for a final year student’s future career.

Constellation: Your final Constellation module will demonstrate your ability to produce a dissertation of significant value to your field, with a sense of authority stemming from thorough research and academic rigour.

Click here to read the full description of this programme (PDF format).


From the outset, you will gain hands-on experience in practical studio sessions and workshops – developing your core material skills. Lectures, lead by members of the academic staff, will broaden your theoretical understanding of your field, whilst smaller, targeted seminars are designed to provide guidance for meeting more individual intellectual and practical demands.

Click here to read the full description of this programme (PDF format).


Throughout the duration of your studies, you will be evaluated on three main criteria which underpin all of the disciplines being taught at CSAD:

Skills The practical, technical and conceptual skills you acquire during your course.
Context Your understanding and knowledge of broader intellectual context within which your discipline and work is located. This includes historical, theoretical and social issues and will often be explored in written or theoretical work, known as your Constellation modules.
Ideas Your understanding of intellectual and creative ideas from within and beyond your discipline; plus your ability to acquire new concepts and form new ideas. Ideas will be explored in your Constellation assignments, as well as being evident in your practical progress.

Click here to read the full description of this programme (PDF format).


Whilst your learning is designed to develop you into a rounded and capable designer and intellectual, your curriculum is similarly structured with your potential in mind.

As such, the emphasis that will have been placed upon your work ethic, both creatively and academically, is matched with significant focus on real world experience; from building contacts and undertaking placements to live briefs and, should you choose so, support in forming your own business.

You can elect to take a route through your second and final years of studies where you can engage with businesses or launch your own for the moment you graduate. In your final year, rather than submit a dissertation, you have the option of devising a detailed business plan.

Throughout your time at CSAD, you will be meeting and hearing from professionals within your industry, honing your skills and ideas for commercial and professional advantage. Cross-disciplinary projects will prepare you for teamwork later on, whilst live briefs will prepare you for deadlines and the demands of tight specifications.

Click here to read the full description of this programme (PDF format).


Applicants should have a strong art and/or design portfolio and demonstrate a commitment to art and/or design, five GCSE passes including English and Maths at grade C or above plus:
• 300 points from a successfully completed Art & Design Foundation Diploma or/and
• At least 3 A Levels / Scottish Advanced Highers from any Subject, (General Studies excluded)
• QCF BTEC Extended Diploma: Distinction Distinction Merit
• 300 points from the Irish Leaving Certificate at Highers to include 3 x B1 grades from any subject (minimum grade C2 considered)
• Pass Access with 45 credits at Level 3 within a relevant subject
• 300 points from the Welsh Baccalaureate to include grades CC at A Level within any subject, General Studies excluded, Core counted as fourth subject
• Qualifications equivalent to the above

If your qualification isn’t listed above, please refer to the UCAS website.

For applicants only undertaking 2 A Levels / 12-unit BTEC or equivalent, or applying with other life experiences, other qualifications and/or art & design achievements will be considered. If you are a UK or EU student intending to enter the first year and are confident you will meet the academic level (the tariff points) for your preferred undergraduate course, then you should apply through the usual means (UCAS in the UK) as detailed on the applications page of the Cardiff Metropolitan University website.

Selection Procedure:
Selection is based on the receipt of a completed UCAS application and attendance at a School of Art & Design Interview.
Acceptance at interview is based upon a balance of three criteria.
(i) Personal enthusiasm for and immersion in the practice and theory of Art & Design.
(ii) Academic Achievement and ability.
(iii) Quality of work, ambition and skills demonstrated in a portfolio.

Click here to read the full description of this programme (PDF format).


UCAS code: W100
Course length: Three years full-time.
Subject Leader: David Fitzjohn;

Click here to read the full description of this programme (PDF format).

Below is a list of other related courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Visit the courses page for the full list.
BA Ceramics
BA Artist Designer:Maker
Postgraduate Certificate in Research Skills: Art & Design (CRS)
Ceramics - MA
MA (Art & Design) with pathways
Master of Fine Art (MFA)

Cardiff School of Art & Design is home to 1200 students, united by ambition and a true passion for creative enquiry. We are makers and thinkers in the fields of fine art, design, architecture and a range of craft practices. We have workshops and studios that ensure our students can operate as professionals from the moment they start their studies.

Why choose CSAD? Read three big reasons here.

150 years of Cardiff Metropolitan University

2015 marks our 150th anniversary.

Read more about the events to celebrate the occasion on the Cardiff Met website.

Open Days

Dates for Undergraduate Open days for 2016/17 entry will be posted on the Open Day web page.

The next Masters Open Day is on Friday 19th June 2015 at 12pm. Please email to book a place.

Visit the Open Day web page for more information.

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Download a prospectus

Click here to visit our Prospectus page with links to pdf prospectuses for the range of subjects covered at CSAD.

Research & Enterprise Newsletter

CSAD releases a regular pdf newsletter featuring the latest Research & Enterprise news from across the School. Click the links below to view a selection of recently published R&E Newsletters (pdf format):

Spring 2015 | Autumn 2014 | Summer 2014 | Autumn/Winter 2013/14 | Summer 2013 | Spring 2013 | Autumn 2012 | Summer 2012 | Spring 2012 | Autumn 2011 | Summer 2011 | Spring 2011 | Winter 2010 | Autumn 2010

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