Fine Art

Key Facts

Code W100
  • Typical A-level offer

    BBC with B in Art or appropriate plus satisfactory portfolio

  • Course Length

    3 Years

Further details on entry requirements

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The School of Art at Aberystwyth University conceives of Fine Art as a professional and intellectual pursuit, one that requires the disciplined acquisition of technical expertise, the formation of a creative intelligence, and an historical, critical, theoretical, and contemporary awareness of Fine Art practice. The BA Single Honours Fine Art program offers you a training that connects traditional skills with contemporary practice and theory. Tuition in Fine Art is available in painting, printmaking, drawing, photography, book illustration, experimental film, installation and site-specific performance. Entry is available directly from school or via foundation course. 

All our staff members are active in Fine Art or Art Historical research; their experience as exhibiting artists, publishing art historians and practicing curators actively informs the teaching at Aberystwyth. Throughout their degree scheme, Fine Art students may also chose from the School’s portfolio of Art History modules that span the Renaissance to present day with a choice of vocation-oriented modules such as Art Gallery Education and Staging an Exhibition that engage with the curatorial study of art. Fine Art students additionally benefit from access to the School’s Museum and its internationally renowned collection of artworks. As versatile and articulate graduates, you will be able to pursue careers as artists, educators and curators, or to continue to postgraduate studies. You will emerge with real world capabilities, enabling you to shape your future and develop the career you deserve. 

Top 5 in the UK for Fine Art subject area (NSS 2016)
100% student satisfaction for Fine Art degree course (NSS 2016)

School of Art: 100% student satisfaction (NSS 2016)

100% of undergraduates from the School of Art who graduated in 2015 were in employment or further education six months after graduating (DLHE 2015)

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Employability
  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment
  • Student Views


Why study Fine Art at Aberystwyth? 

Apart from being intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding, the study of Fine Art at Aberystwyth University has many practical benefits. It fosters a hands-on approach to the challenges of everyday life, encourages creative problem solving, improves the ability to adapt in a changing world, and enhances interpersonal liaison skills. These assets, sought after in today’s job market as transferable skills, are actively promoted during your course of study at the School of Art. By combining traditional skills with new technologies our courses aim to give you a competitive edge by broadening and enhancing your portfolio and skills base. 

The School of Art sits within the Institute of Literature, Languages and the Creative Arts (ILLCA). The Institute comprises four other academic departments: Theatre, Film and Television Studies, English and Creative Writing, European Languages, and the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies. This collaboration of academic partners and arts providers forms a unique centre of excellence in Wales with international importance and impact as shown in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment. It found that 100% of research impact is world-leading and internationally excellent.

Set in its own grounds, the School of Art is self-contained within a stylish interior that houses spacious and well-lit studios for painting, darkrooms, print workshops, a Mac Suite, as well as lecture theatres and seminar rooms. The School also accommodates a museum, public galleries, and extensive art collections. Allowing students to move with ease from one area of study to another and to remain in close contact with the staff, the proximity of these working spaces fosters a strong sense of community and cooperation. 

The School of Art is the oldest university art department in Wales. It has a distinguished history that goes back to 1917 when it was one of only a few British universities to be concerned with the Art and Crafts Movement. Our splendid Edwardian listed building has been adapted to meet the needs of today’s fine art education while retaining many of its original features. It is an elegant symbol of the School’s aim to link the traditional and the contemporary. The School of Art is more than an academic department. It is a caring community of staff and students from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities. Our objective is to introduce you to the best scholarship in the arts, to assist you in developing your learning potential, to apply your knowledge, and to become an active, confident, and well-educated member of society. Aberystwyth is a friendly, cosmopolitan community with considerable cultural resources: five art galleries, four theatres, cinemas and film festivals. It has the largest Arts Centre in Wales, a major venue for theatre, concerts, events and exhibitions by contemporary artists and designers. Aberystwyth is also home to the National Library of Wales. One of only five copyright libraries in Britain, its extensive collection of watercolours, drawings, prints and photographs of international significance provides excellent facilities for academic study and research in the visual arts. 

Originally a medieval walled-town, Aberystwyth nestles between countryside and sea, an area of mid-Wales renowned as an environmental haven and for its spectacular scenery. The vestiges of the Iron Age and thirteenth-century fortifications, together with an eclectic mixture of Victorian, Gothic, and Classical revival architecture, make up the rich historical flavour of the town. For over two centuries its combination of pastoral and picturesque, romantic and sublime landscape has inspired artists like Richard Wilson, J. M. W. Turner, John Sell Cotman, and John Piper. A visit is recommended. Those who come usually find that it is a great help in making up their minds about coming to study with us!

Our Staff

Through their active involvement with the practice, history and curation of art, staff members of the School of Art seek to provide a rich learning environment for the student. Their experience as exhibiting artists, publishing art historians and practising curators actively informs the teaching.

Course Content

Welsh medium modules available

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

Year 1 Core (110 Credits) Fine Art students must take the following modules:

Semester 1

Looking Into Landscape: Reading, Researching, Responding AH11520
Art Practice A AR10740

Semester 2

Representing The Body AH10610
Art Practice B AR10840

Year 1 Electives Select 10 credits from:

Semester 2

Aspects Of British Painting 1951-1966 AH10810

Dark Materials: Race, Magic, Deception And The Photographic Trace AH11010

Year 2 Core (10 Credits) Fine Art students must take the following module:

Semester 2

Professional Practice For Students Of Art AR23210

Year 2 Options Fine Art students must take 70 credits from the list of AR modules. You must take a minimum of 100 credits at Level 3 during Part 2.

Semester 1

Painting 1 AR20120

Painting 2 AR20230

Photography 1 AR20720

Photography 2 AR20830

Life Studies 1 AR22110

Printmaking 1- Relief Printing And Screenprinting AR22320

Printmaking 2- Relief Printing And Screenprinting AR22430

Interdisciplinary Making 1 AR23300

Interdisciplinary Thinking 2 AR24100

Semester 2

Painting 3 AR20920

Painting 4 AR21030

Photography 3 AR21620

Photography 4 AR21730

Book Illustration 1 AR21820

Book Illustration 2 AR21930

Life Studies 2 AR22210

Printmaking 3- Intaglio, Stone And Plate Lithography AR22520

Printmaking 4 - Intaglio, Stone And Plate Lithography AR22630

Interdisciplinary Making 1 AR23320

Interdisciplinary Thinking 2 AR24120

Year 2 Options Fine Art students must take at least 20 credits from AH modules level 2 or 3 modules during their second year

Semester 1

Art In Europe And America: Modernism 1900-1950 AH20520

History Of Photography 1 - Themes And Processes 1840-1940 AH32520

Art/sound: Practice, Theory, And History (1800-2010) AH32920

Adaptation: Versions, Revisions And Cultural Renewal AH33120

Semester 2

Practices And Theories Of Art Since 1960 AH20620

The Image Multiplied: European Printmaking Since 1400 AH30620

Staging An Exhibition: Researching, Writing And Displaying AH32720

Pre-raphaelitism And Its Contexts AH33020

Final Year Core (60 Credits) Fine Art students must take the following modules:

Semester 1

Research And Process In Practice AR30600

Semester 2

Research And Process In Practice AR30620
Exhibition 2: Graduation Show AR32540

Final Year Options Fine Art students may take either one from the following list of modules

Semester 1

Painting 6 Paint Directed Practice AR31840

Printmaking 6 - Print Directed Practice AR32040

Photography 6 - Photo Directed Practice AR32240

Book Illustration 4 AR32440

Interdisciplinary Making 2 AR34200

Semester 2

Interdisciplinary Making 2 AR34240

Final Year Options OR take AR31610 (Life Studies 3) and one from the following list of modules

Semester 1

Painting 5 - Paint Directed Practice AR31730

Printmaking 5 - Print Directed Practice AR31930

Photography 5 - Photo Directed Practice AR32130

Book Illustration 3 AR32330

Final Year Options Fine Art students must take at least 20 credits from AH modules level 2 or 3 modules during their final year

Semester 1

Art In Europe And America: Modernism 1900-1950 AH20520

History Of Photography 1 - Themes And Processes 1840-1940 AH32520

Art/sound: Practice, Theory, And History (1800-2010) AH32920

Adaptation: Versions, Revisions And Cultural Renewal AH33120

Semester 2

Practices And Theories Of Art Since 1960 AH20620

The Image Multiplied: European Printmaking Since 1400 AH30620

Staging An Exhibition: Researching, Writing And Displaying AH32720

Pre-raphaelitism And Its Contexts AH33020


Career Prospects Our vocation-oriented practice-based modules as well as career-specific modules such as Professional Practice for Fine Artists and Research and Process in Practice have specifically been designed to enhance your employability. At the School of Art, students benefit from visiting practicing artists and curators, from guidance in CV writing, preparing for interviews, and from the numerous exhibition and volunteer employment opportunities that we organise. Our graduates enter high-profile careers in a variety of subjects both within and outside the arts, craft and design. 

Fine Art degrees provide a solid foundation for diverse and rewarding career paths. Recent School of Art graduates have moved on to become secondary school teachers, higher education lecturers, art gallery managers and curators, children’s book illustrators, photographers and graphic designers, art directors in publishing, medical illustrators and employees with the Design Council, Arts Council, Tate Gallery, Royal Academy, Carlton Television, The Observer, Saachi Gallery, Damien Hirst, BBC, and the Universities of St Andrews, Lancaster, Leeds, Brighton, Kingston and Oxford. 

Transferable Skills 

In addition to practice-based skills and the acquisition of knowledge, studying for a Fine Art degree will equip you with a range of transferable skills that are highly valued by employers. These include the ability to: - conceive creative solutions for specific problems; - research, evaluate and organise information; - clearly communicate ideas and information, both orally and in writing; - work independently and with others; - effectively organise your time and deploy your skills; - be self-motivated and self-disciplined. 

Year in Employment scheme (YES) 

If you consider a year out between your second and third years to work in a museum, art gallery, art studio or a related activity in the UK or overseas, then the Year in Employment Scheme (YES) offers you a fantastic opportunity to fulfil your ambitions. YES provides a rewarding and worthwhile experience, both personally and professionally, and can help you to stand out from the crowd in a very competitive job market. The University’s Career Service will help you to explore your options and secure a suitable work placement. Many students who have participated in the scheme have considerably benefited in their preparations for their future careers.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

What will I learn? 

As an intellectual and professional pursuit, Fine Art requires training, creative intelligence, and a thorough knowledge of theory and practice both present and past. At the School of Art, we are dedicated to the development and innovative application of traditional skills. We specialise in the history and practice of two-dimensional studies, principally Drawing, Painting, Book Illustration, Printmaking, Photography and Interdisciplinary Studio Practice (installation, site-specific performance, video and sound). All Fine Art disciplines offered by the School of Art may be pursued as a specialisation or taken up in combination. Drawing is at the heart of the student experience and is fundamental to the training – accordingly it occupies a central position in the curriculum, particularly in the first year of the degree schemes. 

The first year programme is designed to bridge the gap between school or foundation course and university study. It offers fundamental technical knowledge, practical skills, learning strategies subject and an introduction to the critical understanding of Fine Art. 

The second year programme is designed to extend the skills and knowledge acquired in the first year by specialisation, in-depth exploration of concepts and techniques, and an intensification of study, by fostering a more creative, personal, investigative, and thought-provoking engagement with the disciplines. Students are expected to take more responsibility for their learning and show greater evidence of a capacity for self-directed study, self- and peer-evaluation, as well as determining their own agendas and projects. 

The third year of the programme allows for the refinement and focus of professional study. Students are expected to demonstrate a mature and highly motivated commitment to their practice as evidenced by their determination, self-discipline, productivity and rigorous intellectual enquiry. Students will be expected to develop a clear and distinct direction, sustain a body of qualitative work, contextualise their work, integrate theory and practice, and develop a professional profile or identity. The third year demands a high level of independent study, professional standards, proficiency in the appropriate methods and techniques, and ability to posit their work within a conceptual framework. They will be expected to possess historical and contemporary knowledge pertinent of that field of study. 

Each year the School of Art offers museum and gallery study visits within the UK and cultural tours abroad. Recent destinations have included Madrid, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, New York, Vienna, Barcelona, Venice, Moscow, St Petersburg, Florence, Lisbon and Budapest. 

The School of Art staff is committed to the implementation of both traditional and innovative methods of teaching. All members are active in Fine Art and/or Art Historical research; their experience and expertise as exhibiting artists, published art historians and practicing curators actively informs the teaching. Through the work of individual members of staff, the School fosters research links with other institutions and countries as well as contributes to many distinguished arts and cultural organisations. Through its active involvement with the practice, history, and curation of art, the School seeks to provide a rich environment for the student. 

How will I be taught? 

The School’s teaching uses a wide range of educational methods including workshops, demonstrations, practicals, lectures, crits, tutorials and field trips. Individual tutorials are the principal means of instruction and learning in Fine Art. Our teaching aims to enable you not only to acquire subject knowledge but also to apply it to your own experience as a developing practitioner. We offer you access to excellent learning support and facilities to enable you to achieve your potential. 

You will also be assigned a personal tutor to whom you may turn for guidance and help, academic-related or pastoral. You should feel free to contact them at any time for help and advice. 

Our degree scheme in Fine Art is structured to allow both a specialised and interdisciplinary approach to the practice of Drawing, Painting, Book Illustration, Printmaking, Photography and/or Interdisciplinary Studio Practice (installation, site-specific performance, video and sound). The disciplines may be studied in ratios and combinations that best reflect your interests. They may also be pursued in conjunction with other disciplines taught at Aberystwyth to provide you with a broader education in the humanities. In this way, you are prepared to become fine arts practitioners whose technique and vision are informed by historical awareness. Assessment is by course work – portfolio, film, performance, etc. as appropriate – and takes place periodically throughout the academic year. The process of assessment is designed to keep you fully informed of your progress throughout the three years of the degree scheme. It is backed by an advisory feedback provision that ensures you choose a study scheme and pathway through the degree scheme that is appropriate to your aptitude and development. While the scheme has a core of compulsory modules designed to help you meet fundamental learning outcomes, you may also choose from our optional modules to prepare you for a career path that best suits your interests and abilities.

Student Views

The lecturers are really passionate and knowledgeable about art and their own disciplines. I feel like I am always growing and improving as an artist, as my tutors take time to give me good constructive feedback. Amelia Jenkinson

I love the variety you get from Fine Art. There are no fixed rules for the work you can produce and you are able to fully express your ideas in whatever way you wish. The tutors are helpful and encouraging and there is always someone on hand to guide you, whether that be staff or other students. Jamie Carpenter-White

Everyone comments on how much I have improved over the last few years and I can see it in myself as well. I've learnt so much over my uni time - in particular how to deal with constructive criticism and use it to actually help me! Throughout my GCSE and A-Level years I never really received much criticism, my teachers were always so impressed with my work that I never really pushed myself to the next level. Their teaching left me used to being complimented, it was a massive shock at first coming to university and going from the top in my class at school to just one amongst so many talented students. And although it was initially frustrating being faced with constructive criticism, I appreciate it so much now, if I wasn’t told the truth and pushed to be the best that I can be then I would never have improved at all. Thank you so much! I hope I will continue improving and achieving things! Maria Tilt 

Entry Requirements

A Levels BBC with B in Art or appropriate plus satisfactory portfolio

GCSE requirements (grade C min):
English or Welsh

BTEC National Diploma:
DMM plus satisfactory portfolio

International Students

International Baccalaureate:
30 points overall with Art or appropriate at Higher Level plus satisfactory portfolio

European Baccalaureate:
65% overall with Art or appropriate plus satisfactory portfolio

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