Art and Design - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
Full Time (3 years)
September 2017

Our Art and Design course is a highly flexible interdisciplinary programme of study that encourages you to identify your own individual practices and apply them to a range of real world contexts.

After an initial diagnostic period, critical approaches and design methodologies will help your personal development through engagement with external facing ‘live’ projects, collaborative working with both university and other professional organisations, diverse workshop facilities, and a team of academic and technical staff who are all active in a range of professional fields.

What's covered in the course?

Our BA (Hons) Art and Design course covers interdisciplinary approaches to practices in contemporary, art, design and craft.

You will work on studio and live projects to develop your own practice, whether your interest lies in photography, installation, print, digital media, sculpture, illustration, curatorial practice, textiles, drawing, sound, graphic design, public art or three-dimensional design.

Working closely with academic and technical staff, you will develop new skills and approaches to projects which help you gain confidence, helping you to  uncover your own strengths and interests.

In your second year you will develop live/collaborative projects and participate in professional placements.  You will also have the chance to study abroad at one of our European partner institutions.

Regular talks from visiting professional artists, designers, curators, craftspeople and entrepreneurs will maximise your employability prospects.

Students have previously enjoyed experiences, like responding to the architecture of Dudley Zoological Gardens’ World Heritage Site to represent the Zoo’s 1930s-listed structures.

Our graduates have recently showcased their work at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery , and also presented a collection of design ideas to Associated Architects, earning a £5,000 prize to further present their work in the West Midlands.

You’ll receive the support of expert academics, like Stuart Whipps, who has recently exhibited his work in the British Art Show 2015.

"What really stuck with me was the intention to cultivate the skill set needed to define my goals, break down the steps/stages to achieving my goals and fulfil them."Devon McFarlane

Why Choose Us?

  • Our Faculty of Arts, Design and Media is one of the UK's largest and most prestigious institutes of art, architecture and design education
  • Work experience placements and live industry briefs give professional exposure that has led to employment with companies including BBC, Cadbury, Channel 4, Fused, Games Faction, Saatchi & Saatchi, TBWA Worldwide and The Mill
  • Our graduates regularly receive awards and prizes recognising their excellence
  • We have links to a range of national and international institutions, including Ikon Gallery, Tate Liverpool, , and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
  • Each year the onsite project space IPS will be the hub for a series of residencies, exhibitions and events and will work with a number of local, national and international partners to deliver a range of projects with our students.

Examples of recent graduate activity include:

  • A coveted place on the graduate training scheme to become a TK Maxx buyer 
  • External affairs Coordinator for the BBC, after exploring relevant issues in their individual and professional practice modules
  • A video commission for the international property developer CBRE’s Birmingham office with the potential for more commissions for the company’s offices worldwide.
Student ambassador helps Open Day visitor

Open Day - 19 November 2016

Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 19 November 2016. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

This course is open to International students

School of Art

Discover Birmingham School of Art

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work in jobs such as:

  • Graphic designers
  • Artists
  • Secondary education teaching professionals

Entry Requirements

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

UK students

In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio..

112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2017/18
GCE A Level/ AS Level BBC at A-Level or 112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A-Levels
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years) D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years) DMM - 112 UCAS points
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years) D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design Distinction
International Baccalaureate Diploma 14 points overall
Irish Leaving Certificate 112 UCAS points - Higher Levels
Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher 112 UCAS points
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) grade Pass plus grades CC at A-Level (or equivalent qualifications) to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
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.
EU/International students
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements 2017/18
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses). 14 points overall
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).

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2017 FT 3 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2017 FT 3 years £12,000 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Guidance for UK/EU students


UK and EU 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

Non-EU (International) students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.

3) Through UCAS

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.

Portfolio Guidance

Hear our student's top tips on putting together your art and design portfolio.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.

The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Year one

Introduction to Art and Design Practice 1: The Workshop
20 credits

This module introduces students to art and design methodologies, a range of specialist workshops and the technical skills, media and processes associated with these. It also enables you to begin to investigate personal source material to apply to various practical process areas.

Introduction to Art and Design Practice 2: The Studio
40 credits

The module provides opportunities for students to form an understanding of interdisciplinary practice, introducing you to some of the approaches, methodologies and strategies for making work in a studio context. It emphasises the importance of ‘making’ through appropriate mediums in order to resolve creative problems. 

Introduction to Art and Design Practice 3: The World
20 credits

The module focuses on further developing individual methodologies, and intertwining of research and practice.  An understanding of context beyond the studio is a key factor in understanding diverse cultural contexts for practice and developing a global outlook in relation to art and design practice.  It also, along with ‘Introduction to Art & Design Practice 2: The Studio’, forms part of a developing understanding as to how creative practitioners operate and engage with the professional world.    

Introduction to Contemporary and Historical Contexts
20 credits

The purpose of this module is to facilitate you to acquire and extend knowledge of art and design practice, in both contemporary and historical contexts. The module content will introduce you to current debate affecting the interdisciplinary creative practitioner, examined through various lenses, examples and case studies. 

Collaborative Practice
20 credits

The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling the student to work with students from complementary disciplines in order to create an interdisciplinary project.

Year two

Establishing Art and Design Practice 1
40 credits

This module is designed to extend the students individual practice in response to local and/or global issues, environments, text and/or other contexts.  It will encourage responses to themes from broad disciplinary boundaries, human experiences and values with students developing work for exhibition, performance, demonstration or dissemination of innovative artistic and design work appropriate to the professional context of the project outcomes.

Establishing Contemporary and Historical Contexts
20 credits

The purpose of this module is to facilitate your enquiries into both contemporary and historical art and design practices.  The area of study, while set by the module tutor, should also allow you to reflect on your own personal practice, and evaluate and communicate this in a written and/or verbal form.  The outcome will be a written or verbal response, and be relevant in both form and content to the focus of the module investigation.

Live Project
20 credits

This module provides an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge and skills to an external, professional environment. It is an opportunity for students to engage in a professional manner with an aspect of their chosen field, which contributes to the development of employability skills within the supportive infrastructure of the University.

Work Placement
20 credits

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and BCU Careers. Typically, the placement duration is 70 hours.

In your second year you will have a choice of one of the following modules:

Collaborative Practice 2
20 credits

The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines, or with academic staff. Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities and with the support of academic staff.

Establishing Art and Design Practice 2
20 credits

The content of this module is designed to extend the students individual response to global issues, environments, text and/or other contexts to further develop an understanding of their individual responses to interdisciplinary modes of enquiry

Year three

Major Project
60 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in depth and theoretically informed project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you.  At this level, you will be expected to work independently but you will receive a range of support from tutors and visiting lectures. 

Contemporary and Historical Contexts (Research in Practice)
40 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area of personal interest. The research outcome is individually negotiated with the supervisor and can take the form of a written dissertation or alternate written format. 

Professional Practice
20 credits

This module allows you to work with staff in self-evaluation and research to source appropriate career possibilities beyond their degree.  This personal research will be supplemented by regular talks and workshops from visiting experts from a range of backgrounds – such as artists, designers, curators, craftspeople, entrepreneurs, educators and project managers. 

First year 

Teaching focuses on the acquisition of research and practical skills. This includes workshop induction, a broad range of projects and an understanding of the course focus on responsive practices both in the studio and beyond.  It is important that students gain an understanding of a range of working methodologies in the studio and beyond. This is supported by an introduction to research and writing skills, with all students learning to develop their ideas through practice and research.

Second year

Second year involves the application of collaborative, live and experiential modules, which promote breadth and potential career research.  In this year, students have recently worked collaboratively with Associated Architects, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Eastside Projects, Birmingham Central Library and Dudley Zoo. Students have also used the Professional Practice modules in this year to explore potential future careers, set up their own business or study abroad.

Final year

You will explore the synthesis of skills in a broad variety of media, applied to real and public contexts.  Recent projects have included students working  in a prison with issues of creativity and confinement, explorations into the demolition of Birmingham’s old central library and a fashion shoot/pop-up shop for the RSPCA in Birmingham City Centre. 

Hours in the classroom

Contact varies between levels but as a rough guide students will be engaged in lectures, seminars, studio and other guided activities for approximately three days a week.  

Teaching breakdown

28 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
70 Time in independent study RoyalBlue
2 Time on placement LightSkyBlue

Assessment breakdown

Student work

The work of Billy Plante, which discusses the relationship of institutions to current social, political and global issues, is an outstanding example of site specific video installation.

Andre de Jong turned his front room into a nationally acclaimed art gallery, VINYL Birmingham, UK Sept 2010 – Sept 2013, and was subsequently awarded Arts Council England grants in two successive years.

Student stories - Lucy Martin

Student Lucy Martin discusses how the course allows her to choose what she wants to do and the different facilities on offer. She shares her tips for being a successful student too: "You need to be the boss of your own work."

View more examples of student work...

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further Study

You could progress onto  a range of postgraduate studies, including an MA or PGCE. You could also potentially go straight to doctoral research study. 

The MA Fine Art programme at Margaret Street is a popular choice among graduating students.

For further information on courses call +44 (0)121 331 5595 or go direct to the courses section of the website.

Trips and visits

Some of the students recently visited the Venice Biennale at the beginning of their Level Five studies, and this had a profound effect on their personal practices. Other visits/trips include Berlin, New York, London and Barcelona.

Enhancing employability skills

You will learn of range of skills which will be key to enhancing your future employability.

Specifically you will learn to:

    • Develop your own practice and how to analyse this in relation to future employment options.
    • Identify the relationship of theory to practice and how this can be used to develop your own individual identity.
    • Negotiate, plan exhibit and present to a professional standard.
    • Work independently and collaboratively.
    • Be a self-motivated, organised, effective learner.

You will also learn skills in a range of workshop practices in relation to individual development, including photography, casting, woodwork, metalwork, silk screen, etching, 3D printing, laser cutting, and printed and constructed textiles.

Professional practice guidance will teach you a range of skills such as CV writing;  the use of social media and other platforms for self-promotion,  presenting yourself and your work in a professional framework using a range of appropriate communication skills, such as video and various types of presentation software.


All students take up a placement of at least 30 hours during their second year.  Recent placements include:

  • London Fashion Week
  • Ikon Gallery
  • Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery
  • Clusta Design Consultancy
  • Flatpack Festival
  • ‘Doctors’ (BBC TV show)
  • Regional Starbucks stores
  • The New Art Gallery Walsall
  • Story Museum
  • Eastside Projects
  • REP Workshop
  • Municipal Bank
  • Lordswood Girls' School 


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

Birmingham School of Art has a wide array of links with partner organisations regionally, nationally and internationally. These partnerships will provide work experience opportunities for you and contribute to your learning and teaching activities. Our overseas partnerships often result in opportunities for you to mix with students from different countries and gain different perspectives, as well as opportunities to undertake a period of study overseas.

Regional - Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Gallery, Eastside Projects, Midlands Art Centre, New Walsall Gallery, The Mead Gallery, VIVID, Capsule, Grand Union, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Library of Birmingham, and primary and secondary schools across the region.   

National - Arts Council England, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool.

International - Established links with other significant institutions both in Europe and the USA, as well as in Canada, Russia and Japan.

These include: The Sorbonne, the Metz/Pompidou (France); Studio for Electronic Instrumental Music, The Hague (Netherland); Ars Electronica (Austria); University of Cologne, Free University of Berlin, Leipzig Academy of Art (Germany); University of Ljubljana (Slovenia); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts College of Art, California Institute of the Arts, University of California (USA); Pacific Centre for Technology and Culture (Canada); Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (Japan); The Laboratorium (Russia). 

Megan Morrall
Our graduates: Megan Morrall

Recent graduates include Megan Morrall, who is currently working as an external affairs coordinator for the BBC after exploring relevant issues in her individual and professional practice modules.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate jobs

Recent graduates have progressed to various careers and roles including design, management consultancy, community arts officers, teaching, education assistants, curators in museums, galleries and art centres, exhibition design and interpretation, fashion and styling, display design, video production, web design and contemporary retail.

Our Graduates

Billy Plante has just completed a large video commission for the international property developer CBRE’s Birmingham office, with the potential for more commissions for the companies offices worldwide.

A small group of students started the Clusta Design Consultancy, which has grown to incorporate offices in London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles.

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:

Our international students

Our School is particularly popular with students from China, Hong Kong, Israel and Singapore.

Our International Office in Shanghai was established in 2007 and we work hard to develop strong working relationships with countries in Asia.

We provide prospective students with a professional and efficient application and student service, and maintain close relationships with former students living in China.

We are the UK’s most successful recruiter for art and design in China and Malaysia, and we run courses in Hong Kong and Thailand.

The course provides the ability to study in one of the UK’s oldest art schools.  You will learn to develop your own creative practice in a thriving creative community in the heart of the UK’s second city on a course which mixes traditional surroundings with current international debates.

The ability to develop your own individual practices alongside a range of local institutions and industries will give a unique insight into the culture and markets of the UK.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our art and design course is most popular with international students from:  

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

Birmingham School of Art (an impressive purpose built Grade 1 listed example of Venetian Gothic architecture) was the first major renovation project undertaken by the university (£5.5m refurbishment). The School provides an incredible resource for the production of art and its associated fields of study. The building has a range of facilities available including studios, workshops, specialist art and design library, bookable spaces, lecture/seminar rooms and ARTicle Gallery.

Located next to the city centre’s Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the School is just a five-minute walk from the new Library of Birmingham and Ikon Gallery.

Students benefit from an environment which thrives on the everyday interaction of education, culture and professional practise.


Our studio spaces make excellent use of height and light, and a special screening system allows each full-time student a dedicated area to work in throughout their course.


Workshops include one-to-one technical support and operate throughout the building, allowing you to develop ideas and skills working with print, wood, metal, plaster, photography, video, textiles, 3D printing, laser cutting and prototyping.


The School of Art library contains a wealth of artists’ biographies, catalogues, art and design magazines and DVDs, all of which are updated throughout the year. The library is also linked to others across the University so you can order any additional materials you might need.

Social space

A new student-led social space, designed by School of Art students, is a great place to relax, grab a coffee, and catch up with friends. Students also display their work, host film showings and private-view receptions in this space.


There are purpose-built spaces throughout the building to present your work, including areas for cabinet, wall and floor pieces, and installation project rooms.

ARTicle, our professional art gallery space, has proved a huge success and offers a diverse and exciting variety of shows every month.

Parkside Building

You will also be able to use facilities at our nearby Parkside Building, a new five-floor campus site packed with fashion design workshops, studios and social ‘collision spaces’ where you can share ideas with students and staff from different courses.

Our staff

The staff are from a wide variety of specialisms including digital media, photography, textiles, critical design and fine art. Stuart Whipps has recently exhibited at the British Art Show and Demitrios Kargotis is currently engaged in Gaming A Better Tomorrow in partnership with Somerset House London.

Stuart Whipps

Stuart Whipps

Lecturer BA Art and Design

Stuart was born in 1979 and lives and works in Birmingham. His practice uses and interrogates photography in its broadest definition. He is interested in the relationship between the photographic image and object, the slippery nature of archives, and the relationship between photography and narrative.

Stuart creates installations and books that tease complex narratives out of historic artefacts and moments. Recent bodies of work have utilised diverse material such as the collected speeches, interviews and statements of Margaret Thatcher, collected pieces of Scottish shale and found negatives from redundant South African photographic labs.

Selected solo exhibitions include:

  • PCS, Ithuba Arts Gallery, Johannesburg, 2015.
  • Invites, Zabludowicz Collection, London, 2014.
  • Birth Sprins, Death Falls, Flat Time House, London. 2013.
  • Why Contribute to The Spread of Ugliness? , Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2011.
  • New Wooabbeleri, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-On-Sea, 2010.

Selected group exhibitions include:

  • British Art Show, 2015 - 2017.
  • Relatively Absolute, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire, 2013.
  • Community Without Propinquity, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 2011.
  • East International, Norwich, 2009.

In 2005 he won the Observer Hodge Photography Prize and in 2009 he was the joint recipient of the East International prize.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295