Art as a product, concept and as a creative aspect is a tricky one to define as the notion of ‘art’ itself is always changing. Although art was traditionally focused on beauty and representation, it is also concerned with challenging moral and social conventions. It plays a vital role in our society by reflecting on culture and everything connected to it.
An impressive portfolio of work holds more weight than actual A-level grades when it comes to studying a degree in Art and Design. Exact entry requirements depend on the institution that students apply to, for example, the University of Oxford may ask for three A grades for their Bachelor’s in Fine Art; however, this will differ on the university.
Students are advised to check with their desired universities and chosen courses to understand what they need to gain admission, the entry requirements will vary from each institution.
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There are many different directions that students can take when it comes to Art and Design, for example, there are BA Art and Design courses, BSc Creative Technology, BA Fashion and BA History, Communication and curation as well as courses in art management.
Most degree courses will be the standard three years in length, although some universities will offer candidates an integrated degree – which is a Bachelor’s (undergraduate) and Master’s degree qualification together. Integrated degrees usually take four years and students will continue to their postgraduate qualification after completing their undergraduate but will be included in one course (Learn more – Choosing a degree course).
Most art courses will predominantly focus on the practical side of studying and teach individuals a wide range of artistic mediums, such as; painting, sculpting and even electronics to create that masterpiece. Modules may include art history and movements to gain a better insight into the development of art itself.
Students will still attend lectures as part of their degree course but will need to conduct independent research outside the classroom to aid learning. Students will most likely have to work on their art pieces alongside studying, an assessment will vary.
Art modules will vary from the degree course chosen – a more theoretical degree will feature less practical work, while a practical degree may feature the production of a portfolio and learning of techniques.
Regarding design, some universities will split students into different groups during the course, and students can choose which disciplinary area they wish to specialise in. For Graphics students, they will most like to choose from computer-based graphics, typography, photography and storyboarding.
Certain universities offer students the chance to choose modules from other schools, or degree courses meaning students can completely tailor their degree and specialise in areas that their heart desires. There are plenty of opportunities for candidates to find out what they want to do within that creative field throughout the degree (Learn more – Should students pick a course directed at a career).
Students will gain insight into art concepts, techniques, what makes a ‘good design’ and the intellectual side of designs and pieces.
During the final year, candidates may be expected to put a professional portfolio together as part of their final piece and to aid them in gaining experience or employment upon graduation. Even though art and design courses are considered practical and usually completed by creative types, there are theoretical and writing assessments required. Most art and design courses still require for students to complete a written dissertation (which may be a part of complementary to a practical piece of work) during their final year.
Studying art and design isn’t just about producing work, and does require critical thinking and theoretical learning alongside creating; therefore students should understand this before applying for a degree that they feel isn’t suited for them. The modules involved will vary from each institution, it’s highly recommended that students visit university open days, helping students choosing a degree course that suits them best.
The majority of assessments will be in the mode of coursework for art and design, as you cannot produce a piece of work through a controlled environment such as an exam! However, that will mean students may spend more time on an assessment piece than students from other degrees as work can take hours or even weeks to complete.
Universities tend to run workshops to aid students throughout their degree and their journey after through employment. There may be CV writing workshops, guides on pricing and gaining freelance jobs, optional work placement modules and mock client scenarios.
Students will gain insight into critical thinking and the processes that it takes to create a piece of work, and how to do it correctly. Those who attend university will gain skills that are transferable throughout life and employment. Candidates will gain organisational and time management skills through the completion of coursework and even social skills through presentations and group work.
Art and design is a fascinating and rewarding subject to study, from understanding the processes it takes to create a truly wonderful piece or portfolio, to knowing that you created something beautiful. Students will gain an understanding not only from a creative perspective but a historical one through their modules. Practical skills will be learnt that will allow individuals to develop their artistic style and understand the different approaches towards art.
For creative types, studying an Art and Design course will place you with industry professionals and like-minded people who will provide opportunities to network as well as feeling inspired and enthusiastic.
Art is a diverse area where students can tailor their degree and direction, from fine art, sculpture, history of art, garden art, fashion design, media studies, exhibitions, musical and theatre art, graphic design and art management.
Many students will go into the world of work and find employment within curators, arts administration and PR roles. However, other candidates enter art and design degrees in hopes to find employment as an artist or design, or to set up their own business selling their work or to work on a commission basis (Learn more – How to become a student entrepreneur).
There are jobs within the arts sector that require specialist training at postgraduate and undergraduate level. Students may wish to study a PGCE course, or a Master’s to teach art at a school or university level.
Tailoring the degree to suit your strengths, interests and ability will help students in knowing which sector they wish to enter when they graduate.
Individuals with talent, skill and a hard work ethic may find employment and enter a very exciting and rewarding industry. Employment opportunities include; fashion designer, graphic designer, illustrator, community worker, an artist, textile manufacturers, museum curator, advertising exec and multimedia worker, as well as setting up your own business.
Master’s programmes include; animation, arts journalism advertising, design management, games design, graphic branding, documentary, media design, photography, illustration and photojournalism and art management.
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