Fine Art

Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts

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Duration: Two years (part-time) consisting of 10 three-day intensive study blocks per academic year
Applications open
Scholarships and bursaries available | Read more about funding

If you are looking to progress from a Foundation Diploma towards professional practice as an artist, or to further your studies in higher education, the Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts is designed for you.

This two-year part-time programme is focused on developing both practical and contextual skills essential to the successful development of sustainable studio practice. 

You can work across disciplines or choose to specialise in areas such as Painting and Drawing, Sculpture, Printmaking and Textiles.

This course is designed to provide a flexible option for students who have studied an Art and Design Foundation Diploma at West Dean College or elsewhere. On completion of the programme students have the option to progress on to the Graduate Diploma in Fine Art.

You can expect:

  • To develop an understanding of the underlying concepts and principles of establishing a creative practice.
  • To have gained a relevant working knowledge of historical and theoretical contexts, and understood techniques of critical research, to inform the development of your own practice.
  • To develop an understanding of processes and materials about your chosen discipline(s).
  • To learn from expert tutors who are practising professionals and have creative arts industry experience and knowledge.
  • Exhibition opportunities throughout the duration of the course.

Programme content and structure

The curriculum is delivered through 10 three-day intensive blocks of study taken each year, attendance of short courses, and monthly tutorials with specialist tutors. Course modules cover a programme of critical, practical and theoretical studies across the broad field of contemporary arts and crafts.

Visiting teaching staff from different specialisms will support you in the development of your skills. Residential modules are supported by self-directed study offsite, and written assignments. Students on the DACC have various exhibition opportunities throughout the course, including an Interim and Summer Exhibition.

See more details of the programme structure

Year 1
Sept Oct Nov Dec  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
DACC 1 Induction (20 credits comprising 6 days in attendance + 168 hours independent study)

DACC 2 Skills Development I (40 credits comprising 9 days in attendance, 12 days attendance on Short Courses + 253 hours independent study)

DACC 4 Project Development (40 credits comprising 9 days in attendance + 316 hours independent study)
Outcome – completed Collections Project Outcome – completed Materials & Context Project and Place Project Outcome – Completed Year 1 Art and Society Project and Exhibition Rationale (500 words)
DACC 3 Critical Studies I (20 credits comprising 6 days in attendance + 158 hours independent study) Outcome –  1500-word essay  
Year 2
Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb  Mar Apr May Jun
DACC 5 Skills Development II (40 credits comprising 11 days in attendance, 12 days attendance on Short Courses + 239 hours independent study) DACC 7 Professional Practice (20 credits comprising 5 days in attendance + 165 hours independent study)

DACC 8 Final Project Development (40 credits comprising 8  days in attendance + 344 hours independent study)

Outcome – completed Skills Development II Project Outcome – 20-minute portfolio presentation and  artist statement (500-words) Outcome – Self-directed project  and Reflective Statement (500-words)
DACC 6 Critical Studies II (20 credits comprising 6 days in attendance + 158 hours independent study) Outcome – 1000-word Exhibition Review, 2000-word self-directed essay.

Contact Hours


On the DACC you will typically have between 15 - 18 contact hours per study block, consisting of:

  • Lectures and seminars
  • Workshops
  • Individual and group tutorials
  • Group critiques
  • Student presentations

Students will also have an online tutorial between each study block.

Skills development

To develop practical skills relevant to your area of interest each year you will attend short courses equivalent to a total of 84 hours.

Independent learning

Alongside attendance of study blocks and short courses, you will be expected to undertake independent learning. Set projects provides a framework for individual study and self-motivation.

You are also encouraged to read journal articles and books, visit galleries and exhibitions and to engage in group and peer collaboration and support.

Overall workload

Scheduled teaching and learning: 504 hours
Independent learning: 1614 hours

Entry Requirements

West Dean Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (FDAD) or Arts Foundation course, or A Level 3 Arts Foundation course or equivalent.

Applicants can be considered if they can provide evidence of prior learning with an appropriate portfolio of work.

You will be invited to a Portfolio interview and will be asked to present a concise overview of the development and current focus of your practice, including sketchbooks, journals, documentation and an example of written work.

International applicants can provide a digital portfolio.

Find out more about the fdad

Fees and funding

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

  • £5,110 per year

Additional costs

Lunch for DACC students costs £284 per year.

A £250 course fee and £200 accommodation deposit (if residential) is required to secure your place. Details will be provided to you in your offer. Fees are billed termly in advance. Please see the Terms and Conditions for further information.

Student bursaries

Bursary awards are available for students who have accepted an offer to study at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Applicants for a bursary award are required to demonstrate financial need.

Students on the Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts programme receive 12 short course days a year as part of their course fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities

Artists in Residence Programme

The Artist-in-Residence programme sees a series of professional artists living and working onsite, amongst students.  Alongside their peers on the Fine Art programmes, students on the DACC enjoy a wide range of talks and workshops from professional artists and curators, including artists on the West Dean residency programme. 

Find out more.

"I chose to enrol on the DACC in order to clarify my artistic practice and increase my confidence and the course helped me to achieve both these aims.

I found the teaching to be enjoyable, and received plenty of support from the teaching staff to help me discover my own creative path.

The lectures and practical workshops covered a wide range of disciplines, and the input from visiting lecturers introduced valuable new approaches and viewpoints."

Alison Jackson-Bass, DACC Student


Rebecca Partridge

Year 1 Lead Tutor

Rebecca is an artist, writer and curator who has been exhibiting internationally since graduating from the Royal Academy Schools in 2007. While primarily a painter, her interests include cross-disciplinary approaches to landscape, contemporary Romanticism, synaesthesia and perception, with current curatorial research into the connections between contemporary painting and historical Land Art. She has been a lecturer at West Dean since 2012.  

George Charman

Year 2 Lead Tutor

George Charman is an artist and lecturer based in London who teaches on the DACC, GD and MFA programmes at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Charman's practice-led research focuses on embodied social knowledge, exploring connections between dialogic social experiences and physical sensation in modes of creative production/fabrication.

Michelle Ussher

Critical Studies Lead

Michelle Ussher is a transdisciplinary artist working across painting, textiles, ceramics, text, sound, and performance. Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne in 2002, Ussher's work has been exhibited in the UK, Italy, Switzerland, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. In 2021 she completed an MA in Aesthetics and Art Theory, supervised by Catherine Malabou at the Centre of Research in European Philosophy, Kingston University. 

Frances Hatch

Associate and Short Course Tutor

Artist, curator, lecturer and writer, Frances is based in Dorset. Her radical landscape practice is site-responsive and specific to place. She has been associated with West Dean College since 1990 (Short Courses, FDAD, DACC) and was artist-in-residence in 2005. Frances trained at Aberystwyth UCW, Wimbledon College of Art (MA Printmaking) and Goldsmiths’ College. 

Freya Pocklington

Associate and Short Course Tutor

Freya trained at Edinburgh College of Art and UAL. She has received residencies from The Royal Scottish Academy, Scottish Arts Council, The Florence Trust, Somerset House, West Dean College and The National Trust. She exhibits regularly in the UK and abroad. Freya is currently undertaking a PhD at the Royal College of Art, examining the role of fine art portraiture within narrative medicine.

Ross Taylor

Associate Tutor

Ross Taylor is an artist and lecturer based in London. The underlying focus of his research explores historical and contemporary ideas surrounding the portrayal of thought and experience through image. He first came to West Dean in 2018 as the School of Arts artist-in-residence, and has since taught on the DACC and MFA courses. 

Katharine Rabson-Stark

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Katharine is an artist who works with ceramics and textiles, primarily concerned with examining her own identity and place in the world as a worker/mother/artist. Following an archaeology degree, an MA in History of Art and a career in higher education in London, Katharine retrained. She was a student on the FDAD and then the DACC programme, concluding her studies in 2019 and has supported the teaching of the DACC since then. During 2020/21 Katharine undertook her first artist residency at Hawthbush Farm in East Sussex and has since had two exhibitions showcasing the work from that residency as well as new work inspired by the Sussex landscape and associated materials research.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course or would like further information please contact admissions either by enquiring online or calling the number below. To make your application you will need to download and fill out our application form.