Fine Art

Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts

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Duration: Two years of 10 three-day intensive study blocks per academic year
Applications open for 2021/22

Find out more about funding opportunities.

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.

The 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, Textiles, Ceramics, Wood, Metal and Jewellery.

This course is designed to provide further development for students completing the Foundation Diploma and wishing to progress to professional practice as an artist or 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

The curriculum is delivered through 10 three-day intensive blocks of study taken each year, attendance of short courses, further self-directed study blocks in the dedicated studio space 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 which are open to the public.

Contact Hours


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

  • Lectures and seminars
  • Individual and group tutorials
  • Group critiques
  • Written and oral presentations

Students will also have the opportunity to have an individual tutorial between study blocks either
on-site or remotely.

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 to foster self-direction and autonomy. The management of each set assignment 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

Programme structure

Year 1
Sept Oct Nov Dec*  Jan Feb Mar Apr May* Jun
Intro 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days

Induction Unit (comprising 4 days in attendance and 122 hours independent study)

15 credits

Outcode completed - PROJECT ONE

Skills Development (comprising 8 days in attendance, 12 days attendance on Short Courses and 410 hours independent study)

55 credits

Outcome - completed PROJECT TWO and PROJECT THREE which will include a portfolio of work and a reflective journal

Project Development Unit (comprising 6 days in attendance and 258 independent study)

30 credits

Outcome - Completed PROJECT FOUR, final outcome development work and statement of intent (500 words)

Critical Studies (comprising 6 days in attendance and 158 hours independant study)

20 credits

Outcome - ESSAY ONE, 500 word essay and research journal, ESSAY TWO, 1000 word essay and research journal

Year 2
Sept Oct Nov Dec* Jan Feb  Mar Apr May* Jun
Intro 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days 3 days

Context Unit (comprising 5 days in attendance and 165 hours independent study)

20 credits

Outcome - Completed PROJECT FIVE

Skills Development (comprising 6 days in attendance, 12 days attendance on Short Courses and 220 hours independent study)

40 credits

Outcome - Completed PROJECT SIX which will include a portfolio of work and a reflective journal

Final Project Development Unit (comprising 9 days in attendance and 337 hours independent study)

40 credits

Outcome - Completed SELF DIRECTED PROJECT, final outcome, development work and reflective statement (1000 words)

Critical Studies (comprising 4 days attendance and 172 hours independent study)

20 credits

Outcome - ESSAY THREE, 1000 word essay and research journal, ESSAY FOUR, 2000 word essay and research journal

* optional study block

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

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


Alison Baxter

Head of School of Arts
DACC core team tutor

Alison Baxter started working at the College as a jewellery tutor, then as Head of Short Courses before taking on the Head of School role in 2017. She has many years experience in developing and implementing creative programmes in several Art Schools, as well as teaching across a broad range of subjects. 

George Charman

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.

Frances Hatch

DACC core team tutor and short course tutor

Frances’ plein air practice is informed by landscape. She studied at Aberystwyth UCW, Wimbledon College of Art (MA in Printmaking), Post Graduate Art Teachers Training at Goldsmiths’ College (she has worked widely as artist educator over her career).

Joseph Jones

DACC Programme Leader
Contextual Studies Co-ordinator

Joseph Jones is an art historian based in Sussex. His research focuses on 20th and 21st century visual art, with a particular focus on modernism, exhibitions and cultural infrastructures. He is currently completing an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Brighton within the Centre for Design History.

Freya Pocklington

DACC Core Team Tutor 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

DACC core team 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. 

Michelle Ussher

DACC core team tutor

Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne, 2002 Ussher’s work has been exhibited in the UK, Italy, Switzerland, the USA and Australia. Michelle is currently completing a part-time MA in Aesthetics and Art Theory at the Centre of Research in European Philosophy.

Katharine Rabson-Stark

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Katharine Rabson-Stark works with ceramics, textiles and film, primarily concerned with examining her own identity and place in the world as a worker/mother/artist. She is a graduate from the Foundation Diploma at West Dean and was part of the first cohort on the Diploma of Arts and Contemporary Crafts programme. 

Poppy Jones

Sessional Tutor, Printmaking, DACC, GD and MFA Fine Art

Poppy Jones is an artist and lecturer based in the UK. Working primarily with traditional printmaking tools and materials together with digital printing, Jones’ work stems from her research interest in materiality and the digital image.

Rebecca Partridge

Lecturer MFA Fine Art, DACC 

Rebecca is an artist, writer and curator who has been exhibiting internationally since graduating from the Royal Academy Schools in 2007. She has been a lecturer at West Dean since 2012.

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.