Duration: Two academic years (36 weeks each year) full time
​Applications open for 2021/22
Deadline for equal consideration 15 January 2021

Scholarships and bursaries are available from £500 to £10,000. Find out more about funding opportunities

The Foundation Degree in Historic Craft Practices is designed to give you well-rounded woodworking theory and craft skills to set up as a professional self-employed maker or craftsperson, to continue your studies in higher education or to find employment in the creative industry sector.

Furniture making projects become more challenging as the course progresses and may incorporate your own designs. In the second year, students may choose to continue to develop their furniture making and finishing proficiency or begin to develop basic skills in furniture restoration/conservation.

You can expect

  • To develop excellent practical skills
  • To learn how material properties influence practice and making
  • To learn historic making techniques in a modern woodworking context
  • To learn from dedicated and experienced tutors who are practising professionals and well-connected in the sector

Learning environment

  • Low student: tutor ratio
  • Workshop access 8.30am - 10pm, seven days a week*
  • Interdisciplinary environment
  • Visits from practising crafts-persons and specialists from the heritage and private sectors
  • Visits to museums and active links with heritage bodies
  • Work placements and work-related projects

    Coronavirus update: Workshops may need to close outside teaching hours for thorough cleaning.

How to apply

All applications to our full time undergraduate courses should be made through UCAS. If you only wish to apply to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation we might be able to process your UCAS application for you. Please contact us at admissions@westdean.ac.uk.

The application deadline for equal consideration is 15 January 2021.

If you would like further information please contact our admissions team. Email admission@westdean.org.uk or call +44 (0)1243 818 291.

Apply through UCAS


You will work in our specialist furniture workshop which is equipped with a full range of power and hand tools and individual workspaces. Collaboration with other disciplines (e.g. metals and clocks) makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment.

Facilities include:

  • A dedicated finishing area
  • Separate machine shop
  • Analytical laboratory
  • Photography space
  • IT suite
  • Specialist library

The on-site Art and Conservation Library puts thousands of specialist books and journals within your reach and you can access specialist databases in the IT suite.

Find out more about the facilities

Contact Hours


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, external trips and visits and workshop practicals. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.

At level 4 you typically have around 18-19 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 4-5 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 8 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

At level 5 you typically have around 16-17 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 3-4 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 7 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and preparing coursework assignments and presentations.

Overall workload

Level 4: 53% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 633 hours
Independent learning: 567 hours

Level 5: 50% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 600 hours
Independent learning: 600 hours

Coronavirus update: International study trips have been suspended in line with current guidelines. We aim to recommence UK field trips and visits in the second semester.

Programme structure

Year 1 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation  

Materials Technology
delivered in pathway workshop and cross-curricular

  10 credits
Drawing and Aesthetics

10 credits


Study/Research Skills
  10 credits
Year 1 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

Materials Technology (Metal/Wood)
delivered in pathway workshop and cross-curricular

10 credits


History of Craft
20 credits
Craft Skills
2-20 credits
(subject specific)
Year 2 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation  

Professional Skills incl. work placement

20 credits

Study/Research Skills

Craft Skills

10 credits

1-30 credits

(subject specific)

Year 2 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

Professional Portfolio
student led

60 credits




Entry requirements

UCAS tariff points: 120 Completion of a level 3 qualification, for example: A-Levels, BTEC or Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

Applicants can be considered if they can provide evidence of prior learning and should provide a digital portfolio. You will be invited to a portfolio interview.

International students must provide evidence of English language ability to Level B2 (IELTS 6.0), as well as equivalent level 3 qualifications.

Fees and funding

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

£4,230 per term (£12,690 per year)

Included is mandatory study trip costs of £400, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study. Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more


If you are a UK/EU student you may be eligible to apply for a Student Loan (tuition fees and/or maintenance loans) from the Student Loans Company.

Student scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and bursaries are available from £500 to £10,000. 

find out more about funding opportunities


Graduates have gone on to work in the sector, both as employees and self-employed, to pursue their studies in higher education, and some have established a high profile for their own designs and craftsmanship. In 2018, 75% of students were in work or study six months after graduation.

“During my two years at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation studying Historic Craft Practice – Furniture, I dedicated most of my time starting my company and preparing to work for myself after graduation.

“I knew I was interested in a certain field of craft but hadn’t found that one thing that made me excited enough to pursue it as a career. My time at the College helped me to focus on the path I am now on and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.”

Harry T Morris, FdA Historic Craft Practices – Furniture

Read Harry's full alumni profile


Commendations from the University of Sussex include:

"The high quality student experience and strength of student representation within the College."

"The introduction of a “maker-in-residence” scheme to the FdA."

"Responding to employer and student feedback in extending the work placement from 2 weeks to 4 weeks to support employability after graduation."

"The range of tailored study trips to suit different student cohorts."



Norbert Gutowski

Subject Leader
Associate Fellow of the HEA

Norbert is a furniture maker - conservator with almost two decades of tutoring experience, who has also worked extensively as a fine antique furniture conservator- restorer.

Tristram Bainbridge MA ACR

Subject Tutor, Furniture and Related Objects

Tristram works as a contract furniture conservator at the V&A and in private practice. He has lectured in conservation at the City and Guilds of London and at Camberwell College of Art.

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. 

Program advisors

Christopher Claxton Stevens: Decorative Arts Scholar and Consultant
Richard Coles: Antique Furniture Dealer
Kate Gill: Textile Conservator