Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
Duration: 10 short courses taken over 2 years part time

Develop your creativity and skills within the broad field of art and craft and achieve your
diploma at a pace to suit you. This extended course is designed to prepare students with an existing A-level or National Diploma to apply for entry onto an Art and Design related degree programme. You will create a rich and varied portfolio of work, ensure your portfolio reflects your talents and areas of interest and focus on your future career aspirations. If you have a first degree in any subject, completing the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (FDAD) will enable you to study on the Graduate Diploma in Fine Art.

You can expect to

  • Personal instruction with low student : high tutor ratio per short course
  • Receive guidance from highly qualified tutors who are practicing professionals
  • Learn and develop skills in your chosen areas of art and design
  • Attend an introductory course establishing the diploma ethos and programme of drawing and exploration, in January, May/June or September
  • Complete a further nine short courses, including at least three from drawing, painting or printmaking
  • Submit a final 2000 word essay
  • Explore and refine your future career aspirations, completing the diploma with a plan for your next steps

Learning environment

  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Bright and airy art studios with overhead natural light
  • Fully-equipped workshops, including a pottery, forge, fine metals workshop, sculpture courtyard and stone carving workshop
  • Access to a well-resourced on-site materials shop
  • Immersive environment with connections to Surrealism and key figures in art history
  • Residential accommodation is available while you complete each short course

View the FDAD Drawing Day Courses

Programme content

The introductory two day course Exploring Approaches to Creative Journeys, focuses on building and developing skills in drawing and exploration.

Your skills are further developed by attending nine short courses chosen to suit your individual pathway (see Short Courses for course options). These must include some in the drawing, painting and printmaking subject areas.


Tutors provide skills based learning in a wide range of disciplines on short courses from beginners to advanced level encouraging students as they progress. You are further supported in your development through feedback from tutors on the nine courses and two individual tutorials.

Independent learning

You are expected to keep a learning journal to record and reflect on your progress, and to undertake historical, cultural and contextual research on artists' work relevant to your own practice, culminating in a 2000 word essay.

You are also expected to use sketchbooks to develop drawing and observation skills, experiment with materials, processes and ideas towards a personal focus.

The portfolio you present at the end of the course will evidence the knowledge and skills you have acquired from attending courses, the development of your ideas and final works.

Overall workload

All courses are completed within two years from the introductory weekend.
Ten short courses of two to six days each.
Two drawing days which include two tutorials.
Additional optional monthly drawing days.
Independent practice - a minimum of 24 days.

Entry requirements

The following qualifications will be considered for entry on to the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design:

  • An A level, National Diploma or City & Guilds qualification in any visual art or craft subject.
  • Portfolio presentation: work produced through attending Adult Education classes, Short Courses and self-directed/taught. This could include sketchbooks, exploratory work and finished art/craft work.

Fees and funding

Once accepted onto the Diploma, students pay a one-off £450 (£500 from January 2020) Diploma Fee. This fee covers the introductory weekend course and the two tutorial days.

The average cost of completing the FDAD over two years (excluding materials and/or model charges) is £3,040 (seven weekend courses and two five day courses).

Accommodation for a weekend, including dinner and breakfast, is available from £136.


Thanks to the support of an individual donor a FDAD bursary is available. Please apply if you are aged 18-30 and would like to complete the FDAD, but can't afford the full fee.

For application enquiries email:

How to apply

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

Tel: +44 (0) 1243 818291

Complete the application form

"The flexible structure of the FDAD course means that I have been able to adjust the direction of my learning experiences as my areas of interest have become clearer."

Billy Cave, FDAD Student

Student Perspectives

"I'd worked with textiles for some time but wanted to expand my creative practice and develop the use of art in my textile work. During the FDAD I took a weekend course in tapestry weaving and haven't looked back since."

"I was surprised by how generous the tutors were with their time, both through group discussions and individual tutorials they really inspire and encourage. It's a totally immersive experience with top class facilities and studios."

"As hoped the courses completely reinvigorated my work. After the FDAD and on the strength of my portfolio I progressed through the Visual Arts programme at West Dean College and have now completed my MFA in Tapestry and Textile Art to become a professional tapestry weaver."

Margaret Jones, student

"I used the FDAD to try out a series of crafts. Whilst many of my peers were concentrating on drawing and painting I wanted to get a feel for a range of different subjects. I tried stone setting and boxmaking in silver, sheet metal sculpture was quick while woodcarving was calm and soothing, clockmaking was fascinating and blacksmithing was elemental, raw, fun.

The tutors are not just masters of their trade but also excellent teachers and there's a sense of camaraderie with fellow students.

At the end of the FDAD I know which crafts I find most rewarding and which are suitable to continue at home. I will also be exhibiting some of our work in a local Open Studio show."

Mike Jennison, student

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Tiffany Robinson

FDAD Programme Co-ordinator 

Tiffany Robinson is a walking artist who makes drawings, paintings, films and installations concerned with perception and the processes of observation. She trained to MA level at University of Portsmouth, taught at two UK Universities, exhibits nationally, is co-founder of Ch-Art artist network (2006-2012). She is Programme Tutor for the FDAD and Widening Participation Co-ordinator for West Dean College of Arts and Conservation.

Freya Pocklington

Freya trained at Edinburgh College of Art and UAL and teach at GOSH, V&A and as a lecturer. My drawings have been shown in the RSA, Mall Galleries, Art Below for Frieze, James Freeman Gallery and others. My work is held in the V&A, British Museum, RSA and NOA collections.

Rachel Larkins

Rachel holds a Masters in Sequential Design/ Illustration from Brighton University and regularly teaches at leading Arts universities alongside her freelance practice. As well as being held in numerous private collections, Rachel's work has featured at The Design Museum and Automates Galeries, Brussels. Media coverage includes Crafts, Elle and Weekend Telegraph.

Caroline Wendling

Caroline Wendling trained at ESAD, Strasbourg, France. She is an experienced printmaking teacher and ran Gainsborough's House Print Workshop for twelve years. Her residencies include Cambridge School of Art, Wysing Arts Centre and Deveron Arts where she created White Wood. She is the recipient of several Arts Council England Grants, and has been shortlisted for the Saltire Art in Public Places award.

Open Day - register today

Come and find out what makes West Dean College of Arts and Conservation such an amazing place to study. Explore the studios, take a tour with students, discuss your study options, and find out about funding at our next Open Day on:

Friday 6 December 2019

Register your place and find out more