Awarded by West Dean College of Arts and Conservation
Duration: Two years, part-time

This West Dean College Foundation Diploma in Tapestry Weaving is awarded in recognition of the successful completion of the two year, part-time programme of six, three-day units, self-directed study and making, and a final 1500 word essay.  It aims to offer tapestry weavers a broad insight into the technical and creative techniques of tapestry weaving, necessary for developing skills and building your own creative language.

It is aimed at weavers who have completed a beginners’ course at West Dean College or elsewhere, and are looking to commit to an extended and intensive programme of study.

Each unit will be based in the unique environment of West Dean Tapestry Studio, one of the UK’s only professional tapestry studios specialising in contemporary design and weaving using traditional techniques. The Studio has worked with a wide range of contemporary artists and designers, such as Henry Moore, Tracey Emin and Eva Rothschild, as well as re-creating an important series of medieval tapestries.

Self-Directed Study

Between each unit you will be asked to develop your own line of research in response to the course focus. This includes the production of small woven sample pieces as a way of developing and experimenting with images, brought to the start of the following unit for discussion and dissemination.  A tutorial session will be planned with the programme tutor between each course.

By the end of the first year you will have a greater understanding of tapestry weaving and a larger knowledge base that will provide you with the ability to understand all stages of the production process at both technical and aesthetic level.


It is expected that students keep a journal of their studies and weaving for the duration of the Tapestry Foundation programme, and submit an essay following the successful completion of the requisite six units of study. The essay must be completed within two months after completing all six courses.

The final essay will consist of a 1,500 word reflective account that demonstrates the link between the candidate’s overall experience gained from the Tapestry Foundation and their intended future pathway with evidence of historical and cultural research relevant to the candidate’s own practice.

Detailed specifications relating to the presentation of this written work may be obtained from the Programme Tutor.

Programme Overview

Year 1

Unit 1: Settings, weaving technique and translation
Unit 2: Cartoons, scale and the weaver's palette
Unit 3: Finishing processes/planning a personal project

Year 2

Unit 4: Dyeing, materials and weaving
Unit 5: Experimental weaving techniques
Unit 6: Design and reflection

Each unit will be based in the unique environment of West Dean Tapestry Studio, one of the UK's only professional tapestry studios specialising in contemporary design and weaving using traditional techniques.

Fees and funding

The programme fees are payable in advance for each year of study.

The fees for 2021 were as follows:

Year 1: £1266 (non-residential, covering all three units - payable by 14 December 2021)
Year 2: £1266 (non-residential, covering all three units - payable by 6 December 2022)

Accommodation for a three day course, including dinner and breakfast, is available from £283. Find out more about accommodation costs here – specific to the timing of each unit.

Entry Requirements

The following qualifications will be considered for entry to the Foundation Diploma in Tapestry Weaving:

  • Examples of woven tapestry, alongside evidence work in other media, textiles or other media, this could include development work and finished work
  • A commitment to attending all six units

How to Apply

An informal telephone interview with the Programme Tutor will take place in early September, before places are confirmed in mid-September.

Following confirmation of your place, full payment will be taken using the details supplied on your application form.

For standard Terms & Conditions please refer to our Short Course T&Cs. Specific T&Cs in respect of this course will be sent to successful applicants, this includes a commitment to attend all course dates.

For further queries about the course, please call 01243 818300 or email


Philip Sanderson

Tapestry Subject Tutor and Studio Leader

Philip Sanderson is Leader of the Professional Tapestry Studio and a Subject Tutor on the MFA in Fine Art. He is also the Tutor for the Tapestry Foundation Diploma and a short course tutor. During his time at West Dean Philip has translated the work of a number of artists into large-scale tapestries including Marta Rogoyska, John Hubbard, Tracy Emin, and Eva Rothschild.