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Scholarships and bursaries available up to £2,500. Read more about funding opportunities
The Graduate Diploma in Fine Art is a one-year interdisciplinary programme designed to provide a route into postgraduate study. As a concentrated form of an undergraduate degree, the programme gives graduates of other disciplines the opportunity to transfer existing skills to the study of Fine Arts. As you progress through the programme, you can work across disciplines or choose to specialise in areas such as Painting and Drawing, Sculpture, or Tapestry and Textile Art.
Studio Work units run continuously throughout the academic year as the core of the Graduate Diploma programme, informed and enhanced by additional theoretical and professional units.
A variety of materials-based workshops are undertaken in the first semester, focused by critical engagement with the Ronald Lee Archive, a unique archival resource of visual and material culture that promotes the production of new artworks for a 'pop-up' exhibition.
A series of lectures and seminars introduces Philosophical Aesthetics and supports the writing of a critical essay.
The second semester incorporates Contextual and Professional Research, helping students to situate their own practices in a historical and contemporary context. The year culminates in a Summer Show open to the public.
You can expect
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 email@example.com.
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All full-time Fine Art students are provided with individual workspaces in the Edward James Studios, with access from 8.30am-9pm, seven days a week*. Other facilities in the studios include:
A self-contained Print Room offers specialist facilities for etching, aquatint, monoprinting, woodblock and linocut. Students can work on a large-scale in the Sculpture Courtyard, which is also suitable for work in stone carving, and can access the specialist Arts and Conservation Library.
Materials workshops are integrated into studio teaching so that traditional and innovative techniques and practical skills are placed at the centre of the discipline. Workshops can also be tailored to suit individual students’ needs.
Materials workshops include:
Access to short courses
To develop particular skills and techniques students can access over 800 short courses. If places are available at weekends during term, students are encouraged to attend free of charge, (there may be a charge for specific material or model fees) or can book in advance at a reduced rate.
House, Grounds, Collection and Archive
The House and Estate offers ambitious exhibition opportunities and unique research material, and students can submit site-specific proposals throughout the year. The Edward James Collection, is an outstanding resource, giving students access to significant works of art and historic objects; including paintings, drawings and prints by artists most notably, Salvador DalÍ, Rene Magritte, Leonora Carrington, Pavel Tchelitchew, and Leonor Fini.
West Dean Tapestry Studio
One of the world's leading producers of hand-woven tapestry; students have close contact with the expertise of Master Weavers and designers, and access to the studio's Dye Rooms, a specialist facility for the dyeing of yarn. Find out more about the professional Tapestry Studio.
Students are encouraged to collaborate with other College departments, particularly the full-time programmes in the School of Conservation, making the most of the wide range of specialist knowledge, materials and equipment that is available.
* Coronavirus update: Workshops and studio spaces may need to close outside teaching hours for thorough cleaning.
You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops, individual and group tutorials, critique sessions, oral and written presentations, external visits and self-directed research.
On the Graduate Diploma you typically have around 13-14 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:
When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-directed study. Typically, this will involve:
Graduate Diploma: 40% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 480 hours
Independent learning: 720 hours
|Semester 1 (18 weeks)|
|Study block 1||Formative review||Study block 2|
Unit VA G1B
|Unit VA G1B
Introduction to Philosophical Aesthetics
Unit VA G1C
Studio work 1
|Semester 2 (18 weeks)|
|Study block 3||Formative review||Study block 4|
Unit VA G3A
Contextual and Professional Research
Unit VA G3C
Studio work 2 (summer show)
Course fees are the same for UK and international students
Includes 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 £2,500.
Each year students stage a series of public exhibitions, including an annual fundraising exhibition and the celebrated Summer Shows that are held at the College and in London. Through these students develop skills in the requirements of exhibition management, such as production, installation and marketing.
Two Fine Art exhibitions took place during Summer 2021. The first was the annual Summer Show; the culmination of the academic year, presented in the Edward James Studios. The second was BOUNCE, a group show at Copeland Gallery in London. The free exhibitions displayed a diverse range of practices including sculpture, installation, print, painting, film, ceramics, and textiles.See the Summer Show 2021 online
The Artist-in-Residence programme sees a series of professional artists living and working onsite, amongst Visual Arts students. They offer tutorial sessions with students as well as public presentations on the work produced during the residency and their wider practice.
Find out more
Commendations from the University of Sussex include:
"The high quality student experience and strength of student representation within the College."
"The changes to units so they draw on and make use of specific collections within the archive."
"The linking of theory and practice, and delivery of theory by studio technicians."
"The space in the studios at West Dean and the opportunity to do such large-scale work is unique. There's amazing space here - it blows my mind!"Emma Rimer, Graduate Diploma student
Graduates typically progress to the MFA.
Fine Art graduates have gone on to succeed in a range of fields, including internationally-based prize-winning practitioners regularly exhibiting their work in a variety of venues. Others have gone on to become gallerists and curators, as well as entering the fields of art education, arts administration and other cultural industries.
“It is almost impossible to explain the many ways that West Dean prepared me for the outside world, but opening me up to new ideas and teaching me to be a critical artist, exploring materials and approaches was a life enhancing outcome.” Cherie Lubbock, Graduate Diploma Fine Art and MFA alumna.
Subject Leader - Fine Art
Dr David Stent is an artist, writer, curator and performer. His practice has drawn on various media, from drawing and painting to film, video, sonic and sculptural installation. He holds a PhD in Fine Art from the University of Reading, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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.
Subject Tutor (Fine Art) and Collections Curator
Sarah Hughes is a Subject Tutor on the full-time Fine Art programmes and Curatorial Assistant in the College's Collections Department. She is a practicing artist, performer, and composer with a long standing interest in alternative modes of living, creative agency, and acts of resistance.
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.
Jon K Shaw is a writer, editor and educator based in southeast London. He teaches in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London; City & Guilds of London Art School; and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation.