Come and find out what makes West Dean College of Arts and Conservation such a unique place to study with an international reputation.Find out more
Register now for Open Day on Saturday 8 February 2020.
Scholarships and bursaries available from £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 full-time Fine Art students are provided with a large individual workspace in the Edward James Studios. In addition to specialist spaces dedicated to Painting and Drawing, Sculpture and Tapestry and Textile-based work, the studios also 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.
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. The Short Course programme also allows students to access a wide range of visiting tutors and specialist techniques that can further enhance their studies.
West Dean House and Estate offers students access to ambitious exhibition opportunities and unique research material. Students are able to submit site-specific proposals throughout the year. The Edward James Collection is an outstanding resource for full-time students, given them access to a range of significant, even iconic, works of art as an ongoing source of inspiration and research.
The College's Arts and Conservation Library gives students access to thousands of specialist books, journals and databases to support their studies.
The Main House also contains West Dean Tapestry Studio, one of the world's leading producers of hand-woven tapestry. As well as having close contact with the expertise of Master Weavers and designers, students have access to the studio's Dye Rooms, a specialist facility for the dyeing of yarn.
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 £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. View the 2019 Summer Show Gallery
As well as being encouraged to exhibit externally, both locally and nationally, during their studies students also have the unique opportunity to propose installations within West Dean House, as part of the annual Arts & Craft Festival, to build upon their existing practices and enhance their professional profile. Project proposals are encouraged to reflect the rich heritage of West Dean and the legacy of College founder Edward James. See the 2018 installations
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
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
Visual Arts Subject Leader, Dr. David R J Stent is an artist, writer, curator and musician. His diverse practice draws on various media including drawing, photography, digital and print publishing, film and video, sonic and sculptural installation.
Philip Sanderson studied both at Middlesex University and the Royal College of Art before joining the Professional Tapestry Studio at West Dean College in 1993. Philip has designed tapestries for numerous clients, notably for the New Parliamentary Buildings in Westminster.
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.