The Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts 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 Visual Arts.
The content of the programme is focused on the integration of three domains of study essential to the successful development of a sustainable studio practice: Practical, Theoretical and Professional. Each of these domains is developed through specialised Study Units undertaken throughout the academic year, including studio practice, a programme of workshops and lectures, as well as professional development opportunities. Graduate Diploma students can work across disciplines or choose to specialise in areas such as Painting & Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry & Textile Art.
Graduate Diploma students can expect:
You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops, individual and group tutorials, critique sessions, oral and written presentations, and external trips and visits and studio practicals. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.
On the Graduate Diploma you typically have around 13-14 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:
When not attending lectures, seminars, and workshops or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-directed study. Typically, this will involve working in the studio, developing supporting material and research portfolios, undertaking research in the library, reading journal articles and books, working on specific unit assignments, and individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and preparing coursework assignments and presentations and self-assessments.
Graduate Diploma: 40% of your time is spent in
scheduled teaching and learning activity.
Scheduled teaching and learning: 480 hours, Independent learning: 720 hours.
All full-time Visual Arts 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 Seminar Room, a materials and tool store, a small photographic darkroom, bookable exhibition and research spaces, plus an IT suite with digital editing software. 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 and are encouraged to take part in the annual Open House event. 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. Find out more about the professional Tapestry Studio here.
The following qualifications will be considered for entry on to the Graduate Diploma programme:
English Language requirement
English Language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.
Tuition fees include much more than is typical of universities, i.e. tuition fees plus basic materials, lunch, morning/afternoon tea/coffee. Included is mandatory study trip cost of £250, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study. For one day study trips lunch is provided, while for residential study trips meals are not included.
Accommodation and living expenses are additional.
Currently a third of all tuition fees are met through
bursary or scholarship funding.
In 16/17 almost 60% of students were in receipt of some support. Find out about funding here.
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
I was first attracted to the Visual Arts department because of its reputation for academic rigour and critical feedback through an unlimited tutorial system. While I did not have a formal qualification in Visual Arts, a degree in Cultural Studies along with an extensive drawing and printmaking portfolio gained me a place on the Graduate Diploma programme.
During the year, I have transformed my practice to include large scale sculptures and installations. Generous studio space, freedom to experiment, along with expert tuition in the forge, print room and ceramics studio gave me the skills and confidence to realise some ambitious ideas." Sarah Cliff, Graduate Diploma Visual Arts
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, and his current role is as a Master Weaver Designer. Philip has designed tapestries for numerous clients, notably for the New Parliamentary Buildings in Westminster.
Sarah Hughes is Curatorial Assistant at West Dean College and Visiting Lecturer on the full-time Visual Arts programmes . She is a practicing artist, performer, and composer, working across sculpture, improvised music, composition and publishing.
If you are interested in applying for this course or would like further information please contact admissions either by enquiring online or calling the number below. To make your application you will need to download and fill out our application form.