Awarded by West Dean College of Arts and Conservation
Duration: One year, part-time, starts April 2021 (full, join the waiting list for June 2021 intake)

This flexible foundation course in art and design is taught online through a mix of self-directed study, live study days and a student community hub. 

Designed to fit around your day-to-day commitments, this new online certificate will help you to establish momentum and resilience in your creativity. Supported by an online community of students and tutors you will improve competence and confidence in the core skills in art and design.

You will develop your skills through eight modules each comprising two self-study courses supported by two live study days, taught by specialist subject tutors from the short course programme at the College. In addition you will have three individual tutorials, plus group tutorials and discussion on the student hub.

You can expect to:

  • Develop practical and creative skills in a broad range of mediums and subjects, including drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture.
  • Find direction in your creative practice and future goals.
  • Complete a portfolio of work suitable to make applications to higher level study, or to show to galleries and other artist opportunities.

Programme structure

Course content includes self-paced online workshops, slide presentations and PDFs with clear guidance given on the tasks and dates.

Each self-paced workshop subject is then followed by a live study session with an expert tutor and fellow students.

You will also be able to share discussion and work with other and tutors, throughout the course in the student community hub.

Skills development
Learn skills in a broad range of subjects and mediums through seven skills development modules, each will take an estimated 4 days to complete, we reccommend you allow additional time to apply what you learn in your sketchbooks: 
Module 1 (from 9 April 2021) - starting to draw / sketchbooks / reflective practice
Module 2 (May) - drawing the figure, observation and expression
Module 3 (June)- painting – watercolour / oils
Module 4 (July) - printmaking – texture / hybrid
Module 5 (August) - mark-making / mixed-media
Module 6 (September) - colour / abstraction
Module 7 (October) - sculpture – carving / modelling

Contextual and critical studies
You will develop reflective practice skills through the use of a learning journal, reviewing artwork that is interesting and relevant to you, from a broad range of sources. This expands your knowledge and understanding of art frameworks that underpin development of your own work. 

Module 8 (November-December) - research / personal project 
Working to a set brief, you will develop visual and contextual research skills to identify a personal response to a subject. This module provides a structured approach to the research and development of your own artistic response to a brief. This will include drawing, mapping, primary and secondary sources and how to find them, reflection and review, finding your focus through creating an artwork. You will be given guidance on how to present the work, and complete a written summary statement. This one module includes two group tutorials and one individual tutorial.

In addition to the tutorials in module 8, you will receive two individual tutorials. The first tutorial after module 2 and second tutorial after module 5. Tutorials last 30 minutes and provide opportunity for you to discuss you work, progress and aims with a course tutor. You are required to prepare your coursework, sketchbooks and key points from your learning journal in advance for discussion. 

Tutorials take place: 4 June, 3 September, 12, 19 and 26 November
Tutorial dates cannot be changed, times will be confirmed at the start of the programme. If you would like further individual support optional additional tutorials can be arranged with the Programme Tutor at a cost of £65 each.


At the end of the programme you will have:

  • A portfolio of both sketchbook development studies and final artwork, that could be used for entry into higher education.
  • Experimented with core skills in a range of mediums and subjects.
  • Found resilience and momentum to establish your creativity in your day-to-day life.
  • Begun to develop a focus for your arts practice.

While not nationally validated, the learning outcomes are aligned to Level 3 study, and provide you with the necessary preparation and portfolio to make a strong application for study at Level 4, for example the West Dean Diploma in Art and Contemporary Craft (DACC), or degree level study in Art and Design.


All work is submitted and assessed online. You will submit an online portfolio that includes coursework, personal work, developmental sketchbook work, and a summary statement of 500 words.

To pass the foundation course you will be required to demonstrate:

  • An increased level of skill and competence in core skills evidenced in the portfolio work
  • Enquiring and experimental processes towards developing your ideas as evidenced in the sketchbook research and development
  • An ability to focus your skills and ideas as evidenced in the final personal project

Entry requirements and FAQs

  • A commitment to learning practical and creative skills
  • Space and time to complete coursework and attend live study days
  • A webcam and reliable Wi-Fi (see FAQs below)


What format does the course take?
The course completely online and is a mix of self-paced videos and live sessions. You will also have access to a student hub to share discussion and images.

How do I access the course?
Once you have submitted an application form and made the first fee payment you will receive a link and password to access the course by email before the course start date. The first module will be available from 9am on 9 April 2021.

Read more FAQs

What technologies are used to deliver the course?
The self-paced videos and student hub are accessed through CANVAS, a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This is a system for delivering learning materials via the Internet. It offers you flexible access to all the course content, which is available to you for the duration of the course. The live sessions and tutorials are delivered over Zoom.

What computer set up do I need?
The self-paced courses can be watched on all computers and devices – Mac, PC, Mobile and Tablet – with an Internet connection and a modern internet browser (see "What Web Browser do you recommend" below). You will need an email account and an up-to-date web browser.

For the live sessions on Zoom you will need a computer or laptop – Mac, PC – with Internet connection, a webcam, microphone and speakers (usually in-built). You need high speed Wi-Fi with full bars signal that doesn’t drop out and a modern internet browser (see "What Web Browser do you recommend" below). For help joining a session see Zoom support here. It is also useful to have a secondary device to join via the Zoom link if possible to assist sharing your work in progress during (eg a smartphone with in-built camera or ipad/tablet), if possible.

Some of the course resources may be presented as PDF files, which will require a PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader.

What web browser do you recommend?
PC users – Chrome 58+, Firefox 54+, Edge 14+, Unfortunately, Internet Explorer 11 (or older) are not supported on CANVAS.
Mac users – Safari and Firefox are recommended.

We do not recommend using any Internet service provider's proprietary browser, as certain functions may be restricted. We regularly upgrade CANVAS to add features and improve the quality of your experience. Please be sure to keep your browser updated. If you need to upgrade your browser, go to your browser manufacturer's website and download the most recent version.

Phones and tablets – CANVAS is a responsive platform, allowing for access on most smartphones and tablets. To join the live sessions on Zoom download the Zoom mobile app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android).

What do I do if I experience technical issues?
Support setting up Zoom, including helpful videos can be accessed on their website here and support centre here. We recommend setting up and testing Zoom a few days in advance to ensure you do not have problems on the day.

If you have checked the technical requirements above and are using a suitable browser but the problem persists, email with the details of your problem (including a screenshot if useful) for advice.

I’ve lost my login details, what do I do?
If you have deleted your login information please contact 

Can I use a College gift voucher towards the course?
Yes, simply enter the gift voucher code at the online checkout.


Fees are payable in three instalments of £500 each, the total cost to complete the online certificate is £1,500.

The first instalment is payable on booking and submitting the application form, the second instalment will be due 5 June and third instalment will be due 27 September 2021.

Fees include all tuition and tutorials, materials are not included.

How to apply

Please note: the April intake is now full. Join the waiting list for the June 2021 intake. 

If you have any questions email or call +44 (0)7771 505666  

Join the waiting list


Tiffany Robinson

FDAD Programme Coordinator

Tiffany Robinson studied interactive media for her MA (2005) making art films and immersive sci-art installations on perception and nanoscale. She is currently a tutor, mentor (The Art of Enquiry) and walking artist making intuitive drawings using natural and digital media. Her work deals with a post-modern estrangement from nature towards a being more than human through alignment with nature.

Melanie Rose

Melanie Rose is a visual artist. She graduated from Trent Polytechnic with a BA Honours degree in Fine Art in 1987, then Central Saint Martins with MA in Fine Art in 2002. Melanie is a member of the practice-led research group Land2, has exhibited extensively, and has work in both public and private collections.