School of Creative Arts

A centre of excellence and creative possibility

Be challenged and exposed to a stimulating mix of ideas and knowledge in the immersive environment of the School of Creative Arts. Study options range from short courses from beginner to advanced, to Foundation Diploma, MA and MFA.

The School has a strong practical as well as academic focus. Those on a full-time programme will develop advanced making and craft skills appropriate to their discipline and undertake original theoretical and contextual research to inform practice. Short course students will learn new skills and techniques or nurture existing talents.

The vision of founder and Surrealist patron Edward James connects today's students with a rich heritage of art. Students have the opportunity to engage with site-specific subjects, individual objects or references to the College's history relating to Edward James, surrealism and beyond.

Full-time Visual Arts students present an exhibition of works for sale. Prints, painting, sculpture and ceramics by West Dean Students and Alumni will be sold to raise funds for the Summer Show 2016.


Study in fully equipped workshops and studios, with plenty of natural light and your own dedicated workspace. All students have access to the specialist Arts and Conservation Library and the computer suite, each subject area then has specialist facilities and equipment.

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Student Case Studies

Hear from current and past students on their experiences at West Dean College.

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On-Site Visual Arts Summer Show 2016

View some of the work exhibited at West Dean Visual Arts On-Site Summer Show 2016.
The exhibition includes work by students graduating from the Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma and MFA programmes.

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Tapestry Studio

West Dean Tapestry Studio is one of the only professional tapestry studios in the UK.

It specialises in contemporary design and weaving using heritage techniques. The studio is known for its strong interpretive skills and artistic vision. Tracey Emin, Martin Creed and Henry Moore are among the artists our weavers have worked with.

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Visual Arts Blog

Delve into Visual Arts department news, events and student and staff work on the Visual Arts blog.

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School of Creative Arts Degrees & Diplomas

Full-time Visual Arts programmes

The full-time accredited Visual Arts programme allows you to specialise in Painting and Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry and Textile Art.

You can gain your Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, MA or MFA. The large dedicated studios and access to art and craft short courses emphasise practical, studio-based skills, underpinned by theoretical research and contextual studies. The programme also involves making use of the historic West Dean House and extensive grounds to explore site-specific work.

Full-time Making Stringed Musical Instruments

Gain your Diploma on this internationally respected course. Learn a high level of craftsmanship and historical approach in preparation to set up an instrument-making workshop or to work in the trade.

MA Creative Writing and Publishing

Study part-time over two years to gain your MA. For committed writers the course offers immersive study in an inspiring setting and tuition from published authors.

Art and Craft Short Courses

Choose from over 700 short courses at West Dean College. Day, week and weekend courses are all taught by practising professionals. Gain hands-on experience and creative inspiration in a wide variety of art and craft subjects, ideal for both beginners and more experienced artists and makers. If you are looking to develop a strong portfolio of work, our Foundation Degree in Art and Design will prepare you to apply for an Art and Design related degree.

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Sign up to the arts education e-newsletter

Be the first to know with ArtsMail our quarterly e-newsletter. Exhibitions, student work and creative arts news delivered straight to your inbox.

Help preserve our future

West Dean is part of a registered charity and relies on the support of generous donors, friends, legacies to help us deliver world-class education in conservation and the creative arts and maintain our award-winning gardens.

Find out how you can help support us