Short Courses

Textiles course with Celia Pym at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Creativity for all

Now more than ever craft can bring you joy, connection and community. Whether you’re a complete beginner wanting to try something new or are keen to develop your existing talents; explore some inspiration for learning in lockdown below.

Follow our online tutorials, grab your sketchbook or write it out - make time to get creative whether it’s for some much needed down-time or as an activity to do with the family. Take a look at #westdeantogether on social media for ideas, prompts and to join the creative conversation.

Our expert tutors look forward to welcoming you back to the workshops and studios soon. 

Please see our latest information on coronavirus here.

Learning in lockdown

Face-to-face teaching may be temporarily suspended but through a series of bite-size tutorials from the College’s expert Short Course Tutors we hope to keep you connected with creativity and each other, and provide inspiration while we all stay at home.

Many of the tutorials focus on materials you may already have and more demonstrations are being released daily; try drawing a charcoal self-portrait (why not challenge friends and family to draw live via video call), explore botanical painting, fill a sketchbook with mixed media collages, get to grips with using flash on your DSLR camera or learn the basics of crochet. 

See demos on Youtube

Sketchbook Project

Follow the West Dean Sketchbook Project on social media. Regular posts of images from West Dean Gardens can be used as inspiration for you to draw, paint, stitch or print using the colours, textures and shapes from the images in your work. See the full details for week one, week twoweek three, week four and week five on Facebook or Instagram. You can also find further information and ideas for week two on the School of Arts blog here.

Join the conversation and share your creative responses on social media tagging @westdeancollege and @westdeangardens and using #westdeantogether. 

Sketchbook Project Inspiration

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Creative writing exercises

To keep us inspired, Creative Writing and Publishing Subject Leader Mark Radcliffe has put together a series of 15 minute creative writing exercises. These prompts, tips and ideas are designed to encourage us to explore our imaginations and are suitable for all ages and abilities.

Download your daily exercises:

Day 1    |    Day 2    |    Day 3    |    Day 4    |    Day 5   

Day 6    |    Day 7    |    Day 8    |    Day 9    |    Day 10

Plan your next course

Look forward to brighter times and browse hundreds of courses to start planning your post-lockdown treat. 

"A renowned arts school in a beautiful 19th-century house and gardens in West Sussex." The Guardian: 20 great travel experiences

One day courses - you'll be amazed at what you can achieve in just one day.

Useful information and how to book

Browse all courses

Arts and Craft Summer Schools

"One of the 10 best creative retreats in the UK and Europe", The Guardian, January 2019

Treat yourself to a creative retreat in the height of summer and immerse yourself in the discovery of a new skill or to develop your practice, surrounded by expert tutors and likeminded students.  

Special features:

  • Try out one of the other courses in a swap over session
  • Evening tutor talks and displays of their work
  • Yoga class, swimming pool and tennis courts to enjoy
  • See inside the hisotoric State Rooms on a house tour
  • Optional evening theatre trip
  • End of course celebration and dinner in one of the State Rooms.
See all Summer School courses


If you are a potential student who wishes to develop your skills, but are unable to afford to study on a short course, you may be eligible for a bursary.

As part of our commitment to provide access to education in the creative arts we offer bursaries for short course in arts, music and textiles as well as to support study on the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design and Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts programmes.

Read more about short course bursaries

"The excellent teaching pushed us beyond expectations; individual advice was very helpful as was being in such a beautiful setting."

Kathy Attawell, Beginners watercolours

Accommodation and Dining

Make your creative experience truly immersive by staying with us during your course. As a residential student you can choose a traditional or more modern room, and wake up to the characterful charm of this period property set in acres of parkland.

Start the day with a traditional English or continental breakfast in the bright and airy dining room. For lunch and dinner, you will find a tempting new menu each day, with two seasonal hot dishes, salad bar and a range of puddings. Dinner on the first night and lunch through out your courses is included in your course price. Breakfast and dinner are included in your stay.

Accommodation at the College

“The best course I have ever attended - challenging, supportive, well-structured and presented by a world class tutor. I have never learned so much in such as short space of time. ”

Caroline, Italics - basics, flourish and experimental

Advance your learning

Develop your skills further or turn your passion into a career path with programmes from foundation level through to Master of Fine Art.

Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (FDAD)
Develop your portfolio of art and design skills for entry onto a related degree programme. Create a rich and varied portfolio of work through 10 short courses, to reflect your talents, areas of interest, and focus on your future career aspirations.

Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (DACC)
Two year part-time programme delivered through intensive study blocks. Learn skills essential to the successful development of a sustainable studio practice, both practical and contextual.

See all degree and diploma programmes

Gift vouchers

Give the gift of creativity with a West Dean College gift voucher

Treat a creative friend or a loved one to a gift voucher. Give the gift of creativity and the chance to learn a new skill while making something to wear, use or display proudly in the home or garden.

You can buy £10, £25, £50 or £100 vouchers, which can be used for full or part payment of a course.

Buy your vouchers from
or 01243 818300. You can also request vouchers from Reception.

Find out how to book and redeem your vouchers

School of Arts

Short courses are part of the School of Arts, which also offers full-time programmes in Visual Arts from Foundation to Postgraduate Diplomas, MA and MFA. Within this rich, immersive environment the vision of founder and Surrealist patron Edward James connects today's students with a rich heritage of art.

Learn more about the School of Arts

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