Glass and Ceramics BA (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

The University is a centre of excellence in glass and ceramics, with outstanding facilities at National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

Our course is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to explore creativity in glass and ceramics, even if you have no previous experience in these areas.

You will have the opportunity to specialise in either glass or ceramics, or work across both mediums. In your third year, you'll create a major body of work and have the opportunity to exhibit at the 'New Designers' exhibition in London.

Our programme is distinctive in four ways:

Firstly, our academic team includes award-winning professionals who are at the forefront of research and innovative techniques. We host the Institute for International Research in Glass as well as the Ceramic Arts Research Centre University of Sunderland, and we use that research to ensure that our teaching is fully up-to-date. National Glass Centre logo

Secondly, this course is delivered at National Glass Centre, and we use professional-standard equipment in our workshops and architectural glass studio. Open-plan working areas make it easier for you to learn from others and share knowledge on how to use the equipment.

Thirdly, we offer plenty of ‘real world’ opportunities including showing your work in public exhibitions, undertaking internships and working on real commissions – all of which help you build a professional track record.

Finally, we proactively help you build up a network of contacts within the UK and internationally. This can be invaluable as you look to sell your creations through galleries, shops, craft and design fairs.

A showcase of final year student work at National Glass Centre:

Course content

Introductory modules give first-hand experience of foundational subjects: blown and sandcast hot glass; kiln-formed glass processes; architectural and stained glass; throwing and hand-building ceramics. In addition you will learn cold working processes involved in glass, including polishing and surface decoration.

During the course you will have the opportunity to specialise in either glass or ceramics, or work across both mediums.

Modules on this course include:

Year 1 (national level 4)

  • Introduction to Studio Practice (40 Credits)
  • Introduction to Professional Practice (20 Credits)
  • History of Art and Design (20 Credits)
  • Realising Ideas in Glass and Ceramics (20 Credits)
  • Elective Module (20 Credits)

Year 2 (national level 5)

  • Exploring Practice: Model, Colour, Space, Image (40 Credits)
  • Personal Studio Project (40 Credits)
  • History of Art and Design(20 Credits)
  • Developing a Professional Practice (20 Credits)

Final Year (national level 6)

  • Final Studio Project (60 Credits)
  • Professional Practice (20 Credits)
  • Dissertation (20 Credits)
  • Elective (CAD/CAM or Drawing) (20 Credits)

Part-time study

You can study this course on a part-time basis. If you choose the part-time option you will need to commit between one and three days a week on the course.

All modules are taught during the day, and you will be studying alongside full-time students. Studying this course part-time usually takes between five and nine years. 

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include workshops, demonstrations, one to one tutorials, lectures and seminars with highly skilled and experienced academic and technical staff. Our department also boasts generous opening hours to support your independent learning. Tutors give regular individual feedback as your work progresses throughout the programme. 

Assessment methods vary between modules. The emphasis is on presentation of your practical work but also includes presentations, essays, blogs and public exhibitions. The final year Degree Show is held at the prestigious National Glass Centre and is open to the public.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see the page how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK Universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

Facilities for this course include:

  • 26 glass kilns, including a large glass casting kiln
  • 13 ceramic kilns, including a large gas kiln
  • Raku and kiln building area
  • Ceramics mould making and glaze workshops
  • Hot glass workshop with international-quality equipment
  • Glass mould-making workshop
  • Two cold working studios (sand blasting, cutting, grinding and polishing)
  • Architectural glass studio
  • Printing facility for glass, ceramics and other surfaces
  • Water-jet machine/Computer Aided Design
  • Lampworking and future light workshop
  • Computer suite and project space
  • Project and exhibition space
  • Multi-function creative and social space
  • Arts and Design Library

Journals and research

We subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date articles. Some of the most important sources for your course are:

  • Key Glass and Ceramics magazines and journals
  • Art Full Text + Art Abstracts, which is a major resource for arts information
  • Design and Applied Arts Index, which covers journals featuring both new designers and the development of design and the applied arts since the mid-19th century
  • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences

National Glass Centre

The Glass and Ceramics department is based in National Glass Centre, a nationally recognised glass production and exhibition centre with a world-class programme of exhibitions and creative projects.

Studying here puts you at the heart of an international network of professionals in the glass and ceramics sector. You will be exposed to the latest ways of working through visiting artists and designers and the cutting edge contemporary exhibitions to help launch your career. 

Entry requirements

Our typical offer will be in the region of 220 points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award).

We accept a maximum of 20 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language; or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

If you are studying a HND or Foundation Degree you may be able to enter onto the final year of our degree courses. For more information, please contact

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 220 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 220 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 220 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

Any other qualifications: If you have any other qualifications not listed here, you may still be eligible. Please contact the Student Helpline for advice: 0191 515 3000.

Returners to Learning: If you are a mature student, you may benefit from our dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email or call the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course, please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Portfolio requirements

Previous experience in glass and ceramics is not essential as we are mainly interested in your creative potential. For your interview at the University, please prepare a portfolio of work, which should be simply mounted and accompanied by sketchbooks and preparatory work. Where possible, 3D and large 2D work should be photographed. Digital and screen-based work should be saved on a CD or memory stick.

If you are an international applicant, please supply your portfolio on a CD.

Suitable items for a portfolio include:

  • Drawing: examples of observed drawing and exploratory drawing
  • Projects: evidence of project work in the area of fine art, together with your sketchbooks and development work
  • Self-initiated work: that you have done out of personal interest
  • Research: examples of various forms of investigation undertaken for projects

Fees & finance

Full-time fees

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £8,750 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,000 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Part-time fees

Tuition fees for part-time students are £667 per 20 Credits.

Please note that there is no international fee for this course as part-time courses are not available to international students.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information. 

Employment & careers

Many of our graduates set up their own businesses and take on commissions or sell their creations through galleries, shops, craft and design fairs.

In addition, the skills that are acquired through the course are relevant to roles in museums, galleries, education, retail management, environmental planning, community work, industrial design, arts administration, arts therapy, events organisation and publishing.

Another option is to continue studying at MA or PhD level, which can lead to teaching within an academic context.

Work placements

During the course we encourage you to take up ‘real world’ professional opportunities, which include the chance to show work in public exhibitions, undertake internships, take on commissions and participate in competitions. All of these can help build a compelling CV.


Study trips allow you to experience international work in your field. Recent destinations have included Venice, Prague, Berlin and New York. We encourage you to build a network of contacts, both nationally and internationally, during your time with us.

Visiting speakers

As a research hub, National Glass Centre and the Glass and Ceramics department attract top speakers who are able to share their insights and views with you. We host both the Institute for International Research in Glass and the Ceramic Arts Research Centre University of Sunderland which both have visiting speaker programmes, conferences and seminars.

University Language Scheme 

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme, which will earn credits towards your degree. The language module can be taken on top of or as part of the 120 credits needed to complete a year.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme: 

Student jobs, volunteering and paid projects (earn while you learn) 

Our Careers & Employability Service advertises a variety of opportunities to earn money while you study.

Volunteering positions in local organisations, charities and community groups can help you to help other people while learning about your strengths and what you can offer. Past opportunities have included working with children and the elderly, conservation work and sporting activities. 

CES also advertises details of paid part-time and vacation work in areas from call centre and retail work through to telesales and marketing and promotion and more.

Opportunities to work with companies on flexible, paid, part-time projects in areas such as IT, design, law, media, HR and event management, to name a few, are available too. These projects are a great chance to gain valuable work experience.

The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience. For more information visit: www.

"Thanks to the University of Sunderland I was given a fantastic opportunity."

Kathryn Wightman

Kathryn Wightman - Graduate

Self-employed Hot Glass artist

“I had started studying for a degree in Psychology and knew it wasn’t for me, so I asked if I could change to something suited to my practical nature. After a great deal of help I went on to study glass and ceramics - a world away from my original course - and when my degree finished I went on to do an MA in Glass.

"I am now based in the National Glass Centre in Sunderland which is the perfect place to be. I produce specialist screen printed glass works which I show at exhibitions and competitions all over the country.

"It’s amazing to think that when I started studying I was heading in a completely different direction. Thanks to the University of Sunderland I was given a fantastic opportunity which has really shaped the rest of my life."

"It was great to be based at the National Glass Centre with a team of lecturers and technicians who really help students develop as artists and individuals."

Paul Wearden UG Glass and Ceramics

Paul Wearden - Graduate

BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics Graduate

Just weeks after graduating, glass artist Paul Wearden found himself working on packaging for one of the world’s most exclusive bottles of Whiskey with renowned artistic and commercial glass studio Glasstorm.

One of his first projects was helping the team at Glasstorm develop and make a unique bottle for a 64 year old single malt whiskey. The Bowmore distillery only made 12 bottles of the highly prized whiskey, which is the oldest Islay Single Malt ever put up for sale.

Glasstorm, which is headed by glass artists Brodie Nairn and Nichola Burns are fast becoming both experts and pioneers in the niche field of luxury bottle creation and Paul was delighted to join them so soon after finishing his course.

“I heard about the job through the hot glass technicians at the University who post up any jobs the team hear about in the industry. I headed to the Highlands for a three day interview so they could really see what I could do and got the job. I was thrilled to get a job so soon after graduating and now I am refining my craft and style under the guidance of a great team and to find myself working on the Whiskey project so soon after arriving was just amazing.”

The bottles were hand-blown and sculpted to represent the waves that crash against the sea-facing walls of the vault in the distillery where the whiskey has been kept for the last 64 years.

“I’ve always been a very practical and hands on sort of person and naturally gravitated to the glass course. It was great to be based at the National Glass Centre with a team of lecturers and technicians who really help students develop as artists and individuals.

“The open plan studio environment on the course also helped me to bounce and feed off everybody else. Students from different year groups work and mix together so help and support is on hand constantly – studying glass and ceramics at Sunderland is really like being part of a tight knit creative community.”

"It was great to have the opportunity to use the water jet cutter."

Philippa Whiteside

Philippa Whiteside - Graduate

Business owner

The facilities at the National Glass Centre attracted 22 year-old, Philippa Whiteside, to the University of Sunderland.
After graduating in 2010 with a BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics, Philippa went on to a scholarship at Creative Cohesion. She now runs her own business and studio space in Sunderland.
"The facilities and 9am to 9pm access to the workshops was great” said Philippa.

"I really enjoyed making friends and having the freedom to experiment with ideas and materials - it was great to have the opportunity to use the water jet cutter."
Philippa said getting the scholarship has really helped with her career. She also received business mentoring and guidance to kick-start her business.
"I am a hard worker, and taking advantage of the facilities and access hours on offer at the University has really helped me gain the ceramic skills I have today."

"It was very clear that the support and facilities offered at Sunderland were by far the best."

Annie Jones

Annie Jones - Student

BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics

Glass and ceramics student Annie Jones spent a valuable internship with Traidcraft which involved a spell in Vietnam working in a ceramics factory.

Annie said: "It was an amazing experience that has changed how I view the world and it certainly changed me! I was working with an industrial ceramic company helping them to improve their processes and taking a product from the design stage right through to production.

"It was an amazing experience which fed my creative thoughts through engaging with and embracing a new culture and seeing different technical skills and knowledge. This widened my vision of both industrial and studio ceramics, stimulating my current work.

"To be based within the National Glass Centre and engaging with practicing artists and technicians is just amazing. It is like one great creative community, with actively exhibiting lecturers who are really at the cutting edge of the contemporary glass and ceramics scene.

"The support here in Sunderland has been fantastic and as students we are encouraged every step of the way in pushing boundaries and building confidence in our practice."

"My ambition is to travel, take on artist residencies and then teach ceramics and glass at university level."

Eduard Ruane - Lives Online new 2014

Eduard Ruane - Graduate

Lives Online Student Blogger 2013/14 - Glass and Ceramics

Eduard was Glass and Ceramics student in 2013/4 and was one of eight students who blogged about their lives at university throughout the year. His other interests include travel, weight lifting and wind surfing.

Read Eduard’s Lives Online blog to see what it's really like to be a Glass and Ceramics student at Sunderland.


Lives Online logo

"Here's my view of the BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics course at the University of Sunderland, filmed in my own unique way."

"Travelling with University of Sunderland to Venice as part of the course. It was great getting to know prospective university students, locals, artists and curators."

"My ambition is to become an internationally-recognised artist."

Lydia Singleton Lives Online new 2014

Lydia Singleton - Student

Lives Online Student Blogger 2012/13

Lydia was a first-year Glass and Ceramics student in 2012/13. She was one of six students who blogged about their lives at university throughout the year. 

Read Lydia's Lives Online blog to see what it's really like to be a Glass and Ceramics student at Sunderland.


Lives Online logo

"I spend a lot of my time at National Glass Centre. It’s a cool place. If you go to see it, you’ve gotta walk on the roof and you should also stay for a glass-blowing demo."

Lydia Singleton on page image Glass and Ceramics

Student work

All the pieces in these galleries were made by Glass and Ceramics students.




Read what the Sunderland Echo had to say about our Glass and Ceramics students: 

(click on the image below to see a .pdf version of the article)

Top of the Glass article thumbnail

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Part-time study: if you want to study this course on a part-time basis, you need to apply directly to the University of Sunderland by downloading the part-time application form (.pdf).

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

  • Next open day:
  • Date: Saturday 6th June 2015
  • Time: 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: To be confirmed

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Programme Leader for specific questions about the course:

Professor Kevin Petrie
Tel: 0191 515 3610

Find out more information about the staff who teach on this course and the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media.

Social media: To see what events we run and to ask a question about this course, contact the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media on Facebook: and Twitter: @UniOfSunADM

Contact the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media for general questions about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Tel: 0191 515 3593

The details

Course Name Glass and Ceramics
Classification BA (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time/Part-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 14 September 2015
UK/EU Fee £8,750
Intl Fee £10,000

Entry requirements

Typical accepting offer: 220 points

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