Fine Art BA (Hons)

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Discover and develop your own perspective and ideas within contemporary art. Nurture your creative talent alongside professional artists in our artist community. Graduate with a skill set that meets the needs of employers across the globe.

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Overview

Britain’s creative industries are worth £92 billion, employ 2 million people and are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy. This course will give you the skills to join this growing industry.

The tradition of Art runs deep at Sunderland, but we don’t stand still. We’ve built on this history and experience, adding innovation and modern teaching approaches to create a course that gives our graduates the edge.

Our Fine Art team, all working artists, have a wealth of professional practice and subject expertise to help you realise your art aspirations. Guided by these experts you will have the freedom to explore your creative interests across a broad range of Fine Art practice including painting, printmaking, digital photography, film, sound, drawing, sculpture and performance.

Working collaboratively, you’ll learn to see the bigger picture and will develop highly adaptable skills, alongside your technical abilities. Throughout the course you’ll work towards live outcomes, building your confidence as an artist to promote yourself, your art and to understand the impact you can have on society.

Why us?

  • According to the National Student Survey 2018, our Fine Art course is ranked 6th in the UK for Overall satisfaction, 7th for The teaching on my course, and are in the top 25% in the UK for Assessment and feedback and Organisation and management
  • We replicate the real-life environment of Britain’s biggest artists’ studios where creatives from across a range of disciplines work collaboratively
  • Create your own book showcasing your studio practice; this will be invaluable for promoting your skills to future employers
  • Our Art and Design courses were ranked 2nd overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Our Art and Design courses were ranked 2nd in the UK for Assessment and Feedback, 2nd in the UK for Retention and Progression, and 3rd in the UK for Employability in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Access to FabLab Sunderland on City Campus, part of a global network of digital fabrication spaces that provide 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters and a CNC router
  • Access to our ‘Creative Lives’ Lecture programme giving you many examples of how artists live, work and thrive in the creative industries
  • The prestigious Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art is now based at the University so you will see the latest contemporary art exhibitions
  • Have the opportunity to exhibit your work throughout the course, building towards your Degree Show in the final year
  • Work in your own generous-sized individual studio space with access to well-equipped workshop facilities

Course structure

You’ll be allocated your own studio space from day one. This will be your space to build and develop your creativity alongside fellow students.

The first year is all about exploration. You’ll experience a range of working methods, honing and testing your technical, making and artistic ability, while building your studio practice. At the end of the year you’ll show your achievements at your first exhibition.

In the second year you’ll start to link your artistic practice with live experiences. You’ll work collaboratively with students from other disciplines in the ‘Integrated Creativity’ module; replicating the practice of some the world’s biggest artists who draw on a range of creative talents. You’ll also start to consider your place in society; how you want to work and where your art can take you. You’ll undertake a project with a live outcome that could be a group exhibition, a workshop in the community or a project with a local school. All of this will also extend your understanding of the creative industries and develop your team working skills, which will be essential for professional life.

Your final year is about building your professional practice, skills and experience to prepare you for your Final Degree Show, graduation and beyond. You’ll produce your own book, showing a window into your practice and skills, which will help you promote yourself to employers. Understand what it takes to bid for funding or secure an exhibition space; all before critically selecting your work for public exhibition at your Degree Show.

Assessment methods vary between modules. They include studio presentations of artwork, a variety of written projects, and exhibitions.

Part-time students study the same course as full-time students. If you study this course on a part-time basis you will typically complete 40-80 credits in a year, rather than the 120 credits of full-time students. All modules are taught during the daytime, and you will be studying alongside full-time students.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Studio and Show (40 credits)

Start to develop your own personal studio Fine Art practice and exhibit work in the Fine Art Stage One show. You’ll be allocated your own studio space and have access to printmaking, wood, metal and digital/FabLab workshops.

  • Fine Art Making Skills (40 credits

Develop your Fine Art practical skills in painting, printmaking, digital photography, sound and sculpture.

  • Contemporary Approaches to Drawing (20 credits)

Get an introduction to drawing principles, engage with diverse approaches to drawing using a wide range of ideas, materials and working methods.

  • Fine Art Histories and Ideas (20 credits)

Learn about some of the key art movements and ideas which shaped, and continue to shape, the world culturally.

 

Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Fine Art Methodology (40 credits)

Produce your own visual work, and consider the form and the appropriateness of the medium in relation to idea, choosing from Fine Art’s wide area portfolio of subjects; painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, digital, performance and installation.

  • Fine Art in Society (40 credits)

Develop your own studio practice towards installing a live exhibition open to a public audience or alternatively research and present a proposal for a participatory arts project.

  • Art in Society Theory and Context (20 credits)

Explore key cultural themes, examine your own ideas about local and global cultural developments and generate discussions about your creative arts practice.

  • Integrated Creativity (20 credits)

Build your team working skills and expand your creativity by collaborating with students from other creative disciplines.

Final year (national level 6):

  • Practice, Publication, Pitch (40 credits)

Research and produce a self-negotiated project, produce and publish an artist’s online and hard copy ‘Blurb’ book, which reflects and evaluates your practice.

  • Fine Art Degree Exhibition (60 credits)

Pursue an individual programme of work for your final exhibition, selecting from drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture or new media. Take a look at our 2018 Fine Art Degree catalogue.

  • Dissertation and Application (20 credits)

Engage with and explain a subject derived from visual culture in a self-directed project or develop a comprehensive arts related career plan.

Priestman Building,
Green Terrace,
Sunderland,
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54.903408,-1.388789

  • FabLab Sunderland offers a diverse range of specialist digital design and fabrication equipment. Based at the Hope Street Xchange in Sunderland city centre, it is a creative space where anyone can make (almost) anything. Our students gain free access to FabLab's machines which include:

    • Epilog laser cutter
    • ShopBot CNC router
    • The Roland Modela MDX-20 milling machine
    • Roland Vinyl cutter GS-24
    • Dimension 1200es Series 3D Printer – ABS plastic (large capacity 3D printer)
    • Ultimaker 2 (small scale 3D printer)
    • Ulitmaker 2 Extended (medium scale 3D printer)
    FabLab
  • Studio-based practice (where you have your own, personal, studio space) is the core to the Fine Art course and you will be allocated a generous sized individual studio space in Priestman Building.

    You will also have additional project and exhibition spaces for paintings, prints and sculpture, plus digital installation and performance work, where ideas can be tested, outside of your individual space, providing an effective and discursive learning environment. This includes our own ‘Shaun Project Space’ and ‘Gallery 007’ (our Fine Art, Digital, Photographic, Film, Sound Installation project space) where students can explore new ideas and engage in group discussions about their work.

    Fine Art students will also have the opportunity to exhibit and gain experiences supporting the installation and curating public exhibitions in our large Faculty Priestman Gallery. You will have access to excellently equipped workshops in printmaking, 3D printing, digital photography, digital sewing and embroidery, woodwork, metalwork and casting as well as support in the development of film and sound. You also have access to FabLab on City Campus.

    Fine Art facilities
  • The University Library has an exceptional collection of photography books and monographs and subscribes to a comprehensive range of academic journals and databases so you can access reliable and up-to-date information.

    A dedicated Academic Liaison Librarian supports students and staff in the arts, design and performing arts disciplines.

    The key resources for your course include:

    Discover: The Library’s multi-disciplinary search tool

    Art Full Text: A major resource for media and arts information

    JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’): Giving access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences

    Lexis: A major resource on full-text newspaper articles and legal information

    Library Services - arts and design

Facilities

This course is based at the Priestman Building, the main base for art, design and performance on City Campus. Thanks to a major renovation programme, the Priestman Building provides an excellent teaching space and resources as part of a vibrant and creative learning environment.

Facilities include:
Three art and design galleries
Art, design and fashion studios
Wood, metal and print workshops
Performing Arts spaces
Wacom Cintiq design studio

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is


  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement


If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at admissions@sunderland.ac.uk for further advice.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

Portfolio/Interview

If the above criteria is met you will be asked to attend an interview. For this interview please prepare a portfolio of work, which should be simply mounted and accompanied by preparatory work. Sketchbooks are an important feature of your preparatory work and should be included. 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 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

‡ Writing: examples of reports, essays or journals

Fees and finance

Full-time fees

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 if you are an international student

Part-time fees

Tuition fees for part-time students are £5,000 per 120 credits.

Please note that part-time courses are not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night

Employment

Working in the creative sector is all about following your passion for originality – using your imagination to develop new ideas and techniques and to challenge the norm.

Fine Artists gather skills that are essential to the world of work. Creative thinkers are called for in a range of sectors beyond the Creative Industries thanks to the range of transferable skills. This course is an opportunity for self-development and exploration. We’ll support you to develop your professional practice, build your confidence as an artist to promote yourself, your art, understand the impact you can have on society and explore where your art can take you.

Professional Portfolio

To enhance employability, we encourage you to develop a Professional Portfolio throughout your time at the University. This includes an online art blog and art book publication of your work, with an artist statement and a CV; this will be invaluable for promoting your skills to future employers.

Career options

We aim to prepare you to become a confident professional, with transferable skills. Increasingly, creative workers follow a ‘portfolio’ career comprising a range of roles such as teaching in schools, colleges and universities, artist residencies, creative practitioner and as a practising fine artist. This makes for a really flexible lifestyle enabling you to extend your professional contacts, build your artistic practice and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Almost half of creative workers are self-employed, compared to 15% across the workforce as a whole and 95% of creative businesses are micro-businesses with less than ten employees according to The Creative Industries Federation, July 2017. This course provides sessions on becoming self-employed and our ‘Creative Lives’ lecture programme offers case studies of creative careers.

Our graduates

Destinations for Fine Art graduates also include public arts, curating and other areas within the creative industries. Some of our graduates work as artists and show their work in commercial galleries. Others have gone on to work in museums, galleries and many different types of employment and self-employment. This course will encourage you to consider employment options both in the creative sector as well as in other types of industry. A number of our students have chosen to progress to postgraduate courses such as our well-regarded MA Fine Art course.

  • I want my work to have an environmental message, revealing the beauty and frailty of nature.
    Anastasia Manentzou

    Anastasia Manentzou

  • Sunderland had the best studio spaces in which to work in by far.
    Anna Puhakka, Fine Art

    Anna Puhakka

  • The tutors I worked with were very open-minded and willing to talk through ideas.
    Emma Stark, Fine Art

    Emma Stark

  • Sunderland taught me that if you are passionate and really want it, you can make it happen.
    Michael Branthwaite, Fine Art

    Michael Branthwaite

  • At Sunderland it was like being part of a wide family.
    Sophie Lisa Beresford, Fine Art

    Sophie Lisa Beresford

  • My intention is to develop the use of line, form, colour, space, perspective, dimension and scale...
    William Ramsay

    William Ramsay

Meet our academics

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