Artist Designer Maker: Glass and Ceramics BA (Hons)

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Course starts: 17 September 2018Apply now

If you are applying for the full-time course from within the UK/EU, click apply now.

Course starts: 17 September 2018Apply now

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Explore creativity in glass and ceramics. Utilise outstanding traditional and digital facilities at National Glass Centre and FabLab. Become an artist, designer, maker.

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An evolution of our BA (Hons) Glass and Ceramics course, this programme embraces the possibilities of both art and design and is underpinned by making skills in a variety of materials. Glass and Ceramics are a focus but you can work in other materials, for example, wood, metal and plastic - as well as digital media. On this programme, you will develop your confidence, problem-solving skills, communications skills and professionalism so that you are well prepared to enter the professional world.

You will work in excellent individual student workspaces in studios in National Glass Centre and FabLab, bringing you into contact with professionals in the field as well as specialised opportunities such as external competitions and exhibitions. You will also gain confidence, build resilience and develop a personal understanding of the broader cultural and social contexts of art, design and making.

The research and professional practice of your tutors and technicians underpin our curriculum. Guided by our experts you will explore diverse examples of creative careers through visiting professionals, exhibitions, conferences and vocational and professional opportunities. You will learn in a supportive creative community and be encouraged to become nationally, even internationally, networked during your time on the course.

Come and find out more at one of our Maker Days for prospective students, running throughout the year.

Why us?

  • You will be based in National Glass Centre which will bring you into contact with international artists, curators, creative industries, community groups, galleries, and museums
  • Practical making is at the centre of this course, from traditional to contemporary methods, and you will gain a diverse, transferable skills set including making skills in glass and ceramics and other media, digital design skills, presentation skills, writing skills and career planning skills
  • Publications on your reading lists have been written by our lecturers
  • National Glass Centre Research’ and the ‘Ceramics Arts Research Centre University of Sunderland’ (CARCuos) are both involved with the creation of new artworks, techniques and approaches to creative practice, as well as contextual and historical issues
  • You will be taught by passionate and experienced professionals, who are experts in their field and excited to share their practice


Course structure

Your first year will introduce you to a range of traditional and contemporary craft skills, through staff led demonstrations and seminars as well as hands-on making. You will learn making skills, ideas development and about key subject themes – all of which will prepare you for self-negotiated projects in your second year where you will learn about making for particular contexts as well as for exhibition. You will start to identify your own voice through your work as well as considering debates in the subject and professional practice. The final year is significantly about developing your degree show work, reflecting on your practice, critically positioning your work and importantly planning for your future career.

Whilst building the core skills of being an artist, designer or maker, this programme also offers the chance for students to develop a broader range of skills and attitudes that can allow them to work in other areas. These include: creative thinking, team working, presentation skills, writing skills, research skills, digital skills, and time management.

Throughout the course, you’ll be assessed through a range of studio practice, visual research – sketchbooks, technical notebooks, and contextual files, your professional development portfolio, written assignments and presentations to fellow students and staff.

View our student galleries.

Year 1 (national level 4):

Focus on skill acquisition to introduce a broad base of techniques:

  • Ceramics: throwing, glazes, hand building, slip casting, decals,mono-printing, press moulding
  • Glass: glassblowing, kiln casting, stained glass, glass painting, sandcasting, sandblasting, glass cutting, gluing and construction
  • Finishing techniques: grinding and polishing, wood finishing, metal patination
  • Digital crafts; for example rhinoceros, tinkercad, blender, fusion 360, 3d printing, water jet cutting, laser cutting
  • Wood and metal - basic skills
  • Artists talks and visits will provide examples of professional careers and practice verbal presentation skills
  • Aspects of historical and contemporary artist designer maker contexts
  • Academic research, referencing and writing skills


  • Studio Techniques for Making (60 credits)
  • Ideas Into Practice (40 credits)
  • Key Themes for Art, Design and Making (20 credits)

Year 2 (national level 5):

Focus on development of professional transferable skills, understanding of contexts of practice and broader cultural issues, and of independent study and skills acquisition:

  • Continuing skill acquisition, including printmaking for glass and ceramics, advanced ceramics techniques, and digital skills
  • Applying for ‘real world’ opportunities like competitions, exhibitions and work experience
  • First semester: Focus on work in place, space and context through developing a project in response to a specific place, purpose or audience
  • Design boards, visualisations and sample making
  • Second semester: planning, executing and evaluating a self-directed project for exhibition at a professional public gallery - usually at Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead
  • Opportunity to study abroad including USA, Australia or Sweden


  • Making for Place, Space and Audience (40 credits)
  • Making for Exhibition (40 credits)
  • Dialogues in Art, Design and Making (20 credits)
  • Professional Practice: Engaging with the creative community (20 credits)

Final year (national level 6):

The final year is geared towards the exhibition of a professional body of work at National Glass Centre:

  • Experimentation, visualization, testing in order to develop a professional and resolved body of work for exhibition
  • Refinement of making skills, finishing techniques, presentation methods and consolidation of ideas in a final body of artworks
  • Research and write a critical dissertation relevant to students’ individual studio work and/or career goals. Also, focus on establishing a professional identity and career plan
  • Research career options, understand the nature of the sector the student aspires to enter and in turn develop a relevant career plan
  • Develop online portfolio or drawings and finished work



  • Experiment Visualise, Prototype (40 credits)
  • Refine Resolve Exhibit (40 credits)
  • Dissertation: Your Creative Context (20 credits)
  • Professional Practice: Planning Your Creative Career (20 credits)

National Glass Centre,
Liberty Way,


  • Digital Making facilities:

    • Waterjet Sweden waterjet cutting machine 3 x 2 m cutting area
    • PCs with Lantec software
    • 3D printers
    • Delta wasp 3D clay printer
    • EinScan 3D scanner
    • Rhino 3D modelling software

    Students also have access to facilities within FabLab on campus, which includes laser cutters, routers, milling machines, vinyl cutters and 3D printers.

    Digital Making Facilities
  • 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)
  • Glass and ceramics facilities currently include:

    • A range of glass and ceramics kilns including a large gas kiln
    • Raku and kiln building area
    • Ceramics hand building, throwing, mould making and glaze workshops
    • Hot glass workshop with international-quality equipment including 2 custom furnaces and 4 gloryholes
    • Glass mould making workshop
    • fully equipped cold working studio (sandblasting, cutting, grinding and polishing)
    • Architectural and stained glass studio
    • Printing facility for glass, ceramics and other surfaces
    • 7 Lampworking stations
    • Project and exhibition space
    • Workspace for each student




    Glass and ceramics facilities
  • 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 include:

    • Art Full Text + Art Abstracts: A major resource for media and arts information
    • Design and Applied Arts Index: 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’): Provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
    • Screen Online (BFI): An online encyclopaedia of British film and television, featuring clips from the vast collections of the BFI National Archive
    Journals and research - design
  • Our Arts and Design library section has a specialist collection of over 120,000 books, DVDs, videos, slides and one of the largest electronic information networks in the sector.

    The experienced library team provide a high quality service and are sensitive to the requirements and working methods of our students. 

    Library Services - arts and design
  • The Department of Glass and Ceramics is based in the National Glass Centre, a nationally recognised glass production and exhibition centre with world-class production facilities and a programme of international 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 most modern techniques in glass and ceramics art, with access to world-class production facilities. Through the Centre’s visiting artists and designers programme, you will have the opportunity to learn from internationally renowned, high-profile artists currently working in the glass and ceramics field. You will also be given access to and the opportunity to work on cutting-edge contemporary exhibitions to help launch your career. National Glass Centre is also home to the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, which has a long history of showing cutting edge contemporary art.

    National Glass Centre


You will work in excellently equipped studios based in the National Glass Centre and FabLab, giving you access to many events and exhibitions as well as visiting professionals (including artists, designers and makers). You’ll be allocated your own workspace, in our open plan working areas which facilitates the learning community and allows students to learn and share knowledge freely.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award).

We accept a maximum of 6 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 you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

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

Portfolio requirements

We’ll invite you to an informal interview to talk about your work, where we would like to see evidence of your creative potential. Previous experience in glass, ceramics or making is not essential.

Please prepare a portfolio of work you have completed so far. We are not looking for perfection as we appreciate you are still developing work. Your portfolio should be simply mounted and include:

  • Art and design work completed in or outside of your studies
  • A variety of art and design work – we want to see a range of styles and technique
  • Ideas that didn’t work
  • Research: for example sketchbooks, scrapbooks of things that inspire you or design sheets
  • Photographs of 3D, and large 2D, work are acceptable
  • A USB stick or online link with any digital and screen-based work
  • Uncompleted or work in progress is also useful to see

If you are an international applicant, please send a link to your online portfolio.


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.

A student with graduation scroll


We aim to develop you as graduates who have the skills to work in diverse art, design and making contexts. You are likely to develop ‘portfolio careers’ that might involve a mix of working as artists for gallery exhibitions, designers making work to commission for specific contexts, and makers who can fabricate work for yourselves or others.

We have modules focused on employability and professional skills at each stage. The careers and employability service are closely linked to the programme and the ‘Sunderland Futures’ offer, which supports students with employability, is promoted at each stage.

‘Real-world’ experiences

Professional ‘real-world’ experience is central to this programme which could include the chance to show your work in public exhibitions, undertake internships, work on real commissions, and competitions – all of which will help you to build a professional CV. 

You will be required to participate in a public exhibition as part of your programme, as part of the Stage 2 ‘Making for Exhibition’ module.

Also at Stage 2 as part of the ‘Professional Practice: Engaging with the Creative Community’ module, students must apply for an opportunity such as an internship, competition or funding – this mirrors the approach that professional artists will need to take in their careers. These aspects of the programme will present you with challenges through which you can build experience and confidence for your dynamic career in the creative industries!

External influences

The programme is designed so that opportunities students undertake outside of the programme can be factored into some of the modules and assessed. For example, some of the live projects that students can apply for at Stage 2 can be assessed in the ‘Engaging with your creative community’ module. Several students set up their own businesses or exhibit their work while a student, and aspects of this can often be assessed at Stage 3 for example in the ‘Professional Practice: Planning Your Creative Career’ module or reflected upon in the ‘Dissertation: Your Creative Context’ module.

Unique environment

The glass and ceramics department is unique in its placement at the heart of the National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland. The additional learning opportunities and resources that this facilitates are actively promoted within this programme. You will be encouraged to participate in museum/gallery/studio visits both in groups and as individuals. Attending conferences and/or public demonstrations by professional makers are actively promoted. The additional resources of ‘National Glass Centre Research’ and ‘Ceramics Arts Research Centre University of Sunderland’ (CARCuos) enhance the offer further.

Industry links

The University has close links with arts organisations including Sunderland Arts Studio, British Ceramics Biennial, Arts Council England, Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA), National Association for Ceramics in Higher Education (NACHE), Equal Arts, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) and Nissan.

Our students have progressed from our Glass and Ceramics studios to work with Wanganui Glass School New Zealand, Devereux and Huskie Glassworks, GLASSTORM UK/Danish Studios, Angels' Share Glass, Cumbria Crystal, English Antique Glass, Antony Gormley Studio, Crafts Council, Sorrel Foundation, British Ceramics Biennale and Hepworth Museum.

Research active

University lecturers undertake research, as well as teaching, in order to advance knowledge in their subjects. Your lecturers will use the experience and knowledge that they gain from this in order to support you to achieve your goals. You are likely to benefit from research in a number of ways including:

  • Publications by your lecturers in your module reading lists
  • Lecturers giving presentations on their artworks and projects and discussing them in seminars
  • Invitations to visit exhibitions by lecturers
  • Opportunities for you to work alongside your lecturers on research projects
  • Presentations by external contacts made by your lecturers through their research
  • Presentation by PhD students about their research

Join award winners

We encourage students to take part in competitions and they’ve had considerable success:

  • Sienna Griffin Shaw, First Prize and Best Craftsmanship Award, Stevens Architectural Glass competition 2017
  • MA graduate Jade Tapson, who took the Student prize at the 2017 British Glass Biennale
  • Dawid Stroyny, joint winner in The Glass Prize, Other Glass category for 2017
  • Neil Edwards, Highly Commended, Contemporary Glass Society (CGS) Glass Prize and Graduate Review 2017
  • Sienna Griffin-Shaw and Jonathan Michie, both shortlisted Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of the Year 2017
  • Anna Selway won competition to design a stylish gin glass for local company Durham Distillery
  • Dan Gough, won Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor of the Year 2016
  • Anna Selway, first prize in Stevens Architectural Glass Competition 2015
  • To be based within the National Glass Centre and engaging with artists and technicians is amazing.
    Annie Jones

    Annie Jones

  • Sunderland gave me a fantastic opportunity which has really shaped the rest of my life.
    Kathryn Wightman, Glass

    Kathryn Wightman

  • Everyone I spoke to absolutely recommended living in Sunderland and getting the real experience.
    Logann Pearce course

    Logann Pearce

  • Studying glass and ceramics at Sunderland is like being part of a tight-knit creative community.
    Glass sculpture

    Paul Wearden

  • I really enjoyed making friends and having the freedom to experiment with ideas and materials.
    Philippa Whiteside, Glass and Ceramics

    Philippa Whiteside

Meet our academics