Artist Designer Maker: Glass and Ceramics with Integrated Foundation Year BA (Hons)

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This is a four-year version of our popular BA (Hons) Artist Designer Maker: Glass and Ceramics course, with an integrated foundation year. 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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This course 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. 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 opportunities such as external competitions and exhibitions.

Why us?

  • 100% of our BA (Hons) Artist Designer Maker: Glass and Ceramics graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • Our graduates embark on a diverse range of careers including professional artists, community artists, academics and teachers
  • Studying at National Glass Centre puts you at the heart of an international network of creative professionals
  • National Glass Centre is also home to the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, which has a 50-year history of showing cutting edge contemporary art
  • Learn both traditional and modern making techniques and have access to world-class production facilities
  • Meet internationally renowned, high-profile artists and designers currently working in the glass, ceramics and making fields
  • Be part of a supportive creative community and be encouraged to become nationally, even internationally, networked during your time on the course
  • Develop your confidence, problem-solving skills, communications skills and professionalism so that you are well prepared to enter the professional world

New Sunderland Culture logo

A city brimming with creative potential

Offering a year-round programme of exhibitions, events and performances, Sunderland Culture brings big-name artists from the worlds of contemporary visual arts, glass, ceramics and performance to the city, alongside showcasing the best and most exciting local talent. There is a huge range of opportunities for students to visit the venues, take part in events and get involved in the programme. Learn more about Sunderland Culture.

Student work

Course structure

In the first year – the foundation year – you will study five modules; a module about the foundations of art, design, performance and media production, an essential study skills module, a foundation project module, practical numeracy skills, and an introduction to creative practice module. After completion of this foundation, you will then move onto the Artist Designer Maker: Glass and Ceramics honours degree course.

Your second 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 third 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.

While 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.

Foundation year

The Creative Industries: Arts, Design, Performance, Media Production Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules:

  • Foundations of Art, Design, Performance and Media Production (40 credits)
  • Essential Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Foundation Project (20 credits)
  • Practical Numeracy Skills (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Creative Practice (20 credits)


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

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)

More about BA (Hons) Artist Designer Maker: Glass and Ceramics with Integrated Foundation Year at Sunderland

Discover more articles
    • 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)
    • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Map and directions


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

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

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

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

If you join us in September 2020, the foundation year will be £5,000.

For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250 but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the full-undergraduate course.

In addition, you may receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region and a University of Sunderland StudyPLUS Card loaded with additional offers up to the value of £200, plus a bundle of study skills books worth £80.

If you are a full-time UK student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

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.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

Glass and Ceramics student work


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.

‘Real-world’ experiences for employment

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. 

Our modules mirror 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.

Industry links

Our links with the arts and creative industries are key to giving you the real world experience that will help your future career. Our current links include 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.

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

Research active

A key difference between University lecturers and school or college teachers is that university academics 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

Meet the students

  • I hoping to pursue a career in the architectural side of glass making.
    Andy Griffiths

    Andy Griffiths

  • To be based within the National Glass Centre and engaging with artists and technicians is amazing.
    Annie Jones

    Annie Jones

  • I already work here at NGC but I would also like to learn more from other artists around the world.
    Emma Goring

    Emma Goring

  • I wanted to show the positive side of technology, how it can teach us all so much.
    Jonathan Michie

    Jonathan Michie

  • 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 the team

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