Fine Art with Integrated Foundation Year BA (Hons)

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Course starts: 14 September 2020Apply now

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This is a four-year version of our popular BA (Hons) Fine Art course, with an integrated foundation year. 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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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 as an artist in society.

You’ll be allocated your own studio space and this will be your space to build and develop your creativity alongside fellow students.

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
  • Work in your own individual studio space with access to well-equipped workshop facilities which replicate real-life artist working environments
  • Create and publish your own artist book showcasing your studio practice; this will be invaluable for promoting your skills to future employers
  • Access to FabLab Sunderland, 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 each year to exhibit publically and be involved in our participatory art, Fine Art in Society projects, while building towards your Degree Show in the final year
  • Work on collaborative projects with students from Design courses
  • 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

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 Fine Art honours degree course.

In your second year 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 your third 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.

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):

  • 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

Start to 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.

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Fine Art Methodology (40 credits)

Produce and expand 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 such as design, graphics, illustration and fashion.

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’ art 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)

This is a self-directed module where you select your own topic of research related to Fine Art or visual culture. The module offers two approaches in the way the research is demonstrated: a 6000-word written dissertation or a 6000-word document which includes a comprehensive arts related career plan outlining your research practice. This also includes preparation for an arts funding body application towards: a curated show, to set up a studio group, community-based activity or public commission.

More about BA (Hons) Fine Art with Integrated Foundation Year at Sunderland

Discover more articles
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Map and directions


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

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.

Student working in art studio


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, Teacher Training PGCE, PCET SCITT teacher training programmes.

Meet the students

  • 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 the team

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