Craft Practices

BA (Hons) Craft Practices

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Applications open
Duration: One academic year (36 weeks each year) full time
School: Arts
Location: West Dean
Scholarships and bursaries: See available funding

The BA (Hons) Craft Practices course (specialising in Clocks, Furniture, Metals, Musical Instruments and Books and Bindings) is a one-year programme designed to provide a route into professional practice in your chosen field or for progression onto postgraduate study. The course constitutes the final year of a BA (Hons) degree and is suitable for students who have successfully completed one of our Foundation Degree in Arts courses in Books and Binding, Clocks, Furniture, Metalwork or Musical Instruments.

The programme is intensely practical, with most assignments designed to enable you to create work which enhances your craft skills alongside the development of your own personal interests and voice. Studio Work units, based on your specialist workshop, are run continuously throughout the academic year as the core of the top-up programme, informed and enhanced by Contextual and Professional Research, helping students to situate their practices in a historical and contemporary context. The year culminates in a Summer Show open to the public.

Learning environment

  • Well-equipped, highly specialist workshops and individual bench spaces in which to work
  • Workshop access 8.30am - 9pm, seven days a week*
  • A stimulating and supportive learning environment in which to develop your creative craft practice
  • A specialised programme of lectures, seminars and workshops
  • Input from regular visiting lecturers, artists and makers
  • Professional development provision for museum, collections and gallery visits and other external events
  • Contact with a regular series of professional artists-in-residence based in the studios throughout the academic year
  • An immersive environment with rich connections to craft and art history, particularly Surrealism, through the legacy of college founder Edward James

You can expect

  • Low student: tutor ratio
  • Dedicated individual workshop space
  • Access to advanced facilities, workshops and expertise
  • Support in developing specialist studio work
  • Support in developing critical thinking and contextual knowledge
  • Support for developing transferable skills such as self-management, communication, collaboration, IT and research skills
  • Increased independence and self-reliance applicable for further study, practice, or employment

Course structure

Learn more about the programme structure of each semester and the breakdown of study blocks. 

Contact hours


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops, individual and group tutorials, critique sessions, oral and written presentations, external visits and self-directed research.

On the BA Top Up, you typically have around 13-14 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 2 hours of lectures
  • 1-2 hours of seminars
  • 2 hours of one-to-one/group tutorials
  • 1 hour of critique sessions 6 hours of supervised practical workshops
  • 1 hour of external visits (on average)

Independent learning
When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-directed study.

Typically, this will involve:

  • working in the studio/workshops
  • developing supporting material and research portfolios
  • undertaking research in the library
  • reading journal articles and books
  • working on specific unit assignments
  • preparing presentations and self-assessments

Overall workload
BA Hons Top Up: 40% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity.
Scheduled teaching and learning: 480 hours
Independent learning: 720 hours

term dates


You will have access to our specialist workshops, 8.30am-9pm, 7 days a week*. Collaboration with other craft, art, design and conservation practice specialisms makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment.

Facilities include:

  • Individual workbenches for each student
  • Access to the full range of metalworking and woodworking facilities in the adjacent departments
  • Digital photography facilities for the production of photographic records and documentation

The on-site Art and Conservation Library puts thousands of specialist books and journals within your reach, and you can access specialist databases in the IT suite.

Access to short courses
Students can access over 500+ short courses to develop particular skills and techniques. If places are available at weekends during term, students are encouraged to attend free of charge (there may be a charge for specific material or model fees) or can book in advance at a reduced rate.

House, Grounds, Collection and Archive
The House and Estate offer ambitious exhibition opportunities and unique research material, and students can submit site-specific proposals throughout the year.  The Edward James Collection is an outstanding resource, giving students access to significant works of art and historical objects.

West Dean Tapestry Studio
One of the world's leading producers of hand-woven tapestry, students have close contact with the expertise of Master Weavers and designers and access to the studio's Dye Rooms, a specialist facility for the dyeing of yarn. Find out more about the professional Tapestry Studio.

Interdisciplinary Study
Students are encouraged to collaborate with other College departments, making the most of the wide range of specialist knowledge, materials and equipment that is available.

Find out more about the facilities


Graduates go on to work as makers and designers, repairers, restorers, sellers or expert advisors in clocks, books, furniture, metals or musical instruments. There are many areas of specialism within the professions and interest nationally and internationally.

Read our alumni profiles
School of Art Credit Thom Atkinson.jpg

School of Arts

Explore and expand your work in a uniquely immersive environment with its own connections to art history. Our School of Arts students enjoy specialist studio spaces dedicated to painting and drawing, sculpture and tapestry and textile-based work as well as exceptional exhibition space.

School of Arts

Fees and funding

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

£4,760 per term (£14,280 per academic year)

Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more

A £250 course fee and £200 accommodation deposit (if residential) is required to secure your place.
Details will be provided to you in your offer. Fees are billed termly in advance. Please see the Terms and Conditions for further information.

We may routinely increase our course fees from year to year for one-year courses and may review and change such course fees without notice.


Bursaries are available, based on individual need.

Find out more about funding

Entry requirements

  • A qualification equivalent to a second year of successful undergraduate study e.g. Foundation Degree or equivalent.

  • Portfolio: presenting a concise overview of the development and current focus of your practice, including sketchbooks, journals and an example of written work

  • International students must provide evidence of English language ability to CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.5

How to apply

Applications for this course can be made by submitting a completed application form and emailing it to: [email protected].

Any questions?
Email [email protected]; call us on: (01243) 818 300 and select option 1, or read more about our Admissions processes.


Lizzie Neville MA ACR

Head of School of Conservation

Elizabeth Neville has over thirty years' experience as a book conservator, interspersed with teaching and supervising on the Graduate Diploma in Books and Library Materials and MA Conservation Studies courses at West Dean.

Malcom Archer Horology Subject Leader at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Malcolm Archer FBHI

Subject Leader, Clocks (and Related Objects)

Malcolm's extensive experience in private practice, as well as the heritage sector/museums, lies behind his in-depth understanding of the profession. He brings a comprehensive knowledge of traditional craft skills, theory and contextual history. He also has an interest in new and innovative ways of applying conservation to mechanical objects.

Daniel Pateman specialist teacher in furniture design and craft at West Dean College

Daniel Pateman

Subject Leader, Furniture (and Related objects)

Daniel designs and makes furniture to commission inspired by the principles of the arts and crafts movement which had a profound influence whilst serving his apprenticeship at the Edward Barnsley Workshop in Hampshire. He has an affinity for using hand tools and how they creatively contribute to the making process.

Shem Mackey tutor at West Dean College Credit Jack Lawson

Shem Mackey MA

Master Craftsman Tutor

Shem Mackey is a founder member of the British Violin Making Association (BVMA) and founder editor of its newsletter. His research into instrument construction has been published in The Strad, Early Music and various publications of the BVMA and Viola da Gamba Society.

Dr Nicholas Pyall Musical Instruments Tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Dr Nicholas Pyall

Subject Leader - Musical Instruments

Nick makes instruments that are inspired by the Viennese guitars of the early and mid-nineteenth century, including those with extra bass strings, and by mid-twentieth-century North American guitars.  He is currently Subject Leader for the FdA Historic Craft Practices - Musical Instruments.

Arnaud Giral

Subject Tutor - FdA Musical Instruments

Arnaud Giral completed his violin making studies at the Newark School of Violin Making in 2004. He then moved to Montpellier where he focused on viols and baroque violin making. His dedicated approach to historical instruments and his attention to gut strings has led him to work for numerous specialist musicians and renowned early music ensembles.

Maudie Casserly

Maudie Casserly MA

Subject Tutor, Books and Library materials

Maudie is a book and paper conservator and bookbinder. Having worked a various institutions and companies over the years, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and The National Archives, Maudie now works for herself, taking on commissions from museums, libraries, collections and private individuals. In additional to practical conservation and binding, Maudie also teaches a range of online classes in bookbinding  to students all over the world.

Tim Hughes, clocks tutor at West Dean College

Tim Hughes

Subject Tutor, Clocks (and Related Objects)

Tim Hughes MBHI, clock maker, trained at West Dean College and works as a clockmaker and scientific instrument restorer, and as external consultant at Bellmans Auctioneers. He has received several awards, including the Trustees' Prize while at West Dean College and a QEST Scholarship. 

Joe Orchard - Furniture tutor at West Dean

Joe Orchard

For the past 18 years, Joe has honed his skills as a traditional craftsperson, creating exquisite bespoke furniture pieces. His work has received the prestigious Guild Mark Award and has featured at esteemed events like Masterpiece London.

Leszek Knyrek, Books tutor at West Dean College

Leszek Knyrek

Subject Tutor Books and Library Materials

Leszek gained his Diploma in Bookbinding in 1997 and has been a Master bookbinder for the last 25 years. More recently he became a qualified book conservator. He has been in private practice in London and Poland as both a bookbinder and more recently book conservator.