FdA Booking and Binding at West Dean College

Craft Practices

Foundation Degree Arts - Books and Binding

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

The Foundation Degree in Arts, specialising in books and binding, is designed to give you well-rounded theory and craft skills in using papers, cloths and leathers to bind books so you can set up as a maker and craftsperson, continue your studies in higher education in crafts or conservation, or find employment in the creative industry sector.

In the first year students develop bench craft skills in paper and leather. Project work focuses on using appropriate materials, processes and techniques. Core studies include materials technology, technical drawing and historical/contextual studies. During this stage of the course students begin to develop an understanding of the relationship between material, technique and meaning. 

In the second year of the course, students further develop their skills and begin to explore the development of historically inspired new work and/or an introduction to the conservation of books. Core studies focus on business and professional skills such as pricing, record-keeping, tax and insurance, marketing and intellectual property. Most students will have the opportunity to complete a period of work placement. 

Learning environment

  • Low student: tutor ratio
  • Workshop access 8.30am - 9pm, seven days a week*
  • Interdisciplinary environment
  • Visits from practising crafts-persons and specialists from the heritage and private sectors
  • Visits to museums and active links with heritage bodies
  • Work placements and work-related projects

You can expect

  • To develop excellent practical skills
  • To learn how material properties influence practice and making
  • To learn about historic book-making techniques and their application in contemporary contexts
  • To learn from experienced tutors who are practising professionals and well-connected in the sector
  • To learn in a dedicated book binding workshop

Read more about studying Books

Course structure

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

Course units

Year 1 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation  

HC-M1
Materials Technology
delivered in pathway workshop and cross-curricular

  10 credits
(common)
HC-D1
Drawing and Aesthetics
 

10 credits

(common)

HC-R1
Study/Research Skills
  10 credits
(common)
MID-YEAR ASSESSMENT
Year 1 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

HC-M2
Materials Technology
delivered in pathway workshop and cross-curricular

10 credits

(common)

HC-H2
History of Craft
20 credits
(common)
HC-C2M1/C/F/ME
Craft Skills
2-20 credits
(subject specific)
SUMMER ASSESSMENT
Year 2 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation  

HC-P3
Professional Skills incl. work placement

20 credits
(common)

HC-C3MI/C/F/ME
Applied Projects

40 credits

(subject specific)

MID-YEAR ASSESSMENT
Year 2 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

HC-P4
Professional Portfolio
student led

60 credits

(common)

FINAL ASSESSMENT

Contact hours

Teaching

You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, external trips and visits and workshop practicals. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.

At level 4 you typically have around 18-19 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 4-5 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 8 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

At level 5 you typically have around 16-17 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 3-4 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 7 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and preparing coursework assignments and presentations.

Overall workload

Level 4: 53% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 633 hours
Independent learning: 567 hours

Level 5: 50% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 600 hours
Independent learning: 600 hours

International study trips

The College continues to monitor travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with regards to any international travel. At this time, all international travel which includes study trips will be subject to agreement by the College.

term dates
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.

Funding

Scholarships and bursaries are available from £500 to £10,000. 

If you are a UK/EU student you may be eligible to apply for a Student Loan (tuition fees and/or maintenance loans) from the Student Loans Company.

find out more about funding

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff points: 120 Completion of a level 3 qualification, for example: A-Levels, BTEC or Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

Applicants can be considered if they can provide evidence of prior learning and should provide a digital portfolio. You will be invited to a portfolio interview. The portfolio should evidence commitment to the discipline. It could include sketchbooks, technical and material exploration, design work, project development from start to finish, detailed images of finished work. Where possible, applicants are encouraged to include a video of working on a practical exercise as part of the portfolio, of which the College can provide guidance if required (see below). If applicants cannot provide a portfolio, the College will provide a practical exercise that can be done remotely to asses mental agility and dexterity and suitability for this skills based programme.

International students must provide evidence of English language ability to Level B2 (IELTS 6.0), as well as equivalent level 3 qualifications.

How to create a portfolio

Do you need help creating a portfolio to apply for one of our FdA courses? Read our portfolio advice to learn about the general requirements, what we look for in a good portfolio, and what it should reflect.

How to apply

If you only wish to apply to West Dean, please complete the application form below and email to [email protected]. If you are applying to more than one institution, please apply through UCAS. 

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

FAQs

What level of qualification is the Foundation Degree?

The Foundation Degree Arts is a Level 5 qualification and equivalent to the first 2 years of our BA (Hons) in Craft Practices.

Entry requirements ask for a portfolio. What is this and what should be included?

Students need to prepare a digital portfolio to evidence their manual dexterity and their interest in the area of craft practice they have chosen. It could include sketches, images of finished work, videos of them working with their hands. Read more tips on preparing a digital portfolio.

I have no experience and therefore no portfolio – can I still apply?

If applicants cannot provide a portfolio, we will ask you to complete a practical exercise to assess mental agility and dexterity and suitability for this skills-based programme. Assessments take place onsite at the college workshops or remotely when it is not possible to come into college.

What do students do after their Foundation degree?

This course is designed to give you well-rounded theory and craft skills. You can set up as a self-employed maker or find employment in this or a creative industry sector. The Foundation degree is also an excellent first step before progressing to the BA (Hons) Craft Practises if you wished to pursue a career in making, or the Graduate Diploma in Conservation Studies if you wish to pursue a career in Conservation.

Tutors

Karen Vidler FIIC

Subject Leader Books and Library Materials

Karen Vidler FIIC is a book and paper conservator and bookbinder with over 25 years’ experience working as a conservator and bookbinder in the United Kingdom and Australia. She has worked at The National Archives, V&A Museum and the Leather Conservation Centre.

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.

Jonathan Farley, books tutor at West Dean College

Jonathan Farley MA ACR

Subject Tutor, Books and Library Materials

Jonathan is a Library and Archives Conservator with over 40 years experience. Jonathan has worked for various institutions such as the National Archive, Hampshire Record Office and The University of Hull. Jonathan is an accredited member of ICON (the Institute for Conservation).

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.