FdA Ceramics at West Dean - Image credit Thom Atkinson

Craft Practices

Foundation Degree Arts - Ceramics

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Course subject to validation

Applications open October 2024 for a September 2025 start
Duration: Two academic years (36 weeks each year) full time
School: Arts
Location: West Dean
Scholarships and bursaries: See available funding

The Foundation Degree Arts, specialising in Ceramics, is designed to give you a well-rounded, broad experience of ceramic making processes and techniques, from individual hand built objects to small-scale batch production. Alongside this you will be exposed to the conceptual and theoretical knowledge required, to set up as a self-employed designer-maker or craftsperson, to be able to continue your studies in higher education or to find employment in the creative industry sector. Assignments cover issues of design, form, function, decoration, glaze technology and professional practice.

Ceramics-making projects become more challenging as the course progresses and increasingly enable you to specialise in line with your interests and personal direction. You will be encouraged to understand contemporary and historic craft practice and be able to place your own work in this broader context

On successful completion of this course graduates can advance into the workplace or set up as freelance makers. If however, you wish to progress further in higher education, then those who are interested in making are able to undertake an additional year to achieve a BA (Hons) Craft Practices, and potentially progress on to our MFA Crafts Practices, which has a ceramics pathway. For those interested in pursuing a career in conservation they can advance onto the Graduate Diploma and MA in Conservation Studies.

Learning Environment

  • Low student: tutor ratio
  • Workshop access 8.30am - 9pm, seven days a week*
  • Interdisciplinary environment
  • Visits from practising crafts people and artists
  • Visits to museums and galleries
  • Work placements and work-related projects

You can expect

  • To develop excellent practical making and design skills
  • To learn how material properties influence practice and making
  • To learn historic and contemporary making techniques in a modern context
  • To learn from dedicated and experienced tutors who are practising professionals and well- connected in the sector

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.

Read more about our Ceramics and related objects conservation courses

Course structure

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

Course units

Year 1 / Term 1 (10 weeks)

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

  10 credits
(subject specific)
HC-D1
Drawing and Aesthetics
 

10 credits

(common)

HC-R1
Study/Research Skills
  10 credits
(common)
HC-C1 (CE) Craft Skills   30 credits
(subject specific)
Christmas vacation
Year 1 / Term 2 (10 weeks)

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

10 credits

(subject specific)

HC-H2
History of Craft
20 credits
(common)
HC-C2 (CE)
Craft Skills 2
20 credits
(subject specific)
HC-C1 (CE)
Craft Skills 1
30 credits
(subject specific)
Easter vacation
Year 1 / Term 3 (10 weeks)

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

10 credits
(subject specific)

HC-H2
History of Craft

20 credits
(common)

HC-C1 (CE) Craft Skills

30 credits
(subject specific)
Summer assessment
Year 2 / Term 1 (10 weeks)
HC-P3 -Professional Skills incl. Work Placement

20 credits

(common)

HC-C3 (CE) Applied Projects 40 credits
(subject specific)
Christmas vacation
Year 2 / Term 2 (10 weeks)
HC-P3
Professional Skills incl. Work Placement
  20 credits
(common)
HC-C3 (CE)
Applied Projects
 

40 credits

(subject specific)

HC-P4
Professional Portfolio
  60 credits
(common - student led)
Easter vacation
Year 2 / Term 3 (10 weeks)
HC-P4
Professional Portfolio

60 credits

(common - student led)

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 continuing to practice in the workshop, 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

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.

Funding

Scholarships and bursaries are available.

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.

To guide you through the process of putting together your digital portfolio, we've put together our six top tips; including how to select projects for inclusion, and formatting your portfolio. Read more here.

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

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. 

Please note that this course starts September 2025. Applications via UCAS open May 2024 and direct applications open October 2024.

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

Artist in residence programme at West Dean

Artist in Residence Programme

The Artist-in-Residence programme sees a series of professional artists living and working onsite, amongst Fine Art students. They enrich the creative learning environment by offering tutorial sessions with students as well as public presentations on the work produced during the residency and their wider practice.

SCHOOL OF ARTS RESIDENCIES

FAQs

What level of qualification is the Foundation Degree?

The Foundation Degree Arts is a Level 5 qualification and equivalent to the first two years of a BA Hons programme. Students who complete the foundation degree have an automatic right to progress into our BA (Hons) Craft Practices top up year.

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 Practices, 1 year top up course and MFA Craft Practices, if you wished to pursue a career in making, or the Graduate Diploma and MA in Conservation Studies if you wish to pursue a career in Conservation.

Commendations

Commendations from the University of Sussex include:

"The high quality student experience and strength of student representation within the College."

"The introduction of a “maker-in-residence” scheme to the FdA."

"Responding to employer and student feedback in extending the work placement from 2 weeks to 4 weeks to support employability after graduation."

"The range of tailored study trips to suit different student cohorts."

Tutors

Tim Bolton, Head of School of Arts at West Dean

Tim Bolton MA RCA, FRSA

Tim Bolton is an Artist, Educator. He is currently Head of the School of Arts at West Dean College having previously been Head of Programmes at Dartington and prior to that Vice Principal at Arts University Plymouth. Tim’s research interests are split between understanding and developing creative pedagogy and supporting endangered craft skills, nationally and internationally.

Tanya Gomez - ceramics tutor at West Dean College

Tanya Gomez

Course Tutor - Foundation Diploma in Ceramics
Short Course Tutor


Tanya Gomez graduated from the Royal College of Art and is renowned for her vibrant large decorative vessels. She teaches from her studio in Lewes, East Sussex and exhibits throughout the UK and Internationally. Associated with the Craft Potters and Contemporary Applied Arts.

Kyra Cane

Kyra Cane studied Ceramics at Camberwell College of Arts, she has taught and examined on numerous courses, notably Harrow Ceramics, University of Westminster. Her work is exhibited in national and international galleries. She has written a book about Making and Drawing and is currently Chair of the Craft Potters Charitable Trust.

Jo Taylor portrait

Jo Taylor

Jo studied at Bath Spa University gaining Ceramics BA, MA & teacher training qualifications. An experienced tutor, Jo regularly teaches from beginners to MA students. A member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, her work is exhibited internationally in shows such as COLLECT at the Saatchi gallery.

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