Craft Practices

Foundation Degree Arts - Metalwork

We use this data to carry out our obligations arising from your enquiry or booking. For details of how we handle data please refer to our Privacy Statement.

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

The Foundation Degree (FdA) Metalwork at West Dean is a technical and design skills-building programme, which will introduce you to the creation of the widest range of hand-crafted and small scale batch produced metal artefacts; from silversmithing to blacksmithing, from jewellery to bronze-casting, from bike frames to light fittings and from door handles to padlocks. Ranging massively in scale and context these objects are all linked by the common skillset that you will develop, covering making, designing and problem-solving. Through professional practice modules, you will enhance your prospects as an independent designer maker. Projects will become increasingly challenging, and more self-led as the course progresses. You will be encouraged to understand the history of craft practice as well as the concerns of the contemporary craft sector, in order to place your own work in a broader context. You will take part in a number of national competitions and gain a keen understanding of the time and effort needed to create a piece of work in a creative, workshop and studio environment.

On successful completion of this course graduates can go directly into the workplace or set up as freelance makers. Alternatively, there are a range of further study options open to you either through the BA (Hons) Craft Practices, an additional year for makers, or the Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies for those interested in a career in materials and objects conservation. 

Learning environment

  • Excellent tutor: student ratio

  • Extremely well-equipped metals workshops with access from 8.30am to 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 studying metalwork

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  

Materials Technology
delivered in pathway workshop and cross-curricular

  10 credits
Drawing and Aesthetics

10 credits


Study/Research Skills
  10 credits
Year 1 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

Materials Technology (Metal/Wood)
delivered in pathway workshop and cross-curricular

10 credits


History of Craft
20 credits
Craft Skills
2-20 credits
(subject specific)
Year 2 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation  

Professional Skills incl. work placement

20 credits

Study/Research Skills

Craft Skills

10 credits

1-30 credits

(subject specific)

Year 2 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

Professional Portfolio
student led

60 credits



Contact hours


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.


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

Artist-in-residence programme

The Artist-in-Residence programme sees a series of professional artists living and working onsite, amongst the 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

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.


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. 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, one 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.


University of Sussex Logo


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."