If your goal is to set up an instrument-making workshop or to work in the trade, this foundation degree is internationally respected for the high-level craftsmanship students attain. It encompasses the whole field of stringed musical instrument making. This enables students to then transfer their skills to making any stringed musical instrument, including guitar and violin. Through learning and assessing the historical approach to constructing the viola da gamba, students are equipped with a broad knowledge and ability to assess construction for a wide range of stringed musical instruments.
You can expect
Learn more about the programme structure of each semester and the breakdown of study blocks.
|Year 1 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
Drawing and Aesthetics
|Year 1 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
History of Craft
|Year 2 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
|Year 2 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
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:
At level 5 you typically have around 16-17 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:
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.
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
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.
Course fees are the same for UK and international students
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.
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.
If you only wish to apply to West Dean, please contact [email protected] for an application form. If you are applying for more than one institution, please apply through UCAS.
The Foundation Degree Arts is a Level 5 qualification and equivalent to the first 2 years of our BA (Hons) in Craft Practices.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Short course tutor Dan Lobb recently visited The Regis School to deliver Sculpture in the Landscape workshops to Years 9 and 10 as part of their Super Curricular day. Pupils were off-timetable for the day, participating in creative activities they wouldn’t normally have the chance to do. In his introduction, Dan explained that this session was about using materials found naturall...
By Jo Boddy, Foundation Diploma in Art and Design alumna 2021
West Dean College of Arts and Conservation recently welcomed 30 budding Year 10 artists from St Philip Howard Catholic School for a life drawing lesson delivered by artist and tutor, Chris Gilvan-Cartwright.
As well as learning new techniques with paints and charcoal and experiencing the freedom of large scale drawing, pupils commented on how they enjoyed taking risks and being brave ...
By Tiffany Robinson, Programme Coordinator and Tutor - Foundation Diploma Art and Design & Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design
As the long summer days begin to recede comes the autumn light that gives rich intensity at the start or end of the day, I have put together tips focusing on experiencing the light, and the land to make more visceral responses in...
By Finn Banwell, Foundation Degree Arts - Metalwork student I first became interested in metalwork when I visited a Japanese silversmith’s workshop. Whilst exploring Kyoto, I found “Artsmith”, a local shop selling a variety of craft pieces and very detailed, intricate examples of metalwork. Also, in this shop, was a workshop, where the Craftsman and owner of ...
Over lockdown, Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (FDAD) alumna Sue Cooper's colourful puppet characters made quite a stir on Instagram and were enjoyed 'live' on the roof of a barge on the Thames Path; with their humorous and heart-warming stories, bringing joy to her local community and challenging stereotypes around ageing. Here Sue tells us more about her latest project ...
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.
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.
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.