Online Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Fine Art

Online Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

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Applications open
College Award
School: Arts
Location: Online
Duration: One year, part-time

This course follows the Online Foundation Certificate in Art & Design, and completes foundation studies for students at level 4.

This flexible foundation diploma programme in art and design is taught online through a mix of self-directed study, live study days, seminars and a student community hub.

Designed to fit around your day-to-day commitments, the programme will help you to build momentum and resilience in your creativity. Supported by an online community of students and tutors, you will improve your ability and confidence in the core skills in art and design and begin to specialise.

You can expect to:

  • Develop your practice, contextual knowledge and understanding of your work
  • Improve the quality of your artwork
  • Gain the education and skills to apply to higher level study

Course structure

There are three terms of 10 weeks across one year. Self-study course content is completed in your own time. Programme content includes:

  • self-paced online workshops with slide presentations and PDFs
  • recorded lectures with links and PDFs
  • live teaching days with specialist subject tutors
  • group seminar discussions, tutorials, and presentations
  • group coaching (optional)

Course units

Term Topics Outcomes
Term 1 - Introduction
  • Overview of the programme
  • Establish a learning community
  • Course technology
  • Knowledge and understanding of the course and technology required to learn and participate
  • Meet tutors and peers
Term 1 - The Body
  • Knowledge and understanding of the body in art: four recorded lectures: four seminar discussions
  • Practical skills in drawing the figure: eight recorded workshops: four live study days; two #group tutorials
  • Personal skills in resistance and flow in creative practice: recorded seminar; 2hr live group coaching
  • Develop a series of figure drawings from a personal line of enquiry.
  • Present a review of an exhibition
  • Reflective writing and drawing


Term 2 - Visual Research Frameworks in Practice
  • Advancing drawing for research practice: self study course; four live study days
  • Four additional live days with specialist subject tutors
  • Four guest tutors presenting their research process with Q&A
  • Four seminar discussions
  • Personal practice: barriers and breakthroughs – recorded seminar; 2hr group coaching
  • Visual research demonstrating skills in drawing, experimentation, and development of ideas
  • Establish a visual research practice that is thorough and relevant
Term 3 - Re-Place Individual Project
  • Research and development of independent project: five live group discussions/presentations
  • Define and review research and materials process
  • Student proposal presentations, development, and outcome
  • Artist statement
  • Digital portfolio to make applications to higher level study or other awards and opportunities

Skills development
The year is structured to provide students with skills in practice (drawing, painting, mixed-media including some textiles), visual research, critical and contextual studies, and personal and professional skills. It supports students in establishing a direction and focus in their practice, learning, and career.

Contextual and critical studies
You will develop reflective practice skills by making use of a learning journal and reviewing artwork that is interesting and relevant to you from a broad range of sources. This will expand your knowledge and understanding of art frameworks that underpin the development of your own work.

In addition to the tutorials in Term 3, each student will receive two individual tutorials. The first tutorial after Term 1, and the second, after Term 2. Tutorials last 30 minutes and provide an opportunity for you to discuss your work, progress and aim with a course tutor. You are required to prepare your coursework, sketchbooks, and key points from your learning journal in advance for discussion. Tutorial dates cannot be changed. Times will be confirmed at the start of the programme.

Live teaching & group sessions 2024/25

Three terms of 10 weeks. Self-study course content is completed in your own time. 

Term 1 - The Figure - released 27 September 2024

Monday afternoon live sessions  

  • 30 September, 3-4pm: Welcome and introductions  
  • 30 September, 4-5pm: Seminar one 
  • 7 October, 4-5pm: Seminar two 
  • 21 October, 3-4pm: Personal practice – resistance and flow 
  • 21 October, 4-5pm: Seminar three 
  • 4 November, 4-5pm: Seminar four 

Live day teaching sessions

  • 19 & 20 October, 9am-4pm: Skills in Practice: drawing 
  • 9 & 10 November, 9am-4pm: Skills in Practice: drawing  

Student presentations of work for discussion/feedback

  • 25 November, 2.30pm-5pm: Tutor groups 
  • 2 December, 2.30pm-5pm: Tutor groups 

Individual tutorial – 30 minutes per student starting from 2.30pm 

  • 9 December  


Term 2 - Visual Research in Practice - released 10 January 2025

Monday afternoon live sessions  

  • 13 January, 4-5pm: Introduction to the brief  
  • 20 January 4-5pm: Personal practice: barriers and breakthroughs 
  • 3 February, 4-5pm: Seminar discussions 
  • 10 February, 4-5pm: Seminar discussions 
  • 17 February, 4-5pm: Seminar discussions 
  • 24 February, 4-5pm: Seminar discussions 

Live day teaching sessions

  • 1 & 2 February, 9am-4pm: Skills in Practice: Visual Research
  • 15 & 16 February, 9am-4pm: Skills in Practice: drawing  
  • 22 & 23 February, 9am-4pm: Skills in Practice: drawing  

Student presentations of work for discussion/feedback

  • 10 March, 2.30pm-5pm: Tutor groups 
  • 21 March, 2.30pm-5pm: Tutor groups 


Term 3 - Personal Project - Re-place - released 25 April 2025

Monday afternoon live sessions  

  • 28 April, 2-4pm: Introduction to the brief 
  • 12 May, 4-5pm: Contextual Studies: student seminars (3 students per session)   
  • 19 May, 4.45-5.45pm - Contextual Studies: student seminars (3 students per session)
  • 2, 16 & 23 June, 3-4pm: Professional practice – portfolios and statements 
  • 2 June, 4-5pm: Contextual Studies: student seminars (3 students per session)
  • 9 June, 4.45-5.45pm - Contextual Studies: student seminars (3 students per session)
  • 16 June, 4-5pm - Contextual Studies: student seminars (3 students per session) tbc

Live day teaching sessions

  • 3 & 4 May, 9am-4pm: Developing the personal project 

Student presentations of work for discussion/feedback

  • 9 June, 2.30-4.30pm: Tutor groups 

Individual tutorial – 30 minutes per student starting from 2pm 

  • 30 June 

Some sessions are recorded, indicated as ‘/R’. Where the teaching is a whole day it is not possible to record this. If you are unable to attend a student presentation session, please inform the tutor in advance with a link to the presentation of your work. This will be discussed in your absence so that you can gain some feedback to support the development of your work. Please watch the recording after the session.  


All work is submitted and assessed online. You will submit an online portfolio and an artist statement.

To pass the foundation course, you will be required to demonstrate the following:

  • An increased level of skill and competence in core skills evidenced in the portfolio work
  • Enquiring and experimental processes towards developing your ideas, as evidenced in the sketchbook research and development
  • An ability to focus your skills and ideas as evidenced in the final personal project


At the end of the programme you will have:

  • A portfolio of work that is relevant and personal
  • An artist statement that communicates your practice and direction
  • Thorough body of research that demonstrates development of creative skills and outcomes
  • Clarity and understanding of your work and future pathway

While not nationally validated, the learning outcomes are aligned to Level 4 study, and provide you with the necessary preparation and portfolio to make a strong application for study at degree Level 5, for example the West Dean College part-time BA in Art and Contemporary Craft.

Entry requirements

FDAD Drawing Day Photo by Chris Ison 15

Online exhibition

A selection of work completed by students on each intake of the Online Foundation Diploma in Art and Design is available to view in a new online exhibition. The exhibition celebrates each individual student's work and their experience on the programme.

View the exhibition
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


Course fees are £1,900 paid in advance, or as three instalments of £660 each.
Payment is required once your application form has been accepted by our Admissions team. To make payment, please call the Bookings Office on (01243) 818 300.

Fees include all tuition and tutorials. Materials are not included.

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.

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.


What format does the course take?
The programme is taught online through a mix of self-directed study, live study days and a student community hub.

How do I access the course?
Once you have submitted an application form and made the first fee payment you will receive a link and password to access the course by email before the course start date. The first module will be available from 9am on the first day.

Read more FAQs

What technologies are used to deliver the course?
The self-paced videos and student hub are accessed through CANVAS, a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This is a system for delivering learning materials via the Internet. It offers you flexible access to all the course content, which is available to you for the duration of the course. The live sessions and tutorials are delivered over Zoom. The study hub is Padlet.

What computer set up do I need?
The self-paced courses can be watched on all computers and devices – Mac, PC, Mobile and Tablet – with an Internet connection and a modern internet browser (see "What Web Browser do you recommend" below). You will need an email account and an up-to-date web browser.

For the live sessions on Zoom you will need a computer or laptop – Mac/PC – with Internet connection, a webcam, microphone and speakers (usually in-built). You need high speed Wi-Fi with full bars signal that doesn’t drop out and a modern internet browser (see "What Web Browser do you recommend" below). Technical support is available if you experience difficulties accessing the course.

What web browser do you recommend?
PC users – Chrome 58+, Firefox 54+, Edge 14+, Unfortunately, Internet Explorer 11 (or older) are not supported on CANVAS.
Mac users – Safari and Firefox are recommended.

We do not recommend using any Internet service provider's proprietary browser, as certain functions may be restricted. We regularly upgrade CANVAS to add features and improve the quality of your experience. Please be sure to keep your browser updated. If you need to upgrade your browser, go to your browser manufacturer's website and download the most recent version.

Phones and tablets – CANVAS is a responsive platform, allowing for access on most smartphones and tablets. To join the live sessions on Zoom download the Zoom mobile app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android).

What do I do if I experience technical issues?
Support setting up Zoom, including helpful videos can be accessed on their website here and support centre here. We recommend setting up and testing Zoom a few days in advance to ensure you do not have problems on the day.

If you have checked the technical requirements above and are using a suitable browser but the problem persists, email [email protected] with the details of your problem (including a screenshot if useful) for advice.

I’ve lost my login details, what do I do?
If you have deleted your login information please contact [email protected]

Can I use a College gift voucher towards the course?
Yes, simply enter the gift voucher code at the online checkout.


Tiffany Robinson - tutor at West Dean College

Tiffany Robinson

Programme Coordinator - Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Tiffany Robinson studied interactive media for her MA (2005) making art films and immersive sci-art installations on perception and nanoscale. She is currently a tutor, mentor (The Art of Enquiry) and walking artist making intuitive drawings using natural and digital media. Her work deals with a post-modern estrangement from nature towards a being more than human through alignment with nature.

Melanie Rose

Subject Tutor - BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft
Subject Tutor - Online Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Short Course Tutor

Dr Melanie Rose explores landscape and place through painting. Working with traditional materials, sympathetic to the environment, her current focus is the landscape set within the bounds of the South Downs National Park, which forms the heart of her PhD research. 

Rachel Larkins Art and Design Tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Rachel Larkins

Core Team Tutor - Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
Short Course Tutor

Rachel Larkins is a tutor on the FDAD program and has been teaching short courses at West Dean since 2017. Rachel holds a distinction level Masters in Sequential Design/ Illustration from Brighton University following an early training in Textile Art (BA Hons). Rachel's work encompasses drawing and narrative sculptures and is held in numerous private collections.