BA (Hons) Fine Art

Course Overview

The focus of the BA Fine Arts degree is not only to develop you as a student and critical thinker but to inspire your growth into a skilled and intellectual artist. These attributes, which are dependent on one another, combined with practical experience and an understanding of the fine art industry, will form the beginning of your career, and stand you in the strongest possible position to carry it forward.

Fine Art is a subject for ambitious and motivated students who wish to explore and interpret their experience of the world through physical or ephemeral objects, writings or actions.

At the Newcastle School of Art and Design (NSAD), we offer contemporary Fine Art practice that is innovative and current but which is mindful of its historical context and informed by traditional skills. Our programme is intended for those whose ambition is to practice as a professional artist, to work as a professional in the creative industries or in education.

Course Content

Fine artists need both technical skill and creative insight as they work to convey complex themes from an original perspective. At NU, you will develop these skills through an engagement with materials within a studio practice culture. You will begin by exploring the materials of the contemporary fine artist; such as paint, wood, and metal or photography, video-installation, performance, or print. You may elect to study techniques employed within other disciplines such as digital design technologies, ceramics or sound. You will also develop your understanding of art history and theory, as well as the links between art, science, and philosophy. In doing so, you will be continuously refining your own position and practice. Equipped with a broad range of valuable skills and access to your own studio space, you will work with the academic staff in defining and developing your interests and practices.

The structure of the course enables you to acquire an awareness of entrepreneurship and professional practices, undertake a work placement within the industry, carry out research with one of our Professors, or travel to study fine art in countries where the traditions are very different.

In the third year, the emphasis is on developing your studio practice to a professional standard for the exhibition.  This is supported by a dissertation, which could take the form of a business plan or a critical review, preparing the way for your career on graduation. The choice is yours, and it's there to help realise your ambitions – whether that is to continue your personal development through further study, build an audience for your work or to develop you practice towards curating and criticism.

On this course, you will need to be disciplined, motivated and organised. Full engagement will result in you gaining the skills, confidence and critical ability required of a professional artist in the 21st century.


Year One:

Subject - Material Form Discourse:

Your introduction to Fine Art is through a variety of material practice projects. You will be introduced to the breadth of processes available to the fine artist along with the critical thinking that underpins the rationale for selecting certain materials. These projects are intended to give impetus to your individual studio practice and are supported by your tutors.

All first-years are required to take part in a directed drawing programme. Drawing is the primary means of exploring your visual perception whilst gaining an understanding of your relationship to the world. The drawing will help you to develop ideas, communicate complex information and solve conceptual problems and is central to the study of fine art.

Field 1:

In this module, all first years in the school undertake the same project brief. You will be offered the opportunity to collaborate across subject disciplines. By tackling a set of concerns as a group, you'll gain a deeper understanding of your own strengths, skills and artistic insight in relation to the broader creative field.

Constellation - Concept:

This module will develop your ability to contextualise your practice by introducing historical and theoretical perspectives to assist in the development of ideas. We offer a series of keynote lectures that will introduce you to staff areas of interest and expertise and you will participate in study groups that allow you to specialise in particular areas of interest. Through interdisciplinary working, the focus will be on developing your academic and research skills to enable critical reflection on your practice.

Year Two:

Subject - Practice Based Research:

The second year of your degree is the opportunity to experiment and explore as you develop the skills and concepts gained in the first year. The emphasis of this module is to give you the practical and theoretical means for you to develop your concept through practice.  You will begin to explore your nascent artistic position through an in-depth study of key artworks within the cannon of fine art that you have a personal affinity with. You will be encouraged to be bold and experimental in order for you to fully interrogate the positions and materials you have chosen to work with, and to explore new ways forward for your practice.

Field 2:

You will be given the opportunity to engage with one or more challenging projects which will require you to negotiate and learn beyond the curriculum of your subject discipline. These projects may take you abroad for international study; to a company for work experience or voluntary social engagement; or you may work alongside School's leading research teams or individual staff. Designed to encourage you to explore and experiment, individual projects will be graded by a common form of assessment.

Constellation - Critique:

In terms, one and two you will engage in a diverse range of topics where you will be able to put your academic skills into practice.  This will include critiquing current literature as well as contemporary journals and exhibitions. Further context utilising of your practice will be nurtured at this level, with an opportunity to specialise in areas that reflect on your own interests.

Year Three:

Subject - Consolidation:

This module is student-led in terms of content as you develop your studio practice towards the professional level required of the subsequent exhibition module. This is the time to become a specialist in your own art practice, and as such you will be expected to develop and master a unique collection of practical and theoretical skills that will enable you to deliver your art with originality and impact.

Through a series of open critiques and seminars, supported by your tutor group and peers, you will be expected to develop a critical understanding of your artistic practice, its future potential and its position within a broader contemporary context.

Field 3 - Exhibition:

As the culmination of three years’ study, the Exhibition module’s focus is on the production of a body of work which demonstrates your individual vision and ability, and how you choose to position your practice within the context of a public fine art exhibition. This module is both the culmination of your creative practice as an undergraduate, and the launch pad for your professional career.

Constellation -  Contribution:

Your final Constellation module will demonstrate your ability to produce a dissertation of significant value to your field, with a sense of authority stemming from thorough research and academic rigour.  Your final dissertation submission can take the form of a 10, 000 word essay or a business plan, a technical report, conference paper and presentation, a 6000-word paper and accompanying the practical piece.

·       Learning & Teaching

·       Assessment

·       Employability & Careers

·       Entry Requirements & How to Apply

·       Key Facts

·       Contact Us


Learning & Teaching

From the outset, you will gain hands-on experience in practical studio sessions and workshops – developing your core material skills. Lectures, lead by members of the academic staff, will broaden your theoretical understanding of your field, whilst smaller, targeted seminars are designed to provide guidance for meeting more individual intellectual and practical demands.

The core of your studio teaching will be delivered through tutor group critiques, where a high level of academic and peer-to-peer advice is given and through individual tutorials with academic staff. These are supplemented in the first and second year with academic led material practice projects, drawing classes and technical workshops with Technician Demonstrators.


Throughout the duration of your studies, you will be evaluated on three main criteria, which underpin all of the disciplines being taught at NU:

SKILLS: The practical, technical and conceptual skills you acquire during your course.


CONTEXT: Your understanding and knowledge of broader intellectual context within which your discipline and work is located. This includes historical, environmental and ethical issues and will often be explored in your 'Theory and Context' modules.


IDEAS: Your understanding of intellectual and creative ideas from within and beyond your discipline; plus your ability to acquire new concepts and form new ideas. Ideas will be explored in your written work, as well as being evident in your practical progress.

Each of these criteria is given equal weighting during the assessment process. That is to say that they are seen as equally important and critical to your development; an emphasis which is designed, for example, to enable a more well-rounded skill set from a student who may be skilled technically, but weak in generating ideas, or a student with much creative flair who may struggle to hone a broad concept into a strong, individual design.

We provide a number of ways for you to track your progress en route to submitting your work for marking. Understanding that the emphases will revolve around the core areas of skills, context, and ideas, you will also become familiar with the structured assessment form used by your tutors and learn to relate to your work back to the intended learning outcomes of each brief.

The main types of formative assessment are; academic (feedback from your tutors); peer (from your course-mates or project partners); and self-assessment (which is your own critique, in light of other forms of feedback). You won't just be receiving feedback at the end of a brief, however – your tutors will often assess your progress as your work develops, providing formative feedback at crucial moments where it is hoped to encourage you to take risks, maintain your motivation or shape-up your ideas ahead of the deadline.

Employability & Careers

Whilst your learning is designed to develop you into a rounded and capable artist and intellectual, your curriculum is similarly structured with your potential in mind.

As such, the emphasis that will have been placed upon your work ethic, both creatively and academically, is matched with a significant focus on real-world experience; from building contacts and undertaking placements to live briefs and, should you choose so, support in forming your own business.

You can elect to take a route through your second and final years of studies where you can engage with businesses or prepare to launch your own for the moment you graduate. In your final year, rather than submit a dissertation, you have the option of devising a detailed business plan.

Throughout your time at NU, you will be meeting and hearing from professionals within your industry, honing your skills and ideas for commercial and professional advantage. Cross-disciplinary projects will prepare you for teamwork later on, whilst live briefs will prepare you for deadlines and the demands of tight specifications.



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