Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

BA Fine Art


Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Introducing BA Fine Art

Our BA (Hons) in Fine Art is a four-year intensive studio-based programme designed to support students in developing their own approach to creative practice.

You will work closely with specialist staff to take multiple approaches to your creative work, and will be supported to use a wide range of:

  • materials
  • media
  • techniques
  • methods
  • technologies
  • tools associated with the discipline

You will also develop an understanding of how fine art is spread, consumed, and valued in contemporary culture and society.

Areas in which you will work

You can work across several areas within fine art creative practice, including:

  • installation
  • moving image
  • painting
  • participatory practice
  • performance
  • photography
  • printmaking (3D and traditional)
  • publications
  • sculpture
  • sound

Art Context

A dedicated strand of Art Context courses provides a multidisciplinary context for your studies.

These courses will develop your experience and skills in imaginative research, analysis and the communication of issues raised by the visual aspects of culture.

In your Art Context courses, you will:

  • engage in a critical and creative dialogue with the work of your peers
  • gain an understanding of the nature of today's diverse visual cultures
  • study the artistic, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative practice in fine art
  • learn how to best communicate your developing knowledge and insight in a range of written, oral, visual and practical forms

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Year 1

The first year is designed to introduce fine art. This takes place through:

  • an introduction to the discipline of fine art studio practice
  • associated visual research methods
  • ECA’s dedicated range of technical workshops
  • the types of teaching you will experience during your studies

You will develop your creative, technical, and intellectual ability and confidence through participation in:

  • projects
  • installations
  • exhibitions

In addition, your first year Art Context course will introduce you to key Art Context texts, theories, and methodologies.

In Year 1, you will learn:

  • what a project brief is for
  • what a crit is
  • how a seminar works
  • what to expect from a tutorial
  • what forms feedback on your creative practice can take
  • what feedback is for
  • how you can use feedback to develop your practice

Optional Courses

You will choose two 20-credit optional courses that will complete your credits for the year. These courses are subject to availability, but can range across the unique portfolio of creative and scholarly disciplines practiced at ECA, and the wider University of Edinburgh.

Your tutors will provide guidance on making course choices that support your creative practice or wider research interests.

Year 2

In Year 2 you are encouraged to engage with and explore your fine art creative practice and the personal ideas that shape it. You can do this through:

  • visual thinking
  • drawing/ideation
  • research

In this year, you will establish tactics for presenting, evaluating, and discussing work with your peers and other audiences through:

  • exhibitions
  • project spaces
  • group crits

This will help you build a foundation for your evolving professional creative fine art practice.

Optional courses

You will choose two 20-credit optional courses that will complete your credits for the year. These courses are subject to availability, but can range across the unique portfolio of creative and scholarly disciplines practiced at ECA, and the wider University of Edinburgh.

Your tutors will provide guidance on making course choices that support your creative practice or wider research interests.

Year 3

In Year 3, you will engage in experimentation and risk-taking to expand your own personal multimedia language as a fine art practitioner.

You will be encouraged to expand your understanding of suitable and innovative approaches including:

  • conceptual
  • exhibition-led
  • materials-based

This will help you to articulate your ideas through:

  • personal and collaborative initiatives
  • exploration
  • experimentation
  • research

In Year 3 you will:

  • build professional confidence
  • gain experience and knowledge
  • take part in a range of externally-facing and informed projects

Exchange programmes

You may be able to participate in a semester-long international exchange programme. You can apply for this programme during your second year of study and must be approved by an exchange partner institution.

Acceptance to this programme depends on availability.

Optional course

You will choose one 20-credit optional course that will complete your credits for the year. This course is subject to availability, but can range across the unique portfolio of creative and scholarly disciplines practiced at ECA, and the wider University of Edinburgh.

Your tutors will provide guidance on making a course choice that supports your creative practice or wider research interests.

Year 4

During your fourth year, you will need a highly self-motivated attitude to the planning and production of your research and studio practice.

Your work will demonstrate your ability to analyse and resolve questions, and then implement innovative individual answers, regarding how to best communicate your ideas to an audience.

You will pursue your own research interests as a fine art practitioner and develop self-initiated projects, supported by studio staff. You will also consolidate your creative ability and expertise as a fine art practitioner.

As you take steps towards professional practice following the conclusion of your degree, the ways in which you contextualise, exhibit, and disseminate your creative work will become more important.

You will be encouraged to exhibit work and participate in external opportunities in the city of Edinburgh and further afield.

Our facilities

At our Lauriston Place campus, you will learn in workshops and studios. These include facilities for the following techniques, among other medium-specific fine art practices:

  • 3-D printmaking and laser-cutting
  • casting
  • new media technology
  • painting
  • photography
  • traditional printmaking

You will also have access to the University of Edinburgh’s world-renowned library facilities, collections, and our internationally recognised Talbot Rice Gallery. This gallery premieres the work of internationally emerging and established artists throughout the year.

You will also benefit from access to Talbot Rice’s expert curatorial team, through workshops and talks.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the Edinburgh College of Art and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the Edinburgh College of Art

Investing in our learning environment

The University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art estate and facilities. This will further develop our supportive, stimulating and sustainable learning and research environment.

You can find out more on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA

How will I learn?

Most of your teaching for compulsory courses on this programme will be in a studio environment and involve a range of experiential projects.

For the optional courses you choose during your first three years of study, teaching and learning methods vary.

Methods we use to explore conceptual, material and technical issues within Fine Art include:

  • critiques
  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • workshops

This programme sees research and critical thinking as essential to your development as a creative practitioner.

You will therefore study and participate within diverse visual, intellectual, social and professional contexts for fine art creative practice. This includes taking part in exhibitions and live projects throughout your degree studies.

You will learn in group settings and regular one-to-one tutorials with your studio and Art Context tutors.

How will I be assessed?

We use continuous formative assessment throughout your studies. This helps us give you meaningful feedback and encourages and guides your experimentation in the studio and beyond.

Among other things, assessment can take the form of:

  • project work
  • participation in group events and presentations
  • written submissions

Art careers

Many graduates pursue careers as artists or enter other art-related professions, and go on to complete residencies and commissions in a global context.

A high percentage of our graduates establish themselves in workshops and studios. Many have achieved considerable success and built international reputations.

To find out more, visit Alumni | Edinburgh College of Art


Our BA (Hons) Fine Art degree provides a progressive education in, and induction into, contemporary fine art practice.

Our students develop:

  • analytical and practical skills
  • the ability to work with others in an organised manner
  • lateral thinking skills

These attributes can be applied to a wide range of career possibilities.

Other career paths

Other career paths pursued by our graduates include:

  • teaching
  • art education in community settings
  • work in galleries and other art organisations
  • jobs in the wider creative industries
  • postgraduate study

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements


Applicants will be asked to submit a digital portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process.

BA (Hons) Fine Art portfolio brief

Portfolio guidance

(Revised 21 September 2023 to add link to portfolio brief.)

Important dates

  • 1 December 2023: portfolio submission site opens.
  • 31 January 2024: deadline for all applicants (including international applicants).
  • 6 February 2024 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: mini-portfolio submission deadline.

(Revised 30 August 2023 to add portfolio guidance and important dates.)

BTEC/UAL Diplomas

Applicants studying Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Art and Design will be considered for entry with the following:

  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma with DMM.
  • Pearson BTEC Diploma with MM plus one A Level at A (or DM plus B at A Level).
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Certificate / Subsidiary Diploma with D plus two A Levels at B (or M plus AB at A Level).

Applicants studying the University of the Arts London Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design will be considered with Merit.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Entry to the second year is available. Successful completion of a Foundation Diploma (at Merit grade), a relevant HND or equivalent is required. Applicants with a Foundation Diploma will normally be expected to have undertaken these qualifications in addition to having met the first year entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB, relevant HNC, etc). In some of our less competitive degrees it may be possible to consider applicants presenting ABC (or equivalent) or above at A Level. These must have been achieved in one set of exams, at first attempt.

A list of accepted HNDs, along with further information for adult returners, can be found on our adult returner page:

Adult returner applicants

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BA Fine Art

Additional costs

Your materials costs will vary, depending on the media you choose to engage with and the materials you use to make your work at different points throughout your degree.

Where fieldwork opportunities are offered during your studies, there is no additional contribution required for the teaching costs involved. However, for any residential fieldwork and individual fieldwork-based projects, you are usually required to pay for:

  • accommodation
  • subsistence
  • the costs of travel to the fieldwork location


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding