Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: Art

Why choose Art at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Our staff include a mix of practicing artists, visual-culture theorists and curators, who publish and exhibit nationally and internationally.

  • In Years 1 and 2, you can select option courses from across Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and the wider University.

  • Edinburgh is home to a vibrant and diverse contemporary art scene with an excellent mixture of world-class venues showcasing the best in contemporary art.

  • We offer an exceptional range of studios and workshops spaces, libraries & collections, and places to perform and show your work.

  • You’ll benefit from weekly talks from internationally acclaimed visiting artists and speakers.

  • The Edinburgh University Students’ Association Award for Best Course 2016/17 was awarded to Edinburgh College of Art for our innovative course ‘Music, Style, Identity and Image’.

Study abroad

Edinburgh is a beautiful city with great facilities. I’ve also found that the tutors are incredible and very knowledgeable. The diversity of talent here is great.

Aidan Stephen 3rd year BA (Hons) Painting
Aidan Stephen 3rd year BA (Hons) Painting

Our undergraduate programmes provide a scholarly framework for students who wish to develop their art practice. We provide a broad-based environment, with enough rigour and focus to enable you to engage with the challenges of study in intermedia, painting, photography and sculpture, within the context of contemporary art practice.

Our students demonstrate imaginative responses to the world through curiosity and exploration and we prepare them to do this with an educational experience that offers depth, breadth and ambition. Our students are equipped with the talent, knowledge and expertise to lead, rather than simply respond to, innovation in art practice.

We have been at the forefront of introducing option courses, providing you with choices that permit a breadth and depth of subjects. We recognise your desire to immerse yourself in your discipline but believe your learning is enhanced if you are exposed to a wider range of methods and knowledge beyond the confines of the studio.

In Years 1 and 2 your choice of option courses allows you to, in effect, construct a suite of courses that reflect your interests and enhance your main study. There are many permutations available to you but we imagine your choices would include a mix of art and other university courses.

W100 Applications

Please select the UCAS code W100 if you wish to apply for entry into Year 1 in the School of Art, a general year in which you will experience a wide range of options including painting, photography, sculpture and intermedia art. At the end of Year 1 you will be transferred to one of the following specialist programmes within the School of Art:

  • W900 Intermedia Art
  • W120 Painting
  • W640 Photography
  • W130 Sculpture

A distinctive aspect of your study here is the flexibility of choice of pathway which you can choose in Years 1 and 2. We believe innovation within contemporary art practice will not solely originate within discipline-specific study but will develop through its relationship to other fields of study and inquiry.

Our curriculum allows for flexibility of choice in Years 1 and 2 with specific in depth study in artistic practice in subsequent years.

Year 1

You will develop the core intellectual, visual and practical skills necessary for the study of art. You will follow a balanced programme that alternates between common projects and discipline-specific approaches in intermedia, painting, photography and sculpture, enabling you to choose a subject for specialist study.

There are 60 credits of option courses available from across the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, nominally made up of three 20-credit courses. You will study 60 credits of compulsory courses within your chosen area and 60 credits are open for you to choose your own pathway of study - subject to availability.

You will study Art Studio 1A and take workshops. A possible semester one timetable might also include Edinburgh Collections and Architectural History, or perhaps a language course (this would be useful if you are considering taking part in the international exchange programme in Year 3).

In semester two you will study Art Studio 1B and Introduction to Visual Culture as compulsory courses but you may also select another option art course such as Drawn from the City or, from the wider university, Ethnography, Theory and Practice.

There are many permutations available to you but we imagine your choices would include a mix of art and other university courses.

Year 2

You will focus on the development of visual ideas through appropriate materials, media and technical processes related to your chosen subject. Projects take place in the workshops and studios. You will present, evaluate and discuss work through technical workshops, tutorials, group discussions, critiques, exhibitions and presentations.

A total of 40 credits of option courses are available. We offer more than 20 option courses and there are many more available across the wider university to choose from.

Year 3

The emphasis shifts from structured projects to a self-generated programme of study. You will have opportunities to participate in live, external projects, commissions, events, visits, workshops, exhibitions, and group and individual tutorials, alongside extended periods of independent study.

Year 4

You will develop your own research interests, supported by studio staff. These will be realised through a body of work exhibited at your final Degree Show. You will also write a dissertation on a subject related to your practice.

Year 5

(Fine Art only)

You will write a history of art dissertation on a topic of your choice. Most of your time will be taken up with research, and production of your work in the art studios, culminating in the production and presentation of your artwork at the public Degree Show exhibitions.

Are there additional costs?

Costs for materials will vary depending on your programme of study. In addition, some programmes offer fieldwork and you will usually be required to cover accommodation, subsistence and travel costs. Your additional costs depend on the programme and courses selected.

Our facilities

Students benefit from studio-based learning in purpose-built workshops and studios for intermedia, painting, photography and sculpture at Lauriston Place, along with the exhibitions and events associated with a vibrant art college.

Some lectures and tutorials will take place in the George Square area. You will have access to the University's libraries and computer facilities.

The University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA ) estate and facilities to further develop our flexible, stimulating, supportive and sustainable learning and research environment for students and staff.

Further information is available on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA

Study abroad

We offer Erasmus and international exchanges with institutions around the world. An international placement immerses you in a new culture, expands your language skills and develops a self-reliance that employers value. Exchanges usually take place in Year 3.

How will I learn?

Most teaching and learning on compulsory courses is through involvement in a range of experiential projects, situated in a studio environment; option courses taken across the wider university will vary in delivery method.

Conceptual, material and technical issues are explored through seminars, workshops, lectures, tutorials and critiques. Research, critical thinking and study of the visual, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative practice are regarded as essential to your development. This often involves participation in exhibitions and live projects.

As well as learning through group situations you will also be allocated a studio tutor with whom you will have one to one tutorials on a regular basis.

How will I be assessed?

We conduct continuous assessment throughout the year, to give meaningful feedback and to encourage experimentation in the studio and beyond. Assessment can take the form of project work, participation in group events and presentations.

Many graduates pursue careers as artists or enter other art-related professions and go on to undertake residencies and commissions in a global context. A high percentage of graduates establish themselves in workshops and studios. Many have achieved considerable success and built international reputations.

Our programmes provide a progressive education in contemporary art practice. Our students develop analytical and practical skills, the ability to work with others in an organised manner and the ability to think laterally. These attributes can be applied to a wide range of career possibilities.

Some students continue their studies at postgraduate level. Others have gone on to teach or to make an impact in the wider creative industries.