Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

BA Honours in Art

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: n/a
Final award: Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Programme title: Art
UCAS code: W100
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Art and Design
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: ECA Director of Quality Assurance
Date of production/revision: August 2013

External summary

Edinburgh College of Art’s School of Art offers honours level degree programmes in four areas of study; Intermedia Art, Painting, Photography, and Sculpture. The BA is a 4-year intensive studio based programme designed in preparation for a career in art. Students work closely with personal and subject specific tutors, to support a customized and idiosyncratic approach to creative endeavour

Each of our four-year BA (Hons) degrees share common elements of study during the early part of Year 1. The BA in Art is offered through UCAS as an entry programme for those who wish to undertake a general first year in the School of Art during which students experience a wide range of options including Intermedia Art, Painting, Photography & Sculpture.

Throughout Year 1 students work with tutors to ascertain personal strengths and preferences, following which students choose to work within a particular area of study and select which of the specialist BA (Hons) degrees they wish to pursue. Please note that all students accepted into Year 1 Art are guaranteed a place in their chosen Art specialism from Year 2 onwards provided they have completed Year 1 study to a satisfactory standard.

Please see the following Degree Programme Specifications for further details of years 2-4:

BA Honours in Intermedia Art (UTBAHINART1F)

BA Honours in Painting (UTBAHPAINT1F)

BA Honours in Photography (UTBAHPHOTO1F)

BA Honours in Sculpture (UTBAHSCULP1F


Educational aims of programme

  • To encourage creative production.
  • To support and encourage individual creative practice through a range of Contemporary Art approaches.
  • To introduce students to the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary artistic production.
  • To introduce students to a range of visual research methodologies.
  • To allow students to be fully aware of the contemporary world and the historical context in which they are working.
  • To provide a supportive studio environment.
  • To introduce and involve students in the dialectical nature of artistic production.
  • To support the research activities of staff to ensure students are taught in relation to contemporary practice.
  • To research and archive contemporary/historical Fine Art pedagogies.
  • To develop links with national and international likeminded institutions and organisations.
A Visual Culture strand provides a multidisciplinary contextual study programme across all art degrees at ECA, involving the imaginative research, analysis and communication of issues raised by the visual aspects of culture. Students will engage in a critical and creative dialogue with the work of their peers and gain an understanding of the nature of today’s diverse visual cultures. You will study the artistic, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative practice in visual arts and learn how to best communicate this knowledge in a range of written, oral, visual and practical forms.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

By fully engaging with the 4-year degree programme, graduates will be able to demonstrate a knowledge of:

  • Clear and defined relationship between personal practice and contemporary cultural production.
  • Detailed appreciation of contemporary Art.
  • Transdisciplinarity of contemporary art and its nature to go beyond common medium boundaries.
  • Significant awareness of the international context for contemporary visual production.
  • A focussed use of a range of materials/medium/strategies in relation to individual practice.
  • Application of critical visual analysis to key examples of contemporary art practice.
  • Employ critical thinking in methods of presentation and installation of individual practice.
  • Critical analysis of appropriateness of methods/materials/strategies within personal Art practice.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

  • Use critical evaluation to appropriately present individual and coherent work.
  • Critical analysis of a wide range of research material
  • The synthesis of explorative research and making to establish an individual visual language.
  • Evaluate focused personal approaches informed by relevant elements of contemporary art practice.
  • Independent ability to solve critical issues.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

  • Significant responsibility to provide a critical basis for meaningful and enduring praxis.
  • Resourcefulness and creative in working process from conception to execution
  • Developed personal practice viewed in relation to a national and international communal culture.


Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

  • Critically evaluate working process from idea through to execution.
  • Defined ability to present, contextualised work, to an informed audience.
  • Critically identify, and develop, appropriate methods for presenting personal practice.
  • Critically develop interaction strategies for audiences.
  • Establish an appropriate and coherent dossier of contemporary Art research.
  • Significant engagement in collective cultural production


Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

  • Evidence of quantification of materials and costing for professional practice.
  • Where relevant utilise the most appropriate technologies that effectively communicate working methods and ideas at an advanced level.
  • Demonstrate significant responsibility for the selection and employment of appropriate subject specific learning strategies.


Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

  • Synthesis of individual ideas with a considered range of contemporary Art.
  • Document and present individual Intermedia practice in the most appropriate format.
  • Utilise and critically evaluate contemporary approaches to installations.
  • Contextualise individual practice through discussion and material production.
  • Develop and present an idiosyncratic approach to visual research.


Programme structure and features

Year 1

Each of our four-year BA (Hons) degrees in art shares common elements of study during the early part of Year 1. Subsequently you will develop your specialist study in relation to the wider field of contemporary art practice.

Course Name

SCQF level


Art Practice 1



Visual Research 1



Presentation: Methods & Context 1



Introduction to Visual & Cultural Studies






Year 2, Year 3, Year 4: As per your chosen specialism - Please see the Degree Programme Specifications for each specialist degree: BA Honours in Intermedia Art (UTBAHINART1F), BA Honours in Painting (UTBAHPAINT1F), BA Honours in Photography (UTBAHPHOTO1F), BA Honours in Sculpture (UTBAHSCULP1F).

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

A common structure across all ECA School of Art UG programmes (Intermedia, Painting, Photography, Sculpture) allows students to articulate through a mixture of subject specific and cross-disciplinary learning and teaching approaches. The BA (Honours) programme elements are:

  • Subject-specific project-based study: A key feature of early stages of study. These elements of the programme define the areas of study, allowing for an in-depth knowledge of specific disciplines and approaches to particular media whilst introducing important material and philosophical practices and discussions.
  • Individual tutorials: All students from years 1 through to 4 will be assigned a personal tutor. These regular timetabled meetings are conversational one on one sessions. As studio practice-based discussions they focus upon the students work addressing what has just been made, in light of what has been made previously, towards establishing what might occur in the future.
  • Group-tutorials: Students regularly participate within group studio-based tutorials both within their own subject area and across the different subjects. These group situations are distinct in that participants may not know or be familiar with the debates surrounding the presented work. In these situations observations and discussion is more immediate and group tutorials aim to complement the emerging discussions within individual tutorials.
  • Subject-specific seminars: A short series of year- and subject-specific seminars are organized throughout semesters one and two. These look to expand the methodologies of the subjects offered.
  • Project spaces: All students regularly present work for peer group scrutiny and discussion. The project space is when all elements of study are synthesized towards the presentation of an artwork to be discussed by an audience.
  • Study visits: Through each stage in the BA study visits are organized to compliment different aspects of studio work and visual research. In year 1 study visits are used for orientation and relate directly to studio project.


The School of Art is housed in the main building of the Edinburgh College of Art built in 1906. As a purpose built art school it houses dedicated studio and seminar space with workshops in wood, metal, printmaking, casting, photography. Further to these facilities the college also has a suit of Macs suitable for use with the full creative suite, and final cut pro. Along with the School of Art technicians the School also has three graduate studio assistants in Digital Media, Photography, and Printmaking.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 126740
Year 222780
Year 320800
Year 419810

Assessment methods and strategies

Progress is continuously monitored and students receive individual tutorial reviews and formative assessment throughout the year.  Regular timetabled meetings are conversational one on one sessions.  These practice-based discussions focus upon the student’s work, addressing what has just been made in light of what has been made previously, towards establishing what might occur in the future.  (Assessment methods and feedback are fundamentally interconnected with teaching and learning strategies.)

All coursework and assignments are formally assessed towards the end of each session and a pass must be achieved in all subjects, including Visual and Cultural Studies, before progressing to the next level.


Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 100100
Year 200100
Year 300100
Year 400100

Career opportunities

Many graduates go on to postgraduate study or to work as contemporary artists, holding a mixture of residencies, commissions and freelance work. Many also apply for postgraduate study. There is an excellent community of artists based in Scotland who are exhibiting nationally and internationally. Others will elect to pursue a career in the wider art and culture-related sectors.

Other items

Following an initial year of broad diagnostic study within ECA’s School of Art, students choose to work within a particular area of study with its own subject specialist staff. The central principle of this pedagogical approach is that students working from differing philosophical and medium conditions must be brought into close working relationships.