The Fine Art course reflects and supports the diversity of contemporary art practice including Painting, Video, Photography, Sculpture, Drawing, Performance, Printmaking, Time-based work, and studies in History and Theory. You are taught the practical, philosophical, contextual and professional aspects of art practice.
Studio Practice centres on your development of an art practice. You work in studios under tutorial guidance. Individual tutorials give focused advice and studio critiques encourage the exchange of ideas and the development of critical understanding. Studio spaces are located adjacent to relevant workshops. Workshops include painting methods, printmaking, wood and metal, moulding and casting, audio-visual and video, photography and plastics. Studio practice includes artwork made in sites, public space, online, through social interaction, as installation, alongside more familiar aesthetic forms.
History and Theory increases your knowledge and understanding of historical and contemporary art practices and related ideas and debates. You are taught academic skills and methods and learn to write analytically about art and related concepts.
The Library, the largest in Northern Ireland, has a vast stock of art history, criticism and theory books and catalogues; a wide range of art and design magazines and journals; artist’s films, videos, documentaries and cinema; and a unique collection of artists’ books.
Students purchase materials for coursework. There is an optional materials contribution of £50 per year for Part-time students, for supplies bought-in by the course.
You learn primarily through the direct experiences of making art and of critical reflection within a studio environment. Studios, workshops and technical support are close by to best cultivate productive studio practice.
The course is broadly organised as a series of Studio Practice, Professional Practice and History and Theory modules.
Year 1 and 2: You will be introduced to the studio and philosophic culture of Fine Art. From the start you are encouraged to think for yourself and develop your own ideas; to organise your working space and time; to be self sufficient; to become aware of art, artists and ideas connected to your work and to be inventive, imaginative and experimental. Making art, looking at art and discussing art and related ideas are central to the Fine Art ethos. You are also introduced to techniques, histories, theories, academic methods, skills and critical approaches which inform studio and written work.
Year 3 and 4: You develop confidence and a sense of identity as an artist and you will be encouraged to take increased responsibility for your practice; to explore more ambitious art projects; to become more self critical; and to research and consider relevant art, artists and ideas in greater depth. You learn to thoughtfully articulate (in your practice, speech and writing) the questions, issues and debates relevant to your artworks and those of others; and you will continue to test and extend your ideas, methods of making and aesthetic imagination. In years 3 and 4 you also develop skills and knowledge in the professional field via experiences such as exhibition, placement, application or commission processes.
Year 5 and 6: You make and exhibit art works in the professional, public context of the degree show (Year 6), and submit a dissertation (Year 5). You will further develop your practical, conceptual and aesthetic skills and the critical means to integrate them in the making of art works.You will articulate your practices and positions as an artist in artist’s talks and statements and will demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and enquiry through your practice and the subject matter of your dissertation. In these final years you consolidate the skills and knowledge necessary to sustain an independent art practice, or to work as a practitioner and employee in wider cultural fields.
The course is part time and is delivered as a series of Studio Practice, History and Theory and Professional Practice modules. The relationship between these areas is fundamental to the contemporary study and practice of Fine Art and you are required to pass all modules at each level to progress. These modules are delivered through mandatory lectures, seminars and tutorials and you are also expected to undertake independent study in both the studio and the library.
Students taking the part time course have some flexibility but you are expected to attend campus for 1-2 hours of lectures on a Tuesday and Thursday and for a 2 hour seminar in addition to the lecture on a Tuesday. Students are also expected to attend a proportion of group critiques, workshops and group seminars, these times vary across the week and in different areas of the course.
Studio Practice Modules are 40 credits and students take one of these modules every year. Timetables vary across the year but students receive in total 12 hours of lectures, 60 hours of Studio seminars, workshops, critiques and field trips and 3 hours of tutorials each year. You are expected to input 325 hours of independent studio practice and study including assessments across your first year.
In the first year students also undertake one 20 credit History and Theory module. History and Theory Lectures and Seminars are held on a Tuesday and you are expected to attend a 1 hour lecture and two hour seminars each week.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until near the start date and may be subject to change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days of attendance will often be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Masters courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have four learning outcomes, and no more than two items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6 (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Masters degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advanced HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2021-2022.
High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
History and Theory 1 introduces art historical, theoretical and contextual study and its relationship to studio practice. Key research and study skills are taught. You will conduct independent research into historical and contemporary art and other areas related to studio practice. You will be required to articulate the relationships between contexts and studio practice.
Studio Practice 1
Studio Practice 1 introduces you to the course and to the culture and practice of Fine Art. It establishes key practical and conceptual skills and the working methods of Fine Art and studio practice. Through observation, exploration and critical reflection you will make a body of practical experimentation and artworks.
History and Theory 2 (Histories of Modern and Contemporary Art)
History and Theory 2 focuses on introducing you to key practices and concepts of modern and contemporary art. Connections are drawn between the art ideas and culture of modernism and those of contemporary art practices. Ways of thinking and communicating about artworks and histories of art established in History and Theory 1 are both extended and refined. You develop skills in close looking, visual literacy, reading, research, critical thinking, oral and written communication and forms of presentation. You will deliver a presentation on a selected topic and produce an academic essay applying taught material and the fruits of your own research to individually selected examples of contemporary art practice.
Studio Practice 2
Studio Practice 2 develops your responsibility for their art practice. You will develop practical and conceptual skills and their working methods in the studio and beyond. Through observation, exploration, critical reflection and consideration of form in relation to concept, you will make a body of practical experimentation and artworks.
Professional Practice 1
In Professional Practice 1 you will conduct a project and work placement in a professional area of art or cultural practice. You will reflect upon and evaluate your experience in a written report. You will establish methods of documenting and presenting your artworks and practices in professional forms through the portfolio, artist's talk, artist's statement and c.v. You will acquire knowledge about wider professional contexts and opportunities. The Professional Practice modules develop and extend your knowledge and experience of the wider professional contexts and skills of contemporary art practice. Professional Practice 1 is fundamentally related to workplace experience and employability, as well as to the Studio Practice and History and Theory modules.
Studio Practice 3
Studio Practice 3 is the third of the five consecutive Studio Practice modules on the Fine Art course. Building on the foundation of art practice and knowledge established in Studio Practice 1 and 2, Studio Practice 3 develops self-direction and encourages you to locate your art practices in relation to the wider professional realms of contemporary art.
Studio Practice 4
Studio Practice 4 is the fourth of the five consecutive Studio Practice modules on the Fine Art course. Studio Practice 4 focuses on the production of more resolved artworks; the ambition for and critical understanding of art practice and its contexts; the experience of exhibition or other appropriate professional contexts.
History and Theory 3 (Key ideas and issues in Contemporary Art and Culture)
History and Theory 3 in the first semester introduces key theoretical discourses in visual culture in relation to art practice, critique and interpretation. You will focus on close reading, textual understanding and writing skills. You are taught how to write a précis of a theoretical text, clearly positioning the author and giving a careful account of the argument. You will write a précis on the seminar set reading: a series of short theoretical texts. The collection of precis is submitted for assessment
This module is optional
This is an optional placement year for students who have completed Level 5 prior to the final year of study. The placement must be a minimum of 25 weeks duration and can be in a broad range of Art/Professional practice. A programme of work is agreed by the student, the Placement Tutor and the Placement Partner and usually takes place in Europe with respect to the relevant health and safety and disability regulations.(SENDO). The placement is designed to increase experience of workshop/studio/communal and technical practice, while broadening and enhancing the student`s social, personal and professional development. Upon successful completion of the placement year the student is awarded a Diploma in Professional Studies (DPP) or a Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) International upon graduation from the course.
International Academic Studies
This module is optional
This module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.
Studio Practice 5
In Studio Practice 5 you will work ambitiously and critically as a self-directed artist and thinker. You will make artworks that integrate practical, aesthetic and intellectual knowledge. Studio Practice 5 culminates in a professional exhibition of selected artworks in the Degree Show.
This 80 credit module spans two semesters and allows for ambition, risk-taking and continuity, which is reflective of practice in the professional field. This will prepare you for the rigours of postgraduate study and independent practice as an artist.
Professional Practice 2
Professional Practice 2 develops your research, study and professional skills, and identifies wider professional and graduate opportunities for you. You will document, present and critically evaluate your art practice and artworks made in the concurrent Studio Practice 5 module. You will explore and articulate your position as an artist and thinker in professional forms: the artist's talk, portfolio, artist's statement and critical commentary. Professional Practice 2 is closely aligned with Studio Practice 5 and History and Theory 4, culminating in your final year Degree Show.
History and Theory 4 (Dissertation)
History and Theory 4 is the final History and Theory module on the Fine Art course. In this 20 credit module you identify and pursue a major research project related to your interests and studio practice and present it in the form of an academic Dissertation.
From the first year of the course, you explore the history, contexts and discourses of contemporary art practice though the History and Theory modules, which teach skills in visual literacy, intellectual enquiry, research, analysis, argument, critical writing and interpretation. The History and Theory modules build upon one another incrementally to enable you to identify and research increasingly sophisticated topics, and to write increasingly substantial texts, culminating in the Dissertation. All of the skills gained in years 1 and 2 are used in producing the Dissertation, which is usually the lengthiest and most accomplished piece of academic writing you will have produced to that point.
Standard entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
The course prepares students as artists and thinkers, who are able to sustain professional, critical art practice, and who can apply their skills, sensibilities and knowledge to wider fields of cultural work, practice and employment.
Graduates may choose to pursue postgraduate research in art practice to MA, MFA, MPhil and PhD level, either within the Belfast School of Art or in other institutions in the UK, Europe and beyond. Graduates also go on to postgraduate study in theoretical, cultural and curatorial management, art therapy and other courses. The course also prepares graduates for the PGCE.
Fine Art education prepares graduates to be extraordinarily flexible and self-reliant. They are able to forge practices and working lives within changing and unpredictable environments both employed and self-employed. The course equips students with a range of professional and transferable skills and experiences.
Many Fine Art graduates continue to practice successfully as artists, exhibiting in galleries; acquiring funding, awards, and prizes; undertaking commissions, residencies and public art projects. Others enter careers in education, curating, writing, arts administration, journalism and broadcast media, the gallery and museum sector, community arts, design and the wider cultural industries. Previous students of Fine Art in Belfast include internationally renowned, influential and award-winning artists, curators, professors, and writers.
Fees and funding
Fees for entry in 2023/24 have not yet been set. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.
The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.
For modules commenced in the academic year 2022/23, the following fees apply:
NB: A standard full-time undergraduate degree is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.
Scholarships, awards and prizes
Information on scholarships available to international students
Information provided is for guidance only as scholarship details are subject to change - please refer to the source website for up-to-date and accurate information.
Additional mandatory costs
Students purchase materials for their coursework.
Consumable workshop contribution of up to £100 is optional and contributes to materials used by students.
Field trips may incur additional costs.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.