Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Belfast School of Art
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20
BA Hons Fine Art offers practice-based study within painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, performance, lens-based media and history and theory.
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 through blended learning in studios and online.
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 increase 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.
Materials are provided for workshop demonstrations and students purchase materials for course work. There is an optional materials contribution of £100 per year.
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You learn 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. Studio activity is complemented by online engagement, teaching and support to create a rich blended learning experience.
The course is broadly organised as a series of Studio Practice and History and Theory modules.
Year 1: You are introduced to the studio and philosophic culture of Fine Art. From the start you are encouraged to think for yourself and develop your 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 2: You develop confidence and a sense of identity as an artist and are 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 continue to test and extend your ideas, methods of making and aesthetic imagination. In second year you also develop professional skills and knowledge via experiences such as exhibition, placement, application or commission processes.
After successful completion of Year 2 you can opt to undertake a placement year, leading to the award of a Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) or Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS). The DPP is generally European-based and workshop orientated. The DIAS allows for further study at an institution in either Europe or in the USA, under the Erasmus scheme, the Study USA scheme or the Year abroad scheme. You will obtain the appropriate award in addition to your degree's classification on successful completion of your Final Year. Many students avail of this exciting and valuable opportunity, and see a great benefit when they return to study in their Final year.
Year 3: You will make and exhibit art works in the professional, public context of the degree show, and submit a dissertation. In third year you 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 practice and position as an artist in artist’s talks and statements and demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and enquiry through your practice and the subject matter of your written dissertation. In this final year, 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.
Diploma in Professional Practice DPP
Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS
Diploma in Professional Practice International DPPI
The course is full 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 students are required to pass all modules at each level to progress.
Students taking the full time course are expected to attend campus and/or online five days a week.
In Year 1 and 2 Studio Practice Modules are 40 credits and students take one of these modules each semester. In Year 3 Studio Practice is 80 credits over two semesters. Students must attend scheduled artists lectures and talks, group critiques and workshops and individual tutorials. In Year 1 students also undertake two 20 credit History and Theory modules are expected to attend a lecture and seminars each week. In Year 2 there is a 20 credit History and Theory module which runs over two semesters, and a 20 credit Professional Practice module which also runs over two semesters. In Year 3, along with the 80 credit Studio Practice module, there is a 20 credit History and Theory module (the dissertation) and a 20 credit Professional Practice module. Timetables vary across the semester and module credits are equated with 10 effort hours per credit. Students are expected to conduct independent studio practice and study out with scheduled tutorials, workshops and lectures.
The aims and learning outcomes of the Fine Art course are achieved through a variety of teaching and learning methods and experiences:
Studio Practiceis the core and fundamental mode of learning. The studio is an important base and point of reference for the student. Learning to work effectively in the studio environment involves organising time, resources, ideas, equipment, skills and materials. It also involves learning about working with others and understanding health and safety and good practice. Studio practice can include directed activities, experiences and projects and self-directed art practice. Fine Art practice education is predicated upon learning through the experience of self-directed making. Studio practice is a space of creativity, imagination, experimentation, research, reflection and thinking through doing. Studio practice is also an important space of peer learning. A range of other modes of teaching and learning are broadly considered part of studio practice (i.e. studio tutorials, group critiques, exhibition, workshop skills and practice.)
TutorialsGroup and one to one tutorials offer support, advice and feedback in relation to ongoing work in studio, professional or history and theory practice.
Group critiquesStudio critiques offer support, advice and feedback in relation to ongoing and completed student art work in the studio. They are an important opportunity for peer and group learning and challenge and develop the critical language and understanding of art works and practices.
Seminars take a variety of forms: they may provide an opportunity for lecturer-led group study, discussion and debate about art, concepts, texts, contexts, histories or theories; they may involve practical interaction and collaboration; or take the form of a master class.
Lectures include artists‘ talks which are key to the student understanding of art and being an artist. Lectures also provide knowledge and understanding of historical and contemporary Fine Art practices and theoretical discourses. Lectures are also used to support the acquisition of contextual and professional knowledge and skills; and to provide information about graduate opportunities. Lectures are also sometimes used to introduce modules and particular elements of coursework.
ExhibitionFormal and informal exhibition opportunities inside and outside the University are employed throughout the course to extend students‘ understanding of their own practices and professional contexts. Students who make time based work are encouraged to show it in the regular Lens Screenings and Performance Mornings.
Interim ReviewsAt significant stages of the course, during the first semester of 1st year and at the end of semester one in 3rd year interim reviews take place and provide key formative feedback and indications of achievement. In 1st year these are in the form of a reflective critique. In the interim review at the end of semester one in 3rd year, students will present work and a short text and receive verbal and written formative feedback which will indicate their level of achievement at the half way stage of the 80 credit module.
Placements Various types of placement including the year-long DPP/DIAS option and smaller professional practice and studio practice placements in galleries, arts and community organisations, artists‘ studios, schools, etc. Placements enable learning through direct experience.
Field trips include trips to visit galleries and other art events; and project type activities. Field Trips provide important knowledge of art through direct experience; insight into the professional realm and opportunities to make work in wider contexts.
Workshop practice includes the delivery and learning of specific workshop techniques, processes, methods and protocol – including health and safety in relation to machines and equipment – and also group learning through collective activity and practice.
Demonstrations deliver particular technical skills and processes.
e-Pedagogy:use of BlackboardLearn (supplementary); digital seminars; art projects online; blogs as art form; web portfolios.
Feedback is a fundamental teaching method of the responsive studio environment and discursive seminar structure. Formative feedback is given in a range of different forms and contexts – some formal, some informal. These include group and individual tutorials; studio critiques; informal studio contact; in response to projects/directed activity; when work is shown to a wider audience (e.g. formal and informal exhibition in project and other spaces, lens screenings, performance mornings). Interim reviews in first, second and third year give formative feedback and indications of levels of achievement at key progressional stages the course.
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:
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.
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.
The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.
High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.
At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.
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.
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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 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 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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DDD
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DMM
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DD plus A Level Grade C
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade C
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Introductory Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of D plus A Level Grades BC
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Certificate (2016 Suite)
Award profile of D plus A Level Grades BC
112 UCAS tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at higher level) to include English at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.
Overall profile is minimum 25 points (including 12 at higher level)
Overall profile of 63% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access Course)
Overall profile of 15 credits at Distinction and 30 credits at Merit (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course)
For full-time study, you must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass at Grade C/4 or above in English Language.
Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills - Communication will be accepted as equivalent to GCSE English.
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Submission of a satisfactory portfolio.
Acceptable alternative qualifications include:
Pass HND with overall Merit to include 45 distinctions in level 5 credits/units may be specified.
Pass HNC with overall Distinction to include 75 distinctions in level 4 credits/units may be specified.
You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University (provided subject requirements as noted above are met).
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Graduates from this course are now working for:
With this degree you could become:
The Fine Art course prepares each student as an artist and thinker, who is able to sustain professional, critical art practice at local, national and international levels, and who can apply their skills, sensibilities and knowledge to wider fields of cultural work, practice and employment.
Students may choose to pursue postgraduate study and research in art practice to MA, MFA, MPhil and PhD level, either within the Belfast School of Art, MFA Fine Art or MFA Photography, or in other institutions in the UK, Europe and beyond. Students also go on to postgraduate study in theoretical, cultural and curatorial management, art therapy and other courses. The course also prepares students 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 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. Many previous students of Fine Art in Belfast are internationally renowned, influential and award winning artists, curators, academics and writers, and include several Turner Prize nominees and winners.
Various types of placement opportunities are provided within smaller professional practice and studio practice placements in galleries, arts and community organisations, artists‘ studios, schools, etc.
The year long Placement (DPP) provides an opportunity for you to gain first hand practical experience within a professional environment such as in galleries, arts and community organisations, artists‘ studios, schools, etc. prior to your final year of study. This module integrates education with the creative industries. It provides you with a range of experiences and skills relative to your practice, future career and professional development. The module is designed to facilitate opportunities for you to interpret and practice your academic knowledge, develop personal, transferrable, professional and entrepreneurial skills and develop a knowledge and understanding of the role of the practitioner within the creative industries.
The year long International Academic Studies (DIAS) option module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland. You will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.
During second year you are offered an Erasmus exchange. The University has links with a number of European higher education institutes, and the course has a particular relationship with art academies in Finland, France, Spain and the Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb.
Fees for entry in 2023/24 have not yet been set. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.
International Undergraduate Scholarship
Open to all new international (non-EU) entrants on the first year of a full-time undergraduate course delivered on one of our Northern Ireland campuses, commencing September 2018.
£2,000 scholarship applied as discount to your annual tuition fee.
Information on other scholarships available to international students
Other awards and prizes:
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.
Students purchase materials for their own coursework.
Consumable workshop contribution of up to £100 is optional and contributes to materials used by students.
Local field trips to museums, galleries and exhibitions 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.
See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.