Foundation courses in art and design

One of the questions we are most commonly asked by students who are thinking of applying for an art and design degree is ‘Do I need to complete a foundation course?’

There is now a wide, and often confusing, range of qualifications available to students preparing for entry onto degree level courses in art and design.  These include BTEC qualifications and AVCE double awards as well as A levels so a Foundation course is no longer the only route to degree level study.  However, many successful applicants do still take the Foundation course route and in many cases this remains the most widely preferred route to degree level study in Art and Design. 

In the experience of university admissons tutors, students who have completed a Foundation course are often equipped with better practical skills, more design maturity and a stronger portfolio than some other applicants.  This can give applicants from Foundation course the edge over other applicants who are applying with A levels alone.  It is worth bearing this in mind if you are applying for a very popular or oversubscribed course where there is intense competition for places.

Here at Birmingham City University we take on students with BTEC National Diploma qualifications, students who have followed the Foundation course route and also sometimes students who have developed a strong portfolio from A level or AVCE qualifications alone.  Applicants are considered on an individual basis and the admissions tutor will look at the strength of an applicant’s portfolio along with other indicators of their suitability for the course including their previous education and experience in art and design. 

Will a Foundation course in art and design be suitable for me?

Foundation courses in art and design are suitable who have already completed A level or AS level study in Art and Design.  They are also suitable for mature students with more limited experience in art and design.

What will I learn on a foundation course?

You can expect to learn through a structured programme of activities, workshops and drawing classes.  This will help you to identify your skills, strengths and interest.

A good Foundation course should be lively, stimulating and enjoyable.

You will also develop your practical skills and ability in 2D and 3D work.

The course will typically culminate in a final project and exhibition enabling you to develop a good portfolio in your chosen area of interest.

How will this benefit me when it comes to applying for a degree?

A Foundation course will prepare you for entry into more specialised programmes within art and design and help to confirm your choice of subject at degree level.  It is the nationally recognised route to degree level study in art and design.  It help you to make a considered and well informed choice about study at degree level in art and design.

Throughout the course you will complete a series of sketchbooks which will record your creative development.  You’ll also develop a wide range of practical and technical skills in drawing, designing and making.

Typical studies include: drawing, printmaking, textiles, contextual and historical studies, fashion and textiles, three dimensional design and graphic design, visual reasearch and sketchbook development.

What funding is available?

Foundation courses in art and design are classed as further education courses so you won’t be able to apply for higher education funding such as a maintenance grant or student loan if you undertake a Foundation Diploma.  For this reason many students choose to undertake a Foundation course at a local college before moving away from home to study at degree level.  Students aged 16-19 may qualify for an Educational Maintenance Allowance for Foundation level studies.

How do I apply?

Contact the university or college direct.  Applications for Foundation courses in art and design aren’t made through UCAS.

6 thoughts on “Foundation courses in art and design

  1. Hello Dear
    I have a question about registering for fundation course in media and script .
    I have been learning english in cillege in International college in manchester .
    But im ganna continue my education in here, my massure was film-making but i wanna study media or script(writing play).
    I wanna know the price for each course and how much it will take time?
    Thank you
    Your truely

  2. Hi Mandana

    We offer courses Media and Communication, English & Drama and also a Film Production and Technology programme. More information about these can be found on oour website at

    In terms of funding and course costs, this can depend on the course being studied and whether the applicant is from the UK, EU or overseas. For more information, please visit for information for UK and EU students and for information for international students.

  3. hi 🙂
    i would like to study architecture design and technology at coventry university but i have a science background. so if i do the foundation course in art and design will it benefit me ?

    1. @Shradda

      It would be better if you contacted Coventry University about the requirements for entry onto their courses, as I’m afraid I am only able to provide advice and information about Birmingham City University’s courses. However, if you’re interested in finding out more about the Architecture or Architectural Technology degree courses offered at Birmingham City University, you can find out more about our courses by visiting the links below. Detailed information about the individual entry requirements can be found under the ‘how to apply’ tab on the course web page.

  4. I am currently taking fine art as an a-level and would like to know if i should take a foundation course in art before going straight into a fine art degree?

    1. Hi Charlotte

      It is not always essential to complete a Foundation Course in Art and Design after A levels before applying for a degree in Art and Design. However, many successful applicants do take this route and, in the experience of the admissions tutors, students who have completed a Foundation Course are often stronger applicants as they have had more time to develop a good portfolio. There is no absolute guideline regarding this. Applications are considered on an individual basis and the admissions staff will look at the strength of the student’s portfolio along with other indicators of their suitability for the course, including their previous experience in art and design.

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