Fine Art BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year)





Develop your individual practice with an emphasis on experimentation in dialogue with contemporary practice and theory when studying your Fine Art degree at ARU. Choose to visit major art galleries and organise art exhibitions. Build upon your existing skills in drawing, painting and sculpture and explore new processes and media to create a substantial portfolio of work.

Full description


Our BA (Hons) Fine Art course opens the door to many different creative and professional opportunities, from working in fine art practice, community arts projects, prop and set making, art therapy, and museum and gallery administration and education, to applied creative roles in advertising, art direction, marketing, digital content production, as well as lecturing and teaching.

You might also choose continue your studies on our MA Fine Art or MA Printmaking degree courses.

In Year 3, you will have the opportunity to find a work placement on our 'Working in the Creative Industries' optional module. This will help you develop the kind of transferable skills and experience you need to stand out as an employee, or succeed in self-employment, in the real working world. It will also help you make contacts in the sector, who already know your potential when you graduate.

Find out more about our placements and work experience, or our Faculty’s employability support.

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Art and Design
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in art, design and related courses. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. Students will be introduced to practical art and design skills including developing skills of visual storytelling, image-making both in traditional and digital media, visual language and communication, formulating an independent creative response to a broad range of subject matter. Students will also be introduced to the fundamentals of design from a creative perspective, and to some of the key ideas/movements dominating art, design and culture, during the past few centuries. Students will work extensively in groups and collaboratively, with students from art and design, architecture and engineering pathways. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Composition and Style; Creative Workshops 1; Approach to Design; Critical and Contextual Studies; Creative Workshops 2; Specialist Project.

Year one, core modules

  • Approaches to Drawing
    On this module you will explore a variety of approaches to drawing, ranging from individual projects that respond to specific Fine Art contexts within a working brief, to life drawing workshops, using a range of media, which introduce key approaches to observational drawing. You will approach this from a number of perspectives through various exercises / activities, including the relationship of drawing to painting, drawing as a notational processes; collage; use of primary and secondary source material; observational drawing using perspective or chiaroscuro; ideas of contingency and method. Each of these areas will be introduced in order for you to expand and enlarge upon your own drawing vocabulary and practice. As a group you will be guided through introductory presentations, individual tutorials, seminar discussion of the work of other artists relevant to the particular stage or topic. Field trips to the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge and to West End galleries and Tate Modern in London are integrated into delivery, giving you real-world experience of drawing and painting in a gallery setting, and both a historically-based and international context within contemporary art practice. Teaching and learning is creative and applied at each stage, requiring you to respond directly to working briefs with your own imaginative solutions and ideas, and developing your own individual research methodologies. You will be encouraged to introduce a creative, committed and dynamic approach to drawing, together with a coherent and strong relationship with your ongoing personal work undertaken in the Fine Art core module. Your assessment will take into consideration both your research and portfolio of work, and will take the form of a studio review through artwork installations in individual studio spaces.
  • Experimental Practice
    This module complements Fine Art practice 1, asking you to explore the primacy of ideas, together with their progression and extension, in the context of experimental art. Working briefs will require you to move beyond particular material processes with which you are familiar. You will be encouraged to develop an open, explorative and creative approach within your individual projects, and make use a variety of different media (sculpture, photography, video, live art, drawing, assemblage, etc). These will be used in different ways and for various purposes, including documentation, presentation of themes or ideas, notational processes, or through constructed environments. In this context the module introduces the different traditions of de-materialisation, from Marcel Duchamp through to Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman or Joseph Kosuth amongst others, together with more recent practices, such as Matthew Barney or Santiago Sierra. Learning new technological processes is a key aspect of this module, with the option to work within photography, digital imaging and video. Teaching and learning is creative and applied at each stage, requiring you to respond directly to working briefs with your own imaginative solutions and ideas, and developing your own individual research methodologies. This module is ideas-based, asking you to be open to new and innovative ways of working. It will encourage you to be rigorous through experimentation, practice, text-based research and the development and sustenance of ideas, and also introduces technology-enhanced processes for the development of Fine Art work. Activities will include power-point presentations, film screenings, text readings, group seminars, one-to-one tutorial sessions, and a field trip. Research is an important aspect of this module, and a field trip to galleries and project spaces in London is integrated into delivery, giving you real-world experience of the context for experimental art within international contemporary art practice, and its development within institutional frameworks such as Tate Modern Turbine Hall installations. In this way, the module serves as a broad introduction to cutting-edge contemporary art practice on an international stage.
  • Fine Art Critical Contexts
    This module establishes historical, contextual and conceptual frameworks that will enable your critical understanding of the study of art, as well as providing you with key perspectives for furthering your own fine art practice. From engaging ideas and approaches emerging from the development of the artistic avant-gardes of radical early Modernism in the early years of the Twentieth Century, through the development of Abstraction, Minimalism and Conceptualism, to the advent of postmodern artistic strategies, we will use historical perspectives to exemplify how the resultant inter-relation of competing discourses has significantly informed current ideas and ways of making art. Such perspectives are crucial to understand the diversity of approaches that characterise contemporary artistic practice. The module will also give you a forum for considering critically how artists today engage with society, culture and politics, by drawing on a wide range of transdisciplinary perspectives and frameworks, including Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Science, Technology and others, in order to understand the vital contribution that practitioners can make to many of the most pressing contemporary concerns, as well as recognising the ‘future-forging’ potential of an engaged and informed fine art practice.
  • Fine Art Practice 1
    This year-long module will introduce you to key areas of fine art practice and will encourage you to approach the development of your individual artistic identity critically and analytically. You will use a range of investigative procedures to establish a coherent direction for your practice, along with an understanding of its context within the field of international contemporary art. You’ll address both intellectual and practical competences within your individual outlook, and will be supported to explore new areas or media. Teaching processes will include tutorials, lectures, seminars, technical inductions, group critiques, student presentations, an exhibition, and several field trips. This includes introductory seminars into sculpture / installation, painting, and photographic media. You will also be introduced to the basic skills necessary for various approaches through technical inductions and seminars. For the end-of-year exhibition you will work on a live brief, developing your key professional practice skills, including curatorial practice, project management, team work, advertising and marketing, exhibition promotion and poster design, and the technical aspects of exhibition installation. You will be encouraged to locate issues and problems within both your work and the work of others, employing a self-motivated approach to problem solving within a system of tutorial supervision and guidance.

Year two, core modules

  • Contemporary Issues and Debates
    This module builds on the histories, contexts, and ideas introduced at Level 4, and will enable you to begin building a critical framework in which to situate yourself and your own developing practice. We aim to produce creative, socially aware and critically-informed professionals, and this module will engage you with the ethical considerations and responsibilities that are increasingly important for professionals today. You’ll explore contemporary issues and debates within creative practice through examples that address, complicate and solve some of the problems we face globally today. The module content will respond to current issues. To reflect this, your learning activities will be open and flexible, responding to current events, discourses, exhibitions and emerging debates, and you’ll be encouraged to identify your own areas of research throughout. Having engaged with the issues that impact on the contemporary practice of your discipline, and reflected on the role of artists and designers globally today, you’ll apply this critical insight to your own future. You’ll be briefed on how to identify and develop plans for your final year research assignment by either: a) planning for a work placement by researching and identifying possible roles and opportunities in relevant industries/organisations; or b) identifying and developing a proposal for your Level 6 Research Project.
  • Fine Art Practice 2 (core module)
    This module will be central to the development of your studio practice and artistic identity, encouraging you to expand and deepen your studio practice. You will explore new directions and test your individual practices, using a range of investigative procedures to establish a broader cultural and visual arts context, helping you develop your artwork within a critical framework in the field of international contemporary art. You will examine in greater detail the intellectual and practical competences within your individual studio inquiries, exploring and experimenting with new media where relevant or necessary. You will continue to explore your ideas by analysing the strengths and weaknesses of your studio work in terms of its practical construction and conceptual rigour, in relation to your level 4 achievements. Teaching processes will include one-to-one tutorials, lectures, seminars, technical inductions, group critiques, student presentations, on-site exhibitions, and several field trips, as well as professional practice sessions covering professional development and employability related content, (e.g. curation, practising artist talks, website building, and support networks).You will also be encouraged to contribute to and participate in off-site exhibition programmes both in Cambridge and further afield, and two on-site Ruskin Gallery balcony exhibitions working to a live brief.
  • Media, Process, Situation
    This module offers an exciting and innovative approach to collaborative learning in an atmosphere of peer to peer dialogue across courses and cross process skills. Over two trimesters you will select three media process workshop options from areas that may include printmaking, analogue photography and time based media. In each option you will be introduced to advanced techniques in many media areas through inductions and workshops, developing new skills that you will deepen through independent practice and engagement with extra-curricular workshops. You will also consider your audience, public situation and presentation of your work, exploring a range of media options and responding to work experience and exhibition opportunities. You will produce work that responds to two separate exhibition contexts relating to location and space, one on campus and the other working off site in partnership with another institution. The exploration of related media and processes is driven by these locations, and the context these create as social and spatial environments. Following the introduction, you will produce your artwork through workshop options, developing key technical skills and abilities within specific areas of creative practice, driven by a specific media and processes, embracing light, space, techniques and audience.

Year three, core modules

  • Fine Art Major Project
    On this module you will focus on developing an advanced studio practice, leading to the final Degree Show exhibition in Trimester 2. You will plan, initiate and manage your ongoing studio practice, working toward a range of final outcomes, with in-depth research and development focusing on the specific context within which you are working, and a high level of professional engagement and time management. Throughout this module the varied teaching activities include one-to-one tutorials, critiques and presentations. Additional seminars and briefings will feed into your Personal Development Planning, developed within an enhanced research journal focusing on professional practice, employability skills and future career planning. You will focus on consolidating your research and practice in a final body of professionally developed work, including two key exhibition presentations: the 3rd year Interim exhibition and the final Degree Show. At the outset, you will prepare a proposal for an independent body of work, to be discussed with your supervising tutor. In the first half of the module you will take part in the 3rd year Interim Show, presenting a piece of work from your core module in an exhibition on the Cambridge campus. As a year group you will take on responsibility for producing a creative and professional exhibition, taking on roles such as promotion, curation and coordination. The Degree Show will take place at the end of the module. This is a final public exhibition of your work, giving you a real-word professional exhibition experience. You will develop a Degree Show proposal, produce work to a high exhibition standard and plan, prepare and realise all elements of your exhibition display. You will also be expected to take on responsibilities for the Degree Show as a whole, contributing to its planning and smooth running. A 15 credit component of this module addresses Professional Practice, which focuses on careers for Fine Art graduates, including self-employment, networking, applying for MA Courses, curating, on-line publication and artist’s websites, work experience, developing an artist’s statement, and open-call application writing for competitions and awards. You will be required to submit for a competition at this stage, either internally to ARU or nationally advertised. The module will also include various talks and seminars at related lectures, exhibitions and events in London, Cambridge and elsewhere, including attending Fine Art Research Unit talks and events. You will also take part in a series of presentations toward the middle of the module, engaging with a thorough grounding of both theoretical and practical issues in relation to the given direction of the work.

Year three, optional modules

  • Research Project
    The Research Project will foster your independent study with the guidance of a tutor. You'll devise your own project that will reflect on/co-ordinate with/enhance your own studio work and interests, encouraging your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Seminars will give you a forum to learn from each other's research. You will also be supported by individual tutorials with a member of staff. The Research Project may include a variety of relevant topics, including reporting on your own work experience. You can illustrate it with photographs, drawings or video, discussing your approach with your assigned tutor. (30 credits)
  • Working in the Creative Industries
    Gaining work experience enhances your employability, and work based learning offers you the chance to key gain industry knowledge, skills, contacts and networking opportunities. This module will give you the opportunity to explore a working environment in the industry you have identified as relevant to your future career. It will encourage self-managed learning, and enhance your employability by developing your communication, personal organisation, team-working, and networking skills, as well as giving you opportunities to apply those skills to real-world experiences, thereby increasing your self-reliance and confidence. The experience can be used as a basis for directing and focusing your career plans, and can influence your final year projects. In lectures, group tutorials and seminars you’ll also explore skills analysis and reflective writing. You will need to identify, negotiate and agree with an employer (or employers) the terms of the placement in association with a module tutor, to ensure that the learning outcomes can be achieved. You’ll be given guidance and will need to submit a placement registration form and risk assessments for approval by the module tutor. The work placements may be carried out in a variety of settings depending upon your requirements, areas of interest and availability of opportunities. The minimum period will be 100 hours, and you can undertake more than one placement for the module. You’ll create a reflective report and presentation on your work experience. The report will include the application procedure you have conducted (CV, letter and portfolio); market and background information on the employer; market sector analysis; your role(s) on the placement(s); academic and vocational analysis; transferable/employability and specialist skills analysis, knowledge and experiences (opportunities, advantages, constraints, aptitudes and interests); and a final evaluation (impact on your final year and career aspirations). It will also include copies of the submitted registration and risk assessments. You’ll also need to include a workplace diary that logs activity and supports an analysis of the learning achieved.


Modules are subject to change and availability.

You’ll show your progress in a number of ways. On critical and contextual modules you’ll produce essays or shorter written assignments, while on studio modules you’ll either submit portfolios of artwork, or install exhibitions.

In years 2 and 3 assessment by exhibition will form a significant part of your fine art study, and the degree show will form part of your final Major Project assessment. You’ll receive feedback throughout the year, including mid-year reviews on all the core modules, when you will present ongoing artwork to tutors. You’ll also submit essays or artwork at formal assessment points at the end of semester or end of year.

You won’t have to take any exams on our BA (Hons) Fine Art course.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.

Using our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond, we nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking to empower the makers and creators of the future.

Our academics excel at both practice and theory, making a real impact in their chosen fields, whether they are curating exhibitions, designing book covers or photographing communities in Africa. They are also regularly published in catalogues, books, journals and conference papers, their research classed as being of ‘international standing’, with some elements ‘world-leading’, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Field trips

As well as exhibiting your own work, you’ll have opportunities to visit exhibitions, galleries and museums both in Cambridge (such as Kettle's Yard, the Fitzwilliam Museum, and Wysing Arts Centre) and in London (including the Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the Saatchi Gallery).

We also organise regular trips to the Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London; independent galleries in central and East London; and international trips to Berlin, Madrid and Amsterdam, which take place every two years.

Study Abroad

You can apply to study abroad for one semester, and get funding to help you cover the cost.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

Additional costs

Estimated cost of materials over three years £250.

Optional field trips (costs may vary).

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

UK and EU students can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments

International students

You can pay your tuition fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Portfolio review

It is essential that you send us a digital portfolio for review.

For full information on how to prepare and submit your portfolio please visit our Cambridge School of Art portfolios page.

Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

Entry requirements for foundation year study at ARU College:

  • five GCSE passes at grade 3 or D or above and evidence of two years post-GCSE study at Level 3
  • if you have achieved at least grade E in one A level, or equivalent, you are exempt from the two year post-GCSE study requirement, but you still have to meet the GCSE requirements
  • if English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificate level of proficiency of at least IELTS 5.5 overall including 5.5 in each band/component.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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