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 study abroad for one semester, 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

  • Fine Art Practice 1
    This module will introduce you to key areas of Fine Art practice, and enable you to develop and engage with producing artwork in a critical and analytical manner. You will establish an 'identity' for your studio work, either by specializing in a particular medium or by working through a variety of media and processes. This will be done through one-to-one tutorials, technical inductions, group critiques, presentations and studio discussions. In order for you to establish a coherent direction for your Fine Art practice, and develop an understanding of its context, you will engage in a range of investigative procedures, addressing both intellectual and practical concerns within individual outlooks, and exploring new areas or media where relevant or necessary. You'll be introduced to the basic skills needed for various disciplines through optional practice-based strands available during the two semesters, including practical inductions into the areas of sculpture, painting, computer-generated art, printmaking and other media. You’ll be encouraged to locate issues and problems within both your work and the work of others, employing a self-motivated approach to problem solving, supported by a system of tutorial supervision and guidance. A variety of staff will input a range of views and positions for you to engage with.
  • Fine Art in Contexts
    This module will provide you with a framework for your understanding of fine art practice. You'll study key approaches to recent art practice (including Minimalism, Pop Art, Super-realism, Conceptual Art, Live Art) to set a context for current art production and ideas. You’ll also trace back some of these modes of working and thinking to Modernist production in the early 20th Century, discussing key notions while paying attention to the interrelation of competing ideas. You’ll also consider the question 'What is Postmodernism?' You will explore ideas about the artists' roles and how they interpret 'Reality', and consider issues of contention such as gender, sexuality and ethnicity. You’ll be encouraged to respond to works seen at the Tates and elsewhere and to place these in a wider framework. Your assessment will be based on two essays. In one of these, you will submit a critical analysis of an agreed single work along with a short exhibition review. In the other, you will provide a critical analysis of a single text.
  • Images Today
    This module will introduce you to the study of visual images and artefacts. You'll explore the specificity of the 'visual' as well as the interdependence of images, texts and contexts. You'll study a variety of different media and frameworks of meaning, such as family and press photographs, paintings, installations, comic strips and the moving image. In addition, you'll consider traditional art in its presence for today's audiences and image producers. You will discover the basic conceptual tools to produce visual analyses, and examine how meanings are constructed around images, these different meanings accruing to a representation. Using your own experience as a starting point for further critical inquiry, you'll make use of images and venues on offer in Cambridge. You'll also be encouraged to reflect critically on your own practice. Your assessment will comprise two critical analyses on topics directly related to the module content.

Year one, optional modules

  • Approaches to Drawing
    On this module, you’ll adopt an investigative and exploratory approach to drawing. Through a programme of practical group projects, presentations, group critiques and one-to-one tutorials, you'll be encouraged and guided towards an understanding of the role of drawing within a wider field of contemporary art practice. You’ll approach drawing like a way of ‘thinking’ more than a means of producing art (drawing as object) or a preparatory exercise. In group projects, you'll develop basic skills in the use of drawing materials, discussing formats and structures and, through practice, forming an intellectual and critical approach to the act of drawing. You'll look at drawing in the broad and experimental sense and as a more conventional means of expression. Your sessions will be varied, including a range of approaches such as observational drawing, the use of technology such as projectors, and the study of specific areas of visual art, such as colour, pattern, form and collage.
  • Experimental Practice
    This practical module will introduce you to various aspects of experimental practice. You'll examine its specific traditions and histories, as well as developing a platform for your own investigations and activities. What is 'Experimental Practice'? In the light of this particular module, it is an intensive examination of the premises of various avant-garde Fine Art practices of the 20th century. In one sense, it is also an opportunity for you to think around issues and problems in relation to specific tasks that may step outside the main thrust of work produced on the 60 credit core module. Many Fine Art students see their practice as intimately bound up with a specific medium (whether painting, sculpture, the photographic, etc.). While this is valid in itself, on this module you will be encouraged to develop ideas independently of media or processes that may have previously defined your work, developing generative ideas and strategies with rigour and self-criticism. Experimental strategies are seen to be essential to an understanding of aspects of contemporary art practice. This module will invite you to leave what you see as your work at the studio door, and to concentrate on how to 'think through' certain problems objectively.
  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme module will allow you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You may choose to take two language modules in place of options on your course from the second semester of your first year, or in the second or third year. You can choose from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, or Spanish. In order to experience the learning of a new language, you must select one that you have not learned before.

Year two, core modules

  • Fine Art Practice 2 (core module)
    This module will allow you to expand and deepen your practice. You'll explore new directions and test your individual practices within a broader cultural and discursive context. You'll also be encouraged to participate in the off-site exhibition programme, which will incorporate a series of seminars from this module. In addition, you'll receive tutorial support throughout the two semesters, and take part in studio discussions that will frame debate with an emphasis on context and location, providing you with different ways to think around these issues. You'll also attend tutorials, which will provide a platform for you to develop a more expansive practice and the means to explore ideas around social dimensions and reception of contemporary practice in general. You'll take part in visits and discussions at Kettles Yard, Arts Picture House and other venues, and will be expected to make use of these resources as a means of enhancing and contextualising your individual investigations. By the end of this module, you should have more confidence in your personal research, allowing for elements of risk-taking and experimentation. You’ll also consolidate your ideas, approaches toward materials and making, and self-evaluation, while learning to take responsibility for curating your own work within an exhibiting context. Your assessment will be both formative, with progress review tutorials at the end of semester 1 and half way through Semester 2, and summative at the conclusion of the module, with an examined evaluation of your research and outcomes. The module will also include a Personal Development Planning element.
  • Debates and Practices
    On this module, you'll explore the links between critical studies and practice, enriching your knowledge and developing your articulacy about your specialism, as well as drawing on wider perspectives in relation to your own work. You will focus particularly on debates about contemporary practice. Your studies will be seminar-based and, where appropriate and possible, held in the studio. In discussions, you'll engage with theory and history alongside your own developing ideas about contemporary production, with an open agenda that will respond to current events, work and interests.

Year two, optional modules

  • Installation Practice
    On this module you’ll explore various approaches to installation, which as a discipline manifests ideas around context, physical space and the nature of the artwork itself. Work can be developed in a variety of ways including sculpture, paintings, mixed media work, film, video and sound, from collections of ephemeral materials to substantial assemblages. In groups, you'll explore the qualities of specific locations in relation to your practice. For each project, you must demonstrate intensive working practice, research and engagement with the problems, both in the sense of what your own work and ideas require, as well as a sensitivity to the individual space or context itself. You’ll contribute to seminars and critiques and learn about the history of installational practice from the early 1960s to the present. At the end of the module you will have contributed to the staging of your work within an installational framework in your chosen location. Assessment will consider both preparatory research and the final outcome, which will be presented in the form of an exhibition.
  • Printmaking: Materials, Processes and Ideas
    This module will give you a chance to expand your existing studio practice through the medium of print. You’ll be encouraged to use experimental and innovative print processes as part of a self-reflective strategy informed by practice and theory. You will take part in a student-led research project supported by tutorial supervision, which will develop your ability to analyse and evaluate studio research. You’ll also have access to workshop resources outside of specified taught hours during allocated 'open access' slots. Your progress on the module will be formatively assessed at specified points through individual tutorials and group critiques.
  • Time Based Media
    In this module, you'll receive a thorough introduction to video as a Fine Art medium, while leaning heavily on your established practice to provide subject matter and direction. You'll be expected to expand your practice through experimentation with digital video acquisition, digital video editing and televisual presentation. You'll start by presenting and discussing your work to date with your classmates, to establish relevant starting points and a group dynamic. You'll also be inducted, as a group, in the use of digital video cameras and Final Cut Pro HD. Once you have gained confidence, your individual projects will be supported as needed, with the group dynamic being maintained through critiques. You'll identify and engage with the formal properties of video and explore how the additional properties might be employed to expand your established practice. For example: time, sound and screen-based presentation. You'll be supported in this by presentations and discussions of historical and contemporary time-based art. The presentation of your final work might incorporate single-screen, multiple-screen, projection and sound.
  • Business for the Creative Arts
    This module will introduce you to the practical tools needed to set yourself up in business in the creative arts, as a company, a partnership or a freelancer. You'll explore a sector of the creative industries, identifying potential opportunities within it and producing a basic business plan. Your emphasis will be on self-reflection, innovative thinking and communication skills, while the subjects that you'll cover include: the creative industries; developing and analysing a business idea; types of business model; assessing your market; ideas behind marketing; basic accounts; tax and legal issues; and planning for start-up. You'll be asked to translate these into practice by applying them to your own ideas, which will then become part of your own business plan. The module will be delivered through lectures, seminars, student presentations, critiques and workshops. Your formative assessment will involve presentations, while the summative assessment will be based on your critical evaluation of employment opportunities in a sector of the creative industries and your portfolio of work, including a business plan or employment strategy and supporting documents.
  • Identities
    How do we define ourselves? How do we define others? How do images perpetuate stereotypes, and how do artists and film makers unpick these and explore alternatives? How fluid, open and multiple are our identities? These questions are at the root of this module. It’s an opportunity to explore identity-formation from psychoanalytic, sociological or philosophical perspectives. You may select the image of the artist or film maker as a topic, exploring notions of body image and role-play, as well as the connections between memory and history. Gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationhood, class are all important aspects of identity that you will consider, while feminist theories and postcolonial studies are major contributions to debates about identities. How have artists and film makers explored these issues? This is an opportunity for you to decide on a focus of study that links into your own interests in the studio.
  • Text and Image
    This module is specifically designed to encourage you to explore interactions between text and images, alongside the development of a range of creative outcomes. Harnessing writing as a purposeful act relevant to your own practice, the indicative content is addressed through a series of seminars and workshops. As well as developing a specific visual project, you will have the opportunity to engage in experimental writing approaches, which are intended to provide you with starting points for your creative practice. In the contemporary world of art and design, the practitioner is often called upon to accompany creative outcomes with a variety of textual elements, and this module will help you enhance these creative and critical writing skills. Assessment involves the development of a visual project combining text and image, which may be relevant to your studio specialism. In addition to this, you will write of a critical rationale, relating to the text and image interactions evidenced in your visual project, as well as shorter pieces of experimental writing developed alongside the visual project.
  • Site-specific Work
    On this module you’ll take part in a project geared towards researching a specific site and finding ways and means of interacting with that site. Your previous experimentation from other modules (for example Installation Practice) may also be relevant for this module, but these are not pre-requisites. The given site will most likely be the grounds of the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, and you’ll be encouraged to think of ways of relating and researching ideas relevant to the site. This might include reflecting upon the physical locations within the grounds, or thinking more obliquely about the kinds of practice and research that takes place within the Institute itself, and the corresponding issues of 'space' and 'place' in connection with these issues. You’ll receive tutorial guidance that focuses on your ideas and research and aims towards a practical outcome or intervention within the site, as well as critiques of your projected pieces at earlier stages.
  • Printmaking: Photographic Processes
    On this module, you’ll explore photographic print processes appropriate to your specialist discipline and individual research interests. Photographic and digital processes now form a major element of contemporary print practice, enabling artists and designers to explore a wide range of creative possibilities. Integration of digital media to such processes continues to offer potential for further innovation, particularly in combination with media such as screen-print and photo etching. Through studio research, you’ll tests and develop your proposed ideas and explore experimental strategies towards a range of media as a means of articulating visual themes and ideas informed by practice and theory. Risk taking, through speculative and experimental investigation of print media will therefore play a significant role in the formulation of your learning. You’ll have access to workshop resources outside of specified taught hours through allocated 'open access' slots. Formative assessment of your progress will take place at specified points through individual tutorials and group critique, while the summative evaluation will consist of a portfolio presentation at the end of the module.
  • Contemporary Digital Approaches
    You’ll explore new possibilities in image creation and articulate ideas about them through this integrated approach that uses digital imaging software in conjunction with fieldwork and research. You'll be expected to have at least a basic knowledge and level of skill in Photoshop at the outset and you'll also generate all your own source images through fieldwork and/or photography studio practice. The emphasis throughout the course will be on the integration of technique and practice to explore ideas and concepts. By examining the imaging workflow, from capture through to output, you'll experiment with different aspects of image construction to enable a clearer understanding of the processes and skills involved. There will be assignments and technical workshops to illustrate these points, as well as tutorial guidance to help develop your practice and research. You'll share your assignment outcomes and research with the rest of the class through participation in class crits. Your assessment will consist of a portfolio of practical work together with research and development journals.

Year three, core modules

  • Fine Art Practice 3 (core module)
    On this module, you'll focus on the studio practice leading to the 60-credit Major Project in Semester 2. You'll initiate an ongoing working project with a high level of professional engagement, attending a series of talks and seminars on professional practice (to coincide with level 6 experience - applying for MA Courses, curating, work experience). You'll also attend tutorials, which will examine the relationship between your written research project and your studio activity, and a series of student presentations, which will engage with a thorough grounding of both theoretical and practical issues in relation to the given direction of your work. You'll also have the chance to attend various talks and seminars at related exhibitions and events in both London and Cambridge. Your assessment will take into consideration both your research and your final outcomes, providing a thorough basis for your major project, and will include a Personal Development Planning element.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

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 gain industry knowledge, skills, contacts and networking opportunities. This module gives you the opportunity to explore a working environment relevant to the industry you hope to build a career in. The module will encourage your self-managed learning, and aims to develop your personal organisation, team-working, and networking skills, thereby increasing your self-reliance and confidence. You can use the experience as a basis for directing and focussing your career plans, as well as inspiration for your final year projects. In association with your module tutor, you will identify, negotiate and agree with an employer (or employers) the terms of your placement, ensuring that the module learning outcomes can be achieved. You will also create a reflective report on your work experience, including: the application procedure you have conducted (CV, letter and portfolio); market and background information on the employer; your role(s) on the placement(s); an academic and vocational analysis; skills and experiences (opportunities, advantages, constraints, aptitudes and interests). You will also be asked to include a workplace diary that logs activity and supports an analysis of the learning achieved. On completion of the placement, the employer will be asked to complete a Student Feedback package. The work placement(s) may be carried out in a variety of settings depending upon your requirements, areas of interest and availability of opportunities. The minimum period of the placement will be 100 hours, and you can undertake more than one placement for the module.
  • Research Assignment
    The Research Assignment module will foster your independent study with the guidance of a Supervisor. You will negotiate a topic with your supervisor, and devise your own project to reflect on / co-ordinate with / enhance your studio work and interests, relying on your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Classes will provide a forum for all students to learn from each other's research, but you will also have opportunities for individual tutorials with a member of staff. Your Research Assignment may be illustrated with photographs, drawings, and video. You will be assessed by way of a 3000-word written assignment. (15 credits)


For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure (pdf).

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 2019/20 or 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

You 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


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

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

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

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.

Foundation year entry requirements

  • 5 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
International students

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

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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