Certificate of Higher Education Art and Design Foundation

Art and Design Foundation is an experimental, investigative and diverse course.

Our students experience a broad introduction to art and design, and go on to specialise in a wide range of disciplines.

It’s all about establishing a strong basis for your creative future.

The programme is predominantly visual and practical, with elements of written work, and develops students' understanding of concept, contexts and making.

The course allows students to access all the usual student funding open to degree students. All students will receive a bursary of up to £1,500.


Key Facts

UCAS Code: F4W8
Institution Code: T80
Course Length:
1 year full-time / 2 years part-time

Scholarships and Bursaries

Swansea College of Art
Contact Name:
Katherine Clewett
Contact Email:


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  • Simply was the best year of my academic life as I grew past the confines of secondary school. I wouldn't have been able to handle university without the lessons, support and commitment of every single tutor on this course.

    Rachel Edwards

  • Awesome team of staff & excellent course teaching a broad range of skills. I'd recommend this course to anyone.

    Claire Moore

The Certificate of HE Art & Design Foundation is an introduction to study within art and design, a foundation or basis for students entering ‘art school’ and encountering, for the first time, studio-based teaching and learning, characterised as enquiry and learning through drawing, making and process, writing, research, presentation and discussion.

The course bridges study at Level Three and progression to study on an honours degree within art and design, and other areas of study, through a coherent and structured process of development and decision making; moving from basic skills learning and broad experimentation to consolidation and independent working.

The course enables student progression through production of a portfolio of practical and visual work, examples of written work and a final exhibition. Students are introduced to specialist study areas including Fine Art, Visual Communication, Lens-based Media, 3D Design, Fashion and Textiles.

Students will specialise further and progress onto courses of study including: Fine Art, Painting and Drawing, Illustration, Graphic Design, Advertising and Brand Design, Games Design, Digital Arts, Animation, Film and Video, Photography, Automotive, Furniture, Interior, Product, Production and Theatre Design, Architecture, Fashion and Jewellery Design, Textiles and Surface Pattern.

The modules are delivered through Workshops, Contextual Project Introductions, Group and Individual Tutorials, Critiques, Lectures and Seminars.

The course consists of 6 modules, delivered over 1 academic year.

During Semester 1 students complete 3 modules:

  • Introduction to Art and Design provides a broad introduction to the studio environment delivered through a carousel of specialist area projects.
  • Experimentation to Specialisation encourages experimentation and guides students towards specialist study choices. Students produce a written assignment.
  • Developing Specialist Practice and Preparing for Progression permits students to develop their practice and assists them in the preparation of a portfolio of visual and practical work to support progression onto further study.

During Semester 2 students complete 3 further Modules:

  • Developing Personal Practice provides a further period for the development of personal practice and the portfolio. Students work in an increasingly independent manner and apply the knowledge and experience gained during Semester 1.
  • Major Project: Development and Theoretical Approaches requires that students extend their visual and contextual research to produce a written outcome and development towards a major project.
  • Major Project: Realisation and Presentation requires students to produce a substantial body of work and an appropriate exhibition of outcomes.

The modules are delivered through contextual introductions to projects, a range of workshops and classes, lectures and study visits. Students are guided and assessed through group and individual tutorials and critiques. Contextual and historical studies are embedded into all the modules.

The Cert HE: Art & Design Foundation course is an exciting new development of the previous Foundation Art & Design course here at Swansea College of Art (UWTSD) that recently celebrated its 100th birthday. We have seen many changes in that time but the course has grown from strength to strength, building up a reputation for excellence, we are now entering a new phase.

The new course is taught entirely at Level 4.  This represents a clear progression from A Level whilst still permitting students the time to consider BA specialist options in the context of a full art school experience. 

We maintain the ethos and magic of Foundation, allowing students to build a bedrock of experience and skill whilst discovering new areas they might not have had a chance to explore previously.  This, we believe is essential to success at degree level and vital in terms of making the right decision for a future career in the creative industries.

The course is based in a beautiful new studio in the recently renovated ALEX Design Exchange which is where the course originated over 100 years ago.  We also work across the Dynevor Campus and offer our students full access to purpose-built workshops, facilities and resources in the art school, working alongside our degree students.  The art school boasts some of the best facilities in the area with both traditional and state of the art equipment available for all students to take advantage of. 

Staff on the programme include:

Students have additional contact with Faculty staff through lectures and workshops.

Each of the 6 modules earns twenty credits, and all will be assessed through Coursework.

Coursework is presented in the form of Sketchbooks/Visual Diaries, Preparatory Work, Workshop & Drawing Class Work, Project Outcomes, Digital Documentation, a Selected and Collated Portfolio, Written Assignments


Group critiques are scheduled regularly to conclude projects and form part of the assessment. They provide the opportunity for formal presentation of outcomes and preparatory work, and for peer and staff criticism

Selected and Collated Portfolio

Students, working with staff, select and collate a Portfolio of work for presentation at interviews for progression onto further courses/other. The main body of the portfolio will be project work and in particular specialist outcomes and preparatory work. Drawings and project work are selected to show additional skills and ability. Sketchbooks, visual diaries and any 3D preparatory work will accompany the portfolio.

Written Assignments

Formats for written assignments may include essays on proposed themes, exhibition reports, project proposals and reviews. Presentation formats may include: illustrated and fully referenced academic essays and less formal reports and/or blogs.

Application is made via UCAS. 

Students applying to the course should have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including English Language or Welsh, and preferably Maths. They should also have a minimum of 1 A Level at grade C or above, or an equivalent qualification, such as a BTEC Extended Diploma or other Level 3 qualifications.

All applicants are invited for interview and are required to provide a portfolio of visual work and an example of written work, if possible. European and Overseas students or those living very distantly within the UK may apply with a digital portfolio. In some cases, a Skype interview will be conducted.

Admissions arrangements will be made in accordance with the University’s Admissions Policy. Each application will be considered on its own merit. All admissions- related decisions will be made in accordance with the Admissions Policy, and any specific requirements to support the selection process will be determined in consultation with Registry.

The Cert HE: Art & Design Foundation offers direct progression onto courses within Swansea College of Art, for all students who pass the course, so many of our students stay on to study at UWTSD in Swansea and Carmarthen.

We also support further applications via UCAS, onto courses elsewhere, and students progress on to a variety of degree courses in universities within Wales and throughout the country, such as: Cardiff School of Art & Design, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth University, Kingston University, UWE Bristol, UAL Camberwell, Wimbledon, Central St Martins and London College of Fashion, Goldsmiths College, Falmouth University, Oxford Brookes University, Leeds University, Leeds College of Art and Buckingham University.

Students have gained places on courses such as: Fine Art, Photography in the Arts, Documentary Photography, History of Art, Surface Pattern, Contemporary Textiles, Artist, Designer: Maker, General Illustration, Graphic Design, Interior Architecture/Design, Product Design, Automotive Design, Animation, Games Design, Film and Video, Fashion Design, Make-Up and Prosthetics and many more.

Many ex-Foundation students, now graduates, are practising artists, fashion, product and graphic designers, teachers and lecturers. Some are curating and working as arts administrators and educators in museums and galleries.

Art & Design Foundation staff stay in touch with many ex-students, and some have returned to take part in the Faculty Artist in Residence programme - an opportunity for graduates to work within the ADF course, using their specialist skills to support teaching. AiRs from all courses with the Faculty exhibit together during the year and have access to equipment facilities.

Our students have access to a diverse range of equipment and resources, which in most cases are sufficient to complete their programme of study. We provide the basic materials necessary for students to develop their practical work within our extensive workshop and studio facilities. However, it is likely that art and design students will incur some additional costs to extend their investigation of their personal practice. For example, purchasing their own specialised materials and equipment, joining in optional study trips, and printing.


How to Apply 

Application is made via UCAS

For more information please email katherine.clewett@uwtsd.ac.uk