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Art & Design Foundation (CertHE)

Apply VIA UCAS - Full Time

Our Cert HE: Foundation Art & Design course at Swansea College of Art, UWTSD is an experimental, investigative and diverse learning experience.

Our students engage with a broad introduction to art and design and go on to specialise in a wide range of disciplines or design areas.

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 full-time students will receive a £1,500 fee reduction.

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Pathway Options

Certificate of Higher Education Art and Design Foundation
UCAS Code: F4W8
Apply via UCAS 

How to apply

All applications to study for a full-time undergraduate degree programme are made through UCAS — Swansea College of Art UWTSD is part of University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Part-time applicants should apply through the University

All our courses come under the institution code T80

Visit the University's How to apply section to find out more.

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Tuition Fees 2022/23:
Home (Full-time): £9,000 per year
Overseas (Full-time): £13,500 per year

5 reasons to study this course   

  1. ‘Art school’ studio-based learning
  2. Dedicated course technicians     
  3. All tutors are practicing Artists & Designers
    This Foundation course has existed in Swansea for over 100 years  
  4. We are the only Higher Education Foundation Art & Design course in Wales at Level 4
  5. Access to all specialist facilities and workshops across the University

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What you will learn

Course Overview

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 industry.

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 Alex and 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. 

What you'll learn

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 the 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.

Module Topics

The module titles can be seen below:

Year One - Level 4 (Cert HE)

  • Academic Writing and Practical / Written Research (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Developing Personal Practice (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Developing Specialist Practice and Preparing for Progression (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Exhibition Outcomes (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Introduction to Art and Design (20 credits; compulsory)
  • Practical and Written Experimentation (20 credits; compulsory).

The course consists of six modules, delivered over one 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.
  • Practical and Written Experimentation 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.
  • Academic Writing and Practical / Written Research: requires that students extend their visual and contextual research to produce a written outcome and development towards a major project.
  • Exhibition Outcomes: 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 in all the modules.


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

Coursework is presented in 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.

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Art and Design Foundation

Key Information


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

Entry Criteria

We are interested in creative people that demonstrate a strong commitment to art and/or design, and therefore we welcome applications from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. To assess student suitability for their chosen course, we arrange interviews for all applicants at which your skills, achievements and life experience will be considered as well as your portfolio of work.

Our standard offer for this course is 32 UCAS tariff points. We expect applicants to have a grade C or above in English Language (or Welsh) at GCSE level, together with passes in another four subjects. Plus, we accept a range of Level 3 qualifications including:

  • Three GCE A-Levels or equivalent
  • International Baccalaureate score of 32
  • Other relevant qualifications can be considered on an individual basis.

Qualifications are important; however, our offers are not solely based on academic results. If you don’t have the required UCAS points, then please contact the courses admissions tutor or email artanddesign@uwtsd.ac.uk as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.

See our Interview Guide for more information.

Career Opportunities

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.

Additional Costs

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, art and design students will likely incur some additional costs to extend their investigation of their personal practice. For example, purchasing their own specialised materials and equipment, joining optional study trips, and printing. 

Students are expected to bring their own personal art and design equipment with them when they commence the course.  We can advise on the correct equipment needed for your programme of studies and signpost appropriate suppliers if you wish to purchase essential items before or during your studies.  

A basic ‘art and design kit’ will cost approximately £100, but you may well already have much of the equipment required, so check with us first.  Although we have extensive dedicated digital design studios (PC and MAC) for you to undertake your coursework, you may wish to bring your own digital devices, again check with us first before making a purchase.

Student Quotes

“My time on the foundation was fabulous, it really is the best year of your life. And to be able to do it in Swansea was amazing, the city itself lends itself to art from the beach to the industry to the mountains.”

Edward Thomas – Production Designer | Doctor Who | Torchwood | Resident Evil

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

Claire Moore

"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 the course”

Rachel Edwards

"It's an entirely creative process from the word go. It's an energy, a freedom, a sense of fun, the students are willing to take risks and make mistakes and the team encourage that way of working" 

Anna Lewis Lecturer

"I'm really glad I did Foundation myself, I would have made the wrong choice back then. I joined my Foundation course wanting to do Fine Art when I got there I realised I was much more a designer and a maker. I didn't realise you could study jewellery design when I found this, I knew this was right for me" 

Anna Lewis Alumni

"Foundation sets you up for your future career, it's fast-paced, it's energised. You end up coming out with responses or outcomes you never would have predicted. It's an experience that you never would want to miss out"

Shellie Holden

"It is the foundation; the basis, the building brick, the seed of your creative journey, a beginning"

Kath Clewett

"Originally I wanted to study Foundation because, I knew I was creative, but I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to progress,  to focus my practice and design my path. I wanted to try a lot of different things" 

Terri Saunders

Bursary / Scholarship Information

Swansea College of Art at UWTSD offers two Academic awards:  

  • Swansea College of Art 1853 Scholarship
  • Cert HE Foundation Bursary

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study.  To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other available funding opportunities, please visit our Scholarships and Bursaries section.


In addition to our University Accommodation at Llys Glas, Swansea also benefits from a number of private student halls, all within a short walk, including:

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