It takes time for budding artists to build up a portfolio and establish themselves as independent professionals, particularly in the visual and performing arts sector. The first step before getting to this stage is to obtain the required academic qualifications. This page aims to help you start off by giving you as much information as possible about fine arts degrees and the study options available to you so you can make the best informed decision.
Learning art is more about going to university to study, the subject involves a lot of thinking, contemplating and working out ways to be innovative and creative. On a more practical side artists face the up hill task of working with substances and materials that require specialist knowledge as well as ingenious thought and planning to create the desired impact and result. Enrolling on a good degree will help get over these issues and also help you to create work that;
- is unique.
- creates a sense of awe.
- makes a lasting impression on others.
Fine Art degree overview
You will attend seminars and lectures that will introduce you to key issues and debates relevant to the understanding of contemporary art. Student are encouraged to cultivate an individual practice and style that is distinctively their own and which reflects contemporary culture and ideas.
These degrees tend to be multi-disciplinary courses that consist of practical studio components and are aimed at developing informed and confident fine artists with good critical and communication skills. Some universities encourage their students to present and showcase their work at public exhibitions or an end of year event held at the university. These events are open to the public as well as examiners and industry professionals, so it’s a good way to make contacts as well.
The course lecturers should be active practitioners who have a wide range of professional, technical and conceptual skills that enables them to teach a variety of fine art disciplines.
Fine Art degree assessment
There is normally continuous assessment throughout the course, including a students individual tutorials and group seminars, as well as a year end final assessment through a presentation.
Fine Arts degree structure and typical course content
Year 1 modules
- Defining artistic practise.
- Conceptual art
Year 2 modules
- Multimedia art
- Visual culture
- Theory of Art
Year 3 modules
- The final year is typically spent going over the work of the previous years and using that to produce a winning dissertation that will being the course to a successful conclusion.
- Electronic media
Other areas of study
- Costume design
- Exploring creative strategies.
- Folk art
A fine art degree will teach students
- Practical and creative techniques.
- How to work with oil paint, water colours and charcoal etc.
- The importance visual imagery in fine arts.
- How to become fully independent and self motivated artists.
- Encouraging flair and flexibility of thinking.
- The relationship between contemporary and historical visual art practices.
- Critical judgment.
- How to use different types of specialist equipment and hand tools.
- Individual ideas.
- To cultivate strong observational skills.
- To accept and welcome new concepts and ideas.
- An understanding of exhibitions.
Career prospects and relevancy
As it is a highly specialised subject, finding permanent work as a artist may not be easy for some students, however as many graduates have discovered a Fine Arts degree is suitable for many careers outside of the artistic world. Possible employment sectors include fields as diverse as:
- graphic design
- exhibition design
- writer / critic
- medical illustrator
No matter how well qualified you are, to get a foot on the employment ladder you need a certain amount of practical experience to get started. Therefore if possible enrol for a fine arts degree course that gives you opportunities for work experience, placements, internships and fellowships.
University interview questions
During interviews try to give the impression that you are interested in exploring new techniques and ideas , the aim being to show that you are not to fixed in your ways or methods. Demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the course by mentioning any exhibitions that you have been to or commenting on any contemporary mainstream artists who may be in the news or who you feel are influential.
- Tell us about the artistic work you have done so far?
- Which artist do you feel has influenced you the most, and give reasons why?
- What do you know about our college?
- Explain why you feel this degree can benefit your future ambitions?
- How do you stay up to date with what’s going on in the arts world?
Fine art personal statement
Below is a personal statement written by one of our writers. You can use this example to gain an idea of how to structure and put together your own one. You are strongly advised not to copy or plagiarise it, instead use it as a resource to inspire your own creative writing.
“It was at college that I first became interested in fine art as a form of expression. We were only a small group of students, so lectures and tutorial were always on a more personal basis. There were many opportunities to discuss, create and exhibit paintings, sculptures, photography and conceptual art. This experience along with the dedication of my tutors, who provided me with constant support and inspiration was very influential on me, both in terms of my work, how I perceived art and my future career ambitions.
On a more practical level over the last two years I have had the opportunity to volunteer at numerous local galleries. This experience has provided me with a comprehensive introduction to the realities of exhibitions and the art world. I am member of two art societies which has been a great way of meeting people who have similar interests and also keeping track of what’s going on in the arts industry.
I am now keen to continue my studies at degree level and am looking for a academic institution that will help me to open up my mind, express my own ideas and explore my own inner artist. I want to push my own artistic and academic abilities to the limit and create a portfolio of work that will provide me with a foundation to progress in any future practice and career.
Walking around your campus on an open day I found it to be a very friendly sociable place with a lot of cool artistic people to meet. You university contains purpose built facilities and galleries for its own Fine Arts Department, unlike other universities where space and buildings have been adapted. It contains really nice studio room that gives people plenty of room to work in and host their own shows. I was particularly impressed by its world class resource centre and library that is ideal for looking up anything to do with fine art. In my opinion your institution ticks all of the boxes that a person requires for studying fine art. In conclusion I am very happy to be applying for a place with your university because I known that it contains everything that I could possibly need to full fill and exceed my potential.”
Introduction to graduate fasttrack schemes
Student loan company
UCAS personal statement
University interview questions