Undergraduate study
Fine Art Fine Art Fine Art

BA (Hons) Fine Art

UCAS code: W100 BA/FA

A fine art degree course at Teesside University provides studio-based learning that allows you to specialise in painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and/or new media. You have open access to all media workshops to develop your personally defined project themes.

Course information


  • Length: 3 years

More full-time details


  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information

Lectures, seminars and studio-based critique raise ideas and themes to explore the shifting status of beauty in visual culture and contemporary practice. You work with visiting artists, curators and writers who share their expertise during lectures and give direct tutorial support to your individual research projects.

Our fine art graduates have been instrumental in setting up a broad range of artist-led studio groups and galleries in the Tees Valley including Platform-A Gallery.

Teesside University provides you with individual studios from the very start, and access to latest facilities with skilled technicians that can help you create and innovate. We have a dedicated print room with bookbinding, a media centre that loans cameras and equipment, sound proof recording studios, green-screen production studios, Mac and PC labs, and a stellar workshop for wood, 3D printing, metalworking and welding. We are also one of the only art programmes in the UK with dark rooms to work with analogue photography and all enhanced by excellent technical support.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Introductory Contextual Studies A

Theorist Simon Critchley observed, ‘The problem with contemporary art is that we all think we know what it means and we don’t.’ With an international focus and interdisciplinary approach, this module challenges you to rethink our location within an ever-evolving community of artists in the 21st century. Our task is to seek new models for understanding, making sense, perceiving and rethinking the world we inhabit. Through lectures, writing, seminars and projects you consider what the legacy, context and metaphorical shape of art might be in our time and how it relates to studio practice. Alongside our ambitious Critical Lines visiting lecture series you engage with artists and thinkers from across disciplines who offer tutorials and workshops in support. You keep an ongoing record of these lectures through a notebook to be submitted at the end of every term. As well as enriching your own studio practice, this module teaches you how to read an artwork, write a critical review and develop a student-centred study plan. The study plan allows you to navigate your course of enquiry over the semester and beyond as well as monitoring your progress. You research and write a negotiated study plan that lays out your learning objectives and aims, or enquiry for the semester. You attend lectures and tutorials on new directions in contemporary art, keep a journal of notes and reflections from these lectures, write a short essay, as well as a presentation on a contemporary artist. This module introduces you to different positions that challenge and negotiate issues about broader contexts in contemporary art practice. The pedagogy is centred towards building and facilitating a community of learners to negotiate art’s shared space and significance in the world.

Introductory Contextual Studies B

You are tasked with developing your own frameworks and conceptual outputs to better imagine the relationships between diverse approaches in artistic practice. You consider how themes and approaches within your own studio outputs might fit with or challenge a legacy and future directions in artistic practice. Building on Introductory Contextual Studies A, this module continues to develop critical frameworks to enquire into contemporary artistic practices that challenge our assumptions and understandings of art, with an emphasis on experimentation and consideration of material usage. Through this, you are encouraged to test boundaries in your knowledge and develop an informed awareness of contemporary art practices and context. The approach is to introduce new vocabularies into the conversation and encourage a deeper level of intellectual curiosity, originality and critical thought along with a wider understanding of art through lectures, projects, writing and discussions.

You contextualise your studio practice by writing an artist statement that you continue to develop over your work on the course, locating yourself in the broader context of contemporary practitioners and the art world. A longer essay attached to a mock exhibition project is the primary output for this module. The mock exhibition forms a written and visual output contextualising a variety of practices from the understandings developed in this module. The aim is to challenge you beyond your current understanding of artistic practice and to demonstrate alternative methods in considering how ideas and approaches are organised thematically, brought together and conceptually engaged to make meaning. Alongside our ambitious Critical Lines visiting lecture series you engage with artists and thinkers from across disciplines who offer tutorials and workshops in support. You keep an ongoing record of these lectures through a notebook submitted at the end of every term. You also begin to research what you might want to consider for your practicum project in Year 2. This research continues over summer. Throughout the second semester, emphasis is placed on imagining a community of artists and learners based on experience or shared potential whilst developing vocabularies and understanding around art practice. From this, you begin to pose questions of how a community of learners are shaped by you, your peers, lecturers and staff, as well as by our perceptions.

Introductory Studio Practice A

This module introduces you to a range of learning strategies to facilitate the production of studio work. Using an extensive series of investigative studies designed to encourage direct study of primary source material, this module promotes an experimental approach to studio practice and encourages you to develop appropriate technical skills for producing work. You take part in practical sessions where techniques and their application are demonstrated. The content and range of the workshops made available articulate an actively engaged approach to studio practice that may include painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and other lens media, as well as durational practice. You are encouraged to experiment – working in different media to begin an interdisciplinary practice whereby you might employ different skills to communicate your ideas.

Introductory Studio Practice B

This module builds on the interrogation and experimentation from Introductory Studio Practice A. You are expected to extend and enhance your studio practice towards building an expertise of communicating your artistic vision. You engage in further technical workshops and are expected to demonstrate individual research towards building skills that might form an element of your practice. You determine your focus for study – this is a practical introduction to designing self-authored projects for inclusion in your statement of intent. You are encouraged to identify the salient points of your practice, focus intentionality and establish a personal approach to studio practice.


Year 2 core modules

Developing Contextual Studies A

In Year 2 you engage more directly with concerns locating your ideas and practice within your communities and beyond. This module aims to take much of the material and discussions that you have worked with in theoretical terms and apply it to practice. You negotiate a new written study plan outlining your pursuits and interests over the next year – you will return to this often as a working document. The focus for this semester primarily consists of the practicum, practicum evaluation and research essay. These activities are supported by lectures, discussions and the Critical Lines lecture series as you develop your projects. Through the visiting lecture series you also engage with artists and thinkers from across disciplines, who offer tutorials and workshops in support. You keep an ongoing record of these lectures through a notebook that is submitted at the end of every term. The practicum is the deployment of the skills and knowledge developed from Introductory Contextual Studies A and B, and how these approaches are applied in practice.

The practicum facilitates you having an experience relevant to your chosen destination based on your study plan. You locate a community – an artist studio, gallery, community centre, school, group – and develop a line of enquiry that gives you experience of that community as well as supporting or developing material, experiences and work with the chosen community. The practicum is the application of the contexts developed so far and how to use these tools and skills in the real world – an artist assistant, workshop leader, shadowing a curator, teacher or lecturer, working in a community centre, running artist-led workshops, developing a reading event, screening series with local venues or charities and so on. It’s important to begin the thinking around how you will continue to develop after the course and understand how to work with a variety of perspectives using the skills developed in an arts context. This module builds on previous ideas and investigations into artists and learners as part of a larger community, locating you within a broader and integrated practice.

Developing Contextual Studies B

You learn to understand and recognise your own artistic intent in the context of contemporary art making. This module helps you deepen and extend your knowledge and expertise for making and evaluating resolved art works. The visual material you produce seeks to demonstrate increased knowledge, independence and ambition in producing art works.

You are encouraged to examine the relation between curatorial practice, studio production and broader forms of practice that consider audience interface. Art making projects extend the visual, conceptual and practical skills acquired and project outcomes are recorded in your statement of intent.

Developing Studio Practice A

This module helps you to investigate processes through which visual research can be instigated. It also supports continued development of practical and analytical skills related to art making. You initiate a project to develop your art making and record this in a statement of intent. Through this you examine the visual, conceptual and practical skills needed to establish independent control of your project aims.

Developing Studio Practice B

This module helps you understand and recognise your own artistic intent in the context of contemporary art making. It will also help to deepen and extend your knowledge and expertise for making and evaluating resolved art works. Projects recorded in the statement of intent examine your art making through extending visual, conceptual and practical skills. These projects encourage you to examine the relation between curatorial practice; studio production and broader forms of practice that consider audience interface. The visual materials seek to demonstrate an increased knowledge and artistic independence in making ambitious art works.


Final-year core modules

Engaging with Art: Reading, Thinking and Writing in Year 3

An in-depth research-based investigation into an area that interests you. This can take the form of an artefact in any media (+1,500 words), a reflective case study (5,000 words) or a dissertation (10,000 words – 40-credit option). Your theme should relate and inform your practical studies. You are encouraged to use this opportunity to interview leading artists and curators and engage with work directly in major galleries and museums around the world, collaborating with a range of external individuals and institutions. As well as primary research you will underpin your study with wide reading around the topic and engagement with theoretical positions and analytical models that you have assimilated in Level 4 and 5. The investigation should relate directly to your own practical work, helping you articulate the concerns of your own practice in relation to a wider cultural context.

Exhibition Project

Exhibition Project is the grand and exciting finale of your studies. You will be working towards the degree show, which takes place during Creative Teesside in May, a week of exhibitions, screenings and performances hosted by the School of Arts and Media (including a guest list of high profile movers and shakers in the industry coming to see your work). You will have the freedom to develop the work that you intend to show in the final exhibition. This will be the culmination of all your studies and throughout this project we will helping you think hard about the curatorial decisions you need to make when presenting your work to the public. Together with the rest of your year group, you will also be discussing the concept of the exhibition, about publicity and how to end your three years of study in style.

Independent Studio Practice

Here you develop your visual, conceptual and technical skills through studio production. This will test the appropriateness of specialist studios and workshops for producing resolved work and help determine the trajectory of subsequent project intent. You are encouraged to demonstrate your understanding of the interdependence of curatorial practice and studio-based production by selecting resolved work to present for critical review. This module requires you to complete your statement of intent, detailing and evaluating aspects of visual and curatorial practice of direct relevance to your self-authored project. It helps you identify progression opportunities for sector-specific career and professional development.


Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

An academic staff team of specialist practitioners and theorists work in partnership with a weekly programme of visiting artists to ensure you have access to a diverse and extensive range of fine art expertise. You have contact with artist-led agencies, have the opportunity to establish a support network for arts practice and undertake study visits (including Erasmus student exchange) directly related to your personal research. Studio tutorials throughout the programme are designed to help you develop clear and realistic objectives for continued professional development and employment. Individual and independent learning priorities become an integral component in each study module and are supported by a fully established Negotiated Learning Plan at all levels of the programme.

How you are assessed

The continuous assessment structure allows key assessment deadlines to be located at the mid-point and end-point of each academic year.

Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
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Career opportunities

Fine art graduates move forward into an increasingly broad range of professional futures including postgraduate study in visual art at Teesside University (MA Fine Art) and education through Graduate Teacher Training and Recruitment, acquire sponsored fellowships and arts-based residencies (facilitated by DigitalCity and Tees Valley Arts), develop independent practice through locally based studio groups (Saltburn Artist Projects, Navigator North and Platform Arts), work as curators for gallery-based exhibitions (The Heritage Gallery and Python Gallery), take advantage of local and regional opportunities for additional professional development (a-n and Arts Council England, North East) and, as self-employed artists, become professional cultural practitioners.

Entry requirements

A typical offer is 96-112 tariff points from at least three A levels (or equivalent) – one must be in an appropriate discipline. And we attach considerable importance to your portfolio of work.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country

You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

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Course information


  • Length: 3 years

More full-time details


  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information