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Foundation Diploma

UAL Level 3
Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
1 year (full-time)

The UAL Foundation Diploma in Art and Design builds on the reputation of the previous provision which has been described as one of the strongest and most distinctive foundation programmes in the country. Its remit is to enable students to develop the necessary skills and portfolio to apply to a range of art and design degree courses.

As a student the broad range of creative projects you will undertake will allow you to experience a range of ideas, materials, processes and technologies.

Individual diagnostic projects and tutorials will help you to distil and identify your main areas of interest and make an informed application to a degree course with the support of an experienced staff team.

At the end of the course, direct progression onto Manchester School of Art's degree programmes is available to those who meet the required academic standard.

Special Features

The UAL Foundation Diploma in Art and Design builds on the reputation of the previous programme which was awarded an Ofsted grade 1 report in the most recent report. The programme:

  • Gives you the skills and knowledge relevant for most degree programmes in art and design at this university as well as similar programmes at other universities.
  • Enables you to apply for Direct Entry onto all of the Manchester Metropolitan art & design courses (except Architecture) providing you have achieved the required academic standard.
  • Gives broad experience of creative techniques, disciplines and media, to develop your abilities and skills and help identify your preferred area of study at degree level.
  • Provides you the chance to take part in faculty events, lecture programmes, artist residencies and exhibitions.

Course Content

The Programme is delivered through three distinct units -  

During Unit 1: Diagnostic Investigation into Creative Practice, students will undertake a diagnostic investigation into visual language and creative practices. This exploratory investigation allows students to become familiar with and experiment within a wide range of (art, design, craft and media) creative disciplines as part of their journey. Students will be introduced to a wide range of creative activities to develop their practical and conceptual skills, helping to make choices for their future area of study. Individual guidance is given from an experienced range of staff on the options best suited to their work and future ambitions. The typical programme of study may include:

  • Studio Practice
  • Material Manipulation
  • Visual Language: Drawing
  • Artists' Research - Library Skills
  • Group Construction and Performance/Catwalk Project
  • One Day Projects
  • Workshop Inductions
  • Induction Projects (Product Design and Craft, Fine Art, Graphics, Textiles/Fashion)
  • Research Skills and Methodology

During Unit 2: Developing Specialist Practice - students will be provided with the opportunity to reflect on the knowledge, skills and practices they have developed in Unit 1 of the qualification, and to define their creative ambitions by encouraging a holistic approach to a range of activities, which will support, contextualise and position their creative endeavour within their chosen specialist practice.

Students will confirm the specialisation that they wish to follow at degree level, and progress their application for their chosen degree place. Students will also develop their own personal methodology, enabling them to work with a high level of creativity and independence. The typical programme of study may include:

  • Studio Practice
  • Folio Preparation
  • Presentation Skills/Documentation
  • Interview Preparation
  • Workshop Inductions
  • Contextual Studies Project
  • Personal Projects
  • Progression and Pathway Confirmation

During the final Unit: Consolidating Practice.- students are provide with the opportunity to take control of their own learning and demonstrate their achievement by independently initiating, researching, completing and evaluating a project proposal and realisation within their chosen professional context. Students will produce an exhibition of their final major project alongside the BA Degree Show and complete preparation for BA course entry.

Assessment Weightings & Contact Hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A three year degree qualification typically comprises 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be—

  • Level 3 60% lectures, seminars or similar; 40% independent study
  • Level 4 40% lectures, seminars or similar; 60% independent study
  • Level 3 100% coursework
  • Level 4 100% coursework

Student Work

Our Degree Show web sites display a selection of work exhibited by our Foundation Diploma students at the end of year show.


University staff and students have written and illustrated 'The Invisible King'

Fascinating industry-focused events in lead up to SODA opening in 2021

Louise Giovanelli received 'Special Commendation' from judges


Foundation graduates go on to study a wide range of BA (Hons) courses at Manchester School of Art and other institutions across the UK. Following completion of a degree programme our graduates then go to establish themselves within a wide range of professions in the art and design world. These include careers as creative consultants, artists, curators, gallery owners, textile designers, fashion designers, product and furniture designers, illustrators, retail buyers, theatre and set designers, graphic designers, art critics and journalists, photographers, film-makers, animators, stylists, interior designers and architects.

Our Alumni include:
Sarah Burton: Fashion Designer & Creative Director at Alexander McQueen, Dean Hughes: Artist & Head of Undergraduate Study at Edinburgh College of Art, Andy Soup: Film-maker, Animator & Music Video Production, Nick Sharratt: Children's Book Illustrator, David Hoyland: Director of Seventeen Gallery, Amy Thomas: Artist, Nabil El Nayal: Fashion Designer, Oliver East: Illustrator & Artist's Book publications, Bruce Bell: Construction Designer & Architect, Genevieve Bennett: Interior Textiles Designer & Colour Consultant, Mike Mercer-Brown: Graphic Designer, Paul Harfleet: Artist & Garden Designer, Zoe Hitchens: Art Director & Fashion Film Director, Charlie Lightening: Documentary Film Director, Chantelle King: Tablet Designer at Vanity Fair Magazine, Nicolas Byrne: Painter, David Longshaw: Fashion Designer.

Making an Application

Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff Points/Grades Required

48 from A2 or equivalent (such as BTEC National at Level 3 or Advanced Diploma).

Specific GCSE Requirements

GCSE English Language and Mathematics at grade C or grade 4. Equivalent qualifications (eg. Functional Skills) may be considered

Non Tariffed Qualifications

Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject with at least 45 credits at Level 3

International Baccalaureate24 Points

International Students

A minimum IELTS score of 5.5 with no less than 5.0 in any section is required.

If you are based outside the UK and are unable to attend an interview, you will be asked to provide a digital portfolio.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

How to Apply

Applications are through the University application form and not through UCAS. The form can be downloaded via the link below.

After completing the application form, please e-mail to

Home/EU candidates who are applying for September 2020 entry should return their applications by 15 January 2020 to ensure an interview. Applications received after this date may be considered.

Download Foundation Diploma Application Form

Digital Portfolio Requirements

Applicants for 2020 entry who have not yet attended an interview will be asked to provide a digital portfolio to support their application. More details.

Tuition Fees 2020 Entry

Home, EU, and Channel Islands students

Students under 19 at 31st August: No tuition fee.

Students aged 19+: £5,420

Non-EU international students

£15,000 per year

Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Costs

Specialist Costs

£60*  plus optional £600*

£60 Materials Fee is a compulsory cost, to cover basic studio materials and paper throughout the year. Estimated additional costs - there are costs associated with producing a portfolio such as print out costs and the cost of an A1 folio case. Some students wish to also have their own laptop and books. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £600.

* All amounts shown are estimates.