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Foundation Diploma course students

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 School of Art events, lecture programmes, artist residencies and exhibitions.

Course Content

The UAL Foundation Diploma in Art and Design is a one year full-time course.


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 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 provided 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.

While the UAL Foundation Diploma in Art & Design qualification is Level 3 overall, this final unit is Level 4, reflecting the level of demand made on students by this unit and its preparatory relationship to higher level study.

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
Foundation Diploma course students

Student Work

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


Nick Sharratt spoke to students about his expansive career, iconic style and influences

Manchester Metropolitan the first university in the UK to gain an 'Outstanding' in every category, including Education Programmes for Young People and Apprenticeship Provision

'Imaginative Press' showcases more than 200 artworks in an online collection

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


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 and Creative Director at Alexander McQueen, Dean Hughes: Artist and Head of Undergraduate Study at Edinburgh College of Art, Andy Soup: Film-maker, Animator and 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 and Artist's Book publications, Bruce Bell: Construction Designer and Architect, Genevieve Bennett: Interior Textiles Designer and Colour Consultant, Mike Mercer-Brown: Graphic Designer, Paul Harfleet: Artist and Garden Designer, Zoe Hitchens: Art Director and 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 UCAS Tariff points from 3 A Levels or equivalent 

Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma – PPP

Access to HE Diploma - Pass 

T Levels - We welcome applications from students undertaking T Level qualifications. Eligible applicants will be asked to achieve a minimum overall grade of Pass as a condition of offer.

Equivalent qualifications and combinations will be considered, including Extended Project.

Other Level 3 qualifications equivalent to GCE A level are also considered. 

A maximum of three A level-equivalent qualifications will be accepted towards meeting the UCAS tariff requirement. 

AS levels, or qualifications equivalent to AS level, are not accepted. The Extended Project qualification (EPQ) may be accepted towards entry, in conjunction with two A-level equivalent qualifications.

Please contact the University directly if you are unsure whether you meet the minimum entry requirements for the course. 

Specific GCSE Requirements

GCSE grade C/4 in English Language or equivalent, e.g. Pass in Level 2 Functional Skills English


GCSE grade C/4 in Mathematics or equivalent, e.g. Pass in Level 2 Functional Skills Mathematics

Additional Requirements

This course is available to anyone aged 18 or over.

International BaccalaureateIB Diploma with minimum 24 points overall or 48 UCAS Tariff points from three Higher Level subjects. If you plan to meet the Level 2 course requirements through your IB Diploma you will need to achieve Higher Level 4 or Standard Level 5 in English and Higher Level 4 or Standard Level 4 in Mathematics Points

International Students

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

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

How to Apply

Apply directly to the University.

You will also need provide a digital portfolio including your response to an entry project with your application.

More details

Tuition Fees 2024 Entry

Home students

Students under 19 on 31 August 2024 who qualify for ESFA funding: No tuition fee.

Students aged 19+: £5,421.

Students aged 19-24 with an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) may also be eligible for nil fees if they qualify for ESFA funding.

Channel Islands/Isle of Man students


EU and Non-EU international students


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.