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Art & Design Foundation (CertHE)

Apply VIA UCAS - Full Time

Our Cert HE: Foundation Art and 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. 

Students starting this course in the academic year 2023–2024 and who go on to enrol on a full-time degree course will receive a scholarship worth £1,500.

View the Swansea College of Art Summer Degree Show

Foundation Exhibition 2023


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.

Book an Open Day Request Information

Tuition Fees 2023/24:
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

Take a look at our ratings and rankings page

What you will learn

Course Overview

The Cert HE: Art and 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 and 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.

Our Facilities and more info...

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

Ewan Coombs

“This course has provided me with the encouragement and confidence in my practice, which will help shape my later progression into Fine Art, and overall understanding of how I could strengthen my knowledge. Through exceptional one on one discussions with my lecturers and group sessions, this has been the most pinacol year of my education. Foundation has not only furthered me as an artist but also as an individual.”

Claire Jones

"Supportive group environment, Different approaches to traditional methods made the session exciting and engaging - digital portfolio work. Current and relevant lectures. Being on the foundation course has enabled me to meet a range of diverse people. Foundation creates a space for like-minded people to come together, Confident and secure showing my work. The support and encouragement I have received being a part of the foundation community has pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have exceeded my own expectations on what I’ve been able to create"

Alex Duncan

“I still regard that year in Foundation as my most influential and life changing.”

Sara John

“Clearing for me was a very easy process. I was daunted at first being a mature student, but having arranged to meet with the Lectures through an open day and talking through the course and the application process everything went smoothly. I initially chose the Art&Design Foundation to explore different avenues in my work and gain studio experience. Due to the pandemic the course has not played out as anyone would have hoped but the way it has been adapted and delivered online is admirable. I have still enjoyed and learnt so much this year and would do it all again.”

Bursary / Scholarship Information

If you are a student on this course from 2023 to 2024, you are eligible for at least two financial awards:

  • A scholarship worth £1,500 paid in three instalments of £500 per semester during the course.
  • If you complete this course and enrol on a full-time degree course with UWTSD, you will receive a scholarship worth £1,500.

Information on how to apply will be made available on the Undergraduate Bursaries page before the start of the next academic year.

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:

Map View

Further Information

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions related to the University or to this course in particular.