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Visual Arts

BA (Hons)

School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Art and Design

UCAS Code: W100 BA/VA

Start Dates(s): September


Three years full-time


UK - £9250 per year

International - £14,400

In Brief:

  • Study contemporary fine art on a course that enables you to specialise or move between any media of your choice with the teaching and guidance of experienced practitioners
  • Benefit from strong international links and exchange programmes throughout Europe
  • Develop your professional skills and practice in industry standard facilities and equipment including a large dedicated studio space, printing workshop and editioning suite, 3D workshop and photography studio with the guidance and help of a dedicated team of instructor/demonstrators
  • Overseas study available
  • Work/industrial placement opportunity
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

This fine art course prepares the next generation of contemporary artists and creative thinkers for their professional practice. This ideas-led, practical course will enable you to explore your ideas through a range of media including painting, sculpture, fine and digital print, installation, performance,  fibre/textile,  film and video, animation, community engagement and social practice, sound art, book works or any hybrid practices forged by you personally and suited to your expressive needs. This is further supported by a critical and contextual framework that is tailored to your needs as a maker and  creative  practitioner.

All arts practice is driven strongly by the philosophical, cultural and social environments that surround us. Throughout this course, you will be encouraged to respond to, and interact with, the complexity of these contexts through your work.

The course is further enriched by a co-curriculum activity that includes opportunities to develop your individual practice through public exhibitions, site specific projects, live briefs, and gallery, museum and education placements. There are also opportunities to study in Europe via our well established  Erasmus  Exchange scheme.

Our graduates find employment in high profile arts and cultural activities both nationally and internationally and this course has a proven and enviable record of   relevance and expertise in the formation of artists and cultural practitioners.

Course Details

This is a distinctive, contemporary, fine art course promoting an informed approach where theory integrates with practice. It is media independent, enabling you to specialise in any medium or move between and/or combine media of your choice.

You will have a unique experience of the course as you are encouraged to take responsibility and take ownership of your personal learning within a supportive environment.

All arts practice is strongly driven by the philosophical, cultural and social environments that surround us. These enable the visual artist to respond to, and interact with, the complexity of these contexts through their work.

Our graduates have proven their relevance and expertise in the arts; they are engaged in high profile arts activity nationally and internationally. Others populate artists' studios throughout the UK, as well as progress into teaching or arts administration.

Year 1

Year One aims to establish the groundwork for your creative practice. It introduces a range of methods and materials, making strategies and models of practice. It also provides a foundation of knowledge, skills and understanding, places individual practice within a broader context and encourages you to explore individual paths of study.

This module will introduce you to a breadth of technical methods and materials to explore and expand your developing studio practice. The module focuses on technical skills acquisition through instructional workshops which offer diversity for exploration and experimentation, a further premise is that of igniting interest in new territories for investigation.
This module runs concurrently with 'Methods and Materials A' and aims to promote visual research and artistic enquiry in all forms as a creative, dynamic and integral aspect of art making.
This module introduces you to key intellectual movements (such as Christianity, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Modernism and post-modernism) and scholarly personalities (such as Aquinas, Darwin, Freud and Marx) that have shaped the cultural history we have inherited and produced the context for the making and appreciation of art.
This module seeks to involve you in a broader sense of studio culture and different models of practice and further engages you with peer group learning as an artistic community. It is envisaged that you will begin to critique each others' work as communication begins to flourish.
During this module you will develop your own individuality within studio practice, through a greater understanding of the precepts and conventions associated with a range of visual arts disciplines. There is the opportunity to contextualise your practice and extend your knowledge base of the expanded fields within arts practice.
Modernity (the rapid industrialisation and urbanism of the late 19th century) and Modernism (the dominant cultural condition of the late 19th and early 20th centuries) establish the key contexts by which we understand contemporary culture and aesthetics. It is important that you have a broad understanding of the period, the dominant ideas, visual strategies and key figures associated with the modern movement.

Year 2

Year Two allows you to take ownership of your learning and prepare for independent study. You are encouraged to contextualise your studio practice and gain a better understanding of the social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which you work. There are opportunities to explore Live Briefs through exhibiting work, site specific projects, or gallery, museum and education placements. There are also further opportunities to study in Europe via the Erasmus Exchange scheme.

The purpose of this module is to develop individual and self-directed studio practice.  You will address and explore how the construction of meaning, image making and creative processes, and the exploitation of systems play a crucial role in the development of contemporary art practice.
The module aims to outline some of the key 'critical historians of art' in the Western canon and their methodologies. This module also offers an introduction to other key disciplines that provide a range of interpretive tools to examine art works/cultural products and contextualise them within broader fields of enquiry.
This module will further develop a focused personal and self-directed studio practice, resulting in the production of a body of studio work through appropriate media and discipline areas, underpinned by an ongoing visual research project.
The purpose of the module is to introduce Postmodernism, a cultural condition that impacts upon and shapes almost every facet of our culture. Postmodernism exerts a tremendous influence in the visual arts and necessitates that you can locate its emergence, its key ideas and its visual characteristics and strategies.
This module will provide you with the chance to experience a Live Brief in a ‘real world’ situation that offers a professional development opportunity, whilst critically examining the ways in which visual arts practice is affected by notions of professionalism and allied contextual frameworks.
This module extends independent practice via critical reflection on your own course of study, in order to create synergies between theory practice and the testing of external values and contexts.

Year 3

Year Three aims to develop an individual, reflective and informed approach to visual arts through the establishment of personal practice that enables you to take charge of the direction of your own learning.

The overriding emphasis of Year Three is on self-direction and maturing a personal practice which will be sustainable beyond graduation. With preparing for professional life high on the agenda, you will be equipped with the skills to present yourself and your work face-to-face, in print portfolios and through the formation of a digital identity and online presence.

The year culminates in a major exhibition opportunity held at MediaCityUK.

This module offers you the opportunity to pursue an extended programme of individual study enabling you to synthesise your previous learning and to continue to explore and experiment to forge a new body of work that displays a growing maturity.
The purpose of this module is to provide a synthesis of all your previous learning and to offer an opportunity to bring your studio work to a point of professional resolution/consolidation prior to your first major showcase to the general public and the creative industries.
This module offers a coherent programme of research, reflection, structured learning and writing that helps you develop and understand better the critical and contextual framework that underpins your practice, and articulate more effectively the relationship between theory and practice.
This module will make you aware of key critical and analytical issues arising from the presentation of works of art and will enable you to successfully present your work in three key media platforms; public, professional and electronic.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

Entry Requirements

Qualification Entry requirements
Foundation Diploma in Art and Design Pass = 165 (plus other additional qualifications to a total of 280pts)
GCSE English and Maths GCSE grade C
UCAS tariff points 96 - 112 points, including an art and design subject
GCE A level Grade C or above in an Art & Design subject
BTEC National Diploma MMM
BTEC Higher National Diploma Applicants may be considered for entry into year 2
Foundation Degree Applicants may be considered for entry into year 3
Scottish Highers 96 -112 points in a practice based Art & Design subject
Irish Leaving Certificate 96 -112 points in a practice based Art & Design subject
International Baccalaureate 29 points including a practice based Art & Design subject

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

English Language Requirements

Applicant profile

Applicants must display a high level of commitment to art and design. You need good academic drawing and observational skills, plus the ability to think creatively. Applications are welcomed from those studying at AS level and AVCE. We encourage applications from mature students with relevant experience  who may not satisfy the normal entry requirements. All applicants are offered an interview.

Portfolio Advice

To give you a very simple list, the skills we look for are:

  • Enquiry and use of sources  
  • Creativity  
  • Technical skills  
  • Knowledge and understanding of materials and issues  
  • Analytical ability  
  • Critical thinking  
  • At interview we consider personality, portfolio and examples of written work. We also take note of what is disclosed in your reference. Generally though, there are three essential ingredients to the perfect Visual Arts student; enthusiasm, commitment and intelligence.

Fees and Funding


Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9250 per year
Full-time International £14,400

Additional costs

Students should expect to spend approximately £150 on materials for live projects and up to £350 for optional visits and field trips should they wish to participate. Costs are approximated based on the current academic year.

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships & Bursaries

We offer awards to help you study including:

  • Vice-Chancellor's Excellence Scholarship
  • Salford Student Bursary

For more information please see our funding section.


There is a variety of methods and approaches involved in the delivery of this course.

Modules are designed to facilitate personal development and continuity. They promote a broad understanding of fine art practice by introducing a diverse range of issues, concepts and approaches. Some modules involve a project, which provides the framework to investigate ideas and issues, utilising an appropriate selection of materials, media and working methods.

External projects involve art practice in relation to a designated context which is external to the studio. The concept of the external project is introduced in year 2. Most modules involve self-directed/student-driven study.

Lectures are used to disseminate a specific body of knowledge. In most cases ideas and issues generated by lectures will be elaborated through supporting seminars and/or through studio practice.

Seminars are a forum for the discussion and debate of ideas. It may be initiated and led by staff or may be focused around a student presentation.

Teaching workshops are used as a means of teaching the specific skills associated with a particular technique or working method, allowing subjects such as stretcher-making and printmaking to be taught within a broadly-based, thematic module.

Critique (crit) sessions are to encourage the examination of work in relation to your peers.

Regular individual tutorials allow for a more detailed discussion of work-related issues. They can be either one-to-one or delivered in the form of a group tutorial.

A wide variety of assessment methods are used. For example, studio-based project modules may require the assessment of visual, verbal and written work and on independent artwork whereas theoretical modules will require a written submission.


The weighting between practical and written work assessment across the course is:

  • Practical studio work 60%
  • Contextual and written work 40%


Graduates have gone on to pursue careers as artists, lecturers, teachers, arts officers, curators, gallery education officers, art therapists, university/college instructors and demonstrators, and gallerists. Our students are self-motivated self-starters and many have gone on to forge their own businesses and enterprises in a variety of fields. Not all our graduates go on to pursue a career as an artist, though many will pursue careers in the arts.

The Visual Arts course encourages an approach to learning that emphasises resourcefulness, initiative and creativity – transferable skills that enable our graduates to thrive in whatever career path they choose. An art school offers an educative experience like no other and an artist requires self-discipline, project management skills and an ability to work with others. All these skills are developed here at Salford during the course of study. An art education also offers a culturally enriching experience and a portal which can lead to a myriad of other interests.

In recent years our graduates have achieved notable successes in major galleries and museums regionally, nationally and internationally including: The National Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa),  Institut d'Art Contemporain (Lyons, France), Irish Museum of Contemporary Art (Dublin), The British Art Show, Liverpool Biennial, Curwen Gallery (London), Cornerhouse (Manchester), the Bluecoat Gallery (Liverpool) and many more.

Career Prospects

Alumni Profile

Sarah Hardacre

Sarah Hardacre graduated in 2008 and has recently exhibited her latest work ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ at the Paul Stolper Gallery in London.  Her first solo exhibition at the contemporary gallery, ‘Heaven with the Gates Off’ opened in May 2012.  Sarah has exhibited nationally and internationally in the USA, Germany, Norway and Ireland. Her work is included in the collections of The British Museum, the British Council, the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art, Damien Hirst and private collections worldwide.  

Laura Robertson

Since completing her studies in 2008, Laura Robertson has worked as an artist curator at The Royal Standard, an artist led space in Liverpool.  She was instrumental in the growing reputation of The Royal Standard which led to it becoming a partner of the Liverpool Biennial in 2012.  She has curated major exhibitions and participated in an event with Tate Modern and has also since founded an online arts magazine, The Double Negative, which has a growing reputation and has been featured on BBC Radio and The Guardian.

Links with Industry

This course thrives on inviting artists and arts professionals to deliver presentations to our undergraduate and postgraduate students. Most recently this has included: Paul Harrison (Wood & Harrison), Gordon Cheung, Danny Rolph, Su Blackwell, Sarah Hardacre, Andrew Bracey, Professor Deng Yao Ming, Professor Li Quan Min, and Professor Paul Sermon.

We also take advantage of the artists in residency scheme AA2A (Artists Access to Art College). The scheme allows artists to share our resources and make work on/off site. Importantly for students, the asset of the scheme means that we have practising artists on-site, integrating with our students. They are selected with diversity in mind thus offering a range of activities that support our student development. The artists also provide talks and studio workshops.

Further Study

MA Art and Design: Contemporary Fine Art


The course has access to a number of industry standard facilities on site, allowing you to expand on your artistic skills whilst studying here at Salford. All students will receive full inductions by trained workshop technicians, including how to use the machinery safely.

  • Screen Printing Workshop, to enable learning about screen printing methods and how to incorporate them into your own work.
  • 3D Workshop for those interested in mixed media pieces or sculpture.
  • Photography Studio, which includes a lighting set-up so you can begin photography study with all the necessary tools.

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