Study Art & Design – A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Art and design encompass a wide range of creative disciplines that involve visual expression, innovation, and aesthetics. Art and design careers offer opportunities for creative expression, innovation, and the application of aesthetics to various aspects of life, from everyday products to architectural marvels. These fields emphasise the importance of visual communication and artistic exploration in shaping our world.

Art & Design

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What is Art & Design?

Art and design degrees are designed to provide students with a comprehensive education in the theory, history, techniques, and practical skills necessary for careers in the fields of art and design. Furthermore, they cover a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to painting, sculpture, drawing, graphic design, fashion design, interior design, industrial design, photography, digital media, and more.

Art and design degrees provide a strong foundation for various careers in the creative industries, including fine arts, graphic design, advertising, fashion, architecture, and more. They also offer opportunities for self-expression and personal growth while fostering a deep appreciation for the visual arts and design.

Why Study Art & Design?

Studying art and design offers a wide range of personal, academic, and professional benefits. Here are compelling reasons why you might choose to study art and design:

  • Creative Expression: Art and design provide a unique platform for self-expression and creativity. It allows you to explore your ideas, emotions, and perspectives through visual and tactile means.
  • Personal Fulfilment: Engaging in artistic pursuits can be deeply fulfilling and satisfying. Creating something meaningful and beautiful can boost self-esteem and mental well-being.
  • Developing Skills: Art and design programmes equip you with valuable technical and artistic skills. You’ll learn techniques, tools, and software that are essential for creative careers.
  • Critical Thinking: Studying art and design encourages critical thinking and problem-solving. You learn to analyse, interpret, and communicate complex ideas visually.
  • Cultural and Historical Awareness: Art and design education often includes the study of art history, exposing you to diverse cultural traditions and historical contexts.

Best Universities for Art & Design in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the Complete University Guide 2024:

RankUniversity Name
1University of Oxford
2UCL (University College London)
3University of Glasgow
4Loughborough University
5University of Leeds
6Kingston University
7Newcastle University
8Lancaster University
9The University of Edinburgh
10University of Dundee
11Nottingham Trent University
12University of Reading
13University of Lincoln
14Goldsmiths, University of London
15Bangor University
16University of Kent
17Northumbria University, Newcastle
18Brunel University London
19University of Westminster, London
20Liverpool John Moores University
21University of Wales Trinity Saint David
22Manchester Metropolitan University
23University of Plymouth
24University of the Arts London
25Falmouth University
26Bournemouth University
27University of Chester
28Ulster University
29Sheffield Hallam University
30Bristol, University of the West of England
31University of Brighton
32University of Salford
33University of Portsmouth
34University of Southampton
35Norwich University of the Arts
36Oxford Brookes University
37London South Bank University
38Cardiff Metropolitan University
39Edinburgh Napier University
40University of South Wales
41Leeds Arts University
42Arts University Bournemouth
43Coventry University
44University of Manchester
45Canterbury Christ Church University
46University of Chichester
47Bath Spa University
48Aberystwyth University
49University of Huddersfield
50University of Gloucestershire
51Birmingham City University
52Leeds Beckett University
53Staffordshire University
54Anglia Ruskin University
55Abertay University
56University of Greenwich
57University of Central Lancashire
58Teesside University, Middlesbrough
59Robert Gordon University
60University of Cumbria
61De Montfort University
62Middlesex University
63University of Hertfordshire
64University for the Creative Arts
65University of Northampton
66University of Worcester
67University of East London
68University of Derby
69Heriot-Watt University
70York St John University
71University of Wolverhampton
72University of Sunderland
73Arts University Plymouth
74University of Winchester
75University of West London
76Buckinghamshire New University
77University of Bolton
78London Metropolitan University
79Solent University (Southampton)
80University of Suffolk
81Liverpool Hope University
82University of the Highlands and Islands
83Wrexham University
84University of Bedfordshire

Entry Requirements for an Art & Design Degree

Entry requirements for an art and design degree in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific programme you are interested in. However, there are some general guidelines and common requirements to consider:

  • Academic Qualifications:
    • For UK students, you will typically need A-levels or equivalent qualifications. Specific subject requirements may vary, but art-related subjects such as Art and Design, Fine Art, or Design and Technology can be beneficial.
    • For international students, equivalent qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) courses, or qualifications from your home country may be accepted. It’s essential to check the specific entry requirements of the university.
  • Portfolio: A strong portfolio showcasing your artistic or design work is often a crucial part of the application. It should demonstrate your skills, creativity, and potential. Each university may have specific portfolio submission guidelines.
  • English Language Proficiency: If English is not your first language, you will likely need to provide proof of English language proficiency through tests like IELTS or TOEFL. Each university may have its own minimum score requirements.

Jobs for Art & Design Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  1. Graphic Designer:
    • Graphic designers create visual content for print and digital media, including logos, advertisements, websites, and marketing materials.
    • They work in advertising agencies, design firms, corporate marketing departments, and as freelancers.
  2. Fashion Designer:
    • Fashion designers design clothing, accessories, and footwear, creating unique styles and collections.
    • They can work for fashion houses, clothing brands, or start their own fashion labels.
  3. Interior Designer:
    • Interior designers plan and design interior spaces for homes, offices, hotels, and other environments, considering aesthetics and functionality.
    • They may work for design firms, architectural companies, or as independent consultants.
  4. Industrial/Product Designer:
    • Industrial designers create and improve products, from consumer electronics and appliances to furniture and automobiles.
    • They often collaborate with engineers and manufacturers to bring products to market.
  5. Animator/Illustrator:
    • Animators and illustrators use their artistic skills to create animations, illustrations, and visual effects for film, television, video games, and advertising.
    • They work in animation studios, game development companies, and multimedia agencies.

What are the Job Trends among Art & Design Graduates?

The top four jobs held by product design graduates employed in the UK include design occupations (21%), web and multimedia design professionals (11%), engineering professionals (7%) and CAD, drawing and architectural technicians (6%). Meanwhile, Half (52%) of graphic design graduates are working as web and multimedia and design professionals 15 months after graduation. 

Additionally, 38% of all the interior design graduates in employment 15 months after graduation are working in design occupations. Other jobs in the top ten include CAD, drawing and architectural technicians (6%), web and multimedia design professionals (6%) and architects, chartered architectural technologists, planning officers, surveyors and construction professionals (4%).

Salary for Art & Design Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £18,000

Medium-skilled: £20,000

High-skilled: £22,000


Topics for Art & Design Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of Art & Design and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. The Evolution of Abstract Expressionism in Contemporary Art: Analyse the influence of historical abstract expressionist movements on contemporary artists and their work.
  2. The Role of Gender and Identity in Contemporary Art: Investigate how artists address issues of gender, identity, and social justice through their artwork.
  3. The Influence of Colour Theory in Graphic Design: Investigate the psychological and emotional impact of colour choices in graphic design and marketing.
  4. Sustainable Graphic Design Practices: Explore environmentally responsible design approaches and their integration into the graphic design industry.
  5. The Psychology of Interior Colour and Its Impact on Mood: Analyse the psychological effects of colour choices in interior design and how they influence occupants’ emotions and behaviour.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  1. Humanities and Arts:
    • Literature: Analyse and appreciate literature, including novels, poetry, and plays, with potential careers in writing, publishing, or academia.
    • History: Explore the past and its impact on the present, leading to careers in research, archival work, or museum curation.
  2. Communication and Media:
    • Journalism: Develop reporting and storytelling skills to become a journalist, editor, or media professional.
    • Communication Studies: Explore communication theories, media studies, and public relations for careers in communication and marketing.
  3. Social Sciences:
    • Psychology: Explore human behaviour, cognition, and mental health, leading to careers in counselling, therapy, or research.
    • Sociology: Examine society, culture, and social issues to understand human behaviour and societal dynamics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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