The Foundation Year 2019/20: Applications Open

Oct. 3, 2018

Now in its seventh year, the Royal Drawing School’s foundation course, The Foundation Year, is one of the most prestigious in the UK. This pivotal year in a young creative's education paves the way to BA study and a career in the creative industries. We welcome applications from all students with an interest and aptitude for drawing and art and design. 

Applications close on Sunday 17 February 2019 (midnight GMT)

Foundation Year outside

The Foundation Year is an accredited one year skills-based course with five days of teaching a week in an inspiring part of London’s Docklands, buzzing with creatives and artists’ studios. Students explore a wide range of Fine Art media including painting, sculpture, animation, printmaking and photography, with drawing emphasised as a means of informing and expressing ideas. Throughout the year drawing from observation in the studio, on the streets of the city and from art in galleries and museums, remains at the core of the programme. 

From September 2019, The Foundation Year is delighted to welcome international students to our community at Trinity Buoy Wharf.

Course Structure

The course is made up of three stages spread over three terms, during which students explore approaches to observation and experimentation in preparation for expression of their personal ideas in Fine Art and Design. The structure of the course progresses from set assignments towards self-directed study. During the first two terms students will have weekly life drawing sessions in the studio. The Contextual Studies component of the course, that runs throughout the year, develops skills in analysing and critiquing artistic practices and introduces methods of interpreting and evaluating information. The selection of topics consistently link to the weekly workshops and encourages connections between theory and practice.

Foundation Year contextual studios

Exhibitions and Expeditions

An End of Year Exhibition of students’ work is held at Trinity Buoy Wharf at the end of the academic year in June. This is an opportunity for students to gain experience in curating and hanging a show, and promoting their practice. The exhibition is open for several days throughout the week and there is a private view to which family, friends, faculty and special guests are invited. Last year’s exhibition was attended by over 600 people.



Every summer students have the opportunity to take part in a week long painting residency to Dumfries House in in East Ayrshire, Scotland. Students spend the week drawing and painting alongside their tutors in a diverse and inspiring environment. Dumfries House provides a rich artist’s resource, with collections of 18th century furniture, textiles and paintings on loan from the National Gallery of Scotland. The house is located in 2,000 acres of Scottish landscape.



Students Support and Community 

With a maximum intake of 50 students on the course the School is able to offer students a high level of both academic and pastoral support throughout the year, fostering a tight knit community of peers, staff and teaching faculty. Many alumni continue to be involved with the School after graduation. 

During the first term of The Foundation Year, the majority of students apply to undergraduate courses at universities in the UK and abroad. Our experienced staff will guide students through the UCAS application process from start to finish; from researching the right course, to portfolio preparation and mock interviews. the inception of the course in 2012, all students applying through UCAS have been awarded places at top-ranking universities such as the Slade, UAL, Goldsmiths, Falmouth and Glasgow. 

Find out how other students have found the course by reading their Student Stories


Location and Facilities

Trinity Buoy Wharf’s unique riverside location makes it an ideal place to draw and paint. It is positioned on the north bank of the Thames, directly opposite the O2 Arena, in London’s inspiring Docklands area. It is a thriving creative community of over 500 people working in creative industries ranging from fine arts and sculpture to design, photography, music and performing arts. There is a 1940s style American diner and a café serving healthy salads and sandwiches on site.


Recently we expanded into a large refurbished drawing studio, the Clore Drawing Studio, housed in the adjoining ‘Electricians Shop’. This purpose-built space is primarily used for drawing workshops but also works as a multi-purpose space for group discussions, lectures, portfolio preparation, events and exhibitions. 

Weekly lectures take place at the Shoreditch studios, attended by Foundation and Drawing Year students. There is also a large exhibitions gallery and intaglio print room. The Drawing Year and Public Courses teaching studios of the Royal Drawing School are in Shoreditch, East London’s artistic hub.

Angela Moore FY19


Scholarships and Fees

The Royal Drawing School is committed to making all courses affordable and available to the widest range of students regardless of background or circumstance. The Foundation Year awards a minimum of 50% of students a scholarship or fee reduction every year. For more information about scholarships and fees, click here.


Online application form and digital portfolio to be completed by: Sunday 17 February 2019, midnight (GMT). For more information about the application procedure, click here.