The Foundation Year consists of three stages, during which students develop skills in observation, research, media and independent thinking. On this accredited course, students will receive a Level 3 or 4 Diploma in Fine Art on graduation.

Drawing underpins the structure of the course, complementing the many different media that students will be introduced to. Students will draw from the unclothed life model in the studios every week throughout the first two terms.

Stage 1 Exploratory

Weeks 1–8
During weeks 1-8 students will be introduced to a range of Art & Design processes and materials. Feedback sessions and reviews offer a platform for discussion and development as Stage 1 progresses. All students are required to keep a research file, gallery sketchbook and learning journal documenting their thoughts and processes involved, along with notes from gallery visits, lectures and handouts. These journals, sketchbooks and files become an indispensable point of reference as the course progresses. 

In week 2 students will be introduced to Personal Project 1. Concurrent with the taught workshops, students are expected to initiate and manage a self-directed project. Personal Project 1 is supported by continuous assessment and tutorial input with an emphasis on discourse and discussion of work in progress. In this first part of Stage 1, all students will receive a formal tutorial on progress, as well as advice and guidance on UCAS applications.

Week 9 Research Week
Students are expected to undertake further research for their personal project and are required to fill a sketchbook with ideas (for Personal Project 1) whilst making entries into their learning journal and research files. Research Week will enable students to visit galleries and/or museums for further development of their projects. This will form the basis of a presentation of ideas and progress which takes place in week 9. During Research Week students start to build a progression file and draft their Personal Statement for UCAS before discussing this with staff and tutors in week 10.

Weeks 10–14
The next five weeks of the course focus on individual and tutor-led projects. Contextualisation of historical and contemporary Art and Design Practice underpins the progression of the work made in the workshops and Personal Project 1. Peer-to-peer discussions via group presentations will support students’ learning. Students continue to document their progress and thinking in journals, which demonstrates commitment and motivation towards the realisation of their ideas. 

Tutorial advice and guidance is given in regular one-to-one tutorials. During this part of the course the students will be given progression reviews and will begin to prepare portfolios, and photograph their work, for applications to further study at BA level. The UCAS fair takes place during week 11. Students are expected to visit with the year group and tutors. Students produce a final UCAS personal statement and confirm their UCAS application and choices by week 13 so that references can be provided. 

Week 14 Assessment 
Stage 1 assessment occurs during week 14. This assessment takes the form of student presentations and submission of all workshop and Personal Project 1 work produced throughout the first term. All students must pass this assessment in order to progress to Stage 2 of the course. They must therefore catch up on any workshops missed and use the tutorial feedback forms to track their progress for assessment. If students do not pass they will be set a referral project which will give them a period of 4 weeks to produce the required work for re-assessment. If students do not pass the referral project they will not be able to continue on the course. At the end of Stage 1 students will be asked to write an essay linking contextual studies to practice (no longer than two sides of A4). It will be handed in after the Christmas Break.

Stage 2 Experimental

Weeks 15
Stage 2 of the course begins with a series of workshops and drawing sessions, which give students the opportunity to extend and inform their ideas for Personal Project 2. 

Weeks 16–21
During Stage 2 students will continue to participate in taught workshops. These workshops will develop an increasing skill base in different processes and techniques building on those learnt in Stage 1. Drawing from observation on a Monday and experimental media workshops on a Tuesday offer students the opportunity to extend and develop their work through technical understanding. Students are asked to approach these skills-based workshops with a clear personal direction; linking the ideas of Personal Project 2 to the skills-based teaching workshops. Students will continue to attend gallery visits and lectures for the contextual studies programme on Fridays. 

During this period students are engaged in portfolio reviews and receive advice from tutors on their application to BA courses. They are expected to attend interviews and present portfolio submissions for Higher Education. Advice on the selection and presentation of work in preparation for interview is provided, and students will be offered mock interviews. Students are expected to demonstrate an increased independent ability to initiate and evaluate their ideas through the development of Personal Project 2. Individual tutorials, student presentations, and peer led group discussions help prepare students for interview and for study at degree level.

Week 21 Assessment
The Stage 2 assessment occurs during week 21. Students are required to put forward a curated display of works produced in Personal Project 2, and a portfolio for progression, which should include a selected range of works made during the first two stages of the course. All students must pass this assessment in order to progress on to Stage 3 of the course. If students do not pass they will be set a referral project, which will give them a period of 4 weeks to produce the required work for reassessment. If students do not pass the referral project they will not be able to continue on the course.

Week 22 Research Week
Students are expected to research for the Final Major Project and compile a sketchbook and a series of initial exploratory works that make reference to initial ideas.

Stage 3 Confirmatory

Stage 3 is dedicated to the third Personal Project: the Final Major Project in which students design and execute an ambitious self-managed project with the aim of demonstrating independent and creative thinking and evaluative skills. The Final Major Project should evidence an understanding of the intellectual, critical, practical, and research skills and methodologies they have gained. This project will equip them to undertake further study at higher level in Fine Art or other Art and Design related subjects. 

Weeks 23–26
Drawing from observation continues on Mondays. The students also embark on an ambitious project entitled the Artist Space Project, which is intended to extend their skills whilst also supporting the development of the Final Major Project. Students will be required to hand in a Statement of Intent for their Final Major Project in week 23. 

Weeks 27–32
On Mondays during weeks 27–32, students will participate in a one-day a week collaborative taught drawing project, which runs alongside the Final Major Project. Students will develop ideas for their Final Major Project on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and are supported in their learning by one-to-one tutorials, group critiques, presentations and technical advice. The Friday Contextual Studies Programme continues during Stage 3 of the course. The Final Major Project culminates in an End of Year Exhibition, which is overseen by the core team. Students are expected to install and prepare their exhibition space and work as a cohort to create a show. The exhibition is an opportunity for students to celebrate the year’s achievements with family and friends.

Week 34 Assessment
Stage 3 assessment of the Final Major Project takes place in week 34. Work is assessed by Course Leaders, and a core team of tutors, and marks are verified by an External Examiner. If students do not pass they will be set a referral project, which will give them a period of four weeks to produce the required work for reassessment. If students do not pass the referral project they will not be able to pass the course. The Stage 3 assessment of the Final Major Project is graded at pass, merit or distinction and will represent the overall grade for the Foundation Year. If students are referred at this final assessment they will not be able to achieve above a pass at resubmission. 

Week 37 Painting Residency
During week 37 students have the opportunity to take part in a week-long painting residency to Dumfries House in Scotland.

I loved the first term, because we did life drawing two to three times a week. It was very intense but a really great starting point. Nicola Gunnarsson Foundation Year 2014