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Contemporary Art BA(Hons) 2016-17

About the course

On this course you’ll have the opportunity to focus on current fine art practices in all its forms, from painting and sculpture through to performance and the moving image. Within a stimulating and inspiring studio environment, you’ll be encouraged to work collaboratively and individually to find original creative expression. We’ll support you if you wish to take on more complex or ambitious forms and ideas within your work. The aim is to enable you to become a creative practitioner with a good range of transferable skills. We put emphasis on achieving focus, resolution, independence and professional handling/presentation through your studio practice. You’ll be exposed to current debates and issues within contemporary fine art practice, and encouraged to understand your work within a broader social and intellectual context. In recent years the course has offered optional UK-based field study trips to locations such as the Tate Liverpool, Leeds City Art Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Hepworth Wakefield.

UCAS code:

Start date:
19 / 09 / 2016


3 years full-time
4 years inc. placement year

Places available:
70 across the suite of Contemporary Art and Illustration courses (this number may be subject to change)

Course type:

Full Time inc. placement year

Huddersfield, HD1 3DH

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for this course are normally one of the following:

•  BBB at A Level

•  300 UCAS points


•  Pass in Diploma Foundation Studies in Art and Design combined with A Level or BTEC National qualifications, to total an equivalent of 300 UCAS tariff points.

You will also be required to attend a satisfactory interview, when strong emphasis will be placed on the quality of your portfolio.

Other suitable experience or qualifications will be considered.


Department of Art and Design
Tel: +44 (0)1484 471891

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Course content

You'll be encouraged to work with painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, sound, video, photography and performance, as you develop your own creative vocabulary. The relationship between studio activity, critical thinking and professional orientation is reflected in the organisation of the course. You'll be supported in developing your practical skills, as well as skills of evaluation, interpretation and presentation through research and discussion.

Year 1

Core modules:

+ Studio Practice 1

The module will concentrate on promoting an in-depth and disciplined approach to the breadth of contemporary practices in contemporary art and/or illustration. The focus is on exploration and experimentation, in both ideas and materials, as a broad introduction to approaches to practice. You will be encouraged to draw upon existing knowledge in order to begin to establish the frameworks within which to operate as a creative practitioner. You will be encouraged to engage in processes such as drawing, painting, printmaking, lens-based media and 3D work, and examine these processes in relation to your personal conceptual and critical development. (100% portfolio).

+ Studio Practice 2

Building on your experience during the first term, this module continues to promote research and experimentation in the production of practical work. You will be asked to draw upon knowledge and progress gained in Studio Practice 1 in order to extend the range of your visual practice. Debates and issues within contemporary practice will continue to inform your thinking and development, and you will begin to recognise a range of contexts in which you might work. You will continue to develop a structured and self-critical methodology in relation to your studio work. (100% portfolio).

+ Contemporary Practice in Context 1

This module introduces you to vital discourses and debates surrounding the influences, production and critical reception of contemporary art and/or illustration. We will explore the culture of the subject with reference to a wide range of images, artefacts, selected texts, film excerpts, reviews and exhibitions. We will help you to learn to recognise and appraise key conventions and contexts and apply that knowledge in the studio, in discussion, and in a series of written formats which recognise the breadth of creative and critical styles deployed by today’s practitioners. This will help to develop your confidence and ability to demonstrate your understanding of and engagement with contemporary art and/or illustration. (100% contextual portfolio).

Year 2

Core modules:

+ Studio Practice 3

This module focuses on identifying a potential direction within a range of practices. Based on the experience and knowledge gained during the first year, you will now begin to negotiate the types of practice with which you wish to engage. Building upon the exposure to a variety of media, concepts and contexts from Studio Practice 1 and 2, you will increase your sense of independence in studio activity as you develop your own creative identity. You will begin to consider your work within current contexts and debates around Contemporary Art and Illustration and their inter-relationship. (100% portfolio).

+ Studio Practice 4

This module extends the level of independence developed in Studio Practice 3. It requires you to develop greater self-reliance and self-critical ability. It combines both internally set and external projects. Through negotiation, you will articulate a clearer idea of your position within creative practice, and test your practice within external contexts. You will develop independent projects and be encouraged to make links with appropriate professional bodies in order to explore the potential of your practice and gain professional experiences. This will be augmented by input from visiting specialists, live projects and optional UK-based field trips. (100% portfolio).

+ Contemporary Practice in Context 2

Building on knowledge gained in the first year, this module develops your ability to understand and engage with a range of visual, oral and written contexts informing contemporary practice. You will reflect on issues emerging in the studio and situate your own work within wider critical and cultural debates. Lectures, seminars and collaborative workshops will explore cultural theory and research methods to help equip you with the capacity to present knowledge in a number of creative and academic formats. Across the year, these outcomes will be gathered selectively into a research portfolio. (100% research portfolio).

Year 3 - optional placement year

+ School of Art and Design Placement

You will normally spend a total of 48 weeks between the end of year two and the beginning of your final year in a managed work experience. You will be encouraged to obtain a placement activity relevant to your area of specialism, however a wide range of placements will be regarded as suitable. The placement will be monitored and you will be assessed on completion. (100%).

Final Year

Core modules:

+ Research and Development for Contemporary Art and Illustration

This module will establish and inform your major project. Within it you will identify a theme/subject/issue relevant to your practice. The module will re-emphasise the importance of in-depth research, within which you will demonstrate originality, pro-activity and innovation. The context and parameters of this module will be defined by you, through negotiation and ongoing dialogue with your tutors. (100% research portfolio).

+ Major Project - Contemporary Art and/or Illustration

You will build upon and test research developed in THD1379 Research and Development. You will be encouraged to channel your creative and intellectual skills, either as an individual, or as part of a collaboration or interdisciplinary team, to create innovative, original or highly professional propositions(s) appropriate to your discipline through, for example; sketchbooks, worksheets and creative outputs. You will be asked to select the most appropriate form for your major project based on your intentions and create a coherent group of statement pieces. (100% creative project)

+ Theory for Contemporary Art and Illustration

This module is specifically designed to unfold throughout the final year, reflecting theoretical, technical and professional issues appropriate to your practice. The module is intended to be a critical and diagnostic tool with which to examine your work. It can be made up of a series of outputs, and will help you to determine and contextualise the direction of your practice-based modules. The process of reflection, research and critical analysis is vital to the module. It will help you to identify connections between concept, method, realisation and mediation of your major project. It will allow you to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge and insight into your specialism, enabling you to make informed decisions/judgements related to your practical outputs. (20% verbal presentation/80% final assessment).

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

We review all optional modules each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let students know in good time the options available for them to choose for the following year.

We will only change core modules for a course if it is necessary for us to do so, for example to maintain course accreditation. We will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before you begin the relevant academic year.

Sometimes we have to make changes to other aspects of a course or how it is delivered. We only make these changes if they are for reasons outside of our control, or where they are for our students’ benefit. Again, we will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before the relevant academic year. Our regulations set out our procedure which we will follow when we need to make any such changes.

When you enrol as a student of the University, your study and time with us will be governed by a framework of regulations, policies and procedures, which form the basis of your agreement with us. These include regulations regarding the assessment of your course, academic integrity, your conduct (including attendance) and disciplinary procedure, fees and finance and compliance with visa requirements (where relevant). It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you will be asked to agree to abide by them when you join us as a student. You will find a guide to the key terms here, where you will also find links to the full text of each of the regulations, policies and procedures referred to.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.


The course offers an optional one-year (48 weeks) work placement after the second year, in the UK or abroad. This will give you the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience, insight into your chosen career and open up your graduate employment prospects. Our Placement Unit and academic staff have excellent industry links and can support you in applying for and finding your placement(s), as well as during your placement year.

Students within the area of Contemporary Art have recently taken up placement opportunities with companies including: Surface Gallery - Nottingham; Debenhams - London; Buile Hill Visual Arts College - Salford; and Barnsley Civic Theatre - Barnsley.

Alternatively, if you are a student from within the UK or the EU, you could consider starting your own small business by applying for the Enterprise Placement Year in conjunction with the University’s Enterprise Team. You’ll have the opportunity to benefit from business advice, mentoring and networking sessions. You can find out more information on the Enterprise Placement Year here.

Career opportunities

75% of graduates from courses in this subject area go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating.

Following the course you may opt for further study, or could consider a career as an artist, curator, or a role in community arts, the media or design for example. Our graduates have won awards and prizes such as the Northern Graduates Prize, The Alternative Turner Prize, and New Sensations (a joint venture between the Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4).

Professional links and accreditations

During this course you can benefit from the opportunity to gain the Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) accreditation in addition to your degree, at no extra cost. This is a globally recognised accreditation awarded by one of the leading software package providers to the creative industries, so could be valuable in your professional career. This accreditation is attractive to a number of employers and so it could give you a competitive edge in the job market. To be awarded the ACA accreditation, you’ll need to pass an online test.

Teaching and assessment

26.7% of the study time on this course is spent in tutorials, seminars, workshops, lectures etc.

Much of the work on this course is studio-based, and teaching is delivered through a combination of group tutorials, workshops, live projects, lectures, contact with visiting artists, optional UK based study trips, seminars and individual tutorials.

Your assessment will include verbal and illustrative presentations of your practical and developmental work, written work for contextual analysis and assignments, plus self-assessment and evaluation.

Your module specification/course handbook will provide full details of the assessment criteria applying to your course.

Feedback (usually written) is normally provided on all coursework submissions within three term time weeks – unless the submission was made towards the end of the session in which case feedback would be available on request after the formal publication of results. Feedback on exam performance/final coursework is available on request after the publication of results.

Huddersfield is the only University where 100% of the teaching staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy.*

  • permanent staff, after probation: some recently appointed colleagues will only obtain recognition in the months after their arrival in Huddersfield, once they have started teaching.

How much will it cost me?

In 2016/17, the tuition fee for UK and EU students at the University of Huddersfield will be £9,000. Tuition fees will cover the cost of your study at the University as well as charges for registration, tuition, supervision and examinations. For more information about funding, fees and finance for UK/EU students, including what your tuition fee covers, please see Fees and Finance.

If you are an international student coming to study at the University of Huddersfield, please visit the International Fees and Finance pages for full details of tuition fees and support available.


Basic materials (pens, pencils, brushes, charcoal, canvas and paper etc) are provided to all students. However, if you choose to work with more specialist materials, you will need to provide these yourself. This could be anything from oil paints to building materials, software, DVDs, steel etc and depends on your choice of art or illustration practice.

Other information

Our graduates have won awards and prizes such as the Northern Graduates Prize, The Alternative Turner Prize, and New Sensations (a joint venture between the Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4).

Further study

Progression to a postgraduate course is dependent on successful completion of your undergraduate studies, there may also be minimum qualification requirements such as a first class or higher second (2.1) degree. Please check the course details to confirm this.


If you're an international student (including EU) you can check if you meet our entry requirements (both academic and English language) by visiting our country pages.

If you do not meet the entry requirements you can consider completing a degree preparation programme (if you are from a country outside of the EU) at the University’s International Study Centre (ISC). You can call the ISC on +44 (0) 1273 339333 to discuss your options. You can also complete the online application form or to ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers.

If your English language is not at the required level (IELTS 6.0 overall), we have a range of Pre-Sessional English programmes that you can enrol on before starting your degree course. You will not need to take an IELTS test after completing one of our Pre-Sessional English programmes.

How to apply

Research community

Research plays an important role in informing all our teaching and learning activities. Through research our staff remain up-to-date with the latest developments in their field, which means you develop knowledge and skills that are current and highly relevant to industry. For more information, see the Research section of our website.

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Last updated Thursday 26 November 2015
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