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BA (Hons) Fine Art

  • UCAS
    W190
  • Length
    3 years full-time
  • Department
    Art

Course overview

This degree aims to equip you with creative, interpretive, critical and analytical skills, so that you can participate in and contribute to the expanding field of contemporary art.

Why study BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths?

  • You'll make and study contemporary art in a dynamic, critical and interdisciplinary environment
  • We'll equip you with the skills that will help you develop independent thought and confidence in your practice, as well as transferable skills suitable for employment in the creative industries
  • You'll have your own studio space from day one, and will have access to excellent facilities including specialist research laboratories
  • All staff on the programme are practising artists, curators and writers, here to respond to the work that you make and to help you understand how it contributes to, and challenges, the critical debates that exist in the study area and beyond
  • Since 1990, former Goldsmiths students have been nominated for the Turner Prize more than 30 times, and have won the prize on seven occasions

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dawn Mellor (Home/EU applicants) or Lucy Clout (international applicants)

Modules & structure

What you study

The programme has two elements:

Studio Practice (75% of the course)

You’ll have your own studio space from day one, and will have access to excellent facilities and technical advice. Studios are not divided by year or discipline, so you will be studying alongside students from all stages of the programme working in a wide variety of media, including:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Constructed textiles
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Stitch
  • Fabric
  • Photography
  • Printed textiles
  • Video
  • Installation
  • Performance

Studio teaching is supported and complemented by workshop areas, which will introduce you to the techniques and skills relevant to the practical development of your work. 

You’ll have regular individual and group tutorials with your own tutor, with other tutors, and with visiting artists. You will also present your work for discussion with a larger group of students each term.

Critical Studies (25% of the course)

The lecture and seminar series in Year 1 offers a space for exploring and examining the historical and critical context in which art is made, seen and understood. The seminar options from which you can choose in Year 2 engage and extend your critical skills, enabling you to develop your ability to analyse, judge and write about contemporary art. Tutorials will guide your essay writing in Years 1 and 2, and will support the completion of your dissertation in Year 3.

All staff on the programme are practising artists, curators and writers, here to respond to the work that you make and to help you understand how it contributes to and challenges the critical debates that exist in the study area and beyond. We support your development and creativity and help you acquire independent learning skills. This approach requires you to be committed, to thrive on constructive criticism exchanged between staff and students, and to participate in discussing your own work and that of others.

Assessment

Studio practice coursework is continuously assessed through individual tutorials and group seminars. This is complemented by studio presentations at Year 1, viva voce at Year 2, and a final exhibition at Year 3. Critical Studies is assessed through essays (Years 1 and 2) and a dissertation (Year 3).

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Entry requirements

Our entry requirements for this programme are usually: 

Successful completion of three A-levels, Baccalaureate or equivalent; and successful completion of a Foundation, BTEC or equivalent (completed by the end of the academic year preceeding entry).

A portfolio of work is also required. After submitting your application you'll be asked to upload a portfolio online. If selected for interview, you'll be asked to bring along a portfolio of recent work. Find out more about the electronic portfolio requirements.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of qualifications equivalent to the ones listed above. This includes:


Scottish qualifications: Successful completion
European Baccalaureate: Successful completion
Irish Leaving Certificate: Successful completion

If your qualifications are from another country, find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us. 

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.

Read more about our general entrance requirements

Department

We have a world-leading reputation that brings together
students and researchers from all over the globe

Art

We specialise in making, curating and writing about contemporary art in a dynamic, critical and interdisciplinary environment.

And we work with a network of artists, curators, galleries and museums in both London and internationally to create an inspiring and dynamic place in which to study and develop an artistic practice.

Our alumni go on to do great things. Many of them are among the most recognised names working in art today, and since 1990 they’ve been nominated for the Turner Prize more than 30 times, winning the prize on seven occasions.

Find out more about the Department of Art.

Facilities

Facilities

Our spectacular Ben Pimlott Building provides purpose-built teaching space on campus, including some of the art studios, lecture theatres, and digital media labs. The studios benefit from generous floor-to-ceiling windows. The department provides space for:

  • art studios
  • performance work
  • installations
  • temporary projects and exhibitions
  • a range of research laboratories

You also have access to College-wide facilities.

Studios

All students have their own studio space. This is a place in which to work, to meet and spend time with other students, and to have tutorials. It's also a base from which to organise your work in other parts of the college – such as the various research laboratories, the workshops, and the library – as well as your research visits to galleries and exhibitions in London.

The studios are occupied by students from all three years of the course. This arrangement maximises opportunities for conversation and exchange, and helps to encourage sharing of knowledge, interest and experience between students.

Student work

BA Fine Art degree show
BA Fine Art degree show
BA Fine Art degree show
BA Fine Art degree show
BA Fine Art degree show
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Rosie Hastings artwork

Rosie Hastings

I hope to dismantle the mythologies of "straightening devices", pushing gender perception into a queerzone where masculinity is no longer anchored in the male body.

Read more

Learning & teaching

On this degree you'll be taught through intensive studio and research laboratory practicetutorials, and mixed-year studio practice presentations. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, improve your communication skills, and develop your technical and creative skills. You'll also attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. 

But this is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out research and producing work. This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. 

Studio teaching

Each year you'll be allocated a studio space that will be the focal point of your activities. All the studios are mixed, with students from all three levels sharing the studio spaces, providing valuable peer support. You will determine the nature of your practice and, with guidance from the tutorial staff, be encouraged to work in any medium that you choose. Studio teaching is enhanced by technical support, which introduces you to techniques relevant to the practical development of your work. You'll also be expected to research the appropriate context and debates around your chosen area of working practice.

Studio practice

In Studio Practice each year you're assigned a tutor who will be part of a group of staff with overall responsibility for supporting and assessing your progress. Throughout the programme you will be taught through individual tutorials in your studio space and mixed year group presentations and discussions. This enables a valuable exchange of ideas between all students on the programme.

Critical studies

In Critical Studies, lectures and seminars will introduce and develop key issues, which inform contemporary art practices and encourage you to extend your ability to discuss, analyse and write about contemporary art. This provides a framework for judgement so that you can develop your work in the critical context of art practice.

The programme seeks to engage and extend your critical faculties as a practising artist and to enable you to develop your ability to talk about, analyse and judge contemporary art. You'll be taught through a systematic programme of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Contemporary Critical Studies takes a distinct form in each year that allows you to work towards developing an independent research programme.

Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches

Skills & careers

Skills

All undergraduate programmes in the aim to equip you with the necessary skills to develop independent thought and confidence in your practice. These skills will also be of use in other career paths you may wish to follow. You'll develop the following transferable skills:

  • critical and analytical skills
  • creative and practical skills
  • ability to express ideas clearly
  • IT skills

We provide you with a series of opportunities for specialist advice and further information to complement your studies and prepare you for professional life after graduation. Our students actively seek opportunities to exhibit their work beyond Goldsmiths through external networks while they are here. 

Careers

Many graduates have continued to be successful, practising artists long after graduating, winning major prizes and exhibiting around the world. The Turner Prize shortlist has consistently included at least one of our former undergraduates, including Angela de la Cruz in 2010. Six of the prize-winners have studied here: Grenville Davey, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Gillian Wearing, Steve McQueen and Mark Wallinger.

The interdisciplinary nature of the programme will enable you to work in a variety of fields (eg media, museums, education, the music business, and academia) and progress to a variety of careers, including:

  • practising artist
  • art historian
  • arts administrator
  • gallery curator
  • arts journalist
  • teacher
  • lecturer
  • writer
  • conservationist
  • designer

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Profiles

Antony Gormley

“For me, art is not about objects of high monetary exchange – it’s about reasserting our first-hand experience in present time.”

Acclaimed sculptor Antony Gormley, recently knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours list for services to the arts, studied BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths in the late 1970s, and since then has enjoyed a career as one of Britain’s most critically acclaimed artists.

Antony is probably best known for his ‘Angel of the North’ sculpture (pictured), one of the most talked about pieces of public art ever produced. The figure – which is the height of four double decker buses – dominates the Gateshead landscape on which it stands, and typifies his preoccupation with encouraging us to reconsider the elemental world we live in. “The angel has three functions,” he explained. “Firstly a historic one to remind us that below this site coal miners worked in the dark for 200 years; secondly, to grasp hold of the future, expressing our transition from the industrial to the information age; and, lastly, to be a focus for our hopes and fears.” It has won numerous awards, and was named as one of the classic designs of the 20th century by the BBC.

In 1994 Antony was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize for his sculpture ‘Field for the British Isles’, which makes him one of seven Turner Prize winners who are former Goldsmiths students. Almost a quarter of those shortlisted for the award since it began have studied at Goldsmiths. 

Speaking about his work in a 2012 TED Talk, he explained that “art is not about objects of high monetary exchange – it’s about reasserting our first-hand experience in present time.” His pieces have been exhibited throughout the world, and he has participated in major group shows like the Venice Biennale. In addition to the ‘Angel of the North’, other permanent public works include ‘Another Place’ (Crosby Beach, England), ‘Inside Australia’ (Lake Ballard, Western Australia) and ‘Exposure’ (Lelystad, The Netherlands). 

Antony spoke to Radio 4 about his experience of studying at Goldsmiths: “The most important thing was the constitution of the course and what the tutors could provoke in the students – a kind of chemistry in every year. There was an understanding that the major energy, and the source from which you learned the most, was the energy of your fellow students. There was this absolute understanding that everybody there was absolutely compelled to keep going, and keep exploring, and keep actually articulating what they were exploring – either by showing it or talking about it. The whole thing was driven by the students.”

Damien Hirst

Britain’s most successful artist studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths in the late 1980s, alongside many other young British artists (YBAs).

More than 463,000 people visited the Damien Hirst exhibition last year at the Tate Modern, making it the most successful solo show for the gallery. The works on display included several pieces dating back to the late 1980s, when Damien was studying for his BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths.

Current Head of the Department of Art, Dr Richard Noble, recently met with Hirst to talk about his time at Goldsmiths, his fellow artists and their role in redefining the British art scene at the time:

Why did you choose to come to Goldsmiths?
I moved down to London with some friends, and that was when I worked out that really I only wanted to go to Goldsmiths. Goldsmiths’ Fine Art course was the only place where you didn’t have to choose between painting and sculpture. I just thought, ‘I want to do both’.

And when you got to Goldsmiths, what were your initial impressions of the place?
It was really different to anywhere else – they treated you like artists. They just said, ‘you’re artists, you’re not students – get on with it’. They didn’t push you around; if you wanted a tutorial, you had to ask for one. It was up to you. I got into a load of trouble on my Foundation course [in Leeds], like I did at school. Once I got to Goldsmiths I was taken much more seriously.

They were great times. On my first day I met Angus Fairhurst, Mat Collishaw, Simon Pattison – all in my year. Gary Hume was there too, and Sarah Lucas was in the year above me. I remember Sarah was the link to everything because she was going out with Grenville Davey. So he was coming into the bar, this artist that had been at the College and who had recently got famous. And then you’d bump into Julian Opie and Lisa Milroy. You thought: ‘Oh my God, it’s a real connection to the art world’.

How did your work evolve while you were here?
I didn’t really know what I was doing at first. I remember in my first year I saw [tutor] Basil Beattie. I was doing these collages and he said I shouldn’t really be here if that’s what I was doing. I realised that they were a bit nostalgic and retro, so I ended up breaking them all up and sweeping them into a pile and having a few tutorials talking about the pile. I think my ‘spot’ paintings came out of that. I just sort of rid myself of it all and started again.

And the Pop thing? One often hears of you in connection to Jeff Koons.
At Goldsmiths I thought the tutors were absolutely so cool and brilliant and amazing, and then the show New York Art Now at the Saatchi Gallery opened. I went there and it blew me away – I totally loved it. And then all the tutors at Goldsmiths said it was shit. That was the first time I disagreed with the tutors.

Aram

"The one-to-one tutorial programme was very useful. So as the opportunity to present my artwork in front of a wide audience."

"During my course at Goldsmiths, I had the wonderful chance to develop social skills with tutors and classmates. The College's one-to-one tutorial programme and presenting my art in front of everyone made my character more challenging, adventurous and intuitive.

After I graduated Goldsmiths in 2008, I came back to South Korea and began studying art history as well as attending the artist's residential program in my hometown. For two years I had group show with other artists and in December 2010 had my first private exhibition. In 2011, I enrolled in Seoul National University's MA Art History course and chose my major field of study as Korean Buddhist Art. I completed my MA thesis last year and at beginning of this year started working in the National Museum of Korea. During the MA studies, I had chance to learn other languages such as Chinese and Japanese. And to further my field of study, I gained certificate in Chinese Language Test.  

My job as researcher in the National Museum of Korea's Fine Art Department include preparing regular themed exhibitions. Most of the time I translate Korean into English so that the explanatory note on art collections can be provided to international tourists who visit the museum. Also I join the department's team who organise and stage the exhibtion, giving help in lighting the displaying space, carrying the museum collection and wrapping the artifacts when they need to be sent abroad."

Gerry Judah

Gerry has created settings for some of the UK's leading theatres, institutions and museums. 

Since studying BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths in the 1970s, Gerry has created settings for some of the UK's leading theatres, institutions and museums, including the British Museum, BBC, and Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2000 he was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to create a large scale model of the selection ramp in Auschwitz-Birkenau for their Holocaust Exhibition.

Gerry has also exhibited his work at Whitechapel Gallery, Camden Arts Centre and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and worked with musicians including Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.

"I enjoyed my time at Goldsmiths enormously," remembers Gerry. "It wasn’t just art we engaged with, but philosophy, psychology, theatre, and many other interests. I was able to move quite easily between disciplines and be experimental with my work. We all fed off each other. It really felt like we were part of a community of artists.”

Jusna

"Studying Fine Art and History of Art at Goldsmiths for three years was an excellent scaffold for my career."

"After my graduation in 2010, I completed an internship at the Department for Education as a Policy Advisor. This was an invaluable experience as I gained skills in analysing current regulations and legislations within education proposed by the government and making the required changes accordingly. I then went on to complete a postgraduate course in education and I am currently working at a comprehensive boys' secondary school in Barnet, as an art and design teacher.

Studying Fine Art and History of Art at Goldsmiths for three years was an excellent scaffold for my career. My modules in history of art trained me in the critical skills and theoretical understanding required to adequately develop Key Stage 3, GCSE and A-level schemes of work; where students engage and analyse with ideas, images and artefacts from varied artists and cultures. Most importantly however, Goldsmiths has allowed me to develop my practice as an artist."

Image: one of Jusna's final year works

Fees & funding

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