This two-year course is an attractive alternative to A-levels, and provides a vital bridge between school and university. It offers students who have an interest in the visual arts the chance to explore and develop their creativity within a specialist, stimulating and supportive environment, with access to specialist staff and workshops.

It has been designed to provide the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to help you to discover your talents and strengths in a wide range of visual disciplines, allowing you to specialise in one of our four specialist pathways: Fashion/Textiles, Fine Art, Graphic Communication, and 3D Design.

There are different disciplines within each pathway: in Fashion & Textiles, you could specialise in fashion design, costume design, fashion styling promotion, textile design, design craft or surface-pattern design. Fine Art includes painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and film. Graphic Communication offers graphic design, typography, video, concept art, illustration, animation, advertising, editorial design and photography. 3D Design includes product design, spatial design, interior design, architecture, design craft and theatre design.

You will also develop relevant employability, communication, and writing skills, and be guided through the UCAS application process if applicable. Our students typically go on to secure places on degree courses and pursue careers in areas that have included: animation, illustration, graphic design, film, advertising, fashion design, fashion branding, surface pattern design, photography, architecture, product design, sculpture, concept art and fine art. Other students go directly into employment or apprenticeships.

The Extended Diploma in Art & Design has been awarded the Creative Skillset Tick, the industry quality mark, following a rigorous assessment process by experts working in the Creative Industries. The Creative Skillset Tick is awarded to practice-based courses which best prepare students for a career in the industry. 

Skillset Tick


course details

What You'll Study

Year One — You’ll be introduced to the principles of art and design theory and practice, alongside creative practical skills. You’ll explore different approaches and experiment with a range of media, techniques and processes to discover your individual strengths and interests which will help you decide which specialism to choose; Fashion & Textiles, Graphic Communication, 3D Design, or Fine Art. You’ll finish the year by undertaking a final major project in this area.

Year Two — You’ll be stretched and challenged as you deepen your knowledge and experience of the discipline you’ve chosen to work in. You’ll prepare for degree-level study by becoming increasingly independent, and develop your portfolio for applications and interviews. You’ll finish the year by undertaking a final major project which will be exhibited in the University’s end of year show.

Throughout, you’ll learn about the historical and cultural contexts of art and design, and study the work of other artists, designers and crafts people. You will have opportunities for trips to relevant exhibitions, and chances to take part in live or simulated live briefs, as well as entering regional and national competitions.

Our Ideal Students

Most of our students have completed GCSEs and are interested in a career in art and design.  Our ideal students are passionate about art and design, self-motivated, and keen to experience  a diverse range of materials, techniques and processes. 

Entry Requirements

We look for at least four GCSEs at grade 4/grade C or above, two of which must be English and Maths, along with a portfolio of your work.

For full entry requirements please visit:

Where You'll Study

You’ll be based at our Vernon Street building, in Leeds City centre, with access to excellent resources and workshops.

Where Next?

Our students’ breadth of experience and portfolios leads them to progress onto a range of prestigious, highly competitive degree courses across the country including those at Leeds Arts University. Some students elect to go directly into employment or apprenticeships.

Portfolio Guide

Everyone’s work and approach will be unique, so there’s really no such thing as the perfect portfolio. But you do want it to speak eloquently on your behalf! So here are our top 10 tips:

1. Make it come alive! Make sure your portfolio could only be yours; unique, full of passion, packed with information about you—your skills, your interests, your style, your personality.

2. Presentation is everything. Even the most brilliant work, stuffed haphazardly into a plastic bag, is hardly going to shine! You don’t necessarily need to buy an expensive holder, but it might make you feel more organised and confident. Any method will do, as long as it looks good.

3. Be selective. Don’t put everything in - we won’t have time to look at it all. Pick pieces that really worked, and which showcase your particular skills and direction. You may be proud of the A* you got for a piece of work when you were 14, but make sure it still stands up today.

4. Tell us why. Either attach a piece of paper to each piece, write it on the back, or be prepared to talk it through—but we’ll want you to tell us about your work. What was the brief? What were the objectives? How did you research it? What was your design rationale? What were the challenges? What were your conclusions?

5. Show us you’re organised! Order your work logically—chronologically, or by theme, or by medium, for example.

6. Don’t forget unfinished work or work-in-progress. If relevant, these can be just as useful. It’s also good to attach sketches or plans to finished work, to show how you got there.

7. Don’t leave out the big stuff! Got something huge or cumbersome you’d like to show us? Just take some photos and bring them, instead.

8. Balance your running order. Start and end well: if you begin brilliantly and then fizzle away by the end, you’ll finish on a flat note. Think carefully about how you balance things all the way through.

9. Practice presenting your portfolio. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable if you feel familiar with the running order and what you want to say.

10. Label it. Make sure your name is on the front of your closed portfolio (we’d rather not open it upside down and make everything fall out!), and neatly label all the work inside with titles and approximate dates.

We also run a range of daytime and evening portfolio development courses specialising in preparation for further and higher art and design education. For more information on current courses please click here.

Interview Guide

We’re thrilled that you’re thinking about studying at Leeds Arts University. We know that getting your place can be an exciting and nerve-racking experience, so we’ve chatted to Ben an Extended Diploma Art & Design student for some tips and tricks about the portfolio and interview.

What happens when you apply

We think it is very important that we assess your creative potential and ‘fit’ for the course. Once we receive your application form our admissions department checks your grades or predicted grades. If they meet our entry requirements we send a letter inviting you for interview. More in depth details on how to apply are available here.

Get your portfolio together

Before the interview spend some time compiling your portfolio, we recommend that you read our advice on how to put together a great portfolio. You could also consider speaking to your current teacher about which work shows off your talents.

Ben said: ’Only put in work that really interests you, that way you’ll find it easy to talk about them during the interview. If you put in a piece of written work, like an analysis of a final piece that would be really good too. I followed the University’s portfolio advice closely, it made feel confident at interview because I knew I’d done all I could to bring my portfolio up to scratch.’

Getting ready for interview

Don’t worry if you’ve never been to the University before, you can get an idea of what it’s like here by watching all the video clips on our website.

Ben said: ‘Watching the videos online I got a real sense of the passion of the tutors and students inside University.’   

Most people find interviews make them nervous, try not to let your nerves get the better of you. Our students find that the atmosphere inside University helps them leave their nerves at the door.

Ben said: ‘The staff came across as very professional and committed to the course as well as being welcoming and relaxed. I felt instantly at ease in the building.’

Double check which building your interview is in. We’ve got two main sites, further education students are interviewed in the Vernon Street building, if you go to the wrong place you could face a 10 minute walk which might make you late for your interview. See Find Us for a map and directions.

What happens during the interview

Your interview will normally be with the course leader and another course tutor in a nice quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Remember your interviewers are genuinely interested in what you have to say and want you to feel comfortable and be yourself.

Ben said: ‘The tutor warmed me up by asking a few simple questions about where I lived and my hobbies and interests. Then we looked at my portfolio. The tutor didn’t want to look at it in silence, he wanted me to talk him through it. This was my chance to show off my passion for art and design and win my place at University.’

And finally

If your interview doesn’t go as planned don’t worry. Our tutors are trained to spot raw talent, if you’ve got what it takes to do well on the course they’ll be able to see it.

Bear in mind this is general guidance for applications, portfolios and interviews at the University. Follow any specific guidance sent to you by the course.

Open Days

We understand that leaving school and going to University is a big step. We aim to give you all the information you need to make the right decision.

Click here to find out more about our open days. 

2 Years
Study Mode
Full Time
Term Starts
Institution Name
Leeds Arts University
Validated By
University of the Arts, London


Extended Diploma in Art & Design

View Gallery

Students selected to exhibit at Origins Creative Arts Festival

Students Jess Guest, Maya Edwards and Nachalee Waite have been selected to exhibit at the Origins Creative Arts Festival in London. …

Changing Faces of Leeds

Photograph by Extended Diploma student Molly Richardson is featured in Changing Faces of Leeds …

Latest news

More News

Leeds Arts University Announces Sustainability Award Winners

Students from Higher and Further education courses at Leeds Arts University have been announced as the winners of this year’s Sustainability Awards …

Leeds College of Art student scoops first prize in national photography competition

Leeds College of Art student has won first prize in the annual UK Student Harman Technology Photography Competition, which attracted record-breaking entries. …

170 years in the making

Leeds College of Art brings its 170 year celebrations to a close with an exclusive birthday party on Wednesday 16 November at Leeds City Museum …

Leeds College of Art celebrates 170 years of delivering art education

This year Leeds College of Art is celebrating 170 years of delivering art education in Leeds. …

Latest Events & Exhibitions

More Events

Doctor Simpo, The No…

Doctor Simpo (aka Ben Simpson) is a cartoonist using a variety of analogue and digital technologies.…

Lorna Jackson


Lorna specialised in the 3D pathway of the Extended Diploma and since leaving Leeds Arts University has completed a BA (Hons) in Architecture and is now beginning a Masters of Architecture.

Read More

Open Days

If you are interested in studying at Leeds Arts University then coming to an open day is the best way to decide if we’re the right choice for you.

Read More

Course Film

Watch the Extended Diploma in Art & Design film.

"We help you to discover new skills and provide an exciting and varied art and design education."
Katie Stanworth, Course Leader
Extended Diploma in Art & Design