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.

The course 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 four specialist pathways: Fashion & Textiles, Fine Art, Graphic Communication, and 3D Design.

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

You will also develop important employability and communication skills, and be guided as to the career opportunities within the creative industries. Upon successful completion of all units at the end of the course a final grade will be awarded which is the equivalent of three A Levels.

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.


This course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based industries, and carries the ScreenSkills quality-mark which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries. 

Book an open day

course details

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. 

What You'll Study

Year One — You’ll be introduced to the underpinning principles of art and design theory and practice to inform the development of your 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. You’ll finish the year by undertaking a final major project in either Fashion & Textiles, Graphic Communication, 3D Design, or Fine Art.

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

Specialist Resources

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

Our Ideal Students

Students have normally completed their GCSEs or an equivalent qualification and are interested in a career in art and design. Our ideal students are open minded, 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, which must include both English and Maths, alongside a portfolio of art and design work.

For full entry requirements please visit

Information for Parents

Keeping informed

Each year parents/guardians will be invited to an information evening to provide updates about the course and how they may support students’ progress. In the first year, there will be an introduction to the course structure, progression activities, assessment process and an opportunity to view some work. In the second year, there will be an update on second year course structure, progression opportunities and how students will be supported through this process. There will also be opportunities to view student work in the year 2 pop up exhibition and the end of year exhibition.

Throughout the year parents/guardians can contact course staff to discuss any concerns they may have. It should be noted that if students are aged over 18, we will need to seek their permission to talk to parents/guardians.


Regular attendance is key to any student’s success and we require them to be at every session, unless they are ill or have another genuine reason.

If there are concerns about the attendance or academic progress of a student and they are under the age of 18, you will be kept informed through our intervention process.

Student Support

Leeds Arts University is committed to providing a caring, friendly and safe environment for all of our students.

We are fully committed to providing equal opportunities to all and we strive to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that students individual learning needs are met in the best way.

Our Student Welfare Team have offices at the city centre site and are available for students if they need to discuss anything to do with their university and/or personal life.

Study Skills and Mentor Tutors are allocated to support any students with an additional support need.

Careers Advice and Guidance

Our careers advice programme aims to give students a clearer idea of the progression routes and the skills and attributes required to be successful in the creative sector. The sessions are intended to provide positive role models and empower students with the motivation to carve out a successful career in the creative sector.

The programme compromises:

  • Advice and guidance about the range of progression opportunities available
  • Support from an external careers advice service ‘Aspire’ through a series of workshops, one-to-one advice and guidance and access to a bespoke ‘ask the advisor’ email service
  • Support from a designated personal tutor
  • Enrichment sessions that develop students wider employability skills
  • Support in making applications and development of interview skills
  • Specialist portfolio development
  • Opportunities to engage with the creative industries through visiting professionals, competitions and live/simulated projects

A comprehensive summary of all our careers advice and guidance is available to students 24/7 through our online estudio.

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. Click here for more information on our current courses.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Apply Now (UK/EU Applicants)

Please apply direct to the University for our Extended Diploma in Art & Design via the application form on our portal.

If you need any assistance completing the form please contact the Admissions team at or call us on 0113 280 8000.

Apply Now (International Applicants)

International applicants (from outside the UK/EU) please click here for further information. 

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

Student work on display in city centre offices

Artwork by twelve students and recent graduates from Leeds Arts University is now on display in the new building of law firm Walker Morris which opened earlier this year. …

Leeds Arts University students win competition to design law firm's offices

Twelve students from Leeds Arts University will see their designs brought to life in the law firm Walker Morris's new building when it moves this summer. …

Latest news

More News

Student work exhibited at Origins Creative Arts Festival

Students from the Further Education courses at Leeds Arts University were selected to exhibit at the Origins Creative Arts Festival in London 26 - 28 2019. …

Leeds Arts University is shortlisted for University of the Year

Leeds Arts University has been shortlisted in four categories at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, including the prestigious University of the Year. …

Leeds Arts University wins student choice award for Best University Facilities!

Leeds Arts University was announced as the winner of the Whatuni Student Choice Award for Best Facilities, taking the prize for the third time in six years. …

Student Creates Commissioned Artwork for Viking Direct

Extended Diploma in Art and Design student Louise Claughton has created a piece of art work for office furniture suppliers, Viking Direct. …

Latest Events & Exhibitions

More Events

Flora Yukhnovich: Fê…

Flora Yukhnovich (b.1990) graduated from the City and Guilds of London Art School in 2017. Her first…


The Chris Graham Col…

Chris Graham was the former head librarian at Leeds Arts University, and worked here from 1992 to 20…

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.

Book now

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