This course is still open to applications for 2020 entry. Click here to apply

This two-year course is an attractive alternative to A-levels, and provides a transformative 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, you will specialise in
one of four pathways: Fashion & Textiles, Fine Art, Graphic Communication and 3D Design.

A number of different disciplines are considered within each pathway, for example: in Fashion & textiles you could focus on fashion or costume design, fashion branding or textile design. Fine Art can include painting, printmaking, sculpture and installation. Graphic Communication can include graphic design, comic and concept art, illustration, animation, creative advertising, photography and filmmaking. 3D Design can include product design, interior design, theatre design, design crafts and architecture.

You will also develop important employability and communication skills, and be guided as to the career opportunities within the creative industries. Students benefit from an enrichment program of visiting professionals, competitions, live/simulated briefs and the opportunity to participate in exhibitions. 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.


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. 

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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 site, in Leeds City centre, with access to excellent facilities according to curriculum needs.

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

In light of the Covid-19 situation, as part of the updated application process we are asking students to submit an e-portfolio to Admissions via our portal. You will receive an email with information on how to upload your e-portfolio. You may submit a series of images, a work document or a presentation (saved as either PDF, JPEGs, Word or PowerPoint) and not exceed 30MB in total.

You will need to submit 8–10 images of work that demonstrates your creativity and art and design skills. Please read the guidance below which outlines what we are looking for. You do not need to separate each criteria into an image as one image may show us multiple skills. Where possible, you should ensure that you photograph your work carefully and in good light to show it to its best advantage.

IMPORTANT: We strongly advise that you check your junk mail to ensure that you don’t miss communications from our Admissions team.

Selection Criteria

What we are looking for

Personal statement that demonstrates your interests and knowledge of art, design and culture (on application form)

We want to find out what excites and inspires you about studying art and design.

  • Which artists or designers have influenced you and your work?
  • Are there any galleries, exhibitions or events you have visited that have been influential?
  • How do you stay current and up to date with contemporary art and design?
  • What do you hope to gain from studying an Extended Diploma course?
  • And what are your aspirations for the future?

We also like to know a little bit about what you do outside of art and design, such as hobbies, interests, other influences.

E-portfolio: Drawing/Visualising

We like to see drawing in all its forms; experimental, technical, but particularly drawing that demonstrates your ability to record the three-dimensional world around you (ideally not from photographs).


We will be looking at the visual quality of your work noting your use of things like, composition, form, space, line, tone and/or colour.

E-portfolio: Making use of a range of media, materials and approaches

We are aware that the range you are able to demonstrate will depend on your current studies and work availability. We will look at the range of media, techniques and processes you have used.


We’d like to see diversity in your work so where possible show us more than one approach or use of media. This could include for example, drawing, painting, collage, photography, model-making, textiles or printmaking.

E-portfolio: Creativity, research and problem solving

We are interested to see how you develop your ideas, what informs them? How you approached a brief and how you have made decisions to solve it. What has inspired you, where do you look for inspiration (your research skills)? We will typically see this through images of sketchbook pages, idea/design development work, trials, samples, experiments (2D & 3D).

International applicants
International applicants will be invited to submit their portfolio by email. We accept a range of formats including PDF, PowerPoint and url links to online portfolios. Please click here for more information or contact the International Office if you have any questions about the application process.

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 secure places on specialist degree courses across the country, including those at Leeds Arts University, and then 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. 

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

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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.

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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.

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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