This intensive one year course is long established and nationally respected: the qualification was originally developed at the University in the 1950s, and remains at the forefront of foundation education today.

Our students’ breadth of experience and innovative portfolios leads them to progress onto a range of prestigious, highly competitive degree courses including our own at the University.

Our Foundation Diploma foregrounds problem-solving, idea generation and critical thinking; you’ll be asked to reject your preconceptions and take risks outside your comfort zone. You will learn through playful experimentation and will develop lateral thinking strategies in order to approach problems from new perspectives. The course gradually moves from wide ranging staff-led projects to a position of independence, culminating in a significant individual project in the final stage.

The ability to draw is one of an artist and designer’s most valuable tools— that is why drawing, in its many forms, underpins all elements of the course. Within this intensively creative and demanding environment you’ll be challenged to become more inventive and experimental. You will develop your analytical and critical faculties in relation to the work of contemporary artists and designers, and the work developed by your peers.

You will be taught by experienced staff, including practising artists and designers, who have extensive experience across a wide breadth of art and design disciplines. They will support you through the UCAS application process and help you find the most appropriate degree course. Admissions tutors at highly selective universities look favourably on applicants with a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design.

@laufoundationfineart Fine Art pathway

@lau_fad_tfc Textiles, Fashion & Costume pathway

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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

Stage One — You will be set a range of short projects that will develop your understanding of art and design ‘languages’ in a wide range of media. You will also develop your technical understanding across a range of workshops.

Stage Two — You will work within a specialist pathway focusing on either: MAGPi (including moving image, advertising, graphic design, photography, illustration); Fine Art (including painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, film and video, performance); Textiles, Fashion & Costume (including constructed textiles, embroidery, surface pattern, fashion design, costume design); or Object and Spatial Design (including architecture, interior design, theatre design, transport design, product design, furniture design, jewellery, ceramics, glass). You will have the opportunity to work with a wide range of media and engage in a series of one-to-one tutorials and group critiques.

Stage Three — This stage is a nine week project that is proposed, time managed and undertaken by you. The project forms the bulk of the work that you will exhibit in the End of Year Show. A programme of lectures, seminars, research and reading will introduce you to the breadth of art and design. You will develop an understanding of contemporary practice within your specialist pathway and will compile a critical journal; this will prepare you for degree-course interviews.

Our Ideal Students

We are looking for talented people who have learned from a range of creative and life experiences and who are genuinely excited by the possibilities of art and design practice. Due to the intensive nature of the programme, you will need a high degree of motivation and a commitment to hard work.

Entry Requirements

We consider all applicants with the minimum entry requirements who apply by 15 January. We look at an applicants GCSE results/projected A level grades, e-portfolio and personal statement to inform our decision.

You are required to have a minimum of 72 UCAS points, which are typically achieved through:

  • Pass for UAL Extended Diploma
  • MMP for BTEC National Diploma
  • A minimum of two A levels (totalling at least 72 UCAS points) or three A levels with minimum grades DDD

You will also need four GCSE’s including English and Maths at grade 4 (grade C) or above.

For full entry requirements please visit:

Application Process

We’re really pleased that you’re thinking about studying with us. We know that getting your place can be a nerve-racking experience and we want to provide you with as much information as possible to support you through the process.

Applicant selection is based upon the quality of your e-portfolio and the personal statement within your application. If successful, an offer will be made on the condition of meeting the entry requirements and attendance at one of our Applicant Days. Find out more about our Applicant Days in the ‘Your offer’ section below.

What happens when you apply

We think it is very important that we assess your creative potential and ‘fit’ for the course.

You will be required to write a personal statement within your application form which should demonstrate your interest and knowledge of art, design and culture. Once we receive your application form our Admissions department checks your grades or predicted grades. If you will be able meet our entry requirements we will send an email and letter inviting you to submit an e-portfolio within 14 days of notification.

Preparing your e-portfolio

Before compiling your e-portfolio it is essential that you read our e-portfolio guidance carefully. Guidance can be found in the 'e-portfolio Guide' section below. You could also speak to your current teacher about which work best shows your talents and meets our selection criteria.

Selection process

Your e-portfolio and personal statement will be reviewed by our course team and all candidates will be notified of the result of their application after the week beginning 25 February.

Your offer

Successful applicants will be made a conditional offer subject to achieving the entry requirements and attendance at one of our Applicant Days.

Applicant Days are a very important part of the process and provide us with the opportunity to meet you in person and for you to meet the staff, ask questions and gain further insight into the course and life at the University. Our Applicant Days will be detailed on the offer letter and in accepting the offer you will also select the day you will be attending.

e-portfolio Guide

You will need to select eight images that demonstrate your creativity and art and design skills. Please read the guidance below carefully which outlines what we are looking for against our selection criteria and consider what to include in the eight images. You should ensure that you photograph your work carefully and in good light to show it to its best advantage.

We will request your e-portfolio following receipt of your application, you should submit the e-portfolio to Admissions via email and your images should be in jpg/jpeg or pdf format as attachments to your email.

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

Selection Criteria

What we are looking for

Interest and knowledge of art, design and culture (personal statement)

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 a Foundation 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.

Visual, making and production skills

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

We look at how well your work has been made or produced.

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 (not from photographs).

Use of a range of media, materials and approaches

We will look at the range of media, techniques and processes you have used and that are central to your work. This could include for example, drawing, painting, collage, photography, model-making, textiles or printmaking.

We are aware that the range you are able to demonstrate will depend on your current studies but we do like to see diversity in your work so it is best to show more than one approach or use of media.

Creativity and problem solving

We are interested to see how you develop your ideas, what informs them? How you identify problems and make decisions in order to solve them. We will typically see this through sketchbook pages, idea/design development work, trials, samples, experiments (2D & 3D). 

Where You'll Study

You’ll be based at the University’s Vernon Street building, with full access to excellent facilities across all disciplines. Past students have included Danny Sangra, Sam Arthur, Georgina Starr, Damien Hirst, Marcus Harvey, Georgia Shaw, Jill Shaddock, Phil Proctor, Laura Carlin, Alex Farrar, Nicholas Wheatley, Lucy Clout and Si Scott. 

Where Next?

Our students go on to study art and design at degree level and then on to careers across a wide range of disciplines. The intense nature of the course means that many make lifelong friends whilst on the course who become important members of their creative network.The course has a ‘family’ ethos and most students come back and visit on a regular basis to share their knowledge and experience with current students.

Finance & Accommodation

Funding for the Foundation Diploma course

The Foundation Diploma course at Leeds Arts University is classed as further education and because of this students are not eligible to apply for the maintenance loan through Student Finance England. Those aged 19 and over, are eligible to apply for the Advanced Learner Loan to help pay for their tuition. For further information, see our Tuition Fees page here.

Accommodation for Foundation Diploma

There is accommodation available for those attending the Foundation Diploma course at Leeds Arts University. Priority is given to those who have received and accepted an offer and who normally reside outside Yorkshire or who are international applicants.

The accommodation information will be sent in the form of an email containing an online form for completion. Upon the form's return the accommodation provider will be notified and at this point they will send out information regarding deposit payment and a contract for completion.

Key Information

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


Foundation Diploma in Art & Design

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"We don't know what the art and design of tomorrow will look like, but we know that it won’t look like the art and design of today."
Andy Grayston, Course Leader
Foundation Diploma in Art & Design