FdA Design and Materials

Bristol Zoo Gardens remains open to students.

You will have private access to the zoo grounds during lectures, to carry out your observations and data collection, but as more animals are moved, this will gradually be carried out at the Wild Place Project. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Course Description

The core aim of the FdA Design and Materials course is to enable you, the student, to begin to find your individual identity as a designer and maker and to help you locate yourself in the wider world of the creative industries in relevant ways. It is aimed at students who wish to develop  tradition and contemporary practices including ceramics, jewellery, textiles, print, enamelling and digital fabrication taking advantage of the established reputation for these specialisms at Bristol School of Art, Queens Road and Stroud School of Art.

Interdisciplinary by design

The course is interdisciplinary in nature (enabling and encouraging you to work numerous materials and process, enabling you to move between areas) and you will explore a wide range of media and processes to arrive at your own direction, whilst actively taking part in creative conversations and debates in the studio, in workplaces (visits and placements) and through our lecture and seminar programmes. A lively and experimental approach is encouraged; practical workshops will allow you to explore and develop skills using a wide range of 2D and 3D materials, and digital media. Practical discovery is supported by modules in contextual studies, creative thinking and visual communication; alongside the opportunity to apply your skills and development through professional practice, work experience and self-promotion.

"The Bristol School of Art campus is beautiful"

"The Bristol School of Art campus is such a beautiful building and space, which is definitely part of the experience. There are such a wide range of facilities and work spaces such as industrial sewing machines, jewellery and enamelling studio, ceramics space and a print-making room. Having all of these facilities and equipment at your fingertips means that what you can achieve is so much greater as you have so many options!"

FdA Design and Materials
Study Modules
Introductory Workshops

The module will consist of a series of workshops and short projects that introduce you to core designing and making skills across a range of media. The aim is to give you a good basic technical introduction to the materials-based areas available. Projects will enable you to make individual pieces of work, but the emphasis will be on exploration and experimentation. Materials explored might include clay, textiles, wood, small-scale metalwork and enamel on metal. You will present a series of test-pieces and experimental practical work for assessment. Workshops will include ceramics, enamelling, wood-working, textiles, small-scale metalworking, 2D skills including print and surface design processes, and additional 3D skills such as mould-making and plaster casting. You will be expected to keep ongoing notes (in a journal, blog, or other negotiated format) that reflect on the processes used and progress made, which is submitted for assessment alongside the body of practical work. It is intended that the experience provided by this module, in conjunction with other level 4 modules, will provide a foundation for identifying future directions of specialist practice.

Portfolio : 80 % (4,000 words equivalent)

Assignment: 20 % (1000 words equivalent)

Developing Practice

This module aims to equip you with an outline of the design process. From a selection of set briefs you will choose two, and respond according to your developing area(s) of specialist interest. Projects might include: repurposing or remaking an existing artefact; packaging or transporting a delicate object. These projects will run sequentially. The emphasis is on planning and decision-making alongside extending relevant skills. You will be required to draft ideas, select materials and processes, make models/prototypes and sample pieces. You must also keep ongoing notes (in a journal, blog, or other negotiated format) that reflect on the processes used and progress made. From these reflective notes, you will write an evaluative statement, to submit for assessment with the reflective notes.

Portfolio : 80 % (4,000 words equivalent)

Assignment: 20 % (1000 words equivalent)

Creative Thinking and Visual Communication

The emphasis of this module will be on creative thinking and visual communication; developing strategies and skills for the processing of creative ideas and concepts and realisation of relevant outcomes in a range of media. Through experimentation, risk taking, and play with materials and process, you will be encouraged to identify and establish an understanding of approaches that relate to your main subject specialism and developing personal identity.Workshops will include, but not be limited to, screen printing, relief printing, laser cutting, basic dark room techniques, cyanotypes digital camera skills, basic Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator, using Print and 3D workshops, an introduction to moving image, presentation skills, creative social media and website presence and using a sketchbook and journal both digital and analogue. Drawing workshops will also be delivered to encourage exploration of the variety of ways in which it can underpin the design process.

Portfolio: 80 % (4,000 words or equivalent)

Assignment: 20 % (1000 words or equivalent)

Professional Studies

This module provides an opportunity for you to begin to engage with the wider creative industries and the potential professional contexts for your developing practices. This module will support you in developing the vocational and transferable skills essential for effective professional practice in any of the creative design industries. You will have the opportunity to review, comment and debate, and evaluate and present issues relevant to your own developing practice and your evolving ambitions. You will investigate relevant creative industries, visit exhibitions, shows and events, and critically evaluate your findings. The module will also help you to identify potential opportunities for your work placement.

Assignment: 70% (1750 word equivalent )

Presentation: 30% (5 minutes - 750 words, or equivalent)

Exploring Contextual Environments

The first part of this module will introduce you to the broader design and creative contextual environments through a series of seminar lectures and discussions that consider historic, social, economic and cultural influences on the contemporary practitioner. Pre-Modern, Modern and Postmodern contexts for design and creative practice will be examined, and theoretical positions discussed and explored. You will be introduced to significant developments in art and design history, contextualising practitioners from around the world and from different time periods working with similar themes e.g. Power, Scale, Identity.

Assignment: 70% (1750 word equivalent )

Presentation: 30% (5 minutes - 750 words, or equivalent)

Contextualising Practice

This module offers you the opportunity to develop your understanding and knowledge of the wider issues and debates that surround the creation and consumption of art and design artefacts. Through a variety of shared lectures and seminar activities, you will investigate the historical, theoretical and creative contexts in which your practice is located and learn new ways of analysing and relating to visual imagery. The module emphasises the need for students to further develop strategies for effective research, academic writing and referencing. You will be expected to reflect on contemporary culture and communication, explore theoretical frameworks, and develop your skills of visual and critical analysis.

Presentation: 30% (10 minutes, plus 5 minutes discussion/ question & answer - 1,800 words, or equivalent)

Assignment 70% (4,200 words or equivalent)

Self-promotion and Professional Context

This work-related module provides an opportunity for students to build upon work-based knowledge and experience. You will begin to consider and prepare for your own exit strategy. You will be introduced to considerations for self-promotion through the production of a personal identity and digital portfolio (website). You will also produce promotional material relevant to your specialist practice (blog, website, professional social media presence, photo-sharing sites, flyers, etc.) and research and secure an appropriate platform to show your major project work being prepared in your major specialist practice module to your chosen audience.

Portfolio: 100 % (3,000 words or equivalent)

Design Projects

You will select one from a number of prepared live briefs and develop it according to your chosen specialist area(s). The briefs are assigned to a live client, but designed to be flexible and to allow you the freedom to explore and develop in your own directions. You may wish to combine aspects of more than one area e.g. combining metal and ceramic or textile with print. The emphasis is on the design methodology and process whilst allowing plenty of opportunity to develop individual knowledge of materials and processes. By the end of the module you will have produced a body of 2 and 3 dimensional work, as well as the potential for digital practice, demonstrating your ability to take an idea and develop it to a successful conclusion.

75 % Portfolio: 75% (4,500 words, or equivalent)

25 % Assignment: 25% (1,500 words, or equivalent)

Negotiated Project

The module aims to provide you with the opportunity to explore your own design ideas and choices of materials and processes. You will devise and present an exhibition in consultation with tutors in your chosen specialist area(s). You will write a detailed brief, based on your developing specialism, providing a clear plan taking into account materials, processes and research needs and time management. By the end of the module you will have produced a series of preparatory works (such as Marquette's, models, drawings) and finished pieces of work rooted in your own personal interests. The work will need to be of a sufficiently complete form to be formally presented to a client/the public.

75 % Display, Show or Performance: 75% (4,500 words, or equivalent)

25 % Assignment: 25% (1,500 words, or equivalent)

There are no modules at this level.
Course Video
Oli Timmins
FdA and BA (Hons) Design & Materials Programme Lead
*Programme subject to validation by the University of Gloucestershire
Queens Road Campus
Foundation Degree
Full-time Duration:
2 Years
Full-time Fee (Per Year):
Part-time Duration:
4 Years
Part-time Fee (Per Year):
UCAS Application Code:
UCAS Entry Tariff:
Entry Requirements

The minimum UCAS tariff entry points from a level 3 qualification, GCSE Maths and English at grade C/4. Please submit a portfolio to be reviewed by Programme Lead. Once your portfolio has been reviewed, you may be invited for an interview. Mature students over 24 without the relevant qualifications will be required to demonstrate previous experience and evidence of academic ability.

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Course info last updated:
February 10, 2023
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