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What qualifications do you need to study art and design?

Unsure what qualifications will impress admissions tutors? Check out our art and design essentials to help you decide.

Many universities or art colleges will be looking for you to have an art foundation qualification under your belt – a one-year course usually taken after A-levels – before progressing on to an art and design degree course.

Find out more about the entry requirements your chosen universities might require for their art and design courses. 


What qualifications are essential for art and design?

  • Some courses require a diploma in foundation art and design or a BTEC National Diploma in general art and design (or equivalent). This will help you to build up the portfolio you need when applying to creative arts degree courses. You may be able to study this at a university, and then continue with your degree at that same institution.
  • Art A-level or a design-related subject.


What A-levels (or equivalent) are useful for art and design?

  • design technology.
  • photography.
  • history of art.

Note, this may depend on the specific degree course you apply to. 

See the full range of degree subjects open to you, enter your A-levels into our tool now...

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    Examples of art and design degree requirements

    Below are a few different art and design courses offered by different universities and the A-level entry requirements they ask for (as of 22 May 2018):

    Photography, at University of St Andrews: ‘B,B,B. At least one A Level in a relevant creative subject.’

    Fine art, at Plymouth College of Art: ‘C. We require a C at A level in an Art related subject as part of the Tariff.’

    History of art, at Courtauld Institute of Art: ‘A,A,A-A,B,B.’


    Other typical A-levels taken by current art and design students

    • English literature.
    Take a look at individual creative arts courses on Which? University to find out the most popular subjects students studied before attending - plus check out which universities and colleges students ranked highly for their creative environment in our student survey.

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