Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

BA Fine Art


Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Introducing BA Fine Art

Our BA (Hons) Fine Art is a four-year intensive studio-based programme designed to support you in developing your own approach to creative practice.

You will work closely with specialist staff to take multiple approaches to your creative work, and will be supported to use a wide range of:

  • materials
  • media
  • techniques
  • methods
  • technologies
  • tools associated with the discipline

You will also develop an understanding of how fine art is spread, consumed, and valued in contemporary culture and society.

Areas in which you will work

You can work across several areas within fine art creative practice, including:

  • installation
  • moving image
  • painting
  • participatory practice
  • performance
  • photography
  • printmaking (3D and traditional)
  • publications
  • sculpture
  • sound

Art context

A dedicated strand of art context courses provides a multidisciplinary context for your studies.

These courses will develop your experience and skills in:

  • imaginative research
  • analysis
  • communication of issues raised by the visual aspects of culture

In your art context courses, you will:

  • engage in a critical and creative dialogue with the work of your peers
  • gain an understanding of the nature of today's diverse visual cultures
  • study the artistic, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative practice in fine art
  • learn how to best communicate your developing knowledge and insight in a range of written, oral, visual and practical forms

Year 1

The first year of our programme will allow you to transition from prior understanding of art and art schooling into current intellectual and professional comprehension of contemporary fine art. We do this through two core courses, Art in Practice 1 and Art in Context 1. Both courses are taught in your studio spaces across the year and are worth 40 credits each.

Art in Practice 1

Art in Practice 1 will provide you with a blend of studio teaching, in the form of:

  • group and individual tutorials
  • critiques of individual work
  • technical instruction through access and induction to ECA’s workshop provision and team

The course is project-orientated. You will receive several staff-led briefs, which will encourage you to experiment with and expand upon the processes and practices of artistic practice within a studio context.

By the end of the course, you will produce a portfolio of studio work for assessment.

Art in Context 1

Art in Context 1 provides dynamic learning environments for experiential and discursive engagement with the ideas, theories, and sites in which contemporary fine art is experienced and debated beyond a studio context. Learning environments can include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • field trips
  • visiting artist talks

On completion of the course, you will submit one of the following:

  • a piece of writing or audio that critically responds to a contemporary fine art exhibition
  • work you have identified that is relevant to the course themes

Optional courses

You can choose to take one of two drawing-centred optional courses within the School of Art:

  • Adventures in Drawing
  • Drawn from the City

These courses are intended to orientate and expand your experiences, conceptions and skills in both drawing techniques and practices of perception.

Beyond this, you can also choose from a broad range of optional courses across ECA and the wider University.

Learning outcomes

By the end of Year 1 you will have developed skills in:

  • researching, analysing and communicating your understanding of contemporary fine art
  • initiating individual forms of exploration, reflection and resolution through your own artistic work

Year 2

The second year of your studies builds on the foundations of Year 1 to broaden and deepen your understanding and engagement with contemporary fine art. It will also conclude the pre-honours phase of your studies.

You will prepare for your honours-level study by developing the necessary practical, intellectual and critical skills through two core courses:

  • Art in Practice 2
  • Art in Context 2

Both courses are taught in your studio spaces across the year and are worth 40 credits each.

Art in Practice 2

In Art in Practice 2 you will continue to develop your engagement with, and understanding of, artistic studio practices.

This is a project-orientated course and will involve working on several staff-led briefs.

By the end of the course, you will produce a portfolio of studio work for assessment.

Art in Context 2

Art in Context 2 provides dynamic learning environments through:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • field trips
  • visiting artist talks

The course provides experiential and discursive engagement with the ideas, theories and sites in which contemporary fine art is experienced and debated concerning and beyond a studio context.

On completion of the course, you will submit a piece of writing or audio that critically responds to a contemporary fine art exhibition or work that you have identified concerning the course themes.

Optional courses

Beyond the two core courses, you can choose from a broad range of optional courses across ECA and the wider University. We will also provide art-specific courses alongside the broader University offer to support your medium- and discipline-specific development.

Year 3

Year 3 of your studies initiates the honours phase of your degree. It offers flexibility to narrow the focus of your interests while introducing a third strand of teaching.

Learning will focus on:

  • forms of artistic praxis that draw from practical and contextual studies
  • exploring how the work and projects you are involved in can exit higher education and move into the world beyond the School of Art

You will study:

  • Art in Practice 3, a 40-credit studio-based component to your teaching and learning
  • a contextual studies course that you will choose from a suite of 20-credit courses that are built on the research specialisms of current staff. Topics may include but are not limited to:
  • art education
  • exhibition histories
  • popular and folk art
  • sound-orientated practices
  • populist debates in contemporary art
  • a presentation course with practical exploration and critical discussions of how artworks and artistic research projects can be presented to audiences

You will also have the option of taking our 20-credit Sites and Situations course. It allows you to choose to participate in a range of external projects where the art produced is considered in the contexts of the sites where it occurs and the situations it creates.

Optional courses

In addition to your compulsory courses, you can take optional courses from across the University’s wider offering. Or you may have the option of spending a semester studying at one of our international partner institutions through our student exchange programme.

Edinburgh Global exchange opportunities

Learning outcomes

Upon concluding Year 3, you will have developed your understanding of practical, technical, contextual and real-world applications of your work and that of others. Your work in Year 3 will have honed your focus and prepared you for the more individually directed study you will undertake in your final year.

Year 4

The fourth and final year of your studies finalises the honours phase of your degree. Your Year 4 studies will encourage a high level of self-direction and independent study supported and guided by the School of Art faculty.

You will build from your experiences over the previous three years to establish independent projects in your core courses:

  • Art in Practice 4
  • Art in Context 4
  • Going Public

These integrated courses will extend, deepen and ultimately conclude your investigations into:

  • subjects, skills and practices of your own work
  • your research into the work of others
  • your final project outcomes

Art in Practice 4

Art in Practice 4 will remain studio-centred. With support offered through tutorials and critiques, you will continue to develop your works, as well as your broader practice and artistic personhood through processes of:

  • research
  • action
  • reflection

Art in Context 4

Art in Context 4 will allow you to define a research area you wish to investigate and write about. You will receive close supervision and support to develop a critical and/or creative written component for assessment.

Going Public

The 40-credit core course Going Public is underpinned by the other two core courses. This course will offer you the opportunity to pursue a final project that best suits the development of your work during your degree. Course outcomes may include:

  • participation in ECA’s annual Degree Show
  • establishing external artistic projects
  • publishing research and/or writing
  • staging performances
  • screening events
  • workshops
  • talks
  • hosting symposia
  • developing arts educational resources

Optional courses

You will also have the opportunity to take the 20-credit optional course, Building Futures. This course will introduce you to a range of creative and cultural practitioners from across the visual arts who have transitioned from study on arts programmes into notable career paths.

Speakers will discuss thematic issues which confront new graduates and emerging artists, and will include:

  • alumni of ECA
  • specialists from related professional bodies and organisations

This course will also:

  • encourage you to self-identify and articulate your skill needs for entering careers after study
  • equip you with transferable skills and a pragmatic understanding of your employability post-study

Alongside these studies, you can still pursue other optional courses across the wider University.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

Studio-based work

The BA (Hons) in Fine Art will be predominantly studio-based. This means you will have an allocated studio for each year in which you can work independently but will also receive direct tuition such as tutorials and group critiques.

The studios will be located on ECA’s Lauriston Campus, as will many of your lectures and seminars. You will also get to experience lectures and classes across the wider University of Edinburgh campus.

Specialist workshops

In addition to this, you will be taught across a range of specialist workshop environments, which are predominantly located in the ECA Main Building, Hunter Building and our Evolution House building.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the Edinburgh College of Art and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the Edinburgh College of Art

Investing in our learning environment

The University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art estate and facilities. This will further develop our supportive, stimulating and sustainable learning and research environment.

You can find out more on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA

How will I learn?

Most of your teaching for core courses on this programme will take place in a studio environment and will involve a range of experiential projects and environments.

For the optional courses that you will choose during your first three years of study, teaching and learning methods vary.

This programme sees research and critical thinking as essential to your development as a creative practitioner. You will therefore study and participate within diverse visual, intellectual, social and professional contexts for contemporary fine art creative practice. This includes taking part in exhibitions and live projects throughout your degree studies.

Teaching methods

Methods we use to explore conceptual, material and technical subjects within Fine Art include the following formats:

  • critiques
  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • workshops

Largely unique to art studies, the critique is a collective form of learning that involves a facilitated presentation, analysis and discussion of work between peers. This model encourages the development of:

  • specialist language skills
  • analytical thinking
  • public speaking
  • professional practices in the discipline of art including art criticism

Lectures will inform you about critical and contextual concerns within the field of contemporary fine art. You will develop critical listening and thinking skills, along with technical note-making and close reading skills.


Seminars are small or large group discussion learning environments, facilitated by academic members of staff in which critical and contextual materials are collectively:

  • analysed
  • discussed
  • critiqued
  • debated

Seminars will help you to develop research and preparation skills, along with oral presentation and debate skills in combination with soft skills required in group work and discussion.


Tutorials happen both in one-to-one and group settings. During tutorials, you will engage with academic staff in focused specialist discussions about your own creative practice and that of your peers. This format stimulates an exchange of ideas and opinions, encouraging you to develop skills in receiving and giving constructive criticism.


Workshops within this programme are both technical and research-focused. They require experiential engagement and the development of technical and critical skills that deepen your understanding of:

  • what creative practices and processes are
  • how they can be developed
  • why they are applicable beyond the discipline

Studio-based work

The BA (Hons) Fine Art will be predominantly studio-based. This means you will have an allocated studio for each year in which you can work independently, but will also receive direct tuition such as tutorials and group critiques.

Specialist workshops

You will be taught across a range of specialist workshop environments. These include but are not limited to workshops for:

  • woodworking
  • metalwork
  • casting
  • glass
  • printmaking
  • photography
  • jewellery and garment making
  • 3D printing
  • laser cutting
  • digital provisions for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, InDesign, Arduino, and film editing

Workshops are staffed by specialist technicians and practitioners, who will support and guide your technical development during your studies.

The workshops provision at ECA is also supplemented by our extensive technical resourcing. You will be able to borrow specialist and professional equipment through ECA's BookIt system,allowing you to become familiar with professional standard equipment and to produce high-quality work.

ECA's BookIt system

Exchange programmes

In Year 3 you will have the option of alternatively studying a semester at one of our international partner institutions through our exchange programme.

Edinburgh Global exchange opportunities

How will I be assessed?

Academic staff provide regular tutorials and points of formative assessment throughout your studies. You will receive meaningful feedback which encourages and guides your future development in both your studio work and contextual studies.

Among other things, assessment can take the form of:

  • project work and portfolios
  • oral presentations and audio submissions
  • research and reflective blogs
  • written essays, statements, proposals and creative criticism

Art careers

Many graduates pursue careers as artists, completing residencies and commissions. A high percentage of our graduates are establishing themselves in studios, workshops and artist-led organisations, and are developing international profiles as exhibiting artists and creative practitioners.

Many of our graduates also enter other art-related professions, including (but not limited to):

  • teaching (from primary to tertiary education)
  • art education in community settings
  • work in galleries and other art organisations
  • jobs in the wider creative industries
  • postgraduate study and research

To find out more visit the ECA alumni website


Our BA (Hons) Fine Art degree provides a progressive education in, and induction into, contemporary fine art practice.

You will develop:

  • analytical and practical skills
  • the ability to work with others in an organised manner
  • lateral thinking skills

These attributes can be applied to a wide range of career possibilities.

Other career paths

A BA (Hons) Fine Art allows our graduates to work across a range of exciting roles, jobs and opportunities both nationally and internationally in vibrant sectors that make vital economic and cultural contributions to countries that invest in them. These can include working within the cultural sector as either a freelance artist or within organisations and institutions such as galleries and museums that support public development and engagement with the arts.

Students of Fine Art are not limited to pursuing careers only in art. The liberal arts basis of our degree, combined with the technical skills and competencies you will develop during your studies, provides you with a wealth of graduation options.

The cultural sector and the creative industries are the primary sectors employing graduates from programmes such as our BA (Hons) Fine Art.

Economic impact of the creative sector

The UK government estimates that the creative sectors employ over 2.3 million people across the UK. It asserts that over one in eight businesses within the UK are part of the creative industries. In 2019 72% of the workforce who contribute to this economy were highly qualified. This means they held a degree/higher level qualification (Level 4 or higher) or equivalent compared with 45% for the whole economy.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) - 2019 employment figures

The Scottish Government has identified the creative and cultural industries as one of seven integral growth sectors for the future based on its recent expansion and resilience. The creative industries (including visual art) contribute over £5.5 billion to the national gross domestic product per year.

The creative industries in Scotland - Scottish Government policy statement

Studying towards a degree in Fine Art is a highly transferable qualification, providing you with a significant foundation upon which to build a dynamic and fulfilling career.

*[ECA}: Edinburgh College of Art

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements


Applicants will be asked to submit a digital portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process.

For more information about the portfolio, visit the Edinburgh College of Art website at the link below and scroll to the section titled ‘Application Process’.

BA Fine Art application process

Portfolio technical support and specification

Important dates

  • 1 December 2024: portfolio submission site opens.
  • 29 January 2025: deadline for all applicants (including international applicants).
  • 4 February 2025 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: portfolio submission deadline.

BTEC/UAL Diplomas

Applicants studying Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Art and Design will be considered for entry with the following:

  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma with DMM.
  • Pearson BTEC Diploma with MM plus one A Level at A (or DM plus B at A Level).
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Certificate / Subsidiary Diploma with D plus two A Levels at B (or M plus AB at A Level).

Applicants studying the University of the Arts London Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design will be considered with Merit.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Entry to the second year is available. Successful completion of a Foundation Diploma (at Merit grade), a relevant HND or equivalent is required. Applicants with a Foundation Diploma will normally be expected to have undertaken these qualifications in addition to having met the first year entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB, relevant HNC, etc). In some of our less competitive degrees it may be possible to consider applicants presenting ABC (or equivalent) or above at A Level. These must have been achieved in one set of exams, at first attempt.

A list of accepted HNDs, along with further information for adult returners, can be found on our adult returner page:

Adult returner applicants

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BA Fine Art

Additional costs

Your materials costs will vary, depending on the media you choose to engage with and the materials you use to make your work at different points throughout your degree.

Where fieldwork opportunities are offered during your studies, there is no additional contribution required for the teaching costs involved. However, for any residential fieldwork and individual fieldwork-based projects, you are usually required to pay for:

  • accommodation
  • subsistence
  • the costs of travel to the fieldwork location


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding