If you want to become a designer-maker, creating and selling your own work, this course will give you the commercial skills and business knowledge you'll need to start your own business.
This is the only Decorative Arts degree course in the UK which is accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD), giving you discounted membership during your studies. You will also have access to CSD online careers advice, guidance and vacancies.
- Work with a range of media including paper, plastic, ceramics, textiles, metal, wood and glass.
- Use the latest industry-standard digital software and machinery.
- Gain commercial skills and business knowledge to help you set up your own business
- Complete short periods of work experience, helping you to gain professional experience and skills.
- Take part in industry competitions like the Society of Dyers and Colourists annual colour competition and Texprint.
- Go on international study trips to design capitals like Milan and New York.
- Work in our dedicated studios and workshops, support by expert technical staff.
- Opt for a Live Trading module in your final year, where you could be part of team setting up a retail operation selling your products to the public.
- Exhibit your work in your final year at our Degree Show in Nottingham, and at New Designers in London.
- Apply to join a business development programme at The Hive, NTU’s purpose-built centre for entrepreneurship and enterprise.
Student work gallery
Take a look at some final-year work from this course in our BA (Hons) Decorative Arts student work gallery.
This course in endorsed by the Chartered Society of Designers.
Want to find out more?
What you study
Year One: both these modules run for the whole year.
- Form, Structure and Surface Decoration (100 credit points)
This aim of this module is to provide you with an introduction to Decorative Arts through drawing, initial concepts and developing ideas, research and design skills, prototypes and finished products. You will explore a range of 2D / 3D media in addition to learning about the principles of colour theory.
Workshops will introduce you to aspects of contemporary practice through material processes, techniques and skills relating to drawing, print, ceramics, embroidery, metal, wood, glass and mould-making.
- Decorative Arts in Context (20 credit points)
This module will provide you with an introduction to the key movements, themes and issues within 20th and 21st Century design. It will introduce you to, and develop your skills in, research, visual analysis, writing and presentation. This module is designed to enhance your development as a designer-maker. You'll learn how to develop an independent approach to individual learning and working within a team, and you'll research, organise and produce written work, presentations and discussions.
- Innovation: Creative Design (100 credit points)
During this module you'll complete a variety of projects to help you develop skills that can be applied to the production of contemporary applied arts. This will include drawing, ideas generation, visual research, material exploration, presentation and visualisation. You will also explore the context, cultural and commercial, in which your work exists through visits, marketing research, costing, marketing and sustainability.
- Business and Professional Practice (20 credit points)
This module provides you with an overview of business and professional development within the context of Decorative Arts. You will learn about setting up, product development, marketing, publicity, finance, sales and pricing. You will also learn how to develop an independent approach to individual learning and working within a group. You'll also research, organise and produce written work and presentations / discussions.
- Creative Practice and Theory (120 credit points)
There are two elements to this module, which are marked separately. The first part is Creative Practice, which will count for 70% of your final mark. You will attend a mixture of lectures and tutorials where you negotiate, through discussion, a personal brief. You will develop, explore and analyse your ideas and go on to create a body of work which will lead to a professional portfolio and product collection.
The second part is the theoretical element of the module and counts for 30% towards your final mark. You can choose to either complete a dissertation or a live trading business plan.
For the dissertation you will negotiate a research topic which you will then refine for a dissertation submission.
For the live trading business plan you will create a business plan to support your practical work and final collection. You will include information about setting up your workshop, studio production and practice, pricing, marketing, business development and the legal implications for a freelancer, sole trader or SME business.
Find out what you will cover in each module of our BA (Hons) Decorate Arts course in more detail .
How you learn
You will be taught through a variety of teaching and learning experiences which will include:
- group tutorials
- educational visits
- interim evaluations
- technical surgeries
You will also be involved in self-directed project work where you will have the support of NOW, our virtual learning environment.
How you are assessed
Assessment for this course is 100% through coursework.
You will be assessed at the end of each module and awarded a grade band (1st, 2.1. 2,2. etc.). You will receive feedback throughout the module so you know what level you are working at.
How you are assessed will depend on the individual module, but may take the form of:
- presentations of your practical work
- research portfolio
- business plan
To progress through the course you must achieve 120 credits each year. Your final degree mark will be based 100% on your final year work.
In your final year you will exhibit your work as part of our Degree Show. This event includes all final-year students across NTU's Art and Design courses, and is a great platform for you to celebrate your studies and showcase your work to members of the creative industries.
Visit our Degree Show website to get a taste of what this event is like.
You will also have the opportunity to be selected to showcase your work to industry at New Designers in London, one of the UK's most important graduate exhibitions.
Links with industry
This course is committed to offering you experience that will enhance your understanding of the industry's requirements.
Live projects and competitions are an important part of the course, and this together with support from course staff and NTU's Employability Team, will prepare you well for employment.
Recent live projects include:
- The Johnson Tiles design challenge
- Hothouse Craft Council
- Open Gallery project with the Harley Foundation
- A project with Nottingham's Creative Quarter.
Competitions our Decorative Arts students have been involved with include:
- Texprint design competition
- The Society of Dyers and Colourists Colour competition.
You will be actively encouraged and supported to undertake work experience placements, which usually take place during holiday times, outside of term time.
The University also hosts an annual Day of Colour which is run by the Society of Dyers and Colourists, and features guest lectures by prominent colour and creative professionals.
Trips and study visits
You will have the opportunity to go on optional overseas trips to design capitals such as Milan and New York.
You'll also go on study visits closer to home, such as visiting galleries in London in Year One.
The University is part of the Erasmus programme and has agreements with a number of partner institutions throughout Europe.
If you're thinking about studying part of your degree abroad, Erasmus is a great way of experiencing a new culture, meeting new people, learning a new language and gaining a study experience which will enhance your CV.
A recent destination our Decorative Arts students have visited on exchange includes Kalmar University in Sweden, a centre of excellence for glass blowing and design.
This is the only decorative arts course in the UK to be accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD).
As a student on this course you will benefit from discounted CSD student membership. You will also have access to CSD online careers advice, guidance and vacancies.
When you have successfully completed this course you will also be eligible for free, automatic entry to the CSD at Associate Member level. You'll have continued access to discounted CSD student membership and its benefit, for one year.
Learn from expert staff
Our Decorative Arts team is made up of expert academic staff, who have extensive experience in both education and industry.
Course Leader: Lharne Shaw
What do the course fees cover?
Find out what is included in the course fees for our BA (Hons) Decorative Arts .
Where will I study?
You will study this course on NTU's City site, based in Nottingham city centre.
Our Decorative Arts facilities are based in the Bonington building, a dedicated Art and Design building. You may have some lectures in other buildings across the campus, including our recently renovated Newton building.
When does the course start?
This course starts in September. For more information take a look at our academic calendar for details of term start and end dates.
View the full course specification
Please note that course specifications may be subject to change
Our Decorative Arts studios and workshops are based in the Bonington building, a dedicated Art and Design building.
Decorative Arts facilities
- Glass kilns for glass work
- potter’s wheels
- a ceramic digital printer
- casting and moulding equipment
- metal workshops adapted for specialist metal usage
- woodworking workshop and equipment
- rubber, resin and plastics development equipment
- polymer 3D printer
- vinyl cutter
- hand screen printing, transfer printing, collograph printing.
Other Art and Design facilities
You will also have the opportunity to use resources from across the School of Art & Design and wider University, including equipment such as:
- embroidery machines: domestic, industrial and Barudan multi-head digital embroidery
- weave looms: Dobby and George Lloyd looms, Tapestry loom, Dracup Digital Jacquard loom
- 3D prototyping unit
- waterjet and laser cutting technology
- fabric laser cutting and engraving equipment and fabric dye facility
- digital fabric print facility: Mimaki TX2 digital fabric printers.
Bonington Art Shop
Our specialist in-house art shop is based in the Bonington building. Run by experience and friendly University staff, the shop stocks a wide variety of arts and crafts materials.
The shop responds to the requirements of our students, and the stock on offer grows each year to support the courses offered within the School of Art & Design.
Bonington Colour Bureau
Located in the Bonington building, our Colour Bureau provides a range of in-house printing for NTU students and staff.
Specialising in graphic arts printing, the Colour Bureau offers high quality prints on a non-standard range of media in any size up to B0. It also operates a drop-off service so you won't have to queue, and aims to offer A4/A3 prints for same-day collection where possible.
Bonington Gallery presents a number of exhibitions throughout the year as part of a comprehensive programme of visual arts and design events.
Exhibitors include national and international artists and designers, current students and staff from within the University and NTU alumni.
Our IT resource rooms and PC clusters are distributed across the City site, with PCs providing access to:
- Microsoft Office
- Web browsing
- Networked file storage
- High-speed online printing services.
The University’s main resource room in the library is available 24 hours a day.
Book and library resources
In our library you will have access to an extensive and diverse range of books and periodicals that focus on specialist areas within Art and Design. The library’s OneSearch system provides access to all our:
- Electronic resources
We have a liaison librarian with specialist knowledge in Decorative Arts. They will be in available in the library to give you detailed help in finding and using print and electronic resources. They can also help you with things such as Harvard referencing and research skills.
The School of Art & Design at NTU has an excellent graduate employment rate, with 92% of our graduates in employment or further study within six months. (DLHE 2013-14)
Graduate from this course regularly feature in the UK’s most influential style publications, including Elle Decoration, Vogue, Wallpaper* and World of Interiors.
Many of our graduates have gone on to set up their own businesses as designer-makers, with recent success stories including:
- Brittany Delaney (Brittany Delany Ceramics)
- Esther Patterson (Curiousa & Curiousa)
- Anna Collette Hunt (Anna Collette Hunt Contemporary Fine Crafts)
- Rosie Norman (Rosie Olivia Millinery).
Other recent graduates have gone on to work as designers, studio practitioners and stylists for companies including:
- Paul Smith
- Vivienne Westwood
- Philip Treacy
- Hugo Boss
- the BBC
- Fired Earth
Some graduates choose to transfer their skills into areas like art direction, marketing, merchandising, purchasing and consultancy, and some move into teaching after completing a PGCE.
YouFirst – working with our Employability Team
Our friendly, experience careers consultants will work closely with you at every stage of your career planning, providing personal support and advice you won't find in a book or on the internet. You can benefit from this at any time during your studies and up to three years after completing your course. Find out more about our Employability Team.
Work placement and internship opportunities
You will be actively encouraged and supported to undertaking informal work experience and professional practice in addition to your studies.
You will normally complete these placements during holiday times, but you will have the option of taking up to two weeks out of term time which you can negotiate with your tutor. Most students attach these two weeks onto the start of end of a holiday, so they can complete longer periods of work experience.
Our teaching staff, including part-time lecturers who are professionally active, help and support students in directing them towards work placement and professional practice opportunities. This can be through their own contacts, through graduates from the course, or through links with companies and practitioners which have built by the course over a number of years.
Companies and organisations that our Decorative Arts students have worked with on placement include:
- Designers Guild
- Cath Kidston
- Philip Treacy
- Selvedge magazine
- Hand & Lock
- Society of Dyers and Colourists.
And a range of screenprinters, jewellery businesses and ceramics manufacturers.
280 UCAS Tariff points achieved from a maximum of four qualifications (two of which must be A-level equivalent).
- We will accept a BTEC Extended Diploma as equivalent to three qualifications.
- We will accept an Art and Design Foundation Diploma as equivalent to two qualifications.
You will also need:
If you hold international qualifications, take a look at the alternative qualifications we accept for this course.
Are you an international student who does not meet the direct entry requirements for this course? You can prepare for it at Nottingham Trent International College. Their Foundation Certificate in Art and Design offers students a direct progression route to this degree on successful completion to the required level.
English language requirements and English support
Find out more about our English language entry requirements and English language support whilst you're studying with us.
We welcome applications from mature students (over the age of 21) for this course. We will assess applicants of this nature on an individual basis.
If you are a mature student, you will still need to apply to us by UCAS form, but you don't necessarily need to meet our minimum entry requirements. You must, however, have a portfolio to present at interview.
How to apply
Application for this course is through UCAS application form.
You can follow our step-by-step instructions when applying through UCAS. You can also find out more about the application process on the UCAS website.
Once you have applied, make sure you check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder. We may need to contact you during this time. Good luck with your application.
This course starts in September and applications should be submitted by the UCAS deadline, January 15.
Applications received after this date will be marked as 'late' and only considered if places are still available, after all on-time applications have been assessed.
The admissions process
Selection for this course takes place through UCAS application form and, where invited, interview and portfolio.
- UK applicants
If you are invited to attend an interview at the University, you'll bring your portfolio with you for assessment. For more information about what we look for during an interview, and some useful tips for your portfolio, download our BA (Hons) Decorative Arts interview and portfolio information.
- Overseas applicants
If you meet the minimum entry requirements we will ask you to send us 12 examples of your practical work and a piece of written work (approximately 500 words) from your current or previous course. When we receive your UCAS application we'll contact you to tell you how to submit your work online. Overseas applicants are not expected to attend an interview at the University.
The UCAS application form requires you to write a personal statement as part of your application. For some tips on what to include, use our guide to writing an effective personal statement.
We are committed to ensuring that all UK students have access to higher education. We recognise the need to invest financially in the future of our students, and have introduced a system of scholarships aimed at enabling home students from lower income families to undertake a degree course.
For information about Nottingham Trent University scholarships please visit our fees and funding webpages.
Need help with your application?
For admissions related enquiries please contact us:
Telephone: +44 (0)115 848 4200
or Ask us a question
"I chose this course because I was interested in Textiles but wasn't sure, so I was looking for something that kept my options open but still had a focus on drawing.
"I most enjoyed the creative studio and workshop atmosphere. The course's strengths are its relatively small size, supportive and approachable tutors and the strong emphasis on the importance of drawing and colour in design.
"I would recommend NTU because of the brilliant facilities and technicians and the creative atmosphere in the Bonington building. I would recommend BA (Hons) Decorative Arts because of the varied practical skills you learn as well as the vital business skills and commercial awareness you leave with. All of this is in addition to the very supportive and inspiring atmosphere you experience working alongside your peers and tutors.
"My degree has given me a broad skill base which I think makes me a more adaptable designer. The Live Trading side to the course and my work experience has also helped me to have more market awareness and understanding of how a business is run.
"My advice to prospective students would be to get as much work experience as you can, as soon as you can. It is so important and really improves your employability. Also enjoy the course, make sure you try new things and take risks in the first two years, and travel - it's so inspiring!"
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