BA (Hons)

Decorative Arts

  • UCAS code(s): W170
  • Level(s) of study: Undergraduate
  • Study mode(s): Full-time
  • Location: City Campus
  • Starting: September 2019
  • Course duration: 3 year(s)
  • Entry requirements: More information

FIND US ON

On this contemporary design crafts degree we'll provide you with the tools and skills to become a successful designer-maker, exploring ceramics, textiles, metals, wood, print and glass.

Develop your design and making skills, learning techniques in drawing, mould making, kiln forming, and jewellery making. Embrace new digital technologies in 2D and 3D, as well as more traditional methods of making for products in the interior, home and fashion sectors, or for the gallery or luxury giftware market.

This course is ideal:

  • if you have a love of fine art, hands-on making and / or product design
  • if you’re aspiring to launch a career within retail, buying, design, marketing, merchandising, art direction and consultancy
  • if you want to become designer-maker. You’ll gain the commercial knowledge required to start your own enterprise
  • if you want to get into teaching art and design at all levels.

Key features

  • Decorative Arts at NTU remains one of the foremost 2D and 3D design craft-based degrees in the UK and is accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers.
  • We're delighted to be ranked 8th in the UK for Design and Crafts (Guardian University League Tables 2019).
  • Our students are in high demand within the industry - 94% of graduates in employment or further study within six months (DLHE survey 2016/17).
  • Learn traditional and digital methods of making on our workshop programme and enhance your drawing skills in dedicated drawing classes.
  • Be inspired by Nottingham’s art community and creative places to visit, such as Nottingham Castle, Nottingham Contemporary and Lakeside Arts.
  • Opportunity to be nominated for competitions such as the Society of Dyers and Colourists’ annual colour competition and Texprint.
  • Go on study trips to places like Denby, The Design Museum, Tom Dixon and Heals in London.
  • Showcase your work in our Degree Show, and be selected to exhibit at New Designers, London, where students have won high-profile prizes, such as the Denby Associate Prize.
  • Learn commercial skills to help you set up your own business.
  • Apply to join a business development programme at The Hive, NTU’s purpose-built centre for entrepreneurship and enterprise.
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Find out what life as a Decorative Arts student is really like

Student work

What you'll study

  • Year One

    Form, Structure and Surface Decoration (100 credit points)
    You’ll be given an introduction to decorative arts through drawing, initial concepts and developing ideas, research and design skills, prototypes, and finished products. Explore a range of 2D and 3D media, and you’ll learn about the principles of colour theory. Through workshops, learn about 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. Develop skills in research, visual analysis, writing, and presenting. You’ll research, organise and produce written work, presentations, and discussions.

  • Year Two

    Innovation: Creative Design (100 credit points)
    Complete a variety of projects to help you to develop skills that apply to the production of contemporary applied arts. This includes drawing, idea generation, visual research, material exploration, presentation, and visualisation. Explore the cultural and commercial context in which your work exists through visits, market research, costing, marketing, and sustainability.

    Business and Professional Practice (20 credit points)

    You’ll be given an overview of business and professional development in the context of decorative arts. Learn about setting up a workshop or studio, product development, marketing, publicity, finance, sales, and pricing. You’ll also research, organise and produce written work, presentations, and discussions.

  • Final year

    Creative Practice and Theory (120 credit points)
    There are two elements to this module, which are marked separately. The first part – Creative Practice – counts for 70% of your final mark. Attend lectures and tutorials where you negotiate a personal brief. Develop, explore and analyse your ideas, and create work that will lead to a professional portfolio and product collection.

    The second part of the module is theoretical and counts for 30% of your final mark. You can choose to complete either a dissertation or a Live Trading business plan. For the dissertation, you’ll negotiate a research topic that you’ll then refine and evaluate. For the Live Trading business plan, you’ll create a business plan to support your practical work. Explore the legal elements of a freelance, sole trader or small and mediumsized enterprise (SME) business, and look at studio production and practice, pricing, marketing, and business development.

Course specification

View the full course specification
Please note that course specifications may be subject to change

How you’re taught

You’ll spend most of your time in a creative studio environment. Teaching and learning experiences will include:

  • drawing classes
  • practical workshops
  • lectures
  • briefings
  • study trips
  • interim evaluations
  • technical surgeries
  • presentations.

Assessment

Assessment is 100% through coursework. You will receive feedback throughout each module and will be awarded a grade.

Depending on the module, you may be assessed through:

  • presentations of your practical work
  • essays
  • reports
  • presentations
  • research portfolio
  • business plans
  • dissertation.

Your final degree mark will be based 100% on your final year work.

Exchanges, trips and study visits

Student, Fumi Shimomura spent a semester abroad in Czech Republic

You’ll have the opportunity to visit a variety of places in the UK for inspiration and an insight into industry, such as the Denby pottery factory. You may also have the opportunity to visit design capitals such as London, Milan, and New York.

The course has exchange agreements with a number of institutions around the world, such as RMIT in Australia, China Academy of Art, and more. You can apply to go on exchange in Year Two for one semester. A recent exchange destination for our Decorative Arts students is Linnaeus University in Sweden – a centre of excellence for glass-blowing and design.

Degree Show

In your final year you’ll 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 showcase your work to members of the creative industries.

You may also have the chance to showcase your work to industry at New Designers in London, one of the UK’s leading graduate exhibitions. At the event in 2017, Decorative Arts student Emma Lycett won the Denby Associate Prize. Her prize included £500 cash and a two-week placement with the Denby design team in Derbyshire. Bethany Stafford, who graduated from BA (Hons) Decorative Arts in 2016, exhibiting as part of New Designers ‘One Year On’, won the London Design Fair Associate Prize.

Assessment methods

  • Year 1 coursework (100%).
  • Year 2 coursework (100%).
  • Year 3 coursework (100%).

Contact hours

A full-time student on average can expect to spend 1200 hours a year learning which will typically be broken down as follows:

  • Year 1 lectures/seminars/workshops (30%), independent study (70%).
  • Year 2 lectures/seminars/workshops (28%), independent study (72%).
  • Year 3 lectures/seminars/workshops (20%), independent study (80%).

Careers and employability

Employability is excellent for students from this degree, with 94% of graduates going on to employment or further study within six months of graduating. (DLHE 2016/17)

Graduates regularly feature in the UK’s most influential style publications, including Elle Decoration, Vogue, Wallpaper* and World of Interiors.

Many 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 work as designers, studio practitioners and stylists for companies such as:

  • Burberry
  • Paul Smith
  • Vivienne Westwood
  • Emma Bridgewater
  • Heals
  • Hugo Boss
  • Dunelm
  • Alessi
  • Joules
  • Harrods
  • Fired Earth
  • Habitat
  • Ikea
  • Adidas
  • Next.

This course also prepares you for a career in teaching art and design at any level, with the addition of a postgraduate teaching qualification.

YouFirst – working with our Employability team

Studying a creative degree in a large university has its benefits, none more so than having access to a large employability team.

Our friendly, experienced 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 for up to three years after completing your course.

If you’re interested in setting up your own business after graduating, you can apply to join a business development programme at The Hive, NTU’s purpose-built centre for entrepreneurship and enterprise. They run mentoring and training programmes, and can offer support with your business planning.

Connecting with industry

Work by Francesca Slade for the Denby Pottery live project

This course offers experiences that will enhance your understanding of working in industry, through visiting practitioners, live projects and the opportunity to raise your profile through industry competitions.

Recent live projects include:

  • the Johnson Tiles design challenge
  • an industry design project with Denby
  • the Craft Council’s Hothouse programme; and
  • a project inspired by the Nottingham Castle collection.

Competitions our Decorative Arts students have been involved with include Texprint design competition and the Society of Dyers and Colourists’ International Design Competition.

NTU 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.

This is the only craft-based degree course in the UK that is accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD), giving you free membership during your studies which means you’ll have access to CSD online careers advice, guidance, and job vacancies.

Work placement and internship opportunities

You’ll be encouraged to undertake work experience alongside your studies. Course staff and the NTU Employability team will support you with tips on how best to approach companies, designers and makers, and how to get the most from your experience.

Recent placements have included Joules, Saatchi Gallery, F&F at Tesco, SCP Furniture, Dunelm Mills, Atomic Interiors and British Ceramics Biennial.

We're delighted to be ranked 8th in the UK for Design and Crafts (Guardian University League Tables 2019)

Work from your own studio area, embracing new technologies and more traditional methods of making.

Entry requirements

What are we looking for?

  • A-levels – BBC; or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM; or
  • 112 UCAS Tariff points from three A-levels  or equivalent qualifications; and
  • GCSEs – English and Maths or Science grade C / 4.

Use our helpful tariff calculator.

Other requirements

All applications welcome

We welcome applications from prospective students with a range of qualifications and experience, and all are assessed on an individual basis. Mature applicants who do not meet the standard entry criteria can still be considered providing they have relevant experience to compliment any qualifications.

All applicants will need to apply through UCAS and will be expected to present a creative portfolio if invited to attend an interview.

What are we looking for?

  • A-levels – BBC; or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM; or
  • 112 UCAS Tariff points from three A-levels or equivalent qualifications; and
  • GCSEs – English and Maths or Science grade C / 4.

Use our helpful tariff calculator.

Other requirements

All applications welcome

We welcome applications from prospective students with a range of qualifications and experience, and all are assessed on an individual basis. Mature applicants who do not meet the standard entry criteria can still be considered providing they have relevant experience to compliment any qualifications.

All applicants will need to apply through UCAS and will be expected to present a creative portfolio if invited to attend an interview.

English language requirements

If English isn't your first language, you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. You can check our language requirements and list of accepted English language tests. Your British Council office can tell you where you can take an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test locally.

Next steps

Please also take a look at our International students page and our application guide for international students, which are full of advice and information about the University.

If you need any more help or information, please contact our International team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our staff at the International Development Office, who are always happy to help. Or speak to one of our official NTU representatives for your country.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS.

We will ask you to provide a submission of work online.

If successful, you'll be invited to an interview where you'll need to bring with you your creative portfolio.

Get some portfolio advice.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Apply through UCAS.

We will ask you to provide a submission of work online.

If successful, you'll be invited to an interview where you'll need to bring with you your creative portfolio.

Get some portfolio advice.

Keeping up to date

After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Please also take a look at our International students page and our application guide for international students, which are full of advice and information about the University.

If you need any more help or information, please contact our International team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our staff at the International Development Office, who are always happy to help. Or speak to one of our official NTU representatives for your country.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Further information on how to apply

Need help with your application?
For admissions related enquiries please contact us:
Telephone: +44 (0)115 848 4200

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there's no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service.

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

What's included in the course fees?

The annual fee for our undergraduate degree courses includes a number of items. In addition to expert tuition and access to our first-class workshop and IT resources, you'll receive:

  • mandatory field trips, exhibitions and events required as part of your core studies
  • receive £100 print and materials credit for each year of your course (for a maximum of three years) for use in the Bonington art shop and print facilities
  • materials for induction workshops and activities within the workshops and laboratories
  • professional body course accreditation (where applicable)
  • infrastructure costs for final year Degree Shows within Nottingham (where applicable).

You are expected to purchase your own books, standard drawing and writing equipment, and consumables.

Where optional overseas visits are offered, you will need to meet the cost of these.

While we aim to keep any extra study costs to a minimum, please see our page on additional costs and optional extras to find out about any additional expenses you may incur on your course.

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there's no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

You might be able to get a scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to those international students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion, and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our International students page for information about fees, scholarships for international students, visas and much more.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service.

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

What's included in the course fees?

The annual fee for our undergraduate degree courses includes a number of items. In addition to expert tuition and access to our first class workshop and IT resources, you'll receive:

  • mandatory field trips, exhibitions and events required as part of your core studies
  • receive £100 print and materials credit for each year of your course (for a maximum of three years) for use in the Bonington art shop and print facilities
  • materials for induction workshops and activities within the workshops and laboratories
  • professional body course accreditation (where applicable)
  • infrastructure costs for final year Degree Shows within Nottingham (where applicable).

You are expected to purchase your own books, standard drawing and writing equipment, and consumables.

Where optional overseas visits are offered, you will need to meet the cost of these.

While we aim to keep any extra study costs to a minimum, please see our page on additional costs and optional extras to find out about any additional expenses you may incur on your course.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418