Fine Art Diploma (Full Time or Part Time)



Our Diploma course is designed for students aiming to become professional practising artists.
The three-year full-time or part-time Diploma is the place to hone your skills, discover new ones and develop a distinctive individual voice.
Overview >

The Fine Art Diploma is split into three levels and has a maximum intake of 20 students per level. If undertaken full time then the course would take three years. Students can choose to focus on cross-dimensional media, 2d, 3d and 4d (or time based media).
Structure >

The Fine Art Diploma is three years full time but can also be undertaken part time. The fees are £6590 per level full time or £7425 per level part time.
Applications are on a rolling basis but as numbers are small it’s recommended that applicants apply early. Start date for 2016 is the 12th September.
Facts >

It’s possible for you to take a tour of the Academy at any point in the year, to do so please contact the Course Administrator. We also run two open days a term which offer a valuable opportunity to visit the Academy, meet some of the staff and students and gain in depth information on our courses, teaching and student life.
Tour >


OVERVIEW_IMAGEOur Diploma course is designed for students aiming to become professional practising artists.
The three-year full-time or part-time Diploma is the place to hone your skills, discover new ones and develop a distinctive individual voice. Creativity is best nurtured in a vibrant, collegiate setting and Diploma students work alongside one another in small classes, led by a tutor. Learning together, trading ideas, and watching each other develop stimulates good work, and helps confidence grow.

Personal contact

Among the most distinctive features of the Art Academy approach is the exceptionally high level of personal contact time with teaching staff. Nowhere is this more evident than on the Diploma which boasts one of the highest levels of contact hours of any higher education fine art course. In years one and two, full-time Diploma students receive four full days a week (24 hours) of tutored time in different disciplines.
In the third year, the focus switches to project work with the graduate show a focus but, even here, students still receive up to 14 hours contact time a week. The emphasis here is on quality – quality consultation and quality time. Our teaching body is second to none. All our teachers – permanent staff or visiting lecturers – are practicing artists in their own right. They includes prize-winning practitioners and members of leading arts organisations.
The course includes art history and theory plus contextual studies, designed to help students to develop a critical faculty, and to locate their practice in the broader context of history and the contemporary milieu. Digital and Professional studies designed to enable our graduating students to sustain themselves as practicing artists beyond the course. This includes advice on budgeting, exhibiting, marketing, and professional development.

‘I’ve been encouraged to think commercially, with advice on how to market myself as an artist. last year i showed my work publicly for the first time. the Art Academy advised me on all aspects of the commercial world – such as how to hang my paintings and how to price them. the response was amazing. For me it was life-changing.’

Rhiannon Salisbury, Fine Art Diploma Graduate 2014


STRUCTURE_IMAGEThe Fine Art Diploma is split into three levels and has a maximum intake of 20 students per level. If undertaken full time then the course would take three years.

Skills Classes
Students can choose to focus on cross-dimensional media, 2d, 3d and 4d (or time based media).

Studio Practice
Studio practice is taught by studio tutors who begin the development of a broad range of skills and techniques, introduced through intensive Components of group study in Levels 1 and 2.

Art History & Theory
Enhances students’ theoretical knowledge of the visual arts and contemporary arts culture. Each student is encouraged to develop their critical faculty and to situate their practice within the broader context of the visual arts debate, participating in seminars, lectures, exhibition visits and essay writing.

Contextual Studies
Contextual & Critical Studies Components are aimed at developing a student’s research interest through the completion of their dissertation. The area of study should reflect and support their studio practice and situate it within the wider context.

Digital Studies
Gives students an understanding of how to document and present their work through a range of contemporary and digital media. Various workshops and sessions by specialist artists during levels 1 and 2 enable students to understand how digital languages could benefit their development and provide them with the tools to implement them.

Professional Development
Equips level 2 and 3 students to confidently establish their artistic practice. The subject explores areas of marketing, arts law, tax, portfolio presentation, websites and sources of funding.

At the Art Academy drawing is considered a fundamental and is a core subject of study for all level 1 and 2 students, exploring observation, creativity, composition and mark making, with an emphasis on how we understand, perceive and respond to the world.

Level 1 & 2

Four full days a week. Students choose from:

Skills courses in 2d, 3d & 4d Compulsory Compulsory

Oil Painting
Portrait & Figure Painting
Multiple Relief Printmaking
Metalwork and Armatures
Creative Sculpture in the Life Room
Site Specific Sculpture
Moving Image

Studio Practice
Art History & Theory
Professional Development
Digital Studies
Visiting Specialists


Level 3

At level 3 the focus moves to individual Studio Practice to develop students’ own creative vision, allow them to build up a body of work for the Graduate Exhibition and ensure students take their first steps as working artists by engaging in exhibitions and commissions. Students are mentored by a third year tutor and have a choice of personal tutor who they work with towards the graduate show. The focus is consolidating their personal practice and refining their own visual language.

Full-time Diploma students are all allocated 2 individual tutorials each during Levels 1 and 2, and one per term in Level 3 (plus 3 hours of individual time with their personal tutor). Part time Diploma students have one Tutorial per term during Levels 1 and one per term in Level 3.

Group Critiques
Integrated into the Core Discipline components and Studio Practice components for students to have the opportunity to benefit from feedback from both tutors and peers on the development of their studio work.

Visiting Specialists
Are drawn from a wide range of artists, theoreticians, and practitioners who can offer wider experience and expertise to students and lead lectures, seminars and specialism days.

We recognise each student is highly individual and our assessment process allows us to identify and respond to student needs and to guide students through the programme accordingly.

For more information please download our Diploma Course Document 2017-2018 (Subject to Change)


FACTS_IMAGECourse Leader
Tanya Russell

Course Location
Mermaid Court, 165A Borough High Street, London, SE1 1HR

Course Length
3 Years (Full Time), 4-5 Years (Part Time)

Fees 2017-2018
Fees must be paid in advance and can be paid yearly or termly (the latter incurring a 3% surcharge). One level is a full cycle of course components, each of which has to be completed before moving on to the next level. In the full time Diploma, each level is completed in a year; in the part time Diploma, a level takes two years. The Academy reviews its fees on an annual basis, but fees for enrolled students will not be increased from year to year other than to account for the annual rate of inflation.

Course Fee Per Level Fee Per Year Fee Per Term (incl 3% surcharge)
Full-time diploma (UK/EU) 3yr £6,656 £6,656 £2,285
Part-time Diploma (UK/EU)





Start Date
11th September 2017

Autumn Term 2017-2018
18th September – 1st December 2017
Half Term: 23rd October – 27th October 2017

Spring Term 2017-2018
8th January – 23rd March 2018
Half Term: 12th February – 16th February 2018

Summer Term 2017-2018
16th April – 22nd June 2018 (no half term)

Graduate Show
5 – 8 July 2018

More Info on: Artistic Prinicples




Open Days offer a valuable opportunity to visit the Academy, meet some of the staff and students and gain in-depth information on our courses, teaching and student life.

Where The Art Academy
Mermaid Court
165a Borough High Street
London SE1 1HR

When 2.30pm – (approx.) 4.30pm

Guests You are welcome to bring up to two guests with you. Please mention the number of guests in the booking form below.

Booking For individual reservations please fill in the online booking form below.

Schools If you wish to bring a group of school students to one of our Open Days please email us in advance to reserve places:

If you have any questions about our Open Days please contact us, via email at:

If you have any questions about our Open Days please contact the Course Administrator, via email at:



If you don’t find the answer to your question here, take a look at our Terms and Conditions, or contact us

Can I do the Diploma course part-time?
Yes, there is a flexible Part-time Diploma programme. You can vary the number of days you do per week each term, but typically students attend 2½ days a week and take 2 years to complete each level of study.

If I do part-time weekday courses, can they count towards a Diploma?
If you apply to do the Diploma we will consider other courses you have taken and decide whether to credit you with that course. Part time courses can also build towards a Certificate qualification – see Certificate Courses for details

Are scholarships, bursaries or student loans available for the Diploma course?
Not for the first 2 levels, but the Academy can offer advice on possible sources of funding for students. Contact us to discuss.

Do you take mature students for the Diploma course?
Yes, the age range is quite wide and applications from mature students are welcomed.

Do I need to have done formal art training before applying for the Diploma?
No, but the Diploma course is for those intending to make art their full-time occupation, so selection is made mainly on commitment to the course of study. We will though take some account of your ability and prior experience.

What is the structure for paying fees for the Diploma course?
Fees must be paid in advance – full details can be found on the Fees pages

Can I take a Diploma in just Sculpture or Painting?
The course allows students to focus on either painting or sculpture, or to study both. For a more in-depth look at the curriculum, see the Course Content tab.

Is the Diploma recognised or accredited?
Students from the Academy’s Diploma course have gone on to do an MA at another college, or have entered the third year of a Fine Art BA course. The Academy is in the process of making links with other higher education institutions offering accredited degree courses in order to facilitate this process. See also ‘Why we are independent’ for more on this topic.

How does the Diploma differ from a BA?
The qualification that we offer is an in-house diploma. Our assessment panel always includes an external assessor from a London university.
We offer a diploma, rather than a standard government-recognised BA or MA qualification, for a number of reasons:

We offer a very high level of tutored hours for the students which we feel is fundamental to providing the best possible education. Accredited courses cannot afford to do this, as the cost of compliance with all the requisite paperwork is so high that they have to drastically reduce the number of tutored hours, or raise the fees to an unrealistic level.

A course within that system is heavily influenced by it and has to fall in line with the structures, values and guidelines laid down by it. Our course is unique and has been very carefully considered and tested. We have no wish to lose valuable aspects through changing our accreditation.

As a professional artist, your most important assets are your portfolio and your previous experience. Very rarely is an artist asked what qualification they have. We therefore focus our attention on building portfolios and giving students as much experience as we can within our programmes.

Regarding job prospects, our Diploma is specifically designed to prepare and equip students to undertake a profession in Fine Arts. In this respect, your portfolio and experience will be the central focus. In addition to building skills and techniques across a range of disciplines, our programme includes in depth modules in Professional Development, Marketing, Art as a Business, etc to ensure students are able to translate their creative practice into a viable work life.






In order to apply for the Fine Art Diploma starting September 2017 please fill out our online application form.

Alternatively you can download a .pdf form and post it to us along with at least 5 images of your work.

On receiving your application, we will offer successful candidates an interview. The Art Academy’s Course Administrator will arrange a suitable time and date for interview with the Director of Academic Affairs. Interviews are based on the content and quality of the applicant’s portfolio, CV and application.

Application Deadline

We keep an open deadline for applications, however we can only accept a small number of students each year so we encourage early application.

Visiting the Academy

Open Days

If you would like to visit the Academy and learn more about the programs of study on offer, you can come to one of our open days (click on the TOUR tab for more information).

Individual Visits

Alternatively, please contact us and we can arrange a personal tour and discussion about your course requirements. If you bring some examples of your work, it can help to determine what course might suit you best.

EU & International Applicants

We accept applications from all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens or those with an existing visa for the UK.


If possible please bring to the interview a portfolio containing the following: If you do not have all of the below, please do not worry, just contact the office and we can speak to you about alternatives.

10 pieces of original finished work, which show your technical ability in a range of media. Please bring photographs of 3d installation work or if some of your work is digital bring this on a device to show it.
1 sketch book showing your own areas of interest, individual thought process or development process of finished work.
1 example of writing, critical study work or exploration of other artists, that you have done.

Application Results

Applicants will learn whether they have being successful within two weeks of interview.

We have to be select about the students that we accept due to the high level and quality of tuition we offer. Our decisions are based on the students’ application and commitment to their artwork rather than the quantity of previous work.