Studying with

the Open College of the Arts

We’re different…

The Open College of the Arts (OCA) has been offering distance learning creative arts courses since it was founded by Lord Michael Young in 1987. With the OCA’s part time courses, you can learn at home or from anywhere you like – whilst commuting, on holiday or even in your lunchbreak.

Through the OCA’s distance learning model, you can either study individual courses for personal development, or study a degree in one of eleven subject areas. We also have a more general Creative Arts degree, if you prefer not to specialise in any one area, and an online MA Fine Art. The OCA has over 25 years of experience in offering distance learning courses and in that time we have helped thousands of students to achieve their creative goals without sacrificing their careers or lifestyles in the process. Our flexible part time courses come to you, wherever you might be and whatever your circumstances.

Supporting our students

We recognise that distance learning education can require a greater level of self-motivation than traditional campus-based study, and so we offer a range of online facilities for breaking down those motivational barriers to study, as well as providing access to our course support advisers who are there to provide help if you feel you’ve reached an impasse in your studies.

For students with disabilities and long term health conditions there may be extra support available through Disabled Students’ Allowance and you are encouraged to talk to our Student Services team before enrolling: 0800 731 2116.

Your personal tutor

For each course you study with OCA, you will be allocated a personal tutor. All the OCA tutors are practising artists, photographers, designers, writers or composers and are experienced teachers at HE level.

Your tutor is there to:

  • Provide formative feedback on your assignments*
  • Direct you in your research in accordance with your own work
  • Encourage the development of creative and online study skills
  • Highlight your assessment potential prior to formal submission
  • Informal assistance upon reasonable request between assignment submissions

*Some students, depending on course unit choices, can opt for written tutor reports on assignments or live online feedback sessions through Skype or Google Hangouts.

Meet the tutors: Michelle Whiting

25 years of learning and creativity

OCA is a thriving creative arts community of photographers, painters, composers, graphic designers, textile artists, sculptors and writers studying part-time creative arts courses at university level. OCA, an education charity, was set up by the social entrepreneur Michael Young in 1987.

We offer a range of 12 undergraduate art degrees and an award winning MA Fine Art, all accredited by the University for Creative Arts (UCA).

Speedy enrolment

You can either securely enrol on to one of our art degrees or courses through this website with a credit/debit card or call the office to make your payment. Once your enrolment has been processed, you will receive an OCA email address together with online access to your course and tutor within just a few hours.  You will then receive your physical course materials by courier within two working days of cleared payment.


A real bonus is that our fees are about a third of those charged by traditional universities. What’s more, you can study with us whilst carrying on with existing commitments such as part-time employment, or family/carer responsibilities. You can pay fees as you go or get a student loan if you haven’t already got a degree.

UCA accredited degree

OCA undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses are accredited at higher education level by the University for the Creative Arts, whose alumni include fashion designers Karen Millen and Zandra Rhodes; Oscar winners Daniel Greaves and Suzie Templeton; and fine artists Tracy Emin and Humphrey Ocean.

Personal one-to-one tutor support

Once you enrol you will be assigned a personal tutor who is a creative practitioner in your chosen discipline and who is qualified to teach in higher education.

Quality – QAA

The quality of our online teaching and learning materials was identified as an area of good practice when OCA was inspected in February 2014 by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the agency responsible for safeguarding standards and improving the quality of higher education in the UK. Read the full report here: OCA’s QAA Report

Study visits

Meet fellow students under the guidance of one of our tutors on our optional study visits; held all across the UK and beyond.

A global community

The OCA has a vibrant student community from around the world. Upon enrolment, you will become part of that thriving UK and international student community.

Study at times to suit you

Many OCA students are combining studies with work, bringing up children or caring for relatives. Some are just starting out in their careers. Others are well into retirement. Most had no qualifications in the creative arts when they began studying. We are not tied by fixed term times, so students can start whenever it suits them.

Our Courses


Our Students


Our Tutors


Our Head Office Team