Short courses in the Arts

Here at the OCA, our purpose is to provide the world with opportunities in the arts, whether that’s the opportunity to study for a creative qualification or simply to enhance your knowledge and practice. So if you want to learn something new, embrace a creative challenge but don’t wish to study for a qualification, our short art courses could be your perfect choice.

You can choose from a range of art courses, some of which have been developed from our undergraduate programmes, other specially commissioned short art courses. We say short, however mean they are shorter in comparison to a degree or foundation course. Flexibility is important to our students, so you can still take up to 2 years to complete our short art courses. Start by choosing a course from the selection below, studying what interests you most, or by picking a couple, to build up a portfolio to explore across different areas.

OCA’s personal development offer is designed to be flexible, supportive, and an enjoyable creative challenge.

As a learner, you’ll be allocated a specific OCA tutor who is relevant to your subject interest. All of our tutors are experienced practitioners in their own right, to support you through the course. They’ll be able to give you tips and tricks on techniques, critical feedback on your work, insights into the industry, answer any queries and much, much more. There is no formal assessment element, so you can use your feedback to help develop your ongoing practice and learning.

Available Personal Development Courses

These are the courses currently available for personal development with OCA. You can learn more about the course, and enrol using the form at the bottom of the page.
  • Exploring Drawing Media investigates a range of approaches to drawing that open up the possibilities for making, thinking and enabling you to enrich your creative outcomes with new methods. You’ll develop your use of drawing media, including fluid media and collage as well as appropriating mediums for the development of a drawing in three-dimensions.

  • Recognising the central role of drawing within illustration, the unit encourages you to develop a sense of your own personal voice through experimentation with drawing, mark making and materials. The unit will introduce a range of approaches to drawing and documenting from life by undertaking observational, narrative and reportage drawing projects based on the idea of the ‘everyday’.

  • Introducing Illustration: an explanation of the processes involved in working to a brief. This includes generating ideas, visual research and finding visual solutions. You will investigate different materials and techniques, explore audiences and learn to communicate visually within a range of formats in publishing, editorial and design.

  • The language of music (notation, speed, dynamics, expression, style, form, melody, harmony, score writing, etc.) and techniques of composition (musical ideas, create them, develop them, how to build a piece of music) are built here. The music of established composers is presented to develop your ability to hear music by looking at what is written in a musical score.

  • This unit will develop an understanding of western art (classical) music, its instruments, its practitioners and its history. Surveying western art music from c1450 to the present day, its key composers and repertoire, you’ll explore sociological aspects of musical performance and appreciate the ways later and contemporary music forms develop and refer to earlier styles or break away.

  • The unit helps you understand the role of painting media in production of artwork. It will encourage experimentation with a range of painting and drawing media giving you the confidence to develop and express ideas creatively and to expand understanding of the use of painting media in contemporary art practice. You can also specialise and understand a painting medium in more depth.

  • Expressing your Vision assumes you already know how to take photographs of things, and the unit is the starting point in your journey to taking photographs about things. You’ll look at how other photographers have used photography to express their opinions and views and developing your skills to do the same.

  • This unit develops your ability to observe in a selective way, develop your own visual ideas and means of expression. It enables you to experience and explore different printmaking techniques and media including monoprint, relief printing and collotype printmaking. The course introduces and builds awareness of the work of historic and contemporary printmakers and the history of printmaking.

  • This unit will develop your creative skills-base for textiles. You’ll analyse archive textiles and develop visual ideas for contemporary textiles in response to imagery, pattern, composition, structure and surface. You will be explore various approaches of analysing and interpreting colour and be encouraged to experiment with a range of media to explore yarn and produce simple textile translations.

  • This unit establishes the use of mixed media to develop skills in sample making that encourage you to be innovative, curious and creative. It will enable you to explore materials, medium and methods as a way of developing design outcomes. You will understand the value of risk taking and serendipity in the design process.

  • The unit teaches basic design skills and visual dynamics applicable across graphic design, illustration and other disciplines, and encourages you to take an experimental approach to developing visual ideas. Using the fundamental elements of colour, tone, line, shapes and composition as a starting point you will explore the interplay of these components in creating visual dynamics on the page.

  • Scriptwriting will equip you with a writer’s toolbox filled with the basics: how to lay out a script professionally; how to structure your screenplay; the do’s and don’ts of writing compelling dialogue; and breathing life into your characters. Through the unit you’ll not only have the nuts and bolts of screenwriting, but you’ll also have penned your own 15-minute screenplay.

  • The unit offers an introduction to the basic creative prose writing skills, developing your own creative style and voice and to inspire and encourage you to begin writing creatively. You will develop your writing practice by learning the habits and processes of a creative writer and by compiling a portfolio of work comprising short pieces of writing.

  • This unit will lay the groundwork and outline the process for beginning a novel. You’ll cover genres, styles and research; different approaches to planning and outlining, and it will reinforce basic writing skills including the creation of strong characters, descriptive writing, dialogue, pace, structure, and editing.