The BA (Hons) Fine Art Open degree focuses on the core media within fine arts – Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, and Printmaking. Respecting and acknowledging the historical atelier-based, fine art approach, the course builds on and respects the traditional as well as exploring contemporary approaches in fine art practice.

Degree overview

The OCA BA (Hons) Fine Art degree offers students the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of fine art as a creative, technical and intellectual activity. Integration of theory and practice in the course supports critical reflection in accessible ways and widens the cultural, social and political contexts that frame students’ understanding of fine art and their own work. This critical and contextual reflection is evidenced through research and reflective tasks at HE Level 4, critical writing at Level 5 and a body of visual and written research for Level 6.

The Fine Art Open degree offers an accessible, flexible, and well-supported course of study through which students can develop their creative voice in the media of choice within a specialist understanding of the discipline. It is an academically rigorous course of study that integrates theory and practice and develops autonomous learning skills within a stimulating learning environment. It supports the development of a sustainable and reflective creative practice for a professional career, further study, or continued personal development.

The curriculum focuses on the core media within fine arts – Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, and Printmaking. Respecting and acknowledging the historical atelier based, fine art approach, the course builds on and respects the traditional as well as exploring contemporary approaches in fine art practice. This course will appeal to those who want to study their chosen media in depth, establishing a solid, traditional skills and knowledge base from where they can explore and innovative.

The OCA BA (Hons) Fine Art degree provides stimulating and high quality learning materials, tutor support and resources to help develop a sense of visual and intellectual enquiry. Learning materials are authored by a team of educators and/or practitioners, drawing on current academic research and teaching practice in the discipline. The course team is made up of a range of appropriately qualified and experienced tutors who are all either current practitioners within the field of fine art and/or lecturing in the subject at other UK art colleges or Universities. The learning environment provides opportunities to join and contribute to a diverse learning community through forum discussions, study visits and other platforms that allows for wider interaction, networking, collaboration and reflection. The course encourages students to develop a sustainable approach to their practice by establishing studio spaces, support networks and by setting up individual or collaborative exhibitions and/or publications.

Fine Art degree image: Credit: Emma Delpech, OCA student.

Degree aims

  • The Fine Art Open degree curriculum focuses on the core media within fine arts  – Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, and Printmaking.
  • Provide an intellectually stimulating programme of study based on high quality study material delivered by experienced artists.
  • The course builds on and respects the traditional as well as exploring contemporary approaches in fine art practice.
  • Develop your creative capacities and ability in the interpretation and application of imagery.
  • Develop your critical understanding of the theoretical and conceptual issues central to Fine Art and the social, historical and cultural context in which it is practiced.
  • Provide an environment in which you have the possibility of changing your view of the world and your interaction with it both visually and intellectually.
  • Foster high-level ethical and professional standards and an awareness of the possibilities offered by existing and new developments in art and painting to expand your application areas.

Degree content

Developing Concepts and Skills:

At Level 4 of the OCA BA (Hons) Fine Art degree, a sound base of drawing skills is established alongside the study of visual culture in the two core units at this level, establishing a practical and contextual understanding. Students can choose a further unit from a wide choice, for example, art history, sculpture, painting, printmaking or drawing. Level 4 unit assignments support the student through a series of investigations to application.

You need three units at this Level There are two mandatory units which you must undertake. Please consult the Fine Art Open degree pathway for any forthcoming course units.

Mandatory course units

Course unit options

Intermediate stage:

At Level 5, Fine Art Open degree students progress in their chosen discipline, with each Level 5 unit taking the student on a journey towards greater autonomy and a wider awareness of the contemporary practice of fine art. These units encourage students to investigate their media beyond the studio considering what fine art practice can be in the 21st Century.

You need to undertake two of the following units. Please consult the OCA BA (Hons) Fine Art degree pathway for any forthcoming course modules:

Becoming an independent practising artist:

Level 6 of the Fine Art degree represents the culmination of the student’s enquiry. Students are encouraged to analyse the contemporary art world and their position within it and to use this knowledge to present themselves and their work professionally and coherently. Unit 1 Advanced Practice is complimented and informed by Unit 2 Contextual Studies; the student plans and negotiates their research into their own specialist subject area; practice and writing become mutually dependent as creative work is underpinned by growing knowledge and understanding, through analysis of contextual influences and studio methodologies. At this level, students are encouraged to expand their definitions of fine art, and the possibilities for their own work, by exploring contemporary fine art practice beyond the frame and gallery.

Please click here to view the Fine Art level 3 (HE6) course units on our degree pathway.

Course content

Full details of the content of the Fine Art degree, and pathways available can be found through the BA (Hons) Fine Art degree handbook and pathway documents, downloadable here. If you need more information about the content of this degree and the course units available through it, please call the office to speak to an advisor.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 14.41.32

The BA (Hons) Fine Art degree handbook

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 14.41.12

The BA (Hons) Fine Art degree pathway

Creative careers

The creative sector employs 1.5 million people in the UK alone. By studying the OCA BA (Hons) Fine Art degree, you can kick-start your career in the creative industries by working part-time or doing an internship whilst gain ing your academic qualifications at the same time.

Achieving a degree in Fine Art prepares you for a career in a variety of fields. Through the broad practical and theoretical skills you will have acquired during your studies, you will be highly employable not just for a career specifically in the fine arts, but in a range of industries and sectors. As well as a career as an exhibiting Fine Artist, you will have careers such as teacher, lecturer, curator, gallery manager, art therapist, curator, art editor or art consultant, amongst many more, open to you.

Due to the OCA’s emphasis on practical work, you will have a substantial portfolio of work to take with you to potential employers, and if you opt to use a blog to document your learning journey throughout your studies, you will already have a rich online presence which can be a useful asset in promoting your future work to the world. For more information on the careers your Fine Art Open degree can lead to, please see the Fine Art section on Prospects.ac.uk.

Caroline Wright

Programme Leader for MA Fine Art, Fine Art and Painting

I am the Curriculum Leader for the OCA’s MA Fine Art, Painting degree and the Fine Art degree.

My practice encompasses site responsive visual and performance work using media as diverse as glass and gold. I have made work for cities and rural spaces, community spaces, galleries, theatres, churches, on desolate uninhabited islands and for audiences in the 100s and of one. I studied at Norwich University College of the Arts where I graduated with a BA (2000) and MA (2002) followed more recently by a PG Certificate in HE (Art and Design) at University of the Arts, London and I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am interested in issues around professional development for artists and in assimilation of teaching and creative practice by educators.

Many of my works are activated by people, be this as audience, as participants, as passers by, or as viewers. Some operate with subtlety, proposing small but significant shifts whilst others are more immersive. I use drawing both as a research tool and as a medium for finished works, enjoying this private occupation that offsets and balances my larger scale work. Recent pieces include Out of Water, a performance for the Cultural Olympiad London 2012 Festival that took place on Holkham Beach in Norfolk, On Tides and Fathoms – an eerie structuralist portrait of three solitary shelters in rural Suffolk depicted in film and respond/reply, a research project into the relationships between drawing and writing with a forthcoming publication.

I am currently based at Wysing Arts Centre near Cambridge. My work has been shown extensively in the UK and abroad and I have received several awards including an Artsadmin bursary and selection as an Arts Council England East Escalator Artist for visual and live art. I am a founder member of Artist Interaction and Representation (AIR) a body of over 18,000 artists and I currently sit on the board of Fermynwoods Contemporary Art.

Enquire About this Degree

Please fill in this form to enquire about the BA (Hons) Fine Art degree or one of OCA’s other undergraduate Open degree programmes. You are not committing to anything by filling in this form.

  • Please select the degree, or degrees, you're interested in from the list below.
  • If you have no prior Higher Education qualifications you may be eligible for a Student Finance loan. If you are interested in receiving more information about this, please let us know.
  • Your contact details

    Please fill in your contact details so we can get in touch to further discuss your degree enquiry or send you relevant additional information.
  • Please provide us with a phone number we can reach you on.
  • Do you wish to receive the OCA's Weekly E-bulletin on the arts, photography, film, writing, textiles, visual communications, music and visual studies? You can unsubscribe at any time,and we do not pass your details on to any other parties.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
UCA Logo Grey

All of our Open degrees are awarded by the University for the Creative Arts – one of the UK’s leading specialist universities.