OCA preloader logo
OCA News: Creative Arts - A review of our programme - The Open College of the Arts
To find out more details about the transfer to The Open University see A New Chapter for OCA.
Explore #WeAreOCA
Skip Navigation
OCA News: Creative Arts – A review of our programme thumb

OCA News: Creative Arts – A review of our programme

The Creative Arts degree is in its 36th year, the first degree to be awarded at the OCA by Lord Michael Young and his team when they set out on an epic journey to widen access to the arts for all. I’m privileged to have been responsible for leading the programme for the last 12 years through such an interesting time, both for the OCA and within the wider University sector. Incremental change has taken place during my tenure, responding to the demands and expectations of students and developments in academia and the arts. Of course, some change has been accelerated due to the pandemic’s effects on how we do things. Still, most changes have kept pace with the five-yearly periodic cycles of academic advancement, some of which I will reflect on with you now.

Moving our department from distance learning to a fully online course was a significant change for the OCA and one that has tested the shape and practicalities of teaching Creative Arts. I am pleased to see the learning materials become more accessible online and the content focusing on the Creative Arts discipline, which means teaching you how to become an interdisciplinary Creative Arts practitioner. Ultimately, the online department has produced more communities of practice and allowed us to meet and communicate more readily with students as a group of engaged, diverse creatives, which has been a great move forward.

A screenshot of groupwork in the Creative Arts Department

Teaching Creative Arts requires tutors who are interdisciplinary at their core and understand the relationship between critical themes for the Creative Arts and how the process of making responds to these themes. We’re fortunate to have a tutor team with exceptional knowledge of the content and how to apply it to your learning. In addition, the Creative Arts team have developed an awareness of the demands of online learning and how to support our students through the programme of study. Through more regular touchpoints with the tutor team, students are supported at each stage and have more opportunities to learn through the communities of practice I mentioned before.

An example from the annual showcase of student work on the Creative Arts programme of study https://sites.google.com/oca.ac.uk/creative-arts-showcase-22/home

As I’ve already mentioned, moving our departments online has meant that our assessment process has adapted to meet the needs of remotely viewing, understanding and assessing students’ work. For the Creative Arts department, this has meant that viewing work digitally requires us to understand the critical thinking and process of creating as much as the final thing. This change, connected to our expectations and the content of the curriculum, has made a much more holistic approach to all of the different parts of the machine so that the parts work in unison with each other.

The curriculum has evolved to define the content required for studying the Creative Arts and structure the accessibility of content in a flexible and meaningful way. The most significant change to meet student and academic needs is the validation of a programme of study, solely to answer the questions, what are the creative arts, and how do I become a creative artist? We use this diagram to help visualise the learning journey and a student’s engagement with a choice of skills and their application to the programme’s themes.

Student facing diagram of the Creative Arts programme of study the ©OCACreativeArts2023

The Skills Hub is a fantastic growing resource for students to access specific content at various stops throughout the programme. The fundamental change here responded to students’ desire for flexibility of choice and with support from their tutor to choose the content required to develop their creative language. All access happens through the programme of study, so skills are applied to grow confidence in creative practice guided by the programme’s themes.

A screen Shot of the Skills Hub on OCA’s dedicated online learning platform

Over the coming years, we look forward to seeing our students develop their creative practices and present their work to a wider audience.

Doug Burton is Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Creative Arts






The Skills Hub accommodates the following disciplines: Creative Writing, Drawing, Graphic Design, Illustration, Moving Image, Sound and Music, Painting, Poetry, Printmaking, Photography, Sculpture, Scriptwriting, Textiles

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Posted by author: Doug Burton
Share this post:

8 thoughts on “OCA News: Creative Arts – A review of our programme

  • Great to see this Doug, really interesting to read about the vibrant Creative Arts journey over so many years and that’s very handy seeing the degree journey set out visually

  • It is great to see that the Creative Arts pathway is becoming truly multi-disciplinary and that the Skills Hub will central to that. I am envious of those who will follow in the future, being able to dip into different techniques to explore how to express their vision without having to decide to commit to a whole unit at the exclusion of others.

    • Thank you Steve, the work that we have done on developing the programme has built upon what we have learnt from students. Your creative practice and approach has helped us progress the degree. Thank you for your support.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to blog listings