Art & Design (General Foundation) BA / BDes (and degree combinations)

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 1 year
  • School: Art & Design

This one-year course will provide you with a broad understanding of art and design, nurture and develop your artistic skills and help you to decide which subject specialism you wish to pursue for the following three years. You will study at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD), part of the University of Dundee.  

General Foundation in Art & Design at Dundee

The course is a great starting point for creative students who wish to develop their skills.

art students painting

Why study this course at Dundee?

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) at the University of Dundee has a world renowned reputation. Our one-year General Foundation in Art and Design course helps students to develop their skills and prepare for entry to our eleven specialist courses (listed below).

The General Foundation course will give you a broad experience and awareness of a range of disciplines. It will also improve your skill level. This will help you to decide on your choice of Honours degree specialism for the following three years. You will submit a portfolio of work after completing the one year course. We will asses this for progression onto the specialism of your choice.  

Our students come from a range of countries, age groups and backgrounds. We welcome intelligent, creative, motivated people who are interested in moving into an art and design vocation.


Did You Know?

  • Our General Foundation course prepares you for study in one of our 11 specialist disciplines

Studio culture

You will enjoy a challenging programme of instruction, guidance and exploration. This will give you a positive sense of direction towards a future in art and design.


The studio culture encourages sharing of ideas and understanding. It nurtures a supportive work and social environment. You will spend the majority of your time on studio based activities, learning fundamental practical and critical skills. This will create transition between work that you have carried out at school or on a previous course and potential future study in a specialist art and design subject.    

Video still from general foundation video

Introduction to DJCAD's General Foundation course at the University of Dundee.

Skills development

The focus of the General Foundation is the development of your ability, skill and critical faculties. This process includes consideration of creativity, aesthetics, visual awareness, and analytical and critical thinking. We cultivate knowledge and a sense and understanding of the history, theory and practice of art and design. This will enable you to understand how art and design practice has developed. It will also allow you understand  how it is positioned within today’s society, culture and creative economy. This process will enable you to place yourself, your work and aspirations in context. 


At the end of the course you will be able to:

  • use an array of artistic techniques
  • identify which discipline you want to pursue
  • understand the historical trends and turning points in art and design


Enrich your cultural experience

General foundation course students also have a full day study visit to exhibitions in Scottish centres such as Glasgow and Edinburgh. There is also a study visit to London giving you the opportunity to broaden and enrich your cultural experience.


Learn more about DJCAD

For further examples of student work, staff profiles, and news visit the DJCAD website.

Related Courses

You will be tutored by highly motivated, research-active staff and will be based in a purpose-built studio environment within Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) which is fully accessible and integrated within the city campus of the University of Dundee. You will benefit from a challenging and coherent programme of instruction, guidance and exploration, providing you with a positive sense of direction towards a future in art and design.

The majority of the teaching and learning on the General Foundation course takes the form of studio practice, which includes:

  • informal lectures,
  • demonstration,
  • and individual and group tutoring.

Staff members have a friendly approach and welcome requests for help and advice.

The core values and philosophical ethos of the course are encapsulated in the teaching of both the fundamental elements of art and design practice, namely drawing skills (including life drawing), making and digital imaging as well as generic skills (writing, research methodologies etc.) to support you in whatever career path you decide to take in the future.

These core values will enrich and expand your personal visual language and contribute in a diagnostic context towards helping you make an informed choice of specialist study. Having enjoyed the enriching experience of working within a vibrant community of emerging artists and designers in the General Foundation, progression to Level 2 – the specialist courses – requires demonstration of appropriate knowledge and skill and the potential to successfully pursue independent study.

Level 1

  • Fundamental creative skills (drawing, painting, making, demonstrations)
  • Technical skills (practical workshops and digital imaging)
  • Key generic skills (analytical and critical skills, research skills, confidence and motivation, presentation and communication skills)
  • Contextual studies introducing historical and contemporary debates and practice
  • Foundation skills in the various art and design specialisms
  • Elective choice (including philosophy)
  • An optional cultural study visit (major Scottish cities and London) enhances the learning experience

This General Foundation will encourage experimentation, encouraging you to take risks in trying new things. It also aims to cultivate your understanding of the range of art and design disciplines that you may progress to in the future and the associated future career opportunities.

You will be assessed through the studio course work including supporting work such as digital outputs, blogs, reflective journals and also through demonstrating your understanding of contextual studies. There is continuous formative feedback through the studio tutorials and at the end of each module. A formal assessment occurs at the end of semester 1 and again at the end of semester 2.

The Art and Design (General Foundation) course will prepare you nicely for your chosen specialist subject. Graduates from Duncan of Jordanstone have gone on to have successful careers in the following fields (to name just a few!)

  • artists (exhibiting and making work nationally and internationally)
  • web design
  • game design
  • visual effects
  • packaging design
  • branding
  • television & motion graphics
  • advertising
  • textile design
  • fashion
  • art therapy
  • museum and gallery curation
  • journalism
  • interaction design
  • account management
  • film direction
  • film editing
  • gallery management
  • teaching
  • illustration
  • interior/architectural design
  • lighting
  • tv & film set design
  • animation
  • jewellery manufacturers and designers
  • consumer electronics
  • medical products

David Mach

Scottish sculptor and installation artist

The following are the minimum, up-to-date entry requirements.

You have to obtain your qualifications at the first sitting of examination.

All applicants must submit a comprehensive portfolio of Art & Design work. See Portfolio Guidance for further information.

If you do not have a portfolio, you will need to do a portfolio preparation course, HNC, HND or Foundation qualification to be considered. 

Applicants from outwith the UK should submit their portfolio work on a disc, preferably as a (reasonable quality) small file, in JPEG format (see Portfolio Guidance Notes, as above).

To ensure that all applicants are given the maximum amount of time to develop and prepare their portfolio, we will invite you to submit your portfolio at or around the time of the Easter Holidays. We will require you to make your portfolio available for at least two clear weeks in order to enable the Selectors to invest an appropriate amount of time in reviewing the range of work you have submitted.

Courses starting 2016

Level 1 Entry

Qualification Minimum Grade Typical Grade
IB Diploma 30 points
Essential Subjects Art and Design, or related subject (at SQA Higher, GCE A-Level, ILC Higher, IB Higher Level) and an appropriate literate subject (at SQA Higher, GCE AS Level, ILC Higher, IB Higher Level)
EU & International Visit our EU and International webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country"
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HNC with B in the Graded Unit
Scottish Baccalaureate Pass with CC at Advanced Higher
SWAP Access
EDEXCEL A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DMM
Advanced Diploma Grade C with ASL A-levels in appropriate subjects at BC
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A-levels in appropriate subjects at BC
European Baccalaureate

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee categoryFees for students starting 2016
Scottish and EU students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2015 entry). Fees for September 2016 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2016.
Rest of UK students £9,000 per year, for a maximum of 3 years, even if you are studying a four year degree. See our scholarships for rest of UK applicants.
Overseas students (non-EU) £12,950 per year of study. See our scholarships for international applicants.

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Rest of the UK students can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loans Company.

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students are guaranteed for the length of your course. This means that the tuition fee you pay in your first year (shown above) is the same fee you will pay for each year of your course. We guarantee that this will not increase while you are studying with us. The only exceptions to this are our MBChB Medicine, BSc Medical Sciences and BDS Dentistry degrees which charge a different tuition for the clinical years.

The General Foundation in Art & Design is the first year (level 1) of the four year degree programmes in Fine Art, Graphic Design, Jewellery and Metal Design, Textile Design, Animation, Illustration and Time Based Art & Digital Film. There are 170 places available on the course each year.

Except for Product Design and Digital Interaction Design, all applicants applying from school, or who have not completed an appropriate foundation course (or equivalent), must apply to the General Course (level 1) and not to the specialist courses.

All applicants must submit a comprehensive portfolio of Art & Design work General Foundation Admissions Guidelines. If you do not have a portfolio, you will need to do a portfolio preparation course, HNC, HND or Foundation qualification to be considered. Applicants from outwith the UK should submit their portfolio work on a disc or memory stick, preferably as a (reasonable quality) small file, in JPEG format (see Portfolio Guidance Notes, as above).

Applicants are not normally called for interview. Decisions are made on the Portfolio, Personal Statement, Reference and Qualifications. Applicants are welcome to send a supplementary reference from their Art Teacher to assist with the decision making process.

Offers will be made after the portfolio submission process has been completed.

We do not accept deferred entry applications and all deferred entry applications will be rejected.

  Degree UCAS Code
Apply NowArt & Design (General Foundation) BA / BDesWW12