Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices BA

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 3 years
  • School: Art & Design


Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices at Dundee

We enable students to investigate philosophical issues while gaining practical studio experience as an artist. 

Sculpture by Aaron McCarthy

Why study this course at Dundee?

Our interdisciplinary course unites excellence in research and teaching within a mainstream university environment. Our academic staff have national and international reputations as practising artists, theorists and philosophers. They contribute significantly to the shaping of contemporary culture and debate.

We have a large number of high-quality studios and workshops. These support a wide mix of disciplines. This includes printmaking, sculpture, photography, painting, digital film, sound, performance, and multimedia installation. Facilities include digital imaging suites, computing workstations and a world-class art library.

Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds. The programme reflects current cultural practices integrating practical and theoretical studies beyond disciplinary boundaries. It will particularly suit those with a strong interest in philosophical ideas which they can use as a foundation for developing visual practice.


Did You Know?

  • Our staff enjoy national and international reputations as artists, theorists, philosophers and writers

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

  • combine making with reflection
  • express imaginative visual ideas
  • use critical thinking and analytical abilities in your creative work




Who should study Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices?

 You are:

  • creative
  • analytic
  • a maker and a thinker
  • enthusiastic
  • visually imaginative


You want to:

  • learn how to express philosophical ideas through art
  • improve your artistic ability
  • develop your critical thinking and analytical ability


Contemporary Art Practice Programme

Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices part of the contemporary art practice programme along with Fine Art. This programme has an established reputation as the only interdisciplinary arts curriculum in Scotland.

The bringing together of distinct pathways under the contemporary art practice programme offers a broad educational experience. It also enables access to a wide range of staff expertise. 


Learn more about Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

For further examples of student work, staff profiles and news visit the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design website.

The programme is centred upon a productive dialogue between art practice and theory within, across and beyond individual academic disciplines.

This course has established an enviable reputation for its innovative interdisciplinary arts curriculum. The bringing together distinct pathways under the Art and Media programme offers a broad educational experience and access to a wide range of staff expertise while also allowing you to gain deep knowledge and extensive skills in your chosen subject pathway of Art, Philosophy, Contemporary Practices.

How you will be taught

The programme is delivered through active learning in the studio and the sharing of ideas through discussion. The main components of teaching at Levels 1 and 2 are studio projects along with workshops, lectures, seminars and tutorials.

At Levels 3 and 4 you will increasingly engage in self-directed research supported by technical and idea based workshops, lectures, seminars, group and individual tutorials.

How you will be assessed

At all levels assessment will reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the programme and will typically include a combination of presentation of your studio work, essay and oral presentation. The final examination for Honours students takes the form of a major presentation/exhibition and a dissertation.

What you will study

Level 1 

Students can enter Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices after successfully completing our Art and Design (General Foundation) course or on successful completion of a recognised foundation course or equivalent.

In the Art and Design (General Foundation) course you will learn the core values which will enrich and expand your personal visual language as well as a module in Philosophy that will introduce you to key thinkers and themes from the history of philosophy, and build critical reading and thinking skills. 

Level 2

  • Foundations of Contemporary Practice 1 (Towards a Vocabulary of Practice)
  • Contemporary Practice 2 (Towards a Personal Voice)
  • Existential Themes in Technology, Culture & Film
  • Aesthetics

Level 3

  • Independent Creative and Professional Practice 1
  • Independent Creative and Professional Practice 2

plus two of the following:

  • Love and Desire in Plato
  • Film and Art
  • Art and Philosophy Now
  • Questions of Vision in Art
  • Cyberphilosophy
  • Understanding Media 
  • Wittgenstein and Marx's Capital
  • Optional one semester of exchange study at an international institution

Level 4

  • Honours Creative Practice
  • Dissertation
  • Oral presentation
  • Degree show exhibition

Level 4 takes a similar shape to Level 3. The studio practice module provides you with a period of sustained visual enquiry and practice which will culminate in the presentation/exhibition of your work for Degree Show examination at the end of the year. Depending on your individual strengths and interests you have the option to write a dissertation that either closely reflects on your creative practice or engages in a philosophical argument.

Our graduates are highly sought after professionals well equipped for a great number of professions. As articulate practitioners or theorists trained in creative practice they are resourceful and flexible. Possible careers include:

  • Artist
  • Arts administration
  • Management
  • Curation and cultural policy making
  • Publishing
  • Writing and journalism
  • Criticism
  • Research
  • Consultancy
  • Teaching profession

Jonathan Richards, Graduate

"The Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices course is unique and encourages strong interdisciplinary relationships between departments and offers students varied and stimulating modules that helped shape our overall learning experience. The tutors and technicians were continuously approachable, helpful and supportive. It benefits from being smaller in size to many of the other courses, therefore as a peer group is very supportive and motivating.”

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

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

Courses starting 2016

Advanced Entry (to Level 2)

Qualification Grade
SQA Advanced Higher BB (Advanced Higher) + BB (Higher) in different subjects
IB Diploma 34 points (including 6, 6, 5, at Higher level)
Essential Subjects Art and Design, or related subject (at SQA Advanced Higher, GCE A-Level, IB Higher Level), an appropriate literate subject (at SQA Advanced Higher, GCE A Level, IB Higher Level) and one other subject outside art & design subjects (at SQA Higher, GCE A Level, IB Higher Level).
EU & International Visit our EU and International webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country
Other Qualifications
SQA A recognised Foundation Course or a relevant HND with BB in the Graded Units
Scottish Baccalaureate Pass with BB at Advanced Higher
SWAP Access
EDEXCEL A recognised Foundation Course or a relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM
Advanced Diploma Grade B with ASL A-levels in appropriate subjects at AB
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A-levels in appropriate subjects at AB
European Baccalaureate 75% overall with 7.5 in an Art & Design subject and 7.5 in a literate subject

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.

Students applying for Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices must successfully complete our 1 year Art and Design (General Foundation) course. In this instance you should apply using the UCAS code WW12.

Alternatively, if you have already completed a recognised foundation course or equivalent elsewhere then apply directly to Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices.


All candidates for Art, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices must:

a)      Satisfy academic qualifications

b)      Produce evidence of creative ability


Academic qualifications will be assessed via submission of UCAS form and a half hour interview.

  • ‘Creative Ability’ is assessed  on the basis of the submitted formal portfolio (please see below guidance notes on portfolio submission)

Portfolio Guidelines

A single portfolio of work must be submitted in support of your application and interview. All work should be contained within a portfolio, which should not be larger than 850 x 635mm (35 x 25 ins).  It must open and close easily. Envelopes, paper, parcels, boxes and additional packages are not acceptable. Drawings must not be rolled up. Computer generated material should be printed out and not submitted in electronic format (disk / CD/ DVD). We reserve the right to refuse acceptance of work that does not conform to these specifications.

Three-dimensional objects must be represented by good quality photographs taken from more than one viewpoint.  Paintings submitted must not be framed or glazed.

Examples of work should, if possible, be mounted, no matter how inexpensively.  Small pieces should be mounted in groups or on larger sheets.  When mounting, it would be helpful if images did not overlap.

All pieces of work must be clearly marked on the back with the applicant’s name and address.

The portfolio must bear the applicant’s name and address.

Interview and Assessment of Creative Work

When you are invited to attend interview you will be asked to produce evidence of ‘creative ability’ and demonstrate ‘intellectual ability and philosophical interest’. What do we mean by that?

The degree programme for which you are applying requires a wide range of abilities including a developed visual understanding and a certain degree of ability in theoretical reflection and critical thinking. Furthermore, skills in expressing your ideas visually as well as verbally and in writing are very important.

What sort of evidence are we looking for?

We will expect to see that you have a developed visual understanding and ability to express your ideas visually in an imaginative and persuasive manner. We will assess your aptitude for creative work on the basis of your submitted portfolio. There we will look for evidence of your ability to develop ideas and carry them through from the concept stage to a finished work embedded in a process of reflective thinking about each stage of the working process. The interview will give you an opportunity to reflect on your creative development to date. 

You are expected to provide insights into your range of interest within and beyond visual culture. We would like to see your enthusiasm for the visual arts present and past as well as your appetite for intellectual thought.

You will be asked to demonstrate your interest in philosophy beyond the context of your own working practice. 

You should display a basic degree of familiarity with some fundamental philosophical concepts and, broadly speaking, the history/ies of ideas. We will also be interested in your ability to think critically and to express and argue your point of view coherently and convincingly.

Students must expect to be asked questions on the following sort of themes:

  • What importance do you attach to written records of your work and how are they related to your practical work?
  • What have you recently read that has impressed you, and why has it impressed you?
  • What art exhibitions have you most recently visited?  What did you think about those exhibitions?

The portfolio submitted by the candidate to the interview panel will be looked at to access the individual candidate’s enthusiasm, creative ability, intellectual and practical skills in the visual arts. Consideration will be given in conjunction with the outcome of the interview to the candidate’s potential for further development and a demonstration of their interest in philosophical thought. 

The interview panel will also be looking for indications of the person compiling the portfolio, her / his visual awareness and understanding, the range of her / his interests and experience and the level of her / his commitment to the visual arts. The portfolio should include representative examples of work undertaken as part of a programme of study. The compilation of a portfolio should not be regarded as an end in itself, but rather as one of the results of that study. The portfolio is an important means by which a candidate presents her/himself to the interview panel and it should thus be prepared accordingly. Logical presentation assists in this and there is much to be gained by grouping the work in categories such as drawing, painting, lens based work, 3D-work and so on, in chronological order.

There is no virtue in quantity alone, and candidates should not include multiple colour variations of prints, for example. The interview panel is primarily interested in a candidate’s more recent work and current attainments; early, less mature pieces should not be submitted. If earlier work is submitted, it should be dated.

Applicants are advised to seek the help of their Art & Design teacher/tutor in the presentation of an admissions portfolio.

Digital Portfolio Guidelines

Please submit 15 images (or film clips) that best describe your work. Your selection should be drawn from a range of projects that demonstrate the quality and diversity of practical skills and creative conceptual development in your work.

Context and Research

We are interested in seeing a sample of your contextual and background research. This is often located in your sketchbooks or development sheets. Please scan or photograph some examples (keeping to a maximum of 2-3 pages), to demonstrate your research and development process.

Creative Process

We would like you to demonstrate your creativity within your portfolio. We are looking to see how you as an individual develop a project and visualise creative ideas.

If you are applying to Art & Philosophy, studio modules are shared across Contemporary Art Practice so the same criteria applies as for Fine Art, but it is a good idea (though not compulsory) to give a sense of your knowledge of Philosophy and how it has influenced your visual thinking.

This could be evidenced by samples from your sketchbook, or you could provide a sample of writing. 

Note: Please provide a short description and sizes with each work.

Practical Skills

At this stage in your education we are looking for a broad range of media handling skills e.g. drawing, printmaking, sculpture, painting, digital processes (digital or traditional collage, photography, film), and any combination of these.

Digital Folio Submission Format

jpg, jpeg, gif, tiff, tif, doc, docx, ppt, pptx, pdf, png and bmp file types are allowed and each file size limit of 5Mb.

Movie files can be submitted providing links to YouTube/Vimeo or QuickTime movies.


Early school work that has been superseded by later, more mature work, need not be submitted – please select quality examples that best represent you. Work made out with school or college may be of particular interest.

Digital Portfolio Guidelines

You will be prompted by our Admissions Team to submit your digital portfolio (and answer a few questions in respect of your interest in studying art & design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design), via the University of Dundee Applicant Portal, thereafter, if required, we may contact you to arrange an interview in person or via Skype.

If you require further information on any aspect of the application consideration process or the undergraduate programme in general, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  Degree UCAS Code KIS Data
Apply NowArt, Philosophy & Contemporary Practices BAWV15