School of Arts and Cultures

Course Content

Course Content

Studio Practice

Each student has their own studio space. Stage 1 students have their own designated studio area. Stage 2, 3 and 4 students work alongside each other, encouraging a lively cross-fertilisation of ideas and practice.

Your course is made up of three main components:

Studio practice

Small group and one-to-one tutorials form a crucial part of our teaching.

You'll present and discuss your work with fellow students and staff in regular seminars and crits.

We organise workshops to develop your skills and technical abilities.


Studio-based modules are assessed through the presentation of practical work. This includes:

  • fully realised work
  • visual research
  • developmental work

Your assessment may also include an individual assessment tutorial.

Assessment results, both summative and formative, include written feedback.

Staff and visiting lecturers

Our academic staff are distinguished practitioners in their field. They provide a broad range of practical, conceptual and professional expertise.

This is supplemented by a visiting lecture programme of artists, curators and critics. These internationally-renowned visitors contribute as speakers, run tutorials, and participate in seminars.

History of Art

This component of the course gives you a grounding in the history and theory of art. You'll study the relevance of these critical studies to the contemporary practising artist.

Art history teaching at Newcastle provides students with an awareness of the history and theory of art and its value to the contemporary practising artist.

We view art history as a crucial part of fine art education and as a creative practice in itself.

Art history teaching at Newcastle helps you put your studio work in context. It helps you understand and negotiate the complex relationships between making art and the ways in which art has been, and is:

  • understood
  • interpreted
  • displayed
  • discussed

Our art history teaching staff have a range of research specialisms and incorporate them into their teaching at every level. 

Stage 1

Weekly art history lectures introduce students to the fundamental principles. We approach this history methodologically rather than chronologically. We focus on key themes and issues in the history of art such as:

  • abstraction
  • materiality
  • perspective
  • protest
  • feminism

across a range of time periods and places. These lectures are complemented by seminar discussions and visits to local galleries and museums.

These are designed to develop students’ ability to articulate ideas verbally. The production of written work is an integral part of these studies and modules are assessed through essays.

Stage 2

Students can select from a range of specialist modules on topics including:

  • art and science
  • modern and postmodern photography
  • feminism and queer theory
  • art and globalisation.

These specialist modules are taught through lectures, seminars, workshops and gallery visits. Full details of all our art history modules can be found here.

Stage 3

Students write a dissertation on a topic of their choice. As they research and write their dissertation, students are supervised by a member of the art history team.

They are supported by group workshops on research skills, writing advice and planning. Marks for the dissertation constitute 25% of the final degree classification.

Students also have the option to take more art history specialist modules and adjust the ratio of art history to studio practice credits.

Stage 4

Students can take an optional module on art writing. This module engages students with critical and creative ways of writing about art, including art criticism, journalism, and poetry.


We run a professional development programme called LifeWork Art. This gives you insight into a broad range of professional arts-based practices and potential career paths.

Integrated with studio practice and running throughout the four years of BA (Hons) Fine Art is a unique professional development programme – LifeWorkArt.


It is run in collaboration with many local and national arts organisations and galleries such as:

  • the Baltic
  • Vane Gallery
  • the NewBridge Project
  • Allenheads Contemporary Arts
  • Newcastle City Council

Benefit to students

This programme gives students vital experience of a broad range of professional arts-based practices and potential career paths.

Skills are developed through live projects – eg exhibitions, placements, public art, collaborations, education and community projects, art therapy and residencies.


Students regularly arrange exhibitions and events within the department and at external venues. In 2016, there were 46 student exhibitions outside the university.

This begins in Stage 1 with a major external exhibition by all first years to coincide with the Late Shows in May.

Students initiate projects and collaborate with external partners. Current collaborations include:

  • placements with Newcastle City artists residency programme
  • residencies with the Welcome Trust Mitochondrial research project in the Medical School
  • art therapy workshops with the North East Trust for Aphasia
  • an exhibition exchange with students at Liverpool John Moores University