Year 1

First Term: Units 1-4: “Transitions”

“The process or a period of changing from one state to another”

Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 must be taught holistically. Unit 1: Introduction to visual language in art and design. Unit 2: Introduction to research skills in art and design. Unit 3: Introduction to critical and contextual awareness in art and design. Unit 4: Introduction to materials, processes and technical skills in art and design.

You will begin your studies by learning about what The Creative Process is and its stages. We look at how creative people work and set ourselves some goals for the coming year. The emphasis throughout the first term is developing an understanding of Visual Language as a means of communication through a range of different media and processes. Research methods and contextual study is an intrinsic part of the timetable, and this term artists and designers are introduced as both stimuli and to support the development of ideas. The theme of ‘transition’ is used to help guide students through the developmental process with earlier activities informing subsequent ones with encouragement to explore multidisciplinary approaches.

Units 1-4 Practical workshops may include:

Drawing: Materials and Approaches

Painting: Colour Theory and Mixing, Acrylic Paint Techniques, Mark making, Collage

Photography: SLR cameras, Composition and Framing, Adobe Capture.

Printmaking: Monoprinting, Drypoint Etching

Graphic Design: Book Cover Design: Image and Text.

Illustration: Pen and Ink, Photoshop, Surface Pattern Design

3D: Paper construction, Cardboard Construction.

Textiles and Fashion: Hand stitching, Using a Sewing machine, Machine Embroidery, 3D construction

Animation: Video Sculpture,Stop Frame.

Presentation: Padlets: E-sketchbooks, presentation boards, hand-made sketchbooks

Second Term:Units 5,6, and 7: “Face, Character, Mask”

As you become increasingly independent and understand how to work effectively through The Creative Process, this term provides more opportunity to self-determine the direction of research. We visit the Fitzwilliam Museum and The Museum of Anthropology to provide opportunities to explore different representations of ‘faces’ in different contexts. Back in the studios, you will practice drawing faces using a range of media and approaches, in both realistic and stylised ways. You will determine a direction of interest and developa 2D character solutionbefore using this solution to inform a 3D solution which will be built using paper and cardboard and presented together with a costume.At this point, the 3D solution is then incorporated into a filmed performance and the 2D solution informs an animation.

Units 5,6,7 Practical workshops may include:

Unit 5: An integrated approach to 2D problem solving in art and design

Drawing: Materials and Approaches: Character and Expression

Printmaking: Collographs

Illustration: Collage, Character Design, Adobe Illustrator

Unit 6: An integrated approach to 3D problem solving in art and design

3D: Paper and Cardboard Construction

Fashion: Costume Design

Photography: Portraiture and Styling

Unit 7: An integrated approach to time-based problem solving

Performance Art: Character movement sequence

Animation and Film: GIFS, After Effects, a filmed performance


Research week

Before the Easter holiday there will be a research week to provide opportunities to visit museums, galleries and exhibitions linked to Unit 8 but also to experience some of the superb Art Museums and Galleries the UK has to offer.Visits may include:

Harry Potter Warner Brother Studios.

The Victoria and Albert Museum of Decorative Arts.

The Tate Modern Gallery London.

The Design Museum.

The National Gallery.

The National Portrait Gallery.

Kettle’s Yard Cambridge.

Unit 9: Opportunities for Progression in Art and Design

This short unit provides an opportunity to learn more about the specialist pathways you can opt for in Year 2. You will also be introduced to the UCAS system for applying to university in the UK. You will find out more about degree courses and institutions that you may be interested in applying to andlearn about what makes a good apersonal statement and good portfolio when applying. You will practice writing your own statement and preparing a digital portfolio to give you a head start in Year 2.Workshops in this unit may include:

Photography: Photographing Artworks, Editing.

Graphic Design: InDesign, Portfolio Design.


Third Term: Unit 8: Developing a Personal Project.

For the personal project, you will choose a theme to research and explore, drawing upon skills, knowledge and understanding gained in previous units to help plan and undertake a range of relevant research activities. In research weekthere are opportunities to visit museums,galleries and exhibitions further afield to support this unit. In addition,you can take advantage of visiting the many museums on offer within Cambridge. To continue to build practical and technical skills,Lecturers from year 1 and 2 will deliver more specialist workshops to help you explore your ideas and develop solutions. You will opt for a selection of these that best suit your own project development. Workshops may include:

Creative Typography

Drypoint Etching

Photographic and Autographic Screen Printing

Offset Pattern Repeats

Text and Image Layout in InDesign

Fashion Photography and Styling

Digital Printmaking with Texture Masks

Reduction Linocut


Laser Cutting

Animation using After Effects

The work that you produce for this unit will culminate in an end-of-year exhibition and will be internally assessed and externally moderated by University Arts London Awarding Body.


Course Organisation and Delivery

The Extended Diploma in Year 1 is managed by the Year 1 Coordinator, who will also be one of your lecturers. You will also be taught by one or two other lecturers across the week. All lecturers have significant creative experience and are chosen to teach Year 1 because of their broad skills base and versatile approach. The course uses Canvas, an online learning platform where you will have access to all the course materials including UAL documents, weekly teaching plans, session handouts, presentations and recorded practical sessions. You will also use Canvas to make electronic submissions of your work and access your grades and formal feedback. We use Padlet as an online tool to build e-sketchbooks, which allows lecturers to monitor, support and interact with you. We use Microsoft Teams to deliver sessions online, if students or teachers are required to isolate, and to record practical and digital demonstrations and lectures, so that you can access this information again should you need it.


How the Week is Structured: Weekly Sessions 

Contextual and Thematic Studies.

Contextual and Thematic Studies usually begins the week. This may take the form of a lecture/slideshow, or discussion usually followed by related practical or written work and activities. Here you are introduced to artists/designers, concepts and ideas linked to different times, cultures and genres. These sessions are intended to broaden your knowledge, skills and understanding of the wider contexts within Art and Design and provide you with research opportunities and reference materials to support the development of your own practical skills and creative ideas.


Art and Design Workshops.

In the first year, Art and Design workshops will be delivered in a variety of disciplines. The practical and technical skills learned are intended to be as transferable as possible, supporting specialist choices made in Year 2. These sessions will usually begin with demonstrations and health and safety guidance and will cover a range of disciplines (see each Unit ) and focus on key core skills that will support learning and development in whatever specialism you choose in year 2. There is emphasis on working across disciplines and using work in one discipline to inform another. At CSVPA we believe strongly in developing a wide range of skills to support the versatility required of creatives working in professional and commercial creative fields today.


Reflective Studies.

These sessions are later in the week and provide an opportunity, with guidance, to consolidate, document and reflect upon learning taken place across the week. Especially in the first term, guidance will be given to help develop the skills, knowledge and understanding related to managing the creative process; self-evaluation, written language and vocabulary, presentation, and organisation skills in the effective documentation of the e-sketchbook.

Experimental Studies.

All students undertake 2 hours per week of Experimental studies. This course encourages risk taking and work does not have to be submitted for assessment. This course will enable you to develop your personal approach to visual communication through drawing. You will be introduced to both traditional and experimental drawing techniques. In Life Drawing you will be introduced to drawing a live model with comparative measurement as well as the exploration of light, tone, movement and posture.



Units 1-7 and 9 can only attain a Pass or Fail. All units need to be passed to gain the Diploma at the end of the year and progress to year 2.

Only Unit 8 will be graded Pass, Merit, Distinction, Fail. This grade will determine the grade given for the Diploma overall. To help you understand the level you are working at, submissions in the first and second terms (Units 1-7 and 9) will be given a referral, pass or pass + with written comments to identify specific areas of strength and weakness relating to the assessment criteria. This will help you make progress towards the higher grades in term 3 (Unit 8)


Ongoing and Informal Assessment:

Every week, your e-sketchbook will be checked by your tutors and comments added to guide learning, improvements and identify gaps to support progress. Throughout workshops and class sessions, tutors will circulate and provide verbal feedback on work undertaken. Questioning individuals and groups is an important part of assessing students understanding and helps tutors to modify activities to better suit the needs of individuals and the whole group.


Students should use the Assessment Criteria and Evidence documents issued for each project as a checklist to help organisation and manage coursework for submission. Weekly written reflections will help to identify understanding and personal areas of strength and weakness and will be key to the dialogue between student and tutor. Peer reviews and group discussions will also aid self-review and provide the group with peer support and exemplars to better understand the standards. Prior to formal assessments,you will need to complete your own self-assessment against the assessment criteria.

Formal Assessments:

There will be a formative assessment usually halfway through each term/project. Work to date will be submitted electronically through Canvas, our online learning platform. Here the progress you have made so far will be assessed against the assessment objectives. Work will be given a referral if it does not yet meet the standards for pass, a pass or a pass+.  All assessment criteria must attain at least a pass to attain a pass overall. Similarly, to attain a Merit or Distinction in Unit 8, all assessment criteria much reach that level. You will receive comments to identify specific areas of strength and weakness relating to the assessment criteria. Following formative assessments, improvements can be made to work prior to the summative assessment.

The summative assessment at the end of the term/unit (s) follows the same format as the formative assessment. Any student who receives a referral in the summative assessment will be given a week to complete the necessary work required to achieve a pass level. An individual action plan will be provided with listed evidence to submit/resubmit. Students are not able to progress to Unit 8 in term 3 unless a pass has been attained for Units 1-7.



The UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art & Design is quality assured by UAL Awarding Body through a rigorous external moderation process and grades are monitored against agreed standards. It is also regulated by Ofqual.

Year 2

In your second year, you will select your specialism subject; your creative process will be recorded in a blog as a reflection and evaluation of your work. You will commence your university application and portfolio with the guidance and support of lecturers.

In the second term, you will continue to focus on your chosen subject and develop a portfolio for university interviews. Fashion students will stage a fashion show.

In the final term all students will undertake a research week when trips to relevant creative sources are arranged and industry professionals are invited into college to inspire and inform your self-directed project. This will be showcased at the end of term.

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Our Subjects

Use the links below to explore the subjects available at CSVPA. (* denotes a compulsory subject)


Experimental Studies

This all encompassing subject ensures you have a solid understanding of drawing-based theory including mark making, colour theory and perspective theory that takes into account how work is produced. Over the year you will cover off the following areas:

  • Elements of composition, tone, colour, texture, form and structure
  • Observational analysis
  • Visual interpretation
  • Improvisation techniques
  • Rendering the abstract
  • Experimental drawing

Critical and Contextual Studies

Critical and Contextual Studies is a course designed to develop you as a student. The course provides an introduction to significant movements and ideas in Art and Design History to allow students to deepen their knowledge, visual literacy, and personal understanding of key concepts essential for working in the creative industries. Weekly assignments and individual presentation tasks are used to help develop writing, research, and speaking skills that build confidence and prepare students for university interviews. The course encourages students to reflect on their own work, to consider the context in which they are working and the type of practitioner they want to be.


English Training

Through a variety of teaching styles, we focus on four key skills you need to pass your IELTS exam; listening, reading, writing and spoken English. This subject is linked with your Contextual Studies lectures so you are better equipped with vocabulary to explain your workings and promote your final pieces.


Fashion Design

This course is to help you create a Fashion Designer’s Portfolio through a rigorous thought process : from Content and Research, then onto Analysis and Exploration through 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional Design Methodologies, and finally, the execution of a fashion product with presentation.

The Pattern Cutting and Garment Construction workshops are part of the curriculum to support the Design Realisation stage of the projects. Students are taught some very useful basic skills such as basic block making and prototype production. The key is to generate creative ideas not only from visual, 2-dimensional design processes (drawings), but also from the architectural view point through limitless garment construction methods through studying the human form.

Students are encouraged to challenge and question the purpose and idea of Fashion in the Times we live in. Not only they are encouraged to create beautiful, exciting fashion ideas, but also to help drive our Industry into the next era and beyond. Passion and Curiosity in Learning is what we are looking for.

Example skills learned | for a Research Fashion Project, Fashion Design Methodologies, Basic Pattern Cutting & Sewing skills, Production (3-D Development), Contextual Studies, Presentation Skills, Fashion Portfolio Skills suitable for Higher Education Application.

Preparation for | Fashion Design for Menswear and/or Womenswear, Pattern Cutting, Product Design and Development for the Fashion Industry, Fashion Styling, Fashion Atelier & Tailoring etc.


Fashion Communication

This combines all of the creative elements of the fashion industry without creating garments; it's the styling, image creation and creative communication. You are not only exposed to graphic design components of fashion, such as the design of a fashion brand identity or fashion magazine page layout, but also the content creation using a variety of creative hands on and digital processes. A passion for the industry and an eye for creativity are must-haves if you are to excel in the world of fashion communication.

Example skills learned | Fashion Styling, Fashion Content Creation, Contemporary Fashion Image making, Portfolio Development and Experimental Techniques suitable for Higher Education Application.

Preparation for | Fashion Styling and Production, Creative Direction for Fashion, Fashion Styling, Fashion Communication, Fashion Promotion, Fashion Branding, Fashion Photography, PR and Communication and Visual Merchandising for Fashion.


Fine Art

Fine Art is based around ideas and concepts behind the subject. It asks questions, evokes emotion and tells a story. Foundation level focuses on experimental creativity where you will create works of interest using taught skills tailored around idea development and realisation. From Conceptual Art to Contemporary Fine Art, you are taught how to present your finished pieces using a mixed range of media.

Example skills learned | Painting and Drawing, Sculpture, Printmaking, Fine Art Film

Preparation for | Fine Art Degree


Graphics & Illustration

Graphic Design and Illustration underpin most of the visual creative arts industry. You are introduced to the fundamentals of graphic design, such as layouts, composition, typography, colour work, the relationships between photography and illustration and how all of the above unites to form what makes a graphic designer. All media from pen and paper to digital creative software is encouraged. Both are tools, it’s just how you use them that determines you. A sharp eye for detail and an understanding of type, image and layout are key assets to succeed in this sector of the creative arts. Professional Graphic Designers adapt from one brief to the next to designing for print, web, mobile and TV.

Example skills learned | Page/Layout Design, Photography and manipulation, Advertising and Promotion, Typographic understanding, Colour work, Drawing and Mark Making, Portfolio Development and Experimental work suitable for access to the Higher Education route. Illustration is about creating an image, not just drawing it, using a range of techniques such as print making, photography and digital manipulation.

Preparation for | Graphic Communication Design, Illustration Animation, Graphic and Media Design, Communication Design, 3D Game Design, Media Communications, Web Design, Children's Book Illustration


3D Design Craft

This course will equip you with approaches and expressions in all elements of 3D Design and help you build up a creative portfolio to apply to relevant Higher Education courses. You will learn to do object prototyping and design development work. This course is supported by a comprehensive range of workshop facilities for hand and machine making in ceramics, glass, metal and wood. In addition to digital manufacturing equipment including laser cutting and 3D Printing.

You will also be exposed to different elements of design such as critical thinking, collaborating with other disciplines, visual and verbal presentation techniques, colour and material possibilities. You need to be passionate in the study and prepared to work hard to excel in the course as well as in the industry.

Skills learned | Prototyping, Design Development, 3D research processes, a variety of hands on workshops suitable for 3D pathway, Portfolio Development and Experimental Techniques suitable for Higher Education Applications

Preparation for | 3D Design, Product Design, Craft, Jewellery Design, Accessories Design, Ceramics, Sustainable Product Design, Furniture Design, Design Crafts, Applied Craft and Industrial Design


Animation & Film

This is an introduction to Animation and Film as forms of communication and artistic expression. We will cover a range of handmade and digital processes used to create moving images, build worlds, and tell stories. You will learn about all elements of animation and film production, from initial concept through to completed piece of moving image content with sound. We will watch and discuss films, visit exhibitions, work quietly in dark rooms, explore the outdoors, write, draw, record, imagine and create! Possible outcomes are narrative and experimental short films/animations, documentaries, music videos and multimedia installations.

Example skills learned | Stop Motion, Cut-out Animation, 2D Animation, Rotoscope, Collage Film, Cinematography, Storyboarding, Character Design, Concept Art, Sound Design, Video Editing, Production Planning.

Preparation for | Animation, Experimental Animation, Character Animation, Computer Animation, Directing, Film + TV Production, Art Direction, Modelmaking, Visual Effects, Motion Graphics, Game Design, Games Art, Moving Image Art, Artist Film.


Architecture & Interior Design

This course will equip you with approaches and expressions in Spatial Design and help you build up a creative portfolio to apply to relevant Higher Education courses. You will learn to do architectural drawings, collages, model making, 1:1 timber construction, working with bio-materials as well as thinking across different scales in the design process and collaborating with other disciplines. You will also be exposed to different elements of design such as critical thinking, narrative design, graphic layout, visual and verbal presentation techniques, colour and material palettes. You need to be passionate in the study and prepared to work hard to excel in the course as well as in the industry.

Skills learned | Architectural drawings, collages, model making, (bio)material experimentation, 1:1 construction and other representational techniques, Adobe Suite, Portfolio Development and Experimental Techniques suitable for Higher Education Applications

Preparation for | Architecture, Interior Design, Spatial design.

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