Introducing Fine Art (4-year Undergraduate Fine Art programme)

Our BA (Hons) Fine Art programme focuses on developing confident, enquiring and resilient fine art practitioners.

The programme is aimed at students who are interested in working within a vibrant and interdisciplinary fine art environment. Our students show imaginative responses to the world through curiosity and exploration. They are equipped with the talent, knowledge and expertise to lead, not simply respond to, innovation in contemporary fine art practice. We prepare them for this with an educational experience offering breadth, depth and ambition.

We provide a broad-based environment that allows students to engage in the study of contemporary art. They have access to world-class studio facilities within the broader context of one of the world’s top universities. Students create work through researching, thinking through making, experimentation, taking risks and commitment. They are encouraged to think of fine art as a tool that can affect change in the wider society.

Creative community

In ECA School of Art, we believe there is real value in working as part of a community with a dynamic and creative shared energy. Teaching staff are actively engaged in wide-ranging research and research methods that feed into course delivery and projects. A diverse programme of diverse visiting artists also contribute to an energetic and productive learning environment in the studios and beyond.

BA (Hons) Fine Art students regularly exhibit work, both individually and collectively and internally and externally. This event-based learning enables discourse and the opportunity to engage with organisations in the wider community.

Visits to national institutions, galleries and collaborations with other art and relevant non-art organisations in Edinburgh take place throughout the four years of the BA (Hons) Fine Art degree and students are also encouraged to travel further afield. A trip to view a range of exhibitions in London takes place in second year and an overseas trip to either Berlin or the Venice Biennale is offered in the third year of study.

Areas you will work in

Tutorials, seminars, group critiques, workshops, lectures and external projects all support students’ developing practice. Students are exposed to, and can choose to work across, a number of areas central to contemporary fine art practice, including:

  • artist’s books
  • digital and lens-based media
  • drawing
  • installation 
  • movement
  • moving image 
  • painting
  • performance
  • participatory practice 
  • photography
  • printmaking
  • public art
  • publications 
  • sculpture
  • sound

Elective courses

ECA School of Art offers elective courses, particularly in years 1 and 2 of the BA (Hons) Fine Art programme. These give students choices to pursue a breadth and depth of subjects during the course of their studies on BA (Hons) Fine Art.

We recognise the desire to be immersed in one discipline, but also believe that exposure to a diverse range of subjects, methods and knowledge via elective course study enhances students’ learning. Subject to availability of places year on year, BA (Hons) Fine Art students’ elective course choices can range across the unique portfolio of creative and scholarly disciplines practiced at ECA and across the wider University of Edinburgh.


The technical staff and equipment in the ECA workshops provide excellent support for working in:

  • 3D printing
  • casting 
  • glass
  • laser cutting
  • metal
  • mould-making 
  • printmaking
  • textile printing
  • wood

Our students also have access to software and IT facilities for working with sound, digital imaging, video editing, VR and AR.

Art Context

An Art Context strand of courses offered throughout the BA (Hons) Fine Art programme offers a scholarly framework and provides a multidisciplinary context for students’ development of their own contemporary fine art practice.

Students’ participation in Art Context courses involves the imaginative research, analysis and communication of issues raised by the visual aspects of culture. Students engage in a critical and creative dialogue with the work of their peers. They also gain an understanding of the nature of today's diverse visual cultures. They study the artistic, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative fine art practice and learn how best to communicate this knowledge in a range of written, oral, visual and practical forms.

How to apply and entrance requirements

If you'd like to study on an undergraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder, where you'll also be able to

  • see the structure of the programme and what you will study each year
  • see detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • get information on what to expect after you apply
  • find out about fees
  • find out where to go for further advice and guidance

Take me to the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder


If you have any questions about the application process, your qualifications or deadlines, our Undergraduate Admissions Office will be happy to help you.

Email the Undergraduate Admissions Office: futurestudents@ed.ac.uk


Application process

Applicants will be asked to submit a digital portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential which forms an important part of the selection process. You should begin to plan your portfolio as soon as you decide to apply.

Assessors are interested in how you have decided to put your portfolio together so your portfolio should be carefully planned and well presented. You will be judged on your ability to edit your work, so be selective and strategic within your page allocations.

For applications to the BA Fine Art degree programme we require:

  • 5 images of your Enquiry and Visual Research: what have you looked at? How have you examined your chosen subjects and why?
  • 5 images of Idea Development and Material/Technical Exploration: what materials ideas and techniques have you experimented with and how?
  • 5 images of Critical Judgement, Selection and Resolution: can you demonstrate an ability to self-edit and curate a coherent selection of works for this portfolio?
  • 5 images of Contextual and Professional Awareness: what kinds of philosophical and professional awareness does your portfolio communicate to the assessors?
    • The images demonstrating your influences may be images of work or objects which have inspired or influenced your own work e.g:
      • People working in the same medium or for the same audience, now or in the past
      • People interested in the same subject or theme, now or in the past
      • Natural or man-made phenomena, objects, places, events which have provoked a response


Each image can be accompanied by a 255 character long description.


What happens next?

We will contact you with our decision by the end of April. If you are made an offer, you will be invited to attend an Offer Holder Day.

Offer Holder Days typically take place in April and are opportunities for successful applicants to learn more about their subject areas and life as a student at Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh. Whether you visit us in person or attend a virtual Offer Holder Day, you will have the opportunity to meet with academic staff and current students from your programme, tour the studios and other facilities and attend general information sessions.


Jake Watts

Lecturer in Contemporary Art Theory

Email: jake.watts@ed.ac.uk

Facilities and resources

These facilities are provided for both cold and hot casting processes, allowing you to work on small as well as large-scale pieces.

Welding torches, a forge, forming and shaping tools, and a 1-ton gantry crane with access to main workshop areas.

The Photography Suite provides facilities and studios for students to gain a grounding in nearly all aspects of photography including process and developing as well as printing of photographs.

This large wood workshop hosts a huge range of machinery and hand tools for the cutting, shaping, and general fabrication of woods, as well as metals, plastics, and cardboard.

Overlooking Edinburgh Castle, our painting studios provide a bright and airy space for working in.