Fine Art | University of Oxford
Fine Art
Artist: Evie, graduated 2014
Photographer: greenroomphotography/Kinga Lubowiecka

Fine Art

mortar boardUCAS codeW100calendarDuration3 years (BFA)
pencilEntrance requirementsAAAHeadSubject requirements  Art
crossAdmissions test(s)Practical test at interview stagetickWritten workPortfolio
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 23%
Successful: 11%
Intake: 26
*3-year average 2016-18

phoneContact

+44 (0) 1865 276940
Email Fine Art

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Fine Art is the making and study of visual art. It educates and prepares students to become artists and to follow other practices that are aligned with the making of art. The curriculum is centred on the individual student’s potential and imagination.

The Ruskin School of Art offers a three-year studio-based BFA course in which students work alongside each other in collaboratively-organised studios. Whereas many fine art courses run in an environment devoted exclusively to art and design, Ruskin students, as members of a collegiate university, have the advantage of contact with their contemporaries on all of Oxford’s other courses.

The Ruskin course aims to develop strong independent points of view and a mature grasp of the range of critical debate surrounding contemporary art and its many international histories. Oxford’s short terms, coupled with the ambitious atmosphere at the Ruskin, suit highly-motivated and resourceful students with a good sense of how to organise their time both in and out of Oxford.

The first year of the course is structured to introduce students to one another, to the resources of the school and to the staff involved in teaching and running the Ruskin. Students will familiarise themselves with their fellow students’ work, take part in group criticism and engage in intensive dialogue with tutors and visiting artists.

The intimate working environment of the school, arranged in two buildings, allows art history, theory and criticism to be treated as integral to the development of studio work. The Ruskin also enjoys a strong and constructive relationship with Modern Art Oxford (an exciting and influential contemporary art space) and students have full access to the many exceptional University libraries and museums, including the Ashmolean and the Sackler Library.

 Student studying“Unlike most other art courses in the UK, the Ruskin does not require you to specialise in any particular medium. This freedom of this approach really appealed to me and I wanted the chance to determine how my work developed without an academic structure. The anatomy lessons during first year were also a big factor in my decision. I love working with the figure and found it really exciting to spend so much time traditionally drawing the body. As someone who loves reading and writing, the interesting blend of academic and practical that this course offers was perfect for me.”
HOLLY

A typical week

Most students’ weeks will typically consist of several, or all, of the following: a history and theory lecture and seminar, a group critique of student art work, a one-to-one studio-based tutorial focusing on the individual student’s art work, a skills-based workshop, and a talk by a visiting artist or lecturer. You will spend much of your time working in your own studio spaces, where you will be supported by specialists in the art-making tools, concepts, ideas and associated techniques available at the Ruskin.

Tutorials are usually 1-2 students and a tutor. Class sizes for group feedback sessions, seminars, and lectures may vary. There would usually be no more than 12 students for feedback sessions and seminars and between 30-40 for lectures. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are leading artists and writers with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may be delivered by postgraduate students who are studying at doctorate level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

YEAR 1

COURSES

Students develop their studio work in discussion with the school’s lecturers, tutors and visiting staff. They are allocated a tutor at the outset, who monitors progress, sets targets and directs them in their studies. Work is regularly presented and discussed at group critiques involving staff and students from across the school. Alongside this, workshops and projects designed to introduce a range of techniques and approaches are offered throughout the year. In addition, students attend taught practical classes in drawing and human anatomy as well as lectures, seminars and tutorials in art history. Experimentation is highly encouraged.

ASSESSMENT

Practical studio-based work, human anatomy; three submitted essays; one written paper in the history and theory of visual culture

YEARS 2 AND 3

COURSES

Years two and three are similar in structure and continue the tutorial system introduced in the first year. All students are required to continue the study of art history and theory and to submit three essays during the course of the second year.

In the first term of the third year they agree an extended essay title with their tutor. This essay is submitted at the end of the second term of the third year as part of the Final Examination. Students are expected to establish a strong bond between the interests of the essay and their studio studies.

Visit the Fine Art website for more information.

ASSESSMENT (YEAR 2)

Satisfactory record in all areas of the course

ASSESSMENT (YEAR 3)

A final exhibition and a supporting portfolio of work made during the second and third years; an extended essay; one written paper in the history and theory of visual culture since 1900

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements 

A-levels:AAA 
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB
IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL
BTEC National Extended Diploma:DDD (As the Fine Art degree also includes a substantial history and theory component, BTEC applicants will be expected to have successfully completed a range of modules that include art history.)
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Recommended: It is highly recommended for candidates to have studied Art at A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent and to have taken an Art Foundation course.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Portfolio submission

Description:Portfolios may contain original works, photographs, slides or digital images of paintings and sculptures, personal notebooks, short videotapes or CDs, drawings, soundworks etc. We value signs of the ability to engage in critical and inventive discussion, but above all we are looking for a strong visual curiosity. There is no prescription for editing a portfolio, but candidates should aim for any range of work which gives a sense of their interests and appetites.* 
Submission deadline:  6pm, Friday 1 November 2019

*Please note that the University may use the work which you submit to the extent necessary for the conduct of the admission process. The University is not in a position to verify the contents of portfolios, or to make any special arrangements for care, custody or return. The University cannot therefore accept responsibility for any loss or damage. Read more about the submitting a portfolio.

Interview and practical test 

All candidates, including overseas candidates, who are shortlisted for this course are encouraged to come to Oxford for interview in December. The interview will include a practical test, where candidates are asked to complete a piece or work in a variety of media from a question chosen from two options. Candidates themselves do not need to make any special arrangements for the test, as this will be organised for them by the Ruskin.

What are tutors looking for?

All applicants are required to submit a portfolio of their art work. Tutors are looking for work that goes beyond the mere fulfilment of school curricula. Tutors will seek evidence of a breadth of engagement, a sense of purpose and an emerging artistic voice in the way the portfolio is edited. If you are shortlisted you will be asked to bring a small number of additional recent pieces of your work to discuss during interview.

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Ruskin School of Art website.

Careers

After graduation, most students go on to work in fine art as practising artists, teachers and art writers, or as curators in public and private galleries and for arts councils and organisations. Many also pursue careers in academia, architecture and the film industry.

Jessica Heywood, 2018 BFA graduate, says: ‘My time at the Ruskin was extremely positive... The majority of the course is structured with independent practice, but the studio environment means there are always people around to bounce ideas off... The sense of community and support at Ruskin is what makes it stand out, and the course will help nurture your practice in a caring and challenging way.’

Holly Muir, 2016 BFA graduate, says: ‘Unlike most other art courses in the UK, the Ruskin does not require you to specialise in any particular medium. The freedom of this approach really appealed to me as I wanted the chance to determine how my work developed without an academic structure.  As someone who loves reading and writing, the interesting blend of academic and practical that this course offers was perfect for me.’

Many Ruskin students have won or been shortlisted for prestigious awards and art prizes. BFA Alumni were included amongst the Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 including Lucy Mayes, Ruth Spencer Jolly, Melanie Eckersley and Emily Motto. Elizabeth Price (BFA 1988) won the Turner Prize in 2012. Conrad Shawcross (BFA 1999) won the Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture in 2014. In 2016, Helen Marten (BFA 2008) won the Turner Prize and the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. Nathaniel Whitfield (2016/17) and Ruskin MFA graduate Alistair Debling (2018/19) were selected to take part in the Whitney Independent Studies Program in New York. The work of Khushna Sulaman-Butt and Alvin Ong was also included in the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2018. 

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Latest information for UK undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Arrangements for EU students starting in 2020 have not yet been confirmed. Read the latest information.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2019.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£28,874

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Fine Art

In the first year of the BFA course, students are provided with basic materials such as paint, canvas, cartridge paper, glue, etc.  There is no expectation for students to arrive with any additional equipment or materials beyond those they may already possess.

Each student receives a materials grant of £450 from the Ruskin School of Art for each year of the course.  Finalists also receive a further materials grant of £275 for their work in the final show.  Students in the second and third years of the course are expected to meet any additional costs for materials, applying to their college for support in the first instance. Colleges may also provide support for student projects and travel, including the optional work experience programme for second year students who take part in the Ruskin’s Professional Practice Programme.  

Throughout the course, students are able to borrow an extensive selection of equipment on a sign-up basis. In the first week of the first term, all students pay an equipment deposit of £100. The deposit system is to secure against the borrowing of departmental equipment and the deposit is returned to the student at the end of the course. There is also a returnable £10 deposit for the key fob to the Ruskin buildings.

Final year students normally stage a public exhibition of their work following the final examination and they collectively raise funds for this through sponsorship, drawing sales, and other activities.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose

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