Contemporary Art Degree BA (Hons)

BA (Hons) Contemporary Art Practice - Moving Image, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture

1. Overview

This course offers a breadth of experience working with a variety of media that enables you to develop a visual art practice, relevant and meaningful to your personal ideas and aspirations.

Central to the course philosophy is the belief that interaction, dialogue and critical reflection are key to developing engagement with, and understanding of, the cultural, social, political and philosophical contexts for the production and consumption of contemporary art.

The curriculum is designed around the acquisition of five key areas of development: personal, technical, critical, contextual and professional. These skill sets inform the evolution of your practice, determining preferred working methods and engagement with theory, honing skills both practical and conceptual.

2. What you will study

Year 1

This year challenges students to understand their skills and in what ways these can be applied (whether coming from school, college, or mature). Studio projects in Semester 1 focus on the core activities of research and idea development: expanding students’ understanding of what research can be and in what ways the thinking inherent within idea development can become visible.

Semester 2 sees students apply this learning through a series of projects around photography, sculpture, printmaking and moving image. A Drawing and Visualisation module compliments all aspects of the above: research, idea development and studio.

Year 2

This remains predominantly project based with an emphasis on learning new processes and techniques whilst simultaneously responding to a given theme or context, the outcomes of which are presented and discussed in ‘studio crits’.

Towards the end of Semester 2 students write their own project brief – the beginning of self-directed study. Drawing and visualisation is embedded within studio activity and ‘the personal workbook’ becomes central to the student’s practice. Complimentary activities include working in groups to research the key contemporary arts organisations in Aberdeen and the North East.

Year 3

It is characterised by a growing awareness of the interests and concerns that begin to shape practice. Approaches to research and application of methods and processes become distinct to the individual as they continue to develop and bring together technical, conceptual and contextual activity.

Opportunities to test the outcomes of self-directed projects through both in-house and external venues leads to an understanding of the various contexts and forms in which an audience may encounter contemporary art: exhibition, installation or art in public space. Studio crits once again form the spine of critical reflection and dialogue.

Year 4

Year 4 gives full responsibility to the student to engage in the sustained research, development and creation of artworks as they move toward an independent yet critically reflective practice. Regular studio crits (both in-house and in external venues) occur this year, enabling the testing of resolved outcomes prior to the presentation of a major body of work in a public exhibition at the end of the year. Studio practice informs and in turn is informed by the theoretical concerns of the dissertation. Professional skills focus on the representation and communication of a practice to others.

Guests @ Gray's 

Guests @ Grays invite national and international artists and designers to the School to speak about their work. They have had a phenomenal list of speakers that have visited the school in the last few years.

Critical and Contextual Studies (CSS)

Studio practice is supported at all stages by a contextual and critical studies programme. This allows students to engage with history, theory and contemporary practice within each studio specialism. The CCS programme is delivered through blended learning, including lectures, seminars and group tutorials. Students engage with research, analytical critical thinking and are offered various models of communication for assessment, from essays to multimedia digital submissions. In Year 4 students propose their own topic that leads to the submission of a professionally presented body of research.

The University regularly reviews its courses. Course content and structure may change over time. See our Course Disclaimer for more information.

3. How you will learn

Year 1 introduces a variety of approaches to thinking and making across a range of media relative to drawing and visualisation, photography, printmaking, sculpture and video.

As you progress through years 2, 3 and 4 Critical and Contextual Studies contributes significantly to your emerging practice with course studios characterized by personal artistic inquiry reflecting a diversity of methods, approaches and subject matter.

At the start of year 4 you will make an informed decision as to the nature of your Honours project which will be reflected in your final award title allowing you to graduate with a:

  • BA (Hons) Contemporary Art Practice, Moving Image or
  • BA (Hons) Contemporary Art Practice, Photography or
  • BA (Hons) Contemporary Art Practice, Printmaking or
  • BA (Hons) Contemporary Art Practice, Sculpture

Those working across media may graduate with the final award title of BA (Hons) Contemporary Art Practice.

4. Entry requirements

Year 1 Entry

SQA Higher: BBC to include English (or a subject requiring the use of English) and Art/Design.

GCE A Level: BC to include English (or a subject requiring the use of English) and Art/Design.

Irish Leaving Certificate Higher: B2B2C1 to include Art and English (or a subject requiring the use of English).

IB Diploma: 24 to include Higher Level Visual Arts and English (or a subject requiring the use of English).

Degree Link Programme: A relevant HNC from one of our partner FE colleges may be considered for year 2 entry.

Year 2 Entry

Suitable qualifications for entry to Year 2 or above may include a relevant HND or Diploma in Foundation Studies (Art & Design, Art, Design & Media).

All advanced entry applicants will be asked to submit a mini portfolio. Applicants who successfully pass this stage of the selection process will be invited to attend an interview.

Interview/Portfolio Review

Suitable applicants will be invited to attend the School with their portfolio for an informal review/discussion with academic staff. This allows you to meet staff, see the teaching environment and allows the School to explore our ambitions whilst reviewing your work. We will discuss your folio work and specific interests within art and design, as well as your aspirations. It will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions.

* All entry requirements listed here should be used as a guide and represent the minimum required to be considered for entry. Applicants who are made a conditional offer of a place may be asked to achieve more than is stated.

Non Standard Entry

Those who may not hold the standard qualifications, are encouraged to apply if they can evidence other appropriate life and work experiences. Such candidates are advised to contact the University during Open Days or the Visit Afternoons for further advice and guidance. A folio of work is still a requirement for this type of candidate.

English language requirementsfor those whose first language is not English.

5. Placements and accreditations

There are many opportunities to become involved with life outside of the immediate Gray’s environment. International study trips are available in all four years. Visits are organized to relevant local and national exhibitions and events.

In Year 3 you may apply to go on European or North American exchange or negotiate a work placement. There are optional live projects, competitions and Professional Skills modules in Years 3 & 4 to facilitate your awareness and attainment of the skills necessary to present artworks in public contexts. In short, we expect our students to be actively involved in the cultural landscape of Aberdeen and beyond.

6. Student Funding

If you are a Scottish resident or EU national you are not liable to pay fees and should apply to SAAS for funding.

Students from other parts of the UK should visit the appropriate website:

7. Course Fees

For Academic Year 2016/2017

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1,820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £11,500 per academic year

For Academic Year 2015/2016

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £12,000 per academic year

For Academic Year 2014/2015

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £11,500 per academic year

For Academic Year 2013/2014

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £10,000 per academic year

For Academic Year 2012/2013

Scottish/EU Students


  • £1,820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students


  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £9367 per academic year

For Academic Year 2011/2012

UK/EU Students

  • £1820 per academic year

International Students

  • £9300 per academic year


All course fees are reviewed annually and subject to change. Published fees apply to the course's mode of delivery. You will also be liable to pay a graduation fee of £40 before receiving a University award.

For further information see Student Finance pages


8. How to apply

You must apply online at UCAS -

Once you register and create your username and password, you are guided through the process of applying. After submission, log in to your UCAS Track account to see the progress of your application, and view and respond to your offers.

9. Prospects

The course aims to equip you with core skills and aptitude for employment in a wide variety of careers.

You may develop your individual creative practice through exhibitions, residencies, public art projects and many other forms of arts-related activity. Options include independent production, publishing, advertising, curatorial and archive work, picture research, video and TV, arts administration, teaching and community arts.

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BA (Hons)



Start date


Course length

4 Years

Mode of Attendance


Academic school
Gray's School of Art
More information:
Undergraduate Admissions (01224) 262728
Guardian Accolade 2017 - UK Top 20 Art

Robert Gordon University, Garthdee House, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen, AB10 7QB, Scotland, UK: a Scottish charity, registration No. SC013781