Painting BA (Hons)

1. Overview

This course offers a challenging opportunity to study both the technical and contextual aspects of traditional and contemporary painting.

Through a mixed sequence of objective and subjective projects, which explore the grammar and forms of painting, the course develops an informed context to extemporise and develop a personal expression, as well as a fuller understanding of the subject. The course also delivers a taught drawing programme, from years one through to three, which is an integral component of the Painting course.

You will be learning in an environment that encourages personal expression and interpretation as well as collaborative activity. As a result, you will be able to study and develop your full creative potential, both critically and practically, in the context of the contemporary visual art world. Our Painting graduates have been highly successful in achieving a diverse range of national awards, from a BAFTA (for a music video) to the established Florence Scholarships. Many have also studied at prestigious postgraduate schools, including the Slade and the Royal College of Art.

2. What you will study

Year 1

Year 1 will challenge students’ understanding of their skills; it will explore how and in which ways those skills can be applied. Studio projects in Semester 1 focus on the core activities of research and idea development. The curriculum seeks to expand the understanding of what research can be, and in what ways the thinking, inherent within idea development, can become visible. Semester 2 sees the students apply this learning within two studio projects that run over the course of the semester.

These projects act as an introduction to both the technical and conceptual aspects of the visual language of painting.

Year 2

This will build on the foundation provided in Year 1. Students are allocated their own specific studio space and assigned an academic / personal tutor who will provide support and challenge on a ‘one to one’ basis throughout the session.

Over the course of the year students undertake a sequence of projects that act as an introduction to the visual language of Drawing and Painting. These equip students with a variety of methods and procedures essential to the study of Painting. There is a weekly drawing programme and a series of illustrated talks spaced throughout the session.

Year 3

Year 3 of the Painting course demands a significantly different form of engagement than that of the previous two years; projects become more self-directed and engaged with external contexts. In Semester 1 students undertake intensive and wide-ranging research, which aims to extend knowledge and understanding of current practice in Painting and Drawing. The development of conceptual thinking as an individual is an important aspect of this process.

In Semester 2 students have the opportunity to develop and apply their research towards a resolved body of work in readiness for self-directed study in Year 4.

Year 4

This year places the emphasis on self-directed learning. Students provide a proposal for study and a structure for a study programme. This culminates in the submission and presentation of a body of work for the Degree Show assessment and exhibition.

There will be opportunities prior to the Degree Show to experience a professional approach to presenting and exhibiting work, most notably the annual pre-degree exhibition in Edinburgh.

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. 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.

Advanced 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.

* 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.

4. Placements and accreditations

The Painting department actively engages with the thriving business community in Aberdeen and has collaborated with a number of companies on a variety of projects. In the past, these have included commissions, exhibitions and support for placements and scholarships.

The last few years has also seen Painting graduates from Gray’s enjoy outstanding success in national competitions including the John Kinross Florence Scholarship and the RSA New Contemporaries Exhibition. Among several prizes presented to Gray’s Painters at the 2013 Exhibition was the premier Painting prize awarded by the Academy, the prestigious Stevenston Award for a Painter of Merit.

5. 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:

6. Course Fees

For Academic Year 2017/2018

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1,820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £12,000 per academic year

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 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

  • £9,367 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


7. 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.

8. Prospects

Our Painting graduates will have acquired a wide range of transferable skills that equip them appropriately for employment in a diverse range of careers within the Creative and Cultural Industries.

Many sustain individual studio practices, determining their own directions and are actively exhibiting, curating and furthering their careers as professional artists.

Some go on to extend their academic experience though postgraduate study; our students have been successful in securing places on a range of prestigious postgraduate courses.

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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