Plymouth College of Art

mission statement

Our vision:

High quality education for life in contemporary arts practice, as the creative catalyst for personal, professional and cultural transformation.

Our ethos:

Places the aspirations and support needs of every student at the very heart of our creative enterprise.

Our purpose:

As an independent specialist Art College since 1856 is to provide a distinctive, innovative and supportive learning community in contemporary arts practice; to add value to the cultural, social and economic life of Plymouth and the South West region; and to develop our distinctive profile of our work nationally and internationally.

Our values:

We believe in the centrality of the arts to social value, culture, community, welfare, and prosperity;

We uphold the primary significance of learning through practice and participation for individual development, transformation and fulfilment;

We see our College as a crucible, or laboratory, for artistic experiment, exchange, entrepreneurship and innovation, and for new thinking, in the service of our wider communities;

We value and invite purposeful, mutual partnership;

We celebrate social and cultural diversity, and encourage engagement with the community and cross-cultural dimensions of learning in local, regional, national and international contexts;

We respect our environment, and have a strong commitment to sustainable practice;

We aspire to the highest standards of contemporary art practice and achievement.

international role

The College supports development through on-going calls for practice-based projects and conference papers as well as through briefings, proposals, mentoring and membership of the Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training (CREST).

CREST operates an additional programme of postgraduate student and staff research development events, which includes the annual CREST Summer School for early career researchers, and College staff and MA students have regularly participated in this programme.

Colleagues are also part of many national subject groups such as the Group for Learning in Art and Design (GLAD).

The College is a subscriber to the Higher Education Academy and as such is eligible to participate in their funding calls and projects. The College currently holds an HEA award for the development of Enterprise in the curriculum, and was previously awarded Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) funding for research into Open Educational practices in art and design.

national role

The College continues to work in partnership on a wide variety of local and regional community initiatives and projects, the most notable currently being development of a £21 million History Centre adjacent to the College, and a bid in partnership with Plymouth City Council Culture Board to the Arts Council for England for incubation workspace for graduates. The College continues to work for greater infrastructural development for graduate retention in Plymouth’s creative industries and serves on the board of a Community Interest Company, Ocean Studios, a £5m studio, workspace and gallery in the Grade 1 listed Royal William Yard, a focus for arts-led urban regeneration in Plymouth; founded by PCA graduates.

main focus

BA (undergraduate/bachelors) & MA (postgraduate) - Art, Design, Craft and Media

faculties and departments

There are no Faculties or Schools

Programmes are delivered under the following curriculum groupings:

·       Art

·       Design

·       Media

bachelor level programs

Undergraduate Provision

All are three years full-time and six years part-time

All could be studied for four years full-time and eight years part-time as Extended Degrees

1.     BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing and Printmaking

2.     BA (Hons) Animation

3.     BA (Hons) Game Arts

4.     BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts

5.     BA (Hons) Ceramics & Glass

6.     BA (Hons) Jewellery

7.     BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern

8.     BA (Hons) Fashion

9.     BA (Hons) Fashion Media and Marketing

10.  BA (Hons) Costume Production and Associated Crafts

11.  BA (Hons) Film

12.  BA (Hons) Textile Practices

13.  BA (Hons) Fine Art

14.  BA (Hons) Graphic Design

15.  BA (Hons) Illustration

16.  BA (Hons) Photography

17.  BA (Hons) Commercial Photography for Fashion, Advertising and Editorial

18.  BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design and Styling

19. BA (Hons) Contemporary Media Practice

20. BA (Hons) Product Design and Innovation

master level programs

Postgraduate/Masters Provision:

All are one year full-time and two years part-time

1. MA Fine Art

2. MA 3D Design Crafts

3. MA Digital Fabrication

4. MA Disruptive Design

5. MA Textile Design

6. MA Creative Education: Making Learning

7. MA Entrepreneurship for Creative Practice

8. MA Photography

9. MA Visual Communication

10. Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

11. MA Painting

12. MA Printmaking

13. MA Drawing

14. MA Illustration

15. MA Ceramics

16. MA Glass

17. MA Jewellery

research activity and main areas

Our philosophy for research is grounded in our distinctive mission and purpose as a specialist provider of education in art, craft, design and media. It reflects our beliefs in the value of creative practice and the centrality of the principle of thinking through making. It also reflects our commitment to promote innovation, intellectual curiosity, entrepreneurship and creativity, adding value to the cultural, social and economic life of Plymouth and the South West region, and contributing positively to broader national and international cultural and economic agendas. 

We strongly encourage and support links between research and pedagogy and between research and professional practice, and thinking through making radiates through all our communities of practice - fine artists, makers, designers and creative media producers. It denotes, for us, the fundamental importance of the practitioner’s relationship to, and understanding of, materials, media, tools and processes, be it (for example) film-making, glass-blowing, curatorial research, or performance art. 

We maintain a strong focus on professional studio and workshop regimes of knowledge and action, underpinned with an entrepreneurial/critical-curatorial approach to contexts of practice that are increasingly structured around portfolio career/SME settings. 

There are strong historical threads embedded in this stance that can be traced back to our roots as the Plymouth Drawing School, established in 1856 as part of the then nation-wide wave of art, design and industry teaching institutions set-up in the wake of the 1851 Great Exhibition. However, our contemporary investment in thinking through making emphatically does not signify a simplistic concentration solely on embodied technical skill. 

We view creative making as essentially a research site, or laboratory, for the deep exploration of determinate ideas and feelings - a project that is radically open to the future and which embraces an ‘expanded’ field of creative practices.  

Plymouth College of Arts new HE teaching contract includes a formal expectation that all HE staff will engage in research, scholarship and professional practice. As a FEC the institution was previously ineligible to submit to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) but has nonetheless tracked sector developments and adopted REF focussed practices, and the College’s Research and Scholarship Sub-committee has delivered appropriate infrastructure to support distinctive areas of research excellence such as Making Futures our biennial peer-reviewed research symposium, that has since 2009 established an international community of practice, online publication of proceedings, and invitations to present in ‘travel version’ as a centrepiece of Beijing Design Week (China September 2014) and the Cheongju International Craft Biennale (South Korea, October 2015).

Making Futures – Biennial Research Conference

Making Futures affords an opportunity for an international cast of scholars and makers, curators, campaigners and activists, to investigate contemporary craft as a 'change agent' within 21st-century society.  So far five ‘editions’ of Making Futures have taken place, all close to Plymouth but removed from the city centre, offering the opportunity for a different type of conference and something of a retreat. 

doctorate level programs


subject areas for exchange students

Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration, Fashion, Costume, Photography, Game Arts, Animation, Film, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Printed Textiles, Interior Decoration, Design, Jewellery, Ceramics, Glass, 3D Design Crafts, Fashion Media, Textiles and Contemporary Media. 

application deadlines

End of June for the following semester.

End of November for following semester.

teaching languages


semester dates

Semester 1 – 1st September to End January

Semester 2 – Middle February to End June 

cost of living per month (studying and living)

£400 Rent

£200 Food and Entertainment

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