Fine Art Foundation

The Academy’s Fine Art Foundation course is an internally awarded, proven route to the university or art school of your choice.


Our Foundation programme is completely different from others: we offer a highly individual, bespoke course, where you can devise your own tailor-made programme to learn the artistic skills relevant to your creative goals. Ours is an internally awarded programme, so we are not bound by the syllabus of an exam board.  However, like other Foundation courses, our programme is subject to external moderation to ensure that our standards are comparable to national benchmarks.

This course develops your skills, creativity and conceptual and critical understanding. You will focus on developing a strong portfolio to use when applying for undergraduate study or professional opportunities. We believe the basics of a contemporary art practice come from learning technical, analytical and creative skills from a diverse range of professional artists.

The programme comprises 3 main components:

  • Studio Practice modules
  • Critical and Contextual Studies module
  • Skills modules and Elective Skills Workshop courses

Why Study at Art Academy London? 

Tutor Contact Time 

Central to our philosophy is that teaching and learning should be in small, supportive groups: our tutors get to know students individually, and students learn from both the tutor and from each other with tutor to student ratios not exceeding 1 to 15. We have three terms a year and our students usually attend for full days rather than short lectures or seminars. We’ll offer you an unrivalled amount of contact time (3 days per week, full time and 2 days per week, part time), providing you with essential skills and techniques to enable you to fulfil your potential and embark on a future in the creative industries.

Skills Training 

What sets the Academy apart from other contemporary art schools is our commitment to artistic skill training. Drawing inspiration from the traditional atelier education system, but delivering this in a contemporary context, you will master a diverse range of artistic skills and have the autonomy to design a personalised skills programme covering digital media, painting, drawing, printmaking, installation and sculpture. 

Graduate Show 

Upon completing the programme, you have the opportunity to showcase your work in our Foundation Show.This exhibition serves as a significant platform for presenting your work to the public, drawing the attendance of art world professionals and providing a valuable opportunity for recognition.

Progression Routes 

You will finish the year with a comprehensive portfolio, honed art skills and a clear sense of artistic self, increasing your chances of securing a place at a sought after art school or University. Our Foundation students are guaranteed a priority interview for a place on one of the Academy’s BA programmes and many students continue their studies with us.  The Academy’s Fine Art Foundation is a well-recognised programme and our students are also regularly accepted onto undergraduate study courses at top universities and art schools.

Students are also able to take advantage of free places on the Academy’s public courses (evening, weekend and short courses). These are available at the discretion of the Academy and subject to availability.

Please see the Fine Art Foundation Student Handbook*, Programme Handbook* and Student Terms and Conditions for more information.

Look through the 2024 Prospectus

*Please note handbooks maybe subject to change and will be reissued upon enrolment.

Electives for the 2024/2025 Academic Year

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Electives for the 2024/2025 Year

* This mapping document shows you the proposed elective options that will be available in the 24/25 academic year. This is for your guidance only and may change. We will published the final version mid-way through Term 3. Full  course documents and breakdowns will be available for the self enrolment period.

Electives are allocated on a first come first serve basis per term and we cannot reserve places in advance or guarantee places on your first choice of electives.

Students have access to their personal dedicated studio space, which is used for Studio Practice modules and self-directed study.

Studio Practice Modules 

The Studio Practice modules form the core of the Foundation. You will develop work and critical skills in response to a series of practical briefs that encourage increasingly independent learning as you develop your emerging fine art practice. There are three modules, one per term and you’ll spend one day a week with your peers, the Fine Art Foundation tutors and visiting tutors. 

For each Studio Practice module you will be expected to collate a portfolio of evidence and present your work to tutors and peers for assessment at the end of each term. You will also be assigned ‘holiday briefs’ over the Christmas and Easter breaks, to bridge the modules and enable you to continue to develop your portfolio for undergraduate application and interview. Each of the Studio Practice modules equates to 30% of your final Foundation grade.

Skills Modules and Electives Skills Workshop Courses 

In the first term you will undertake Foundation Skills Modules as an introduction to different media and ways of working.

In the second two terms, you’ll choose Elective Skills Workshop courses relevant to your interests.  These offer you comprehensive training in the technical skills essential to complement your Studio Practice modules. Each course spans one full day per week per term, providing the flexibility to engage in multiple disciplines or pursue a dedicated path in areas like painting, drawing, 3D, digital media, or printmaking. These courses are common components to all our academic programmes at the Academy, so you will be working alongside a diverse group of students.The Elective Skills Workshop Courses are exempt from assessment, giving you the freedom and space in these classes for experimental exploration.

Critical and Contextual Studies Module

This module comprises six sessions in Terms 1 and 2 considering a series of fundamental questions about what art is and how we can study it. What is ‘an artist’? What does it mean to view an artwork ‘in context’? How can we compare the work of artists from different cultures? Does art communicate? 

The module is assessed through an essay at the conclusion of the module. The Critical and Contextual Studies module contributes 10% of your final Foundation grade.

Full Time

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2024 Mapping FAF FT

As a full time student you will spend three tutored days a week studying at the Academy; two days per week on Skills modules or Elective Skills Workshops and one day a week working with tutors on your Studio Practice modules, developing your portfolio and studying Critical and Contextual Studies. 

At least one further day per week should be spent developing your Studio Practice work independently in your own dedicated studio space.

Term 1

Studio Practice 1 (1 day) 

You will engage with a variety of mediums and diverse creative processes to nurture your confidence in expressing yourself artistically and to engage with processes of experimentation. At the end of the term you will compile a body of work that will be presented to your tutors and peers for assessment. You will also receive support on creating your portfolio and creating UCAS applications. 

Foundation Skills Modules (2 days)

In this term you will cover four disciplines to give you an introductory awareness to different mediums through the compulsory Foundation Skills modules; 3D, Drawing, Painting and Digital Media. These are not subject to assessment. 

Critical and Contextual Studies (3 sessions within Studio Practice days)

In these sessions you will delve into Critical and Contextual Studies, art history, and critical thinking, providing a solid foundation to underpin your creative explorations within the Studio Practice module and to help form the foundations of your Critical and Contextual Studies essay in Term 2.

Term 2 

Studio Practice 2 (1 day)

You will focus on experimentation within your artistic practice. Working with our Foundation tutors, you will explore a wide range of methods, techniques and approaches to begin to define your identity as an artist. As part of your Studio Practice module in Term 2, you will receive targeted sessions on portfolio development with an expert tutor, preparing you for interviews.

Elective Skills Workshop Courses (2 days)

You will select two Elective Skills Workshop Courses to support your Studio Practice modules. The electives provide an opportunity to develop skills in a range of specialist areas across multiple disciplines; painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, printmaking and digital media. These are not subject to assessment.

Critical and Contextual Studies(3 sessions within Studio Practice days)

 During this term, you will actively participate in Critical and Contextual Studies sessions, further enriching your foundational knowledge in Critical and Contextual Studies and critical contextual studies. As the term concludes, you will demonstrate your understanding by crafting an essay for assessment.

Term 3

Studio Practice 3 (1 day)

This Studio Practice module aims to encourage you to investigate your individual practice in terms of conceptual concerns, materials and processes, inspiration sources and contextualising artists. Once again, you will spend a full day every week with our Foundation programme tutors.  This project will culminate in a group exhibition at our Foundation Show.

Elective Skills Workshop Courses (2 days)

You will select two Elective Skills Workshop Courses to support your Studio Practice modules. The electives provide an opportunity to develop skills in a range of specialist areas across five disciplines; painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking and digital media. These are not subject to summative assessment. 

Part Time 

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2024 Mapping FAF PT

In the part time mode, Studio Practice modules run across a term and a half and part time students are not required to supplement this with independent study outside of these taught sessions. Part time students usually undertake the Critical and Contextual Studies module in the first year of the programme.

Year 1/Term 1

  • Studio Practice 1 (1 full day)
  • Critical and Contextual Studies (3 sessions within Studio Practice days)
  • Painting and Drawing Foundation Skills modules (1 full day for 5 weeks each)

Year 1/Term 2

  • Studio Practice 1 (1 full day for first 5 weeks)
  • Studio Practice 2 (1 full day for the last 5 weeks)
  • Critical and Contextual Studies (3 sessions within Studio Practice days)
  • Elective Skills Workshop Course (1 full day)

Year 1/Term 3

  • Studio Practice 2 (1 full day for the first 5 weeks) 
  • Elective Skills Workshop Course (1 full day)

Year 2/Term 1

  • Studio Practice Portfolio (1 full day)
  • 3D and Digital Foundation Skills modules (1 full day for 5 weeks each)

Year 2/Term 2

  • Studio Practice Portfolio (1 full day for first 5 weeks)
  • Studio Practice 3 (1 full day for the last 5 weeks) 
  • Elective Skills Workshop Course (1 full day)

Year 2/Term 3

  • Studio Practice 3 (1 full day for the first 5 weeks)
  • Elective Skills Workshop Course (1 full day)

At Art Academy London, we believe a contemporary art practice is best developed by learning skills from professional artists so we invest unrivalled teaching time in evolving your practice.

The Academy will provide you with personal tutorial support and teach you practical techniques. This approach is unlike any other Fine Art Foundation in the UK. The course, if studied full time, consists of three days a week tutored by  professional, practising artists and at least one self-led day spent developing your Studio practice.

We aim to give you exposure to a wealth of disciplines to help you to discover which of these best suit your interests and abilities. As well as gaining technical skills, we’ll help you develop independence of thought and confidence in your practice.

The lead tutors on the Fine Art Foundation are:


Lynn Dennison is our Foundation Programme Leader.


Alex Virji is our Foundation core tutor and, along with Lynn, helps students develop their personal projects.

Tom Morgan Evans is our Art History & Theory Department Leader.

The tutors you are taught by within the Elective Skills Workshop courses will depend upon the modules you undertake. You can view all our tutors here.

“Before I came to the Academy, I didn’t have a solid and structured practice. For me the Academy has been an incredible experience, I would do the Foundation again and again for the rest of my life. It’s given me the input and time, and being around like minded people has really inspired what I am doing today. I picked up so many threads that became a part of my practice. I mostly work with portraiture now, which has been great because within the Academy, I have been able to choose electives specifically. Our tutors — Lynn Dennison and Alex Virji —  have been so encouraging that it has allowed me to experiment. I have been able to tap into what my work looks like today and what makes it unique to me.

I have done a range of different Electives while at the Academy. I have done some in print which have been really interesting and made me focus more on my drawing which has probably been good for my work even if I have found it hard. I have recently taken Susanne du Toit’s Life Painting class and that was amazing for me. Every single week I could feel myself learning a lot. My work was different every week and it really aligned with what I was working on in my own time. I got the structure and input from the tutor who is really skilled and passionate about it. That is the course that has changed my practice the most.”

Ella Sheltawy Fine Art Foundation

The Fine Art Foundation is designed to help students prepare for their application and interview for their chosen path of study. You leave with a comprehensive portfolio, honed art skills and a clear sense of your artistic self.

The Foundation Programme leader and tutors will make sure that you have a clear understanding of your chosen subject area and which institutions you are best suited to. You will have mock interviews and receive help with the organisation and presentation of your portfolio.

Many students enjoy the unique approach of the Academy, choosing to stay on and continue their development on our BA Fine Art, but our students have also progressed to many top universities and art schools including:

  • Camberwell College of Arts, UAL, BA Fine Art
  • Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, BA Fine Art
  • Central St Martins, UAL, BA Fine Art, BA Architecture
  • Goldsmiths, BA Fine Art & History of Art
  • Glasgow School of Art, BA Fine Art
  • London College of Communication, UAL, BA Photography
  • Manchester Metropolitan University, BA Fine Art
  • The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, BA Fine Art
  • The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, BA Fine Art
  • The University of Brighton, BA Fine Art Painting
  • The University of Edinburgh, BA Fine Art
  • The University of Westminster, BA Architecture, BA Graphic Design
  • Wimbledon College of Art, UAL, BA Fine Art

Our Fine Art Foundation is internally accredited and awarded and is not subject to funding from the ESFA, and therefore, we do not offer free places to under 19s. If you are accepted onto the Foundation, you will need to fund both the tuition fees and your (art) materials and living expenses. Tuition fees can be spread across the year with a payment plan and AAL offers means-tested bursaries to assist with tuition fee payments. More details can be found here.

FEES 2024/25

Fees for the full-time Foundation Programme in the academic year 2024/25 are £6,500 per annum full time and £3,750 per annum part-time, which can be paid termly or annually. If you opt to pay termly, fees will be subject to a 5% surcharge. A deposit of £350 as outlined below is also payable on acceptance of the offer

Course  Per Year Per Term (incl 5% surcharge)
Full-time Foundation £6,500 £2,275
Part-time Foundation £3,950 £1,382.50

Please note, these are our 2024-25 fees. Fees are subject to annual review and are likely to increase by due to inflation in the following academic years.


We want to make sure as many students as possible can access the high-quality fine art education we provide. As part of this, we offer bursaries to help with tuition fees for our Fine Art Foundation, which you can apply for once you’ve been offered a place to study with us by completing the bursary application form. If you have a low annual household income or any other exceptional circumstances, you may be eligible for our Academic Bursary. This typically covers up to 30% of the annual course fees. Bursaries are assessed on an individual basis, based on need as well as merit, and are awarded at the discretion of the Principal and Director of Quality, Standards and Student Experience. Please note, you’ll need to provide evidence of income to support your application for an Academic Bursary. The Bursary is awarded as a reduction in tuition fees, rather than a monetary award. Any financial support is awarded subject to students complying with our Terms and Conditions and the Student Handbook. For further information about bursaries, including how to apply, please contact our academic team at [email protected].


Your pre-enrolment contract effectively reserves a place for your subject to the conditions of your offer letter. You have a statutory right to cancel your pre-enrolment contract during a “cooling-off” or cancellation period of 14 calendar days after the day you accept the offer. If you do not enrol by the deadline date you have been given by the Academy, your pre-enrolment contract will automatically expire at that date.

A deposit of £350 is required to hold a place on the course, £250 of which is deducted from your first year’s fee. The Academy reserves the right to retain this deposit if you fail to enrol. The remaining £100 of the deposit is refundable upon the satisfactory removal of your graduate exhibition installation at the end of the academic year. If you cancel within the stated 14 calendar days this deposit will be refunded along with any other monies paid.


Once you’ve returned the signed contract and paid your deposit, you have a 14-day cooling off period to change your mind. If you choose to cancel during this time, we’ll refund your full deposit. After this period, the Academy reserves the right to retain this deposit if you fail to enrol.

You’ll need to pay your tuition fees before the start of the programme. Beyond the statutory cooling off period, you must inform the Academy of your intention to withdraw. If you wish to withdraw from your course after its official start date, you will be liable for a fee. Full details of the liability can be found in our Terms and Conditions. Should you need to, you can suspend study for up to 12 months. Please see our withdrawal and interruption of study policy for more information.

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information on Fees.


Studying Fine Art at this level will incur costs in addition to fees, accommodation, travel and usual living expenses. Whilst some basic materials are provided for certain Elective Skills Workshop courses, you will be required to cover other costs such as those associated with the Graduate Show and materials required to successfully complete the course. We estimate that these costs will be between £300 and £700*, depending on materials and chosen disciplines. The Academy has a small shop onsite, where you will be able to purchase some materials. Some guidance on where to purchase other specialist materials is in the student handbook and tutors can also advise you. * Please be aware that this is an estimate for guidance only (based on survey results from previous students) and actual expenditure will vary from student to student, depending on the nature of the practical work they choose to make.


It is expected that students studying at this level will visit galleries and exhibitions independently, as part of the development of the contextual knowledge and practice. Some components of the programme will suggest students visit relevant exhibitions. These are quite often free as they are in commercial galleries. Where there is an entry fee, whilst we encourage you to take these trips, we understand it is not always possible, so they are not compulsory nor essential. If you are not able to participate, the tutor will prepare an alternative itinerary of free museum and gallery visits that you can follow.

We welcome applications from all enthusiastic candidates. Please email [email protected] or call +44 (0) 20 7407 6969 to discuss courses further or arrange a visit.


Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. This is subject to availability; we will not be receiving applications if the programme has reached capacity.

More information on the admissions process can be found on the Academy’s Admissions Policy.


To apply, please fill out the online application form here.

If you wish to apply by post, please email [email protected] to request an application form.

We consider each application on an individual basis and welcome candidates from a variety of backgrounds. Ideally, you will have an A-Level or other Level 3 qualification in Fine Art (or equivalent) and have developed a portfolio that you can bring to your interview. However, no formal qualifications are required (other than English at level 2), but you’ll need to demonstrate work at least of Level 3 equivalent. On receiving an application, we will offer suitable applicants an interview. In some cases, we may ask to see additional supplementary work
Intake is only in term one (September).


As part of your application form you’ll need to submit a personal statement. This is your opportunity to stand out from the other candidates, to set the scene for your interview. Your personal statement should be approximately 500-700 words and cover the following:

  • Give us some context; What have you done previously (educationally, artistically and professionally)? Why are you interested in FIne Art ?
  • Explain the ideas, concepts, and research behind your work, and tell us how you intend to expand and develop your ideas and research in the future.
  • Tell us about the materials, methods, and processes you use to make work and what you’re interested in exploring in the future.
  • Tell us how and why artists have influenced your work.
  • Why do you want to study at Art Academy London? What do you hope to gain from the programme? What are your ambitions?


As part of the application form you’ll be asked to submit a digital portfolio, so that we can assess your suitability for the programme ahead of a physical interview.

The digital portfolio should contain approximately 10 – 20 ‘slides’ including extracts from your sketchbooks. Digital portfolios must contain information about media and dimensions as a minimum, you may add titles and other explanatory text if you wish. This should be submitted as a PDF, Powerpoint or Word document.

For interview you’ll need to bring a physical portfolio with you. This doesn’t need to be completely different content to the digital one.This should be approximately 15 ‘sheets’ or pieces of work (no less than 10, no more than 20) plus your sketchbooks. Your physical portfolio does not need to be mounted or ‘presented’, but rather a collection of work. You should, however, consider the order in which you wish it to be viewed.

For both digital and physical portfolios you should include evidence of:

  • Drawing
  • Finished work/ projects (from research to realisation; we want to see your working process)
  • Work that demonstrates your range (include pieces that demonstrate your ability with different media and techniques)

You should consider the following:

  • We’re not looking for perfection. Including developmental, unfinished and experimental work is important too.
  • Be decisive. The ability to select and edit is important. You should have something to say about every piece and demonstrate that you can critically self-evaluate.


All applicants are required to demonstrate an appropriate level of English Language competence to gain entry to the Academy. This can be through previous study in English (evidencing an approved English language qualification at Level 2, GCSE or equivalent). Where an applicant is unable to provide evidence of a relevant, formal English qualification, the Academy will require specific performance in written English tests at interview. Appropriate level of spoken English is assessed at interview.


The Academy operates a fair and transparent admissions process to ensure that the widest range of people (with the motivation and ability to study at the correct level) have an opportunity to benefit from the Fine Art education we provide. To find out more information please see the Academy’s Admissions policy and Criminal Convictions Policy and Procedure.


As a student of the Academy it is very important you are aware of our Academic Regulations and Policies. These apply to any of our students studying on any of our Degree and Pre-Degree programmes and outline the agreed procedures and protocols to ensure all students understand both expectations and support available to them. To find out more information please see our Academic Regulations and Policies page.


We are committed to supporting accessible learning and welcome students with disabilities and special educational needs.


We encourage you to disclose any disabilities or special needs when you apply, so we can plan any support that we may need to provide at the earliest opportunity, including during the admissions process. Admissions decisions are always made on the basis of a candidate’s ability and/or potential to complete the programme.


Provided that a candidate is suitable for the programme applied for, we will make reasonable adjustments for applicants with a physical or mobility impairment in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

Art Academy London’s premises are old buildings which inevitably means that access to some areas can be problematic for people with a physical disability. However, work carried out on our main Mermaid Court building over the last few years means that we can accommodate most students with physical disabilities on academic programmes.

Where necessary, we will make appropriate arrangements to mitigate any accessibility issues such as rescheduling of classes, workshops, tutorials, lectures and other events to spaces within the main building of Mermaid Court, which is wheelchair accessible. It may also include the provision of facilities to undertake classes and workshops in techniques and processes outside of the dedicated space in which they normally occur (i.e. printmaking) and individual provision of facilities such as storage spaces, where these are normally in unaccessible areas. The library is currently inaccessible to wheelchair users and alternative arrangements are in place for students with mobility issues to access the library resources

Some of our buildings will remain inaccessible for the foreseeable future (our second building at Mermaid Court). We are committed to improving access to all our buildings and are working towards making all areas of our campus fully accessible to all.


Portable induction loops can be provided during open days, interview and in teaching spaces if required.


If you have any other disability, specific learning difficulty, health, or mental health difficulty, please contact us to talk about options for support.



We welcome students with Special Educational Needs. A bespoke programme of Elective Skills Workshop courses will be mapped if necessary, and alternative assessment models employed where appropriate to provide a parity of opportunity with non-SEN students. Our SEND Coordinator will act as a personal tutor and first point of contact for all SEN students, and will also ensure that all other tutors working with SEN students understand that student’s needs and how to support them. In the final year of study, SEN students may be given additional support as necessary as they work towards their Graduate Show.

The SEND Coordinator, and other staff members as relevant, will keep in regular contact with the parents of SEN students if appropriate, including meeting with them to discuss the progress of the student and any issues arising in their course of study.


Students or applicants who declare a disability, specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia), long term health condition or mental health disability are asked to complete a ‘Student Declaration and Identification of Support Needs’ form. This is in addition to the declaration requested at application and is intended to ensure we capture the information we need to ensure a safe and successful educational career at the Academy. A member of the Academic team will then contact the student to discuss their individual support requirements and agree actions, which are made available to relevant tutors and support staff, informing them of any services and adjustments required.

If you don’t find the answer to your question here please contact the Academic team on 020 7407 6969 or email [email protected]


We don’t ask for any particular qualifications. The course is carefully structured in such a way that even students who have pursued no formal art studies can both take part in and benefit. The application and interview process will help determine whether the course is right for you.


No, although certain aspects of the course are aimed at preparing students for further study, the course would benefit anyone who wants to explore a wide range of fine art disciplines and learn about life as an artist.


The course is designed to cover a whole range of fine art disciplines, but you will have the possibility to steer your studies and projects in a particular direction and towards specific media, especially towards the end of the course when you may be developing a specialism.


There is no upper age limit for applicants to the Academy, and all applications are considered on their merits. Students under the age of 18 are generally not admitted due to lack of experience and levels of ability, however, in exceptional circumstances, the Academy will accept students under 18 (though not below the age of 16) for the Foundation Course, which is designed to enable progression onto undergraduate degrees.

All applicants, regardless of age will need to demonstrate they meet the specific entry criteria for the programme of study.


Our Fine Art Foundation is internally accredited and awarded and is not subject to funding from the ESFA. It is therefore a full cost course. Neither is it eligible for student support under the Student Loans Company scheme. The Academy can offer advice on possible sources of funding. Please contact us to discuss your options.


Yes, applications from mature students are welcomed.


Fees can be paid yearly or termly – full details can be found on the ‘Fees & Funding’ section of the Fine Art Foundation webpage. The first term of year 1 must be paid for prior to the start the course. Furthermore there is a deposit required from all students enrolling on the course.


Upon successful completion you will receive an in-house Foundation (instead of a conventional Btec or UAL qualification), which attests to your individual achievements. Our Foundation is not part of RQF (The Regulated Qualifications Framework). This allows the course to focus on delivering a thoroughly useful programme suited to its students needs. The Academy’s Foundation is a well-recognised programme and our students are regularly accepted onto further study courses at top universities. However, just like all other Foundation courses, our Foundation is subject to external moderation to ensure that our standards are comparable to national benchmarks.