Applying to Art and Design

There are lots of higher education options out there if you'd like to pursue a career in art or design. Fine Art, Graphic Design, Fashion & Textiles, Jewellery Design, and many other courses are offered at university and college level. Entry is competitive though and you will need to be ready to submit a high quality portfolio of relevant work.



Where can I study?

In Scotland, there are several institutions where you can study courses in art and design.


In the west of Scotland, the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) offers degrees in several subjects, from Fashion & Textiles to Sculpture.

The art schools at the University of Edinburgh, University of Dundee, and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen all offer similar degrees.


Several colleges in Scotland offer qualifications at NC, HNC and HND level in art and design subjects. Many people complete one of these courses before applying to a university like the Glasgow School of Art. For others though, a college qualification is sufficient to get them started in a related career.

In the west of Scotland, art and design courses such as Fine Art, Graphic Design, and Jewellery Design are offered at:

Glasgow Clyde College West College Scotland
City of Glasgow College Ayrshire College
Glasgow Kelvin College  


How do I apply?

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  • If you’re applying to a university, you’ll begin by completing an application through UCAS. See How to Apply to University
  • If you’re applying to college, you’ll submit an application to all the colleges you’re interested in. See How to Apply to College.

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  • For most courses, you’ll be asked to submit a portfolio with examples of your own art and design work.
  • You may also be asked to submit a written statement, explaining the artwork in your portfolio.

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  • Depending on the institution and course you’ve applied to, you may be asked to attend an interview to discuss your portfolio and the reasons for your application.



The Glasgow School of Art offers clear advice on the application process for its courses:

  • Take a look at the How to Apply section on their website. (It’s half way down the page.)
  • Read their advice on preparing your UCAS personal statement here.


Can I get help with preparing my portfolio?

Applying to art and design courses, particularly at a specialist university like the GSA, is very competitive. If you’re required to submit a portfolio of artwork, it must be of a high standard. The good news is that there’s a lot of help and advice available to you:

The Glasgow School of Art has put together guidance for each of its courses here.

If you’re a pupil at a FOCUS West school interested in applying to an art, design or architecture course, you’ll be able to get help and advice through the Widening Participation Programme at the Glasgow School of Art. Widening Participation staff and GSA students offer activity both in schools and on campus to assist pupils with their application to the next stage of their creative education.

The GSA also runs a programme called ACES (Access to Creative Education in Scotland) which offers advice and practical workshops for S4-S6 pupils interested in applying to degree courses in Art & Design and Architecture.

Have a look at their flyer and, if you’re a pupil at one of the 90 Scottish schools they work with, get in touch with them at aces@gsa.ac.uk.

Some colleges, such as Glasgow Clyde, offer 1 year ‘portfolio preparation’ courses that help you to develop your body of artwork. Many students go on to study at art school after completing a course like this.