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About the course

Do you have a flair for visual communication? Would you like to improve your understanding of graphic design, printmaking and illustration? Southampton Solent University’s visual arts top-up programme will help you to develop the essential skills and industry awareness required for work in the creative industries, building on your existing qualifications and earning a full honours degree in just one year.

Southampton Solent University’s visual arts top-up course is perfectly suited to students from a HND or foundation degree background, allowing them to upgrade their qualification into a full honours degree over the course of one academic year.

As well as developing practical creative skills, students will also learn a range of relevant transferable skills. These include research and academic writing, presentation, project management and problem solving. Students will apply these skills to a research proposal and a final major project.

Visual arts at Southampton Solent also includes a unit of negotiated study, enabling students to specialise in an area that interests them and prepare for their career after graduation.

Learning is supported by the dedicated studio space at our Below Bar campus. Here, students are encouraged to experiment with a wide variety of media including intaglio and silkscreen print making, photography, digital imaging, drawing and painting. The creative space also boasts an in-house publishing press, bringing modern and traditional printing resources together under one roof. There are also letterpress, drawing and bookbinding facilities, all of which are designed to aid students as they navigate from initial concept through to final design.

Built in work experience placement Specialist facilities Further studies Top-up degree

Students develop photography, drawing, painting, digital imagery and print-making skills, refining their own personal style and developing a portfolio of professional work.

What does this course lead to?

Job prospects as a visual arts graduate are wide and varied, ranging from publishing or corporate business to television, film, advertising and marketing. Learners are encouraged to pursue a range of work-experience opportunities, entering design competitions and freelancing through the Solent Creatives agency.

Who is this course for?

This top-up course is the ideal way for students with a relevant qualification at HND level (or equivalent) to upgrade their qualification and earn a full honours degree in just one year.

Students spend the year refining their craft and creating work to a professional standard, perfect for those who need time and support to build a portfolio.

Facts & figures

UCAS Codes icon

UCAS Codes

Full Time

  • 1 Year Standard Entry W102
Fees icon

Fees and Costs

Tuition fees

The tuition fees for the 2017/2018 academic year are:
UK and EU full-time fees: £9,250 per year

Whilst these inflationary fee increases in tuition fees and student support loans have been announced by the Minister, they are still subject to formal parliamentary approval.

The international tuition fees for the 2017/18 academic year are:
International full-time fees: £11,000 per year 

Other costs

The 2017/18 other costs are not yet available, but for guidance the 2016/17 costs were:

Compulsory printing, binding, mounting, competition entry, equipment, handtools, and research travel: £300.
Optional study trips: £200.

Bursaries and scholarships

Southampton Solent University offers a range of bursaries and scholarships that provide financial assistance or waive fees for tuition or accommodation. Each bursary or scholarship has specific eligibility criteria. Check out our bursaries and scholarships pages to find out more.

Key entry requirements icon

Key entry requirements

  • Relevant HND/foundation degree pass with merit overall (55 per cent), or 240 CATS points from a relevant three-year degree
  • UK applicants will be asked to attend a portfolio viewing
  • Applicants resident outside the UK will be asked to send an electronic portfolio.

Portfolio interview requirements

Before attending your interview or sending us your portfolio, please read the following: portfolio interview information.

We welcome applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds. Applicants who are not in possession of the minimum entry requirements but are able to demonstrate aptitude, enthusiasm and motivation will be considered on an individual basis and may be admitted subject to satisfactory interview and/or portfolio. Please contact us for further details.

English language requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language will be required to demonstrate an approved level of proficiency in the use of the English language. The agreed minimum requirements for this course are:

  • IELTS minimum 6.0 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each individual component
  • TOEFL IBT minimum 80 with a minimum of 19 in each individual component-TOEFL is only valid for EU students
  • or equivalent.

Qualifications are checked before enrolment, and international students must bring their original certificates or certified copies when coming to study at the University.

The University also offers a pre-sessional English programme for international students who wish to improve their level of English before starting a degree course.

Study location

East Park Terrace

Got a question about this course?
Contact our Ask Solent team:



023 8201 3039

How to apply

Any student applying for the first year of a full-time/sandwich undergraduate course must apply through UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service). This includes mature, overseas and EU students.

Nearly all schools and colleges offer their students the facility of applying electronically through the UCAS website using 'Apply'; it may also be used by those applying independently in the UK and overseas. This facility and all course information can be found on the UCAS website:

Your application should reach UCAS by January if you hope to enter a course the following autumn. Early application is advised for the most popular subject areas. Late applications may be made until June. The UCAS Code for the University is S30, code name SOLNT.

How to apply

What you'll study

Year One

Core units
  • Visual Communication Research Project
  • Negotiated Study
  • Final Major Project.


Web-based learning

Solent's virtual learning environment provides quick online access to assignments, lecture notes, suggested reading and other course information.

The Student Hub

The Student Hub is a central space where you can access all of the information and support you need during your time at University.

Professional and experienced staff can help resolve any query, and if they cannot answer the question themselves they will find the person who can.

Career support

Meet the course team

Peter Jarvis academic profile Peter Jarvis Senior Lecturer View profile
Louise Weir academic profile Louise Weir Associate Lecturer View profile

The university cannot guarantee any particular members of staff will teach specific aspects of the course in the future, but will endeavour to ensure the teaching team maintains their balance of experience and qualifications.


The University provides excellent learning resources and facilities to its students, from campus-wide wireless to extensive library services and dedicated student working spaces with plenty of laptop points. You’ll make extensive use of our printroom facilities, including screenprinting, letterpress and etching presses. You’ll also have access to our modern IT suites, featuring the latest industry-standard software.

Projects and case studies allow students to practise working to real-world briefs and are encouraged to pursue a range of work-experience opportunities, entering design competitions and freelancing through the Solent Creatives agency. Southampton Solent University’s visual arts top-up is suitable for students with qualifications at HND level of equivalent.

Your future

Suitable roles for graduates include:

  • Freelance illustrators
  • Gallery curators and technicians
  • print making technicians
  • Studio management
  • Art direction
  • Design group practice
  • Freelance work for books

Industry connections

You’ll be involved in a variety of live briefs, competitions, commissions, community participation events and other projects with outside agencies and our in-house agency, Solent Creatives. You will also have opportunities to exhibit your work externally, as well as at the end-of-year degree show exhibition.

The course has strong contacts in industry and academia, such as the Association of Illustrators, Heart Illustration Agency, Contemporary Illustration Agency and Walker Books for Children, and has links with high-profile practitioners.

You’ll benefit from our programme of high-profile guest lecturers, such as illustrator Holly Wales, Matt Curtis from the Sunday Times Magazine, and Hamish Muir, co-founder of MuirMcNeil.


We have strong links with a variety of commercial clients, including local organisations such as Southampton City Council and design bodies like D&AD and the Association of Illustrators.

Every student will have the chance to exhibit, both in Southampton and London, and to have their work seen by various art directors and agencies.

You will also be able to publish and print your work for sale at artists’ book fairs.

Further study

Enhance your career prospects by continuing your study at Solent.

Visit us

Our next open day is Sunday 13 November 2016

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