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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? 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.

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 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.

As part of your studies you will have the opportunity to undertake a work experience placement.
Built in work experience placement
This course has access to Solent's specialist facilities.
Specialist facilities
After successfully completing your studies, there's an opportunity to continue your studies at Solent.
Further studies
If you have an appropriate Level 5 qualification, you can top it up to a degree in just a year.
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 and 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 2019/20 academic year are:
UK and EU full-time fees: £9,250 per year
International full-time fees: £12,875 per year 

For further information, please visit our tuition fees page.

Other costs

While most course costs are covered by your tuition fees, some essential resources and optional extras may need to be paid for separately. These additional costs are listed below. For advice on budgeting and managing your money, please contact

The 2019/20 other costs are not yet available. For guidance, the 2018/19 other costs were:

Compulsory costs:
Printing, binding, mounting, competition entry, equipment, handtools, and research travel: £300.

Optional costs:
Study trips: £200.

Bursaries and scholarships

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.
  • If you are applying from outside the UK, find information about entry requirements, visas and agents for your country here.

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
  • 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 5066

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 15 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 the end of June. The UCAS Code for the University is S30, code name SOLNT.

Please click the links below to apply through UCAS:

Mode of study
Full-time 1 year Apply
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

Key figures


Assessment by coursework

Meet the course team

Jonny Hannah academic profile Jonny Hannah Senior 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. 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 links

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.

Solent University Open Days

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