Clay is the only truly democratic material arising from the earth beneath our feet. And yet it shapes territories that lead to war, is synonymous with human ingenuity, man’s conquering of nature, a product of cultural exchange and economic endeavour.
We embody the material of ceramics from the iron in our blood to the calcium in our bones; from the bricks making up our homes, to the cup from which we drink. It is easy to recognize that clay is the one material that we share with every single person on earth.
The vibrancy of the material has enabled Ceramics at CSAD to continually take risks and rise to creative challenges. This stems from fostering a community of ceramicists operating at undergraduate, postgraduate, and Doctoral levels, who produce a wealth of critically engaged enquiry.
The academic team are all practicing ceramicists, with research and creative interests that help shape the programmes. Their research includes technical aspects of creative practice such as the use of levigated slips and surface combustion techniques, utilizing processes exploited by Greek and Roman cultures; contemporary studio ceramics and its recent history; relationships between ceramics and sculpture; ‘presence’ and ‘stillness’ in the figure; the expressive capacity of surface on the human form in art; the role of drawing in the development of ideas; application of new and emergent technologies in ceramic practice. In the 2008 RAE exercise, research in Ceramics at CSAD was judged to be world leading and it continues to build on that today.
Students at all levels of study work in specially designed studios, within a community of practicing artists and designers, where discussions between students in different years, on different levels of award and in different subjects are promoted and encouraged.
You will have the opportunity to work across a broad range of processes, exploring the full potential of ceramic applications and acquiring advanced skills in a range of technologies. You will be supported in excellent facilities and dedicated studio spaces by an award-winning academic team, whose specialist interests include figurative ceramics, materiality, utility, new technologies and creativity.
Our taught practices include:
Throwing: traditional pottery techniques from domestic ware, double walled vessels, to more sculptural composite forms.
Hand Modelling: the human form in clay, from ornamental and sculptural work to fine base relief.
Cob Building: traditional practices with contemporary application encountering issues of sustainability and other environmentally aware art practices.
Mold Making: Casting in plaster, mixed-media molds (fabric/combustible), composite molds, lathe turning.
Tile and Surface Pattern: Glaze technology, slip application, printing techniques: transfers, screen print and onglaze.
Firing: Electric, gas, raku, soda, saggar, building external kilns exploring both function and performance.
Digital Fabrication: introductions to 3D printing, laser cutting, 3D digital modelling processes.
The structure of the course enables you to acquire an awareness of entrepreneurship and professional practices, undertake a work placement within industry, carry out research with one of our Professors, or travel to study fine art in countries where the traditions are very different. Some of our students also opt to travel and study in Europe under the Erasmus scheme. In the third year, ceramics students can elect to complete a dissertation or a business plan, preparing the way for your career on graduation. The choice is yours, and we’re there to help you realise your ambitions – whether that is to set up your own studio, establish a gallery profile, or continue your personal development through further study.
At Level 4 you will begin to examine the power of material language through a diversity of clay practice. Your ideas will be explored in relation to a series of core skills from throwing and plaster work, to multiple hand building and construction processes, to different firing methods and approach.
In addition to independent practice, you will also test out the nature of collaboration through briefs that bring together students from across the School’s subject disciplines, sharing creative ideas with textiles, fine art, product design, illustration, making, graphics and architecture, employing a range of critical approaches and theoretical positions. All this of course enables you to grow strength in understanding of what unique skills and insight you have to offer. Level 4 is the year that first releases the phenomenal creative energy of sharing creative ideas across the School.
Our Constellation module will develop your ability to contextualise your practice by introducing historical and theoretical perspectives to assist in the development of ideas. We offer a series of keynote lectures that will introduce you to staff areas of interest and expertise and you will participate in study groups that allow you to specialise in particular areas of interest. Through interdisciplinary working, the focus will be on developing your academic and research skills to enable critical reflection on your practice.
Level 5 brings with it the opportunity to experiment and specialise. From domestic tableware ware to sculpting the human form, surface pattern to environmental, time-based installation, the diversity of students practice is channelled only through shared fascination with the versatility and material languages of clay.
This is a chance to choose a route that will help you define your individual practice, with options available to you including professional work placements, studying ceramics in other cultures by travelling abroad both short term or across the term through the ERASMUS programme, and further possibilities of entering into collaborative projects across the school.
During your second year the Constellation module will engage you in a diverse range of topics through which you will be able to put your academic skills into practice. This will include critiquing current literature as well as contemporary journals and exhibitions. Further contextualising of your practice will be nurtured at this level, with an opportunity to specialise in areas that reflect on your own interests.
There is particular emphasis in your final year, on professional practice and career planning. Your major project and exhibition brief will represent the culmination of your learning, as well as your development into a ceramicist with a strong skill set and distinctive voice. Graduates of CSAD are well placed to enter a broad range of careers; including sculpture and more ‘white cube’, or gallery orientated practices; designers/makers working in industry or as design consultants; studio potters; and self-employed artists/ceramists. Others might go into teaching, model making, arts management, curating or museum or collection practices. Many graduates from the course progress at the school to study on our prestigious MA Ceramics programme.
Your final Constellation module will demonstrate your ability to produce a dissertation of significant value to your field, with a sense of authority stemming from thorough research and academic rigour. Your final dissertation submission can take the form of a 10, 000 word essay or a business plan, a technical report, conference paper and presentation, a 6000 word paper and accompanying practical piece.
Learning & Teaching
From the outset, you will gain hands-on experience in practical studio sessions and workshops – developing your core material skills. Lectures, lead by members of the academic staff, will broaden your theoretical understanding of your subject, whilst smaller, targeted seminars are designed to provide guidance for meeting more individual intellectual and practical demands.
Throughout the duration of your studies, you will be evaluated on three main criteria, which underpin all of the disciplines being taught at CSAD:
SKILLS: The practical, technical and conceptual skills you acquire during your course.
CONTEXT: Your understanding and knowledge of broader intellectual context within which your discipline and work is located. This includes historical, environmental and ethical issues and will often be explored in your 'Theory and Context' modules.
IDEAS: Your understanding of intellectual and creative ideas from within and beyond your discipline; plus your ability to acquire new concepts and form new ideas. Ideas will be explored in your written work, as well as being evident in your practical progress.
Each of these criteria is given equal weighting during the assessment process. That is to say that they are seen as equally important and critical to your development; an emphasis which is designed, for example, to enable a more well-rounded skill set from a student who may be skilled technically, but weak in generating ideas, or a student with much creative flair who may struggle to hone a broad concept into a strong, individual design.
We provide a number of ways for you to track your progress en route to submitting your work for marking. Understanding that the emphases will revolve around the core areas of skills, context and ideas, you will also become familiar with the structured assessment form used by your tutors and learn to relate to your work back to the intended learning outcomes of each brief.
The main types of formative assessment are; academic (feedback from your tutors); peer (from your course-mates or project partners); and self-assessment (which is your own critique, in light of other forms of feedback). You won't just be receiving feedback at the end of a brief, however – your tutors will often assess your progress as your work develops, providing formative feedback at crucial moments where it is hoped to encourage you to take risks, maintain your motivation or shape-up your ideas ahead of deadline.
Employability & Careers
Whilst your learning is designed to develop you into a rounded and capable artist/designer and intellectual, your curriculum is similarly structured with your potential in mind.
As such, the emphasis that will have been placed upon your work ethic, both creatively and academically, is matched with significant focus on real world experience; from building contacts and undertaking placements to live briefs and, should you choose so, support in forming your own business.
You can elect to take a route through your second and final years of studies where you can engage with businesses or launch your own for the moment you graduate. In your final year, rather than submit a dissertation, you have the option of devising a detailed business plan.
Throughout your time at CSAD, you will be meeting and hearing from professionals within your industry, honing your skills and ideas for commercial and professional advantage. Cross-disciplinary projects will prepare you for teamwork later on, whilst live briefs will prepare you for deadlines and the demands of tight specifications.
Entry Requirements & How to Apply
Applicants should have a strong art and/or design portfolio and demonstrate a commitment to art and/or design, five GCSE passes including English and Maths at grade C or above plus:
- 300 points from a successfully completed Art & Design Foundation Diploma or/and
- At least 3 A Levels / Scottish Advanced Highers from any Subject, (General Studies excluded)
- QCF BTEC Extended Diploma: Distinction Distinction Merit
- 300 points from the Irish Leaving Certificate at Highers to include 3 x B1 grades from any subject (minimum grade C2 considered)
- Access to HE Diploma with 45 credits at Level 3 within a relevant subject
- Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma considered along with grades CC at A Level within any subject, General Studies excluded
- Qualifications equivalent to the above
If your qualification isn't listed above, please refer to the UCAS website.
For applicants only undertaking 2 A Levels or BTEC equivalent, or applying with other life experiences, other qualifications and/or art & design achievements will be considered.
Selection Procedure and Interview Days:
Selection is based on the receipt of a completed UCAS application and attendance at a School of Art & Design Interview.
Acceptance at interview is based upon a balance of three criteria:
For more information about Art & Design Interview Days, please click here.
Personal enthusiasm for and immersion in the practice and theory of Art & Design
Academic Achievement and ability
Quality of work, ambition and skills demonstrated in a portfolio
How to Apply:
Applications for this course should be made online to UCAS at
www.ucas.com/apply. For further information please visit our How to Apply pages at
Place of Study:
Cardiff School of Art & Design
Three years full-time.
Before making an application, international students (those outside of the EU), should contact the International Office at Cardiff Met to discuss the necessary procedures in relation to studying with us. For further information visit
Tuition Fees, Student Finance & Additional Costs
For up to date information on tuition fees and the financial support that may be available whilst at university, please refer to www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/fees.
Undergraduate costs of study in CSAD
CSAD provides a variety of basic materials. These enable students to develop their competence in a range of skills and demonstrate their technical ability. Materials needed in unusual quantities, or those that are specialised, expensive or unusual are at the student’s expense. Advice will be given about how ‘unusual’ is defined, which materials are deemed to be ‘expensive’, and examples given of what is viewed to be ‘unusual’. CSAD students often elect to spend on materials they prefer to work with, including sketchbooks and pens, as well as specialist equipment of their own choosing.
In the main, no charges are made for the use of equipment, with the exception of some specialist high end equipment such as the Mimaki and 3D printers. Access to Cardiff FabLab is subject to student membership; it offers reduced fees for student use.
For further information about additional course costs, including fees, equipment requirements and other charges for each undergraduate programme, please visit www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/additionalcosts.
Field trips and visits
Field trips that are part of core learning will be paid for by the School. Additional visits are occasionally arranged which are optional and where the students may be asked to share the costs. The costs of study abroad, including exchanges, placements and projects are the responsibility of the individual student.
Bursaries & Scholarships:
The university also offers a bursary and scholarship scheme to help students whilst at university. To see if you are eligible, visit