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Art and Design BTEC National Diploma at Esher College

Course description

The Art and Design BTEC National Diploma is a nationally recognised, dynamic and varied course for students committed to art and design wishing to progress to higher education or a potential career path in this area. It aims to develop your interest and awareness of art and design in the wider world through increasingly realistic vocational assignments, and to develop your creative ability as an individual. You will explore a wide variety of creative disciplines and experimental approaches, before focusing on a specialism in depth. It is a two year course and is equivalent to two A Levels.

The department has an excellent record of successfully enabling students to progress on to many highly respected degree and diploma courses across the country, ranging from architecture to jewellery, fashion to 3D design and fine art to game design, in addition to art foundation courses. Students have also progressed to apprenticeships and work placements in web design and 3D crafts.

Course content

Over the period of the course you will build a core ability in visual recording and communication, developing your skills in drawing, making and using colour. You will learn about design development in both 2D and 3D, including graphics and multimedia. Most importantly you will learn to work to a design brief and respond independently to a series of set tasks on which you are assessed. You will have the opportunity to work with a wide range of materials, techniques and processes using our workshop facilities as part of the creative process, enabling you independently to produce individual outcomes as you build your portfolio. Contextual and critical studies in art and design are covered through regular museum and gallery visits and presentations, and this study is used to inform and develop your work. In the second year there is the opportunity to focus your specialism(s), both written and practical, towards building a portfolio to support HE progression. Professional practice, live briefs for external clients [V&A Museum and arts venues], visiting speakers/practitioners, as well as a residential trip are offered to broaden your horizon. 

Entry requirements

This course requires significant commitment to art and design, and therefore it is expected that applicants will have gained good GCSE grades in creative subjects, or can provide extensive evidence of their own work in a portfolio. You will be set regular written work, including annotation and essays, and should therefore have a good level of written competence, ideally including a grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

The minimum entry requirement for study at Esher College is 5 GCSEs at A* - C (or 9 – 4 in Maths and English).  We encourage students to aim significantly higher than this to ensure that study programmes are successfully completed.

If you do not have a grade 4 in either GCSE English Language or Maths and you qualify to follow a study programme at the College, you will be required to retake one or both of these subjects in your first year.  A lack of GCSE English Language at grade 4 will significantly restrict study programme options.


Assessment will be by a combination of internally and externally set, graded assignments. 

Future opportunities

The Art & Design department has an excellent track-record for student progression to a wide range of degree and foundation courses across the country. The course provides opportunities across most creative disciplines and equips students with the self-reliance and vocational experience necessary to progress directly to BA qualifications. The Diploma course also includes a focus on professional practice and presentation and communication skills which prepares students for applications. BTEC Nationals have UCAS points value equivalent to A Levels.

Recent destinations have included degree courses at Central St Martins (Animation), Falmouth College (Graphic Design), Winchester College (Textile Design), Hertfordshire University (Game design), Kingston University (Architecture) and Brighton University (Illustration). Many students also progress to art and design foundation courses at Kingston University, UAL and UCL. The range of transferable and vocational skills developed on this programme enables those who do not wish to enter higher education to apply successfully for apprenticeships in professions such as joinery, graphic design and stonemasonry.

Diploma students receive extensive guidance on progression, and are able to adapt their second-year programme towards the development of a portfolio relevant to their career aims in creative subjects.

Further information

Please note that this subject is in the process of being reformed. The current information reflects what is known about the new course and further details will be available on the website when the specification (syllabus) has been finalised and published.

Please note, that it is not certain that this course will be available in 2017.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Esher College directly.

Last updated date: 12 October 2016
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