I’m currently in my second year of BA (Hons) Fine Art and Art History, and I thought it might be useful to explain what studying at university here in Plymouth is like! My course is a little different in the sense that it is a ‘joint honours’ degree, so I do exactly half the Fine Art course, and exactly half the Art History degree. I graduate with one whole degree qualification, but in two different subjects. What I love about my course is that every day is different. I spend on average 2 days a week in lectures/the library, and 2 days a week in the studio. Wednesdays are normally free for workshops, societies and clubs.
I am completing 3 modules on Fine Art and 3 on Art History this year. In the first term, I chose 2 Art History modules (The Renaissance and Vienna in the 1900s) and did 1 art project. For the second term (which I’m currently doing), I do 2 art projects (an independent project and a placement in a local gallery) and 1 Art History module (the international field trip module). I’m very excited to be heading to Florence on Monday for our fieldtrip!
I’ll divide this into 2 different days to make it easier to understand. My Tuesdays, for example, are assigned to Fine Art. I normally head to the studio at Royal William Yard (via the bus from town) at about 9 o’clock, as we have tutorials with our tutor that start at 10:30. In our tutorials, our tutor will normally talk to us as a group for about 15 minutes, explaining any upcoming deadlines to work towards and to have a general chat to us about our work. Everyone’s practice is very different, so it’s exciting to go around and share what we are up to. On occasions we have group tutorials or formative assessments, where we go around 1 by 1 and explain our work for about 30 minutes and gain critique. It is daunting at first, but you get used to it, and it’s such a good skill to be confident in discussing your own work.
Our current art project is an independent project developing our own practice, we create a proposal and we have to produce a final piece and body of work to show in our end of year exhibition in May. We are expected to be constantly producing work – whether this be paintings or sculptures or installations. Once this briefing is over, we tend to get on with our work in our studio space until our tutor comes around for our 1 to 1. It is really helpful to have a weekly catch up with our tutor to track our progress and gain opinions on our work. This being said, our tutors are around a lot of the time, so we can always ask if we need any help. I normally take lunch with me, as Royal William Yard can be expensive for food, and there’s a microwave and a kettle in our studio for lots of cups of tea! I love our studio and will definitely miss it when I leave University – it really becomes your own space to produce work and socialise, and Royal William Yard is just beautiful. We then have an artist talk 4-6 (with a range of different artists coming in every week) at Roland Levinsky on campus, so we normally get the bus back to University around 3 and grab a coffee beforehand. After that I’m done for the day, so I head home, and depending on how busy the day has been, I either go to an exercise class, relax at home, or go out and do something with my friends.
My Thursdays are dedicated to Art History. During the first term when we were doing 2 Art History modules, this was a lot more intense, and whenever we weren’t in a lecture I’d be in the library writing my essays. Our only Art History module this term, however, is the international field trip, so we just have a lecture on a Thursday afternoon. On a Thursday morning I tend to get on with whatever work I have – this week I’ll be in the screen-printing studio working on some artwork. Our Art History lecture takes place from 2-5. Depending on the nature of the lecture, it is normally about 1.5 hours of lecture, then a break, and then the rest is a seminar until 5, in which we reflect on any reading we have had to do or sometimes do a presentation we have been asked to prepare. There are around 15-20 of us on the Art History course, so our lectures are quite relaxed and we get to know our lecturers well and feel like we can ask them anything!
So that’s it really, as I said it really depends on the term/module/week and how much work I have to do on the two halves of the course. Some days we have workshops to attend, and on a Friday we do our placement (I’m doing mine at the Pen Arts gallery on campus). It definitely keeps me on my toes, but I love being busy and wouldn’t have it any other way! I hope this helps in understanding what university, and particularly a joint honours course, is like.