This area covers a very wide range of subjects with different specialist courses to choose from in art, design, and performing arts.

Graduate destinations

145,330 students were studying this subject in 2014/15.

77.2% of graduates went directly into employment.

Top five graduate destinations:

  1. Wholesale and retail trade
  2. Arts, entertainment, and recreation
  3. Professional, scientific, and technical
  4. Accommodation and food service
  5. Education

What courses are available?

Universities, colleges, and conservatoires are offering courses in the following subject areas:

The field has a strong vocational link with many courses designed to provide a route to a related career.

You can study music, dance, drama, musical theatre, film, and production courses at both universities and conservatoires. Conservatoire courses are more performance-based, whereas university courses focus more on academic study.

Find out if conservatoire study is right for you

Subject combinations and available course options include:

  • single, joint, and multiple subject combinations
  • full-time, part-time, and flexible study options as well as a few courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
  • qualifications ranging from BA (Hons) degrees, through to HND, HNC, and Foundation Certificates

Find courses at UK conservatoires 

Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course in two years rather than three. 

Entry requirements

A levels – To get on to a related degree, you will usually need a minimum of two A levels. Entry requirements range from CDD to ABB, with providers most commonly asking for BBC. In addition, you normally require five GCSEs at grade C or above including maths and English. However, many courses do not have specific A level requirements:

  • Performing arts – English, performing arts, or another essay-based humanities subject is useful. Applicants taking a performance music course will often be expected to have achieved a minimum of grade 7 ABRSM (or equivalent) in their main instrument or voice.
  • Design, fine art, and photography – many courses require, or prefer, an art and design A level or Scottish Higher. It can also advantageous to have a foundation diploma in art and design.
  • Creative writing – English or a related A level or Scottish Higher is required for many courses.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from CCCC to BBBBC, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring ABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for BB.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Art and Design, Performing Arts, SVQ Creative and Cultural Skills (SCQF Level 6)) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with providers.


Competition for some courses can be intense, and different selection methods are used to ensure applicants have the appropriate talent and aptitude.

Fine art, art and design, and photography – prospective students are required to present a portfolio of their work and will often be asked to talk this through at interview. Entry requirements may be relaxed based on the strength of the art portfolio offered.

Performing arts – applicants will be invited to take part in an audition, which may include individual and group performances. Again, previous experience and a strong audition may mean entry requirements are relaxed for some courses.

Creative writing – applicants may be asked to submit a written piece of work that demonstrates their skills.

Personal statement

Personal statements form an essential part of the selection process and in general, admissions tutors are looking for:

  • a sense of what drives your interest and passion for the subject
  • evidence that you have a real enthusiasm and are highly motivated, which could be demonstrated by:
    • relevant work experience/shadowing or voluntary work
    • additional reading, research, training, and qualifications
    • membership of related societies/clubs
  • a well written statement that shows you have something to contribute to the university or college
  • the ability to work collaboratively and share ideas with others

How to write a UCAS Undergraduate personal statement

How to write a UCAS Conservatoires personal statement

Let's talk about... creative and design apprenticeships

Not sure if a traditional degree is for you? Listen to our new podcast to learn more about studying degree apprenticeships in creative and design.


If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.

Find out more about apprenticeships across the UK.

Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)

Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)

Discover more about apprenticeships in creative arts

Our guide has all the info you need to know about doing an apprenticeship in this industry. Find out what it's really like from current apprentices and decide if it's the right route for you.

Art, performance and design industry guide

Key areas of employment

This subject area has a strong vocational link, with the key areas of employment being:

  • art and design
  • education
  • local government
  • leisure, travel and tourism
  • media and public relations
  • performing arts
  • voluntary organisations

Related careers

Examples of related careers include the following job titles:


Where can I find out more?

Visit the following website find out more about courses and careers in creative arts and design.

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