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

Considering a career in the creative arts industries? Come along to our Create your future events to discover hundreds of creative courses, traineeships, and careers – all under one roof.

Key stats

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

  • 88% UK
  • 12% international
  • 95% full-time
  • 5% part-time
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 


Apprenticeships are available in the following areas:

Higher apprenticeships:

  • Advertising and marketing – Level 4 – e.g. advertising account executive
  • Broadcast production – Level 4 – e.g. production coordinator
  • Digital learning design – Level 4 – e.g. user experience coordinator
  • Interactive design and development – Level 4 – e.g. junior interactive product designer

Advanced apprenticeships:

  • Trainee photographer
  • Desktop publishing assistant
  • Junior graphic designer
  • Technical illustrator
  • Assistant costume manager 

Find out more about apprenticeships

Entry requirements

A levels – To get on to a related degree, you will usually need a minimum of two A levels. 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. It can also advantageous to have a foundation diploma in art and design.
  • Creative writing – English or a related A level is required for many courses.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3 qualifications (e.g. BTEC extended diploma in art and design, performing arts) are accepted as an alternative to A levels by many universities, and art/design and performing arts colleges.


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 your personal statement

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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