About the CEAD Higher Diploma in Art
The Higher Diploma in Art provides mature students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge, skills and experience in visual art practice. This programme provides lifelong learning options for adults who wish to participate in flexible learning and acquire a level 8 qualification in art. Having completed a level 7 certificate and carrying 30 ECTS credits forward, students are eligible to apply for this 2 year programme. During the Higher Diploma in Art, students progress from creative exploration, inquiry and discovery, to engagement with context, audience, histories and cultures.

Social, ecological and economic challenges continue to impact on creative processes and increasingly visual arts practitioners require the ability to collaborate, innovate and influence. Through exploration of materials and competent use of a range of techniques, students will apply skills and knowledge of processes to practice. This 2 year programme includes skills-based workshops, research methods, discipline orientation, project-based learning, professional practice combined with theories underpinning contemporary visual culture. The Higher Diploma in Art provides for interdisciplinary approaches and includes discipline options in drawing, painting and expanded practice with students’ orientation for practice identified on completion of stage 1 of this 2 year programme.

The aims of the programme are to

Establish a research methodology applicable to practice
Explore concepts, ideas and research processes in contemporary art
Encourage experimentation through engagement with studio-based projects
Develop self-discipline and effective time management applicable to practice
Acquire skills and knowledge applicable to an evolving practice
Foster critical engagement with art practice, contemporary visual culture and society

The objectives of the programme are to

Encourage the development of analytical skills and an understanding of reflective processes within studio practice
Examine and critically analyse key theories in contemporary critical culture
Explore discipline characteristics, boundaries and transdisciplinary approaches to fine art
Support decision-making, interpretation, judgement and evaluative strategies applicable to practice
Develop an applied knowledge of materials, processes and technical skills appropriate to practice
Develop an understanding of contemporary visual art practices
Create a body of work for exhibition or display

Teaching and Learning Strategies
Group critiques, individual presentations, peer learning and group display of final project work all feature within the programme. Lectures, seminars, projects, group discussion, tutorials, presentations and group dialogue form part of the teaching and learning strategies. In year one students will have the opportunity to work in the environs of IMMA. A series of sequential practical projects will feature throughout the programme. Students are encouraged to actively engage in dialogue with peers, tutors and visiting lecturers. The teaching strategies support student-centred as well as problem-posing and problem-solving approaches with small group as well as individual tuition. The programme includes both studio-based learning and collaborative approaches to learning and practice.

In the early stages of the programme student led presentations, combined with participation in small group studio critiques, will facilitate students to gain confidence and enhance their communication skills. Critical and analytical skills will be enhanced as the programme progresses through research, experimentation and application to practice.

Students on the Higher Diploma in Art study 45 credits in each year. They complete 20 credits in the autumn trimesters of each year and 25 credits in the spring trimester.

Subjects taught

Credits Core or Option Trimester

Year 1:
CEAD2002 Materials and Media 10 Core Autumn
CEAD2003 Theories and Concepts in Critical Cultures 1 5 Core Autumn
CEAD2004 Multi-disciplinary Art 1 5 Core Autumn
CEAD2005 Multi-disciplinary Art 2 10 Core Spring
CEAD2008 Print-Making Techniques 5 Option Spring
CEAD2009 Digital Film 5 Option Spring
CEAD2006 Discipline Project Fine Art 1 5 Core Spring
CEAD2007 Professional Practice 2 5 Core Spring

Year 2:
CEAD2011 Studio Research Fine Art 1 10 Core Autumn
CEAD2012 Theories and Concepts in Critical Cultures 2 5 Core Autumn
CEAD2010 Discipline Project Fine Art 2 5 Core Autumn
CEAD2013 Studio Practices Fine Art 1 10 Core Spring
CEAD2014 Studio Practices Fine Art 2 10 Core Spring
CEAD2015 Professional Practice 3 5 Core Spring

Entry requirements

Applicants to this programme should be 21 years or over by January 1st of the year they intend to start the programme. Applicants who are eligible to apply will have successfully completed a CEAD Level 7 University Certificate or the equivalent with 30 ECTS credits to carry forward. Applicants are also required to demonstrate a commitment to the development of an art practice and be willing to engage in a programme involving investigation and experimentation.

Application Process
Applicants to the Higher Diploma in Art submit an online application form, write a short artist statement along with a portfolio of images, see the portfolio brief above.

Advanced Entry
Advanced entry to year 2 of the Higher Diploma in Art is evaluated by the prior learning of the individual student. Please contact Please note advance entry places are limited.

Application dates

Application Deadline 23 May 2024

Application Process
Applicants to the Higher Diploma in Art submit an online application form, write a short artist statement along with a portfolio of images, see the portfolio brief above.


2 years, 30 weeks autumn to spring, 2 evenings per week, 6.15 to 9pm and occasional Saturday mornings

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Higher Diploma (Level 8 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Daytime,Evening,Part time,Weekend

  • Apply to

    Course provider