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 6/7 certificate, students are eligible to apply for this 2-year programme. During the Higher Diploma, 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, display.

Programme outcomes

On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:

Apply research methodologies in the generation of ideas, projects and proposals,

Identify a personal direction for their emerging practice,
Articulate an identity as an artist,

Communicate effectively the ideas and processes underpinning their work,

Select appropriate materials and techniques in the realisation of their work,

Work independently and collaboratively where appropriate,

Establish learning goals and manage their time effectively,

Critically evaluate their practice within contemporary art,

Analyse and evaluate key concepts and theories in visual culture,

Produce resolved work suitable to exhibition standard.

Graduates of the programme will communicate ideas informing their practice to peers. They will be able to work independently, collaborate with others on projects, organise small group exhibitions and disseminate ideas and meaning underpinning their visual art practice in a range of formats and settings. Graduates will have established competency in a discipline area, demonstrate an ability to negotiate discipline boundaries and show an understanding of the potential of transdisciplinary approaches of working.

Who is this programme for?
Typically a student applying to this programme will be able to show an interest in and commitment to developing a professional practice in art. Previous experience of art is required, either through attending accredited courses in continuing education at NCAD or similar further education courses. Students participating in this programme will be encouraged to challenge traditional views of art and engage in a process of experimentation with the view to developing a direction for their practice. The programme is intensive and while delivered in a flexible manner it will involve a considerable time commitment.

Subjects taught

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.

Modules Credits Core or Option Trimester

Year 1

Materials and Media 10 Core Autumn
Theories and Concepts in Critical Cultures 1 5 Core Autumn
Multi-disciplinary Art 1 5 Core Autumn
Multi-disciplinary Art 2 10 Core Spring
Print-Making Techniques 5 Option Spring
Digital Film 5 Option Spring
Discipline Project FA 1 5 Core Spring
Professional Practice 2 5 Core Spring

Year 2

Studio Research FA 1 10 Core Autumn
Theories and Concepts in Critical Cultures 2 5 Core Autumn Discipline Project FA 2 5 Core Autumn
Studio Practices FA 1 10 Core Spring
Studio Practices FA 2 10 Core Spring
Professional Practice 3 5 Core Spring

Entry requirements

Applicants to this programme should be 23 years or over by January 1st of the year they intend to start the programme. Applicants are expected to have completed a CEAD Level 6/7 Certificate or the equivalent, and will be required to submit a portfolio as part of the selection process (see portfolio brief above). 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 dates

Students will have to complete an online application form and submit a portfolio of images as part of the process of application process.


2 Years Autumn - Spring, 2 x evenings per week, occasional Saturdays

The Higher Diploma in Art commences in late September. Students will attend on a part-time basis for approximately 30 weeks, in addition, students will attend blocked week-long sessions at intervals at Easter and for one week in May. Normally students will attend for a minimum of 6 hours per week, typically this could be Tuesday and Thursday evening (for Year 2 students) and Monday and Wednesday evening (Year 1 students). The programme includes; evening attendance, weekend sessions and daytime blocks at Easter.

More details
  • Qualifications

    Higher Diploma (Level 8 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time,Evening,Daytime,Weekend

  • Apply to

    Course provider