Short courses


Slade Summer School Foundation

  • 300 hours
  • 10 weeks


This ten-week course will give you an intensive introduction to contemporary fine art practice.

You'll receive expert tuition in art and build a solid portfolio while:

  • experiencing a wide range of tutorial approaches from the perspective of a contemporary fine art education
  • discovering what it's like to work in an art-school studio environment

You'll spend significant time in the studio where you'll:

  • learn new skills in classes and workshops
  • explore ideas
  • experiment with techniques
  • develop your individual creative approach
  • curate and install an exhibition

The course will encourage your individual creativity while giving you a solid grounding in the practical and the aesthetic.

The course runs from 9.30am to 4.30pm each day. You'll also have the option of attending extra-curricular events such as talks and gallery visits on at least two evenings a week.

Although it isn't an accredited foundation course you'll develop skills and knowledge that can help you build a portfolio and go on to further or higher education in fine art, further independent study and an individual art practice.

This course is part of the annual summer school run by the Slade School of Fine Art at UCL.

Course content and structure


The course begins with a structured introduction to fine art. 

In the first few weeks, you'll start to develop your individual creative approach and meet the tutors who'll support you over the coming weeks.

The emphasis is on drawing as an imaginative tool for inventing and generating ideas.

The nature of drawing

As part of this introduction, you'll explore the nature of drawing and its fundamental use for the artist.

You'll learn about a wide range of drawing processes and the role of drawing in creative development.

These will include drawing based on the manipulation of surface and materials, the body and the senses, performance, language, sound, the experience of architectural space, memory, observation, the diagram. You'll also be introduced to drawing in relation to time-based work (involving scale, rhythm and sequencing).

The process of making

Following this, you'll investigate the processes of making and the application of ideas.

You'll create work from supplied and found materials, first as a group and then individually. In this project you'll follow the evolution of work from the sculptural to the pictorial and explore many of the stages in between.

You'll extend and translate ideas from drawing through and into painting, sculpture, further drawing, sound, light and experimental photography.

You'll be encouraged to extend your understanding of form and explore the physical, spatial and imaginative qualities of materials.

Individual enquiry

From week four, although structured teaching will continue in part, you'll focus on individual studio-based enquiry. You'll be encouraged to work intensively to develop your own vision.

You'll explore personal ideas while keeping an open dialogue with peers and tutors and experimenting with new and traditional techniques. 

You'll be supported throughout the course by regular group and one-to-one tutorials.

Guidance will be given on how to document your work and record the creative process in preparation for developing a portfolio.

Portfolio reviews and feedback interviews are available in the closing stages of the course, giving you a platform for discussion about future plans.


Alongside individual research and practice, there will also be a number of optional specialist workshops taught by invited artists.

These will cover a range of subjects, such as:

  • order in space and experimental geometry workshops
  • light projection
  • performance
  • experimental analogue photography
  • colour and light: exploring how colour informs our space, perception and imagination
  • technical research in painting and sculpture: making supports, grounds and mediums for painting, making armatures, casting and working with wax, plaster, latex and clay or other pertinent materials for sculpture
  • the artist’s book and basic bookbinding
  • contemporary video practice and documentation


The last two weeks are organised around curating, installing and documenting an exhibition of work that culminates in a final critique, focusing on your individual strengths and achievements.

The critique is led by a Slade Professor and followed by a private view for students, your guests and visitors.

Full details of the foundation course can be found on the Slade website.

Who this course is for

This course is open to all levels and experience.

You don't need any experience in fine art, but you should be open minded and interested in engaging intensely with contemporary fine art practice. 


You'll receive an attendance certificate when you have completed the course.


This ten-week course costs £3,750.

Fees can be paid in full at the time of booking or in two instalments:

  • the first instalment of £1,875 must be paid at the time of booking
  • the second instalment of £1,875 is due one month before the course starts

For the introductory period and the later workshops, most of the basic materials are provided. 

You'll need to provide your own materials for your individual work. Once you've been accepted onto the course you'll be sent a list of suggested materials.


An early bird discount of 10% is available and can be paid in two instalments of £1687.50.

A 10% discount is available for UCL current students and staff. You'll be asked to enter your UPI number (available on your UCL ID card) when booking.

Slade Summer School

The Slade Summer School offers a unique opportunity for you to work within the studios and vibrant atmosphere of the Slade - a world-renowned school of fine art. 

You'll become part of a wider community of artists and will have a real sense of studying in an art school environment among Slade students and alumni. You'll test your abilities while learning new skills and different approaches to making art.

You can take part in a lively range of extra-curricular activities, including lectures, gallery visits and artists’ talks.

Further information

Read more about this course and others on the Slade website, which provides information about booking and cancellations.

Course team

All tutors are practising artists

All tutors are practising artists

Course leaders: Sandra Smith and Max Holdaway.

Learner reviews

"The Slade Summer Foundation was a great insight into creative processes and current art concepts. With a highly motivated team of tutors, the course is well thought out and constantly makes one question one's own practice and direction, while nurturing an environment for experimentation."

"I found the attentiveness and enthusiasm of the tutors a great motivator, which added to the validity of the experience. The course was thoughtfully structured and the show added the degree of urgency to spur us all on; as well as the rare opportunity to air our work. I shall always look back upon my time at the Slade with fondness and the warmth of a happy memory."

"My practice with different mediums was quite separated before coming to the Slade and I always wanted to find a way to combine my skills. Slade has opened up new possibilities of making art for me and gave me more confidence."

"The historical and contextual study of the foundation has provided me with the most food for thought. It enables me to research, self-study and self-critique."

"The research into current practising artists opened up to me the diverse approaches of contemporary art practices."

"The whole programme has been carefully curated to help students see every aspect of being an art student."

Course information last modified: 30 Nov 2022, 16:00