University College London Foundation Year

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University College London Foundation Year

University College London Foundation Year

Foundation courses: UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPC)


Foundation courses are pre-undergraduate programmes designed for students who do not have the qualifications necessary for direct entry to an undergraduate degree.

The programme typically lasts one year and students who are successful in completing the course can progress to a suitable degree programme either at UCL or another institution.

The foundation course at UCL is called a Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate (UPC) and is broken down into the following two options:

UPCH (Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for the Humanities) A foundation course for social sciences and the humanities which is suitable for students who would like to study a degree programme related to the humanities.
UPCSE (Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering) A foundation course in science and engineering that is suitable for students who would like to study a degree programme related to science and/or engineering.

In over 10 years of the courses’ history, UPC students have entered over 70 different
UCL undergraduate degree programmes.

UCL guarantees an offer of an undergraduate place for UPC students predicted to meet the entry requirements for undergraduate programmes in the UCL Faculties of Engineering Sciences, Life Sciences and Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Summer School Foundation

Duration: 03 July – 08 September 2017 / 10 weeks
Fee: £3,450
Maximum number of participants: 45
Course leaders: Sandra Smith / Max Holdaway
Requirements: 18+ years

The Slade Summer School Foundation course is an excellent introduction to the study of contemporary art. It sustains and develops students’ abilities and interests over a ten-week period and offers an opportunity for an intense engagement with contemporary Fine Art practice. The course encourages individual creativity whilst imparting a solid grounding in the practical and the aesthetic. Entry is open to students of all levels and experience, and provides an opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for progression into further or higher education in Fine Art, further independent study and an individual art practice rooted in sound knowledge of current educational pedagogy in Fine Art.

Course structure

The course begins with a structured three-week introduction to Fine Art. In these first three weeks students will meet a range of tutors with whom they will work and be supported by, over the coming weeks. Week one explores the nature of drawing and its fundamental use for the artist. It introduces students to a wide range of drawing processes, providing the opportunity to extend and deepen their understanding of 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, and an introduction to drawing in relation to time-based work (involving scale, rhythm and sequencing). This week places an emphasis on drawing as an imaginative tool for the invention and generation of ideas, and sets an intense pace for the following fortnight.

Weeks two and three investigate in more depth the processes of making and the application of ideas. Initially as a group, then individually, students will generate work from supplied and found materials. This project follows the evolution of work from the sculptural to the pictorial and explores many of the stages in between. Ideas from the first week will be extended and translated through and into painting, sculpture, drawing and experimental photography. Students are encouraged to extend their understanding of form and explore the physical, spatial and imaginative qualities of materials. The aim of this introductory period is to develop students’ individual creative approaches, from which they can expect to gain confidence in visual awareness and develop imaginative ambitions for the realisation of their work.

By week four students will have some experience of working independently and will have generated a range of ideas and objects, equipping them to develop their own work.

From week four to week ten, each student will have a space in the beautiful Slade studios, for individual studio-based enquiry. Emphasis is placed on exploring personal ideas, sustaining open dialogue with their peers and tutors and experimenting with new and traditional techniques. Students are encouraged to work intensively to develop their own vision.


Alongside individual research and practice there will be a number of optional specialist workshops taught by invited artists from week four to week eight. These include subjects such as: order in space and experimental geometry workshops in 2D and 3D; video sketch and light projection; performance, and documentation; 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; low tech printmaking; contemporary video practice and analogue film.


For the first three weeks and for the later workshops, most of the basic materials are provided, however as independent working progresses students will be expected to provide their own materials — a detailed suggested materials list will be provided before the course begins.

Extra curricular programme

A rich and diverse extra curricular programme will run for the duration of the Summer school on three evenings of each week, and is open to the foundation course as well as students from across our Summer School programme. The history of art and contextual studies programme includes lectures, gallery visits, artists’ talks and seminars. There is also a vibrant community of Slade student residents (BA, MA and PhD) who are elected to undertake residencies during the summer so that they can discuss ideas and share their experiences with summer school students.

An important part of this Foundation course is the regular group and one-to-one tutorials which support student’s progress during the course. Guidance will be provided for students to document their work and record the creative process in preparation for developing their portfolio. The last two weeks are organised around curating, installing and documenting an exhibition of work that culminates in a final critique focusing on each student’s strengths and achievements. The critique is led by a Slade Professor, and is followed by a Private View open to the public for students, their guests, and visitors. Portfolio reviews and feedback interviews are available in the closing stages of the course, providing a platform for discussion centred on future plans.

In order to gain maximum benefit from our foundation the course must be taken in full. A certificate of attendance will be awarded, but please do note that this is not an accredited Foundation course.


University College London 
Gower Street
London  WC1E 6BT
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 2000