Contemporary Textiles Foundation Degree FdA

Location: University Centre at Blackburn College
UCAS Code: W231
Code: IA2540A16
Fees: View fees and financial information
Study Mode: Full Time
Start Dates: september 2021
Term Dates: View term dates

Our exciting Foundation Degree in Contemporary Textiles will help you to develop your ability to transform initial ideas and concepts into innovative textile based pieces. Modules are delivered by experts from a range of design disciplines as well as textile specialists. You will develop an understanding of current trends, historical/contextual influences, 3D construction techniques, the creative process, surface manipulation, innovative approaches to drawing, digital and hand printing techniques as well as professional development and research methods.

As you progress on the course you will specialise in your chosen area of interest, developing your expertise and gaining experience by working on live project briefs and with employers or museums and galleries. You will learn how to utilise social media and create an online portfolio whilst gaining valuable business skills about how to operate as an independent practitioner or employee.

The programme is delivered over two years full-time and progresses directly onto the one year BA (Hons) Contemporary Textiles (Top Up) degree. You'll be based within the School of Arts and Society where we focus on creativity and innovation integrated with professional business practice. The Foundation Degree provides undergraduates with creative and technical skills whilst increasing industry and commerciality awareness offering the best opportunities for employment security.

What will I study?

You will develop skills in creative approaches to drawing, manipulating surfaces and materials, construction techniques, designing, print (digital and hand) and surface embellishment. As a specialist in textiles you will create work that responds to various industry contexts including live project briefs commissioned by major textiles companies and museums/galleries. You also have opportunity to develop your own ideas and areas of interest and gain confidence with academic research and writing. You'll study modules that form part of a foundation degree tailored to your specialist area: Reflective Practitioner, Research Methods, Work-Based Learning and core Business Skills.

The Business Skills module recognises that there is a real need for graduates with skills in business and an understanding of how businesses operate. If you leave and decide to embark on an independent career, this module will ensure you have an excellent grasp of how to promote yourself and thrive as a new business. Work-Based Learning is integrated into the course. In the past, companies such as Graham and Brown, the major UK Wallpaper manufacturer, have provided work-based learning placements in their design departments. Previous students have also worked with museums and galleries - a placement like this can be ideal as you get to see both sides to exhibiting and selling work as a designer/maker. Whatever your work-based learning choice, you can be sure that you will not only gain experience in a specific area but also learn about the bigger systems that operate within a large company.

Work Placement

During the course you are required to spend at least 240 hours working in a relevant role in order to improve your knowledge and practice of the subject. This may be through paid employment or via a voluntary work placement in a relevant role. Your work placement is expected to have a focus on applying the knowledge from your degree programme in an employment context.

Please note: work placements are subject to availability.  You are also responsible for any costs in travelling to and from your work placements, for any accommodation costs and in some instances the cost of acquiring a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) report.

All students take a total of 120 credits per level.

Level 4 Modules (all modules are mandatory) include:

  • Contextual Studies
  • Processes and Practices
  • Drawing: Visual Enquiry
  • Surface Innovation
  • Construction and Visualisation - Textiles

Level 5 Modules (all modules are mandatory) include:

  • Critical Studies
  • Experimental Research
  • Creative Futures
  • Refining Studio Practice
  • Materials and Techniques - Textiles



Entry Requirements

You’ll need 48 UCAS points to join this programme (formerly 120 UCAS points).

All applicants must show that they have a good level of spoken or written English, and if English is not your first language you’ll need to demonstrate the ability to study in English.

Applicants who do not meet the standard entry criteria but have relevant work / life experience will be considered on an individual basis and may be invited to interview.

All applicants will have to interview successfully and must show a portfolio of work. Students progress from sixth form courses, FE courses as well as those who may have been out of formal education for some time.  


How will I be assessed?

The course is module based and each of the 10 modules is achieved upon successful completion of one or more assignments. Assessment includes self and peer assessment (critiques) and assessment by subject tutor, course teams and external examiners. Assessment methods range from academic and reflective essays, individual and group presentations, to the formal submission of your studio practice through portfolio and sketchbooks. 

Each module is formally assessed through, for example, examination, open-book test, individual and group presentation, essay, observation of practice, assessment of course work e.g. art portfolio, written report, reflective practice and portfolios of evidence.  This formal assessment will count towards your module mark and feedback is usually given within 3 weeks following the submission of your formal submission of work.

Additionally, some lecturers will provide informal feedback, for example, following an examination they may choose to work through the exam paper in a tutorial. It should be noted that feedback is part of the ongoing learning cycle which is not limited to written feedback. Other forms of feedback include one-to-one meetings with a personal tutor, dissertation and project supervision meetings, a lecturer responding to learner questions or responses during topic or situation discussions. 

Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor.

Teaching and Learning

The learning environment and facilities could include lecture theatres, classrooms, technology suites, laboratories and workshops, library and skills labs, art and photography studios, small group and quiet zones. Learning methods will vary according to the programme of study but will include lectures and group tutorials. In addition, seminars, field trips, work placements, role play or scenario activities, laboratory and workshop practical, demonstrations, guest lectures, discussions and debates all contribute to the learning experience to support the acquisition of subject specific skills and knowledge and the development of transferable and employment related skills.

You should typically expect to have around 15 contact hours per week if you are studying full time.

In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your personal tutor.  

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course.  The team could include senior academics, professional practitioners with industry experience, demonstrators and technical officers.  You can learn more about our staff by visiting our staff profiles.


We endeavour to make timetables available one month before you start your course.  Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week.  Part-time classes are normally scheduled on one or two days per week. 

Overall Workload

You overall workload consists of class contact hours, around 15 hours of independent learning and assessment activity and any field trips which may take place.

Academic Support

We have a dedicated Student Engagement Team who will be able to provide support in the following areas;

  • Study Skills (including reading, note-taking and presentation skills)
  • Written English
  • Academic Writing (including referencing)
  • Research Skills
What can I do next?

There are excellent and diverse career opportunities available in this sector from careers in design studios to working as an independent designer/design maker/artist. The Textile industry is wide ranging and the course caters for different areas within this industry. Many graduates however choose to top-up their degrees to a full BA (Hons) Contemporary Textiles through studying an additional Top Up year at University Centre at Blackburn College. You will need a commendation in your Foundation Degree in order to progress to this level.

Supplementary Information

Download the Programme Specification for FdA Contemporary Textiles. The Programme Specification will give you further information about the course structure, learning outcomes and detailed information about the assessment you can expect during the course.


Work Placement

Work placements are subject to availability.  You are also responsible for any costs in travelling to and from your work placements, for any accommodation costs and in some instances the cost of acquiring a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) report.

Career Options

Textile Technologist

Textile technologists design, develop and produce fibres, yarns and fabrics. They work in a range of areas including research and development, engineering, production, and quality control.

If you’re interested in fabrics and have lots of creative ideas to develop new uses for textiles, this job could suit you well.

In this job you’ll need technical knowledge of textiles, good ‘people’ skills and an awareness of how businesses operate.

A degree is usually preferred for this job, though you may be able to work your way up. You may also be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship.

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You’ll need a good appreciation of colour and shape. You will also need self-motivation to work alone and the business skills to promote your own work.

Most fine artists have training in art and design, and qualifications like an HND, degree or a postgraduate award. If you are exceptionally talented and can produce work that there is a demand for, you may be able to sell your work without any formal qualifications.

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You will need an eye for detail, and good IT and traditional drawing skills to translate designs into patterns. You'll also need good teamworking skills, as you'll be working closely with designers, machinists and other professionals to create finished products.

You can get into this job by taking an Apprenticeship or by completing a college course in fashion or textiles.

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