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Foundation Diploma in Art and Design– excellent foundation for university, says Carrickfergus artist



A Foundation Diploma in Art and Design is an ideal preparation for university, according to a former Northern Regional College student who has just graduated with first class honours degree in Fine Art from Ulster University. Laura Murdy from Carrickfergus got a D*DD profile in her Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design (an equivalent of A*AA at A level) and could have gone directly to university. Instead, she opted to do the one-year Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Northern Regional College’s Ballymena campus.

Laura said: “The Level 4 Foundation Diploma allowed me to focus on subjects I have chosen to study so I didn’t have the worry about subjects I wasn’t interested in.

“It gave me the freedom to discover the different areas of art and an opportunity to develop new skills allowing me to go outside my comfort zone and explore techniques which I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do before. I felt like there were no limitations when I was creating artwork.”

Laura continued: “The Foundation Diploma is an ideal preparation for going to university as it teaches you to be prepared, to focus on your own work and become more independent. It helped me create an art portfolio for my university course and expand my research techniques and writing skills. The tutors have a passion for art and, as well as teaching a variety of artistic skills, their great feedback helped my own devolvement as an artist.

“Before I did the course, I would have considered myself a painter but while I was doing the Foundation Diploma, I developed a love for printmaking, something I would never have been drawn to before. When I went to university, I specialised in printmaking and got a first in my degree.”

Laura admitted that at first, she did not want to go to university, but her lecturers were very supportive and encouraged her to apply.

“This course was a great stepping stone to my degree and it really prepared me for going to university.”

Looking ahead – and with her BA (Hons) in Fine Art under her belt – in the longer term, Laura hopes to sell her artwork and teach art but for the immediate future, she has accepted a ‘Student in Residence’ position for a year at Ulster University.

“I'm going back to pick up where I left off in my studio practice, and hopefully get some experience taking part in tutorials, as teaching is something that I would like to do in the future.

“As ‘student in residence’, I’ll be based in the print section of the Fine Art department and be able to use the workshop and studio space. If a student needs help, I’ll be there to assist and give advice, but it will be great to be able to focus on creating my own work without the worry of having to do assessments.”

Congratulating Laura on achieving first class honours, Jeanette Lammey, Art lecturer and co-ordinator of the Foundation Diploma, said she was delighted but not surprised at Laura’s success.

“Laura did a Level 3 Extended Diploma at the College’s Newtownabbey campus and was quite shy when she started but you could see her confidence growing during the two years of the course.

“She wasn’t sure about doing the Foundation Diploma, but we advised her to enrol as she was obviously a really talented student and it would be a waste not to follow her dream. As we expected, Laura blossomed in that environment: her work came on really well and I believe she has a really bright future ahead of her in the creative world.”