Plymouth College of Art


Our Story

Study here and you’ll be taught by highly skilled tutors and supported by expert technicians. Our commitment to our students is second to none, in workshops, studios and beyond.

Our tutors won’t just set assignments and leave you to get on with it. Open and approachable, they’re committed and involved in the whole college community, living and breathing art.

As artists, they know how important it is to trial ideas and share expertise. They understand what it takes to develop a portfolio or prepare for an exhibition. They also know it’s essential to be able to think practically as well as creatively. Our course leaders arrange for industry to set and assess real-life briefs, helping students to understand how to succeed in business – without compromising creativity or integrity.

Art and the community: Plymouth and beyond

Our college has strong links with the wider community. We run a busy national and international programme of visiting artists, exhibitions, public events and partnership activities. As a student here you’ll be making connections with artists, industry and potential employers from day one. In Plymouth you'll have access to excellent rail and road transport links across the UK - with regular trains to London, Bristol, Birmingham, as well as further South West into Cornwall. Although based in a vibrant, thriving city with plenty going on in, you'll be in the unique situation of also having easy access to a stunning sea-front (particular highlights include the Hoe, Barbican, and Royal William Yard) and rolling countryside (Dartmoor, Noss Mayo, and Burratorare just three of many nearby attractions).

Traditional and visionary

Many art colleges are phasing out traditional crafts such as print or analogue photography to focus more on digital methods. While we have some of the best digital courses and equipment in the country, we’re also constantly developing and improving our traditional art courses.

To illustrate our commitment, we’ve invested in a new specialist art, craft and digital design centre. Phase 1 opened in September 2013 and costing almost £8M, these state-of-the-art ceramics, glass and digital design workshops include a range of facilities such as 3D printing and laser cutting. Look out for more on Phase 2 opening in spring 2014.


Some say that true craftsmanship is no longer to be found in the world of handmade things. The tendency is for the traditional crafts to lose their place in the bigger scheme of things, if only because they take up lots of floor space and need specialist teaching and dedicated technical staff.

Plymouth College of Art is bucking the trend. Here we continue to invest heavily in new studios and workshops that redefine the relationship between media, fine art, digital technology and handcrafted traditions.

Equipment Resource Centre (ERC)

Our Equipment Resource Centre (ERC) houses around 6,500 items available to our students ranging from up to the minute digital to classic analogue devices within the fields of moving image, sound, games and animation. As our skilled technicians are experts themselves in a broad range of disciplines they will provide advice and guidance to ensure you have the technology you need to make all your projects successful.

All equipment can be loaned free of charge by staff and students following an induction and workshops are regularly available so that you can build your technical skills base in a wide range of equipment to build your technical skills base. Our loan system also enables students to take equipment off site for location and project work.

For example the ERC can supply small-scale digital compact cameras to high-end Nikon DSLRs and industry standard medium format digital backs (Phase one). Analogue camera formats are also available supporting, 35mm, 6x6, 6x4.5, 6x7, 5x4 and 10x8. Our wide range of lighting equipment from Tungsten to flash with a broad range of attachments and portable lighting will allow you to be creative with your projects.

With regards to moving image the ERC provides video equipment catering for 3 chip mini DV, Sony Z1 HD cameras to Arri SR2 super 16mm, super 8mm and 8mm Bolex cameras. Associated accessories such as cranes, dolly & dolly tracking and glide steady cam support systems are readily available.


Crammed full of specialist information on design, visual arts, crafts and the media, Plymouth College of Art’s library is an enviable resource offering students over 20,000 specialist books and subscriptions to more than 130 different magazines, journals and newspapers to support and inform their studies.

Our comprehensive online web catalogue system can be accessed from home or the College, as well as many other online databases such as JSTOR and Oxford Art Online. Users can search all online databases simultaneously with a metafind search technique making research simpler and quicker. Access to the Joint Academic Network (JANET) provides further research and communication opportunities.

We belong to a number of professional bodies such as the British Film Institute, the Craftsmen’s Potters Association and the Art Libraries Association enabling students and staff to access a range of professional literature and information services. Students can also use the library to access the stock of other libraries through a national interloan scheme and The Plymouth Central Library is also only a minute’s walk away.

Creations Supplies

The Creations Team are experienced and on-hand to give you advice and support on your project needs. Creations stocks basic art materials including;- paper, card, board, tracing paper, mount board, sketchbooks, workbooks, pens, pencils, glue sticks, sticky tapes etc. There is also a range of digital storage including CDs and DVDs. Specialist art and design materials can be ordered from Creations along with reprographic services, scanning and binding. Wide format inkjet and photography printing facilities are available via the Epson 9700, 9800 and 9880 printers. Prints can be made up to 44" wide on a variety of media including satin finish, photo rag or canvas. There is also Photographic Minilab and a Fuji facility to facilitate instant prints.

These facilities are also open to the public subject to availability.

Our History

At Plymouth College of Art, we are proud of our origins. The original Plymouth School of Art was opened on 21 January 1856. Over a period of time the School has had various locations, none of them more than a hundred yards or so from the present position (Cobourg Street, the erstwhile Park Street and Ebrington Street), until finally, in 1892, the Jubilee Memorial Science, Art and Technical School was opened in Tavistock Road.

This building was to become a victim of post-war redevelopment some 70 or so years later (many Plymouthians, even those who weren't students there, cherish fond memories of the grand Victorian structure). However, it had long since ceased to house the Plymouth College of Arts and Crafts, which by then had relocated to the former Palace Court School premises. This was a temporary measure though, and in 1969, following the creation of Plymouth Polytechnic and the hiving off of the Architecture Department, approval was given to construct a new College of Art and Design on what had been Park Street, where the original Plymouth Drawing School had started more than 100 years earlier.

Designed by the then City Architect H J W Stirling, the new five-storey building was officially opened on 29 March 1974 at a cost of approximately £300,000. Less than thirty years later the building was extended and refurbished, and the cost this time, a reflection of the rate of inflation, was over £5,000,000. With an avowed aim to be the first port of call locally for anyone interested in Art and Design, the College was well set for the future.

We have continued to invest heavily in our facilities, staff and the Plymouth College of Art Campus over the years and we are proud to be well underway with a new contemporary art, craft and design wing, worth over £7.7M. The first phase of this development opened in September 2013.

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