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  • Start date:   August 2024
  • Level of Qualification:   SCQF Level 6
  • Course Type:   Full-time


Please note: this course is now full and only reserve places are available.

This course allows you to develop and learn in a style that will support a wide range of creative skills, with the emphasis being on preparing for HNC and the eventual art college learning experience.


The NQ provides an invaluable introduction to learning how to learn in a way that promotes individual creativity and encourages the development of self-directed practice. The course introduces the processes of research, investigation, and development through both practical and written tasks. These are essential foundational skills for progression.


A current student said, “The course offers a good ratio of freedom, guidance, and feedback to gain more confidence in art and design.”.


NQ Art and Design is for those with a keen interest in the arts, who have some formal qualifications and experience in art and/or design, and also mature students who would like to develop their art skills to go into higher-level courses.


  • What the course includes

    The course delivers knowledge-based learning and practical skills in diverse subject areas, for example, drawing, painting, sculpture, media handling, colour, printmaking, contextual studies, photography, digital media, video, sketchbook development, life drawing, an introduction to contemporary art practice, and core skills. These are explored through project-based learning, which reinforces the connection and interaction between all aspects of the course.

    At the end of your course, you will have the opportunity to exhibit and sell your work in a gallery setting. This is an added bonus at NQ level.

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Why choose this course

The NQ is the first stage of learning to develop the skills required to create a portfolio for progression to our more advanced-level course, HNC Art Portfolio Production. From our HNC, 100% of students have achieved multiple art college offers, many with direct entry to 2nd year.  This is unique to West Lothian College. (Please see the HNC Art page for more details.)

After successfully completing your NQ and HNC, you will benefit from our agreement to gain direct entry to Gray’s School of Art / Robert Gordon University. With an ‘A’ grade pass in the HNC graded unit, you are guaranteed entry to 2nd year studies in Fine Art.

You will develop your creative skills, gain new ones, learn about contemporary art, build a portfolio of work, and participate in field trips and an end-of-year exhibition. Experienced lecturers with a wide range of personal creative practice experience and subject knowledge will support and guide you throughout the course.

You are applying to a course which has allowed students to fulfil their creative ambitions and go on to achieve at the highest level in their Art College courses.

From the NQ the majority of students progress to our HNC.  From our HNC our students have gone on to study;

West Lothian College HNC art students have gone on to study animation, computer arts, video games design, teacher training, art therapy, digital media, film and T.V., visual effects, graphic design, illustration, product design, costume design, fashion, jewellery design, painting and printmaking, sculpture, environmental art, contemporary art practice, fine art, moving image, concept design, fashion, footwear and accessory design, international fashion branding, fine art photography, intermedia design, interior and spatial design, comic book art, stained glass conservation, applied arts, virtual reality, immersive systems design, simulation and human anatomy.

Our former students work in a range of areas including community arts, teaching, art residencies, animation, graphic design, fashion, illustration, publishing, visual effects and TV, curatorial, gallery and museum work, conservation, museum and gallery archiving, marketing, web design, as well as a number of self-employment roles and commissioned work.

Entry requirements

Minimum of four subjects at National 5, including English and Art.

A portfolio with a variety of examples of work such as sketchbooks, creative processes and  development work,  painting, printmaking, drawing from observation (not photographs), photography, jewellery, fabric or textiles, 3D work such as jewellery, product design or sculpture.

We encourage work produced from observation. Note that we do not accept work copied from photographs, anime, manga, cartoons or tattoo designs. The work you present should be entirely your own and original.

If English is not your first language, ESOL Level 5 is an entry requirement for this course.

  • Where it leads

    Education: Progress on to the HNC Art (Portfolio Production); year 1 of an HND in an art-related subject area; application for degree foundation-level.

    Employment: any area within art, design or the creative industries as well as having transferrable skills to work across other disciplines. Creativity is one of the most sought-after employability skills.

Interview arrangements

You will come to college for approximately 3 hours.  There will be a talk, presentation and an opportunity to ask questions about the course, this is to support your understanding of what your course will involve.

 You will also have a practical drawing and written task to complete.

  • Practical drawing task. The subject of the drawing exercise is “what am I carrying?” This could be the contents of your bag, wallet or purse. It could also be your bag or jacket. Basically, whatever you have with you.
  • Short written task. The written task will involve interpreting an artwork in a personal way.
  • Individual portfolio review with course tutors during which you will discuss your work.

Please bring a portfolio of your work along to the interview and evidence of your qualifications.

Fees, Finance and Funding

There may be help available to assist with your study related costs. Impartial, confidential help and advice on financial matters is available from the Student Funding Team - including Bursaries, Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), Student Awards Agency for Scotland, Student Loans Company and student support funds. Click here to find out more

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Take that next step in your career and apply for this course today. If the course is not yet open for applications, feel free to ask any questions by clicking make an enquiry.