Learning Environment

Student and technician at letterpress machine, LCC
Photograph by Lewis Bush

Learning in the studio takes place through making – this is at the heart of the UAL experience. Read a summary of our TEF Year Two provider submission and find out how our course teams, facilities, research and libraries positively contribute to the learning environment.

Students research and develop ideas through putting them into practice to judge their outcome. Studio-based learning is integrated with technical facilities where academic and technical staff work together to provide guidance and support.

UAL's learning environment includes:

  • 376 technicians intensively supporting students by introducing them to the skills and techniques they will encounter in professional practice
  • over 60,000 sq. metres of specialist facilities including photography darkrooms, ceramic workshops, rehearsal rooms, printmaking studios, laser cutters and 3D printers, foundries for metal casting, weave and knit studios, and print and dye rooms, TV and broadcast studios, a working newsroom and two theatres.
  • the largest specialist art and design library in UK HE
  • a hybrid of social learning zones and maker-spaces within our libraries
  • over 200 special collections which provide a rich resource for learning, teaching and research

The CSM Museum and Study Collection has museum accreditation status and in 2015 the University Archives and Special Collections Centre was awarded archival accreditation by the National Archives, making UAL the 4th UK university to receive this recognition. The University also holds the extensive Stanley Kubrick Archive. In 15/16 over 4,770 students interacted with these collections either individually or through group workshops. 

The high quality and volume of links with professional practice in the creative industries are a major strength and are reason why so many students choose UAL. Our 100 courses include at least one and in most cases all the following features:

  • Live projects set by industry practitioners
  • Teaching staff who are active as professional practitioners
  • Placements in industry 

Unlike most universities, our students are so sought after that we are able to charge companies for access, which has become a revenue stream for our colleges. Companies often elect to display student work. LCF students responded to a live brief to illustrate the V&A exhibition Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear. The winner, Araxie Boyadjian, BA (Hons) Creative Direction for Fashion, had her work exhibited at the V&A and King’s Cross Station.

I created a performance piece that highlights the journey women had to take, living a life that was full of constraint and pain... I am very excited to have this piece exhibited to such a wide and international audience [...] It truly shows how UAL enables creatives to connect throughout different platforms and mediums.

Araxie Boyadjian,

BA (Hons) Creative Direction for Fashion

World-leading research

UAL is a world-leading centre for research in art and design. In REF 2014 83% of our research was assessed as world leading and internationally excellent. We were placed in the top 25 of UK universities for the quality of our research.

UAL also leads the HE sector in its expertise in art and design research degrees. 69 students at three specialist universities are studying for UAL research degrees (Arts University Bournemouth, Falmouth University of the Arts, Norwich University of the Arts).

All staff engaged in research also teach, including staff from our nine research centres. For example the Design Against Crime Research Centre work annually with design students on current proof of concept and consultancy projects with collaborators from the public and private sectors.

Personalised Learning

The creative journey is personal, but also shared, and the interactions that students have with staff and each other feed their learning. All undergraduate courses include an opening 20 credit unit, “Introduction to...” which is adapted to each subject, concentrating on getting students to use the resources provided and take responsibility for planning and mapping their own learning. We have also built a peer mentoring network of students to help first year undergraduates to orientate themselves. 254 are engaged in 2016/17 and mentors and mentees value the scheme.


UAL believes effective widening participation is essential to ensure that, regardless of background, people with creative potential have the opportunity to attend university and progress to the creative and cultural sector. UAL works with students who will be the first generation in their family to undertake HE study, supporting access to university. Examples include Saturday classes for Year 10 students, supporting attainment in GCSE Art and Design, as part of the National Saturday Club, and our Insights programme for Year 12 and 13 students, focused on ensuring successful application to HE creative education.

Read the UAL TEF Year Two provider submission (PDF 299KB).

Learn about our student population and how we are improving student outcomes.