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About Us

Arts University Plymouth is an independent specialist university run by artists and designers for artists and designers, widely regarded as a dynamic catalyst for creative learning and social justice.

The world needs creatives now more than ever. Our proposition is that making is as important as reading and writing, as science and maths, and that the purpose of learning is inseparable from that of living your life. This is a place for making things, for making things happen, and for making a difference.

Social justice, through community impact and social mobility, and creative learning, through pedagogical innovation, are part of our DNA and at the heart of everything that we do.

We provide a platform, a crucible, a space where people come together, explore new horizons, and push the boundaries of creative practice.

Together, we imagine, experiment, think, learn, make things, and make things happen. Whatever you want to make, wherever you want to go, the journey starts here, and never stops.

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Tavistock Place, Undergraduate Campus

Established in 1856 as Plymouth School of Art, the college has since occupied a number of city-centre locations and names before settling at the site of our current undergraduate campus, Tavistock Place.

In response to the marginalisation of the creative arts in mainstream education in the UK, in 2013 we established a trans-generational progressive continuum of creative learning with the founding of the Plymouth School of Creative Arts in a RIBA and AJ100 award-winning building – The Red House, formally opened in 2015 by Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, which became Millbay Academy as part of Reach South Academy Trust in 2020.

In 2016 Katie Greenyer, Creative Talent & Networks Director at Pentland Brands, opened Palace Court, our pre-degree campus for students aged 16 to 19-years-old. In 2017 Lady Frances Sorrell, Co-founder of the Sorrell Foundation and Saturday Club Trust, opened Palace Studios, our dedicated building for Foundation Diploma in Art & Design students. And in 2018 we created Makers HQ, a fully commercial fashion manufacturing business with a strong social enterprise ethos, as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in partnership with Millfields Trust.

With 166 years of history in the city of Plymouth, the move to become Arts University Plymouth came after the institution, which has delivered Higher Education for over 20 years, received Taught Degree Awarding Powers in 2019, and then was awarded University Title in 2022.

Palace Court’s outdoor courtyard basks in the summer sun. A golden-brown staircase to the left leads to a second-floor entranceway, whilst ground-level a large white mulberry tree is surrounded by pale grey gravel and white walls with black framing.
Palace Court
School pupils fill a large white lecture theatre in their matching red uniforms. The group are split in two, one group against a black curtain backdrop, the other looking on with a wide space down the middle. A teacher sits at a piano waiting to start.
A building made of intersecting cubes sits nestled amongst local apartments. The exterior is a striking shade of red with only ten carefully placed windows.

Plymouth's progressive continuum of creative learning and practice, extending from early years to Masters level postgraduate study, research and professional practice.

Plymouth has always been an exciting city, but in 2020 with the opening of The Box, the largest museum and art gallery space in the South West, and with the British Art Show returning to Arts University Plymouth in 2022, there’s a buzz that can’t be missed.

Our work is as global as it is local, inviting purposeful partnership and opportunities for our students within our inner-city neighbourhood, with our global partner universities and Erasmus locations. In 2019, we collaborated with experts in art education from across China at FutureLab Shanghai, the Art and Design Innovation Future Education Expo, building on ties to Shanghai’s International Art City project (SIAC), on which the university has Advisory Board membership. From our work on the Crafting Futures programme in Myanmar and the South Caucuses to our biennial Making Futures conferences, we’re putting Plymouth on the map for the creative arts through our partnerships and research projects with Tate, The V&A and the British Council.

Opportunities to work with these international partners will allow you to develop the richest, most dynamic horizons for your practice. As a student, it is your energy that interests us and that we work with here: the emerging creative focus of your individual path within a specialist learning environment of industry-standard studios and workshops in which your work can truly flourish.

Professor Andrew Brewerton sits with fellow speakers in front of a deep-grey wall with a neon green TV screen displaying the talk title. The back of attendee’s heads are in shot.
A female staff member leans across a white table to demonstrate paint rolling. Chinese visitors watch either side.
Smiling visitors crouch in a line on the floor to collaborate on a shared drawing, the paper is rolled across for everyone to reach.

Former Principal (2010-2021), Professor Andrew Brewerton speaks at FutureLab Shanghai, the 2019 Art and Design Innovation Future Education Expo.

Our working environment is widely regarded as one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems of materials, technologies, processes, practices, art forms and ideas that you will find in the form of an art school. At a time when others are narrowing the range and ecology of their learning infrastructure, we see it as the natural habitat of artists and designers and makers, and that’s why in recent years we have invested more than £12 million in both digital and analogue dimensions.

We do this because we know that the space of learning either offers or withdraws the possibility of learning, and that there is a kind of creative intelligence, aesthetic sensibility and cognitive method that you will only ever acquire at first-hand, in live contact with materials and processes.

Glowing from the furnace, a hot orange blob of molten glass is carefully placed for shaping, the students wear protective gloves.

You're here because you have a calling for creative practice in art, craft, design and media, and your creative path as an artist, designer and maker will lead you into a global market. Your identity as an artist or designer will come from the horizon, not from the boundary line. Your task is to go out into the world in order to discover who you are. This is the journey of your life, as well as your creative practice, an adventure that begins here.