Visual Arts

If you would love to be designing the clothes seen on the catwalks of Paris and London, exploring your creative ideas using drawing, photographing the events and scenes that can shape the world, designing the logos for the next Olympic games or crafting digital artwork for an international company, then a course in Visual Arts at the No.1 College in Greater Manchester for Achievement* could be perfect for you.

With a range of areas to focus on – from exploring fashion trends and working with textiles to developing graphic design skills and crafting pieces of fine art – you’ll be able to follow your passion and work towards your dream career in one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the UK. Jobs in the creative industries are expected to grow by at least 20% in Greater Manchester, so start learning new techniques, building experience, and perfecting your business acumen with us today!

*NARTs 18/19

  • The Visual Art department at The Manchester College believes in transformative education. We offer inclusive Arts education for School leavers, adults, community groups, and Higher Education students.

    Our aim is to help catapult our students as active artists, designers and makers to a creative future in Manchester, a city of expanding opportunity.

    The College is an integral part of the city’s diverse artistic community, we work with our many employers and partners in the visual arts sector and well placed to serve the growing need for innovative young creatives.

    Come and join us and become a part of our creative community of making and thinking. We know that Visual Art makes life better and can influence the way people think and feel. Here at The Manchester College, we place you right at the heart of Manchester’s creative hub.

    Do you want to experience making work in media such as painting, drawing, illustration, printmaking, 3-Dimensional design, photography, installation, visual communication, ceramics, fashion, textiles, jewellery? Come and learn in our inspiring, dynamic and collaborative studio spaces, which we use for working and exhibiting.

    Our Visual Arts Department will help you to find, shape and refine your own individual creative voice. You’ll learn how to come up with creative solutions to challenging live briefs, and explore the opportunities open to you in this vibrant sector.

    Ready to take your first step? Then come on, let’s go…

  • In our Centre of Excellence for Visual Arts you’ll gain all the skills you need for a stimulating Visual Arts career.

    Jobs in this sector are expected to increase by at least 20 per cent in Greater Manchester over the coming years, creating plenty of opportunities for budding photographers, artists, designers and fashionistas to turn their passion and artistic flair into a career.

    You’ll learn a range of creative disciplines, work on live briefs with our creative partners in Manchester and London. You will have the opportunity to be part of the ground-breaking Future Creatives and Greater Mancunian projects, which are unique to the College.

    What’s more you’ll benefit from a range of workshop spaces, resources and have specialist tools at your disposal, including printmaking equipment, fashion garment pattern cutting and construction studios, ceramics studio, plus darkrooms and studio spaces for photography.

    All of our tutors have studied creative subjects at degree level or higher, have worked in industry, and many continue to practice and create work within their own in their own studios across the city.

    All of our courses are accredited by the University of the Arts London Awarding Body (UALAB) – the UK’s only creative specialist awarding body. So, you’ll know that your qualification will be recognised by the design and visual arts sector.

  • We believe you should learn from people with extensive experience of both teaching and working in the design and visual arts sector.

    So our tutors are all industry professionals and experts in their field, who have studied creative subjects at degree level and higher. They specialise in a range of disciplines, including fine art, fashion, textiles, digital photography, jewellery and ceramics. Many are still practicing artists, makers and designers, who regularly create new and innovative work within their own discipline.

    And they pride themselves on fostering a supportive atmosphere where students can master techniques and allow their own unique talents to shine.

    Maria Foran - Head of Department

    Maria has been teaching Level 3 Art and Design courses for 14 years and became our Head of Department in March 2019. Initially graduating in Textile Design, she played a lead role in founding the ground-breaking project Future Creatives with Manchester Art Gallery, which our students now benefit from. Maria is committed to ensuring each student receives excellent arts education while they’re studying at the College. She’s also committed to expanding opportunities for students to gain hands-on work experience in creative workplaces to ensure they have a real chance of success in this pioneering city of the Arts.

    Bettina Halpern - Department Team Leader

    Bettina has delivered our Level 3 qualifications for 17 years and became Department Team Leader in October 2019. Through outstanding teaching, she’s guided hundreds of students to achieve some of the best results in the UK and assisted their progression to either employment or top universities. Bettina works with the University of the Arts London awarding body, ensuring the quality of our Visual Arts provision exceeds national standards. Bettina is a printmaker with expertise in screen printing, intaglio printing and experimental practice.

    Harry Potts - Photography Tutor

    Before teaching, Harry had a successful 24 year career as a press and commercial photographer with Manchester Evening News Media. Harry has recently completed his MA in Photography and published a critically acclaimed book ‘The Big Front Room’, centred around Manchester. He is the creator of the department’s landmark photography project, ‘Greater Mancunians’, which has seen students photographing some of the key people who have culturally shaped our city.

    Sadie Blythin - Designer

    In order to equip students to confidently apply themselves both academically and practically, Sadie’s teaching expertise covers a broad range of key industry areas from ideas generation and planning, 3d design and fabrication using a range of materials, through to critical and contextual knowledge and understanding. Sadie is a member of the Manchester Jewellers Network and founding member of Crafters Inc. collective. She has strong industry links and as an award-winning designer and maker has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work has featured in a number of publications and has most recently been part of the Makers Project, an action research initiative. 

  • Whether you want to be a fashion stylist or product designer, jewellery maker or sculptor, you can get started in your journey here at The Manchester College.

    Our Visual Arts courses are taught at our city centre Shena Simon campus, our south Manchester Northenden campus and our Openshaw campus in the east of the city.

    Wherever you choose to study, you’ll have all the studios, workshops, darkrooms and equipment you need to perfect your techniques.

  • When you enrol on a Visual Arts qualification at The Manchester College you’ll have the opportunity to get involved with and exhibit your work through a range of creative and artistic projects and channels.

    Future Creatives

    Through our partnership with Manchester Art Gallery we support our student artists and designers of the future to showcase their work:

    Future Creatives Project

    Greater Mancunians

    A landmark photography project through which our students are photograph people born, bred or who have made their home within Greater Manchester and who have, in some way, culturally shaped the city and its surrounding boroughs:

    Greater Mancunians Project

    End of Year Show

    In the absence of our usual end of year shows and exhibitions, this year we produced an online end of year exhibition entitled ‘A New Normal’ to showcase the fantastic work produced by our students during the difficult lockdown period:

    Visual Arts End of Year Shows

  • Find out even more about our Visual Arts department in our subject area guide:


  • Whether you're having second thoughts about where you're currently studying or you've not yet decided what to do next, there are still places available at the No.1 College in Greater Manchester.

    Enrol on campus and start today, no appointment necessary.

    Enrol Now

Available Courses

Art and Design (Photography)

Level 2

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Fashion and Textiles

Level 2

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Jewellery Making

Level 2

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Top Careers Opportunities

Product designer

Average salary: £29k

Fashion designer

Average salary: £29k

A group of five people sat around a table brainstorming

Arts officer / producer / director

Average salary: £34k

An artist drawing on a canvas


Average salary: £28k

Sarah Clements

Studying at The Manchester College has furthered my knowledge of photography and I’ve learnt a lot on my course. It has been really enjoyable and has helped me develop as a photographer and work to a professional standard. I would like to study photography at university, and it’s then my intention to travel and photograph the world.

Sarah Clements • Photography Level 3, UAL
Maeve Geary

The College was the stepping stone to my journey back into education that I could barely have dreamed of and am most grateful for.

Maeve Geary • FdA Art and Design

In one of The Manchester College’s 19 Centres of Excellence you’ll develop the skills and gain the qualifications that you need to take the next steps towards your dream career.

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