An experiential journey to creative excellence

Buckinghamshire New University (BNU) has been transforming lives for over 130 years by offering one-to-one learning development support — just the kind tomorrow’s creatives need in order to truly bring their passions to life. Its School of Art, Design and Performance takes the process of imparting knowledge to new heights by providing real-world experiences to each and every learner. This way, students are immediately ready to step into the world of work with confidence once they graduate.

Work-based learning opportunities include live briefs, internships and visits from high-profile guest speakers from the industries. For example, Fashion Promotion and Communication students achieve paid, industry positions that enrich their classroom activity — like Wiktoria Zapadka, who has gained numerous commercial internship opportunities across the fashion industry before landing a role as Content Marketing Executive for Organa, an organic beauty brand. Meanwhile, Jessica Newman, a second-year student is currently working as an in-store Visual Merchandiser for Nike.

Fashion Design students could opt to take on a paid, month-long internship at Mackintosh’s head office in Lancashire during their summer, where they will further develop their garment technology skills. Creative Advertising students apply knowledge at esteemed organizations like Creature, BBH, Hill+Knowlton and DentsuMB.

Aspiring Interior and Spatial designers are welcome to take in everything from the aesthetics to the smaller details of a room at BNU. Source: Buckinghamshire New University

Opportunities abound for Interior and Spatial design majors as well. Level Five students take on a two-week internship at Space Pod. Optima System — a leading company in interior fitting design — offered internships to five Level Six students, who got to learn how their services have been offered to Twitter Headquarters, LinkedIn London’s headquarters, PepsiCo Dublin, and HSBC Dubai, and work on a live project at Battersea, London.

Charlotte Jacobs is one of the lucky students. “Getting an internship takes a lot of work, but I got a lot of support from my tutors,” she says. “Doing something you’re truly passionate about is incredibly rewarding. In only a few weeks, it has already had a positive impact on my confidence and ability as a designer and I am excited to see where this path takes me.”

While the thought of even entering such establishments can be daunting for any budding creative, BNU is home to an impressive lineup of teaching professionals with years of experience in their respective sectors. Pair their guidance with access to a suite of industry-standard Art and Design, as well as Dance and Performance facilities and students have a recipe for success.

The powerful combination is open to all aspirations — most are effortlessly catered to, thanks to the School of Art, Design and Performance’s broad range of comprehensive degree programmes.

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BNU Hair and Make-Up students employ sophisticated SFX techniques to turn fantasy into reality in the film and TV industries. Source: Buckinghamshire New University

To bring to life the vision of entertainment, students take on the BA (Hons) Hair and Make-Up for Film and Performance — a two-year accelerated degree program which teaches core skills from BNU’s base in the heart of the renowned creative hub that is Pinewood Studios, UK. Lydia Edmonds, a recent graduate credits the course for leading to the career she has today. Since graduating, she has worked on a number of Marvel movies and Netflix series. Current students on the course have had the opportunity to work on “9 to 5,” the musical, as well as “Matilda” in the West End, in addition to securing work experience on Sky and Netflix productions.

The three-year BA (Hons) Interior and Spatial Design is suited for students keen on creative spatial exploration and bringing conceptual and creative ideas to life through digital design and model making workshops. Preparing students for real world experiences, the course develops core knowledge and sets a professional standard for design practice.

The BA (Hons) Fine Art is a specialist program designed to broaden the horizons of students looking to find personal artistic expression and secure futures in the arts and creative industries. It offers excellent opportunities for exhibition and developing collaborative practice. For inspiration, they work with both analogue and digital processes. Students can also expect to leverage traditional approaches while uncovering new technologies, such as VR and Google Tilt Brush.

The School recently introduced two new postgraduate-level degree programs as well: MA Wigs, Hair and Make-up for Fashion and the Arts, as well as the MA Special Effects for Film and TV. Both linked to the BNU base at Pinewood Studios, they aim to provide students with advanced knowledge and a professional skill set at postgraduate level.

The first pushes the boundaries of hair and make-up design by nurturing existing skills such as period and experimental hair design, fashion and film make-up while supporting students in expanding their knowledge of creating avant-garde designs. The second was designed in collaboration with industry professionals to help students to explore specialist pathways in either Prosthetics and Makeup Effects or Props and Modelmaking.

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Fashion students at BNU are encouraged to apply for work placements at esteemed brands during their studies. Source: Buckinghamshire New University

Since each path comes with the same emphasis on experiential knowledge BNU is known for, all lead to outstanding outcomes. Some rack up braces along the way since they’ve gained the grit needed to compete confidently. For example, in 2021, Merzia Qahramany was a runner in the Oppo Digital Design Award — where she transformed a microscopic image taken on a smartphone into a garment made on the Stoll digital knit machine. More recently, Creative Advertising students won two D&AD pencils in this year’s awards.

Of course, scholarships are a cause for celebration too — like when final year BA (Hons) Fashion Design student Jason Doe was the first ever from BNU chosen to receive a significant scholarship from The British Fashion Council.

“This scholarship really means a lot to me but is also great for representation for Romany culture,” he says. “I was raised Gypsy and I am the first person to receive this scholarship from a GTRSB background. It was a real shock when I found out I’d been chosen, but I can’t deny that I’m thrilled.”

If these are the kind of opportunities you think will help you achieve creative excellence, click here to apply to the School of Art, Design and Performance.

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