Contemporary Jewellery

BA (Hons) - UCA Rochester - 2018, 2019

For a successful career in contemporary jewellery, a designer needs to be highly creative, material conscious, adaptable and business-focused.

Based in an open studio environment with your own personal space, you’ll explore diverse ways of approaching the design process and gain an understanding of current thinking about contemporary jewellery, investigating relationships between jewellery and the body.

You’ll be encouraged to experiment with a wide range of materials and processes, including metal, ceramics, plastics, wood and textiles, and taught advanced practices in design and practical knowledge about business and self-promotion.

An open approach is fundamental to the course; our aim is to help you develop a personal design identity, providing a stimulating creative environment where innovation is encouraged and you’re able to pursue and realise your ideas.

You’ll be supported by access to excellent workshops and a staff team who are practising designer-makers or researchers. Amongst other things, this ensures the course is constantly evolving to meet the latest industry developments.

The BA (Hons) Contemporary Jewellery develops the visual, creative and practical skills you need to contribute to the future direction of contemporary jewellery.

The course equips you to initiate and develop creative ideas while offering you the freedom to work with a wide range of materials, providing an innovative approach to experimentation and realisation.

You will explore current thinking about contemporary jewellery and investigate relationships between jewellery and the body, giving you the confidence, technical skills and flexibility to take risks, realise individual ideas, push the boundaries of the discipline and to find your own voice as a designer.

You’ll explore diverse ways of approaching the design process and learn through a series of stimulating projects, producing ambitious, creative and individual work.

Working alongside like-minded makers in a studio-based environment, supported by access to excellent workshops and your own workspace, you’ll have the time and space to speculate; to test boundaries, develop your knowledge of materials and refine your skills. You are encouraged to be curious, playful and experimental.

You’ll learn how to develop and realise your ideas and designs, developing confidence in designing and making, alongside the acquisition of drawing, research, design, computer-aided design and theoretical skills to help you explore design projects to their full potential.

You’ll be supported and encouraged to create innovative designs to a high standard of professionalism and have the opportunity to enter competitions and awards and participate in live projects. 

Length of study:

Three years full-time


UCA Rochester

Start month:


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Entry year(s):

2018, 2019

Entry requirements:

112 UCAS tariff points

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Course details

  • Year 1

    In the first year, you'll be introduced to the University and the technical workshops and facilities available to you. On the course you’ll learn the technical and conceptual skills that will give you a solid foundation from which to explore your areas of specialist activity.

    Maker, Materials and Process 1
    The purpose of this unit is to introduce you to the act of making as a key skill and means of experimental research through the exploration of materials and processes.

    Maker, Materials and Process 2
    This unit builds on the previous one, with you extending your vocabulary of material knowledge through the acquisition of a different but related set of material skills and processes. You will test and further develop skills and knowledge from inception to resolution within given contemporary jewellery practice brief contexts, increasingly synthesising design processes of research, ideas generation, iterative exploration, documentation, evaluation, resolution and communication at a fundamental level.

    Practice, Process and Concept
    The purpose of this unit is for you to develop creative responses to designing and making, reflecting on and using experiences of processes and materials learned in previous units and using new skills learnt in the unit.

    Contextual Frameworks
    This unit promotes a broad speculative approach to the investigation of the relationship between form and surface. It encourages you to develop creative responses to designing and making, reflecting on and utilising your experiences of process, materials and technologies.

  • Year 2

    The second year focus is on finding your own specialist way of working and you’ll be encouraged and supported to start working more independently. During this year you may also have the opportunity to complete an industry work placement or even study abroad. 

    Practice Exploration 1
    The purpose of this unit is for you to explore individual design identity and interest through engagement with design project briefs. Briefs require consideration from inception to resolution and incorporate all stages of the design process.

    Practice Exploration 2
    The purpose of this unit is for you to further extend and develop your exploration of individual design identity and interest. This is undertaken through engagement with selected project brief/s set within specific contextual themes. It is seen as an impetus to engage in speculative and conceptually led design in the production of Contemporary Jewellery.

    Establishing Practice
    This unit enables you to define you own patterns of study and consolidate your creative and conceptual practice. This unit provides, within a defined contextual framework, an opportunity to develop work in response to students’ own conceptual concerns and personal direction.

    Contextual Perspectives
    This unit will introduce you to a range of contextual, theoretical and critical perspectives that encourage an involved and insightful appreciation of crafts and design practices as expressions of meaning and value. With an emphasis on crafts and design as discourse, and drawing on a range of research methods and thematic content, the unit will seek to highlight relationships between creativity, production, mediation and consumption, promoting analysis and evaluation as essential aspects of creative research and resolution, and encouraging a positional approach to studio practice that identifies objects as experiences.

    International Year (optional)
    This is an optional unit that will allow you to spend a period of time in an overseas education institution.

  • Study Abroad Year (Optional)

    Students in the School of Crafts and Design have the unique opportunity within UCA to add an additional year of study at an overseas institution (either at a higher education establishment or workplace).

    This optional year is designed to broaden your educational experience and deepen your understanding of cultural diversity, enabling you to study within a different cultural context and gain fresh perspectives. 

    Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience. Living in another country, you'll experience new places, people, cultures and possibilities. You'll develop initiative, independence, motivation and, depending on where you go, a working knowledge of another language – all qualities employers are looking for. You will return to complete your degree with all the benefits of the International Year experience behind you.

    To find out more about studying abroad as part of your course please see the Study Abroad section:

  • Year 3

    The third year will see you achieve a greater level of independence with self-managed research, study and practice, resulting in a final major project and a written dissertation.

    Practice Portfolio
    The purpose of this unit is to prime you in complete readiness for constructive engagement 
    with your future prospects upon graduation. It helps to facilitate the transition from student to early stage professional practitioner or adjacent destination.

    Practice Position 1
    The purpose of this unit is for you to commence framing an individual Contemporary Jewellery practice position. In order to achieve this two routes of pursuit are offered – (i) research/exploratory prototyping and testing, and (ii) research to resolution.

    Practice Position 2
    The purpose of this unit is for you to finalise framing an individual Contemporary Jewellery 
    practice position and realise a self-initiated, graduate major project that realises individual potential. In order to achieve this the body of work and research questions framed in Contemporary Jewellery Practice Position 1 are used as a primary reference point.

    Contextual Research and Critical Reflection
    The purpose of this unit is for you to conceive, develop and construct a personally meaningful portfolio of contextual research. This portfolio informs, augments and reflects upon practice, towards the provision of structured narratives that critically engage with a range of contextual and theoretical frameworks. These narratives serve to support the positioning of individual practice in relation to past, present and possible future endeavours. 

  • Fees

    Find out all about the fees for studying with us, as well as the grants, loans and other financial support you may be entitled to:


This course has an open plan baseroom as well as design studios with individual work spaces and workshops with welding, enamelling and polishing areas. The campus has wood and metals workshops with welding and cutting facilities and computer suites with Macs and PCs loaded with relevant design software.

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Course connections

On this course, you'll be exposed to a world of opportunities

  • Industry links

    Throughout the course, we’ll arrange visits from a range of leading lecturers and industry practitioners, and we’ll encourage you to undertake work experience in workshops and design studios, for example at:

    • Darkroom
    • Klimt02
    • Geist magazine
    • Tatty Devine.
  • Careers

    Our Contemporary Jewellery graduates have progressed to a variety of professional roles, including designing, buying, gallery work, marketing, retailing, production, teaching and self-employment, whilst others have chosen to embark on postgraduate study.

  • Further study

    You may also like to consider further study at postgraduate level.

How to apply - 2018 entry

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How to apply - 2019 entry

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More information:

Go to our how to apply pages

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Along with your portfolio, the standard entry requirements* for this course are:

One of the following:

  • 112 new UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 112 new UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject
  • 27-30 total points in the International Baccalaureate Diploma with at least 15 IB points at Higher level, see more information about IB entry requirements.

And four GCSE passes at grade A*-C and/or grade 4-9 including English (or Functional Skills English/Key Skills Communication Level 2).

Other relevant and equivalent Level 3 UK and international qualifications are considered on an individual basis, and we encourage students from diverse educational backgrounds to apply.

*We occasionally make offers which are lower than the standard entry criteria, to students who have faced difficulties that have affected their performance and who were expected to achieve higher results. We consider the strength of our applicants’ portfolios, as well as their grades -  in these cases, a strong portfolio is especially important.

International entry requirements

To view the equivalent entry requirements for your country please select it in the list below.

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Non-UK equivalent qualifications

English language requirements

Your portfolio

For this course, we’ll ask you to attend an Applicant Day and bring your portfolio for assessment. Further information on how to compile a portfolio, and the specific requirements for examples of work to be included, will be provided on the Applicant Portal after you’ve applied.

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