Contemporary Art Practice HNC

Course code 209W

What is special about this course?

Join these stimulating, project-based, interdisciplinary courses and respond to a range of creative briefs designed to challenge, motivate, and inspire.

Explore a variety of media, processes, and techniques, including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, and photography. Develop your personal work and projects, with modules in portfolio-building and personal development planning. These courses form the first two years of our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Practices.

Special features

  • You will be introduced to a variety of media, processes and techniques, including: drawing; painting; sculpture; film; and photography
  • Historical and contextual studies will inform and support practical work
  • There is also the opportunity to study modules that develop your personal work and projects, such as portfolio-building and personal development planning
  • It is an imaginative exploration of creative ideas and concepts where you will not be restricted by medium


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 1 Scottish Highers at grade C or above OR
  • 1 A level at grade D or above OR
  • NC Art and Design OR
  • Foundation Apprenticeship Creative and Digital Media
  • Prospective students without the standard entry requirements as listed above are encouraged to apply
  • We will consider individual competence in art, design or lens-based skills, evidenced by a portfolio of your work, and you will be required to attend an interview
  • This is a Category 2 PVG course: PVG Scheme membership is required for specific optional modules/unit(s), where there is guaranteed contact with vulnerable groups in optional module/unit(s), but an alternative pathway exists to achieve target qualification. For further information visit our PVG scheme webpage


Access routes

  • NC Art and Design

Year 1 - HNC

Mandatory units are: 

  • Contemporary art practice: graded unit 1   
  • Contemporary art practice: professional practice and exhibition studies 1 
  • Contemporary art: theory & context 1 
  • Contemporary art: three dimensional practice  
  • Contemporary art: two dimensional practice  
  • Developmental drawing  

Optional units may include:

  • Art practice: collaborative project 
  • Communication: practical skills
  • Contemporary art practice: conceptual processes 
  • Contemporary art practice: introduction to digital artform 
  • Creative art project: development  
  • Creative art project: production  
  • Life drawing  
  • Life drawing portfolio
  • Life painting: introduction 
  • Observational drawing 
  • Painting: exploratory techniques 
  • Photography: an introduction 
  • Portfolio production 
  • Printmaking and producing print 
  • Public art: introduction  
  • Sculpture: an introduction 

Option units available may vary depending on study location, for more information contact your chosen campus.

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • You will study by way of face-to-face lectures and tutorials in the classroom, with practical design work in the studio
  • Assessment is continuous, with external assessment of the graded unit

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time: 2 years

Where can I study my course?

  • Inverness
  • North, West and Hebrides - Portree (part-time only)
  • Perth

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.
Higher National Awards (HNC, HND) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £1,285 £1,285
Part-time (per HN credit) £86 £86

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £7,110 £7,110
Part-time (per HN credit) £474 £474

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND) 2023-24 2024-25
Full-time per year £7,980 £8,775
Part-time (per HN credit) £532 £585

Part-time study is not open to international student requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

What can I do on completion of my course?

This course prepares you for a creative career as a practising artist, or as a creative practitioner within community arts, education or galleries.

Can I progress into further study?

You may be able to progress to the:

Is there more information available online?

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As well as developing my artistic ability the course has taught me business skills such as marketing, and planning as well as providing an insight into what being a freelance artist could be like. The course helped me to develop new photography skills which I never would’ve thought to try and has given me the confidence to enter local exhibitions and competitions and attend pop-up markets with both my photography and artwork.

My favourite thing about UHI is that there’s often a lot of student opportunities such as pop-up events (e.g., Therapets, zoom cooking classes) or competitions to participate in outside of the course.

Sophie studied the HNC and HND Contemporary Art Practice at UHI Inverness.

I always had a strong interest in art. After completing NC Art and Design to get experience and a portfolio together, I then applied for HNC Contemporary Art Practice straight away. 

I learned a lot about art practice and the variety of job opportunities. Most significantly, how to approach a project and to finish it professionally. The tutor's input is an enormous help for me as a student to achieve what is required for each unit. In the future I would like to do editorial illustration. The portfolio unit we have done in this course will be a great help to apply for future clients in a professional manner.

Vanessa studied the HNC Contemporary Art Practice. 

Apply for Contemporary Art Practice HNC

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2024

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.