4 dynamic UK arts universities shaping the modern world

Rose Bruford College
Source: Rose Bruford College

Art graduates are often the unsung heroes shaping the modern world. Beyond the canvas or the stage, their impact reverberates across diverse sectors, influencing the global economy in unexpected ways. From graphic design to filmmaking, art history to digital media, these creatives are the driving force behind innovative and influential changes.

Consider the impactful journey of Jonathan Ive, the design genius behind Apple’s iconic products. A graduate of an arts programme, Ive’s design expertise is shaping the world we live in, one tech gadget at a time. 

There are many more Jonathan Ives in the world making indelible marks on the global economy by infusing innovation, critical thinking, and empathy into various industries. If you seek a future with impact driven by the arts, consider joining one of these UK universities:

Rose Bruford College

Get industry-ready and get spotted by agents and casting directors at Rose Bruford College’s student showcases and productions. Source: Rose Bruford College

Rose Bruford College

Nestled in south east London, Rose Bruford College is a hub where aspiring performers and production artists thrive in the real world even before graduation, thanks to the College’s strong industry connections.

Choose the Design for Performance BA (Hons) and you’ll get to explore core principles of design and production across a range of disciplines before moving on to  specialise in one of these design pathways: set and costume, lighting, visual design for public spaces, digital content or virtual technologies. In teams, you’ll work with cutting-edge facilities including lighting labs, digital suites and the College’s purpose-built Centre for Digital Production that houses world-leading motion capture and XR (extended reality) stage facilities.

For those enchanted by the magic of light, the Light in Performance MA is an illuminating pathway to career success. This programme offers up to eight weeks of practical workshops led by four world-leading lighting designers. It’s a transformative experience, equipping you with the skills to shape spaces and performances with light.

What distinguishes a Rose Bruford education is its dedication to bridging academic learning with real-world applications. Design and production students here immerse themselves in professional settings through placements. These hands-on experiences are complemented by the annual graduate exhibition, where final-year undergraduate students showcase their work. Graduates go on to careers in theatre, film, television, events, theme parks, mixed reality entertainment and immersive performance.

Performance students attract the attention of industry insiders such as agents and casting directors at public performances and showcases.

All students benefit from the expertise of visiting lecturers who are active artists, practitioners, and experts in their respective fields. This blend of industry professionals and dedicated full-time teaching staff ensures a comprehensive learning experience, fostering skill development and professional insights.

The setting? A serene, spacious and green campus in Sidcup, a charming locale with parks, shops, pubs, and cafes. Central London, one of the world’s greatest cities and the perfect place to experience performance in every form that it takes, is only 25 minutes away. The College has a campus in Wigan too, where you’ll enjoy Manchester’s MediaCity right on your doorstep; one of the world’s leading media and tech hubs. Interested? Join the College’s upcoming information webinars for international students to learn more. Click here to find out more about Rose Bruford College.

Norwich University of the Arts

Norwich University of the Arts tutors are experts in their field and offer individualised attention. Source: Norwich University of the Arts

Norwich University of the Arts

Set in one of Britain’s greenest, safest cities. A picturesque environment home to thriving art, music, and cultural scenes. These are several reasons why students go to Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). It’s a place where any creative aspiration can be nurtured. 

NUA’s courses are practical. Students experiment with different techniques and test many formats. The tutors, on the other hand, are experts in their field and offer individualised attention that can advance your knowledge swiftly and enhance your academic experience as a whole. You’ll hear from visiting professionals about the latest practice in the workplace, and expert technicians who will give you the chance to develop essential skills during introductory sessions. 

Placements and internships are integral to every programme too. With every term, portfolios grow in quality, complexity, and professionalism. When students are ready to take on rewarding roles at the Arts Council, Norfolk Museums, the Royal Television Society, or with the Norwich Film Festival team; NUA’s employability team steps in to provide advice. These advisors can be found in the Ideas Factory

Look around the city centre campus, and you will find dedicated studios, media labs, creative spaces, plus cutting-edge and industry-standard equipment in 11 buildings, all of which have been designed to help you build specialist knowledge and flourish in the programme. All of these installations won a THELMA Award in 2018 for outstanding buildings and sit among the cafés, bars, independent galleries and shops of Norwich’s cultural quarter.

Royal Northern College of Music

At one of the world’s most forward-thinking conservatoires, students have a wide range of performance opportunities. Source: Royal Northern College of Music

Royal Northern College of Music

Passion and conviction — these traits characterise students who attend the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). First established in 1973, the RNCM acts as a conservatory for exceptional music thinkers and performers eager to expand their art. It’s a space where music comes alive — inviting everyone, regardless of where they come from, to hone in on their talent and bask in the thrill of pursuing what they love. 

Take the RNCM’s Undergraduate School. Here, all forms of music are studied and celebrated, from classical forms to popular, current sounds. This includes an innovative Bachelor of Music with Honours in Popular Music, the UK’s first four-year degree of its kind. It’s a programme that continually reinvents itself, preparing its students to respond to the changes of a fast-paced music industry. 

The RNCM Graduate School is just as impactful. Choose from conducting, performance, composition, music education and more — each programme is designed to be highly flexible and ripe with the real-world experience to set forth into the music industry. The Master of Performance, for example, provides various solo and ensemble performance opportunities and opportunities for industry placements. 

Students learn and perform in a thriving UK live music hub, complete with a fully-equipped concert hall and theatre. They collaborate with orchestras and ensembles worldwide that have established long standing partnerships with the RNCM. It’s a perfect starting point for musicians aiming to make their mark on the wider world.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Students work and learn alongside teaching staff and internationally acclaimed guest artists, where they develop their craft and collaborate across art forms. Source: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Founded in 1847, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) has been building on its roots as a national academy of music since its inception. Today, it has grown to become one of the most interdisciplinary institutions in the world –– with a new collaborative curriculum across music, drama, dance, production, and film.

RCS’s roots are the main reason why aspiring musicians flock to its Glasgow campus every year. Here, music teachers commonly hold positions in national orchestras. Within the past few years, its teaching staff have won accolades such as Music Tutor of the Year, A Gramophone Award, a BBC Music Magazine Award, Jazz Educator of the Year and a British Composer Award.

Those ready to gain advanced knowledge from these professionals can opt to pursue one of RCS’s many postgraduate offerings. The year-long Artist Diploma was designed for music students on the cusp of a professional career, vying to hone a distinctive musical personality.

Meanwhile, the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Music enables students with existing master’s qualifications to further explore and progress within their discipline. It also provides opportunities to present solo and/or collaborative performances within a proto-professional musical environment, to harness new skills and perspectives, and to stimulate a critical and reflective musicianship — all of which will prepare students for the challenges of the profession.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International