Modules Explained

The Welsh Academy of Art will provide you with a progressive and rigorous training using the sight-size technique. The current Modules are listed below:
Full Time Masters Course
Each student is unique and their development will be different according to their experience and abilities. The following is an outline of our Masters Course structure for students that wish to study at the WAA on a full time basis over 3-4 years. The structure may be adapted for part time students or those wishing to take individual modules.

Tutors will advise all prospective students on which modules to take and there will be some flexibility according to their requirements. Students will be encouraged to take the full range of subjects but progression will be tailored to suit the individual’s progress.

In addition there will be specialist courses on offer throughout the year such as landscape painting, portrait painting and still life taught by Academy tutors or guest artists. The Academy is also host to complimentary events such as evening drawing sessions, lectures, exhibitions, debates and demonstrations.

Applications to the Masters Course may be made throughout the year

The module system

All teaching at the WAA is condensed into week-long modules which cover a range of subjects such as:

  • Cast drawing
  • Life drawing
  • Portraiture
  • Still Life
  • Landscape

These modules will run for 2-3 weeks out of 5, each half-term. For a full list of modules including dates and fees please see here.

Weekly modules allow an increased sense of focus on the subject studied, encouraging momentum and enabling students to progress more efficiently through a range of subjects. Set-ups within the studio environment remain in place for the full week, helping greatly with time management.

We believe that a module-based structure will result in swifter development and higher standards of work than those achieved through weekly lessons scattered throughout the term.

“A very professional model, a combination of short and long poses keeping you very focussed and an amazing atmosphere, all resulting in a very inspirational course.”  Fiona Parry-Jones on the Life Drawing Module

The importance of drawing

The first term of every academic year will always be drawing in charcoal: cast, figure and portrait. This will apply to all students.

Without high levels of draughtsmanship, painting will inevitably suffer. It is essential that we ensure all students of the WAA are sufficiently skilled in drawing and observation skills required to produce work of quality and distinction.

Every artist, no matter how skilled, makes a continual and conscious effort to improve their draughtsmanship. If students struggle with painting without first mastering their drawing skills, development will be hindered or even halted. Drawing correctly from nature is a basic skill and the foundation to good painting.

New students will be expected to draw for at least the first 6 modules unless their development is such that they are able to move on. The move to painting will always be decided by the tutor not the student.

In view of this, students are expected to apply themselves to developing drawing skills throughout their time at the WAA.

“A great selection of casts to choose from and a high level of critique to really focus you… you enter into a personal battle for perfection.”  Fiona Parry-Jones on the Cast Drawing Module

Foundation Students

Foundation (First Year) students will begin with the cast drawing and figure drawing modules. This will introduce them to the fundamentals of the sight–size method using charcoal, chalk and pencil on white or coloured, laid paper. They will also be expected to copy a series of Charles Barge plates in their free time at home at or at the studio.

Students will draw consistently throughout their first year in order to develop draughtsmanship skills and to master proportion, line and tone. In addition to cast and figure, modules in still life drawing and portrait drawing will also be available in the first year of study.

Landscape modules will also be available in the summer months.

In addition to taking modules, students will be expected to make use of the studio time offered and work on their own projects.

Second year

The first term will always consist of drawing modules to refresh students and to encourage sustained practice in draughtsmanship throughout their time at the WAA.

The next step is to introduce the medium of oils.

Painting will begin in monochrome and for this exercise we will return once again to the cast. Still life painting will also be introduced at this stage. This will then progress to painting the portrait with the limited palette.

Third Year

After the first term of drawing, students will continue with portrait and figure painting. Students can gradually progress to larger and more complex compositions while increasing their understanding in a more developed palette.

These successive stages give the student the necessary structure in which to build their confidence and develop their own style.

Certainly at this stage, if not before, there is the expectation on the student to bring their ideas for composition and content to their work at the Academy.

For a full list of upcoming modules including dates and fees please see here.


Upon completion of 6 modules, students will be assessed and a written report made. Guidance will be given regarding their progression, suggested future modules, areas for improvement etc.

This will be an opportunity for students to talk through their goals with tutors and to clarify their objectives for their own personal development going forward.

Studio weeks

There will be two weeks in each half-term that are available to book as non-tuition periods.

During these periods, students will be encouraged to book studio time to work on their own projects. Studio slots may be booked on a daily/weekly basis.

Students are expected to take this opportunity to develop their own skills away from tuition and to show commitment and progression in their work.

If required, tutors may advise students regarding projects to undertake or skills requiring further development during their studio time.

If students work in pairs this makes the booking process and cost to the student more economical. Each slot (i.e. one pair of students to a single subject) can be booked for £16 (£8 for each student) per day. Alternatively a slot may be booked by a single student for the full £16. Note that this is only available to WAA students.

Occasionally we may run an additional module in these free weeks e.g. the materials course.

Subsequent progression

As students move through the curriculum and widen their skills they will advance to more complex compositions. Certainly at this stage, if not before, there is the expectation on the student to bring their ideas for composition and content to their work at the Academy.


The number of modules taken before graduation is dependent upon each student’s personal development. This will be decided in the assessment process, but we envisage that new students will take a minimum of 24 modules to complete the Masters Course and attain the sufficient standard required.

The final assessment process will be looking for a confident and coherent understanding of tonal values, composition, handling of paint and colour observation displayed consistently through a body of work. It will also look for creativity and imagination in subject matter.

Materials course

There will be an annual two-day materials course run in the second half of the winter term. All students will be expected to take the course at some point in their time at the WAA. Students will learn how to make their own canvases and grind their own paint.

Additional courses

We will continue to offer additional courses, sometimes with visiting artists, throughout the year. It is important for students to experience alternative styles of teaching and ways of working.

Studying with a range of professional artists will help students to broaden their skills and allow them to gain insight into the many and varied approaches to the discipline.

To see forthcoming additional courses see here.


Throughout their time at the WAA, students will be expected to develop their own personal knowledge and understanding of the history of painting and drawing in their free time. They will be provided with a reading list and encouraged to visit relevant exhibitions, museums, etc.

Students may attend an aesthetics discussion to be run one evening per term. No written work is to be set and this will be a relaxed and informal session. Students will be encouraged to attend, contribute to discussions and read preparatory material if they so wish.

Topics covered will include questions such as:

  • What is beauty?
  • What is art?
  • What is taste?
  • How does art have meaning?
  • How do we make aesthetic judgements?
  • Can an artwork be moral?

Some art history will naturally be woven into questions of aesthetics.

This will also be a chance for students of all levels to meet up and discuss topics relating to their practical study. Videos may be shown and students may also be encouraged to talk about their particular areas of interest.

These sessions are free to students at the WAA.

Our aim is to ensure that students receive an extremely high standard of teaching experience here at the WAA, thus helping them to achieve their goals and produce work of the highest calibre.

If you have any questions regarding our modules and course structure, please contact us.

Prospective students are welcome to visit the WAA by appointment, to view our facilities and meet tutors.

Apply to join the Course

Prospective students are welcome to visit the WAA by appointment, to view our facilities and meet tutors.

Part Time Masters Course
The WAA offers the option to study the Masters Course on a part time basis.

The general course progression remains the same so for part time students please read through the information for the full time Masters Course page.

Part time students may take modules as they are able to.

As with the full time course, students will need to take 6 modules before they receive a full written assessment, although all students will be critiqued and assessed throughout their time at the WAA.

Part time students will be given full advice on how to structure their time at the WAA and will also be expected to make use of the studio weeks when possible to work on their development.

As with full-time students, they will be encouraged to take the materials course and to attend theory discussions, as well as conducting their own research into the discipline.

To discuss part time options please contact us  or call 01874 730 693.

Holiday Courses

Drawing and Painting Holidays with the WAA

There is a range of workshops (please see Calendar for full details) running throughout the year at the WAA, sometimes with guest tutors. These provide an excellent opportunity for those wishing to combine their holiday with artistic development.

Visitor may also join one of our regular modules run throughout the academic year. This is depending on experience and availability as preference will be given to students currently studying at the WAA.

The WAA is fortunate to be situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park, an area of exceptional beauty. This provides ample material and inspiration for landscape artists and there is a thriving artistic community established in the area.

The WAA can recommend a number of accommodation providers that work with us to offer the best B&Bs and self-catering options in the local area.

We can also offer recommendations on places to eat and visit, with an emphasis on the arts.

The WAA offers a number of workshops throughout the year, sometimes with visiting tutors. These may run from 1-5 days on weekdays or weekends.

Past workshops have included:

  1. Landscape painting with Donald Jurney
  2. Anatomy for Artist with Brian Gorst
  3. Artistic Anatomy through Ecorche with Jason Arkles
  4. Landscape painting with Marc Dalessio
  5. Still Life painting with Theresa Stabb


Details of all workshops will be found here.

These workshops are aimed at varying levels of experience. For more information please see the relevant pages.

“An intensive and exciting journey through the body! Jason Arkle’s knowledge is incredible and reinforces how amazingly engineered the body is. It’s really enabled me to understand it better… Brilliant!”  Fiona Parry-Jones on Artistic anatomy through ecorche with Jason Arkles
“It was a fantastic scoop for the Welsh Academy of Art to get Marc to teach there. I had followed him online for some time and would never have thought he would teach so close to home. His expertise and mastery were just as you would expect, and the whole week was a really intensive learning time for any serious student of plein air artwork…I recommend booking quickly if he comes to Wales again! Bendigedig!”  Kim Whitby on Landscape Painting with Marc Dalessio