The Student Room Group

Can I use my a level portfolio for uni after 2 year gap?

I want to apply for an undergraduate with a foundation year in art and design or fine art in 2025 and all I really have is my a level work from 2 years ago. I've done a few art pieces throughout the years but they're nothing with thought out planning and research that you'd expect in a portfolio. What should I do? Start a whole new portfolio? Take bits from my a level portfolio? What do I even add to the portfolio? Thanks!
Original post by ApollosMemoir
I want to apply for an undergraduate with a foundation year in art and design or fine art in 2025 and all I really have is my a level work from 2 years ago. I've done a few art pieces throughout the years but they're nothing with thought out planning and research that you'd expect in a portfolio. What should I do? Start a whole new portfolio? Take bits from my a level portfolio? What do I even add to the portfolio? Thanks!

Looking at Sheffield Hallam https://www.shu.ac.uk/courses/art-and-design/ba-honours-fine-art-with-foundation-year/full-time#:~:text=We%20treat%20the%20foundation%20year,our%20Art%20and%20Design%20degrees.
And their portfolio information
https://www.shu.ac.uk/Visit-us/Selection-events/Portfolio-Reviews-for-Art-and-Design
‘The portfolio should include some or all of the following:
A range of drawing skills. Different types of drawing and mark making.
Experiments with a range of media, printmaking, photography.
Typography, illustration, layout, design sheets.
Screen-based/digital work.
3D work and making skills in wood, metal, plastic, ceramic, card, fabric etc.
Sketchbooks demonstrating research, idea generation and problem solving.
Anything else that you feel promotes your creativity.’
https://www.shu.ac.uk/campaigns/guidance-for-applying-to-sheffield-hallam-university-arts-courses/how-to-format-and-submit-your-digital-portfolio
I was unable to find information on date so:

I looked at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate/degrees/fine-art-ba#tab1-alevel
Which stated ‘Titles should be included for each image, including the date the work was made, size and materials.’
Then https://www.ucl.ac.uk/slade/study/ba-bfa-portfolio-guidance/

‘General tips:
Focus on key works, it is good practice to start with your strongest work first.
Show your skills and experience of working with different methods and mediums.
Sketchbooks can be presented online by uploading a film of the pages of your sketchbook being turned by hand.
If you are applying straight from school, include work you have made in your own time. We are interested in your interests and passions.
Work does not have to be polished, we are also interested in seeing how you make work, what your processes are and your use of different material and experimentation.

Labelling and annotation:
Title of work
Year and month the work was made
Dimensions
Materials and duration, if relevant
Keep it concise’

So there doesn't seem to be a cut off in that you cannot use old work.
Looked carefully at the universities portfolio guidance, as they may specify a specific file formation (PDF), and file size that cannot be exceeded: for Sheffield Hallam it is 25MB, for UCL it is 5 MB.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by ApollosMemoir
I want to apply for an undergraduate with a foundation year in art and design or fine art in 2025 and all I really have is my a level work from 2 years ago. I've done a few art pieces throughout the years but they're nothing with thought out planning and research that you'd expect in a portfolio. What should I do? Start a whole new portfolio? Take bits from my a level portfolio? What do I even add to the portfolio? Thanks!


If you have A level art then why apply for foundation year entry? You might be better off taking a Foundation Diploma at a local fe college- those are accepted by almost all creative degrees for entry into year 1.
It’s normally ok to include older work in your portfolio. You could update it with some life drawing at a local class.
Original post by PQ
If you have A level art then why apply for foundation year entry? You might be better off taking a Foundation Diploma at a local fe college- those are accepted by almost all creative degrees for entry into year 1.
It’s normally ok to include older work in your portfolio. You could update it with some life drawing at a local class.


Unfortunately the only foundation course is back at my previous college which is really fat for me and messed up my health. I'd rather do a foundation entry year that follows up with an undergraduate degree. Plus I only did 2 a levels, I don't have enough ucas points for most places.
Original post by BankaiGintoki
Looking at Sheffield Hallam https://www.shu.ac.uk/courses/art-and-design/ba-honours-fine-art-with-foundation-year/full-time#:~:text=We%20treat%20the%20foundation%20year,our%20Art%20and%20Design%20degrees.
And their portfolio information
https://www.shu.ac.uk/Visit-us/Selection-events/Portfolio-Reviews-for-Art-and-Design
‘The portfolio should include some or all of the following:
A range of drawing skills. Different types of drawing and mark making.
Experiments with a range of media, printmaking, photography.
Typography, illustration, layout, design sheets.
Screen-based/digital work.
3D work and making skills in wood, metal, plastic, ceramic, card, fabric etc.
Sketchbooks demonstrating research, idea generation and problem solving.
Anything else that you feel promotes your creativity.’
https://www.shu.ac.uk/campaigns/guidance-for-applying-to-sheffield-hallam-university-arts-courses/how-to-format-and-submit-your-digital-portfolio
I was unable to find information on date so:
I looked at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate/degrees/fine-art-ba#tab1-alevel
Which stated ‘Titles should be included for each image, including the date the work was made, size and materials.’
Then https://www.ucl.ac.uk/slade/study/ba-bfa-portfolio-guidance/
‘General tips:
Focus on key works, it is good practice to start with your strongest work first.
Show your skills and experience of working with different methods and mediums.
Sketchbooks can be presented online by uploading a film of the pages of your sketchbook being turned by hand.
If you are applying straight from school, include work you have made in your own time. We are interested in your interests and passions.
Work does not have to be polished, we are also interested in seeing how you make work, what your processes are and your use of different material and experimentation.
Labelling and annotation:
Title of work
Year and month the work was made
Dimensions
Materials and duration, if relevant
Keep it concise’
So there doesn't seem to be a cut off in that you cannot use old work.
Looked carefully at the universities portfolio guidance, as they may specify a specific file formation (PDF), and file size that cannot be exceeded: for Sheffield Hallam it is 25MB, for UCL it is 5 MB.


Thank you so much for compiling all this, you're a legend!
Original post by PQ
If you have A level art then why apply for foundation year entry? You might be better off taking a Foundation Diploma at a local fe college- those are accepted by almost all creative degrees for entry into year 1.
It’s normally ok to include older work in your portfolio. You could update it with some life drawing at a local class.


Actually I had a proper look and there's more closer to me than I realised. Oh my gosh 😭 thank you. I think it would be a better idea actually because I can see if I can handle education again. I've been apprehensive about going back into education because a levels burnt me out pretty badly.
Original post by ApollosMemoir
Actually I had a proper look and there's more closer to me than I realised. Oh my gosh 😭 thank you. I think it would be a better idea actually because I can see if I can handle education again. I've been apprehensive about going back into education because a levels burnt me out pretty badly.


That’s brilliant news
Alternately there is one provider (OCAD NOT OCA - the OCA foundation years aren’t a recognised qualification) that offers a FAD course through distance learning. It’s private fees so costs a bit more but might suit you if you’re getting back into studying.

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