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The future of Bristol and Bath’s creative industries: A guide to further and higher education

17th August 2023

The creative industries are a vital component of the local economy and here at Bristol Creative Industries, we encourage young people to look to the sector for a rewarding and inspiring career. As modern technologies like gaming, VR and AI continue to develop, we need a new generation to take the jobs of the future that the Bristol and Bath economy needs if it is to thrive.

We are committed to supporting young people in their creative careers as demonstrated by the launch of the Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme. After a successful pilot, we are now seeking creative businesses to support the second cohort of young people from underrepresented groups in 2024. Find out more

See below for our updated guide to creative industries-related further and higher education in Bristol and Bath.

School sixth forms

A selection of the creative post-16 courses offered by sixth form departments at Bristol schools and academies:

Bath Academy

Among the A-levels at Bath Academy are art and media studies.

Beechen Cliff

A-levels on offer at this Bath sixth form include creative design and music,

Bristol Cathedral Choir School

Founded in 1140 as part of what was then Bristol Abbey, Bristol Cathedral Choir School is one of the city’s most popular sixth forms. Among the A-levels offered by the school are art and drama.

Bristol Grammar School

The sixth form at Bristol Grammar School offers creative IB Diploma and A-level courses including art, dance, drama and theatre studies, design technology, music and music technology.

The IB Diploma is an alternative to A-levels which the school describes as “offering breadth of learning as well as academic rigour”.

Bristol Free School

Opened in 2016, Bristol Free School offers A-levels alongside selected BTEC Level 3 courses. Creative courses include art, drama and theatre, music and music technology and photography.

Cabot Learning Federation Post 16

The Cabot Learning Federation Post 16 is an independent provision located in two of CLF’s 20 secondary academies; Bristol Brunel and John Cabot. Among the A-levels on offer are art and design, dance, music and photography.

King Edward’s School Bath

The sixth form at this school offers A-levels in subjects including art and photography, drama and theatre studies and music.

Kingswood Bath

The sixth form at this school offers A-levels including art, design and technology and drama and theatre.

MA.16 (Merchants’ Academy)

Creative courses on offer at this academy in Withywood are vocational courses in art and drama.

North Bristol Post-16 Centre

The North Bristol Post 16 Centre is a collaboration between Cotham and Redland Green Schools. Creative A-levels include art, photography, film studies, and media studies.

St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School

Located near Bristol Temple Meads, creative A-levels offered by this school are art, film studies, media studies, music, music technology and theatre studies.

Sixth form colleges, further education colleges and specialist schools

Bath College

Providing education to 10,000 learners across two campuses, Bath College offers a wide range of courses including post-16, apprenticeships, part-time courses, traineeships and degree-level education.

Subjects include art and design, fashion and textiles, fashion business and retail, photography, graphic design, digital production, performing arts and music technology.

City of Bristol College

As one of the South West’s largest further and higher education colleges, City of Bristol College operates from seven centres across the city. It offers a range of post-16 qualifications including A-levels, Level 2 Diplomas and BTEC Nationals.

For school leavers, several courses relevant to the creative industries are on offer. They include specialist subjects include visual arts and design, photography, fashion, performing arts and creative digital technologies (film and TV production, games design, computer graphics and animation).

The college also offers university-level creative arts and media courses in subjects including film and media production, graphic design and photography.

Facilities for students include fashion studios, film suites and a dark room.

Abbeywood Community School

Abbeywood Community Schools is part of Olympus Post 16 with Bradley Stoke Community School and Winterbourne Academy.

Courses include art, design and technology, digital media, drama and theatre studies, film studies, music performance, music technology, photography and textiles.

Digitech Studio School

Digitech delivers a specialised curriculum for progression into the creative digital and high tech sectors. Studio schools are small by design and only take 90 students into each year group. The school opened in 2015 and moved into a new purpose-built building in Warmley in November 2016.

For years 12 and 13, Digitech offers courses in partnership with boomsatsuma (see below), Bristol School of Acting and Robins Foundation. They include digital media, e-sports, film and television, games, VR and VFX, music, photography, acting and sports media production.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College

This college has six campuses including the Bristol School of Art located at Bristol Creative Industries member Royal West of England Academy.

The college has a very extensive programme of Level 2 and 3 courses including computer games design, film and TV production, music technology and technical theatre.

At university level, the college offers a range of subjects as foundation degrees, many of which also offer the opportunity to top up to a full Bachelor’s degree by adding a year. Creative courses include game art and production, media production and computer games design and production.

Since September 2022, the college has offered the new vocational skills focused T-levels. The two-year technical courses are equivalent to three A-Levels and include a 45-day work placement. Courses include games design, digital production and design and development.

St Brendan’s Sixth Form College

This college provides a diverse range of over 60 different A-level and Level 3 Applied General courses to 16 – 18 year olds. Courses include media studies, music, music performance, music technology, textile design and graphic communication.

Training providers

Access Creative College

Boasting ex-students including Ed Sheeran, Jess Glynne, Rita Ora and JP Cooper, Bristol Creative Industries member Access Creative College is a national college for young people looking for a career in the creative industries. It offers courses at various levels in subjects including games, animation and video effects, graphic and digital design, film, software development, video and photography and music technology.

In summer 2021, Access Creative College opened a new £5m games and media campus in Bristol city centre. It’s on the site of the former Bristol Bierkeller, host to Nirvana’s first ever UK gig, Slipknot, The Stone Roses and Arctic Monkeys. Facilities include a games lab, green screen studio, music tech suites, digital recording studio and band rehearsal studio.

Access runs degree courses in Bristol covering audio and music technology and music performance at dBS Institute, which it acquired in 2021.

The college has also teamed up with Condense and LocalGlobe to offer Bristol students a fully funded Metaverse Development Scholarship.

boomsatsuma

Bristol Creative Industries member boomsatsuma is a specialist creative industries training provider. Courses take place in relevant professional environments in the city such as Leadworks, Ashton Gate Stadium, Bottle Yard Studios and Tobacco Factory.

boomsatsuma provides Level 3 Extended Diplomas, that are equivalent to 3 A-levels, as well as BA (Hons) and BSC (Hons) degrees. Courses include creative and digital media, film and television, games, VR and VFX and photography and game art.

Creative Youth Network

As a registered charity, Creative Youth Network supports young people to reach their potential and enjoy fulfilling lives. It offers free courses in youth clubs and other venues in Bristol. Subjects include music, photography and song writing.

In late 2023/early 2024, Creative Youth Network will open The Courts, where young people will be able to explore their creative potential, receive support and mentoring, and find meaningful work.

dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies

Based in the centre of Bristol, dBs is a specialist educational institute that offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in music production, sound engineering, live sound, and game development.

It is a registered Avid Learning Partner (ALP) and Ableton Certified Training Centre that works with a wide range of creative industry organisations.

Students at dBs Institute can gain real-world experience alongside their studies thanks to dBs Pro, an in-house creative audio company. Students provide sound and music for film, television, video games, art installations and more.

Universities

University of the West of England

UWE’s School of Arts offers courses in subjects including drama, filmmaking, animation, photography, media production, journalism, creative and professional writing, film studies and media communications. There are also several fashion and design courses.

Facilities include film, photography and animation studios as well as drama, acting and music facilities.

Many graduates also enter the creatives industries after studying marketing courses at the UWE Business School. It includes the MSc in digital marketing which has a module on using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premier Pro as well as the psychology underpinning related creative techniques.

University of Bristol

UoB offers undergraduate degrees in film and television, music and theatre. Facilities include Wickham Theatre, a 24-hour rehearsal space, sound and design studios, carpentry and costume workshops, 214-seat cinema, 39-seat screening room, digital filmmaking equipment, production studios, animation and edit suites and sound rooms.

University of Bath

The University of Bath does not have specific creative industries courses as it focuses on engineering, humanities, management, science, and social science. However, its degree courses include management with marketing featuring a work placement.

Bath Spa University

Bath Spa offers courses in subjects including film, design, media communications, art and drama. Facilities include a theatre and TV studios.

The university also has the Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries (CCCI) which “aims to magnify research, engagement and discourse surrounding the theoretical, practical and commercial frameworks that embody the arts, media, or creative industries”.

Apprenticeships

Bristol Creative Industries jobs board

Members of Bristol Creative Industries sometimes post apprenticeship opportunities on the BCI jobs board. See the latest vacancies here.

National College Creative Industries

The National College Creative Industries (NCCI) offers specialist technical production and business support apprenticeships via Access Creative College. You can find the latest details on the NCCI website.

Channel 4

Broadcaster and Bristol Creative Industries member Channel 4, which has a Bristol office, offers apprenticeships. Find out more.

BBC

The BBC offers various TV production apprenticeship schemes, some of which are based in Bristol. See the latest opportunities here.

Government apprenticeships website

Creative and design and digital apprenticeships are regularly listed on the government’s apprenticeships website. Search here.

UCAS

UCAS has a guide to creative and design apprenticeships here including a directory of relevant employers.

This list is not exhaustive. Email Dan with suggestions of other educational institutions and companies we can add.

Member

About Bristol Creative Industries

Bristol Creative Industries is the membership network that supports the region's creative sector to learn, grow and connect, driven by the common belief that we can achieve more collectively than alone. 

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