Skip to main content

Considering a creative course starting in 2020 or 2021? Email to find out about studying with us. Register for one of our Online Open Days at

Posted 20.09.15

A new campus for Extended Diploma students from 2016

By Jake May

A new Pre-Degree campus – Palace Court, Buckwell Street elevation. Impression by Kathryn Mackrory

Not only will we be exhibiting the best in contemporary thinking and making at next year’s Summer Show – but we’ll also be unveiling a new specialist Pre-Degree campus for the use of our Extended Diploma students.

We’ve acquired the historic Palace Court on Buckwell Street in Plymouth city centre and, over the following months, will remodel the existing buildings to create a dynamic set of stunning workshop and studio spaces.

Extended Diploma students who started courses at our Tavistock Place campus in September 2015 will be among the first to study in the refurbished Palace Court campus next year – which is scheduled to open with the 2016 Summer Show.

Set to launch in June 2016, Palace Court is an exciting, open-plan space with lots of history – just waiting to be filled with the next generation of leading artist, designers and makers.

The creative Extended Diploma campus will be just around the corner from the inspiring historical surroundings of the Barbican waterfront, Plymouth Arts Centre and only five minutes walk from our current Tavistock Place campus and the planned £40m Bretonside IMAX cinema and restaurant complex.

Our Tavistock Place campus will continue to be the home for students on our Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degree programmes, as well as our Foundation Diploma – with Extended Diploma students continuing to have access to the professional facilities housed there.

Marking a return to Palace Court for the college (we first began using the site in 1949), the creation of the new Pre-Degree campus will fit alongside existing college and Plymouth School of Creative Arts facilities to support a progressive continuum of creative learning and practice in the region that lasts from the age of four up to Masters level study.

Find out a little more about our new campus below...

Palace Court, rear elevation. Impression by Kathryn Mackrory

Modern studio space
Palace Court’s three floors will be refurbished to create over 600m2 of specialist classrooms and collaborative open-plan studio spaces, designed to meet the needs of modern art, design and media students. Once complete, Palace Court will be the first dedicated Extended Diploma campus at an art school in the South West.

The modernised Palace Court campus will offer a custom-made location for our Extended Diploma students to make and innovate, where each specialist area will have dedicated teaching spaces, alongside exhibition and communal spaces.

Palace Court will include access to integrated digital facilities throughout the campus, including specialist curriculum-based resources for each course and wi-fi access. As well as a cafe area and open-plan collaborative studio spaces, Palace Court will also include a specialist print room – kitted out with facilities for specialist printmaking.

Students studying at Palace Court will continue to have timetabled access to the industry-standard specialist studios, workshops and learning resources at our Tavistock Place campus – where students on our Foundation Diploma will continue to be based alongside our Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degree students.

Tailor-made creative qualifications
The move to Palace Court is part of a wider scheme of enhancements to our Extended Diploma programmes, which also includes the introduction of Extended Diplomas awarded by University of the Arts London (UAL), a specialised qualification designed by artists and designers for artists and designers. UAL Extended Diplomas are equivalent to three A-Levels and are recognised by UCAS. They are also recognised by arts universities throughout the UK and by creative industry employers.

The UAL Extended Diploma qualifications are structured in a way that broadens the skills of learners by promoting experimentation with different techniques. Unlike conventional education settings, students in Palace Court can freely interact with other disciplines within our studio learning environment, just as they would in professional industries. Through a combination of visiting lecturers, collaborative public exhibitions and creative briefs, our UAL Extended Diplomas equip students with the skills that they need either to study an art and design subject at degree level or to go straight into work in the creative industries.

A rich history
Plymouth College of Art has occupied a variety of sites since it was founded almost 160 years ago, in 1856. As part of the evolution of the college, we first began using Palace Court in 1949. Courses expanded into a number of annexes around the city, but Fine Art, Art History and Architecture were taught at Palace Court because of the high levels of natural light present there. We continued to use the building as late as 1973, when our Tavistock Place campus opened, unifying many college functions under one roof.

Originally, Palace Court was a medieval monastery. It later became home to noted Plymothian, John Paynter, who was Mayor of Plymouth in 1487. Palace Court even gained national interest in 1501, when the future Queen of England and Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, stayed there after arriving at port from Spain.

The original medieval court was demolished at the end of the nineteenth century to clear way for construction of the Palace Court school, though today Palace Court still contains a private garden with historic Grade II listed section of medieval wall and archway, which is the only surviving remnant of the original monastery.

New beginnings
Our Palace Court campus will be just 200 metres away from the sea, offering students the chance to truly experience Britain’s Ocean City. A private opening event for Extended Diploma students, parents and staff is planned for later in the academic year.

Set to launch in June 2016, Palace Court is an exciting, open-plan space with lots of history – just waiting to be filled with the next generation of leading artist, designers and makers.