Natural History Studies

Welcome to our new Certificate of Higher Education: Natural History Studies

‘To draw is to really see and understand the uniqueness of the world of nature.’

Natural History Studies is the study of the natural world, recording in detail the unique species of life on earth. An opportunity for Art to meet Science on equal terms. Studies will make connections and be underpinned with contextual and historical referencing. You will study art techniques of scaling up, composition, colour mixing, identification, but also ecology.

This is designed for both distance learners and local learners, in equal measure. All the core modules are designed for distance self-paced online learning that you can access at a time that suits you. Our online learning is packed with video demonstrations, activities, tasks and discussion opportunities, all supported by tutorials and trickle feedback.

We also deliver some modules face-to-face at locations across Wales, giving you an opportunity to learn with others and visit habitats and gain a greater experience of working on location. We also collaborate with Welsh field study centres and venues where you can get up close and personal to wildlife.

There are opportunities to broaden your knowledge and skills when selecting your optional modules. These can include a wide variety of identification modules from within the Ecology programme. You could learn more about woodland bird calls, the diversity of invertebrates, how to identify plants, plus many more. These modules are available to study either online or as blended or in-person learning. 

All face-to-face teaching is supported by online activities so that you can gain the most from being with your tutor. These are usually full day sessions; why not treat yourself, book an Airbnb and make a learning holiday.

Natural History Studies Framework

What skills will you develop?

  • skills in self-management and self-initiation of artwork relating to Natural History Illustration
  • an appreciation of technical quality, accuracy and detail to conduct research in a variety of modes
  • observation drawing, scaling up and professional practice within the genre
  • the ability to critically evaluate and reflect on one's own learning and develop the ability to communicate in a range of formats.
  • an understanding of the contextual and current movements within the genre of Natural History Illustration Studies
  • a sound academic background in illustration whilst giving skills to evaluative and investigative, problem-solve, show the role of criticism and an understanding of the relationship between art practice and art history
  • the opportunity to progress into full-time Higher Education through a School of Art BA or MA programme, or preparing you for freelance employment
  • an awareness of the sensitivities and health and safety issues of working with specimens

Face-to-face delivery

  • skills in self-management and self-initiation of artwork relating to Natural History Illustration
  • an appreciation of technical quality, accuracy and detail to conduct research in a variety of modes
  • Teaching in specialist venues across mid-Wales
  • Teaching in lovely gardens and galleries with resources and inspiration at your fingertips
  • Teaching vocational art residential schools
  • Allowing you to study while you are working
  • Offering art courses at weekends and evenings
  • Day classes instead of two-hour classes, which is more economical on petrol
  • Specializing in teaching adults, tailoring our delivery, assessment and schemes of works specifically for adults

Online delivery

  • Access to our online learning platform called Blackboard with tutor support in the form of videos, tutorial and discussion boards
  • Each module has teaching units with demonstrations, activities, guidance and tutorial support
  • Trickle feedback from your tutor after each unit

Frequently Answered Questions about the Certificate

  • You have 5 years to gather 120 credits; that is roughly one course per term
  • You do not have to enrol on the Certificate to study with us
  • You can take our courses on a stand-alone basis - course by course
  • We advise you to take Level 0 (CQFW3) courses to see if you like the way we teach
  • All tutors are professionals in their field
  • We care for all students who are starting out and have not done any art before
  • We have a series of Level 0 (CQFW3) courses to give you basic skills and build your confidence

How do I pass the Certificate?

You have 5 years in which to cover the required amount of study which is 120 credits (CQFW4). The Certificate of Higher Education is awarded with a pass or a fail and you will need to take 50 Key modules to give you an all-round art education. These Key / Core modules can act as a launch to find your preferred painting and drawing medium. The optional modules allow you to study an area in greater depth.

Self -Paced Online learning modules: Do I have to work at a certain pace?

We have official start and finish dates but units of work are staged to allow you to gather the information towards your final assessment. On comparing the ‘face to face’ version of the module with the distance learning version, our external examiner said that he felt that the student learning was deeper. In addition, we provide interim feedback so that you can gain higher marks for your final assignment.

Put Simply:

    • Completion of 120 credits
    • 20 credits can be at Level “0” (CNQFW3)
    • 50 credits must be taken from the Key modules
    • The following modules are compulsory: Tutorial module and two specific art history modules
    • The achievement of a weighted average of 40% overall
    • Attendance of 60% of the course

Student Profile

Thuy Bui Howarth from Vietnam

The reasons behind my application for the Certificate of Higher Education: Natural History Studies 

The more I learn about plants, flowers, animals, insects and ecology, the more I am shocked at how much we humans have destroyed the ecosystem and environment. I wish I can contribute a very small part to change this sad fact by spreading my illustrations as well as Botanical knowledge to the world. And the only way that I can do it is through learning. 

Being a Vietnamese person living in Europe (Switzerland), I started to grow interest in Botanical Illustration just very recently. This is a brand new profession that does not exist in Vietnam yet, in any formal academic training programme as far as I know. Therefore in near future, if possible, I would like to create a place for Vietnamese Botanical artists and Botanists to meet up, learn and discuss to profit the Vietnamese ecosystem and help people understand more about the importance of plants, flowers, animals, insects and what each and everyone of us can do to make our Earth greener.