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Southampton Solent University is launching a new degree course designed to update the Fine Arts Valuation degree suspended last spring. The replacement course aims to be more relevant but also more intellectually rigorous, with a significantly higher entry level.

The suspension of recruitment onto Southampton’s BA (Hons) Fine Arts Valuation degree was part of a wider programme of review within the university’s Faculty of Media Arts and Society in spring 2005. Such a draconian move was viewed with concern in many areas of the antiques and auctioneering profession, and many doubted that the course, for years the chief source of new blood in the auction profession, would return.

However, as reported in May, course leader Dr Scott Anderson and his staff have been formulating plans for a new professional degree with a syllabus tailored to the 21st century market. The result is the BA (Hons) Art, Design and Business degree, which underwent successful validation by the university for a period of six years on May 9.

Dr Anderson and his staff have adapted the three year undergraduate degree course, scheduled to start this October, to encompass the many changes that have taken place in the art and antiques marketplace in recent years: changes in government legislation, collecting patterns, marketing strategies and new technology. Consequently, added emphasis is being given to aspects of global economics and marketing, and the purchasing power of the resurgent economies of the Far East.

New study units on critical analysis and aesthetics provide the theoretical background for the more traditional areas of identification and valuation for the fine and decorative arts. A beefed-up section given to aspects of professional practice has been moved from the first to the final year of the course and there will be a greater emphasis on the dissertation, which is designed to enhance and encourage the acquisition of specialist knowledge in a subject area of the student’s choice.

Dr Anderson and his team consulted both Chris Ewbank, chairman of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers, and Nicholas Somers, chairman of the arts and antiques faculty at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, during the formation process in the hope that both bodies will formally back the degree.

RICS rules prevented the faculty from recognising the Fine Arts Valuation course if it accepted students with A-level results below their established criteria.

This proved such a stumbling block that in 2003 the RICS announced that they would cease accrediting the degree in 2008.

Now, however, the university are hoping that by raising the standard entry requirement for Art, Design and Business from 100 UCAS points to something closer to the 230 UCAS points demanded by the RICS, they will have overcome this problem. The criteria for mature students is different.

The new degree forms one part of a new suite of three associated undergraduate degrees in the area of art and design. Students will share a common first year but can then choose to follow different paths designed to train undergraduates for a variety of arts and heritage-related careers and post-graduate research.

The three degrees from the Art, Design and Society Scheme are titled: Art, Design and Business; Art, Design and Cultural History (which replaces the Antiques and History of Collecting course); and Art, Design and Practices of Display.

For further information visit the New Degrees section on the university’s website at www.solent.ac.uk or telephone 023 8031 9294.
By Roland Arkell