Furniture Design & Making Foundation Degree (part time)

This degree is awarded by Oxford Brookes University. It aims to inspire creativity in design and excellence in craftsmanship through work related study.

  • Study Mode


  • Duration

    3 Years

  • Location

    City of Oxford College

  • Pathway


Learning in the Rycotewood Furniture Centre, our students develop skills as creative thinkers and makers, who innovate furniture craft through the exploration of materials and skills.

The programme balances design, craft and theory to nurture furniture designers and makers of excellent ability who can progress to employment or further study with a broad understanding of the processes involved in the design and craft of furniture.

Upon successful completion, you will be awarded a Foundation Degree (FdA) Furniture: Design and Make from Oxford Brookes University.


Tuition Fees

Home/EU* Fee for September 2023 entry: £5,045 per year

Please note: Tuition fees are published for the first year of entry only and may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by the Office for Students.

*Fee information for European Union (EU) students: If your course starts on or after the 1st August 2021, you will no longer be eligible for financial support from Student Finance England unless you meet one of the following criteria:

  • you are able to benefit from the citizens’ rights agreements
  • you are an Irish national living in the UK or Republic of Ireland: benefits of Irish nationals under Common Travel Area guidance arrangement will continue

If you are interested in this course and would like an informal, no-obligation chat about the details of the course, would like to arrange to come on-site and visit our facilities, learn how to sign up, or anything else, please get in touch and we’d be happy to help!

The programme is delivered in the Rycotewood Furniture Centre of Excellence.

You will be taught by highly professional furniture designer/ makers who have been in industry and are kept up-to-date with current practices.

Work related experiences are fully integrated into the programme and include regular guest speakers, live project briefs, competitions and visits. The programme will culminate in a professional public exhibition for the industry and networking opportunities.

You will be encouraged to engage in live projects and national competitions. Current examples are New Forest Trust Fine Furniture Competition, Alan Peters Award and Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers Young Furniture Maker Awards.

Please note that as programmes are reviewed regularly, the module list may vary from that shown here:

Level 4

  • Technical and Visual Communication
  • Furniture Craft
  • Design and Make
  • Manufacturing and Material Culture

Level 5:

  • Advanced Technical and Visual Communication
  • Furniture Production
  • Advanced Design and Make
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Culture

Students will be able to enjoy the advantages of working and learning in a creative Design Studio environment together with their peers. This provides the opportunity to pool experiences, research and ideas; to brainstorm on projects together; give and receive encouragement and advice and develop a group ethos.

Students will have the opportunity to use their own dedicated workbench and access to the wood machine and veneering workshops to develop their learning through three dimensional exploration, testing, evaluation of their design proposals and subsequently making high quality practical outcomes. Students will be supported during the making stage of the projects through practical guidance by teachers and supervision in the workshops by dedicated workshop supervisors.

Students of the FdA share the same workshops with final year BA students allowing opportunities for shared peer learning and collaboration.

Contacts with the furniture industry are given a high priority throughout each level of the programme and maintained through visiting specialists and guest lecturers, industry engaged projects and visits to relevant exhibitions. You are encouraged to take an active role in your learning, utilising effective time management and use of resources.

Work-related opportunities

Work related experiences are fully integrated into the programme and include regular guest speakers, live project briefs, competitions and visits. The programme will culminate in a professional public exhibition for the industry and networking opportunities.

You are encouraged to engage in live projects and national competitions. Current examples are New Forest Trust Fine Furniture Competition, Alan Peters Award and Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers Young Furniture Maker Awards.


You will be provided with a suitably equipped place to work when attending college that will include access to specialist staff, IT facilities and other learning resources which will be appropriate for the nature of work you will be required to undertake. Additionally, the college offers a wide range of other resources and facilities which will be available to you, further details of which can found in the Higher Education Student Handbook.

Each student will be allocated their own work bench and space in the HE workshop. Students have access to a dedicated IT suite, design studio, veneering, spray finishing upholstery and wood machine workshops.

As well as being enrolled at City of Oxford College you will also be enrolled with Oxford Brookes University and so will benefit from the same facilities and services as on campus students.

Study support

If you do not have a recognised disability or specific learning difficulty, but feel that you require additional support with your studies, you may be eligible to access some discrete sessions in one of the following areas:

  • Assistive software training
  • IT upskilling
  • Essay planning and structure
  • Proof reading and editing written work
  • Bibliographies and referencing
  • Time management and personal organisation
  • Revision and exam tips
  • Presentation techniques

N.B. Your eligibility for any of the above support will be reviewed with your course tutors and a member of the study support team on your campus.

At each level of study you will be asked to participate in formative assessment procedures which require you to consider your own work against the agreed assessment criteria.

This allows you to reflect upon your own practice, with tutors, and to take responsibility for acknowledging areas of strength and areas for further development in your work.

Please note: Each application will be considered on an individual basis, following the university principle of widening access to those that don’t meet traditional academic entry criteria.

We also welcome applications from mature students with design or woodworking experience who may not have formal qualifications.

Normally the requirement would be:


  • a minimum of the equivalent of two years’ full-time relevant work experience and a current role in an appropriate workplace setting
  • evidence of ability to study at academic level 4
  • evidence of support from their employer and recommendation


  • a minimum of one A-level at grade C plus the equivalent of 5 GCSE passes at C grade or above normally including mathematics and English Language – or a recognised equivalent vocationally related qualification, or: 
  • A National Diploma in General Art and Design or
  • An Art Foundation course, or 
  • Level 3 City and Guilds Diploma in Furniture, or 
  • Access to Art and Design 

In addition 

  • Where applicable: IELTS normally minimum level 6.0 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in the reading and writing components and a minimum of 5.5 in the speaking and listening components. 

Please note: Students are typically expected to start at Level 4, but can be admitted to any level of the course which is considered suitable, after portfolio review and interview using the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). Under this arrangement, a student may apply to have previous academic credits or other learning (APL) or experience (APEL) taken into consideration. Such applications are considered by the Faculty CATS committee and must be supported by the Programme Coordinator.


Oxford Brookes offers accommodation for new and existing full-time students who wish to live in our halls and shared houses.


Materials fee of £300 per year. 

Your materials fee covers most everyday consumables, such as adhesives, domino and dowel joints, screws, wood finishes, sanding belts, machine blades/knives/cutters and sharpening, mini-bus and coach travel, paper for sketchbooks, printing credit, etc.

Certain sundries such as mitre bond, epoxy resin, fixings, components, are allocated within budget to a fixed quantity for the year.

Specialist items which are specific to students’ own projects such as timber, catches, magnets, hinges are not included within materials fee.

All students are supplied with a starter pack at the beginning of each year that includes:

  • 1” roll masking tape 
  • 1 metre of 120 grit Mirka abrasive paper
  • 1 metre of 180 grit Mirka abrasive paper
  • 1 metre of 240 grit Mirka abrasive paper
  • 6 Mirka sanding discs (120, 180, 240) 
  • 6 cotton rags 
  • 3 pairs disposable gloves 

In the first year, the materials fee includes: 

  • Plywood and MDF to make tool drawers. 
  • Timber for practice joints. 
  • Timber, board, and veneer for Craft Table
  • Materials for Seating Model – offcuts, construction veneer, etc 
  • Timber, board, veneer, and hinges for Craft Box 
  • Jig, rod, former material for your D&M Table 

In the second year, the materials fee includes: 

  • Gordon Russell Model – offcuts, construction veneers, etc. 
  • Production Table, Production Stool 
  • Storage D&M – prescribed quantities of Himax, Valchromat, Grada, Jigs, timber, template boards 
  • Pitt Rivers – offcuts 
  • Seating – prototype board materials, jigs, template boards 

You should be aware that accommodation and day-to-day living costs are not included in our fees. 

We strongly recommend purchasing a laptop to support you in your studies on the course. 

We recommend that you budget c£100 a year for additional costs such as for stationary to undertake your studies. You can borrow textbooks and access journals from the recommended reading lists, as these are available from the Learning Resource Centre.

Applicants should apply online through the Oxford Brookes University website.

Explore your career progression options

If you are considering applying for this programme, why not explore your potential career progression routes using our handy tool.

You can explore live job vacancies, next level qualifications and apprenticeship standards in your local area. Not only this but you can also watch videos of real people talking about their experiences of working in your specific industry or occupation of interest.

Why not visit us at an Open Event and find out more about this pathway.

Why Guildford College?

  • Clear routes of progression with qualifications ranging from foundation level to degree level!
  • Industry experienced teaching staff give you the responsibility and independence you need to take charge of your own future.
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  • 79+

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