Skip to content
Heatherleys School of Fine Arts - logo

The Heatherley School of Fine Art, 75 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0RN  |  phone 020 7351 4190

Diploma in Portraiture

A sustained course in Portrait Painting

At the beginning of the 21st century, Britain stands pre-eminent in maintaining the tradition of portrait painting. Nowhere else in the world is this specialist art form a more significant feature of cultural life.

Portraiture is a record of individuals seen through the relationship between artist and sitter – a symbol and vehicle for the transmission of ideas and comment on the human condition.

What is the Portrait Diploma?

The course is a carefully structured programme written within a framework of observational painting and drawing using the human model. You will be grounded in the skills needed to work from direct observation and will be helped to develop these skills into a personal body of work. The course further aims to help you acquire the perspectives and the sense of context necessary for working independently as an artist.

The two year Diploma Course (72 weeks) takes place on three days a week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) over six terms of twelve weeks each.

Course Content

The main emphasis of study will be in drawn and painted images from the model using a wide variety of media. Printmaking, photography and work in three dimensions will constitute essential elements of the course. Human anatomy, methods and materials, history of portraiture, pictorial composition and the construction of pictorial space will also be studied. Usually, three full days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) will be devoted to a specific project, with additional time in drawing, lectures and research.

Admission Requirements

APPLICANTS FOR SEPTEMBER 2023: Please complete the online full time application form. You will then be contacted by the school to arrange a suitable date and time for interview. Interviews will be held from Wednesday 1 February 2023.

Applicants should be highly self-motivated and are asked to bring a portfolio of recent work. As well as paintings, there should also be evidence of drawing ability and an awareness of contemporary art issues. Whilst completion of an art foundation course is desirable, a sustained commitment to non-vocational classes and courses would also be regarded as acceptable experience.

Assessment and Tuition

Studio tuition will be supported by a personal tutorial every six weeks. Students will be required to produce some written work. There are two assessment stages during the course with the award of the Heatherley Diploma in Portraiture being dependent on a satisfactory second-year final assessment. The student will produce a body of work containing both course projects and ones devised personally. Tutors on the course include members of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and National Portrait Gallery, John Player and BP Award winners. Students frequently exhibit at the Royal Portrait Society Show and at the National Portrait Gallery exhibition.

Days of Study: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-4pm + additional life drawing class from 4.30pm-7pm either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Applications for September 2023

We are accepting applications for September 2023 and offering interviews from 1 February 2023.
To apply for a place on the Portrait Diploma starting September 2023, please complete the application form below. We will contact you by email to arrange an interview.

If you have any questions please call us on 020 7351 4190.

Please sign up to our newsletter to receive news from us about exhibitions and courses.

TERM DATES 2022-23

AUTUMN 2022 – 12 weeks
Monday 26 September – Saturday 17 December

SPRING 2023 – 12 weeks
Monday 9 January – Saturday 1 April

SUMMER 2023 – 12 weeks
Monday 17 April – Saturday 8 July

Closed bank holidays: Mondays 1 May, 8 May and 29 May

FEES 2022-23

Diploma in Portraiture 2022-23
(Course length 72 weeks)
1st Year £9,050
2nd Year £9,050

All Fees

Course Description