Julia Caprara School of Textile Arts

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Mission Statement

Julia Caprara School of Textile Arts provides a unique opportunity for an open and flexible learning experience at academic level that will enable students to achieve their full intellectual and creative potential in the area of contemporary embroidered textiles.

The BA (Hons) Programme

  • The BA (Hons) Embroidered Textiles is a unique distance learning programme offered by JC in collaboration with Middlesex University who validate the course.
  • The course offers opportunities to all who are committed to life-long learning and who wish to study in this subject area, but still need to maintain domestic and professional commitments.
  • You may choose to study full-time or part-time. The distance learning mode of study offers flexibility and the modular structure enables those who already have appropriate qualifications to be considered for accreditation of prior learning.
  • Each of the team of Tutors is actively involved in the field of embroidered textiles, art and design, theoretical and critical studies and professional practice.
What is the Modular structure?

The Course will involve you in a challenging and exciting programme, which focuses on a range of art and design, critical studies, stitched and embroidered textiles and related specialist area Modules. It is taught as a modular course over three levels. In the part-time mode each Level is taught over a minimum of two years (6 years in total) while in the full-time mode a Level can be taught in one year (3 years in total). The academic year is split into three Semesters.

How will I be taught?

Through a structured tutorial programme. This will involve sending work for appraisal to your Module Tutor and receiving feedback via phone and email. There is also opportunity for you to meet with your Tutor. Each Module is resourced with a ‘bank’ of hours which you will use in coordination with your Tutor to receive advice, guidance and feedback on your work and help you to become confident in assessing your own progress. The frequent tutorials will provide a stimulating and supportive structure enabling you, together with your Module Tutor, to appraise your development and guide you in developing self awareness in terms of assessing your work.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment provides feedback on your work and confirmation of your progress, so that you know where you are doing well and what needs to be improved within a Module or Level of the Course. You will be encouraged to become actively involved in the assessment, participating in self and peer assessment where appropriate. Your work will be moderated at the end of each Semester by the Moderating Panel.

What are my career opportunities?

There are a wide range of career opportunities available in these subject areas and these include working as a textile artist, a freelance designer/maker for theatre or fashion or as a liturgical designer. Other opportunities include teaching, research and curatorial or museum practice.

See also After the course

The Student Cohort & Support

There is a strong support network for our students throughout their time with JC and beyond. The Course Director guides students through their academic journey and the Managing Director is in place to offer advice and support where needed. Each year has a student representative and there are opportunities to raise matters of interest at the twice yearly Board of Studies.

Students have ample opportunities to meet fellow students at JC events and there is a strong peer group network who visit exhibitions together or meet virtually via our website chat page.

Creative Opportunities

There are a range of events as an optional addition to the Degree programme.

The Induction Day introduces you to the Course and to your fellow students and tutors. Level 1 induction includes information on the programme as well as the use of sketchbooks and research. Level 2 induction guides students through their optional Modules and Level 3 induction prepares students for their final Dissertation and Exhibition.

The Induction Day offers would-be applicants to the Course the chance to meet with both students and Tutors. Those interested in applying to the Course are also able to arrange for a short informal meeting with the Course Director to discuss their application. Further information about the next Induction Day may be obtained from the office.

Study Days give students a wonderful chance to meet with their peers and further develop their understanding of specific subjects within the programme. This is a great opportunity to share work and ideas and energise yourself creatively.

Exhibition Opportunities JC is associated with an exhibiting group called PRISM, a group of artists who work with embroidered or stitched textiles and who have been involved with JC either as students or tutors. This gives our students the opportunity to exhibit at a professional level in a public venue alongside other international artists and students. The shows are heralded as a great success and are a wonderful platform for students to make the transition to professional artists.

Level One – Mandatory Modules

Visual Studies

This Module supports the importance of drawing within the overall context of the programme and introduces key skills for enabling students to develop a personal visual language. The Module focuses on ways of developing observational, analytic and expressive skills and includes a study of form, structure, space and colour, together with more experimental approaches to surface study and material processes.

Issues of 20th and 21st Century Art & Design

Art concepts and theory are integral to developing an understanding of creative and personal practice. This Module introduces ways of reading art works and explores the relevance of art as a social and political expression of its time. Students are given the opportunity to use personal study as well as set texts and contextual reading to support the development of their ideas and enable a critical and analytic response to study.

Embroidery Methodologies

This Module addresses the fundamental making skills involved in embroidery practice and introduces a number of research areas for focusing an experimental approach to practical work. Students will study the function and importance of materials and processes and be enabled to use these ideas to inform their personal work.

Cultural Stitched Textiles

The diversity of stitched textiles is reflected through world culture and offers students opportunities for both contextual study and developing practical skills. This Module enables students to study the particular embroidery skills specific to one or more cultures and aims to develop an understanding of the social and cultural context within which these are made.

Embroidery and Social Context

This Module focuses on the historical and cultural context of stitched textiles and aims to develop a range of specific research and study skills appropriate to the subject and needs of the student. A key focus for this study area is the emphasis on students developing a personally directed research area and establishing channels for contextual study at an independent level.

Personal Specialism

Students are actively encouraged to take responsibility for the direction of their creative ideas throughout the programme. The Personal Specialism Module aims to develop the growth of personal ideas and focuses on conceptual and professional development. An important aspect of the Module is the emphasis on students developing a critical and evaluative understanding of their work within the wider context of today’s art and design practice.

Level Two – Mandatory Modules

Visual Studies – The Human Figure

The human figure provides a powerful resource for visual inspiration and as a location and environment for stitched textiles. The optional Modules for Level Two, focusing on areas such as fashion, liturgical embroidery and theatre, all require a practical and expressive understanding of the human figure and a knowledge of how textiles relate to three dimensional form. This Module aims to enable students to develop more advanced drawing skills and learn to communicate effectively through a personal visual language.

Key Issues of 20th and 21st Century Visual Arts Practice

This Module develops the knowledge and critical skills learned in Level One and establishes a deeper understanding of a broad spectrum of contemporary critical theory and art works. The content of the Module focuses on issues such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and location via the production and reception of art works. An important aspect of the study area includes a study of museology and the ideology of the gallery space.

Professional Practice

This Module provides an overview of the various issues concerning professional careers. It enables the student to study the milieu in which contemporary practitioners operate and the markets for expertise and products. Students will be able to consider career patterns, ways of working as individual practitioners and study opportunities for developing independent arts business practice.

Personal Specialism

This Module requires the student to take responsibility for a more self directed programme of learning based on personal ideas and skills developed so far. The Module encourages the expression of a personal style in terms of stitched textiles and focuses on enabling the student to prepare for working at a far more independent level at Level 3.

Level Two – Optional Modules

(Students are required to select 2 Optional Modules)

History of 20th and 21st Century Embroidery

This Module focuses on students locating their understanding of contemporary embroidery within the context of social, cultural, political and geographical influences. An important element of the Module will focus on students developing a personally directed research area at a more advanced level.

Embroidery for Theatrical Costume

This Module introduces students to the experience of functioning as a designer/maker within a chosen professional situation. The Module is largely self-directed but students will be able to work in close collaboration with the Module Tutor. The student is encouraged to gain insight and practical experience of an aspect of professional practice.
Locations for research and study could be from the following areas: working in the theatre, a drama group, a community project, a carnival, a school production, performance art etc.

Liturgical Embroidery

This Module focuses on a personal study area involving an aspect of Liturgical Embroidery. Students are expected to take responsibility for directing a personal research area focused on one of the following study areas: commission for church/synagogue/mosque or temple, conservation work, or a community project such as a banner etc. This area is very broad and can be focused on any of the world religions including alternative religions and beliefs.

Embroidery for Fashion

This Module involves the student in developing an understanding of surface decoration and embellishment in both Western and world costume, with special reference to the evolution of symbolism and pattern. Students are introduced to research areas such as street fashion, shop study and contemporary design trends and will have the opportunity to examine examples of a Fashion Embroiderer’s work. An important aspect of the study area will be the development of personally directed research.

Fine Art Embroidery

This module addresses the key issues of contemporary fine art practice using stitched and embroidered textiles. Students will produce a coherent body of work in response to a personally initiated proposal agreed in consultation with their module tutor.

Design History – Introducing the 20th and 21st Century

This Module provides grounding in the History of Design and provides students with the opportunity to examine the historical and cultural context of design practice, focusing primarily on the 20th and 21st century. Areas of study could include issues of art and design practice, aspects of aesthetics and ways for locating and interpreting selected archives in relation to personal research.

Level Three – Mandatory Modules


This Module will involve an in-depth independent study of an aspect relevant to stitched textiles and where possible be relevant to the student’s own personal practice. Tutorial guidance will enable students to explore issues of research, critical methods, ways of documenting more complex ideas and the development of a bibliography, together with the final production of the publication. The student will be required to produce a Dissertation of between 6000-8000 words, illustrated with drawings and photographs. Additional support material may be supplied in the form of videos, photographs or CD visuals of exhibitions or performance, etc.

Personal Specialism 1

Personal Specialism 1 focuses on the maturing expressive language of the student and is largely self directed. At this stage, the student will embark on an individual programme of study appropriate to their specific needs and interests. The content of this module is drafted by the student in close consultation with their Module Tutor and will be related to their chosen study in stitched or embroidered textiles.

Personal Specialism 2

Personal Specialism 2 addresses the development of a unified body of work which will provide a substantial foundation on which to develop and resolve the final series of works to be presented at the Degree Exhibition.


This Module is directed towards the professional presentation of each student’s unique work within a final Exhibition. Students will be expected to present a coherent body of work which demonstrates their ability to sustain and resolve a personal research brief. An essential aspect of this Module will be to prove that they are able to communicate their ideas and concepts through a competent use of materials and an appropriate visual language.

Personal Tutors at Levels 1, 2 & 3 support the student in creating their own pathway through the Course. There is an Annual Induction Day and a Progression Tutorial at the end of Level One to help students decide their optional Modules for Level Two. At the end of Level Two there is another Progression Tutorial to support the student in their Dissertation choice and help prepare the way for their Exhibition work for Level Three. Individual pathways of study therefore are tailored towards the student’s interests and needs.

Application Notes

All applicants are required to demonstrate through an application, a written essay, a portfolio of work and an interview that they are capable and suitable for the course.

To Apply for the Degree Programme you will need to send:
  • Completed application form
  • 1 Passport photograph
  • Essay
  • Character reference from personal referee
Application Form
  • Please write clearly using BLOCK CAPITALS and BLACK ink
  • 1 passport photograph of yourself should be included with the form
  • Please refer to the guidelines below before responding to questions about entry Level, personal referee and academic mentor
  • Please include the educational institutions and dates relating to your qualifications and education
Academic Mentor

You should nominate an Academic Mentor or witness who will vouch that the work sent or included in the portfolio is your own work. The external witness or mentor should be of a professional standing, preferably a University Lecturer, Teacher, Solicitor, Minister of Religion etc.

Personal Referee for Character Reference

This should be from someone who knows you and your work well and can vouch for your work in terms of quality and academic standard as well as act as a character witness. This reference needs to be included in your application.

Prior Accreditation

In some cases students who have already studied the subject area over a considerable time or through their own life experience in industry or through vocational courses may be eligible for pre-accreditation or for exemption for part of the study programme. Prior accreditation will be at the discretion of the Accreditation Board who will monitor student applications using the criteria for assessment as set out in the Student Handbook and the Middlesex University Regulations Handbook. Eligible prior study might include an uncompleted degree, degree, an HNC or HND, or the equivalent standard of practical work demonstrated through a portfolio collection at interview.

Students applying for prior accreditation approval should present a portfolio of evidence certificates or diplomas, a short paper describing their prior learning experience in embroidery, plus their portfolio of practical work, all of which will be reviewed at the Application Interview.

The Essay

Applicants are required to include a written essay with their completed application form. This should be between 1000 – 1500 words and be based on ONE of the listed themes/ subjects. The essay forms a valuable bridge between the applicant and the interview team, enabling the team to understand the context of the applicant’s experience. The themes are focused on areas specific to embroidery or aspects of aesthetic or practical skills related to creating art works and textiles.

The Interview

The interview will take place in a suitable venue or in the JC offices in Bulmer. The interview panel comprises the Managing Director and/or the Course Director and a Tutor/student from the Degree programme. Applicants are invited to bring a portfolio of work which forms the basis of the interview. Other key questions related to the student’s prior learning experiences and ability to manage their learning form an integral part of the interview structure. Applicants are advised on the outcome of their application at interview. Would-be applicants should note that the interview is considered as a valuable and exciting opportunity for both would-be students and Tutors to get to know each other. It is one of the first opportunities for students to get to know the course philosophy and it is hoped that all participants find it an enjoyable and positive occasion. Teleconferencing interviews can be arranged for overseas applicants and others who cannot attend in person.

Criteria for the Portfolio

The portfolio should indicate a high degree of motivation and demonstrate imaginative skills and practical ability. The overall collection should show evidence of creative ability, a high level of motivation, energy, commitment and enthusiasm for the subject area. Students should be able to demonstrate their ability to study independently, to develop and convey their ideas through personal and contextual research and demonstrate a firm commitment to working with embroidered textiles.

The Portfolio should include:
  • A collection of drawings, images and colour studies
  • Recently completed sketchbooks
  • A collection of textiles and mixed media work demonstrating an experimental approach and a personal ‘voice’ in terms of personal expression.
  • Any other relevant evidence demonstrating experience of creative and imaginative visual arts practice.

Successful applicants must ensure that they have access to sewing machines, a computer / email and digital camera and reasonable access to libraries, galleries and museums which exhibit work broader than embroidery or stitched textiles.

The Application Essay

Please write between 1000 – 1500 words on ONE of the following themes/subjects.

This should be sent with your application form to:

Julia Caprara School of Textile Arts

1 The Old Granary

Goldingham Hall Farm


CO10 7ER

United Kingdom

Essay Topics
  1. Discuss the relevance of drawing/painting to your work.
  2. How do you see your work relating to today’s issues of gender and identity?
  3. Write a letter to a blind friend describing a recent textile exhibition you have viewed.
  4. Discuss the following quotation in relation to your work:

    ‘Take an ordinary object: it is not its new, virgin state which best accounts for its essence, but its worn, lopsided, soiled, somewhat
    forsaken condition: the truth of things is best read in the cast-oft.
    The truth of red is in the smear; the pencil’s truth is in the wobbly line’

    Roland Barthes The Responsibilities of Forms.
    From the essay: ‘The Wisdom of Art’ (page 180)

  5. Write about your earliest memory of textiles, its influence on you and/ your work and any family encouragement or influences.

Admission and Fees


The following criteria will be taken into account when the Interview Panel considers your work:

  • An ability to make critical judgements about art/craft and design and to support these views clearly and fluently;
  • An ability to develop contextual research and use this to inform critical studies;
  • An appreciation of some recent art history and relevant artists or textile artists;
  • An ability to evaluate and develop your own personal and practical work using your research and analytical skills.

All applicants will be interviewed but it is strongly recommended that applicants discuss their application with Julia Caprara School of Textile Arts before the formal interview.

A free diagnostic pre-interview tutorial is available from the Managing Director or the Course Director. This is an advice and guidance tutorial enabling the applicant to discuss the viability of the course and the preparation of their portfolio. Please contact Julia Caprara School of Textile Arts to arrange an appointment.

Students from outside the UK are offered the same opportunities of both pre-interview tutorials and interviews through tele-conferencing methods.


Fees are dependent on the place where you live whether in the UK , the EU or elsewhere.

A schedule of fees can be requested from the office.

If you have any further questions about the BA(Hons) Embroidered Textiles or the application procedure, please contact the office.

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