With demand for well qualified chefs and hospitality managers running at an all-time high, our FdA Culinary Arts gives you a strong foothold on the career ladder. In just two years, it equips you with high-level technical skills, in-depth product knowledge and the right professional outlook for success.
Work-based learning to the fore
Practical hands-on experience is central to this foundation degree, which is designed in close collaboration with employers. You will undertake structured work-based learning and integrated work placements to help you apply the theory to real-world scenarios.
Experiencing both the food service and the food production sides of culinary operations, you will also develop invaluable skills in areas such as customer relations, problem-solving, team-working, communication, critical thinking, supervision and leadership.
At the end of the two years, you can choose to leave with a well-respected FdA qualification or – if you have a minimum of a merit profile – can progress to the final stage of our BA (Hons) Professional Culinary Arts.
At the heart of the action
From the outset of your studies, you will find yourself working in a fast-paced commercial environment. Under the supportive guidance of our chefs, you will develop your culinary repertoire in the magnificent surroundings of the grade II* listed Devonshire Dome at our Buxton campus.
The Dome is a popular venue for dining and events, featuring a fine dining restaurant, a bistro and two licensed bars. We have seven state-of-the-art
kitchens – including a new induction powered kitchen reflecting latest industry trends – plus mobile equipment for off-site events and pop-up restaurants.
Here you will learn how to reach the highest standards in your culinary craft. Our Dome Restaurant was awarded the top possible rating in the AA College Rosette scheme, with our students winning praise for their enthusiasm.
Your course fees will include a full set of kitchen whites, knives and safety shoes, plus a complete front-of-house uniform.
Challenging projects, inspiring events
Throughout the FdA Professional Culinary Arts, you will deliver, supervise and manage fine dining, off-site catering and event catering. One of the highlights of the year is the Buxton graduation ceremony where you will work alongside our Events and Hospitality students to plan, host and cater for guests.
Other real-world projects will see you working with national hotel chains, international corporations and Peak District food producers, breweries and restaurants. Our students have, for example, organised real ale campaigns and devised food heritage trails.
Make valuable contacts on placement
Our networks include Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels, paving the way for you to enjoy professional mentoring, employer-led projects, placements and internships.
A period of work placement is compulsory on the foundation degree and you can undertake this as a paid employee or in a voluntary role. In the past, our students have secured coveted placements with the likes of Gleneagles, Claridge’s and Links House Hotel at Royal Dornoch. There are opportunities for overseas placements too, including with Loews Hotels and Resorts in America. Such experiences often lead to full-time jobs when you graduate.
New insights through fieldtrips
A UK-based residential trip is included in the course fees for both years of the foundation degree. Our latest fieldtrip to London took in tours of the Billingsgate and Borough Markets as well as hotels such as Marriott Park Lane and Le Méridien Piccadilly. We have also visited major events like the Food Show in Birmingham.
There are optional international fieldtrips too, with Tuscany, Normandy and Iceland among latest destinations. They give you the chance to explore food, drink and hospitality from a different cultural and sociological viewpoint. On their trip to Florence, our students saw how parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar and authentic pizzas are made, taking in a Tuscan vineyard visit too.
A winning way with competitions
Can you build on our students’ outstanding performance in national competitions? There are many opportunities to try! Taking part in national events and challenges is a great way to get yourself noticed.
Our students have made their mark in events such as the Country Range Student Chef Challenge, Zest Quest Asia and the Council for Hospitality Management Education (CHME) Young Guns competition. We have even reached the finals of the Toque d’Or, the UK catering industry’s most prestigious competition, three times.
An experienced team to guide you
You will be supported all the way by our award-winning teaching team with strong industry backgrounds and a growing research profile. They also draw on the expertise of top practitioners who deliver guest lectures, masterclasses, demonstrations and one-to-one mentoring.
Recent guest sessions have been led by Mick Burke, the renowned pastry chef, and Nando Belmonte, Executive Chef with Loews Resorts in Florida.
We are proud of our strong partnerships with leading professional bodies. Our FdA Professional Culinary Arts is accredited by the Institute of Hospitality, which means your learning experience will be high quality, relevant and up to date. Through the Institute’s Educational Membership Scheme you will also be able to join local branch events.
Our Industry Networking Day is a key date on the calendar, where you can connect with leading figures from the profession. Some of our students have even presented at international conferences, showcasing their knowledge to their academic peers and industry representatives.
When you join us, you will automatically become a member of hosco, with access to around 30,000 graduate roles, internships and work experience opportunities from over 1,500 employers.
The FdA Professional Culinary Arts offers an exciting mix of lectures, demonstrations, workshops, tutorials, seminars, applied practice sessions small group exercises and guided study.
You will be closely involved in our commercial hospitality operation at the Devonshire Dome, including conferencing, banqueting and events as well as regular work in our restaurant. While developing your technical skills, this will also give you experience of guest service to commercial standards, health and safety, food safety, financial targets and budgeting, HRM practices, and maintenance of food service facilities.
Placements within the wider industry will also help you put theory into practice, boost your confidence and raise your professional profile. Our dedicated and well connected placement team will help you find just the right position to match your career aspirations and interests.
Other work-related learning experiences on the course include guest lectures, conferences, industry days, fieldtrips, networking events, competitions, challenges and employer-led industry projects. You could also engage in research projects, working with industry, the wider community and our teaching staff to produce valuable research findings for the benefit of the sector.
How you are assessed
You’ll be assessed in a number of ways including written assignments: essays and reports, practical assessments, oral presentations, posters, industry and problem-based case studies, examinations, individual and group work on the University’s virtual learning environment.
Our FdA Professional Culinary Arts graduates are highly employable precisely because the course offers such a powerful combination of academic knowledge and hands-on experience.
It means you can look forward to career opportunities in a wide range of settings nationally and internationally. These include cruise ships, clubs, event businesses, hotels, independent and branded restaurants, contract catering, private houses, the armed services and food production enterprises.
You could progress to roles such as chef de partie, pastry chef, assistant kitchen manager, off-site catering chef, production chef or development chef – to name but a few.
Graduate success stories
Our graduates are now excelling in world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurants and kitchens. Their destinations include:
- Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
- Fera at Claridge’s in London
- Gleneagles Hotel
- Enoteca Restaurant
- The Ritz Carlton Hotel Arts Barcelona
- Restaurant Marcus in London
- Simpsons in Birmingham
- L’Enclume in Cumbria
Some of our graduates have also drawn on the entrepreneurial skills they gained during their studies to launch their own hospitality enterprises, including a gastropub and craft brewery, an off-site catering venture and a celebration cake making business.
Take your learning to the next level
A significant proportion of our students choose to ‘top up’ their foundation degree to a full honours degree. This option is open to any FdA graduates who have engaged actively in their studies, have taken part in extra-curricular activities to advance their professional development, and have attained at least a merit classification. Find out more about our BA (Hons) Professional Culinary Arts (Top up).
Once you have your honours degree you can also consider progressing to postgraduate studies in related subjects, including our own MSc International Hospitality Management which prepares you not only for senior management but also for roles in academia and research.
Ongoing careers support
We’re committed to improving your employability at every stage of your studies. Our teaching staff join forces with the Careers and Employment Service to deliver workshops on subjects such as networking, CV writing and effective use of social media.
This support continues once you’ve graduated too: you are entitled to further help and guidance for up to three years after leaving the University. This includes signposting towards internships which you can undertake on completion of your degree and which often lead to job offers.
You can also take full advantage of the hosco careers network to discover opportunities and share good practice with other professionals.
† Additional information about your studies
Download programme specification
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.