The curriculum of the national higher school of art at the Villa Arson, which leads to obtaining the degree DNSEP in fine arts (level Master 2), lasts five years (10 study semesters). Each semester is validated by 30 ECTS.
The first two semesters of the curriculum are dedicated to initiation: acquiring, experimenting and evaluating specific knowledge.
Once the first year student has obtained 60 ECTS she/he can sign up in second year.
At the end of semester 6, the students pass an exam for the DNAP, national diploma in fine arts. The DNAP is granted by a jury of three people, including two people from outside the school and the coordinating teacher of the third year.
To be able to sign up for semesters 7, 8, 9 and 10, the student must have obtained the DNAP and must meet with an admissions jury who decides whether the student’s project corresponds to the second cycle teaching at the Villa Arson.
Once the student has obtained the 90 ECTS for semesters 7, 8 and 9, she/he can pass the final jury examination to obtain the DNSEP in fine arts (diplôme national supérieur d’expression plastique,(national higher diploma in the visual arts)).
The dissertation for the diploma must be defended in front of a two-person jury which includes the teacher in charge of coordinating the dissertation, and led by a teacher from outside the school who must hold a PhD (both are members of the DNSEP jury).
After a public presentation of the graduating class’ work, the DNSEP is granted by a five person jury which includes four people from outside the school and the coordinating teacher of the fifth year.

Institutional framework defining the studies
• decree n°2013-1516 of February 20, 2013 structuring the higher studies in fine arts
• decree of July 16, 2013 structuring the higher studies in fine arts and revoking the decree of March 6, 1997

The European credit transfer system (ECTS)
To promote cooperation and exchanges between European higher education institutions, a system called ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) was created. This method used by higher education institutions allows for the harmonization and international comprehension of study courses.
The ambition to create an open European educational and training space has led the European union to promote cooperation and exchanges between higher education institutions, and to work towards a better comprehension of the training offered by these institutions.

Characteristic aspects of the ECTS system
-it is based on the work of the student to attain the goals of the study course, defined in terms of knowledge and expertise.
– It does not change the contents of a study course;
-the amount of work provided by the student (time spent in class, personal research, documentation…) is quantified by a common unit: the credit;
– one credit represents 25 to 30 hours of work;
– a full year’s study corresponds to 60 credits.
The first three years correspond to 180 credits, the last two years to 120 credits. A year of study is divided into two semesters corresponding to 30 credits each;
-every class representing a semester’s training gives the student a certain number of credits;
-the credits are granted by members of the faculty who evaluate the knowledge and expertise gained by the student;
– the cycle of studies is completed once all the credits required have been obtained.

The ECTS system has been gradually gaining ground in higher education institutions and contributes to the harmonization with the European organization of degrees, called LMD, which is based on three referential cycles – a first cycle of three years, a second cycle of two years, a third cycle of three years, respectively validated as Licence, Master and Doctorat.


Continuous assessment
Each teacher assesses the students’ work during the entire year, and gives the results to the student office and to the members of the jury that evaluate the students every semester. Each teacher communicates the grades and the comments for each student’s work.
Each teacher decides on her/his own method of assessment, which she/he has communicated to the students at the beginning of the year.
Each teacher can be consulted directly for the results of this continuous assessment.

Assessment at the end of the semester
Each semester a jury of at least three teachers including a theory teacher examines the works of the students. These are presented in an exhibition along with preparatory works and notes and any document useful for the oral defense. The discussion for the assessment lasts approximately twenty minutes.
A written document is then issued, including the names and number of ECTS obtained, and a synthetic comment aiming at making the student’s situation clear.
If the student’s situation is problematic this must be clearly stated so that the student knows where she/he stands while continuing her/his studies. Each student receives a copy of this document signed by the director.

Qualifying for the following year
The second semester assessment is similar to that of the first semester. The student’s work and research, as well as the results given by the faculty in general, are taken into consideration for the student’s qualification for the following year. Occasionally the student will be allowed to be held back a year, and in very serious situations she/he will be re-directed towards another school, sometimes one suggested by the jury.
For the third and fifth year diplomas, the students must have obtained the required number of ECTS (165 for the DNAP and 270 for the DNSEP).
The jury’s decision is irrevocable. The results for the semester and for the year, along with the corresponding ECTS obtained, are sent by mail to each student.

Graduating to the next cycle
To graduate from the first cycle to the second cycle the student must present herself/himself to a specific faculty commission that evaluates the student’s work during the three years of the first cycle and her/his intentions for the second cycle.
Therefore for admission into the fourth year the student must obtain both the DNAP and a favorable decision from the commission (see the decree of July 16, 2013).
The commission for graduating to the second cycle (project and research cycle) includes four teachers amongst whom the coordinating teachers for the third and fourth year, the director of studies and the director of the school.

Diplomas
The DNAP (diplôme national d’arts plastiques (national diploma in fine arts))
This is a level II national diploma recognizing three years of study. It is being assessed nationally to become the equivalent of the “Licence”.
To apply for the DNAP the student must have obtained the 165 ECTS required for the first three years of study.

The exam itself
The student must present an installation of her/his works and any document useful to the comprehension of the work. During this critique the student must defend her/his process, her/his references and method of work.
The defense lasts 30 minutes, during which there is a dialogue with the jury.

Members of the DNAP jury
– a president of the jury, appointed by the director of the school
– an artist, a member of the professional art world or a teacher from outside the school
– the coordinating teacher of the third-year students
the members of the DNAP jury are appointed by the director of the school.

The DNSEP (diplôme national supérieur d’expression plastique) (national higher diploma in fine arts)
This is a national diploma officially the equivalent of a Master.
To apply for the DNSEP the student must have obtained the 270 ECTS required for semesters 1 through 9.
To obtain the diploma there are two separate exams:
– a 20 minute defense of a written dissertation before a two person jury
– a 45 minute defense of the student’s visual work before a five person jury

Defending the dissertation
The jury includes the 5th year teacher who coordinates the dissertations and a person with a PhD from outside the school. The result of the defense is transmitted to the jury of the DNSEP. The jury includes the same member with a PhD, and takes into account the comments on the dissertation in its global evaluation for the diploma.

Members of the DNSEP jury
– a representative of the school
– four people qualified in art
the president of the jury is chosen amongst the four qualified people.
The members of the jury are appointed by the director of the school.


Together with the coordinating teacher of the year and the director of studies, each student must define her/his study contract during the first semester. This document, which is filled in by the teachers involved, aims at highlighting an individual training curriculum related to the elaboration of the student’s personal project.
On top of the compulsory classes included in the schedule for all the students, it includes the studios where the student works, the workshops attended, exchanges or internships and additional activities at the Villa Arson (at the art center or in the educational department for example). The study contract remains at the student office in the student’s file.
The goal of the contract is to help the student define her/his orientation and is used to establish the “supplement to the diploma” (a document which is attached to the application for the DNAP or the DNSEP).