Advertising Course Curriculum
What makes School of Communication Arts the best ad school in the world?
The learning model at School of Communication Arts is completely different to any school or university that you have ever been to. We don’t have a classroom, we have a studio. We don’t behave like students, we are out-of-work creatives who want to become the very best talent of their generation. We don’t use text-books. There are no exams. We laugh at the idea of a dissertation.
We learn together, working on a sequence of briefs and stunts. Many of the briefs are live. Many of the stunts are life-changing experiences that will make friends jealous.
There are about 36 students in the studio and, on average, six mentors hang out with the students every day. We discuss the briefs that we are working on with the mentors. We get feedback. We forge relationships with people who work for the agencies that we want to work for. We go and visit them in their agencies, showing how we have taken their feedback and improved our campaigns. We go back again and again, showing how our portfolios are coming together.
We cram three years of content into an 18-month course. We spend 10 months in the studio, followed by about six months of placements. We work hard, we play hard.
Everything we do is designed to get our students to become employable by the time they leave the course. Awards are great (and we win more than any other ad school), but we prefer to be measured by the jobs that our students win, and by how quickly they get promoted.
The first term runs from September to December. The first half of the term feels more like therapy than ad school. Speak to any of our graduates and you will discover why this is so important to the creative process. That’s not to say that the first half of term one isn’t packed with learning experiences. Many students tell us that they learn more in the first month of SCA than in three years of university.
We start to introduce advertising briefs in the second half of term one and students start to work in teams of two. We encourage Copywriters and Art Directors to be quite promiscuous at this stage of the course, trying out as many partners as possible until they click.
We often say that term two is all about learning how to fail, making as many mistakes as possible. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes.
The quality of work improves exponentially towards the end of term two, just in time for us to submit winning entries for D&AD New Blood and Cannes competitions. Now that we know what we are capable of, we can go into term three with confidence, ready to produce a portfolio that will get us a job or great placements.
The final term in the studio runs from Easter to early July. The fourteen week countdown to Portfolio Day injects a new level of urgency, focusing the minds of our students as they bring their portfolios to life.
The number of book crits steps up.
We stop setting new briefs a month before the end of term, so that teams can spend time crafting their best campaigns to perfection. If students need extra briefs, we look at their portfolios and share bespoke briefs to fill the gaps.
The final week is all about preparing for Portfolio Day.
The school hosts two Portfolio Days; first for our sponsors and then for our wider network of agencies. The industry knows that School of Communication Arts Portfolio Day is the event where they are most likely to find the very best talent to hire or offer placements to.
Many of the guests that attend Portfolio Day would have already mentored in the studio during the year. Students that are good at following up with mentors, keeping the relationship going and showing a desire to work at the mentors’ agency tend to get many more offers than students who don’t do any of the networking. We teach networking skills all through the year and Portfolio Day is where this pays dividends. People buy people.
Our students all get about six months of placements, usually split between two or three different agencies. We try to send students to their preferred agencies wherever possible but, ultimately, we can only place students into agencies that want them. This is why it is so important to network during the year in studio.
Every year there will be a few students who get job offers straight from the studio. If this happens, and if the students decide to accept the offer, then they skip placements and go straight into employment.
Similarly, when an agency makes a job offer to a team that they have on placement (so that the team doesn’t go to the next agency on their placement schedule), we discuss the options with that team.
All of this helps us to turn out award-winning, employable students, which makes School of Communication Arts the best ad school in the world.