With an emphasis on design thinking and crafting big ideas beautifully, this course is your springboard to a career in the creative industries. You’ll discover how to solve challenging questions facing society and business today with great ideas delivered across print and digital platforms.
Through this industry-focused graphic design degree, you'll learn to be an adept visual communicator, developing core skills in typography, branding, visual language, craft and critical thinking. You'll experiment and explore as you move through the course, defining your identity and critical perspective to become a fully formed practitioner, ready for industry or further postgraduate study.
Have the opportunity to head to London for a week, where you'll visit a range of different studios. For example from brand design studio Wiedemann Lampe and advertising agency BBH to Pentagram, one of the world's largest independent design consultancies.
Enjoy optional travel to cities abroad to gain global perspectives on the subject.
Work on briefs created with, and supported by, industry practitioners.
Have the chance to enter creative competitions such as D&AD, ISTD and the Creative Conscience Awards.
Apply to go on an industry placement in the summer before your third year.
Create an industry-standard portfolio in your third year as a catalyst for your creative industries career.
What we're looking for
We want someone who:
Can tell the visual story of their work.
Thinks about the context of their work and the relevance it would have to a specific target audience.
Can show the journey of their projects, the depth of your creative enquiry, and the quality of their ideas.
Can investigate the questions of their project work, or explore the facts and information behind their ideas.
Shows critical thinking and the ability to contextualise.
Can provide a rationale for their intended project direction.
Demonstrates emerging potential in visual and verbal articulation.
What our graduates do
Our graduates have begun their careers at places like Mytton Williams, Biles Inc, Smith & Milton, The Partners, Bisqit, Turner Duckworth, Design Bridge, Thomas Matthews and The Chase.
What you'll learn
With the design process and problem-solving at its heart, this graphic design degree explores how creative and meaningful ideas can be made. You'll study the historical, social and cultural issues connecting theory and practice, and gain real-world skills from live briefs and workshops with leading designers.
By taking on practical and critical work, you'll explore and experiment with new processes and practices. Working together in our immersive studio culture, we'll study things like generating ideas, the history of design, and the latest industry innovations.
Design ProcessThis module introduces a key component of a graphic designer's education: a practical understanding of 'design process'. You will initially explore 'process' as a linear set of guidelines or 'signposts' along a creative journey, directing you towards the next key step. You'll consider the importance of each 'signpost', understanding how it helps to externalise and develop your thinking. As part of the design process, you'll embrace key skills such as drawing and mark-making, research, lateral thinking and creative breadth, and how managing time effectively can enable a more reflective and productive learning style. Through presentations, workshops and studio briefs, you'll be encouraged to wrestle with the underlying principles that govern, shape and motivate the creative process of idea generation and development.
A Word in your EyeThrough a series of practical and theoretical assignments, you'll be introduced to the fundamental principles of visual language and the powerful role it plays in communication design, understanding the notion that all materials and artefacts carry meaning and value within the context of communication.You will experiment with the basic elements of design, practice and process in order to understand and evaluate their function in the exploration of ideas and the delivery of messages.
NarrativeDuring this module, you'll experiment with 'graphic' interpretations of a personally authored piece of content, informed by play, research and idea development within and beyond graphic design. These interdisciplinary themes and principles will encourage you to explore more diverse and experimental approaches to storytelling (including montage theory, juxtaposition, and narrative arcs) and to move beyond the conventions of the subject. You'll consider how a sequenced combination of text, image and compositional structure within any given narrative can determine the engagement with, and comprehension of, a predetermined story or message. Presentations and workshops, together with studio briefs, will be supported by learning teams and individual tutorials.
Difference & IdentityGraphic design cannot live in a vacuum. Although many visual techniques and craft skills can be rehearsed within an academic enquiry, ultimately graphic design provides a service in a predominantly commercial world, where its success is evaluated against defined needs and expectations. Whether these needs are to stimulate the desire to buy, communicate life-changing messages or political ideologies, send us the right way, distinguish one thing from another, or just help us to know more, we (as individuals) are not always the primary recipients of these messages. This module explores the relationships between the stakeholders in a communication process, promoting discourse around the notion of 'others' and 'difference'.
Focusing on real-world, industry-facing projects, we'll encourage you to challenge convention and produce daring, original work. We'll study areas like information hierarchy, ethics and design for society while continuing to build your core skills. You'll also go on study trips – usually to London or Amsterdam – to learn from designer-led workshops and visit studios like Pentagram, GBH, Fitch, Mother and Trapped in Suburbia.
Brand ExperienceThis module focuses on brand creation and contemporary communication strategies within our consumer society. It will develop theoretical discourses around the motivational triggers to purchase and consume (desire versus need), relationships between persuasion and empowerment, tensions between consumption and sustainability, personal identity and belonging, and local and global contexts within a consumer society. You'll rehearse and develop your understanding of the design process through studio-based assignments that will push and challenge conventional boundaries within the discipline and place the emphasis upon 'the big idea'. This drives the communication strategy through multiple media platforms, from print, three dimensions, audio, time-based and digital arenas.
TypographyTypography lies at the very heart of the practice of graphic design and is fundamentally concerned with the mechanical expression of the written word. Our society depends heavily on written forms of communication and this module considers the nature of typographic hierarchy, the conditions that govern its application and the principles of organising editorial information. You'll be presented with a range of project briefs that utilise both manual and digital exercises, taking a 'hands-on' response to various typographic challenges. This module also explores personal authorship of content and visual expression, from writing through to typography and image-making (photographic and/or illustrative). Lectures and seminars will provide the context for the work, and projects will be discussed with a personal tutor within regular small-group tutorials that facilitate shared learning and a platform for critical debate.
Design DirectionsThis module marks an important transitional stage, as you move from tutor-set assignments and managed project outcomes, to more independent goal setting and personal exploration of future directions.At this stage, you will begin to reflect more critically on your future prospects, with optional work placement opportunities (maximum of 3 weeks outside term time), providing off-campus learning experiences.The practice-based, self-negotiated assignments will be orientated by the assertion that design and designers can be agents for positive change within our society. You'll be encouraged to identify potential opportunities for graphic design within this context, develop new insights into existing problems and challenge the communication conventions.
Collaborative PracticeIn this module, we'll explore collaboration as a central part of contemporary design practice. A critical component of the module will be learning activities such as designer-led briefs, live projects in collaboration with external partners, and workshops that will provide provocative interventions into creative thinking.
Your third year focuses on intense project work, a dissertation and professional practice workshops. As well as building your core skills, you'll take a critical look at your strengths and explore various directions for your future career. Towards the end of the year, you'll exhibit at D&AD New Blood and at our own exclusive show.
JourneysThrough a range of design challenges that explore alternative models of practice, you will be encouraged to reflect upon your strengths, motivations and personal design future. This module will emphasise the importance of analysis, innovation, collaboration and idea generation within the process of creative problem-solving. Working on projects that challenge your creative potential, you'll begin to develop a portfolio of work that articulates your personal strengths and locates your practice within a wide range of professional contexts.Projects will be negotiated with a tutor within strategy sessions that facilitate teamwork as well as a platform for critical debate.
DissertationThe dissertation is a self-initiated written assignment of 6000 words on a subject relevant to your programme of study and personal interests. This module affirms the critical role of writing within the work of a graphic designer.
DestinationsAt this stage in your journey, you'll develop a final body of work and a strategy for the transition to the industry or further academic or career interests. Emphasis will be placed on challenging conventions, with a focus on strong ideas that are critically engaged and beautifully made.You can either develop larger projects from the previous module or work on new ones that help you position yourself and your work, as your interests become focused and your identity is honed. This work culminates in the final degree show and other industry-focused events. Projects from earlier years can be incorporated into final portfolios as part of the 'Transitions element', which will also include promotional initiatives and strategies to project your future self and support ambition.Learning is supported through team tutorials and individual 'bookable' sessions.
The modules above are those being studied by our students or proposed new ones. Programme structures and modules can change as part of our curriculum enhancement and review processes. If a certain module is important to you, please discuss it with the Course Leader.
How you'll learn
You'll attend group tutorials, seminars, workshops, peer critiques and regular individual tutorials – giving you the chance to present work and hear feedback in our new, dedicated studio space. This is based on approaches and learning from industry, so you develop career-orientated skills from day one.
A variety of design briefs.
There’s an ongoing policy of review and feedback every week with staff and other students, while formal assessment is twice yearly.
In year three, you’ll write a dissertation and exhibit your work for assessment as part of a final-year show.
Our award-winning designers, associate lecturers, technicians and other staff members specialise in traditional and digital fields. As well as frequently contributing to books and publications, they’re often invited to judge professional design awards.
Some members of staff only teach on specific modules, and your course might not feature every member.
Large, open-plan, dedicated design studios.
Design lab featuring traditional and digital production equipment.
Photography and audio space supporting stills, moving image and sound.
Mac desktop and laptop computers with professional software.
Extensive library facilities including thousands of books, DVDs, magazines and journals.
How to apply
Apply via UCAS
Ready to join us? If you're applying through UCAS Apply and Track, you'll need to reference the university and course codes below.
University code: F33
Course code: W214
Applying as an international student?
International students can apply for a course through UCAS, via an agent or directly with the university.
We consider all applications on their own individual merit and potential. We invite all applicants to an interview day or audition to give them the opportunity to demonstrate this along with what inspires and motivates them in their field. Applicants will also be able to show their portfolio or give a performance depending on the course. We welcome applications from all subject backgrounds, whether you’ve specialised in STEM, the arts or humanities.
As a guide our typical offer at an undergraduate level is 104 – 120 UCAS Tariff points, primarily from Level 3 qualifications such as but not limited to A-levels, a BTEC Extended Diploma or a Foundation Diploma.
For applicants whose first language is English, we require you to have or be working towards GCSE English Language Grade 4 (C), or equivalent.
If English is not your first language you will need to meet the same standard which is equivalent to the IELTS Academic 6.0 overall score, with at least 5.5 in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. We accept a range of in-country equivalencies and approved tests.
If you need a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you’ll need to take an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT). You can read our English Language Requirements for more information.
UK/EU applications: 15 January 2020 (for equal consideration)
Late applications will be considered if there are places available.
International fee payers can apply throughout the year. But we recommend applying as early as possible, to make time for visa and travel arrangements.
Tuition fees 2020-21
£9,250 - full-time UK/EU
£16,000 - full-time international
Tuition fees are set annually and are subject to review each year. The University may, therefore, raise tuition fees in the second or subsequent years of a course, in line with inflation and/or the maximum permitted by law or Government policy. Students will be notified of any changes as soon as possible.