BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts


Program Description


Applying to study with us in September 2021? 

This course is currently under revalidation, with the new title BA (Hons) Craft & Material Practices.

Degrees listed as subject to revalidation are in the final stage of our rigorous approval process, ensuring our well-established undergraduate curriculum accurately reflects the excellent academic and employment opportunities available to students. Through close consultation with industry experts, academics, students and alumni, you can be sure the course you study will prepare you for a bright future in the ever-changing creative industries. 

Our diverse 3D Design Crafts programme allows you to develop a close understanding and relationship with a range of craft media including ceramics, clay, hot and cold glass, metals, jewellery, jesmonite, wood and plastics.

You will have the chance to explore both the functional and the expressive potential of these rich, tactile materials and to take them in innovative and unexpected directions.

3D Design Crafts encompasses a comprehensive range of practices from designer-makers such as jewellers, to conceptual sculptors, with the option for you to become a specialist in a particular discipline as you progress.

The first year of the programme includes working across processes within 3D design crafts to learn crucial interdisciplinary skills. You will gain an in-depth understanding of materials, processes and design development.

In the second and third years, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on your chosen field or continue to work across a range of disciplines. There will be ongoing lectures that support the development of your professional practice and contextual studies throughout the three years of the programme.

Our superbly equipped and spacious workshops provide opportunities for you to pair traditional making with the rapid digital prototyping facilities in our Fab Lab, giving you the opportunity to reinvent craft for the 21st century.

Our academic and technical teams are all artists and designers and they will teach you the skills you need, challenge you, and test your conceptual thinking.

Learning isn’t limited to our design studios and workshops – you will meet some of the UK’s most inventive and entrepreneurial contemporary makers and thinkers through studio visits, demonstrations, and presentations.

Our ambition and outlook for our students are international; you will be given the opportunity to visit events such as Sieraad in Amsterdam, Collect at the Saatchi Gallery, British Ceramics Biennial, the Contemporary Craft Festival and London Design Fair.

You’ll have opportunities to broaden your horizons with visiting lecturers and artist talks from the likes of Antoine Leperlier, Emma Woffenden, Barnaby Barford, Nuala Clooney and Keith Harrison.

Bringing international topical debate into your studies, this programme sits at the core of our biennial Making Futures conference, which in 2017 welcomed over 150 guests from over 13 countries.

Keynote speakers included Glenn Adamson, Katie Schwab and Sarah Mann who delivered stimulating presentations, encouraging designer-makers to reflect on their place and practice.

What will I achieve? 

You will define your practice.

Our taught programme encompasses a wealth of disciplines, materials and approaches, from creating individual pieces to batch production methods, all underpinned by strong methodologies and a focus on design solutions.

You will become a 21st-century maker.

By exploring histories and contemporary contexts of designing and making, you will expand your approach. You will learn how ideas, visual research, critical thinking, and making can inform each other, responding to current issues such as globalisation and sustainability.

You will be ready for the future.

You’ll learn about enterprise and entrepreneurship, and how to price, display and promote products for a range of different markets including: large scale site-specific work, individual exhibition pieces and domestic products, all based on knowledge of your customers and the experience gained by working on live briefs, pitching to clients and entering competitions.

“There was so much amazing talent and work at the Plymouth College of Art Degree Show. It was a real pleasure to have a student from the 3D Design Crafts programme working with us; it is such a valuable course and we are keen to support it.”

Dr Jo Elworthy, Director of Interpretation at Eden Project

Thinking & making

Study with us and you’ll expand your critical approach alongside developing skills in research and analysis. Our academically robust and intellectually stimulating degree programmes are delivered by our team of academics, technical demonstrators and invited experts who together deliver excellence in learning, teaching and assessment. Our programmes encourage diversity in thinking and making - from practical applications through to reflective, analytical writing.

We provide a dynamic, stimulating learning environment from which to test new models of practice while investing in the rich relationship between practice and theory - based on the potential in material and visual exploration, collaborative working, cross-fertilisation of ideas, and the exploration of histories and contemporary contexts.

Opportunities for studying abroad are available at our partner institutions.

Highlights — BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts:

  • Turn design ideas into artefacts and objects – ready for production or exhibition. 
  • Experience a vibrant mix of designing and making, with a chance to explore diverse materials.
  • Benefit from experienced academic staff who have exhibited, curated and published internationally.
  • Develop valuable design skills, so that your making is underpinned by sound methodology.
  • Enjoy opportunities for business start-up and enterprise.
  • Research global markets to inform your work.
  • Support from a team of dedicated and knowledgeable technicians in the realisation of your ideas.


Year 1

BADC101 Visualisation

The Visualisation module forms an essential induction into developing approaches to design and questioning pre-conceptions regarding the use of drawing. As Makers, we use drawing as a tool to communicate our ideas to others, and ourselves and as a way of recording what we see, but just as importantly, we use drawing as a means of generating the very ideas, which could develop into made objects.

You will develop existing drawing skills by exploring a wide variety of different materials and techniques (both traditional and contemporary) to depict objects, spaces and forms into 3D and 2D using Drawing in its broadest sense. In this way, it is intended that you will develop your observational and creative thinking skills, with an understanding of how drawing can inform making.

Practical workshops and trips will explore the use of drawing across a range of material areas relevant to contemporary making practices including: Metals, Wood, Ceramics and Glass – whilst utilising traditional, contemporary and digital ways of working, with contemporary and historical examples referenced. Creative-play and risk-taking will allow you to break free from any existing inhibitions regarding what a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ drawing actually is.

You will respond to a number of tasks that will develop your strategies and skills for using drawing.

BADC102 Realisation

Realisation through making is an important way in which we can achieve desired or anticipated ideas and concepts. Playful exploration using a range of materials and processes, engages us with numerous possibilities and allows us to come to understand something clearly and distinctly.

You will be introduced to materials and establish an appreciation of their properties whilst asking yourself, “What can I do with this? What does it look like if I do that?” This module will provide you with the security to ‘take risks and build confidence in making, in order to understand how creative play can lead to innovation. You will engage with materials in a variety of ways such as, transforming, copying, remixing, combining, re-appropriating, for example, whilst learning essential techniques and processes which will form the foundation of future-making.

You will be taught safe working practices and will develop research and recording skills including critical analysis and how to relate sometimes-abstract findings to practice. You will be encouraged to look at the work of others from your own and other eras and cultures.

BADC103 Design in Context

There are many contexts in which a designer/ maker can operate; from making functional objects by hand to designing for industrial manufacture or creating individual sculptural objects; reacting to a specific market or context will affect what is made.

You will be introduced to a range of contextual possibilities relevant to contemporary making practices (across Design Crafts, Jewellery, Ceramics and Glass). You will be expected to make decisions as to how best to approach making for these using appropriate materials and processes and will begin to consider how these relate to their own trajectory.

You will be encouraged to look at a range of contextual possibilities and identify the differences between them. The intention is to broaden your awareness of the variety of ways in which materials, making and process are relevant in contemporary art and design practices so you can begin to make decisions as to how to position your own practice.

BADC104 Professional Practice & PDP 1

This module is designed to help you explore the shape and patterns of employment in the creative industries, to enable you to start to match your current skills, knowledge and creative portfolio to those required to successfully compete for work in your intended career. Having identified areas for development, you will work with the module leader to update your Professional Development Plan (PDP blog) to enable you to identify the necessary experiences and skills to acquire during your degree course. The module will cover a wide range of general skills including: effective professional communication with employers, CV compilation and social media promotional platforms.

BAIS300 Interdisciplinary Studies

This module provides an opportunity to expand and develop skills and knowledge, through the introduction of new approaches and methods that broaden and extend the student’s understanding of practices both in their subject area, and the wider creative context in which they work.

The module will introduce students to interdisciplinary approaches and methods in their subject and open up possibilities for engagement with practices both within and outside their immediate subject area. As such, this Module complements all of the student’s study to date and contributes to their wider knowledge and understanding of creative practices.

The module will encourage students to explore new skills, knowledge and approaches including team working and problem-solving. Above all, it will encourage critical reflection on the range of interdisciplinary approaches and contexts explored within the module.

BCOP100 Contexts of Practice 1

This module introduces students to key theories and ideas and provides a range of critical approaches to support the investigation, interpretation and analysis of contemporary art, design and media. Students will study a range of concepts that have shaped the way that we understand art, design and media in its wider historical and cultural contexts. Students will develop core research and communication skills to help them to articulate and contextualise their understanding of the themes covered in this module, and the knowledge gained will support the creative practice by developing an understanding of the relationship between thinking and making.

Year 2

BADC201 Object Enquiry

Throughout our lives we interact and react to the objects around us, continually making judgments and assessing their value in terms of functionality, cultural and/or personal significance. In addition, objects also reveal much about their manufacture, which in turn betrays their origins and adds to our assessment of their meaning and value. Often this ‘reading’ of objects is tacit, with judgments made about value and usefulness through our inherent understanding of our environment and culture.

By drawing your attention to how you read and judge objects, you will become aware of how designers and/or makers can affect the interaction between the object and the audience and how skills and processes are utilised to realise ideas. You will then be expected to demonstrate your awareness of these themes by producing a practical response.

Through seminars and group work you will become aware of the importance of the relationship between the object and the audience and how this changes according to context.

BADC202 External Practice

Working on external briefs will raise your awareness of the wide range of opportunities in the 3D Design Craft arena and working to industry standard. This module will reflect creative external opportunities within the programme and encourage you to develop knowledge of appropriate professional contexts as you independently explore a range of approaches to 3D Design Craft.

Undertaking a live project supports creative direction, investigation and exploration, which will lead you to critically analyse your own personal practice. You will be encouraged to develop your entrepreneurial skills as you take responsibility for the whole process from the initial idea to the final concept, taking design, production, marketing and submission into consideration.

BADC203 Professional Practice & PDP 2

Throughout the module, you will consider business and practice skills required to plan for a career in 3D Design Crafts. This module extends skills acquired during Level 4 allowing individuals to further explore professional practice alongside an investigation into in-house employment, career portfolio and entrepreneurial opportunities. Running throughout level 5, the module will inform an understanding of the level of professionalism, creativity and adaptability required to negotiate a career in the creative industries.

Continuing from the good practice established in the level 4 Professional Practice module, reflections will be an ongoing, recorded and archived through your PDP journal.

GCOP200 Contexts of Practice 2

This module extends and develops the themes, ideas, concepts and critical discourses introduced in Year One. Students will attend core lectures and participate in a lecture/ seminar series designed to deepen their understanding of creative practice in its wider contexts. This themed approach encourages students to make considered and appropriate links between their area of practice and wider contextual and interdisciplinary discourses. You will continue to develop critical approaches to research, which will inform your understanding of the relationship between context and practice.

Year 3

BADC301 Research and Experimentation

Starting from the evaluation of your previous work and your intentions for the year, this first module will require you to undertake a period of concentrated research, experimentation and development. The intention is to deconstruct preconceived ideas and work patterns and to allow new creative formations to emerge through calculated risk-taking and critical reflection. Throughout, the emphasis is on the exploration and development of concepts, media and methods, rather than finished outcomes. It is likely that this intense period of research and experimentation will underpin some of the critical choices made when you map out your aims in the subsequent Creative & Professional Development module.

BADC302 Creative and Professional Development

This module will enable you to use personal career ambitions to position yourself for progression to employment, self-employment or post-graduate study. It will provide multiple opportunities for you to assimilate previous industry experiences and research into both contextual subject matter and creative outcomes of the final year modules. The module will encourage consideration of audiences, end-users and relevant markets. Relationships with appropriate external agencies, individuals and professionals will be explored and interactions with the creative, commercial and cultural environments will be investigated.

BADC303 Creative and Professional Conclusion

This module represents the culmination of the knowledge, skills and understanding acquired throughout the entirety of your study on the programme through the engagement in a project that is the result of a self-initiated or self-selected brief.

BADC304 Contexts of Practice 3

This module provides students with two pathways. Each pathway supports the development of independent critical thinking and requires them to consider and contextualise their practice by situating it within a wider set of discourses and contexts. 

  • Pathway One - Written Research Project (WRP) is an opportunity to conduct a substantive piece of independent research, which is focused on an area related to creative practice. 
  • Pathway Two - Contextual Enquiry Project (CEP) is a practice-led research project with critical commentary, in which students conduct an in-depth inquiry intended to inform and reposition their creative practice.

Module details listed above are indicative content only.

All modules listed are compulsory.

Careers & alumni

Our students work with industry partners including the Crafts Council, British Pewter, the Goldsmiths’ Company, the Association for Contemporary Jewellery, Hothouse, Craftspace, the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, British Art Medal Society, the Eden Project, Mount Edgcumbe and Dartington Crystal on live briefs, competitions and exhibitions.

They curate, exhibit and sell their work at many prestigious design and craft events. In recent years students have exhibited at TENT, part of London Design Fair, and have had opportunities to visit shows in Europe, including the Handwerk fair and SCHMUCK, Munich.

Our strong international connections also allow our students to take a semester of study at one of our partner institutions within Europe and North America, and in turn, we welcome overseas students from those institutions to join us in our design studios, creating an exciting cultural exchange.

We will encourage and support your creative education, helping you to succeed and launch your career. 

Our students have gained employment as independent makers, business owners, designers, conservators, technicians and teachers.

Our dedicated employability team are on hand to help you develop professional opportunities. And this doesn’t stop when you graduate – we want to stay in contact and will help support you through the first two years of your career.

Awards & Accolades won by recent graduates:

  • Rosemary Groom, BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts, 2018 graduate - Residency at Birmingham School of Jewellery.
  • Bethany and Alice Antliff BA (Hons) Ceramics and Glass, 2018 graduates - Won the Canonteign Falls residency for 2018, they were both selected as Commended for 'New Graduate Review', with Bethany Antliff’s work included in an exhibition at London Glassblowing, September 2018.
  • Lorna Yabsley, BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts, 2018 graduate, British Art Medal Society, Student Competition, Second Prize.
  • Ben Lintell, BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts, 2017 graduate - Talente 2018 Munich Award.
  • Ian Palfrey, BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts, 2017 graduate - Contemporary Glass Society Graduate Prize 2017, Second Prize.
  • Mim Brigham, BA (Hons) Contemporary Crafts, 2017 graduate - Selected for The 3rd Session of China (Hejian) Craft Glass Design & Creation Exhibition and Competition at Ming Shangde Glass Museum, Hejian City, Cangzhou City, Hebei Province, China November 2018.  Selected for the British Glass Biennale 2017. Devon Guild of Craftsmen Prize 2017.
  • Ishtar Liljefors, BA (Hons) Jewellery, 2017 graduate - Selected for Bright Young Gems and exhibited at International Jewellery London, September 2017.
  • Val Muddyman BA (Hons)  Contemporary Craft, 2017 graduate - Selected for the Contemporary Craft Festival 2018 StartUP scheme.
  • Eleanor Gooch, BA (Hons) Jewellery, 2015 graduate – Devon Guild of Craftsmen Prize, Contemporary Craft Festival One Year On Prize, Nicola Hurst Prize, Victoria Sewart Prize
  • Jessica Thorn, BA (Hons) Ceramics, 2014 graduate – Best New Business Award at Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, Selected for Craft Council Hothouse 6, Ceramic Art London 2018.
  • Zoe Bailey, BA (Hons) Jewellery & Silversmithing, 2014 graduate – New Designers One Year On.
  • Jonathan Daniels, BA (Hons) Jewellery & Silversmithing, 2014 graduate – New Designers One to Watch, Pewter Live Decorative Arts First Prize.
  • Chloe O’Brien, BA (Hons) Jewellery & Silversmithing, 2014 graduate – Devon Guild of Craftsman Visual Arts Prize.
  • Teresa Surman, BA (Hons) Contemporary Craft, 2014 graduate – Nicola Hurst Jewellery Prize, Contemporary Craft Festival One Year On Prize.
  • Victoria Williams, BA (Hons) Jewellery & Silversmithing 2014 graduate – New Designers One Year On.
  • Adele Retter, BA (Hons) Contemporary Craft 2014 graduate – Selected for Craft Council Hothouse 5.

Graduates become:​

  • Designer Makers
  • Jewellery Designers
  • Furniture Designers and Makers
  • Ceramicists
  • Glass Artists
  • Prop Designers
  • Designers
  • Architectural Glass Artists
  • Artists
  • Gallery Curators
  • Studio Assistants
  • Teachers/Lecturers/Technicians    

‘Careers & Enterprise in the Curriculum’ at Plymouth College of Art 

Professional practice is embedded within all of our programmes.  Throughout your studies, you will have the opportunity to develop the key professional, transferable skills for employability in the creative industries and potentially work in partnership with other sectors locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

From writing and making the most of your CV to gaining industry experience, the acquisition of professional skills has been written into the programmes of study by our staff teams, who have ‘real world’ experience. They are also supported by our Industry Liaison Groups, who help inform the development of the higher education curriculum.

Entry requirements

2020 onwards: A portfolio and 112 - 120 UCAS points (earned through A-levels, BTEC National Diploma, or Foundation Diploma etc).

We also welcome applications from students who do not have formal qualifications but can provide evidence of their creativity, skills and experience. You will also be required to attend an interview in person or via Skype, Google Meet or similar online platform.

International students

Language requirements for study at Degree level

  • Trinity College London
    • Integrated Skills in English II (Level B2), minimum grade required: Reading: Pass Listening: Pass Certificate valid for two years
  • IELTS SELT Consortium
    • IELTS (Level B2), minimum grade required: IELTS overall score of 6.0 with a minimum score Listening: 5.5, Speaking: 5.5, Reading: 5.5, Writing: 5.5,
    • Certificate valid for two years

Visa requirements

  • As an international student, you will need a Tier 4 (General) student visa which you can apply for online.
Last updated Jul 2020

About the School

Founded in 1856, Plymouth College of Art is an art school run by artists and designers for artists and designers. We are home to a dynamic, cross-disciplinary community of makers and thinkers for whom ... Read More

Founded in 1856, Plymouth College of Art is an art school run by artists and designers for artists and designers. We are home to a dynamic, cross-disciplinary community of makers and thinkers for whom making is as important as reading and writing, and where the purpose of learning is inseparable from that of living your life. A place for making things, and making things happen. For making a difference. Read less