Bachelor of Arts Degree Honours in Visual Communication majoring in Applied Illustration, Art Direction, Graphic Design, Multimedia and Photography


Program Description

Our one year intensive Honours degree offers you the opportunity to produce a self-directed body of creative practice work majoring in Photography, Illustration, Graphic Design, Multimedia, or Art Direction. In addition to Creative Practice, your degree also includes Visual Studies and Contextual Studies. Contextual Studies offer insight into the complexities of society and how to create responsible communication to meet the social and sustainability challenges we face. Visual Studies puts African subjectivity and creativity in critical conversation with the West. The theoretical subjects are there to help inform your creative work and demand a critical engagement with contemporary ideas and innovations.

A key component to our Honours degree is the Creative Exchange where we substitute the classroom with an African city and enable students to undertake a creative learning journey. This curated excursion pairs students with a creative agency, artist, or hub to work on a week-long collaborative project. By exposing students to different contexts, perspectives, and creative practices, our Honours program produces not only skilled professionals but creative change agents who can navigate and adapt to the global creative industry.

Our Honours program purposefully taps into networks we have established with African creative spaces and institutions. We have ongoing relationships with Zeitz MOCAA, Norval Foundation, Anima Design Studio, Stellenbosch Triennale, and numerous other creative spaces and institutions across Africa. Through guest lectures, class visits, and live projects we keep you on the pulse of the creative industry.  

If you are someone who wants to develop and extend your professional creative practice or explore how to grow a possible creative business venture, our Honours is for you. Get in touch to explore your options.

Why study Honours?

This year-long Bachelors of Arts Honours in Visual Communication offers students the rare opportunity to produce a self-directed body of creative work that develops skill level matched with theoretical and contextual understanding. The degree comprises three subjects: Creative Practice, Contextual Studies, and Visual Studies.  

An exciting and enriching component that students participate in is a Creative Exchange in a neighboring African country. Students are placed within a creative agency or organization to work on a short-term collaborative creative project. The value of the Creative Exchange is evident in the altered perspectives and insights that inform their future creative production. The culmination of this exchange is presented at a collaborative feedback session in the host country and later in the year at the Creative Dialogues forum at the Stellenbosch Academy.

Additional engagements with local creative spaces and institutions take place throughout the year with visiting lecturers and class outings. We firmly believe that learning has to extend beyond the classroom and by taking students to spaces they would not usually have access to, we endeavor to mold engaged and informed creatives.


Creative Practice

The production of creative work comprises 50% of the learning within the year and students build on their undergraduate skills with the possibility of cross-disciplinary growth and exploration depending on the scope of their project.  Within the Creative Practice component, students are guided through the process of defining a practice-led research project that fulfills the individual aims of each student.  

Students bring a proposal to the table where they identify specific skills together with a theme or conceptual approach that they wish to explore in their discipline. In this way, students are able to extend their undergraduate learning and develop their skills in a longer-term project where there is time for exploration and growth in areas they may not have had the opportunity to investigate or refine in their undergraduate program. 

Visual Studies

With an emphasis on the southern African context, the aim of this subject is to provide students with access to the knowledge they may not have encountered in their undergraduate degree.  A key aim is to enable students to develop the ability to critically engage with diverse examples of visual culture and reply with both verbal and written responses. In addition to engaging in independent research and writing a thesis, the seminar series forms a core component of class-based learning where students present ideas in response to readings. By linking theory and practice Visual Studies aims to enrich and enlarge student thinking with the intention of producing critically engaged visual communicators.  

Contextual Studies

This subject is taught in a sustained module at the start of the year and offers a solid understanding of how design and visual communication have shaped the world.  Students use design thinking to solve a real-life challenge within the local Western Cape context, and also write a proposal that applies the learning and insights acquired within the lecture series. In this way, students start the degree with a clear insight into the sustainability challenges and socioeconomic context in which they are working as visual communicators.  

What you will graduate with

At the end of the year, all students are required to have an exhibition showcasing their work.  In addition to the exhibited work, students also produce a professional portfolio.

An important part of the Honours degree is the reiterative creative cycle that students engage in as part of their practice-led research project. This creative process aims to equip students with the skills to work independently where they are able to critically reflect on and improve upon their work. A process book, blog, or film that documents the whole year’s creative process is also a degree requirement.

The outcomes of the two theoretical subjects comprise a range of written responses and a Visual Studies thesis. The aim of the theoretical subjects is to inform the creative work that the student produces. We firmly believe that students who have had to grapple with ideas and contemporary thinking develop stronger work because they are critically engaged. 

With these skills, we intend that our Honours graduates will enter the industry with a strong portfolio that reflects their thinking as well as their creative capabilities. 

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

As a private Higher Educational Institution, the Academy is committed to providing students with an exceptional learning environment, a world-class curriculum, and a solid foundation upon which to bui ... Read More

As a private Higher Educational Institution, the Academy is committed to providing students with an exceptional learning environment, a world-class curriculum, and a solid foundation upon which to build a successful professional future in the visual communication industry. Read less