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Design Studio Practice - BA (Hons)

Why study this course?

The Design Studio Practice BA explores the rich cross-disciplinary territory where design encompasses art, product design, installation, interior design, visual communication and other fields of creative practice in material culture that engage with the making of artefacts. The course is intended for those who are passionate about design, but who don't want to be narrowly identified as a product designer, fine artist or graphic designer. It's ideal for anyone craving the freedom to test and explore the diverse ways of fulfilling a brief, solving a problem or proposing a new typology.

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The course takes inspiration from contemporary practice in design studios (such as Droog, Martino Gamper, Jongeriuslab, Tord Boontje and Glithero) that design and make a wide range of objects and processes, often collaboratively, but always without accepting constraints as to what is expected as a result. Experimentation, discovery, testing and production of innovative outcomes are expected, but how – in what material, through which process, by what sort of designed outcome – is not prescribed.

In this course, you'll develop and apply your own model of design research and enquiry, process-driven experimentation and development, and rigorous testing and proving. Through collaboration with working designers and design studios, you'll discover your own individual design interests, principles and methods of practice.

The course draws not only on the wide-ranging and deep expertise of staff, but also their close-knit and long-standing relationships with industry professionals who bring real-world understanding of the opportunities available across a range of design practices. You'll work on a series of projects alongside high-profile design practitioners, giving you an unparalleled insight into how they work and achieve success. The University has extensive industry-standard workshops and technical support, with a broad spectrum of materials and processes available for exploration.

In your first year, you’ll conduct a wide range of experimental projects in order to discover a personal method of research, design, development and production, leading to self-initiated project briefs. In your second and third years, you'll join a series of curated projects led by designers and design studios, allowing you to broaden your experience of current practice. There'll be opportunities to visit studios, workshops, factories and galleries, and visiting speakers, designers, companies and curators, ensuring you're fully aware of the expectations and constraints of design studio practice.

Assessment

You'll be assessed through a portfolio of creative work as well as essays for contextual studies. There are no examinations.

In addition to the University's standard entry requirements, you should have:

  • a minimum of grades BBC in three A levels in relevant art and design, art history or design and technology subjects (or a minimum of 112 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification in relevant art and design subjects) plus a portfolio review
  • English Language GCSE at grade C (grade 4 from 2017) or above (or equivalent)

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications. Suitable applicants living in the UK will be invited to a portfolio interview. Applicants living outside the UK will be required to submit a portfolio of work via email.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2017/18 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Monday morning
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning
    • all year (September start) - Monday afternoon

    Successful 3D design outcomes are reliant on sound 3D design principles. These design principles inform and create opportunities for you to apply your creativity to the conception, development and eventual realisation of effective 3D design solutions.

    Three-dimensional design is intent on bringing about change, impacting on human experience. This module will introduce you to a range of contemporary and traditional discipline-related design approaches and processes, some of which will be tested in design exercises and some of which may be realised in studios and projects carried across other modules. You will be introduced to systems and methods of analysing 3D artefacts and material culture. Processes experienced will involve research, documentation and analysis, as well as play, accident and chance.

    Design concepts will be tested through the application of workshop and studio methods. Materials, processes and technologies will be discipline-specific, developing creative outcomes relevant to the possibilities and constraints of the context, the needs of the client and users, and industry conventions.

    You will be encouraged to develop a critically informed and personal approach to the process of design. Studios and projects will encourage you to understand your practice in the context of a rapidly changing contemporary culture with ever-developing needs and problems. Engaging with materials, media and, processes, you can become an agent of change through design practice.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Monday morning
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning
    • all year (September start) - Monday afternoon

    This module introduces and develops a range of knowledge, skills and approaches in the research, sketching and communication of information and ideas for 3D disciplines and artefacts in visual form.

    The ability to draw and communicate visually for research, as well as design development, is critical to the success of a designer in any 3D discipline. This module intends to make development of subject specialist skills in these fields a central component of the courses that it serves.

    You will take part in a range of studios, workshops and lectures that introduce a wide range of traditional and contemporary drawing, visual research and communication media, methods and practices to help you explore, record, select from, analyse and interpret your environment and the world of images, spaces and artefacts for a range of purposes.

    Through the regular practice of a wide range of drawing methods, whether for the recording and communication of information, the generation of concepts and design or the expression of ideas, you will develop confidence and a key resource to support your practice.

    Discipline specific projects will explore the recording and expression of line, colour, form, structure, light, space and perspective, texture, detail and context appropriate to the requirements of your field in a range of media and formats.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday morning

    The module offers a sequence of three intensive programmes or ‘mini-blocks’, tailored to the interests of specific groups of students. The module engages the student in thinking about their subject area, how it is defined and practiced, the richness of its resources, and how it opens up questions of context. In particular the module investigates how context might be framed, for example culturally, historically, economically, socially, theoretically or through practice. Students are encouraged to see connections and reflect on what they see in ways that build skills of communication and help articulate ideas. The module also helps the student, through learning how to identify, access and use knowledge profitably, to become knowledgeable about their subject area, its extent, its language and conventions, its history and practice.

    The three mini-blocks have equally weighted single assessments . The assessments include a range of different modes of written assignments, for example, Patchwork, Case Study, or Essay.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Monday morning
    • all year (September start) - Monday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon

    Good design and high-quality artefacts are informed by knowledge of the potential and limitations of relevant technologies and techniques, materials and process. The focus of this module is on the development of understanding and abilities in a range of key practical skills and an understanding of material and process through experience, experimentation and direct observation.

    The module will introduce to you some of the key methods and principles of achieving high-quality outcomes, whether crafted, manufactured or constructed. It will develop your capacity for informed decision-making about material experimentation and process investigation through the exploration of why particular choices of material, technique, process and technology are made in relation to factors such as aesthetics, purpose, function, scale, economy, and ethical considerations.

    The module is taught within disciplinary specific studios, includes a range of relevant exercises and will aid realisation of designs and projects originated in other modules.

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Year 2 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday morning
    • all year (September start) - Friday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Friday morning

    As humans, we live in a continuous and ongoing relationship with the made world, where the former and the latter each inform the other. This module aims to investigate through design and physical realiation, how an understanding of human needs and desires, physical, psychological, sociological and economic, and of people as individuals and in society, can aid successful design.

    Informed selection and application of material processes are an intrinsic part of the design and production of both objects and the made environment and will be central to this module. However, understanding of material and process is not sufficient to ensure good design. Close observation and analysis of the interaction between people and their natural and designed environments will also be at the core of this area of study. You will discover and show how clear and detailed understanding of these relationships is vital to relevant, safe and ethical, innovative and viable design that responds to real needs. Your response might be in the field of critical or narrative design that fosters debate and emotional reward, or it might be focused on user-centred design, environmentally secure manufacturing, or system/ service design. In any of these cases you will be expected to understand and show how your design work and its outcomes are the result of credible research, and how it relates to users, (both principal and incidental), in practice.

    Workshop activities will explore and test ideas, resolving design issues and proposing solutions through modelling in traditional and digital materials and technologies. Material experimentation and knowledge will enhance both the concept and its communication.

    You will normally select from a range of studio projects, working with contemporary ideas and practising designers, mentored by professional practices as appropriate to the project.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning

    The module offers a sequence of three intensive programmes or ‘mini-blocks’ tailored to the interests of specific groups of students. It provides a range of studies that address the character and conditions of cultural production including how they operate in practice. The module helps to prepare the student for their final-year dissertation and their future role as professionals and practitioners. The student encounters different perspectives on their subject area and undertakes different forms of coursework aimed at helping inform their choice of dissertation topic and approach.

    The module begins to situate the student within the process of constructing knowledge. This process may be approached from the point of view of the producer or consumer, the critic or the professional, the academic or the practitioner, in that there are a number of players involved. The module recognises that the student is also an active player in the process: what they bring to the construction of knowledge counts; and how effectively they construct it depends on how well they understand and interact with the field. To this end the module encourages the skills of reading and literacy as required – historical, analytical, textual, visual or technical – to help support rigorous and enterprising thought.

    The three blocks have equally weighted single assessments.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday morning
    • all year (September start) - Friday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Friday morning

    Design resolution ensures a confident and complex realisation of your design concepts. Materiality (form, colour, surface and texture) affects meaning and value in all design. This module requires your critical attention to subtle and implicit design details, expressed through materials, aesthetics and construction, considering how material and production selection, manipulation and application inscribes quality and value onto the final resolution of the artefact.

    You will explore artefact and material representation and resolution, drawing on concepts and ideas originally generated within the studio. Outcomes will be developed through applied media, material and/ or constructional experimentation including full-scale outcomes or working prototypes. You will realise relevant design solutions for studio briefs, in response to specific end-users and/or sites.

    Through in-depth practice-led research, you will consider the social, functional and environmental impacts of products, samples, material choices and the performance of these upon designed outcomes and their users.
    You will learn to work to a high level of professional presentation. You will develop a logical and creative approach to design problem solving, appropriate to the needs of users and clients.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Thursday afternoon

    Consumers today, demand products with superior ethical and environmental values and will do so increasingly in the future, as our shared environment becomes more stressed. Corporate ethical and environmental requirements mirror this, often in response to governmental legislation. There is a need for intelligent and sustainable exploitation of finite materials and processes. Professional ethics, social enterprise and entrepreneurial strategies produce creative solutions.

    This module enables you to bring together your knowledge and experience of material and making to achieve investigation, invention and discovery. Taking material and the processes, techniques, and tools or equipment through which it is manipulated as your starting point, you study how craft, design, science, technology, manufacturing and engineering debate the benefits of traditional, rediscovered, new and emerging material and process technologies in relation to real-world needs. You will research ‘in action’, seeking solutions to the unexpected possibilities and meanings revealed by experimentation.

    The module introduces specialist methods, terms and techniques that are used to commission, specify and evaluate making. It examines how and why regulatory, professional and ethical standards are developed as well as the remit for research and experimentation. The module further expands the knowledge of materials, production, consumer standards and professional requirements, with particular attention given to longevity and sustainability underpinning ethical values and responsibilities relevant to the design of fashion, textiles, jewellery, furniture and/or product.

    During the module, you will practice and develop your understanding of professional dissemination. The moment of submission also provides critical debate and reception, commercial response, and career development. Very often, a designer will have to convince potential clients of the merits of their proposal without the benefit of a market-ready model, making convincing presentation a vital tool to securing the next stage. You will research and develop your discipline’s professional requirements for public/ commercial reception.

    Developing skills in the use of image, text, word & object to communicate complex and conceptual/ critical thinking, you will practice codes and conventions of presentation, publication and exhibition relevant to your field. You will be expected to investigate and develop critical and aesthetic working relationships between and across your modules, fuelling your enthusiasm and individual approach to your study.

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Year 3 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday morning
    • all year (September start) - Friday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Friday morning
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday afternoon

    Together with the Major Project Realisation module, this module is intended to prepare 3D Design students for independent practice, entry into the professional workplace, or for higher studies.

    Through synthesis of knowledge of processes and principles, using an appropriate range of intellectual, creative and practical skills, you will design and develop a self-directed project, relevant to your discipline. This will naturally require in-depth research, a well-constructed design & making process, and the exercise of practical and thinking skills, resulting in a significant body of creative work for public exhibition.

    A negotiated and approved proposal will confirm your individual project. Using creative exploration and experimentation, you will develop research, concept development, material investigation, sampling, modelling or prototyping and visualisation. The final outcome will be produced in Major Project Realisation.

    The module will ensure that you critique and reflect upon your own work, the professional standards of your discipline and your position in your creative sector. The module emphasizes self-direction and personal focus whilst acknowledging external and professional expectations and constraints.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Wednesday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Wednesday morning

    The module is framed in terms of a dissertation. The student undertakes an enquiry into a topic of his or her own choice and, based on this enquiry, develops an extended critical study. The module involves individual supervision designed to support the student’s ambitions and confidence in becoming an independent learner, building on techniques and knowledge developed in previous years, and providing scope for initiative and development. The dissertation demonstrates the student’s ability to thoroughly research a topic, use appropriate methods of investigation, and work methodically and productively.

    The subject matter of the dissertation can be theoretical, technical, or historical, should be closely related to the student’s main field of study and be complimentary to their practice. It may be envisaged as one of several different types: for example, visual, technical or other non-written material may form the subject of the enquiry and comprise an integral part of the whole; the dissertation may be professionally oriented and include field-work; or it might be academic and theoretical in its source material and methodology. Its form and approach can reflect a broad range of discipline-specific approaches based on discussion and agreement with the supervisor and/or course leader.

    Students may develop their topic independently or, as an option, within a specific dissertation Interest or Subject Group. Interest or Subject Groups will provide a short taught programme. They are offered on an annual basis and may incorporate:

    • research based specialisms
    • areas of scholarly interest in history and theory
    • industry related practice
    • workshop, digital or media based technical studies

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start) - Friday morning

    For many creative practitioners, competition entry or exhibition are the crucial, final aspects of professional dissemination and practice: a fulfilment of practice objectives – aesthetic, intellectual, ethical ¬– and the realisation of a long period of research and development in the studio. The moment of submission also provides critical debate and reception, commercial reward, and future career opportunities.

    This module requires you to undertake a researched, targeted exhibition or competition entry, presenting work (developed within your major project) in a professional manner, for public reception. You will apply your understanding of the codes and conventions of competition or exhibition, contemporary curatorial practice, editorial and competitor approaches within a public exhibition. This will represent your independent critical questioning of academic learning and professional processes.

    The module demands a creative and disciplined approach to collaboration with relevant stakeholders and external partners. You may prepare for professional practice and understanding and participation in exhibition and competition through work placement in a suitable company. This module develops your ‘learning for work’. Within the module, you will experience work-related learning through live project set up and realisation or placement. You will refine a range of transferable skills in communication, management, research and analysis and are encouraged to reflect and report on the work-relevant skills you develop throughout. These skills are both desirable and advantageous for all graduates and include (for example): action planning, contribution to professional meetings, entrepreneurship, goal setting, negotiating, networking, project management, self-appraisal, team working.

    Projects will develop and display effective professional presentation techniques and curatorial approaches for the dissemination of individual practice in live industry specific contexts. The final presentation should reflect your professional, creative and intellectual identity in preparation for entry to the workplace. The exhibition or competition entry or outcome of placement may be individual or as part of a collaborative venture.

    Read full details.
  • No module details available
    Read full details.

If you're studying full-time, each year (level) is worth 120 credits.

Year 1 (Level 4) modules include:

  • 3D Visual Research and Communication
  • 3D Design Principles
  • Critical and Contextual Studies 1
  • Workshop Practice

Year 2 (Level 5) modules include:

  • Making Matters
  • 3D Design
  • Critical and Contextual Studies 2
  • Design Resolution

Year 3 (Level 6) modules include:

  • Major Project Realisation: Studio Practice
  • 3D Project and Design Development
  • Dissertation
  • Exhibition Practice

On graduation, you may go on to work as a designer, but you’ll also be well equipped to work in other fields including design education, journalism, or in cultural institutions such as museums. There will also be opportunities to consider in the retail sector, commercial galleries or in interior design practices.

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How to apply

Applying for September 2017

UK/EU students wishing to begin this course studying full-time in September 2017 should apply by calling the Clearing hotline on .

Applicants from outside the EU should refer to our guidance for international students during Clearing.

Part-time applicants should apply direct to the University online.

If you're a UK/EU applicant applying for full-time study you must apply via UCAS unless otherwise specified.

UK/EU applicants for part-time study should apply direct to the University.

Non-EU applicants for full-time study may choose to apply via UCAS or apply direct to the University. Non-EU applicants for part-time study should apply direct to the University, but please note that if you require a Tier 4 visa you are not able to study on a part-time basis.

All applicants applying to begin a course starting in January must apply direct to the University.

When to apply

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) accepts applications for full-time courses starting in September from one year before the start of the course. Our UCAS institution code is L68.

If you will be applying direct to the University you are advised to apply as early as possible as we will only be able to consider your application if there are places available on the course.

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