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Graphic Design - BA (Hons)

Why study this course?

BA Graphic Design at The Cass is about making conceptual thinking visual, audible and experiential. It's creating structure and surprise, through innovation. It's communication. You will be encouraged not only to find solutions, but also to seek out problems. This graphic design course enables you to investigate, question and challenge the contemporary role of graphic design, connecting with wide ranging social issues and new ideas, to find your voice as a graphic designer.

You'll develop specialist skills, and learn how to reach your audience through innovative design. Themes you'll explore include audience, context, tone and effective methods of visual communication.

Learning experiences include everything from type fundamentals, drawing and letterpress printing, to app design, user experiences, human-centered design and connected communication platforms. There are many diverse employment options available to graduates of this degree.

In the most recent (2015-16) Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, 100% of graduates from this course were in work or further study within six months.


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This graphic design course enables you to investigate, question and challenge the contemporary role of graphic design, connecting with wide ranging social issues and new ideas in order to find your voice as a designer.

You're encouraged early on to make your thinking visible, to test your ideas through iteration and to collaborate in practice. You'll have the opportunity to develop specialist and broad based design skills, to think laterally and to innovate through making, testing and defining, and finding and reaching your audience.

This course offers real opportunities to connect with graphic design studios and consultancies, to work across the realms of art direction, digital publishing and editorial design, moving image and sequential narrative, web and innovatory digital practice from app design to social media, brand communications to start-ups and design enterprise.

The School is bustling with creativity and energy, you'll be experimenting with letterpress, screen printing, riso printing and state-of-the-art digital workshops, where you'll develop your practice. The course is taught in the heart of creative London, with future employers and commissioning agencies on your doorstep.

You'll have the opportunity to connect with leading industry professionals across the breadth of the discipline. From digital and physical publishing, to app design, and future uses of technology through partnered research. This course creates agile professionals ready to work in fast-paced, graphic design practices.

Industry partners and guest lecturers include Angharad Lewis (Grafik), Sarah Boris, Kin Design, Be Colourful, Someone, Nous Vous, Paul Jenkins, A Practice For Everyday Life (APFEL), Frazer Muggeridge and Craig Oldham.

A high-profile lecture series – the Hothouse Talks – offers you the chance to engage with visionaries in the field of Graphic Design and visual communication. You’ll also benefit from live project opportunities and a vibrant studio culture.

This course offers real opportunities to connect with graphic design studios and consultancies, to work across the realms of art direction, digital publishing and editorial design.

You’ll also explore the moving image and sequential narrative, brand communications, start-ups and design enterprise, as well as digital practice, including app design and social media.

BA Graphic Design is taught together with BA Illustration & Animation and BA Design for Publishing. This makes for a unique learning environment, full of opportunity for cross-pollination and scope for wider learning yet having full course focus.

Assessment

You'll be assessed through project work, essays, individual practice and a final portfolio project, including a dissertation. 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, one of which is from a relevant subject in the arts, humanities or social sciences (or a minimum of 112 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification) plus a portfolio review

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications. We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

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.

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. 

If you do not have traditional qualifications or cannot meet the entry requirements for this undergraduate degree, you may still be able to gain entry by completing the Art and Design Extended Degree (with Foundation Year) or the Film, Photography and Media Extended Degree (with Foundation Year).

Portfolios and interviews

Your portfolio should be selective but have enough work to show the range of your interests and talents. We're interested in seeing how you develop a project from beginning to end, not only finished work.

Graphic designers work in a variety of media; please include the whole range of your creative work. If you can't bring some of your work to portfolio interview, please take photographs and include them.

Finally, be ready to talk about your work and how you see your future as a graphic designer.

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) - Tuesday afternoon

    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.

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

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

    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 2D and 3D artefacts, material culture and sites. 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) - Thursday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Monday morning
    • all year (September start) - Monday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Thursday morning

    This module introduces the idea of ‘graphic authorship’ as a way of thinking and approach to developing your own design practice. Through investigation and development, from conception to realisation, its purpose is to stimulate critical and creative methods of design in an evolving personal perspective. As good working practice, the module also encourages reflection in relation to critical reception of your work. It asks you to consider the negotiable nature, contexts and implications of the personal positions and purposes adopted by graphic and visual designers.

    It surveys key historical and contemporary movements and designers known for their singular creative voice, considering what can be learned from the influence of their work in context of their own and later times. The module also looks at other creative factors and influences, whether tied to the professional field or not, in shaping individual practice.

    The module normally includes course specific studios with a range of practical activities and will facilitate the realisation of studio practice and projects generated in other modules.

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

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

    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.

    Read full details.

Year 2 modules include:

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

    This module is intended to enable designers to gain experience and understanding of working practices within the creative industries. Through working on projects that reflect real-world situations, you will consolidate both disciplinary and creative skills, develop professional confidence and navigate individual and collaborative approaches to working.

    Projects will provide the opportunity to explore in-depth professional ways of working, encouraging students to foster creative imagination and critical judgement, and to develop individual and team-working skills to real-world problems and opportunities.

    The module is driven by workplace goals, objectives and constraints in order to develop, test and extend knowledge and understanding of professional practice and employability. Particular emphasis is placed upon the completion of agreed practice-based outcomes to a professional standard within agreed timescales, promoting confidence in communication skills, including visual and verbal presentation methods. Professional ethics, social enterprise and entrepreneurial strategies will be explored, debated, and applied to produce creative solutions.

    This module develops your ‘learning for work’. Within the module, you will gather work-related experience through live or simulated projects. You will gather employment transferable skills, desirable and advantageous for employment. You will foster your ability to develop and present your creative ideas to a professional client relevant (or adjacent) to your overall practice/ employment intentions.

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

    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) - Friday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday morning
    • all year (September start) - Tuesday afternoon
    • all year (September start) - Friday morning

    This module exposes students to specialist graphic practices in design for print, screen, commissioned-illustration, or photography, according to their discipline of choice. The module asks you to conceptualize, plan and produce design outcomes that exploit the formal characteristics of the graphic media pathway you have chosen.

    Graphic media for print (and now screen) have had a vital historical importance in cultures where they have been adopted, and despite the constantly changing nature of the manner of contemporary communication, they retain their validity as ways of imparting and exchanging information. Here, you are encouraged to consider the particular role and possibilities offered by the forms of graphic media explored in the module.

    With increased knowledge of contemporary illustration, and a questioning approach, students will be encouraged to gain in-depth understanding of the commercial and technological context of current illustrative practice, including links with other disciplines such as fine art, printmaking, animation and graphic design. You will experiment with various modes of illustration – technical, editorial, satirical, narrative and poetic illustration.
    Photography and lens-based imagery have been crucial in the history of illustration and graphic design. Relationships between image and text (and sound) are critical to understanding developments within graphic media. Within the project, you will employ photography to create and communicate ideas and concepts, in the context of graphic design.

    Under guidance within the design studio, you will choose from, or devise a project or range of projects, working with established designers and industry professionals. The module will facilitate the realisation of concepts generated in other modules.

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

    This module encourages understanding of ‘narrative’ as a key element within creative practice. The principal purpose of this module is to explore understanding of how found or individually generated narratives can be utilised imaginatively within design practice. Narrative within design practice regularly employs fictional devices as stimuli. Thoughtful reflection on storytelling conventions will enable you to enrich and extend the range of creative expression.

    Within this module, you will be encouraged to de/construct and reconstruct narrative to inform or subvert the reading of design practice for public dissemination. Intelligent, creative selection of media and process will enable you to enrich and extend the range of your practice, developing confidence in communicating through narrative studio themes.

    Read full details.

Year 3 modules include:

  • 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

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

    Design is a complex creative field, encompassing a range of ways of working and patterns of professional engagement. Succeeding within design professional practice requires specific skills in pitching, presenting, innovating and communicating. This module helps you to develop your experience of the professional workplace, competitive and/ or exhibition practice and the legal and ethical frameworks surrounding them through participation in live competition or exhibition and/ or work placement

    The module looks at formal models for concept innovation, creative thinking and entrepreneurial skills, alongside developing your individual responsibility as a practitioner and your critical self-reflection. Through professional submission, pitching and presentation to potential employers, real-world competition briefs or exhibition opportunities, you will develop and test your design approach and professional strategies for differentiation and self-promotion within a highly competitive field.

    The module sets out to prepare you for entry to the workplace or higher study through experience of professional portfolio development and related promotional activities. It helps you to assess not only your position within the design industry but also to define your individual creative strengths, presenting your work to a high professional standard. Through practice, you will establish a sound process for research, design-development and production. Through a series of lectures, workshops, seminars and assignments, you will investigate, analyse and practice the forms, properties and qualities of a wide range of professional practice fundamentals, for example, website portfolios, press releases, design rights statements, consultancy costing, copyright laws, portfolio content.

    This module develops your ‘learning for work’. Within the module, you will experience work-related learning through live exhibition, competition and/or simulated consultancy and/ or work placement. You will refine a range of transferable skills in communication, management, research and analysis and will be 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, acting as a consultant, goal setting, negotiating, networking, project management, self-appraisal, team working. Activities undertaken within this module will help you to prepare for the launch of your individual design practice during your final degree show and subsequent career activity.

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

    This Major Project module enables Graphic Design students to prepare for independent practice in the workplace or to move onto higher studies. In this module, you will carry out the project conceived and developed in the parallel Project Design and Development module (DN6001), fully realising it in appropriate physical form by the end of the module.

    You will exercise and display your abilities in selecting, analysing and applying knowledge, skills and understanding to a negotiated and fully researched project in order to properly understand your strengths, interests and position in your field, and the potential for your future professional development.

    You will show that you understand the complex and changing nature of problems in the graphic design discipline and can devise and apply realistic strategies for constructing, applying and managing a process designed to provide solutions.

    A professional standard of realisation, contextualisation and presentation will be expected, providing the elements for a portfolio of practice with which you may enter the field of employment or self-employment or further studies.

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

    Together with their Major Project Realisation module, this module is intended to prepare 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. This will naturally require in-depth research, a well-constructed design 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, 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 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.

Each year features 4 year-long 30 credit modules. These are assessed at the end of the year through a portfolio of work. In the second and third years, you'll vote to join a studio led by a practitioner member of staff. These studios mirror the professional modes of practice in the sector and you'll work within them individually or collaboratively to briefs often set by external partners who then return to offer real-world critique on your work.

Through the course, you'll move from graphic experimentation in a range of skills into tailored professional interests, culminating in your final individual body of work exhibited at the graduation show.

Year 1 (Level 4) modules include:

  • Visual Research and Communication
  • Design Principles
  • Graphic Authorship
  • Critical and Contextual Studies 1

Year 2 (Level 5) modules include:

  • Graphic Design Live Projects
  • Narrative
  • Graphic Media
  • Creative Industry Practice
  • Critical and Contextual Studies 2

Year 3 (Level 6) modules include:

  • Major Project Realisation: Graphic Design
  • Project Design and Development
  • Live Project or Placement or Competition
  • Critical and Contextual Studies: Dissertation

"Intellectually stimulating. I have learned new techniques and my understanding of the subject has broadened. I have made some really good connections."

"Tutors are the highlight of the University. You can see the passion they have for art and design, as well as having the passion to teach us."

"The new studio idea is really successful and my studio leader is absolutely amazing."

"Excellent tutors and lecturers. A good range of facilities available, all of which are well supervised by helpful technicians and tutors."

"My printmaking teachers were awesome, they helped me gain enough confidence with my work."

"I have definitely learnt a lot over my three years, gained confidence in my work and met some brilliant people."

The teaching team includes professional print, photography, web, animation and graphic design specialists alongside illustrators and artists, who together, create a stimulating teaching and learning environment that allows you to identify and succeed in your chosen career path.

The course has produced a number of award winning students who have excelled in leading design competitions run by organisations such as Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and the Design Museum.

The employment success of our graduates is excellent, with many starting successful careers as graphic designers, taking on leading roles within creative industries or continuing on to postgraduate degrees in the UK and abroad.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design has excellent partnerships with leading design groups that directly contribute to the degree course and provide regular guest lectures, live projects and support, giving students valuable insights into the world of graphic design.

Between 2016 and 2020 we're investing £125 million in the London Metropolitan University campus, moving all of our activity to our current Holloway campus in Islington, north London. This will mean the teaching location of some courses will change over time.

Whether you will be affected will depend on the duration of your course, when you start and your mode of study. The earliest moves affecting new students will be in September 2018. This may mean you begin your course at one location, but over the duration of the course you are relocated to one of our other campuses. Our intention is that no full-time student will change campus more than once during a course of typical duration.

All students will benefit from our move to one campus, which will allow us to develop state-of-the-art facilities, flexible teaching areas and stunning social spaces.

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

Unistats is the official site that allows you to search for and compare data and information on university and college courses from across the UK. The widget(s) below draw data from the corresponding course on the Unistats website. If a course is taught both full-time and part-time, one widget for each mode of study will be displayed here.

How to apply

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.

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.

Fees and key information

Undergraduate
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