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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 2018/19 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:
Successful 3D design outcomes are reliant on sound 3D design principles. These principles inform and create opportunities for students to apply their creativity to the conception, development and eventual realisation of effective 3D design solutions.
This module will introduce students 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. Processes experienced will involve research, documentation and analysis, alongside experiment and discovery.
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 intended.
Students will be encouraged to develop a critically informed and personal approach to the process of design. Studios and projects will encourage understanding of practice and engagement with materials, media and, processes in the context of a rapidly changing contemporary culture with ever-developing needs and problems.
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.
Students will take part in a range of studio sessions, workshops and lectures that introduce a wide range of traditional and contemporary drawing, visual research and communication media, methods and practices to help them explore, record, select from, analyse and interpret their 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, students will develop confidence and a key resource to support their 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 the field in a range of media and formats.
Critical and Contextual Studies 1 is an inter-disciplinary module taught across all disciplines in the Cass 3D subject area, including Design Studio Practice, Fashion, Fashion Accessories, Jewellery, Furniture and Product Design, and Textile Design. The module aims to orient and critically engage students in the history and theory of their respective disciplines, their scope, conventions, and broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice.
The module helps students to reflect on what they see, and to read connections between different ideas that have shaped their discipline. In particular, the module investigates how thinking and articulating ideas about practice in their field might be framed – for example in relation to history, the economy, society and the environment, or through theory and practice.
The module introduces students to a range of academic skills needed to produce a graduate-level study in their final year. It helps students to develop their own interests, and to reflect on and take responsibility for the development of their own learning. This includes surveys in the history of their discipline, research and writing workshops, seminars, library sessions, visits and tours in addition to guided independent learning.
Good design and high quality artefacts are informed by knowledge of the potential and the limitations of relevant technologies and techniques, materials and processes. The focus of this module is on the development of understanding and ability in a range of key practical skills and an understanding of material and process through experience, experimentation and direct observation.
The module will introduce students to some of the key methods and principles of achieving high-quality outcomes, whether crafted, manufactured or constructed. It will develop 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, function, scale 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. The module will establish this knowledge through research into current practice, making and drawing workshops, as well as lectures, seminars and the utilisation of a wide variety of published sources.
This module aims to introduce key designer making skills and practical understanding of material, process and related issues, such as health and safety for workshop and other production contexts. Students will develop an appropriate level of competence in practical realisation through experience, experimentation and practice through exploration of material, processes, techniques and technologies. Through taught classes and this experience they will learn constructional requirements, scales, material values, economies of production, functional and aesthetic design constraints.
The module will enable students to recognise, and understand ethical issues surrounding the choice and use of material and production choices in the context of their discipline.
Year 2 modules include:
This module aims to develop designs in the context of our complex relationship with the designed world. Through selection and application of materials and processes students will problem solve with an understanding of human needs, physical, psychological, individual and/or collective. Responses may include conceptual, functional and questioning design methods that respond to user-centric needs including those that are imperfectly understood.
Students will be expected to demonstrate that 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/or digital materials and technologies. Material experimentation and knowledge will enhance both the concept and its communication.
Students will normally select from a range of studio projects, working with contemporary ideas and practising designers, mentored by professional practitioners as appropriate to the project. Responses to findings through design will demonstrate clear concept and purpose related to people, whether conceptual, narrative, ergonomic, ethical or other.
Students’ confidence will build and evolve a personal and distinctive approach to design through research and interpretation of findings together with professional communication and presentation skills.
Critical and Contextual Studies 2 is an inter-disciplinary module taught across all disciplines in the Cass 3D subject area, including Design Studio Practice, Fashion, Fashion Accessories, Jewellery, Furniture and Product Design, and Textile Design. It continues to orient and critically engage students in the history and theory of their discipline, its scope and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice. It builds on studies undertaken in Level 4 and prepares students as independent thinkers, capable of selecting an appropriate topic and producing a sustained piece of independent study in the form of a dissertation in Level 6.
The module continues to situate the student within the process of constructing knowledge about their discipline, its history, context, and its professional and ethical dimension. It rehearses the analytical and discursive skills students need to become knowledgeable about the theorists, objects and methods in their field; to understand the roles, locations and responsibilities of important authorities while examining the broader ethical questions relevant to their discipline; and to become conversant with current debates across the subject area. 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.
Students are encouraged to think creatively and to take responsibility for the development of their own learning. The module recognises that the student is also an active contributor in the process: what students bring to the construction of knowledge counts – and how effectively they construct this knowledge depends on how well they understand the field of their discipline.
3D Design Resolution ensures confident realisation of design concepts through consideration and manipulation of the materiality (form, colour, surface and texture) that affects meaning and value in all design. This module requires critical attention to context, aesthetics and construction and intelligent choices of process and production to consider and express how material and making methods can be tested through models, prototypes and final outcomes. Students will realise relevant design solutions to studio briefs in response to end users and/or sites, learning to work to a high level of professional presentation.
Through in-depth practice-led research, students will consider the social, functional and environmental impacts of products, samples, material choices and the performance of these upon designed outcomes and their users.
Through the development of their design approaches they will discover a logical and creative method to problem solve, appropriate to the needs of users and clients. Students will engage in responsible design with awareness of relevant social obligations as well as the end-user’s personal, physical and sensory wellbeing.
This module enables the student to discover and examine the current pro-fessional environments for design, manufacture and production available within the discipline
Students will bring together their knowledge and experience of materials and making and re-examine them in the light of industry and real world needs. Students will develop and understand approaches to design, produc-tion and manufacture and to the introduction of efficient and industry rele-vant development and making practice.
The module introduces specialist methods, terms and approaches that are used to communicate technical specifications and visual form with precision and clarity. Students will further establish critical and evaluative processes to expand knowledge and understanding of materials, manufacture and the professional requirements underpinning ethical and sustainable values and responsibilities relevant to three-dimensional design. Students will discover how craft, design, technology, manufacturing and emerging material and process technologies can apply to contemporary practice and begin to rec-ognise their place in the designed and made world.
Through specialist industry contact and specific tasks, students will experi-ence critical debate, commercial response and career relevant development while identifying the commercial and professional context
The presentation and communication of all aspects of this module are key to the fulfilment of an understanding of industry practice vital for professional approaches to designing and making at level 6. Students will deliver presen-tations in appropriate disciplinary forms gaining confidence in presentation, collaboration and decision making including team working.
Year 3 modules include:
Together with the Major Project Realisation module, this module is intended to pre-pare 3D Design students for independent practice, entry into the professional work-place, or for higher studies.
Through synthesis of knowledge of processes and principles, using an appropriate range of intellectual, creative and practical skills, students will design and develop self-directed projects. These will require negotiated and approved project proposals. Students will undertake in-depth research, well constructed design and making strat-egies and the exercise of thinking skills resulting in a significant body of creative work for exhibition. Using creative exploration and experimentation, students will undertake research, idea generation, concept development, material investigation, sampling, modelling or prototyping and visualisations that lead towards the project proposals.
The module will require students to critique and reflect upon their own work, adopt the professional standards of their disciplines and their positions in their creative sectors. The module emphasises self-direction and personal focus whilst acknowledging ex-ternal and professional expectations and constraints.
Through the projects students will affirm their creative identities as they prepare to en-ter their professional fields and evidence their understanding of their future direction and position including in the context of professional responsibility and ethics.
Critical and Contextual Studies (CCS) Level 6 results in an independent dissertation. It builds on two years of undergraduate study that critically engages students in the history and theory of their discipline, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice.
Students undertake an enquiry into a topic of their own choice and, based on this enquiry, develop a sustained critical study building on techniques and knowledge developed in previous years. This study demonstrates the student’s ability to research a topic thoroughly, use appropriate methods of investigation, and work in a methodical and organised way to develop a coherent argument. It affords a sophisticated instrument for interrogating, testing and presenting ideas, and encourages the student to deploy and develop a variety of skills to show how well they can conduct and present a critical investigation.
The module rewards criticality and innovation and provides a platform for ambitious, independent work. To this end, it offers individual supervision designed to support the student’s learning. The subject-matter of the dissertation can be theoretical, technical, or historical. In terms of format, the dissertation may be envisaged in different ways and can include visual, technical or other non-written material which may form the subject of the enquiry and comprise an integral part of the whole.
The dissertation may be practice-based and include field-work and primary research in its methodology; or it might be theoretical in its outlook and draw predominantly on secondary sources. 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.
This Major Project module enables Design Studio Practice students to prepare for independent practice in the workplace or to progress onto higher studies. It is the opportunity to synthesise specialist knowledge and skills and effectively communicate these.
Students will exercise and communicate their abilities in selecting, analysing and applying knowledge, skills and understanding to a fully researched project in order to properly understand their strengths, interests and position in their field, and the potential for future professional development. A negotiated and approved proposal will confirm individual projects and direction.
Students will show an understanding of the complex and changing nature of problems in the professional sector and will 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 students may enter the field of employment, self-employment or further studies.
This module requires students to develop the skills and knowledge required to undertake a researched, targeted exhibition or competition entry, or competitive submission for a commission, presenting the work they have developed within the major project in a professional manner. Students will apply understanding of the codes and conventions of competition, exhibition or commissioned work, contemporary curatorial practice, editorial and competitor approaches within a public exhibition. This will represent their independent critical position in relation to academic learning and professional practices.
The module demands a creative and disciplined approach to collaboration with relevant stakeholders and external partners. Within the module, students will experience work-related learning through live exhibition set up and realisation, submission for commission, competition or placement. Students 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 they develop throughout. Action planning, contribution to professional meetings, goal setting, negotiating, networking, project management, self-appraisal, team working are core to this module.
In the realisation of the exhibition/competition/commission students will develop and provide personal self-promotion outcomes to a professional standard, while negotiating the research aims of the brief and demonstrating mature creative practice.
The submission should reflect professional, creative and intellectual identity in preparation for entry to the workplace.
Modules for this course are to be confirmed. Please check back at a later date or call our course enquiries team on +44 (0)20 7133 4200 for details.
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.
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.
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Apply to us for September 2018
It's not too late to start this course in September.
Applying for a full-time undergraduate degree starting this September is quick and easy - simply call our Clearing hotline on .
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.
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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Susanna Edwards has been asked to use her expertise to visualise what Southampton will be like in 2117.
Furniture and Product Design graduate, Mandie Beuzeval, has had a great success at the 2017 London Design Festival with her 'Great Dryer'.
Exhibition of student work and street party event at The Cass as part of London Design Festival 2017.
In celebration of its students, alumni, new home and London Design Festival, The Cass plays host to a series of exhibitions and workshops this September.
Art courses ranked second best in London again for student satisfaction, while the School of Computing and Digital Media's Maths course scores 10/10 for ‘Value Added’.