Our Graphic Design BA at The Cass is about giving visual and experiential form to conceptual thinking, it's about creating structure and surprise through innovation, it's about 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 develop your voice as a graphic designer and enter a successful career in design.
The teaching on this course received a 100% student satisfaction rate in the 2018 National Student Survey.
Visit our Tumblr page for some examples of what our graduates do.
Completing our Graphic Design course will help you gain everything you'll need to become a well-rounded creative practitioner. You will develop specialist skills and learn how to reach your audience through innovative design.
This graphic design course encourages you to investigate, question and challenge the contemporary role of graphic design. You’ll gain the confidence to understand, interpret and talk about ground-breaking and iconic design from the past and present. You will also learn how to present and defend your ideas and promote yourself and your work.
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 finding and reaching your audience.
You'll learn from different creative methods such as drawing and letterpress printing, app design, type fundamentals, user experiences, human-centered design and connected communication platforms. There are many diverse employment options available to graduates of this degree.
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.
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.
Graphic Design BA is taught together with our Illustration and Animation BA and Design for Publishing BA. This combination of teaching makes for a unique learning environment, full of opportunity for cross-pollination and scope for wider learning.
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:
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).
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 the 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.
If you are coming in person to your interview we strongly suggest bringing a physical portfolio of work.
Things to bring:
If you are submitting an online application, please follow these guidelines.
Things to include:
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:
Critical and Contextual Studies (CCS) Level 4 aims to orient and critically engage 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.
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.
This module is intended to enable graphic designers, publishers, illustrators and animators to explore the principles of their subject through intensive introductions to craft and digital based workshops and processes of making, combined with theoretical, historical and contemporary explorations within their subject areas.
Successful design outcomes are reliant on sound design principles. These design principles inform and create opportunities for designers to apply creativity to the conception, development and eventual realisation of effective design solutions in relation to the subject area. Testing, experimentation and iteration are key to making new discoveries and developing as a visual communicator.
This module introduces to a range of contemporary and traditional discipline-related design approaches and processes, some of which will be tested in design exercises. 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.
Students will be encouraged to develop a critically informed and personal approach to the process of 'making' and to extensively test new skills and processes learnt. Studios and projects will encourage understanding of practice in the context of a rapidly changing contemporary culture with ever-developing needs and problems; engaging with materials, media and processes to find an individual voice as a visual communicator.
This module seeks to enable students to:
• utilise different methods and techniques, recording and presentation of findings for graphic design, design for publishing, illustration and animation as appropriate discipline-specific skills in studio practice;
• develop strategies for idea generation, problem solving and concept testing, and to design with reflection, rigour, innovation and personality;
• learn and apply key knowledge (for example, material and process selection, historical exemplars) necessary to the exercise of design, including consideration of ethical issues;
• demonstrate that consideration of the effects on users of design decisions is fundamental to the principles and practice of design work;
• build a clear understanding of contemporary practice in the subject area.
Projects will seek to enable a range of learning opportunities such as:
• acquisition of workshop and studio skills for concept generation, design development, both traditional and contemporary, in discipline specific environments and contexts;
• research and analysis through case study of object, context and process;
• discussion of ideas, processes and approaches, developing confidence through shared experience;
• peer and self-assessment opportunities fostering reflection and independent development;
• set tasks and site visits that encourage teamwork, community networking and peer communication;
• face to face and online study groups through the University E-learning environment.
This module introduces the idea of ‘graphic authorship’ as a way of thinking and as an approach to developing a personal practice as a graphic designer, designer for publishing, illustrator or animator. 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 work. It asks students to consider the negotiable nature, contexts and implications of the personal positions and purposes adopted by creative practitioners.
It surveys key historical and contemporary movements and practitioners 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 seeks to enable students to:
• consider and discuss critical activity and roles as a creative practitioners in a chosen field of graphic design, design for publishing, illustration or animation;
• understand relevant issues, choices and constraints within graphic authorship: can or should designers ‘author’ their own work or simply ‘transmit’ between the client and society;
• appreciate factors that mediate how practice is received and understood through time, place, culture, commerce etc.;
• gain secure knowledge of both precedent and contemporary practice in relation to questions of authorship, beginning to locate themselves within the contemporary disciplinary field accordingly;
• practice strategies for creative influence/ reception, finding their own voices within practice, exploring the question of authorship through studios that further practical competence.
Students will work independently and in groups as is required by the nature of the module’s aims. Seminars and critiques provide ongoing feedback on critical and creative development, permitting reflection on how work is received.
Through case study discussions and indicative visual analysis, the module requires students to reflect on work produced by themselves and their peers, as well as in the context of historical and contemporary figures in the profession. Students will study original examples of relevant work on visits to cultural institutions, studios and other design related situations.
The studio and module introduces a range of media, materials, processes and approaches for the realisation of concepts and ideas through workshops, seminars, critiques and presentations. Studio practice in development of disciplinary techniques encourages technical competence, knowledge of the field and opportunity to develop a critical voice and increasingly distinctive approach.
This module is intended to enable graphic designers, publishers, illustrators and animators to develop a range of knowledge, skills and approaches in the research, sketching and communication of information and ideas in visual form.
Students 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 explore, record, select from, analyse and interpret the environment and the world of images, spaces and artefacts for a range of purposes.
Through the regular practice of a wide range of visual communication 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 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 specific fields in a range of media and formats.
The module seeks to enable students to:
• study and practice a range of techniques and approaches in the research and recording of exhibitions, contemporary and historical practitioners within the field of visual communication, books, magazines and specialist blogs;
• gain increasing fluency in a range of formal techniques in the generation and communication of ideas and information in visual form;
• begin to develop a personal approach and a regular practice of drawing as a form of visual research;
• begin to demonstrate critical interpretation of what is recorded and produced through visual research and communication practice through reflection.
Year 2 modules include:
Critical and Contextual Studies 2 continues to orient and critically engage 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. 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 authorities, objects and methods in their field; to understand the roles, locations and responsibilities of important players whilst 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.
This module exposes students to specialist graphic practices in design for print, screen, branding, interaction, animation, illustration or photography. The module asks students to conceptualise, plan and produce design outcomes that challenge and innovates the areas of graphic design, illustration, animation and publishing.
Design practice for print, screen and environments have a vital historical importance in global culture where they have been adopted; and due to the constantly changing nature of contemporary communication, they retain their validity as ways of imparting and exchanging information. Here, students are encouraged to consider the particular role and possibilities offered by the forms of design methods explored in the module.
Using accumulative knowledge of contemporary graphic design, design for publishing, illustration and animation, students will adopt a questioning approach, to gain in-depth understanding of the commercial and technological context of current design practice, with an emphasis on how to contribute to and advance the field. Encouraging cross-disciplinary practice with other disciplines such as fine art, printmaking, three-dimensional design and architecture, students will experiment with various modes of graphic design and illustration – technical, editorial, experimental, narrative and entrepreneurial.
Photography and lens-based imagery have been crucial in the history of illustration, animation, publishing and graphic design. Relationships between image, text, sound and space are critical to understanding developments within design practice. Within the project, students will employ photography to create and communicate ideas and concepts, in the context of visual communication.
Under guidance within design studios, students 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.
This module seeks to enable students to:
• understand the commercial environment, context and potential purposes and applications of design practice;
• consider issues such as the use and reception of language, methods of structuring information, both text/type and image, appropriate tone of voice, hierarchy, sequence and materials and processes, across book, exhibition design, editorial and information design, recognising and debating the theoretical and ethical context;
• conceptualise, plan and produce design outcomes that exploit the whole breadth of graphic communications for a defined purpose, exploring and extending practice, creatively and technically;
• explore, appreciate and apply a range of skills demonstrating commercial awareness and professional techniques for presentation to an identified audience.
This module encourages graphic designers, publishers, illustrators and animators to gain experience and 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, students will be encouraged to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct narrative to inform or subvert the reading of design practice for public dissemination. Intelligent, creative selection of media and process will enable students to enrich and extend the range of practice, developing confidence in communicating through narrative studio themes.
This module seeks to enable students to:
• explore narrative themes, patterns and types within design practice;
• deepen confidence and evolve a distinctive approach through research and re-interpretation of narrative within design practice;
• further relevant practical skills in order to employ expressive themes within creative practice;
• develop critical understanding of semiotic reading in relation to visual and material design practice.
This module is intended to enable graphic designers, publishers, illustrators and animators to gain experience and understanding of working practices within their respective creative industries. Work related learning projects, work opportunities and competition opportunities that reflect real-world situations, enable the consolidation of both disciplinary and creative skills, develop professional confidence and navigate individual-entrepreneurialism 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 creative 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.
Within the module, students will gather work-related experience through live or simulated projects. Students will gather transferable skills, desirable and advantageous for employment. They will foster students’ ability to develop and present creative ideas to a professional client relevant (or adjacent) to their overall practice or employment intentions.
This module seeks to enable students to:
• develop social and professional skills and confidence for collaboration, negotiation and decision making in individual and team working contexts;
• acquire knowledge of professional ways of working and standards required within graphic design, publishing, illustration and animation field of practice, including recognition of relevant ethical concerns;
• embed in their practice professional methods of project management, recording, communication and analogue and digital presentation;
• employ creativity and enterprise in problem solving through effective industry techniques for analysis and evaluation, setting goals and targets in relation to the opportunities and constraints of the brief.
The module focuses on individual and/or team self-directed study in response to illustration and animation, publishing and graphic design studio briefs and competitions with tutor and industry professional guidance. Teaching and learning will normally include discipline-specific lectures, workshops and/or presentations on industry practice, briefings, company/industry visits, and critiques enabling reflection and analysis of work in progress and feedback. Students will have access to regular tutor feedback within sessions and will be encouraged to use blended learning resources to maintain and share progress. Ongoing support, monitoring and guidance in studio and workshop sessions will be available during projects.
Year 3 modules include:
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 in support of their practice, building on techniques and knowledge developed in previous years. This study demonstrates the student’s ability to thoroughly research a topic, 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 academic and 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 final project module enables graphic design students to prepare for independent practice in the workplace or to move onto higher studies. In this module, students will utilise skills and ideas conceived and developed in the parallel 'Project Design and Development' module, fully realising a self-directed final project brief in appropriate form by the end of the module.
Students will exercise and display their conceptual and creative abilities through selecting, analysing and applying knowledge, skills and understanding. They will negotiate and complete a fully researched project in order to properly understand their strengths, interests and position in the field of graphic design and their potential for future professional development.
Students will show that they understand the complex and changing nature of problems in the graphic design industry and can devise and apply realistic strategies for constructing, applying and managing a process designed to offer innovative solutions.
A professional standard of realisation, contextualisation and presentation will be expected, providing the elements for a professional portfolio of practice with which to enter the field of employment or self-employment or further studies.
This module seeks to enable students to:
• devise a fully holistic process to realise the outcomes of a graphic design research and development project;
• achieve outcomes of a professional standard of realisation and presentation;
• contextualise and present outcomes to a professional standard, showing that they have understood and managed complex and ambitious tasks;
• work independently, self-reflectively and with concern for the ethical issues and principles attached to the project showing understanding of their particular strengths, interests and position in the field, and their potential for further development.
Together with their final project realisation module, this module is intended to prepare graphic design, publishing and illustration and animation students for independent practice, entry into the professional workplace, or for higher studies.
Through independent and studio-based knowledge of visual communication fundamentals, skills, elements, processes and principles, students will facilitate, design and develop a series of self-directed studio projects. This will naturally require in-depth research, a well-constructed visual communication process, and the exercise of practical and thinking skills, resulting in a significant body of creative work for public and work related exhibition.
A negotiated and approved proposal will confirm the individual project. Using course and studio narratives, creative exploration and experimentation, students will develop research, concept development, material investigation, digital and analogue proposals, modelling or prototyping and visualisation. The final outcome will be produced in final project realisation.
The module will ensure that students critique and reflect upon their own work and position in the creative sector. The module emphasises self-direction and personal focus whilst acknowledging external and professional trends, expectations and constraints.
This module seeks to enable students to;
select or devise and conduct a comprehensive visual communication project resulting in a significant body of work displaying the synthesis of conceptual and technical skills within the final presentation;
demonstrate ability to determine the relevant and required research and construct a research and development process suitable for successful completion of the project;
affirm their creative identity as they enter the professional field and indicate a sense of future direction and position including in the context of principles and ethics;
evidence self-management of the project in respect of planning, monitoring, recording and evaluation.
Graphic design, illustration, publishing and animation are complex fields, encompassing a range of ways of working and patterns of professional engagement. Succeeding within these professional practices requires specific skills in pitching, presentation methods, management, innovation and communication. This module helps you to develop your experience of the professional workplace 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 individual responsibility as a practitioner and critical self-reflection. Through professional submission, pitching and presentation to potential employers, participation in real-world competition briefs or exhibition opportunities, students will develop and test their design approaches and professional strategies for differentiation and self-promotion within a highly competitive field.
The module sets out to prepare students for entry to the workplace or higher study through experience of professional portfolio development and related group and self-promotional activities. It helps students to assess not only their position within the design industry but also to define their individual creative strengths, presenting their work to a high professional standard. Through practice, students will establish a sound process for research, design development and production. A series of lectures, workshops, seminars and assignments, will prompt the investigation, analysis and practice of the forms, properties and qualities of a wide range of professional practice fundamentals, for example, digital portfolios, branding, event design and management, costing, copyright laws and offline and online content creation.
Within the module, students will experience work-related learning through live exhibition, competition and/or simulated consultancy and/ or work placement. They 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 developed throughout. These skills are 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 to prepare for the launch of an individual design practice during the final degree show and subsequent career.
The module seeks to enable students to:
• research, analyse, and adapt their practice for sector-specific professional conventions in relation to real-world employment, exhibition or competitive situations;
• develop professional entrepreneurial processes for the generation, development, testing and pitching of concepts in response to specified clients and audiences;
• plan and manage self-promotion activities and exhibition, client or employer project pitching from inception to delivery, within commercial timeframes and develop strategies to maximise chances of success;
• employ professional standards in the manipulation of appropriate media for the communication and presentation of your design identity and specific concepts;
• review competitor practices in relation to employment preparation or freelance self-promotion and build enterprise strategies for consultancy practice.
"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.
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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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.
Please select when you would like to start:
Congratulations to our 2017/18 Academic Excellence Award winners. We are proud of your achievements and wish you all the best for the future.
Cass lecturer launches latest book with sold out performative talk event at Tate Modern
The Cass students contribute to programme at Wellcome Collection exploring interconnections of art, activism, performance, politics, health and print.
September 6-30 2018
Cass lecturer Clare Qualmann's walking and art project takes her to New York for exhibition.
Latest yearbook celebrates student work and achievements in 2017-18 academic year.
Susanna Edwards has been asked to use her expertise to visualise what Southampton will be like in 2117.
School celebrates it's coming together with series of exhibition and events attended by hundreds.
Graphic design studio, Regular Practice, will be collaborating with Cass Visual Communications as research partners.
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.
The third edition of the annual yearbook celebrating the diverse world of The Cass is now available.
The Cass Hothouse is hosting a series of eight workshops exploring visual communications during The Cass Summer Show 2017.