During the first year of the course, you’ll be introduced to a range of practices and theories that underpin the discipline of graphic design. Through projects, workshops and written assignments, you’ll be encouraged to develop a critical, rigorous, and experimental approach to developing work. Additional emphasis is placed upon acquiring technical skills through taught inductions in both digital and analogue processes.
Theory is embedded within broader units and alongside your practice-based projects – you’ll undertake a rigorous investigation into the associated social, economic, political and cultural contexts of the discipline through a series of written assignments.
In this unit you’ll further your existing knowledge and understanding of the tools you need to explore the fundamentals of graphic design practice. These tools include (but are not limited to) conceptual and theoretical methods, research processes, and making. This is delivered through a series of thematic projects, task-based workshops and seminars. Within this unit, in addition to furthering your own independent practice, you’ll have the opportunity to undertake a collaborative project with other students and/or external partners.
In this unit you’ll broaden your understanding of the software and methods of production required to enable you to practice the fundamentals of graphic design. Through a series of thematic projects, task-based workshops and seminars, you’ll work on gaining a broad range of skills which will allow you to develop your work.
This unit is a rotation of areas of practice that enable you to prepare for specialised practice within Level 5. You’ll undertake a range of projects, workshops and assignments that encourage you to explore aspects of the discipline in depth.
During your second year of study, you’ll have the opportunity to specialise within chosen aspects of the discipline. You’ll select two units from a range of platforms that will allow you to cover areas of interest in greater depth, through a range of practice-based projects and skills workshops.
Theory is embedded within these units, and alongside your practice-based projects you’ll undertake a rigorous investigation into the associated social, economic, political and cultural contexts of the discipline through a series of written assignments.
Alongside the two platform units, you’ll undertake a work placement. This is structured to help you gain practical, professionally focused skills, and to develop your portfolio and CV. It culminates with a ten-week placement of your choice.
Also, you’ll have the option to take part in the Study Abroad programme during your second year of study, providing you with the opportunity to study at one of our worldwide partner institutions for the second half of the academic year.
Option 1: Platform: Design Laboratory 1
This optional unit provides an experimental space to explore ideas around the periphery of what is traditionally understood as graphic design. It’s an opportunity to challenge current practice and develop an approach for the future. Your practice may be grounded within a broad context, for example ecological, economic, social, religious, political, or technological. You’ll investigate a range of techniques that enable you to question the discipline, and explore radical and new approaches to design that re-imagine the present.
Option 2: Platform: Information 1
Information design can be defined as the ‘design of understanding’. Everyday, vast amounts of data influence the way we live our lives and how we see the world around us. As designers, we have the ability to shape our world. For information to have impact, it must be easy to find, simple to use, instantly understandable and designed. Through this unit you’ll explore the practice of presenting information and data in a way that is efficient and easily understandable.
Information design can be designed for static, motion or interactive methods and platforms. It transforms information into experiences through design, encompassing sound and moving image design, animation, interactive data visualisation, and experience design.
Option 3: Platform: Interaction and Interface 1
Interface design necessitates an understanding of the process of information transmission between people – as well as between people and the world. Through this unit, you’ll be encouraged to explore communication theory and practice. Through an exploration into broader social, economic, political and cultural contexts, you’ll investigate the roles of interface design in relation to the human user. It’s a practice-led, experimental unit focusing on the relationship between people and designed objects and experiences.
Through a range of projects, you’ll explore critical ways of thinking about and questioning design within digital media and interactive design practices, developing skills and practices for interface and interaction design careers – such as web and mobile media. You’ll have the opportunity to explore cutting edge technologies alongside a wide range of design-based media and creative coding tools, design prototyping and physical computing.
Option 4: Platform: Typography 1
Typography and language are one of the key cornerstones of communication design, working across all media platforms, from print to screen. Typography and the printed word are the basis of how we have recorded history, and provide a starting point in the discussion of how we’ll record the future.
This unit allows you to explore typography as a practice in its own right, and as a vehicle for communication and language. You’ll undertake projects across a range of platforms and will be encouraged to take an experimental and critical approach to their development.
You’ll develop a technical understanding of aspects of typographic practice, and also interrogate the transferrable skills which can be applied within other disciplines, such as the use of space, narrative, editing, hierarchy and layout.
Option 5: Platform: Illustration 1
The unit will consider illustration, visualising, reportage, applied drawing, composition, harnessing found and vernacular imagery, sequence and motion, 3D and spatial settings of illustration.
Illustration can be defined as the practice of visualising ideas using media appropriate to a specific audience. Illustrators continue to shape our surroundings by making stories, data and commercial messages into easily and instantly understandable experiences. Through this unit you will explore the practice of visualising your own and others’ content in a way that is fitting and effective in reaching a range of users and audiences.
Illustration uses a wide range of visualising techniques and media to communicate ideas and messages using primarily image-based solutions, including print, motion, 3D, film, or interactive settings.
This self-initiated unit will prepare you to undertake a ten-week industry placement which will help you gain work experience within the graphic design industry – in the areas that are of personal interest to you.
Before you start your placement, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect upon your interests, strengths, weaknesses and career ambitions. The first half of the unit will focus upon verbal communication skills, written communication (letters, business emails), presentation skills, mock interviews, assertiveness, and negotiation. The focus will be placed on the development of a professional CV and design portfolio in preparation for the placement.
The placement will start during the second half of the unit. Throughout the placement/s, you’ll keep a reflective journal in preparation for your critical report – to be presented at the end of the unit.
Study Abroad (optional)
This optional unit is designed to broaden your educational experience and deepen your understanding of cultural diversity, enabling you to study within a different cultural context and gain fresh perspectives.
During the final year of the course, you’ll undertake a further two platform units. These may be the same and build upon projects and methods of working that you’ve investigated during the second year, or you may choose to explore different options.
In addition to these units, you’ll begin to synthesise your practice through the Creative Research and Practice Unit. This unit involves the research, development, and construction of a major self-directed research and design project. This will take into account the knowledge, understanding, skills, experience, and interests that you’ve gained over the duration of the course – resulting in a 6,000 word written dissertation that will form the content of a design project.
Option 1: Platform: Design Laboratory 2
The unit provides an opportunity to further investigate contradictions in the present that radically shape the future context of many areas of design – which may be ecological, economic, social, religious, political, or technological. You’ll investigate a range of techniques that enable you to question the discipline and explore new approaches to design that re-imagine the present, through a series of practice-based explorations.
Option 2: Platform: Information 2
This unit allows you to explore information design in greater depth. Through this unit you’ll explore the practice of presenting information and data in a way that’s effective and easily understandable, developing complex projects that propose solutions to a range of design problems.
Option 3: Platform: Interaction and Interface 2
This unit allows you to explore interaction and interface design in greater depth. Through a range of projects, you’ll explore critical ways of thinking about and questioning design within digital media and interactive design practices – mastering skills for interface and interaction design. You’ll have the opportunity to further your knowledge of cutting-edge technologies alongside a wide range of design-based media and creative coding tools, design prototyping and physical computing.
Option 4: Platform: Typography 2
This unit allows you to explore typography in greater depth, as a vehicle for communication and language. You’ll undertake projects across a range of media and will be encouraged to take an experimental and critical approach to their development. You’ll master a technical understanding of the aspects of typographic practice which relate to the development of your personal visual language.
Option 5: Platform: Illustration 2
This optional unit provides an experimental space to explore what is traditionally understood as Illustration practice. It builds upon the Level 5 Unit Illustration 1, although this is not a prerequisite. It is one of a range of Platform Units that you will select from in Level 6 to further your practice within areas of specialisation.
You will be encouraged to look at a range of styles, settings and techniques that enable you to question the discipline and explore innovative and radical approaches to illustration that reimagine its present form, through a series of practice-based explorations. You will also be encouraged to submit your work to national and international student awards and competitions.
Creative Research and Practice
This unit involves the research, development and construction of a major self-directed research and design project. This will take into account the knowledge, understanding, skills, experience and interests that you’ve gained over the duration of the course. Here, the theoretical and practical are entirely intertwined, and you’ll be encouraged to develop an experimental approach to both – using research to inform practice, and practice to inform your research, so that you develop an original and innovative approach to both.
Your tutors will support you as you develop a rigorous project that brings together your knowledge of key practitioners, theories and developments related to the project’s subject area. You’ll be encouraged to take risks with both the way you think about your subject, and the way you explore your own practice.
Through workshops, tutorials, and formative critiques, you’ll:
- Create a project framework
- Develop your practice and research in terms of this framework
- Develop a substantial body of written work (totalling 6,000 words)
- Develop a substantial body of practical work
- Produce a final submission that brings together your written and practical work.
This course offers the opportunity to study abroad for part of your second year. To find out more about studying abroad as part of your course please see the Study Abroad section:
Our team of experienced tutors bring with them years of expertise and contacts from a number of companies and industries, allowing students the opportunity to network and learn from some distinguished names, including:
- Eye Magazine
- Baseline Magazine
- Vaughan Oliver
- Why Not Associates
- Lucienne Roberts
- David Pearson
- The Typographic Circle
- The Design Museum.