Graphic Design

BA (Hons) - UCA Epsom - 2019

Our BA (Hons) Graphic Design course at UCA Epsom is ambitious, student-led, focused and fosters strong connections between practice, theory and industry.

Our philosophy of graphic design is thinking through making, and our course adopts a practical and hands-on approach to the ever-expanding discipline.

While learning vital graphic design techniques and skills using high-level advanced technology and software, you'll also learn important business skills including the design process, looking for work and networking in the industry.

This course takes a practice-based look at the art of visual communication, learning both analogue and digital skills such as typography, illustration, moving image and social design within an encouraging and inspiring environment.

You’ll be taught by a team of practising industry professionals and researchers, with access to top-class facilities including letterpress, Risograph printer, laser-cutting, screen-printing and an Arduino maker space.

Through the first year you can expect to gain all the skills and knowledge you need to establish a critical practice and enable you to specialise within your areas of interest from the second year onwards.

You’ll participate in live briefs, talks and studio visits and meet some of the most influential names in graphic design. We have a history of winning world-renowned competitions including the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD).

Our graduates forge successful and rewarding careers across a range of industries in roles like editorial design, advertising, interactive design and branding.

With a solid history of winning prestigious competitions at world-renowned institutions – including the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD) – our graduates have gone on to forge successful and rewarding careers for themselves across a range of industries in roles such as editorial design, advertising, interactive design and branding.

Our team of experienced lecturers has years of experience and connections throughout a number of industries and a range of businesses, meaning that you’ll have the opportunity to network and learn from distinguished names such as Vaughan Oliver and Tony Brook from Spin, as well as take advantage of industry links with the likes of Eye Magazine, Baseline Magazine, and The Typographic Circle.

Length of study:

Three years full-time

Campus:

UCA Epsom

Start month:

September

View term dates

Entry year(s):

2019

Entry requirements:

112 UCAS tariff points

click here for full details

UCAS code:

W210

UCAS institution code:

C93

UCAS campus code:

E

Next event

28 Nov 2018 UCA Open Day

Pre-degree & Undergraduate

Course details

  • Year 1

    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. 

    Developing Thinking
    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.

    Developing Making
    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.

    Platform Rotation
    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.

  • Year 2

    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.

    Work Placement
    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.

  • Year 3

    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.
  • Study abroad

    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:

  • Fees

    Find out all about the fees for studying with us, as well as the grants, loans and other financial support you may be entitled to:

Facilities

There are dedicated graphics studios for workshops, group and independent working, as well as computer studios with Macs and PCs loaded with the latest industry-standard design software, including Fontographer. In addition to the campus printmaking studio, there is a specialist graphics print area with letterpress, intaglio and book-binding workshop facilities. Campus photographic studios and digital processing equipment.

Course leader

What our students say

Course connections

On this course, you'll be exposed to a world of opportunities

  • Industry links

    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
    • Spin
    • Lucienne Roberts
    • David Pearson
    • The Typographic Circle
    • The Design Museum.
  • Careers

    We pride ourselves on nurturing creative, resourceful, rounded and hardworking professional designers. Recent graduates have gone on to work in a wide variety of roles, in areas such as:

    • Editorial design
    • Advertising
    • Web design
    • Publishing
    • Interactive design
    • Branding
    • Information Design.
  • Further study

    You may also like to consider further study at postgraduate level.

     

How to apply - 2019 entry

I am a UK or EU citizen ...

I am not a UK or EU citizen ...

When to apply:

If applying via UCAS the application deadline is the 15 January. If applying directly to us, you can apply throughout the year but we recommend you apply as early as possible so you have time to arrange accommodation and visas.

More information:

Go to our how to apply pages

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Along with your portfolio, the standard entry requirements* for this course are:

One of the following:

  • 112 new UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 112 new UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject
  • 27-30 total points in the International Baccalaureate Diploma with at least 15 IB points at Higher level, see more information about IB entry requirements.

And four GCSE passes at grade A*-C and/or grade 4-9 including English (or Functional Skills English/Key Skills Communication Level 2).

Other relevant and equivalent Level 3 UK and international qualifications are considered on an individual basis, and we encourage students from diverse educational backgrounds to apply.

*We occasionally make offers which are lower than the standard entry criteria, to students who have faced difficulties that have affected their performance and who were expected to achieve higher results. We consider the strength of our applicants’ portfolios, as well as their grades - in these cases, a strong portfolio is especially important.

International entry requirements

To view the equivalent entry requirements for your country please select it in the list below.

Pick Your Country

Non-UK equivalent qualifications

English language requirements


Your portfolio

For this course we will require you to attend an Applicant Day and bring your portfolio for assessment. A portfolio is required at interview for this course. We’d like to see examples of sketchbooks and developmental work, drawing, completed design projects, examples of experimentation with media and different processes, and anything else that demonstrates your interest in the subject. Further information on how to compile a portfolio and the specific requirements for examples of work to be included will be provided on the Applicant Portal after you apply.

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