Graphic Design: Visual Communications

BA (Hons)

2018 entry

Visual communication explores the tools to convey messages and meaning through a diverse range of media.

From the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt to the complexity of contemporary app design, the power of visual communication has been harnessed by businesses, organisations and individuals for millennia.

Our BA (Hons) Graphic Design: Visual Communications course will allow you to build an understanding of the different techniques used to spread visual storytelling.

You’ll discover how to use these techniques to develop your own projects in areas such as editorial design, motion graphics, book arts, photography and visual narrative.

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Length of study:

Three years full-time


September 2018


UCA Canterbury

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Course overview:

Using our dedicated studio spaces and independent study areas, you’ll evolve your own style and voice as
a designer, undertaking live projects and collaborating on a diverse range of assignments with other members of our uniquely collaborative creative community.

Our aim at UCA is to launch you into the world of work as a fully rounded, capable graphic designer with a sound understanding of the underlying theory and history – reflected in our 80% practical, 20% theory curriculum.

Tutored by a team of experienced professional designers with connections at the highest levels of the industry, our graduates have gone on to work in a multitude of different roles – including graphic and packaging designers, art directors, picture editors, information designers and screen-based designers.

Our course enjoys strong links with respected names across the industry. We attract high-profile guest lecturers, with recent visitors including Bruno Maag (typographer), Jonathan Barnbrook (British graphic designer and typographer), Hans Reichert of Baseline magazine, and representatives from companies such as BCMH, Unicorn Press and Thomas Matthews.

Open Days

Register for an Open Day to find out more about this course in person.

Course content - 2018 entry

In the first year, you'll be introduced to the University and the technical workshops and facilities available to you. On the course you’ll learn the technical and conceptual skills that will give you a solid foundation from which to explore your areas of specialist activity.

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change.

Course modules

  • Introduction to Visual Communication

    You explore how Graphic Design shapes form and content across the spectrum of media, from the printed page to the Internet, and will work to articulate your own personal voice as a designer and artist, while fashioning messages that communicate to various communities and are relevant to contemporary culture.

  • Design Fundamentals 1: Image, Type, Print

    You'll be introduced to how different meanings can be constructed through a variety of type and image constellations. You will also learn how these are applied to and affected by different print mediums and formats.

  • Design Fundamentals 2: Motion, Narrative, Screen

    Introduces narrative, sequence and interactivity as thematic concepts that can be applied to a screen based design outcome. You will be will be asked to consider how visual language, such as words, images, materials, format and structure can support narrative.

  • Visual Theory: Message, Medium, Meaning

    Through the exploration of examples from historical and contemporary practice and analysis of your studio work, a range of topics will be examined. These will include basic concepts in semiotics, the relationship between word and image, the construction of narrative, photographic language, function and expression, culture connotation and myth, subversion and propaganda.

The second year focus is on finding your own specialist way of working and you’ll be encouraged and supported to start working more independently. During this year you may also have the opportunity to complete an industry work placement or even study abroad.

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change.

Course modules

  • Social and Cultural Contexts

    Encourages you to examine and explore your personal ethics, values and motivation through the production of work for others.

  • The Editorial Process

    Consolidates and develops further your creative, graphic, typographic and technical skills.

  • Developing Your Practice

    Graphic designers today don't just respond to design problems identified by others, but often instigate themselves visual/design/cultural changes. This unit prepares you for this future role.

  • Spatial Practices

    You'll learn how to manipulate spaces to create identities, multi-sensory experiences, and innovative events/exhibitions in a sustainable and environmentally conscious context.

  • Study Abroad (optional)

    This optional unit is designed to broaden your educational experience and deepen your understanding of cultural diversity. It will enable you to study within a different cultural context and gain fresh perspectives.

The third year will see you achieve a greater level of independence with self-managed research, study and practice, resulting in a final major project and a written dissertation.

We also offer Year 3 as a top-up year through the internal progression arrangement for students from the Barking & Dagenham Foundation Degree course. It's also open to students from other courses and circumstances, as long as you meet the entry requirements. Please contact us for further details.

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change.

Course modules

  • Professional practice

    Professional practices equips you with the skills, knowledge and confidence to present yourself to potential employers and/or clients in the best possible way. You'll develop a practical project with an emphasis placed upon acquiring key practical skills required for the launch of your professional career.

  • Major Project

    You'll research, develop and realise a major self-initiated project of your own choosing.The unit culminates in a presentation of work that provides you with the opportunity to collaborate with others to present work in a form appropriate to purpose and context.

  • Option 1: Dissertation

    A substantial period of self-directed research on a subject that's related to the historical, theoretical or critical concerns of your discipline or professional area.

  • Option 2: Combined Dissertion / Critical Reflection

    Two periods of sustained, individually negotiated research on subjects which are likely to be related to the contextual and/or theoretical concerns of your chosen areas of practice, towards the provision of structured argument. In the first, you'll undertake a dissertation, by engaging with research appropriate to your chosen subject area. In the second, you'll undertake an individually negotiated project of critical research and reflection that provides a contextual framework for, and analysis of, your own practice and/or visual interests.

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change.

Course modules

Course leader

International study

Find out more about studying in the UK, or studying part of your course abroad at one of our partner institutions (study abroad option not available on all courses).

Course connections

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

With a staff of experienced professional designers, our course enjoys strong links with respected names across the industry.

Calling on our connections, we’re able to attract high-profile guest lecturers, with recent visitors including:

  • Bruno Maag (typographer)
  • Jonathan Barnbrook (British graphic designer and typographer)
  • Hans Reichert of Baseline magazine
  • Representatives from companies such as BCMH, Unicorn press and Thomas Matthews.

Studying Graphic Design: Visual Communications with us will give you a highly transferable set of skills which are desirable across
a broad range of creative industries.

Many of our graduates have landed exciting, fulfilling positions, including:

  • Graphic and packaging designers
  • Art directors
  • Picture editors
  • Information designers
  • App developers
  • Web and broadcast designers.


Others graduates of this course have chosen to continue their progression by studying at postgraduate level.

How to apply - 2018 entry

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Entry requirements - 2018 entry:

As a leading creative arts university, we want to attract the best and most creative minds in the country – so we take a balanced approach to candidate assessment, taking both individual portfolios and exam results into account. 

That’s why your portfolio is an especially important part of your application to study with us – and we can help. Our academics can offer you expert advice on how to showcase your creative work and build a portfolio that will make your application stand out. More advice on how to create an exceptional portfolio is also available here.

Entry requirements

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

One of the following:

  • 112 new UCAS tariff points (equivalent to 280 old 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.

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.

Your portfolio

We’d like to assess your creative potential, so your portfolio should include completed project work, sketchbooks or blogs and other preparatory or process work, printed outputs, and screen-based work.

More portfolio advice

Fees & finance

Uncover all the costs involved, as well as the grants, loans and other financial support you may be entitled to.

Student regulations

Find out more about the operation of our courses, student conduct, assessments and examinations.

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