Graphic Design BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

Cambridge

September

Overview

Explore visual language creatively and solve challenging design briefs using our industry-standard technology. Develop your understanding of effective graphic communication to prepare for a career as a professional graphic designer.

Full description

Careers

Find out more about working with the creative industries or our placements and work experience.

Our BA (Hons) Graphic Design will prepare you for a career as a graphic designer, as well as for design-related roles in digital graphics, online media, communications and marketing, publishing, and advertising.

Our previous students have gone on to work with design studios or media and communication companies, producing advertising, corporate identities and promotions, packaging and branding, informational design, editorial and book design, web designs and interactive media.

You’ll have many opportunities to generate a strong portfolio of graphic design projects that will help you secure a job in this rewarding, vibrant and growing industry. These include getting involved with regional design agencies and national design networks such as D&AD and YCN, engaging in ‘live’ projects or commercial briefs and building your industry contacts. All of these can lead to freelance projects, work experience and internship, which could result in offers of work before you even graduate.

Or you might decide to take a Masters course after graduation, like our MA Graphic Design & Typography, which can help you to enter the commercial world at a higher level.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Design Process 1
    On this module, you'll develop a basic level of ability in the use of digital practice media and apply this to simple design problems and tasks. Through a series of short projects that involve primary visual research and secondary information gathering, you'll examine the creative, analytical, aesthetic and interpretative decisions that determine the appearance of graphic outcomes. You'll develop a practical awareness of the design process necessary for the implementation of successful design solutions. Studio-based projects and exercises will allow you to explore legibility, scale, continuity and visual dynamics, while your self-managed coursework will involve research into historical, retrogressive and contemporary contexts of graphic and typographic communication. In our practical and inclusive lectures and critique sessions, you will present, examine and address the fundamental issues of design.
  • Introduction to Type Media
    This module will introduce you to typography and the informed use of professional typographic software. You’ll acquire the technical vocabulary necessary for the description and analysis of typographic material, and a working knowledge of industry-standard typographic tools. A brief outline of type history will give you an introduction to the classification of typefaces, the terminology used in the description of types and the specification of typeset material, identifying the key decisions that affect appearance and legibility. You'll explore the expressive scope of type in relation both to issues of functionality and aesthetic convention, and undertake a series of short projects designed to explore and demonstrate your understanding of typographic decision-making and the application of type in a range of design contexts, and present them as a portfolio for assessment.
  • Introduction to Web Design
    This module will introduce you to web design and the informed use of professional web design software. You’ll acquire the technical vocabulary necessary for the description and analysis of web material, and a working knowledge of industry-standard web design tools. You'll be introduced to the mark-up language XHTML and the principle of cascading style sheets (CSS), and you'll undertake a series of short projects designed to explore and demonstrate your understanding of web design processes and media, presenting these in a portfolio for assessment at the end of the semester.
  • Design Process 2
    This module will develop your basic competence in the use of digital media, allowing you to apply this to more complex design problems. You'll examine the creative and interpretative decisions that determine the appearance of graphic material through the juxtaposition of multiple elements of type, text, colour and graphic forms within a given format. You'll develop a practical awareness of graphic composition necessary for successful communication and design. Studio-based projects and exercises will allow you to explore legibility, hierarchy and visual dynamics. Your self-managed coursework will involve research into contemporary contexts of graphic and typographic communication.

Year one, optional modules

  • Contextual Studies
    This module will introduce you to valuable skills that you’ll use throughout the rest of your course. You'll cover how to research, analyse and write about art and design, and gain an overview of some of the major developments in art and design relevant to your specific course, considering issues of both industry practice and critical theory in relation to the social, cultural and intellectual climate of their times. The module may draw on examples from graphic design, interior design, fashion, industrial design, architecture, product design, media communications and fine art, but is taught with a particular emphasis on your own discipline. A constant question for us therefore concerns the possible definitions of 'design' itself. As well as this subject-specific content, the module also includes a series of workshops and exercises which will introduce you to the skills of library research, critical analysis of visual imagery, essay writing and academic referencing, providing a foundation for your later studies. For your assessment, you will demonstrate these skills by submitting an essay on a thematic subject.
  • Graphic Design of the 20th Century
    On this module, you'll examine the important shifts in the theory and practice of graphic design throughout the 20th Century. This will give you a historical and cultural framework for graphic design, enabling you to place your studio work in a broader context. In addition to providing a chronological overview, this module will introduce you to a range of theoretical debates surrounding the practice of graphic design. This will allow you to examine graphic languages employed by designers and design movements using key theoretical concepts from the analysis of visual culture. You'll examine graphic design from its emergence in the early 20th century until its fracturing as a discipline at the end of the century. In covering this period, you'll discover the importance of acknowledging graphic design's international character, and you'll explore a range of examples from many different countries and cultures. You'll also learn how the discipline of graphic design itself must be contextualised and considered in relation to other media practices.
  • English for Study 1 & 2
    These two modules are only available for International Students, and are worth 15 credits each. You'll focus on the advanced writing and organisational skills necessary for essays and other written assignments, including planning, paragraphing, and developing an argument. Your studies will have a particular emphasis on the importance of good academic practice, especially accurate referencing and the use of bibliographies. You'll also practise extracting key points from a variety of spoken or written texts and writing summaries, and develop your discussion skills so as to contribute confidently to seminars and tutorials, as well as receiving guidance about independent learning using the wide range of resources available in our University Library and Language Centre.

Year two, core modules

  • Design Practice 1
    This module will introduce you to creative enquiry into graphic visual language by examining graphic design's relationship to contemporary communications and to popular culture and its scope as a medium for addressing issues of communication and meaning. You’ll track the design and production process, from conceptual proposition, through design presentation, to the relevant production processes; and provides a context for ideas development in relation to a range of professional design applications. You’ll have opportunities to focus upon specialist graphic practice in consideration of possible industrial career paths, within set projects and self-initiated projects (via a practice based learning contract); e.g. design for publication, packaging, brand development, advertising and promotion, informational graphics or new media design. Lectures will facilitate the generation of continual research and analysis into informed development, seeking fully resolved and original graphic communication. Seminars, group critiques and discourse will analyse and evaluate each stage of the creative design process, to establish effective functionality and appropriate communication within a given area of graphic design or related field of practice. This will include considerations of legibility, meaning and response together with the applications of appropriate media and reprographic technologies. Your ongoing research, analysis and development work, design solutions and product outcomes including all preparatory work will form the summative assessment of your work at the end of semester 1.
  • Professional Studies in Design
    This module will develop your understanding of career paths within the field of design professions, including detailed investigation of both employment and self-employment. Seminars and lectures identify the different professional environments within which designers are employed, the business models within which they operate, and the patterns of career progression they can expect to achieve. The seminars also explore the impact of current developments in communications technology, and examine the role of the designer in a changing media environment. Workshops explore self-employment and entrepreneurship, investigating the practical considerations involved in setting up a studio or agency and the significance of small-scale enterprises within the design sector in the UK. Individual and group tutorials during the module address your personal aspirations and the reflective analysis of your individual qualities as a designer. You will then consider which sectors of the profession may offer the best recognition of your qualities, and the types of working environment most appropriate to you as an individual.
  • Debates and Practices
    On this module, you'll explore the links between critical studies and practice, enriching your knowledge and developing your articulacy about your specialism, as well as drawing on wider perspectives in relation to your own work. You will focus particularly on debates about contemporary practice. Your studies will be seminar-based and, where appropriate and possible, held in the studio. In discussions, you'll engage with theory and history alongside your own developing ideas about contemporary production, with an open agenda that will respond to current events, work and interests.
  • Design Practice 2
    This module continues on from Design Practice 1, examining graphic design's role within contemporary communications and its effects upon society both socially and commercially. Design Practice 2 will address the social and cultural responsibilities of graphic communication through speculative and/or experimental projects within different design contexts, and the commercial application of design and graphic communication within industry, competition or 'live' projects. You’ll learn to better focus upon specialist graphic practice in consideration of possible industrial career paths, within set projects and self-initiated projects (via a practice based learning contract). Lectures will facilitate the generation of continual research and analysis into informed development, seeking fully resolved and original graphic communication that is able to challenge graphic orthodoxy. Seminars, group critiques and discourse will analyse and evaluate each stage of the creative design process, to establish effective functionality and appropriate communication within a given area of graphic design or related field of practice. This will include considerations of social or cultural impact and response together with the applications of appropriate media and reprographic technologies. Your ongoing research, analysis and development work, design solutions and product outcomes including all preparatory work will form the summative assessment of your work at the end of semester 2. This module includes ongoing personal development planning via a PDP Progress File.

Year two, optional modules

  • New Media Design - Graphic Design for Screen Based Applications
    You’ll explore the role of graphic design across new media and screen based contexts including web design and application interfaces, and to consider the implications and possibilities of new communications phenomena, social networks and viral marketing for the graphic designer. Workshops address the design of motion graphics and digital animation through Flash and After Effects software, and the development of web design skills introduced in the Introduction to Web Design module. Lectures and presentations identify both the creative opportunities and technical constraints of new media and motion graphics for broadcast and interactive applications. These include references from film and TV titling, web graphics and advertising, and consider the use of ambient, viral and guerrilla strategies. A series of individual and small group projects explore both the technical and conceptual issues involved in each of these aspects of practice, addressing the use of new media across a range of both practical and speculative contexts. These projects explore the emerging communication possibilities of new technologies, as well as providing detailed technical instruction on the presentation of the word and image on the screen. Individual and group tutorials throughout the module address the development of you practice and the progress of each project.
  • Printmaking: Materials, Processes and Ideas
    This module will give you a chance to expand your existing studio practice through the medium of print. You’ll be encouraged to use experimental and innovative print processes as part of a self-reflective strategy informed by practice and theory. You will take part in a student-led research project supported by tutorial supervision, which will develop your ability to analyse and evaluate studio research. You’ll also have access to workshop resources outside of specified taught hours during allocated 'open access' slots. Your progress on the module will be formatively assessed at specified points through individual tutorials and group critiques.
  • Time Based Media
    In this module, you'll receive a thorough introduction to video as a Fine Art medium, while leaning heavily on your established practice to provide subject matter and direction. You'll be expected to expand your practice through experimentation with digital video acquisition, digital video editing and televisual presentation. You'll start by presenting and discussing your work to date with your classmates, to establish relevant starting points and a group dynamic. You'll also be inducted, as a group, in the use of digital video cameras and Final Cut Pro HD. Once you have gained confidence, your individual projects will be supported as needed, with the group dynamic being maintained through critiques. You'll identify and engage with the formal properties of video and explore how the additional properties might be employed to expand your established practice. For example: time, sound and screen-based presentation. You'll be supported in this by presentations and discussions of historical and contemporary time-based art. The presentation of your final work might incorporate single-screen, multiple-screen, projection and sound.
  • Information Design
    On this module, you'll explore the principal graphic communication issues and design implications involved in the practice of information design. You'll be introduced to the terminology used within visual informational systems and its design specification for production. You'll also analyse and explore the use of text and symbolic content to facilitate information delivery to a desired audience, and examine the interactive possibilities within such communication. You'll explore the use of language, type and symbols in relation to functionality and communication, and consider the context, ergonomics and environmental practicalities along with materials, structures and the specification of technology within the set projects, where you'll be encouraged to find innovative and diverse creative solutions. Central to your success in this exciting yet demanding area of practice will be ease of communication and the generation of the desired action or response(s) from your viewer / end-user. Your project outcomes may include areas of practice such as: icon or symbol design, signage, environmental graphics, site-specific promotions, exhibition design, graphical user interface (GUI) or a virtual experience.
  • Graphic Design for the Web
    You’ll develop your understanding of web design through a series of projects addressing a range of professional applications. Within these contexts, you’ll look in specific detail at the contribution of graphic creativity and visual analysis to the technical discipline of web design. A series of individual and small group projects addresses the use of web graphics across a range of commercial and self-initiated contexts including promotion, publishing, art-editorial, photographic and fine art applications. Through these projects you’ll explore both the technical and conceptual issues involved in each of these aspects of web practice. You’ll also conduct a detailed investigation of web layout and typography. Lectures address issues of navigation and legibility. Workshops provide instruction around topics such as workarounds and preparing images for the web. Seminars explore current developments in web design practice in relation to your projects, and examine the role of the designer. Individual and group tutorials throughout the module address the development of your practice and the progress of your project.

Year three, core modules

  • Graphic Futures
    This module will direct your practice within industrial graphic design and professional contexts. These may include the design for publication and print, 3D promotional and packaging material, architectural or environmental graphics, information design or new media applications. You'll solve challenging design problems using your enhanced awareness of contemporary design practice within a modern informational culture. The briefs that you undertake might include individually commissioned work, live set briefs, or national competitions (via practice based learning contracts). You'll also focus on the practicalities of work presentation and the application of self-promotion within the design industry in preparation for your employment. Through lectures, presentations, discourse and seminars, you'll examine creative innovation, design solutions and graphic communication and response within current graphic design practice. For your assessment, you will need to submit your finished project work to an industry standard in a format appropriate to the brief's requirements and/or for commercial reproduction, to schedule your design work and meet all your production deadlines. Your assessment will be based upon the submission of your preparatory work, including research, design development and analysis together with completed project briefs. This module includes personal development planning via a PDP Progress File.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

Year three, optional modules

  • Research Project
    The Research Project will foster your independent study with the guidance of a tutor. You'll devise your own project that will reflect on/co-ordinate with/enhance your own studio work and interests, encouraging your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Seminars will give you a forum to learn from each other's research. You will also be supported by individual tutorials with a member of staff. The Research Project may include a variety of relevant topics, including reporting on your own work experience. You can illustrate it with photographs, drawings or video, discussing your approach with your assigned tutor. (30 credits)
  • Research Assignment
    The Research Assignment module will foster your independent study with the guidance of a Supervisor. You will negotiate a topic with your supervisor, and devise your own project to reflect on / co-ordinate with / enhance your studio work and interests, relying on your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Classes will provide a forum for all students to learn from each other's research, but you will also have opportunities for individual tutorials with a member of staff. Your Research Assignment may be illustrated with photographs, drawings, and video. You will be assessed by way of a 3000-word written assignment. (15 credits)
  • Working in the Creative Industries
    Gaining work experience enhances your employability, and work based learning offers you the chance to gain industry knowledge, skills, contacts and networking opportunities. This module gives you the opportunity to explore a working environment relevant to the industry you hope to build a career in. The module will encourage your self-managed learning, and aims to develop your personal organisation, team-working, and networking skills, thereby increasing your self-reliance and confidence. You can use the experience as a basis for directing and focussing your career plans, as well as inspiration for your final year projects. In association with your module tutor, you will identify, negotiate and agree with an employer (or employers) the terms of your placement, ensuring that the module learning outcomes can be achieved. You will also create a reflective report on your work experience, including: the application procedure you have conducted (CV, letter and portfolio); market and background information on the employer; your role(s) on the placement(s); an academic and vocational analysis; skills and experiences (opportunities, advantages, constraints, aptitudes and interests). You will also be asked to include a workplace diary that logs activity and supports an analysis of the learning achieved. On completion of the placement, the employer will be asked to complete a Student Feedback package. The work placement(s) may be carried out in a variety of settings depending upon your requirements, areas of interest and availability of opportunities. The minimum period of the placement will be 100 hours, and you can undertake more than one placement for the module.

Assessment

For a full breakdown of module options and credits, please view the module structure.

Our modules allow you to demonstrate your progress by producing coursework to set projects, design tasks and formal briefs. At the end of each semester you’ll submit design work for practice-based modules, and a written document for contextual/theoretical modules. These will then be graded and you’ll receive written feedback.

You’ll also receive ongoing feedback on your design project concepts and develop your learning in taught sessions, one-to-one discussions, project reviews and group critiques.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

Using our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond, we nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking to empower the makers and creators of the future.  At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.

Our academics excel at both practice and theory, making a real impact in their chosen fields, whether they are curating exhibitions, designing book covers or photographing communities in Africa.  They are also regularly published in catalogues, books, journals and conference papers, their research classed as being of ‘international standing’, with some elements ‘world-leading’, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

Where can I study?

Cambridge
Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Specialist facilities
You’ll have access to our on-campus digital facilities and design studios, and get a real understanding of digital design processes by working on industry-standard Adobe design software on Apple Macintosh technology. But we also have dedicated facilities for traditional letterpress and printmaking for the more ‘hands-on’ designer.

Find out more about Cambridge School of Art's facilities

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2018/19 or 2019/20 (per year)

£9,250

International students starting 2018/19 (per year)

£12,500

International students starting 2019/20 (per year)

£13,100

Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

Additional costs

Estimated costs of materials over three years £950.

Optional field trip £200.

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

You can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments

Scholarships

We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Interview and portfolio

You will be required to attend an interview of around 20 minutes, during which you will evidence your discussion with a portfolio or, if you are resident outside of the UK, an e-portfolio.

For more information on how to prepare and submit your portfolio please visit our portfolios and interviews page, or go straight to the detailed guidance for BA (Hons) Graphic Design portfolios.


Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email answers@anglia.ac.uk for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online