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BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures

Our BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures students innovate for the future. Taking design, sustainability and society into account, you'll delve into how we can tackle and solve issues through your ideas and drive for change.


Sustainability should be at the heart of everything we do as designers. BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures is about understanding how design happens and how it can be used responsibly to create a more sustainable future.

This course will challenge you to look at societal issues and problems that require change; to investigate what you can do that'll encourage positive change; to develop and design proposals for change and to reflect what the world might look like after this change.

BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures course information

BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures is about understanding how design happens and how it can be used responsibly to create a more sustainable future. This course will challenge you to look at societal issues and problems that require change. You'll investigate what can be done to encourage positive change – developing and designing proposals for change and to reflect on what the world might look like after this change.

Alongside gaining the knowledge and skills needed for design and innovation, you'll study different ways in which sustainability can be defined, understood, and realised as well as the social, economic, cultural, and political context of sustainability. You'll develop a way of thinking about design and problem-solving that leads to a rewarding career in the creative industries.

While studying BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures, you'll develop a specialist ability to use your creativity, ambition and imagination to propose innovative concepts that'll lead to positive changes in the future – changes that might be big or small but will make the future more sustainable.

After developing a way of thinking that'll help you to understand the importance of creative thinking to the design process, you'll explore aspects of sustainable and responsible design through a series of real-world, problem-based briefs. On graduation you'll be prepared to change the world with creativity, ambition and imagination.

We need your ideas; the world needs your ideas, big ideas, small ideas, better ideas, now more than ever before. Often the very best solutions to a problem are the simplest, the most straightforward and the easiest to put into action.

You'll be using your creativity, ambition, and imagination to propose innovative concepts that'll lead to positive changes in the future, changes that might be big or small but important changes that will make our future more sustainable.

Course duration

3 or 4 years (full-time)

Placement year

Option of a 1-year placement

UCAS course code


UCAS institution code


Placement year

All undergraduate courses at AUB offer an optional placement year, to be taken between your second and third years of study.

If you’re unsure about this optional placement, you don’t need to decide now. Once you’re here and studying with us, the course team will discuss the placement options with you, so when the time comes, you can make a decision that’s right for you.

If you’re required to have a Student Visa to study in the UK, it won’t be possible to undertake the one-year placement option; there’ll be other opportunities for you to engage with industry during your study at AUB.

Level 4 (first year)

At Level 4, you begin the course by considering how ideas are conceived and developed. You'll consider the conceptual blocks that can limit ideation, and how to overcome these. You'll learn to use ideas as ‘raw material’ to design with, working on a series of short creative briefs. Concepts and the nature of sustainability are considered and discussed to both confirm and challenge established design practices.


  • Fundamental Ideas, Past, Present and Future
  • Design Practice in Context
  • Collaboration and Problem-solving

Level 5 (second year)

At Level 5, the second year of the course, you're encouraged to develop their ideas to become more practical, more meaningful, maybe more philosophical, while maintaining an open-minded, highly creative, way of thinking. While considering the “wicked” problems that the world faces today, we’ll encourage you to identify problems to address locally to understand the difficulty of change on a global scale; contrasting this with other briefs that challenge you to imagine fictional futures that have been changed by current attitudes and events.

You'll be encouraged to find their own design problems under the heading of a series of “Too Ambitious?” projects, which are intended to provide the opportunity to specialise, experiment and further develop personal own design languages, resulting in concepts that can be experimental as well as speculative.


  • Design, Industry and Sustainability
  • Creative Teams and Portfolios
  • Sustainability Ambitions

Level 6 (third year)

At Level 6, the final year, project outcomes may be furniture, posters, time machines, anything… but the way that you reach these ideas is what will help you to become a creative problem-solver. You'll define your own design priorities as you begin to develop final year projects. A theme of the final year of study will be the development of your own opinions about sustainable design and how you'll embody these in your work.


  • Design Context: A Passion for Sustainability
  • Leading the Way: Professional Project Feasibility
  • Sustainable Futures: Professional Project Realisation

Meet the BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures course team

Headshot of W Strange.
Will Strange Senior Lecturer (Design and Modelmaking)


Headshot for D Lund
Dr David Lund Senior Lecturer – BA (Hons) Modelmaking and BA (Hons) Design

PhD, BA (Hons), FHEA, FRHistS

Email me

"The world needs ideas, better ideas, now, more than ever before, your ideas. The world needs you to develop and apply your creativity, ambition and imagination to propose the innovative concepts that will lead positive change now and in the future. The world needs you to develop a rewarding career in the creative industries so that change will be sustainable. The world needs your thinking – before it’s too late."

Will Strange, Course Developer

Application process

Once you've found the perfect Undergraduate course, you can apply to study via UCAS, including direct entry applications to second and third year.

When applying through UCAS, use the institution code A66 for courses taught at Arts University Bournemouth. For courses based at Bournemouth and Poole College, use code B49. We'll then use your completed UCAS form to make decisions about your application. You can find out more on entry requirements in our apply section.

When you apply to one of our courses, it's important that you help us get a good picture of both you and your work – so you'll need a great personal statement. We want to know more about why you're interested in the course, your key influences, and what you hope to do after your studies.

If you're invited for an interview, many of our courses will ask to see a portfolio of your work so we can get more insight into your ideas and abilities. To help you, we've created guidelines outlining what we expect from your portfolio for each course.

The fee that you pay the Arts University Bournemouth provides the necessary equipment and training for you to complete your course.

You may also choose to buy some items of personal equipment such as a laptop or tablet computer, but this is not required; desktop and laptop computers are available for you to use in common study areas, including a loan system in the Library.

If you decide to undertake an optional placement year, the tuition fee is £1,850. This is subject to inflationary increases based on government policy, and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

For the majority of our courses, we'll ask you to digitally submit a portfolio as part of the application process.

Portfolios should show examples of your work – both finished and work in progress – that demonstrate your interests and skills. We expect to see around 10 slides/images in your portfolio that shows your identity as an artist.

If we ask for a digital portfolio then we'll give you 30 days to submit it. Sometimes we'll need a portfolio submitted quickly if there's a UCAS set deadline approaching, but if you need more time, just let us know and we'll try to help.

We've created specific portfolio guidelines for each of our courses, you can take a look at these below.

If you've applied to study an online postgraduate (MA) degree, please refer to the AUB Online portfolio guidelines.

None of our courses currently require an interview.

The only course requiring an audition is BA (Hons) Acting and if you're invited to one you'll have at least 10 days notice.

Studios and resources

Working alongside BA (Hons) Creative Technologies students, teaching will take place in purpose-designed studios and computer suites.

The course is supported by extensive technical and digital workshops and the Innovation Studio which includes the latest VR, AR and fabrication technologies and staff expertise.

A large group of people sitting at tables in a studio space while a person delivers a lecture.

Design Studio

You'll be working in a design studio, complete with computer suite and team workspace

Students working at computers in a library. A set of stairs leads up to a second landing with a balcony running along.

The Library

The Library at AUB holds an excellent range of print and online collections

Ten rows of empty seating viewed from the front of a large lecture theatre.

Lecture Theatres and Seminar Rooms

We have a number of lecture theatres and seminar rooms scattered around campus to assist students with their studies.

Student wearing safety goggles using a machine in a workshop.

3D Workshop

Our 3D workshops with manual and digital manufacturing equipment and computers

A model sits on a chair in the centre of a room while a group of artists draw them.

Drawing Studio

Our iconic blue Drawing Studio is used by student from all courses and was designed by alumnus Sir Peter Cook​...

Four banks of desks in a computer suite with monitors on them.

Digital Suites

Our Digital Suites offer a digital post-production facility and digital teaching space.

A member of AUB staff talking about a camera with a student at the Central Media Store counter.

Central Media Store

The Central Media store houses a diverse array of equipment, offering students the means to craft and capture...

Innovation Studio, photographed by Richard Bryant. Photo of an exterior wall with two reverse-L shaped windows and three semi-circle panels visible. A person walks past towards the right.

Innovation Studio

The Innovation Studio operates as a lab for creative technologies, a nucleus for start-ups and enterprises and an industry engagement hub.

Person stands by a table. Two printing presses are in the foreground.


Our printmaking facilities are a hub of creativity on campus and have been inspiring students since 1964.

Three people working on projects in a print room.

Letterpress and Bindery

The Letterpress and Bindery studio is a central resource, where students can learn and explore bookbinding and letterpress printing.

Teaching, learning and assessment

The studio and a studio culture are central to the ethos of the course. The diversity of the student group brings benefits of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural experience; you can learn so much from making use of your space.

The course objectives are met by deploying a wide variety of teaching and learning methods including projects, lectures, seminars, group critiques and tutorials. In consultation with the Course Leader, staff are responsible for co-ordinating individual units of study, and for selecting appropriate methods of delivery according to subject matter and student experience.

Teaching and learning methods are designed to prepare you for the discipline required of a creative practitioner and promote the development of transferable skills.

The study time allocated to each unit in the course incorporates a balance of formal teaching, tutorial support and independent learning. The course is structured progressively to provide increased opportunities for independent learning as you reach the latter stages of the course.

The tutor leading a unit/project will employ a variety of methods of delivery to encourage engagement and participation in the learning process. These will be dependent on the nature of the unit. Throughout the units within a year (and year on year), you're encouraged to gradually become more autonomous, progressively being asked to consider yourselves as professionals.

Contact hours include all scheduled teaching sessions, but also supervised time in the workshop or studio. In line with national guidance, we include in our calculation of contact hours all the time that's scheduled in the studio for independent study, which is also supported by staff (either academic staff, or technicians).

Each unit is assessed separately, and the assessment forms part of the unit. Assessment both provides a measure of your achievement and also gives you regular feedback on how your learning is developing.

You'll receive a final mark for each unit in the form of a percentage, which'll be recorded on your formal record of achievement (transcript). Each component of assessment is graded using a notched marking scale, whereby only certain marks are used within each grade. The only marks available within any ten-point band are *2, *5 and *8 (e.g. 62, 65, 68). These marks correspond to a low, mid, and high level of achievement within each grade band.

All learning outcomes must be passed to successfully complete the unit.

On successful completion of your Honours degree course, you'll be awarded a degree classification based on your unit marks. The final classification is determined using all unit marks at Levels 5 and 6 using two different algorithms, which are detailed in the HE Student Regulations. If the two algorithms produce different results, you'll be awarded the higher class of degree.

If you've joined Level 6 through either the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route or having completed a Foundation Degree (FdA), the final classification is determined using only your unit marks at Level 6.

Firstly, through regular review of coursework you'll receive feedback on how your learning is developing towards the achievement of the learning outcomes – formative assessment. This process is delivered through the tutorial and critique experience; by engaging with this process, you'll develop your knowledge and skills.

You can experience the assessment process from an increased personal perspective and make serious critical decisions in conjunction with the teaching staff regarding your peers’ work.

Formative assessment is provided during tutorials, where an action plan is formulated to develop your work. Viewings and critiques offer indications of the quality of work and how it relates to the assessment criteria. Formative assessment points will be outlined in the online unit information and within the scheme of work.

The second purpose is to provide a measure of your achievement, in the form of a mark or classification, at the end of a defined period of study, i.e. unit, level, or final award – summative assessment.

What our students do

The BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures course provides a new and unique opportunity to study within an arts university setting. Sustainability-based creative careers are the focus of economic development. As a professional designer of sustainable futures, we want to help our future graduates lead that development.

Our aim for this course is to bring you to ensure so that you can enjoy the greatest possible opportunities in a rewarding, sustainability-based career.

A beach with a metal railing in the foreground and a poster with text 'Boscombe Beach Toy Library' along the top. A pier is in the background.

Check it out! MA student designs Boscombe's new Toy Library

An AUB student is helping to tackle litter along the seafront as part of BCP's new Student Climate Action Innovation Programme.

A White contoured chair with rounded arms and curved legs

Innovation Studio alumni Ali Jafari will feature in Design Museum’s Designing for Our Future Selves exhibition

Inventor and AUB alumni Ali Jafari will feature in a new exhibition coming to London’s UK Design Museum in February

Two people sitting at a desk looking at a photo. Other documents are on the desk in front of them.

ATOM visit Thorp Archive at Arts University Bournemouth

Modelmakers from Atom visited a unique modelmaking archive housed at Arts University Bournemouth.

Career destinations

BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures will put you at the centre of one of the fastest growing economic sectors nationally and internationally. Fundamental to everything we should be doing for a sustainable future, this course opens up a range of career paths:

  • Systems thinking and design
  • Sustainable development
  • Planning and place-making service design
  • Sustainable policy and strategy
  • Innovation and sustainable product development
  • Circular economy
  • Health and social care education
  • Research and advocacy

Trips and visits

During the academic year, at least one excursion to London or another UK cultural hub is planned as part of BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures. As London is easily accessible from Bournemouth, you can easily plan excursions to the city's art galleries and museums to supplement their academic work. Professional progress as practitioners depends on primary research.

Trips give students confidence, promote independence and present opportunities for future professional and personal development.

Any additional fees are disclosed before the visit.

Visiting tutors play a pivotal role in the BA (Hons) Design for Sustainable Futures course, as they bring diverse perspectives and unique skill sets, enriching the learning experience and fostering a deeper understanding of the standards and expectations of the creative industries. Industry professionals provide invaluable insights into the creative industry, sharing their expertise and experiences. They conduct workshops, lectures, and participate in critiquing student work, offering constructive feedback from both an education and industry perspective. Their presence can also offer you the opportunity to network and learn about potential career paths, industry trends, and professional practices.

See more of our student work

This course will challenge you to look at societal issues and problems that require change; to investigate what you can do that'll encourage positive change; to develop and design proposals for change and to reflect what the world might look like after this change.

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