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BA (Hons) Graphic Design

  • Duration: 3 or 4 years full-time
  • Placement year: Optional 1 year
  • Course code: W210 (UCAS)
  • Institution code: A66 (UCAS)

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Overview

This course is about the innovation of design communication to inform, educate, delight, and persuade in a wide variety of social, cultural, technological and ecological contexts.

Graphic design course information

Our graduates go on to play an active role in the creative industries, from branding consultancies to digital design, publishers to packaging. Many of our graduates have established their own companies. Experimentation and discovery are important values on this course. There's no ‘right answer’ and you'll be supported to find your own path as you learn more skills. In addition to developing creative design strategies, we encourage you to bring your own experiences and interests to your work. We value conceptual approaches that attract attention, and then evoke an idea or emotion that is relevant and on target.

As a graphic designer, you’ll have to make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations. You’ll have to react quickly to new information, evolving briefs and advances in technology. On this course, you’ll learn to innovate under pressure and handle issues such as user-centred design, sustainability, emerging technology, service design, information design and interactive design. You’ll engage with leading design companies who set briefs, give talks, and help us to develop the curriculum. You’ll discover your own approach to visual problem-solving and graduate with the technical, critical, and conceptual skills that are highly prized by the industry.

Our teaching staff are exceptional. We’ve recently been awarded Gold by the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) which assess quality of teaching.

They’re inspiring teachers, researchers, industry practitioners and technicians who are all here to support you with your studies and help you to achieve outstanding outcomes.

Course duration

3 years (full-time)

Placement

Option of a 1-year placement

UCAS course code

W210

UCAS institution code

A66

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)

In your first year, you’ll be exposed to the full breadth of graphic design skills and solutions.

We’ll introduce you to a range of techniques to explore through the course. You’ll learn the importance of staying flexible to communicate across a broad range of media.

You’ll explore screen, print, interactive, web, typographic and theoretically based issues. Your practical work will depend on writing skills too because graphic design often involves images working with text.

Your first year provides you with the opportunities to develop cognitive, creative and technical skills through integrated theoretical and practical engagement. Units in the first level of the course provide an introduction to fundamental skills, principles, processes and knowledge.

All units in your first year are designed to provide you with experience in the studio and IT areas and to promote confidence in using technical processes, methods and materials necessary to the study of graphic design.

Study at this level provides a broader contextual understanding of the subject. Theory and practice are seamlessly integrated into all units. Skills in research, critical analysis and evaluation, communication of interrelated practices and technologies, are delivered to enhance the student’s creative potential.

Level 5 (second year)

During Level 5, you're required to relate creative aims to critical and contextual frameworks.

Learning agreements drive the self-initiated project in our ‘Innovate: Consolidate’ unit. This allows us to emphasise the progressive change in teaching methods that allows you to develop more confident and reflective approaches to your learning and demonstrate your increased self-directed learning.

Theoretical understanding at Level 5 builds on work undertaken at Level 4 to extend student knowledge and understanding of the wider contexts and issues of the visual arts, within appropriate theoretical frameworks.

In the final term, contemporary practice and contextual awareness and research of graphic design is broadened and deepened by the ‘Defining and Refining Themes and Issues’ unit.

Level 6 (third year)

Level 6 encourages you to confirm your particular creative aspirations and to extend the scope and depth of their enquiry.

All subsequent units require you to define your study through Learning Agreements, which you’ll negotiate with the teaching team. These provide a focus to enable you to demonstrate the integration of your learning on the course.

The Major Project unit provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate the maturity of your creativity, intellectual enquiry and expressive abilities. Your final major projects will focus on your identity as an individual designer. You’ll be encouraged to view your project as a springboard into a career and use it to open doors into industry.

Likewise, the ‘Investigative Study’ unit affords opportunities to pursue a programme of advanced independent research, consider links with the Major Project, or demonstrate that the level of skills in research; analysis, criticism and communication are appropriate for entry in employment or postgraduate study.

The success of this course is represented by the sheer number of awards that our students win, from D&AD New Blood Awards, Creative Conscious Awards and Shine Awards. Here are some other awards our students have achieved.

  • Royal Society of Arts Student Design Awards (2023) (Planet Generation), winner – Josie Field
  • ISTD Accreditation Award – Daniel Bryant
  • 3 Sided Cube Design for Good Award (2023), winner – Jessie Denyer
  • JDO RAW (2023), winner – Chiara Causer
  • Wadworth Brewery Competition, winner – Gemma Cook
  • Coley Porter Bell, Shine Award (2019/2020), winner
  • RSA Student Design Awards, one winner and eight finalists
  • Three Creative Conscience winners, Gold/Silver/Bronze
  • JDO Mash-up Award, three finalists
  • Adobe Awards finalists 2019/2020
  • Dragon Rouge, Bronze

Course team

On the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course, you’ll benefit from the expert guidance of our experienced teaching staff. You can read more about their specialisms by exploring their profiles below.

Dr Kirsten Hardie Associate Professor

PhD, MA, BA(Hons), NTF, FHEA

Photo of Marten Sims
Marten Sims Senior Lecturer

BA (Hons), MA, FHEA, PGCert

Email me msims@aub.ac.uk

Graphic Design is a dynamic creative field and, at its core, it is about communicating to inform, educate, entertain, and persuade. Experimentation, discovery and transformation of ideas into tangible expressions are important values on this course. Through design-led enquiry, we gain insight into unfamiliar contexts and explore opportunities to turn user needs into human-centred solutions. There’s no right answer and you’ll be supported to find your own path as you learn more skills.

Marion Morrison, Course Leader

Watch our course videos

Course leader Marion Morrison talks about what to expect from studying BA (Hons) Graphic Design here at AUB. And Senior Lecturer Alice Stevens explains how graphic design is changing the world.

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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

A person standing by a screen printer with an assortment of ampersand shapes inside it.

Graphic Design Resources

BA (Hons) Graphic Design offers numerous facilities to aid your journey. We pride ourselves in our ability to enable almost every...

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

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​

Student wearing safety goggles using a machine in a workshop.

3D Workshop

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

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.

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 room scattered around campus to assist students with their studies.

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.

Printroom

The Printroom and Passiv Haus are two great facilities available to all AUB student

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

Graphic Design is a practice-based course. The studio and a studio culture are central to the ethos of the course. The emphasis is on building creative skills, cognitive processes and methodologies. The diversity of the student group brings benefits of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural experience.

The course objectives are met by structuring the learning progressively and by incorporating a wide variety of learning and teaching methods and experiences. Including: project-based learning, workshops, lectures, seminars, educational visits, group critiques and tutorials.

You'll develop creative cognitive skills, including research methodologies, critical analysis, problem-solving, communication and presentation as well as specialist technical skills.

You'll be encouraged to experiment, take risks, and try out new things. The moment when new-found skills and knowledge are connected to your existing skill set and understanding, is seen as an opportunity for insight, creativity and learning. Projects involve phases of research discovery, problem finding, insight gathering, problem-solving, and spotting opportunity for innovation.

Throughout, the programme integration of theory, critical thinking and practice is promoted. The learning experience emphasises the disciplines required of a creative practitioner and promotes the development of transferable skills, preparing you for a variety of employment routes and postgraduate study.

A team of staff that include professional Graphic Designers, researches and relevant visiting practitioners delivers the course. The course is outward facing and works closely with design agencies and other organisations at local, national and international levels.

Staff are responsible for co-ordinating individual units of study, and for selecting appropriate methods of delivery according to subject matter and student experience.

The study time allocated to each unit in the course incorporates a balance of formal teaching, tutorial support and independent learning.

Midway through the larger 40 credit units Formative Assessment will take place to help you keep on track, monitor your progress and support your achievement.

You'll have the opportunity to take part in major graphic design competitions, for example in second year, Creative Conscience, and in final year, the International Society of Typographic Designers Licentiate scheme that gives the opportunity to attain a specialist professional qualification and the Royal Society of Arts Student Design Awards as well as Design and Art Direction new Blood student awards offer opportunities to participate in industry-based briefs.

The course is structured progressively to provide increased opportunities for independent learning as you reach the final year of the course.

The tutor leading the unit will use a variety of methods of delivery in order to encourage your participation in the learning process. Progressively teaching is directed at providing you with the critical judgement necessary to take increasing responsibility for the management of your own learning towards individual goals. Throughout the units within a year and (year on year) across the course, you're encouraged to gradually become more autonomous, and to consider yourself as a professional designer.

Teaching is both directed at individual learning and working in teams to enable you to learn the value of peer collaboration.

Contact hours include all scheduled teaching sessions, but also supervised time in the workshop or studio.

Learning activities include: studio workshops, lectures, technical demonstrations, tutorials (individual and group), project reviews, presentations, independent study, field trips, AUB and London shows.

Typical contact hours can be found below:

Year 1 (% time) Year 2 (% time) Year 3 (% time)

60

50

50

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.

For every unit of your course, we'll inform you of what you're expected to learn; what you have to submit; how your work will be assessed; and the deadline for presenting your work for assessment. This is made available through Unit Information, which is on your course blog.

You'll receive a final mark for each unit in the form of a percentage, which will 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 have 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.

For further information on assessment, progression, awards and classifications, please visit https://viewpoint.aub.ac.uk

What our graduates are doing

Our graduates go on to play an active role in a wide range of communications businesses from design consultancies to media companies, publishers to packaging. And many set up their own companies.

Careers include:

  • Graphic Designer
  • Brand Strategist
  • Brand Consultant
  • Motion Graphic Designer
  • UX/UI Designer
  • Packaging Designer
  • Art Director
  • Social Media Strategist
  • Experience Designer.

Some graduates choose to take postgraduate courses before embarking on their career.

Graphic Design has close links with industry, and graduates are actively recruited by leading national and international design companies, including:

Forpeople | Coley | Porter Bell | Moving Brands | NB Studios | Bond and Coyne | Pentagram | Sky | Walker Agency | Tide | Ustwo | Nice & Serious | Bright Blue Day | Multi-adaptor | Dyson | Ogilvy | Bow&Arrow | 20 Ten Creative

You can find out more about our alumni by browsing their profiles below.

Kieran James Headshot

Kieran James – BA (Hons) Graphic Design

When I heard that the number of asthma attacks was increasing, I decided to see what I could do about it...

James Addison holding the book Have You Got Four Candles

James Addison – BA (Hons) Graphic Design

James Addison works as creative lead at for people, a design studio based in London...

Steven O'Neil Headshot

Steven O’Neil – BA (Hons) Graphic Design

I’m a multidisciplinary designer based in London, with a particular interest in design thinking and brand strategy whilst honing...

Profile of Izzi Hays

Izzi Hays – BA (Hons) Graphic Design

Izzi graduating from the AUB in 2017, and since has worked alongside some of the world’s biggest brands such as Google, and YouTube...

Trips and visits

As part of the learning process you'll gain insight into the industry by visiting a range of design studios. You may also get the opportunity to take part in cultural course trips, previous trips have included:

  • Berlin
  • London
  • Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Venice

These trips are optional, and some may incur additional costs.

Our course has welcomed a wide range of inspiring speakers, to provoke discussion, deliver practice advice and workshops.

  • Pali Palavathanan, TEMPLO
  • Rob Nicoll, Co-Founder and CMO Chip[s] Board ltd
  • Dr Cathy Gale, ‘X’ PhD research
  • Rosie Isbell, Senior UX designer
  • Rachel Andrews, Web developer, co-founder of Perch CMS and Notist
  • Régine Debatty, Writer, curator, critic, We make money not art
  • Alex Kosmidis, Joe Egan, Forpeople
  • Tammy Johal, designer, Tide
  • Izzi Hays, Creative Strategist Multi-adaptor
  • Ruth Andrade, Lush
  • Rebecca Ford, Head of Design and Innovation, The RSA
  • Sevra Davies / British Council
  • Laura Yarrow, Senior UX designer, Experience UX
  • Ted Hunt, independent, discursive, critical designer

BA (Hons) Graphic Design students listening while Eleni Beveratou delivers a presentation. Eleni is holding a piece of paper with the letters "p e c h" drawn on it.

Eleni Beveratou – typography workshop – October 2023

We had the brilliant Eleni Beveratou – Creative Director at Dalton Maag – running a typography workshop for our third-year students.

AUB Human newspaper

The AUB Human newspaper features AUB student and staff work from the Environmental Connection project with BA (Hons) Graphic Design and Interior Architecture and Design courses. The project was undertaken in collaboration with Activate Performing Arts, in relation to the Green Space Dark Skies project at Maiden Castle in June 2022.

Latest from BA (Hons) Graphic Design

See more of our student work

Graphic Design is about communicating to inform, educate, entertain and persuade. The success of this course is represented by the sheer number of awards that our students win.

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