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Visual Communication

From the icons on your smartphone to the signs at an airport, from the logo on a cola to the type on your favourite magazine, Visual Communications play a powerful part in shaping our choices.

Course Information

Visual Communication is a broad discipline, encompassing graphic design, image generation, typography and screen-based design. Throughout the course, your industry knowledge will be strengthened through independent research, as well as collaborative and individual participation in ‘live’ and prestigious competition briefs, set by the likes of D&AD and ISTD.

Visual Communication combines skills in illustration, graphic design, typography and digital design to create images that persuade or inform.

From the start, the course focuses on hand-drawn imagery to develop a feel for the shapes and styles that connect with audiences. Practical experiences will be used to develop your skills. We’ll help you to build your visual awareness and understanding of the world around you. In addition to plenty of theory and debate, you’ll have the chance to work on live briefs with other students and find work placements in creative businesses.

Visual Communication underlines the importance of good ideas. You’ll leave with all the practical skills that you need to work in a vibrant and exciting industry. Our graduates work as freelancers in small design companies and with larger firms, both locally and internationally.

Level 4 (First Year)

In your first year, we’ll introduce you to the communications industries and the skills you’ll need to make a career within them.

We’ll introduce you to the diverse areas of visual communication: text and image, illustration, photography, typography.

You’ll learn to think critically and gain an understanding of design methodology, as well as learning to appreciate the importance of experimentation, creativity and risk taking.

You’ll develop practical skills, such as mark-making and typography. We’ll also teach you design and software skills through workshops and learn about the different aspects of professional practice.

You’ll also have the chance to work with industry, including creating ideas for advertising campaigns or editorial design.

Level 5 (second year)

In your second year, you’ll add new skills to your portfolio – including digital design. You’ll also have the chance to work in a creative business.

Level 5 will see you design for both print and screen. You’ll learn about web design, the use of visual language, packaging and branding.

The main focus of the year is on gaining further insight into the broad subject discipline of visual communication, alongside an increasing appreciation of design aesthetics.

You’ll develop your conceptual skills, critical analysis, creativity and self-expression and work on a range of stimulating live projects.

You’ll discover more about industry through independent research, participation in ‘live’ projects and prestigious competition briefs.

Your practical work will be underpinned by sound theoretical principles and an awareness of cultural, social, political, ethical and environmental issues.

Level 6 (Third Year)

Your third year brings your learning together, as you use your practical skills to create solutions for industry projects.

We’ll encourage you to develop individual, independent lines of creative enquiry and demonstrate design and technical skills at an advanced level.

You’ll have the opportunity to develop your career interests by actively pursuing your practice within contemporary discourses. You’ll carry out extensive and specific research and develop your practice, gaining an understanding of the context and behaviours of an audience.

You’ll have the opportunity to work on collaborative projects with industry professionals and will leave AUB with plenty of useful contacts.

All students are registered for the award of BA (Hons); however, exit awards are available if you leave the course early, having successfully completed one or two levels. If you successfully complete a level of the course, you will automatically be entitled to progress to the next level.

For the award of a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 120 credits at Level 4. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the first year of your course.

For the award of a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 240 credits of which a minimum of 120 must be at Level 5. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the second year of your course.

For the award of a BA (Hons) you must have achieved a minimum of 360 credits of which a minimum of 240 must be at Level 5 or above, of which a minimum of 120 credits must be at Level 6. This qualification will be awarded upon successful completion of your course.

A BA without Honours may be awarded if you have achieved 300 credits, at least 180 of which are at Level 5 or above, and at least 60 of which are at Level 6.

You can find out more about the experienced teaching staff that you’ll be taught by below. Explore their profiles to find out more about their specialisms and research interests.

Sally Hope Headshot

Sally Hope

Sally has presented papers both nationally and internationally in relation to her type expertise...

Richard Hurst Headshot

Richard Hurst

During his MA in Graphic Design, Rich investigated the notion of Tension through Force Dynamics – a branch of cognitive linguistics...

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Hannah Byles

Hannah completed her MA in Communication design which focused on the unspoken word and how we communicate through gestures and...

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Sarah James

Sarah studied 3D Design (glass and ceramics) before working commercially designing and making stained glass...

How to apply

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. All of our courses take place on one site, so we don't have a campus code. 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.

Portfolio Requirements

We are looking for candidates with an open-minded and lively approach to new ideas, and an awareness of the specialist areas of design and visual problem solving

Due to Covid-19 and the need for social distance, we will not be able to offer on campus interviews to applicants this cycle. For courses that require a portfolio review or an audition, the Admissions team will be in touch with you and request a digital portfolio or audition.

We will hold Offer Holder days in Spring and invite applicants to visit the campus and meet the course team, or if you are unable to visit us you will be able to attend a virtual Offer Holder Day.

Initially, you will be introduced to the course in a group (usually three to six people). At this stage, you will have the chance to ask any general questions about the course and study at AUB. From here you will have the opportunity to speak one-to-one with a lecturer and present your portfolio; at this point, you may also ask any questions specific to your application.

To enable the course team to assess your creative ability and potential the particular things that we shall be looking for are:

  • Enthusiasm for exploring ideas through exploration of media and techniques.
  • Evidence of creative problem solving, an enquiring mind and a commitment to further study.
  • Evidence of sketchbooks and visual diaries that demonstrate a thoughtful approach, and commitment to design problem-solving.
  • Evidence of contextual and historical research and understanding.
  • A willingness to engage in debate on a variety of topical and cultural issues.

Universities interviewing for creative courses will expect to be presented with a portfolio to help them understand your ability and range of work. Your portfolio could be your golden ticket into receiving an offer so making sure it’s presentable, well-organised and accessible is essential.

Visual Communication is a continuum and seamless spectrum of creative activity, ranging from conceptual practice to mainstream design. Visual Communication is now producing graduates who are not only able to work at any point on that continuum, but have the ability to move within it at will. These abilities are crucial, not only in life, but also in maintaining currency of practice and longevity of employment.

Sally Hope, Course Leader

Fees and Funding

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.

Studios and Resources

Studying on this course, you’ll work in a professional environment with two dedicated studio spaces and computer suites.

There are also areas for quiet working and facilities for more hands-on processes, such as bookbinding, letterpress and traditional print.

Teaching and Learning

The teaching and learning within BA (Hons) Visual Communication’s working studio environment is open so that you can make the most of opportunities that arise from within and beyond the curriculum structure. This manner of teaching is multidisciplinary, and characteristically based on collaborative studio practice.

Projects explore the interface and overlap between analogue and digital technologies, and look at ways in which traditional ‘craft’ media and processes can be used alongside technological developments. We are interested in the ‘hybrid’ processes, visual thinking and ideas generation from concept to final outcome that emerge from this overlap, with a particular focus on print and digital/traditional publishing, typography and screen-based design.

Honours study combines independent learning and taught sessions.

The course objectives will be met by deploying a wide variety of teaching and learning methods including workshop projects, studio projects, lectures, seminars, group critiques, guided reading and tutorials.

The methods employed will, whenever possible, lead you into the disciplines required of a creative design practitioner and promote the transferable skills of self- management and self-reliance.

The course is structured progressively to provide increased opportunities for autonomous learning.

The progressive promotion of student-centred learning reflects maturity as a student and allows development towards individual goals.

Teaching is directed at supporting individual engagement in learning although there will be opportunities to work in teams/collaborations to enable learning the value of peer cooperation.

The integration of theory and practice is promoted and reinforced through a team- teaching approach. Lectures, seminars and tutorials may be delivered by team members as appropriate in the creative environment of the studio.

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 which is scheduled in the studio for independent study which is also supported by staff (either academic staff, or technicians).

The information provided below gives the proportion of your study time which constitutes contact hours. Where there are optional routes through the course, we have used the figures for the most popular option.

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

59

48

56

Assessment and Feedback

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 will inform you of what you are 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 will 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.

The University has agreed that, during 2019/20, it will run a pilot project. This will mean that on some courses, one unit at Level 4 will be assessed on a Pass / Fail basis only, with written feedback but no numerical grade. If your course has been selected for the pilot, your Course Leader will tell you this, and the details will be clearly expressed on the Unit Information Sheet.

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

On successful completion of your Honours degree course, you will 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 will 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

Many of our graduates go on to pursue careers which cross the traditional boundaries of Graphic Design.

Our graduates work for the likes of the BBC, ITV, AQKA, Penguin, Dam Digital and Thinking Juice — to name a few.

Arabella Jones Headshot

Arabella Jones

Arabella Jones graduated from BA (Hons) Visual Communications in 2017. She shares with us her experience at AUB...

Luke Bonner Headshot

Luke Bonner

I was a really, really proactive student. My work was average, I was bang in the middle of the class...

Josh Ogden Headshot

Josh Ogden

BA (Hons) Visual Communication Graduate, Josh Ogden, graduated from AUB in 2013...

Students studying this course achieve great things and have won prestigious and high profile awards, such as:

  • D&AD (2017) One to watch award
  • D&AD (2017) New Blood – Wood pencil award
  • ISTD Student awards (2017): winners
  • YCN (2017): winners
  • D&AD New Blood: Student of the year award
  • D&AD New Blood: Black Pencil and Yellow pencil awards

Trips and Visits

As part of your course you may also get the opportunity to take part in course trips, previous trips have included:

  • Amsterdam
  • New York
  • Berlin

*These trips are optional and some may incur additional costs

Due to the current travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, it is unlikely that any trips will be planned in the first half of the new academic year. We will follow Government advice as soon as it is available for the remainder of the year.

Visual Communication news

See more of our student work

From the icons on your smartphone to the signs at an airport, from the logo on a cola to the type on your favourite magazine.