Graphic Design and Visual Communication - BA Hons (Lancaster University)
Qualification Obtained: BA (Hons) in Graphic Design and Visual Communications
The BA (Hons) Graphic Design and Visual Communication provides you with a stimulating, challenging and creative environment in which to explore traditional and digital techniques in the context of the Graphic Design industry. The aim is for you to develop your own visual identity and be able to communicate and present creative ideas and concepts in visual, oral or written forms to a range of audiences. There is a strong vocational emphasis to ensure you develop the employability skills needed to manage project briefs from inception to fully realised outcomes. We have a long standing tradition of excellent results and winning multiple national awards every year.
Course Entry Requirements
A minimum of 200 UCAS points (excluding functional skills) or above in an appropriate discipline and GCSE English Language at grade C or above or equivalent.
We also welcome applications from those with relevant experience in lieu of the minimum entry requirements.
All applicants will be given the opportunity to attend one of our workshops. Alternatively, if you are unable to attend, we will view your work online. For further details, please see: http://www.blackpool.ac.uk/sca/auditions
2017 Entry Requirements
A new UCAS Tariff will be used for courses starting from September 2017, the new entry requirements are as follows;
A minimum of 80 UCAS points (previously 200) in an appropriate discipline excluding functional skills and GCSE English Language at grade C or above (or equivalent). .
Applicants who are able to demonstrate relevant work/life skills or knowledge will also be considered on an individual basis. .
All applicants will be given the opportunity to attend a workshop. Alternatively, if you are unable to attend, we will view your work online. For further details, please see www.blackpool.ac.uk/sca/auditions
Career Options and Progression
The multi-disciplinary nature of Graphic designer means graduating students must have the skills and acumen to work in a number of different industry environments and respond to a range of varying market demands. There are a range of opportunities available to graduates:
- Web Design
- Advertising and Branding
- Print Production
- Graphic designer
- Multimedia designer
- Info graphic designer
- Digital design
- Art Director
- Special effects/ designs for games/animations/films/TV
- 3D design
- Packaging and surface design
- Illustration for Magazine’s/print productions/ Editorial
- Freelance Graphic designer
- Digital interactivity
- Retail specialists
- Post production houses
- In-house design with corporations and organisations
- Multi-disciplinary design consultancies
- Post graduate study within Graphic Design or related design disciplines
- Progression to a Masters degree.
Modules and Assessment
This degree is part of multi-arts University Centre where creative individuals are able to collaborate, critique, nurture, develop and showcase their ideas as part of an outstanding learning community. In the school of Creative Arts and Digital Industries, designers, artists, illustrators, performers, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, fashion designers and scriptwriters combine to create an enriching environment that offers an holistic creative and digital experience.
In the ‘real world’ new ideas are at a premium, they are the life blood of great design, which is why we place experimentation and investigation at the heart of the curriculum and why the students have the opportunities to investigate the unproven and untried.
With that in mind, this programme is underpinned by strong links with industry, which comprises working in partnership with employers on live briefs, national competitions and work placement opportunities. As part of this process, you will work alongside some of the most influential designers and creative thinkers in the country, which will allow you to develop a range of disciplines and expertise in areas such as branding, packaging design, editorial, interactive design, advertising, information design, digital and moving image.
To date, students have undertaken work placements in New York, Amsterdam, Milan, South Africa, London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds - as well as closer to home. Students have learned from such creative luminaries as Wally Olins at Wolf Olins, Brian Webb at Webb & Webb Design, Milton Glaser at Milton Glaser Inc and Jon Slater, the Ex-Creative Director of Sattchi and Saatchi. Work placements with Springetts, Smith and Milton, Open Agency, Bisqit, Lush Design, Brand Union and The Chase showcase the breadth and opportunity that is there for every student. For some, the work placement can turn into a ‘big break’ and lead directly to future employment.
In terms of live and competition briefs, we have a long-standing tradition of winners. In 2015, students won, were runners up or highly commended in the following national competitions: The Starpacks Awards, The National Calendar Awards (where our students won 5 out of the 6 awards given), The Creative Conscience Awards, The YCN Awards, The Royal Society of Arts Awards, The Penguin Book Awards and national recognition from Lonsdale and Saatchi.
In terms of enrichment, as well as offering and exciting package of extra curricular activities, you have the opportunity to sign up for inspirational study visits to exhibitions and to explore the fabulously rich artistic heritage in a variety European cities. In the past few years, we have organised trips to New York and Barcelona, which have had a significant impact on students' work and their experience.
As part of your programme of study, we have outstanding reputation for excellent teaching and learning, regular visiting lecturers, guest speakers and former students, many of whom are in successful and exciting careers. This means that as well as providing useful early insights into the world of work, you can draw on a rich source of industry experience and there are many opportunities for working in partnership with these employers.
Throughout the first year of your studies, you will be continually encouraged to develop your creativity, take risks and think both laterally and imaginatively developing a deeper understanding the design brief and its requirements. By embedding and building confidence in your creative development, you will be able to realise and articulate your ideas to gain a fresh perspective in all aspects of design. You will explore a range of skills including the language of typography, printmaking, illustration, digital imaging, editorial design, advertising, branding and interactive design. With the aid of workshops, demonstrations, lectures, seminars and group discussions students will be able to investigate and analyse the wider breadth of visual communication.
In the second year of your studies, you will begin to develop a more self-directed role, where you will be introduced to the development of initial design concepts and implementation taking into consideration their target audience, future clients, current trends within the marketplace, cultural climate and economic limitations. As part of this process, you will be given the opportunity to apply these new found skills within industry during work placements, together with live briefs and current competitions. Interaction with practising designers, guest lecturers and visiting alumni will also contribute to their understanding of the emerging issues within the creative industries. Graphic designers are ‘ ideas people’ and it is this skill that encapsulates the very core of the modules at this level.
In the second semester of Level Five two new pathways will also be introduced:
- Creative Advertising and Branding
- Web Design, Animation and Interactive Media
These pathways reflect current and projected market trends in Graphic design and will allow for increased autonomy and individual development as a creative artist. Both advertising and branding and web design have seen a real surge in their importance within the field of visual communication through the demand for interactive media and in particular social media. Social media now plays an ever increasing role in the development of many business opportunities, there is the potential to explore and expand within this area through the course pathways. There are also strands of animation and entrepreneurship to align with industry needs and the development of your professional competencies.
In their final year, you will continue on your chosen pathways under the umbrella of Graphic Design and Visual Communication. These pathways have been designed to give you an area of specialism that encourages a wider skillset that is needed in today’s creative industries. During your final year, you will have the opportunity to extend your creative potential and specialist focus through self-initiated projects, which will culminate in a professional portfolio and their graduate exhibition at the end of the year.
Below is an overview of the modules you will study:
Year 1 - Level 4
CS401 Thinking and Making - 20 credits
GD402 Exploring Advertising and Branding Technology - 20 credits
GD403 Narrative Image Making for Graphic Design - 20 credits
GD404 Experimental Journeys within Traditional Design - 20 credits
GD405 Digital Design: Creative Suite and Animation - 20 credits
GD406 Exploratory Approaches to Graphic Design and Visual Communication - 20 credits
Year 2 - Level 5
CS501 Research into Practice - 20 credits
GD502 Entrepreneurial Practice and Self-Promotion - 20 credits
GD503 Conceptualising in Graphic Design - 20 credits
GD504 Advanced Development and Realisation for Graphic Design - 20 credits
GD505 Self-Initiated Pathways for Graphic Design - 20 credits
GD506 Creative Perspectives and Interactive Media - 20 credits
Year 3 - Level 6
CS601 Independent Research Project - 20 credits
GD602 Professional Pathway - 20 credits
GD603 Professional Pathway Synthesis - 40 credits
GD604 Entrepreneurial Effectiveness, Exhibition Space and Portfolio - 20 credits
GD605 Transitional Design - 20 credits
The students will be assessed in accordance to the diversity of learning and appropriate to the nature of creative design practice. Success cannot purely be measured by the quality of the design outcome it involves the all aspects of the design process from conceptual thinking, risk taking and exploration, creative communication strategies, alternative visual approaches and the successful use of technology.
Studio and workshop-based design is assessed, in the main, on production of supporting communication, identifying needs, information gathering, discovery, the generation of ideas, critical reflection, project management and the ability to work in collaboration. Demonstrating the appropriate levels of knowledge and skills, ability to analyse, constructively criticise and evaluate information and effectively communicate it at each level of the programme.
As students develop and progress between levels, learning and teaching will support self-direction and autonomy, with an understanding of a learning process that enforces knowledge acquisition, conceptual development, experimentation, critical understanding, practical experience and reflection.
The programme will be delivered through a combination of formative assignments, lectures, screenings, seminars, staff-led workshops, group and individual work, and independent study supported by VLEs. Further support is provided where appropriate by other methods such as guest lectures, live projects, supervised independent workshops, e-learning, VLEs, tutorials, HELMs and external visits. Students will experience both large and small group sessions supported by independent learning. Seminar and group experiences will be led by a combination of tutor and student.
Assessment strategies will aim to deliver continuous formative guidance during assignments, with a view to fostering reflective progression. Students will be given the opportunity to respond to feedback within their work, prior to summative, end-of-module assessments.
The assessment schedule will facilitate the above feedback and dialogue through reflection, allowing student’s time to put learning into practice. As detailed in B3 of the Quality Code, “Effective feedback is the result of: agreeing and communicating clear criteria before students compete the task; assessment that uses those criteria; and feedback based on the criteria and timed so that students can use it constructively in their next stage of learning.”
Breakdown of assessment methods, by year for this course:
Year 1: 74% coursework, 26% practical exams
Year 2: 5% written exams, 54% coursework, 41% practical exams
Year 3: 100% coursework
Year 1 - Level 4
CS401 Thinking and Making - 67% Coursework, 33% Practical
GD402 Exploring Advertising and Branding Technology - 100% Coursework
GD403 Narrative Image Making for Graphic Design - 100% Coursework
GD404 Experimental Journeys within Traditional Design - 100% Coursework
GD405 Digital Design: Creative Suite and Animation - 70% Coursework, 30% Practical
GD406 Exploratory Approaches to Graphic Design and Visual Communication - 100% Coursework
Year 2 - Level 5
CS501 Research into Practice - 67% Coursework, 33% Practical
GD502 Entrepreneurial Practice and Self-Promotion - 100% Coursework
GD503 Conceptualising in Graphic Design - 100% Coursework
GD504 Advanced Development and Realisation for Graphic Design - 100% Coursework
GD505 Self-Initiated Pathways for Graphic Design - 100% Coursework
GD506 Creative Perspectives and Interactive Media - 100% Coursework
Year 3 - Level 6
CS601 Independent Research Project - 100% Coursework
GD602 Professional Pathway - 100% Coursework
GD603 Professional Pathway Synthesis - 100% Coursework
GD604 Entrepreneurial Effectiveness, Exhibition Space and Portfolio - 100% Coursework
GD605 Transitional Design - 100% Coursework
Teaching and Learning Methods
The Graphic Design and Visual Communication programme addresses the very important relationship between theory and practice by interweaving both historical and social, cultural contexts through all aspects of current design practice. Teaching methods are designed to challenge and enhance creative thinking and learning at all levels through a vehicle of assignments or design briefs that build on a greater understanding of the world through communication. The overarching teaching model follows a hierarchical pattern of acquisition, development and resolution that can be contextualized within the role of design in our society.
Learning and teaching strategies in Level 4 introduce learners to graphic design concepts, materials and methods through a series of lectures, seminars and demonstrations and workshops. Students will study a wide range of disciplines that have been developed to widen their breadth of experience and skills base this will include typography, illustration, print-making, digital media, packaging, advertising, infographics, interactive media and editorial design. This will provide a grounding in all areas of graphic design current practice that the student is able to then build upon in Level 5. During all assignments learners will research for and evaluate material in the search for appropriate solutions to graphic design briefs. They will be actively involved in the appraisal process in either group discussion, seminars, critiques or tutorials.
The aim of the level 5 modules is to empower the students allowing them to take ownership of their own development, managing their time and focused learning in areas that inspire and motivate them. There is still, however, a high level of tutorial support and tutor guidance with innovative problem solving and creative action planning.
Level 5 is industry focused and all about ‘ideas’ perhaps the single most important currency within the professional design community. Therefore there is a definitive focus on competition briefs and live briefs in Level 5, this allows the students to raise their profile within the design community as well as gaining a greater understanding of industry needs. Competitions establish the importance of the fundamental needs of design investigation, through to the delivery of well-crafted design solutions and provide a platform for the creative journey.
In the second semester of Level Five two new pathways are being introduced:
- Creative Advertising and Branding
- Web Design, Animation and Interactive Media
The two pathways should give the students a more directed vision for the last year of their programme and equip them with cutting edge skills that are very much needed in today’s competitive market. During level 5 the students will be introduced to the development of initial design concepts and implementation taking into consideration their target audience, future clients, current trends within the marketplace, cultural climate and economic limitations. In effect ‘what makes effective and successful communication.
The students will be given the opportunity to apply these new found skills within industry during their optional work placements. The introduction of the Entrepreneurial modules both in level 5 and in level 6 have been designed with the interests of young graduates at heart, providing key skills in the acquisition of knowledge in both business practice and self-promotion.
The level 6 modules are aimed at empowering self -directed learning, they are given the opportunity to write and implement their own brief which in turn encourages a level of independent learning fostering a high level of engagement. During this year the students are able to develop both their entrepreneurial skill base, self- promotional ideas and direct their personal journey in a way that maximizes each students creative potential. The course team are always on hand to support, advise and monitor each students progression in the pursuit of their personal goals.
An appropriate mix of the following teaching and learning methodologies will be utilised within individual modules in order to foster the attitudes appropriate at each level of study and to allow opportunities for students to demonstrate achievement of the level and module learning outcomes:
During their time on the graphic design degree students work to a series of creative briefs that require them to produce a range of 2D, 3D, digital and traditional outcomes. This provides opportunities for them to take control and manage their own learning and to demonstrate skills and competencies in areas such as problem-solving and primary research, as well as the core design competencies.
Individual Creative Portfolio
Students will generate a formally presented portfolio, which will showcase their work in a professional context. A portfolio may take the form of a traditional print-based portfolio, online digital portfolio, use e-portfolio software, or be a combination of the examples given. Students will also be involved in the planning and creation of exhibitions and installations.
Common to all studio modules are group, or peer critiques, where students are taught in small groups. Critiques provide opportunities for the development of intellectual skills in constructing and supporting arguments, as well as practical communication skills. The emphasis is on presenting work on progress, or final outcomes to the group so that students can get summative and formative feedback and one-to-one support from tutors. ‘Crits’ and associated discussion forums may be carried out face to face or using the VLE, though the use of Moodle or even Skype.
Industry Related Learning
Live briefs can be seen to offer opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of, and practical skills in, professional working practices and methodologies. Competition briefs serve to provide a competitive focus for students and may feed in to entrepreneurial elements of the course. The aim is to foster good research around the work of previous winners and entries from other institutions, and thus a strong sense of vocational standards and quality emerges.
Individual Peer Presentations
Students will be expected to present ideas, process, project proposals, supported by knowledge and understanding, to their peers and tutors. Students will be supported in making use of relevant presentation techniques, strategies, software and technologies, with verbal skills also being assessed, both formatively and summatively.
Lectures (Critical Studies)
Students will attend the overarching lecture programme within CS, that deals with theories and approaches relevant to the development of an understanding of communicating visually in contemporary and historical contexts. These lectures deal with Visual Communication and Study Skills for Critical Studies as well as providing a basis for contextualising contemporary approaches to understanding and engaging in professional practice. The content of the lecture programme is reviewed annually as part of the Critical Studies review.
These are be used as forums for debate and discussion relating to the theoretical perspectives dealt with in Critical Studies lectures, and the wider graphic design programme, that can be utilised in other areas of practice, for example, Visual Communication. These smaller group seminars provide a basis for visual analysis that is intended to be used in other modules. Seminars will also be used to emphasise professional practice as it relates to the lecture programme. Basic research methods will be delivered as part of the study skills lectures that are part of the overarching lecture programme for all undergraduates in the School of Creative Arts. These are supported and reinforced through tutorials with academic and LRC staff.
Analytical Reports and Essays
These will provide the synthesis of information gathered from CS lectures and personal research. At Level 4 they will focus on historical and contemporary developments in graphic design. Level 5 will focus on developing the intellectual capacity of the students in relation to research and analysis and on extending the ability to communicate effective written analysis. Level 6 will offer dissertation support in the form of tutorials, where formative and finally summative feedback can be given.
Longer assignments, which provide excellent opportunities for students to demonstrate effective self-managed learning whilst demonstrating a full broad range of competencies from technical skills and research/enquiry through to independence of thought and critical analysis. Incremental learning and progress is monitored by means of staged submissions and formative assessment points.
Students will be equipped with a range of creative and technical abilities, developed through exploration, experimentation and discovery. The investigation of a range of traditional and contemporary techniques and materials will be placed into appropriate contexts and scenarios, both cultural and contemporary.
Independent Research and Self-Directed Study
Self-directed study is an important aspect of the programme where students will be expected to develop and extend their own personal work. The investigation of a range of traditional, contemporary and emerging techniques, materials, technologies, working in 2D and 3D and will be placed into appropriate contexts and scenarios, both cultural and contemporary. Students will work under their own direction in workshop, studios, library and on location; with relevant primary research an expectation. Tutorials will support this process, as will one-to-one tutor feedback.
Students will receive individual tuition/feedback and action points to develop practical and academic skills. Fixed point academic and Personal Development Planning (PDP) tutorials will be used to review student progress, discuss aspirations and options, identify necessary remedial actions, plan future progression via individual action plan, assist and provide general counseling. Pastoral support will be provided in line with School of Creative Arts practice. The tutorial hours are considered to be part of the overall contact hours for the course and discreet sessions will be provided.
Sketchbook Research/ Reflective writing
Student reflective logs will support development and planning processes on the graphic design programme. An integral part of module assessment, students will be introduced to strategies and examples that will support their own creative development on the porgramme. Reflective logs will allow the students to manage their own learning as they progress through the modules and levels. This submission format is malleable in line with changing industry expectations, with documents ranging from notepads, sketchbooks, digital sketchbooks or online weblogs. The student/lecturer partnership will agree on a suitable submission form assuming that it serves the purpose of being developmental and allows reflection to take place.
Research refers to a broad range of information gathering, synthesis and selection, which informs and enhances the development of students work in considerable depth. Research is recorded through learning journals and sketchbooks, and includes the reflective and critical analysis of visual and critical references and contemporary photographic practice. Research should not only be library based and should include visiting exhibitions, galleries, museums, viewing films, attending performances, lectures and seminars.
Organised industry-based tours will be a feature of the programme between levels, supplemented by a programme of gallery, studio and industry visits. The frequency and funding of these excursions will be determined year-on-year and student attendance will not be essential to successful completion of any module. Recent trips have been organised to Berlin, Barcelona, Venice and New York. Consideration will be given to financial restraints and access to ensure an inclusive learning environment for all students, as detailed in B3 of the Quality Code.
VLE will be used in both the delivery and assessment of all levels of the programme. Students will have full access to class content, distance learning materials, assessments, and other external resources such as academic or museum website links on the programme’s moodle page. The classroom teaching will be supplemented with online forums, seminars, submissions and resources, along with the recording of tutorials.
Percentage of time in different learning activities, by year for this course:
Year 1: 28% time in lectures and seminars, 72% time in independent study
Year 2: 26% time in lectures and seminars, 74% time in independent study
Year 3: 21% time in lectures and seminars, 79% time in independent sutudy
Work Placement and Field Trips
There is no work placement included on this course however, students are encouraged to take up an optional work placement. Students are encouraged to enage with a suitable work placement over the holidays and are actively encouraged to take up longer placements during the holidays at the end of level 5.
All staff involved in the delivery of higher education courses within the College are approved to teach the subjects and modules they deliver. The approval process ensures that staff delivering a given programme are appropriately qualified and, where appropriate, possess relevant vocational and industrial experience and professional practice.
Read our tuition fees guide.
You should be aware that there may be additional costs to consider such as optional educational visits and photocopying/printing. You will typically be required to spend an average of £100 per year on printing costs.
Resources required to achieve the learning outcomes of the programme are provided by the College.
Regulation and Accreditation
This programme is regulated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Terms and Conditions
Read our full terms and conditions for more information.
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