Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Belfast School of Art
Product Design is a studio-based, hands-on course. Its focus on design, materials, processes and technology produces highly employable graduates.
This uniquely adaptable course is designed primarily for students from either an Art and Design or Technology and Design background who wish to follow careers within the design and design-making industries (which might also encompass ceramics and silversmithing, for instance) or who wish to teach in either Art and Design or Technology with Design, or want to undertake further design-related studies at Masters or Doctoral level.
The course provides stimulating and challenging practice-based education for the designer and designer-maker within a multidisciplinary studio environment with fabricating and prototyping at the core of the curriculum. There is access to metal, jewellery, ceramics and wood workshops, and 3D printing facilities.
The emphasis is on Design and Design as Making (clay/ ceramics and metal/ fine metal), so manufacture and material manipulation are very important with maquettes, concepts and testing as key parts of design and product development. State-of-the-art metal, jewellery, wood and ceramics workshops with full technical support offer facilities for fabrication and the manipulation of soft and hard materials, as well as applied skills for wood, metal, clay, and plastics.
Practice is informed by a strong culture of contextual understanding and critical writing and reflection. Students engage in multidisciplinary work-based learning through collaborative projects and industrial placements underpinned by teaching in professional practice, strategic business thinking and entrepreneurship. Ceramics, jewellery and silversmithing are major pathways in the course which comprises Designer and Designer-Maker strands.
The goal is to produce design and making graduates who are critical thinkers, fluent communicators and informed and highly-skilled makers who have the requisite technical, intellectual, creative and entrepreneurial skillsets to contribute in a valuable and meaningful way to the creative industries which could include being a ceramicist, ceramic designer, silversmith, metalsmith, ceramic design team member or jeweller.
The ceramics pathway equips the student will all the skills necessary to develop a career as an independent Maker and/or as part of a Designer/ Maker team. The ceramics studio and workshop are a thriving and invigorating spaces where students develop their maker practice with teaching and technical support from highly-experienced staff. The focus of this learning is based on new technologies and traditional, 2 and 3D processes, in ceramics that are hands-on, one-off, and appropriate for industrial manufacture.The workshop is fully equipped to support traditional and digital processes with materials and equipment perfectly suited to the individual Maker and/ or the Product Designer in contemporary ceramic practice.
The studio and workshop feature all elements necessary for ceramic design for manufacture both for industry and individual production. These include clay production and recycling facilities, slab rollers, wall mounted extruders, a dedicated throwing area for wheel-based production with large and small potter's wheels, plaster room (with extraction) with full mould making facilities; horizontal lathes, jigger-jolly machine, vac former, sledging facility and slip casting blungers. Small, medium and large gas and electric kilns are available in a dedicated kiln room. Glaze preparation and making room (with extraction), glaze application room (with extraction) with glaze boothes are also located in the workshop area. Access to 2 and 3D printers is available as is an expansive open studio space with individual student desks and storage.
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The course is based around four modules of study in each year, with the exception of final year which has three, one of which is a dissertation. The course is four years if students choose a placement year out. First year students are introduced to key skill sets, contextual studies and methodologies of making. They are given the opportunity to sample short projects from a number of specialist areas before going on to select specialist areas of study in years two and three. At the end of final year, students will have gained a range of design skills, and developed a personal, innovative approach to the practice of designing and making, which will be evidenced in a public end-of-year show.
Students are encouraged to undertake group study trips in years one and two to London and a European destination respectively. The aim is to broaden their contextual knowledge of design and making in general, and to undertake a series of industrial and professional study visits to gain insight into professional practice within their chosen discipline. There is also access to fully-supported workshop facilities for metal, wood, jewellery and ceramics.
Choice is a feature in a number of areas within the course, especially at the end of second year when students can choose between an optional industrial placement (DPP) or take advantage of the opportunity for international academic study at a number of European or USA/ international institutions through the Erasmus, Study USA and ISEP initiatives respectively. Students have the choice to explore a diverse range of specialist subject areas in their final year through self-generated project briefs, learning contracts, choice of dissertation topic and alignment with specialist teaching staff and tutorial/ seminar groups.
Students are encouraged to join the 'Chartered Society of Designers' or 'The Institute of Designers in Ireland' as student members. Full professional membership is gained after required application and folio interviews, post final year of the course.
Attendance is largely studio-based, four days per week with 15 hours staff contact time and 35 hours self-directed study per week.
The Product Design course is applied and research-based by its nature. Assessment outcomes include production of physical models and prototypes, conceptual designs, written essays and oral presentations offering key research areas. The course’s main points are to enable students to understand and learn processes, construct models, test ideas, develop core design skills, and learn about the culture and contexts of design and making. The most beneficial way to enable the pedagogy of design and designer-maker education is to deliver it in a studio or workshop environment. Library and online research is also supported and encouraged. Every student will have their own space to conceptualise, fabricate and deliver projects under the tutelage of an experienced and passionate academic team.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until near the start date and may be subject to change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days of attendance will often be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Masters courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have four learning outcomes, and no more than two items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6 (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Masters degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advanced HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2021-2022.
The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.
High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.
At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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Design Practice introduces students to the importance of visual and physical representation and how they are applied in Product Design professional practice. From the iterative development process through to communication of finished Designs. Students will explore systems of drawing including freehand and measured perspective, orthographic projection and physical soft modelling in a range of media. Iterative Sketching alternating between 2D and 3D, drawing and modelling, is explored as a key part of the creative process and students are introduced to a range of techniques with the aim of demonstrating creative and appropriate ways of generating and communicating ideas within a creative design environment.
Design Fundamentals provides an introduction to the methods of exploring and conceptualising user-centered Product Design and Development. Students will develop and demonstrate creative thinking demanded by a variety of design projects. Within the design process students will explore a wide range of ideas towards a final solution across multiple projects, with emphasis on process as well as outcome. Students will have the experience of working in different scales using different thinking processes and a variety of materials and studio based techniques.
This module introduces major issues and concerns within design research to broaden the student's understanding, knowledge and critical observation of design design and material culture. Students are encouraged to think about design within a wider theoretical, historical and social context to enable them to evaluate and respond to discourses, past, present and future. There is a strong emphasis in establishing the rigors of reading, writing and research required at this level to develop the student's ability to support, defend and express their ideas.
Design Processes introduces students to the concept of a formalised design and making processes. It explores the tools, techniques and methodologies employed within those processes introducing creative strategies for idea generation and problem solving against a contextual background of key issues and drivers that inform contemporary design practice within the fields of Product Design, Industrial Design, and the Designer Maker, through the context of User Empathy and End-User Innovations.
Design Communication provides an introduction to the concepts and methodologies of visual communication, graphic design, 3D CAD, CAM, information design and presentation techniques. Through studio-based practice students are taught effective communication of ideas using appropriate presentation techniques and output media.
This module enables students to test commercial/social viability of their design ideas. Students will be guided to develop professional skills associated with creative design practice to integrate and manage the complexities of the design process, reconciling user needs with commercial requirements. The module provides a unique learning experience in the development of professional level skills required for visual, written and oral presentation.
This module is worth 40 credit points and requires a comprehensive range of course work from concepts through to final designs. Presentation is expected in a range of formats, simulated concepts and prototypes, and a supporting business viability report.
In Design Realisation, students will undertake a series of design projects designed to demonstrate the intrinsic relationship between design intent, scale of manufacture, choice of material and choice of making and manufacturing process. They are given the opportunity to develop an in depth applied understanding of a number of materials and manufacturing processes through live briefs where they have to balance design intent, client brief, commercial and industrial considerations, methods of production through to a successful outcome. The projects are informed by a series of lectures and Industrial study visits.
This module engages students in discussions of the issues that underpin contemporary, creative design practice. Students are encouraged to contribute actively their own ideas, theories, opinions on key design issues and to develop intellectual and conceptual tools to challenge and inform their own developing practice. It provides students with the necessary frameworks, methodologies and core skills of writing and presentation in a variety of media formats (video-documentary, journal editing) to undertake the major writing project in their final year. The module builds on and broadens the skills learnt in Level 4 module and introduces new skills to be consolidated in Level 6 module.
This module engages students in developing their skills as individual researchers, reflective practitioners and as dynamic participants in a community of learners. Design history, theory, and practice spans diverse but interrelated disciplines and students will be engaged in critically reflecting and underpinning the interdisciplinary nature of its discourses, thus building an intellectual framework to support their studio practice. Students are supported in the generation and development of a self-directed research project on a topic related to the field of design studies, following historical and theoretical frameworks of enquiry. The module promotes the rigour of reflective and analytical writing at an academic level.
The module provides students with the opportunity to develop a real product for commercialisation. This module will be the accumulation of learning throughout a three / four-year degree process and provides the opportunity to evidence this education.
The outcome of this module will be a product that meets industry standards for potential commercial launch, while equipping the student with the skills and knowledge to be an independent or employable product designer/maker, within contemporary industry and creative sector practices.
This module will educate the student to become an industrial and/or sector practitioner of their own discipline, while attaining the academic critical attitude towards making choices under evidence and rationale. Prototyping and experimentation will be key and the processes involved in doing so, to assist the student in making validated decisions within a managed product development process against set criteria within a stage and gate methodology.
This Design Transitions; Product Design module focuses on the key strategies that will prepare and guide level six students towards planning for graduation, career development and employment. The module will provide the student with a professional e-portfolio, a 5- year strategic career plan and an opportunity to showcase their skillsets in the end of year show. Student Learning is supported with valuable resources, tools, case studies and signposts to allow them to tailor the resource material to their specific career ambitions. It will adopt a professional and entrepreneurial approach to planning a career within the broader spectrum of the creative industries.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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The A Level requirement for this course is BBC (one of which must be an Art and Design related subject or a Technology with Design-related subject).
Applicants can satisfy the requirement for one of the A level grades (or equivalent) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University.
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DDM
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DMM
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade C
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2016 Suite)
Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade C
QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Introductory Diploma (2012 Suite)
Award profile of M plus A Level Grades BC
RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Certificate (2016 Suite)
Award profile of M plus A Level Grades BC
104 UCAS tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at higher level) to include English at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.
The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is BCCCC.
The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is CDD.
Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum is 24 points (including 12 at higher level)
Overall Access profile
Overall profile of 60% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access Course)
Overall profile of 12 credits at Distinction, 30 credits at Merit and 3 credits at Pass (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course)
GCSE Profile to include:
For full-time study, you must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass at Grade C/4 or above in English Language
Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills - Communication will be accepted as equivalent to GCSE English.
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Submission of a satisfactory portfolio
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Graduates from this course are now working for:
With this degree you could become:
Graduates from the course find employment in areas as diverse as Product Design, both consultancy-based and corporate; Industrial Design, Vehicle Design, Furniture and Lighting Design, Ceramic and Silversmithing and Jewellery Design, both as designer-makers and in volume production. Students with an additional PGCE go on to teach both Art and Design and Technology and Design at secondary and tertiary level.
Students who achieve grades of a 2:1 can go on to develop their studies further on taught Masters programmes or research degrees offered within the university as well as throughout the UK and further afield. Career paths apart from industrial and product design, include ceramicist, ceramic designer, jewellery, metalsmith, silversmith and designer-maker.
The course offers a suite of opportunities to enhance students' design abilities, build transferrable skills, broaden life experience, prepare them for employment and equip them to be globally mobile. Collectively, these add value to their degree and make them a very attractive prospect to employers
The experiences are offered at the end of year two:
Erasmus/ UK Turing Award: Study for one or two semesters at a partner European university
Study USA - one academic year at an American Institution
International Student Exchange Programme (ISEP) Study for one year at an US/ International university (in any subject). Upon completion, students will be awarded a Diploma in International Studies (DIS/ DIAS) in addition to their degree at graduation
Students may seek placement within a design-related company for one year. Staff support students in identifying appropriate opportunities and interview/portfolio preparation. Careers Fairs across the University help students to link with potential employers. The course has a Employer Liaison Event which networks students with placement providers, industry professionals and current placement students. The Year Out is assessed, and successful students are awarded a Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP/ DPPi) alongside their degree at graduation
The University funds a number of short programmes to encourage global mobility such as:
Six week Chinese language taster course
GO EXPLORE THE WORLD!
Fees for entry in 2023/24 have not yet been set. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.
The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.
For modules commenced in the academic year 2022/23, the following fees apply:
|Credit Points||NI/ROI Cost||GB Cost||International Cost|
NB: A standard full-time undergraduate degree is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.
A Bursary Prize exists for the best performing student in Year One.
International Undergraduate Scholarship
£2,000 scholarship applied as discount to your annual tuition fee.
Other awards and prizes:
Information provided is for guidance only as scholarship details are subject to change - please refer to the source website for up-to-date and accurate information.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.
Course Director: Howard Wright
Admissions Contact: Fiona Murphy