Graphic Design - BDes (Hons)

2024/25 Full-time Undergraduate course

Award:

Bachelor of Design with Honours

Faculty:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:

Belfast School of Art

Campus:

Belfast campus

UCAS code:

W220
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20

Start date:

September 2024

With this degree you could become:

  • Graphic Designer
  • Digital Designer
  • Art Director
  • Brand Designer
  • Illustrator
  • Brand Director

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • Mammoth Design
  • Pale Blue Dot Design
  • Deloitte Digital
  • Crown Creative
  • Fluent Format
  • BBC
  • Kaizen Brand

Overview

Creative use of words and pictures for every type of communication.

Summary

Graphic Design is about the creative and diverse use of words, pictures, language, ideas and problem solving. Our approach to Graphic Design explores areas such as advertising, art direction, drawing, branding, image-making, typography and visual storytelling, for traditional and digital contexts, including motion graphics and digital design.

Thinking and ideas are central to producing good work. We value research, the design process and professionalism. Our analytical approach enables our students to engage with exciting design challenges, react to a rapidly changing industry and to develop as sensitive and intelligent designers.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course

About

Like most university courses the learning process in Graphic Design happens through modules. These modules have been designed to take the student through a journey of acquiring new skills, exploring the subject area and developing the individuals creativity. They are individually assessed and accumulated as you progress.

Year 1 is spent developing awareness of the subject. Subjects like typography are often new and take some time to become familiar with. You will carry out projects that help develop your skills with words and images while deepening your understanding of how this can be used to communicate in a wider society. You will work in a dynamic studio environment and learn via lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops.

Year 2 is about increasing your skills and knowledge and applying them in a range of ways including illustration, branding, photography, advertising and motion graphics. Projects will include live competition briefs and projects throughout the course.

Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) orDiploma in Professional Practice International (DPPI)

On successful completion of Year 2 studies, students have the opportunity to take the optional module Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) or (DPPI). This year of study provides an opportunity for students to gain first hand practical experience within a professional environment such as an advertising agency or brand consultancy prior to their final year of study. This module links the education experience to the real life situation of practice in the creative industries. It provides students with a range of experiences and skills relative to their practice, future career and professional development.

Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS).

On completion of Year 2, students have the opportunity to take the other optional module Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS). This optional module provides an opportunity for students to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland, developing an international perspective and an appreciation of cultural sensitivities which are desirable qualities in any graduate. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Year 3 is when students are encouraged to become increasingly independent in their working methods and in their choice of project. Students are encouraged to take part in major national/international student competitions such as Design and Art Direction (D&AD), the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD), Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI), Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and Creative Conscience Awards.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Attendance

Full Time

Three years (with option of four years with optional paid placement).

Attendance on the course is made up of taught sessions, lectures, seminars/tutorials, peer review/feedback, supervised studio and independent study.

Attendance at all sessions is mandatory and it is expected that you will engage not only with the taught elements but also with independent learning in the provided studio environment where your individual learning can be expanded through informal conversations with fellow students.

Start dates

  • September 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching methods

Formal presentations, briefings, lectures and ’hands on’ workshops form the core of each module. Modules include group tutorials, seminars, feedback and IT training sessions in all three years. Graphic Design and Illustration students are given assistance in directed and independent learning, so that they can make the most effective use of resources and of the image/information networks. We also expect Graphic Design and Illustration students to be interested in design, art and the media in the broadest sense and to reflect on such work through personal logs. The professional aspects mean that elements of entrepreneurship are built into almost every module.

Assessment

At each level, modules are assessed according to specific criteria and weightings which are published before the beginning of the semester. Assessment is both formative and summative, and, where appropriate, criteria are written to encourage risk-taking, enterprise and experimentation.

Feedback on your work helps you to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses so that you can develop and improve your work throughout the course.

Marks for all Final Year modules contribute to the final classification of the honours degree.

Attendance and Independent Study

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:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    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 close to the start date and may be subject to some 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 and periods of attendance will 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, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses 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. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s 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

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    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, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. 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 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 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 module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    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 Master’s 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 from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

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 and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance 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 from the academic year 2022-2023.

Belfast campus

Accommodation

High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.

Find out more - information about accommodation (Opens in a new window)  


Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

Find out more - information about student wellbeing (Opens in a new window)  

Modules

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.

Year one

Graphic Design 1

Year: 1

This module seeks to -

• to introduce Graphic design as a problem solving process
• to intoduce key design principles that underpin Graphic design
• to introduce type/image as a central aspect of Graphic design
• to introduce type, typography and the semantics of type
• to introduce layout, composition and the dynamic use of space and sequence
• to introduce awareness and knowledge of digital and analogue media options - introductions to both graphic design will begin to enable students o make informed choices for later specialism
• to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning through self-directed study and critical self-reflection
• to introduce the overall areas of graphic design to enable students to begin to make an informed choice for future specialism

Graphic Design 2

Year: 1

Students will undertake a range of projects of growing complexity aimed at developing their confidence and skills in typography and image making as the semester progresses. The central relationship between type and image will be explored in a variety of projects and media - highlighting the importance of layout and hierarchy in graphic design. Students will learn about traditional and digital processes and the wide variety of professional practice contexts where these integrated graphic design skills can be used.

Influences

Year: 1

This module will develop Study skills to move from a 'teacher-focussed' mode of learning to a more confident and independent approach, encouraging students to engage with and write about key influences and ideas in graphic design. Students will learn of the wider social, cultural, economic, political and technological contexts influencing, and being influenced by their practice. The module encourages students in establishing good observation skills and sound research practice.

Research and Writing 1

Year: 1

This module introduces year one students to key ideas and developments in graphic design history informing and influencing contemporary practice. Students will gain an appreciation of the wider social, cultural, economic, political and technological contexts of graphic design practice. Coursework encourages students to establish solid research, analytical and observation skills to underpin sound research practice.

Year two

Graphic Design 3

Year: 2

The module extends students' understanding of a range of new and traditional techniques, methods and formats for print and screen in preparation for working in graphic design or illustration practice. The focus on professional contexts and case studies (studio based, freelance, entrepreneurial, collective…) develops a rigorous approach to the acquisition of knowledge with a wide range of skills and expertise relating to processes, terminology and applications that will be pertinent to working in graphic design or illustration. This is an important module in helping students more fully reflect on their practice after the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 (or joining the course at that point) and supports a more specialised approach.

Graphic Design Research

Year: 2

The module considers seminal and recent academic approaches and debates in graphic design, art direction and wider visual communication. Using exemplar historical and theoretical texts students develop an understanding in the ways in which issues and discourses are constructed in relation to their practice and the broader cultural context.

Graphic Design and Art Direction

Year: 2

The module extends students' understanding and capacity in a range of advancing techniques, methods and formats. Concept development is the central core around which the role of typography, media, image, motion, formats and interactivity are contextualised. Students are able to experiment with new media, materials and methods and to develop a rigorous approach to the acquisition of knowledge and skills related to processes, terminology and applications.

Professional Practice 1

Year: 2

This module will introduce students to the professional aspects of being a graphic designer in a rapidly changing society. It investigates the professional contexts of graphic design and also explores cognate fields where their attributes and skills are increasingly acknowledged, needed and valued as having wider application.

Year three

Placement

Year: 3

This module is optional

This is an optional placement year for students who have completed Level 5 prior to the final year of study. The placement must be a minimum of 25 weeks duration and can be in a broad range of Art/Professional practice. A programme of work is agreed by the student, the Placement Tutor and the Placement Partner and usually takes place in Europe with respect to the relevant health and safety and diability regulations (SENDO). The placement is designed to increase experience of workshop/studio/communal and technical practice, while broadening and enhancing the student's social, personal and professional development. Upon successful completion of the placement year the student is awarded a Diploma in Professional Studies (DPP) or a Diploma in Professional Practice International (DPPI) upon graduation from the course.

International Academic Studies

Year: 3

This module is optional

This module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Year four

Professional Development

Year: 4

The module content is directly linked to the project work undertaken in Negotiated Projects. All projects work in line with appropriate rationales and schedules and documentation. Analysis and reflection on practice through personal development and reflection. Preparation and production of final assessment exhibition, printing and display techniques and skills. Design advocacy through use of appropriate and effective language.

Major Projects Portfolio

Year: 4

The module challenges students to develop a portfolio of work that demonstrates high levels of integration between conceptual, intellectual and practical skills. International competitions and schemes are used to bench-mark the global standards expected of successful students seeking to further develop in practice or research post-graduation.

Graphic Design Dissertation

Year: 4

The module facilitates a broader understanding of the context of Graphic Design using theoretical debate and analytical methodologies. The student led nature of this module, through researching and writing a dissertation will develop intellectual confidence and self-expression.

Standard entry conditions

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.

A level

Grades CCC

Applied General Qualifications

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma

Award profile of MMM

We will also accept smaller BTEC/OCR qualifications (i.e. Diploma or Extended Certificate / Introductory Diploma / Subsidiary Diploma) in combination with A Levels or other acceptable Level 3 qualifications.

To find out if the qualification you are applying with is a qualification we accept for entry, please check our Qualification Checker - https://www.ulster.ac.uk/study/entrance-requirements/equivalence

We will also continue to accept QCF versions of these qualifications although grades asked for may differ. Check what grades you will be asked for by comparing the requirements above with the information under QCF in the Applied General and Tech Level Qualifications section of our Entry Requirements - https://www.ulster.ac.uk/study/entrance-requirements/undergraduate-entry-requirements

Irish Leaving Certificate

96 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.

Irish Leaving Certificate UCAS Equivalency

Scottish Highers

Grades CCCCC

Scottish Advanced Highers

Grades DDD

International Baccalaureate

Overall profile is minimum 24 points (including 12 at higher level)

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Overall profile of 55% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access Course)

Overall profile of 45 credits at Merit (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course)

GCSE

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

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.

Additional Entry Requirements

Applicants to this course will be required to submit a portfolio.

Acceptable alternative qualifications include:

Pass HND with overall Merit to include distinctions in 15 Level 5 credits/units may be specified.

Pass HNC with overall Merit to include distinctions in 45 Level 4 credits/units may be specified.

You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University (provided subject requirements as noted above are met).

Careers & opportunities

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • Mammoth Design
  • Pale Blue Dot Design
  • Deloitte Digital
  • Crown Creative
  • Fluent Format
  • BBC
  • Kaizen Brand

Job roles

With this degree you could become:

  • Graphic Designer
  • Digital Designer
  • Art Director
  • Brand Designer
  • Illustrator
  • Brand Director

Career options

Graphic Design graduates are successful in the design, branding, advertising, digital, illustration, photography, broadcasting, publishing and promotional industries.

Most of the Design and Advertising Studios in Northern Ireland are staffed or run by graduates from this course. Graduates include graphic designers Tim Farrell, Alan Jackson and Tim McAllister, illustrators Oliver Jeffers, Barry Falls and Peter Strain and art directors Stephen Pierce, Karla McNally and Matt Evans. In addition, graduates find employment in diverse media, television and publishing roles.

Alumni achieve regular success and awards in advertising, book design, illustration, typography, digital design, app design and branding for companies, industry reviewed competitions and clients such as:

BBC, BT, Guinness, O2, Remus, New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Financial Times, Random House, Channel 4, Orange, UNICEF, Sesame Tree, the Kate Greenaway Medal and the British Book Awards: Children's Book of the Year, Walt Disney.

Those wishing to research and develop their own work to a higher level go on to pursue a Masters qualification either at the University of Ulster, or at other institutions in the UK and further afield. There is also the potential for entry onto a PhD.

There are also opportunities for those wishing to teach after the completion of a postgraduate teaching qualification.(PGCE)

Work placement / study abroad

On successful completion of Year 2 studies, you have the opportunity to take the optional module Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP) or (DPPI). This year of study provides an opportunity for you to gain first hand practical experience within a professional environment such as an advertising agency or brand consultancy prior to your final year of study. This module links the education experience to the real life situation of practice in the creative industries. It provides you with a range of experiences and skills relative to your practice, future career and professional development.

You also have the opportunity to take the other optional module Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS). This optional module provides an opportunity for you to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland, developing an international perspective and an appreciation of cultural sensitivities which are desirable qualities in any graduate. You will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2024

Fees and funding

Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and EU Settlement Status Fees

£4,750.00

England, Scotland, Wales and the Islands Fees

£9,250.00

International Fees

£16,320.00

Scholarships, awards and prizes

International Undergraduate Scholarship

  • Value £2,000 scholarship applied as discount to your annual tuition fee. Open to all new international (non-EU) entrants on the first year of a full-time undergraduate course delivered on one of our Northern Ireland campuses, commencing September 2018.

Other scholarships :https://www.ulster.ac.uk/international/apply/scholarships

International Student Prizes and Awards include:


ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) Awards 2023

Marisa King (Merit)
Courtney Brett (Merit)
Nicholas Part (Merit)
Jessica McConkey (Pass)
​Rachel Clulow (Pass)
Celine Hawthorne (Pass)


ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) Awards 2022

Megan Turtle (Merit)
Jessie Anderson (Pass)
Orlaigh Campbell (Pass)


ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) Awards 2021

Frances Smyth (Pass)
Charlotte Wade (Pass)
Sarah Nesbitt (Pass)


ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) Awards 2020

Esther Blair (Pass)
Susanne Shaw (Pass)


ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) Awards 2019

Rachel Orr (Pass)
Matthew Butler (Pass)
Sonibha McAlinden (Pass)

D&AD (Design & Art Direction) New Blood Awards 2019
Michelle McCone (Wood pencil)


ISTD (International Society of Typographic Designers) Awards 2018

Niamh Cassidy (Pass)
Kate Tracey (Merit)

Additional mandatory costs

Students purchase materials for their own coursework.

Consumable workshop contribution of up to £100 is optional and contributes to materials used by students.

Field trips may incur additional costs.

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.

Contact

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.


For more information visit

Disclaimer

  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  1. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  1. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.