Product Design - BA (Hons)

2025/26 Full-time Undergraduate course

Award:

Bachelor of Arts with Honours

Faculty:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:

Belfast School of Art

Campus:

Belfast campus

UCAS code:

W260
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20

Start date:

September 2025

With this degree you could become:

  • Product Designer
  • Furniture Designer
  • Industrial Designer
  • Ceramicist
  • Jewellery Designer
  • Silversmith
  • Designer Maker

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • Big Small Design
  • Leckey
  • IRG Composites
  • Sliderobes
  • Marks
  • Consider It Design

Overview

BA Hons Product Design is a dynamic studio-based programme offering specialisms in Product Design, Ceramics, Silversmithing & Jewellery.

Summary

BA Hons Product Design is a dynamic studio-based programme offering specialisms in Product Design, Ceramics, Silversmithing & Jewellery.

The programme embraces an experimental philosophy that is driven by materiality, engaging in design processes that prioritise the act of making. It aims to foster the development of sustainable and unique design practices within the fields of Product Design, Ceramics, Silversmithing & Jewellery.

You will investigate new terrain for the design of products, objects, and artefacts by embracing traditional handmade processes alongside advances in technology to create new and innovative approaches.

The Product pathway is rooted within human-centred design and explores the design of products that respond to consumer needs and emerging market prospects thereby enriching our daily encounters.

The Ceramics and Silversmithing & Jewellery pathways are rooted within a design-through-making methodology, aiding in the development of experimental approaches that are often driven by personal responses to the world around us.

The sustainability and ethicality of production pose significant challenges to each of our disciplines. You will investigate how this challenge influences various manufacturing methods, including traditional craftsmanship, large-scale production, and new and emerging technologies.

You will learn core design methodologies encompassing design thinking, research, concept development, and acquire a comprehensive understanding of materials through practical experimentation and prototyping. Additionally, you will develop the skills to proficiently convey your design objectives utilizing visual communication, 3D CAD, and CAM.

You will be taught by a range of specialist academic staff who have national and international profiles as designers, makers, and artists. You will gain exposure to manufacturing processes by engaging in live client briefs, industry visits, and participating in workshops and lectures conducted by both national and international designers, artists, and makers.

Individual studio spaces are located adjacent to specialist state-of-the-art workshops. Workshops with dedicated technical support offer facilities for ceramics, plaster, metal and wood, plastics, silversmithing & jewellery and digital making facilities for CNC routing, 3D printing and laser cutting.

The programme is across two floors of the Belfast School of Art, in close proximity to the above workshops, allowing for interaction and collaboration of ideas, materials and expertise.

The programme will prepare you for a career in areas such as Product Design (Industrial, Furniture, Spatial, Service etc.) Ceramics, Silversmithing & Jewellery or as a Designer Maker of bespoke one-off items.

Our objective is to produce designers and makers who are critical thinkers, effective communicators, and highly skilled makers, positioning them as leaders in their disciplines.

Foundation Year

A foundation diploma year gives you the opportunity to explore a range of art and design approaches and disciplines to help you choose your undergraduate specialism.

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

The course has a modular structure with four modules of study in each year of the first two years with the final year at the moment containing three modules, one of which comprises two semesters. Students in first year (level 4) are introduced to key skill sets and methodologies common to all areas of study. They are given the opportunity to sample short projects from a number of pathways before going on to select specialist areas in years two and three. At the end of final year, students will have gained a comprehensive range of design and making skills and developed a personal, innovative approach to the practice of making and design, and will exhibit their work at the Belfast School of Art end-of-year student shows.

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 the process and professionalism in design and making, and to undertake a series of industrial study visits to gain insight into professional practice and entrepreneurship in their chosen discipline.

Student choice is a strong feature of the course, especially at year two (level 5) where 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 US institutions (DPPi) through the Erasmus/ Turing and BEI initiatives respectively. Students have the choice to explore a diverse range of specialist subjects 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.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Diploma in Professional Practice International DPPI

Attendance

Attendance is largely studio based, four days per week with 15 hours staff contact time and 35 hours self directed study per week.

Start dates

  • September 2025

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The course is very applied in its nature. All of the outcomes will mean the production of physical models and prototypes to justify a solution. The course’s main focus is to enable students to understand and learn the processes, make models, test their ideas, develop core design skills and learn about the theory and culture of making and design. The most beneficial way to enable the pedagogy of design education is to deliver it in a studio environment. Every student will have their own space to conceptualise, make and deliver their projects under the tutelage of experienced, passionate staff. Formal assessment is at the end of each module, with interim reviews within the teaching period. Teaching, Learning and Assessment are fully -supported by the University VLE (Blackboard Learn)

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

Design Practice

Year: 1

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

Year: 1

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.

Design Culture

Year: 1

This module introduces major issues and concerns within design research to broaden the student's understanding, knowledge and critical observation of 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 Process

Year: 1

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.

Year two

Professional Practice

Year: 2

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.

Design Entrepreneurship

Year: 2

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.

Design Realisation

Year: 2

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.

Design Debates

Year: 2

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.

Year three

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.

Industrial 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 design based practices within the creative, commercial and industrial sectors. 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 disability 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 (DPP) International upon graduation from the course.

Year four

Design Transitions

Year: 4

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.

Design Perspectives

Year: 4

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.

Design Consolidation

Year: 4

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.

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

CCC

One of which should be either Art & Design or Technology & Design

Applied General Qualifications

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

***Subject must contain Art, Technology or Design Units***

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 including Art or Technology at H4 or above (four of which must be at higher level) and English at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.

Irish Leaving Certificate UCAS Equivalency

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 are NOTrequired to submit a portfolio.

Acceptable alternative qualifications include:

Successful completion of UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design with overall award grade of Merit

Careers & opportunities

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • Big Small Design
  • Leckey
  • IRG Composites
  • Sliderobes
  • Marks
  • Consider It Design

Job roles

With this degree you could become:

  • Product Designer
  • Furniture Designer
  • Industrial Designer
  • Ceramicist
  • Jewellery Designer
  • Silversmith
  • Designer Maker

Career options

Graduates from the course find employment in areas as diverse as Product Design both consultancy-based and corporate, Industrial Design, Vehicle or Transport Design, Furniture and Lighting, and design both as a studio maker and in volume batch production. Students with an additional PGCE go on to teach both Art and Design and Technology with Design at secondary and tertiary level.

Students who achieve a 2:1 can go on to develop their studies further on taught Masters programmes or research degrees to Phd level offered by the University as well as throughout the UK and further afield.

Work placement / study abroad

BA Hons Product Design offers a suite of opportunities to enhance students design and making skills, build transferrable skills, broaden their life experience to prepare them for employability, and equip them to be globally mobile. Collectively these add value to their degree and make them an attractive prospect to employers. The experiences are offered at the end of second year.

Erasmus/ Turing: one or two semesters at a partner European University

International Student Exchange Programme (ISEP) One year at an US University (in any subject). Upon successful completion, students will be awarded a Diploma in International Studies 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 dedicated Employer Liaison Event which networks prospective 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/ International (Dpp/ Dppi) alongside their degree at graduation.

The University also funds a number of short programmes to encourage global mobility.

https://www.ulster.ac.uk/goglobal/study

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2025

Fees and funding

Scholarships, awards and prizes

International Undergraduate Scholarship

https://www.ulster.ac.uk/international/apply/scholarships/international-undergraduate-scholarship

  • 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.

Value

£2,000 scholarship applied as discount to your annual tuition fee.

  • Information on other scholarships available to international students

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

Other awards and prizes:

https://www.ulster.ac.uk/apply/fees-and-finance/scholarships

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.

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.

Student Trips: Approx £250 Year 1 & 2 (Elective)

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.