BA (Hons) Graphic Communication

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Course Overview

​​The focus of the BA Graphic Communication degree is not only to develop you as a student and critical thinker, but to inspire your growth into a skilled and intellectual designer. These attributes, which are dependent on one another, combined with practical experience and an understanding of the Graphic Communication industry, will form the beginning of your career, and stand you in the strongest possible position to carry it forward.

The programme is taught by a dedicated team of academics and working designers; staff interests and research areas range from inclusive and interaction design; collaborative design, print and screen based media to typographic design, digital drawing, and sustainable professional practice. ​

Graphic communicators are skilled interpreters who have the ability to create visual ideas which serve to inform, persuade, provoke or entertain and elicit a response from an audience. At CSAD, we believe their work can be described as ‘what human beings leave behind to communicate when they are no longer there in person’. 

Graphic design is about bringing ideas to life and making meaningful visual messages; it is both the secret to great design and the skill behind conveying complex information, which must be easy, as well as enjoyable, for a reader to digest. Whatever the medium, a graphic communicator uses words, images, schematics, colour, form, metaphors, symbols and stories to innovate and create lasting messages. ​

Course information on this page relates to September 2016 entry.

​Course Content​

Our broad and varied curriculum invites you to explore all kinds of visual languages, as well as the technologies that link different client and audience groups. You will be encouraged to use as wide a range of these materials and technologies as possible, although equal emphasis is placed on your ability to develop strong ideas. It is this combination of practical, intellectual and vocational experiences that makes our course award-winning.

The commitment to facilitating real-world experience and building contacts makes a significant contribution to our excellent employment rates. Visiting speakers and live briefs with real clients are core to the delivery of our course, ensuring that you get to know people in the industry before you graduate. You will be learning at the home of the critically acclaimed Cardiff Design Festival, with the support of industry mentors, and access to an enviable network of employers as well as past graduates who are leading the field at both local and international level.

The structure of the course enables you to gather relevant business experience and participate in cross-disciplinary work with students from across the School of Art & Design. You may choose to undertake a work placement within the industry, carry out research with one of our Professors, or travel to study Graphic Communication in entirely different cultures. In the third year, you can elect to undertake a business plan or a dissertation, preparing the way for your career on graduation. The choice is yours, but we will be there every step of the way to help you realise your ambitions – whether that is to continue your personal development through further study, secure a job in the industry, or build the beginnings of a freelance career.

Year One:

Subject 1 - A-Z of Visual Language:
This module is designed to immediately challenge you with questions around what it means to be a Graphic Communicator. You will question accepted notions of Graphic Communication as you are introduced to the written, spoken and visual skills which define the design profession.

Field 1:
You will be offered the opportunity to collaborate across subject disciplines. By tackling a set of concerns as a group, you'll gain a deeper understanding of your own strengths, skills and artistic insight in relation to the broader creative field.

Constellation 1 – Concept:
This module will develop your ability to contextualise your practice by introducing historical and theoretical perspectives to assist in the development of ideas. We offer a series of keynote lectures that will introduce you to staff areas of interest and expertise and you will participate in study groups that allow you to specialise in particular areas of interest. Through interdisciplinary working, the focus will be on developing your academic and research skills to enable critical reflection on your practice.

Year Two:

Subject 1 - Who's the Designer?: 
With a strong emphasis on your professional understanding, this module is designed to help you reflect upon your own strengths and interests, building intellectual expertise and vocation into the core of your practice as the foundations for your future career.

Field 2: 
You will be given the opportunity to engage with one or more challenging projects which will require you to negotiate and learn beyond the curriculum of your subject discipline. It may take you abroad for international study; to an existing company for work experience or voluntary social engagement; or result in working with School's leading research teams or individual staff. Designed to encourage you to explore and experiment, individual projects will be graded by a common form of assessment.

Constellation 2 - Critique: 
In terms one and two you will engage in a diverse range of topics where you will be able to put your academic skills into practice.  This will include critiquing current literature as well as contemporary journals and exhibitions. Further contextualising of your practice will be nurtured at this level, with an opportunity to specialise in areas that reflect on your own interests.

Year Three:

Subject 3 - Exit Strategy: 
This module concentrates on 'real world' opportunities, from working with mentors to live briefs and competitions. You will be actively building upon your own skills and interest areas, focusing on your professional goals in preparation for the completion of your time at CSAD.

Field 3 - Exhibition: 
Built around a major project and an exhibition brief, the module will see you produce a professional presentation of your design collection; this being the culmination of your creative practice, often serving as the launch-pad for a final year student's future career.

Constellation 3 - Contribution: 
Your final Constellation module will demonstrate your ability to produce a dissertation of significant value to your field, with a sense of authority stemming from thorough research and academic rigour.  Your final dissertation submission can take the form of a 10, 000 word essay or a business plan, a technical report, conference paper and presentation, a 6000 word paper and accompanying practical piece.​

Learning & Teaching

From the outset, you will gain hands-on experience in practical studio sessions and workshops – developing your core material skills. Lectures, lead by members of the academic staff, will broaden your theoretical understanding of your field, whilst smaller, targeted seminars are designed to provide guidance for meeting more individual intellectual and practical demands.

Assessment

Throughout the duration of your studies, you will be evaluated on three main criteria, which underpin all of the disciplines being taught at CSAD:

SKILLS: The practical, technical and conceptual skills you acquire during your course.

CONTEXT: Your understanding and knowledge of broader intellectual context within which your discipline and work is located. This includes historical, environmental and ethical issues and will often be explored in your 'Theory and Context' modules.

IDEAS: Your understanding of intellectual and creative ideas from within and beyond your discipline; plus your ability to acquire new concepts and form new ideas. Ideas will be explored in your written work, as well as being evident in your practical progress.

Each of these criteria is given equal weighting during the assessment process. That is to say that they are seen as equally important and critical to your development; an emphasis which is designed, for example, to enable a more well-rounded skill set from a student who may be skilled technically, but weak in generating ideas, or a student with much creative flair who may struggle to hone a broad concept into a strong, individual design.

We provide a number of ways for you to track your progress en route to submitting your work for marking. Understanding that the emphases will revolve around the core areas of skills, context and ideas, you will also become familiar with the structured assessment form used by your tutors and learn to relate to your work back to the intended learning outcomes of each brief.

The main types of formative assessment are; academic (feedback from your tutors); peer (from your course-mates or project partners); and self-assessment (which is your own critique, in light of other forms of feedback). You won't just be receiving feedback at the end of a brief, however – your tutors will often assess your progress as your work develops, providing formative feedback at crucial moments where it is hoped to encourage you to take risks, maintain your motivation or shape-up your ideas ahead of deadline.​

Employability & Careers​

Whilst your learning is designed to develop you into a rounded and capable designer and intellectual, your curriculum is similarly structured with your potential in mind.
As such, the emphasis that will have been placed upon your work ethic, both creatively and academically, is matched with significant focus on real world experience; from building contacts and undertaking placements to live briefs and, should you choose so, support in forming your own business.

The course has excellent relationships with the London design community and local design agencies, as well as with research and cultural partners. Our graduates are in prominent design positions worldwide.

You can elect to take a route through your second and final years of studies where you can engage with businesses or prepare to launch your own for the moment you graduate. In your final year, rather than submit a dissertation, you have the option of devising a detailed business plan.

Throughout your time at CSAD, you will be meeting and hearing from professionals within your industry, honing your skills and ideas for commercial and professional advantage. Cross-disciplinary projects will prepare you for teamwork later on, whilst live briefs will prepare you for deadlines and the demands of tight specifications.

Graduates from the programme are well placed to join design companies, work as designers in large organisations, or set up their own businesses. Some take further training, for example a PGCE. Some elect to take their studies further by studying at CSAD at masters level. They have opportunities to take this further, through a Professional Doctorate in Design.

After Graduation
Click here to read more about the wide range of careers BA Graphic Communication graduates choose when they complete their studies at CSAD.

Click here to read an interview with Graphics graduate Tom Palmer, whose freelance client base includes car manufacturer Ford.

Click here to read an interview with BA Graphic Communication graduate Sean Rees, discussing his career in branding and graphic design.​

Entry Requirements​ & How to Apply

Applicants should have a strong art and/or design portfolio and demonstrate a commitment to art and/or design, five GCSE passes including English and Maths at grade C or above plus:

  • 300 points from a successfully completed Art & Design Foundation Diploma or/and
  • At least 3 A Levels / Scottish Advanced Highers from any Subject (General Studies excluded)
  • QCF BTEC Extended Diploma: Distinction Distinction Merit
  • 300 points from the Irish Leaving Certificate at Highers to include 3 x B1 grades from any subject (minimum grade C2 considered)
  • Access to HE Diploma with 45 credits at Level 3 within a relevant subject
  • Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma considered along with grades CC at A Level within any subject, General Studies excluded
  • Qualifications equivalent to the above

If your qualification isn't listed above, please refer to the UCAS website.

For applicants only undertaking 2 A Levels or BTEC equivalent, or applying with other life experiences, other qualifications and/or art & design achievements will be considered.

Selection Procedure and Interview Days:
Selection is based on the receipt of a completed UCAS application and attendance at a School of Art & Design Interview.

Acceptance at interview is based upon a balance of three criteria:

      • Personal enthusiasm for and immersion in the practice and theory of Art & Design
      • Academic achievement and ability
      • Quality of work, ambition and skills demonstrated in a portfolio
For more information about Art & Design Interview Days, please click here.

What do we look for in an applicant?
Acceptance at interview is based upon a balance of four criteria:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Curiosity
  • Ability
  • Ambition

At interview there will be an opportunity to demonstrate these qualities through participating in activities and interacting with other students and staff. This may include discussing ideas, personal interests, your own and other people's work.

What do we look for in an applicant’s portfolio?
Your enthusiasm, curiosity, ability and ambition should be evident in your portfolio.

Personal enthusiasm for the topics you've studied should be evident in your research and practical outcomes.

Curiosity can be demonstrated in the content of your sketchbooks or portfolio – what (and how) you have been motivated to investigate, visually.

Ability and ambition; we look for a well presented selection of work, edited so we can see and understand it easily. Edited to show you at your best, perhaps ideas are one of your strengths in which case annotation might be useful. To show good design and craft skills, the work should be presented sympathetically within the folio. Additional development work and sketchbooks can show us how you move from initial thoughts, exploring various possibilities to final outcomes.

How to Apply:
Applications for this course should be made online to UCAS at www.ucas.com/apply. For further information please visit our How to Apply pages at www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/howtoapply.

UCAS Code:
W210

Key Facts

Place of Study:
Cardiff School of Art & Design
Llandaff Campus

Course Length:
Three years full-time.

International Applicants:
Before making an application, international students (those outside of the EU), should contact the International Office at Cardiff Met to discuss the necessary procedures in relation to studying with us. For further information visit www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/international.

Tuition Fees, Student Finance & Additional Costs
For up to date information on tuition fees and the financial support that may be available whilst at university, please refer to www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/fees.

Undergraduate costs of study in CSAD 

Materials 

CSAD provides a variety of basic materials. These enable students to develop their competence in a range of skills and demonstrate their technical ability. Materials needed in unusual quantities, or those that are specialised, expensive or unusual are at the student’s expense. Advice will be given about how ‘unusual’ is defined, which materials are deemed to be ‘expensive’, and examples given of what is viewed to be ‘unusual’. CSAD students often elect to spend on materials they prefer to work with, including sketchbooks and pens, as well as specialist equipment of their own choosing. 

In the main, no charges are made for the use of equipment, with the exception of some specialist high end equipment such as the Mimaki and 3D printers. Access to Cardiff FabLab​ is subject to student membership; it offers reduced fees for student use. 

For further information about additional course costs, including fees, equipment requirements and other charges for each undergraduate programme, please visit www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/additionalcosts.

Field trips and visits 

Field trips that are part of core learning will be paid for by the School. Additional visits are occasionally arranged which are optional and where the students may be asked to share the costs. The costs of study abroad, including exchanges, placements and projects are the responsibility of the individual student.​

Bursaries & Scholarships:
The university also offers a bursary and scholarship scheme to help students whilst at university. To see if you are eligible, visit www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/scholarships.

Contact Us

For general enquiries please contact the Admissions Team on 029 2041 6044 or email askadmissions@cardiffmet.ac.uk.

For course specific enquiries, please contact the Admissions Tutor Ray Nicklin
rnicklin@cardiffmet.ac.uk

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Full terms and conditions in relation to accepting an offer to study at Cardiff Metropolitan University can be found by visiting www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/terms
Search our Clearing vacancies. Call now: 0300 330 0755