Cardiff School of Art & Design>Courses>Product Design - BA/BSc (Hons) Degree

Product Design - BA/BSc (Hons) Degree

Entry Year

The things in our lives, the objects that we love, the equipment we use and the tools we depend upon, are developed by product designers.

A product designer is as much a creative problem solver as they are an identifier of problems. They respond to human needs within real-world contexts, develop sustainable interventions, rigorously test them and turn them into products ready to be manufactured and put to use.

The BA/BSc Product Design degree at Cardiff Met gives you the skills this fast-moving industry demands. You will explore cutting edge design thinking, sustainable design principles, material science and engineering, rapid prototyping and manufacturing, and human-centred design principles.

You will work within real-world contexts on live briefs, on interdisciplinary projects and creative competitions to develop your knowledge of design processes through to manufacture.

Opt to study either a BA or a BSc Product Design - whichever you choose, you'll gain thorough knowledge of the product development process and leave with the skills and expertise you need to become a designer whose products have the potential to change lives.


Course information on this page relates to 2023 entry


​Course Content​

​​​You study either a BA or BSc in Product Design – with the option to switch from one to the other after your first year, once you’ve established where your interests and ambitions lie.

BA
You’ll focus on the intellectual and creative skills you need to develop objects with purpose, beauty and social relevance. You’ll take a user-centred approach to design and consider how objects are used in social groups and cultural situations.

BSc
You’ll concentrate on design for manufacture and assembly – focusing on technical and engineering issues. You’ll develop your logistical and intellectual skills and use them to solve problems and develop products. 

Throughout your studies you’ll have full use of our extensive workshop facilities and specialist design studios – where you’ll gain practical knowledge of a variety of materials and develop skills in both traditional and new technologies surrounding core competencies, including:

  • Design Process: User Centric Methodologies including Design Thinking and Human-Centred Design
  • User Insights: Ethnography Research, Empathy as a Designers tool, User testing
  • 2D and 3D Conceptualisation: Sketching, Rapid Prototyping, Hand Modelling
  • Prototyping: Arduino/Electronics, Laser cutting, Computer Numerical Machining (CNC), 3D printing, Woodwork, Stitch, Metal work, Ceramics
  • Design for Manufacture: Industry standard CAD software, CAD/CAM, Exploration of Manufacturing Processes and Material Properties
  • Presentation Techniques: Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Keyshot
  • Engineering Science (BSc): Mechanical Properties, Machines and Mechanical advantage, Power Transmission Systems, Analogue and Digital Signal and their processing, Electronics, Computer Programming, Electro Mechanical Systems

Both the BA and BSc give you vital opportunities to experience how product design works in the real world – with live briefs, industry placements, research projects and options to study abroad. In your final year, you can choose to complete a business plan, technical report or dissertation to help you get closer to your career goal. 


Year One


Subject: Design: Visualisation and Presentation - 40 credits & Design: Materials and Processes - 20 credits

In your first term, you’ll discover what it means to be a product designer in the 21st century.

You’ll assess and evaluate how product designers have shaped relationships between humans and technology – and the key roles they play in addressing social, economic, cultural and environmental issues.


Field One: Collaborate - 20 credits*

Widen your horizons by joining students from other courses to collaborate on a project. You’ll take inspiration from other disciplines to build on your experience and expand your creativity – and use your skills and artistic insight to apply them to your work. 


Constellation: Concept - 40 credits  

This module introduces you to the wider world of ideas, theory and contextual studies to help you develop your academic research skills and critical thinking. You’ll focus on particular areas of interest in study groups and you’ll become familiar with the exciting trans-disciplinary research and expertise in Cardiff School of Art & Design.


Year Two


Subject – The Practising Product Designer - 40 credits

Choose a design project and use it to develop a creative approach to concept generation and development. You’ll explore research expertise in areas like usability, market focused design, advanced product methodology, technical conceptualisation and materialist systems. And you’ll begin to recognise your individual specialty – and how you can shape your practice.


Field Two: Explore - 40 credits* 

You’ll expand your experiences with challenging projects designed to encourage you to explore and experiment outside your immediate discipline. This transformative opportunity leads to new thinking and innovation – and opens up all kinds of future possibilities. You’ll take on exciting projects that challenge you in new ways. You can also choose to travel, take a work placement, start your own business or try something new. 


Constellation: Critique (BA only) - 40 credits  

You’ll critique literature, journals and exhibitions – and sharpen your ability to put your design practice into context. You’ll also have opportunities to specialise in your areas of interest. 


Constellation: Engineering Science (BSc only) - 40 credits  

You’ll explore a number of topics in a series of lectures, seminars and laboratory and workshop sessions.


Year Three


Subject – The Product Design Professional - 40 credits

This is the time to take your creative practice and professional ability further. You’ll take on a brief from a national or international product design competition – or work to solve a market need that either you or your industry sponsor has identified. 


Field Three: Exposure - 40 credits

Your final term is dedicated to a major project and an exhibition of your work. This is where you draw together everything you’ve learned during the course and is the launch pad to your future career. 


Constellation: Contribution (BA only) - 40 credits

Your practice is underpinned by your knowledge. Demonstrate your research and analysis skills with your final constellation submission, where you’ll explore ideas in both written and practical forms.


Constellation: Technical Research Report (BSc only) - 40 credits

Demonstrate your knowledge and ability with a technical research report of between 8,000 and 10,000 words. ​

*modules available through the medium of Welsh

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.

During their first year of study each student can expect to receive between 14 and 22 hours of contact time per week via lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical workshops.

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 artist/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.

You can elect to take a route through your second and final years of studies where you can engage with businesses or 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.

Entry Requirements​ & How to Apply

Typical Offers

  • Tariff points: 96-120
  • Contextual offer: See our contextual offers page.
  • GCSE: Preferably five GCSEs at Grade C / 4 or above to include English Language / Welsh First Language, Mathematics / Mathematics – Numeracy.
  • English Language Requirement: Academic IELTS 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in all elements, or equivalent.
  • A level: Minimum three A levels. Science, Mathematics or Technology subject required for the BSc at Grade C or above. Welsh Baccalaureate – Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate considered as a third subject.
  • BTEC National / Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma: MMM-DDM
  • T Level: Science, Mathematics or Technology subject required for the BSc.
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma: Science, Mathematics or Technology subject required for the BSc.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma: 24 points. Science, Mathematics or Technology subject required for the BSc.
  • Irish Leaving Certificate: Science, Mathematics or Technology subject required for the BSc. Higher level subjects only considered with a minimum grade H4.
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: Science, Mathematics or Technology subject required for the BSc at Grade D or above.
  • Other requirements: Successful interview and portfolio review. Applicants will be required to submit a digital portfolio.

Combinations of the above qualifications are accepted if they meet our minimum requirements. If your qualifications aren’t listed, please contact Admissions or refer to the UCAS Course Search.

Further information on Overseas qualifications can be found here.

If you are a mature applicant, have relevant experience or RPL that you would like us to consider, please contact Admissions.


How to Apply

Further information on how to apply can be found here.

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.

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, Clara Watkins cwatkins@cardiffmet.ac.uk

For commercial product design project enquiries and information about running a live industry project with us please contact BA/BSc (Hons) Product Design Admissions Tutor, Joe Venables:

Email: jvenables@cardiffmet.ac.uk

We endeavour to deliver courses as described and will not normally make changes to courses, such as course title, content, delivery, and teaching provision. However, it may be necessary for the university to make changes in the course provision before or after enrolment. It reserves the right to make variations to content or delivery methods, including discontinuation or merging courses if such action is considered necessary. Please read our Terms and Conditions for the full information.

Key Course Information

UCAS Codes:

BSc: W241
BA: W240

Place of Study: 
Llandaff Campus

School:
Cardiff School of Art & Design

Course Length:
Three years full-time. Four years full-time if undertaking year-long sandwich placement.

COURSE OVERVIEW | DEGREE HIGHLIGHTS
Degree Highlights

Lecturer Joe Venables explains what the BA/BSc (Hons) Product Design degree course at Cardiff School of Art & Design has to offer.

MEET THE TEAM
Meet the Team: Clara Watkins

Senior Lecturer Clara Watkins discusses her passion for design, and how her experience in both research and industry helps to prepare Cardiff Met Product Design students for their own careers.

STUDENT & GRADUATE EXPERIENCE
Amber - Product Design
4 things I loved about studying Product Design at Cardiff Met

Amber blogs on some of the highlights of her time on the course, from live projects to a trip to Namibia.
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Harley - Product Design
Creating a better military backpack with Product Design at Cardiff Met

Army reservist Harley discusses how his experiences in the field inspired him to rethink the military bergen.
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Neave - Product Design
Creating packaging for the real world with Product Design at Cardiff Met

Neave blogs about taking part in a packaging design live project, and how it feels to see her work on the shelves.
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24 Hour Live Project - Safran

Justin Carroll of aircraft seating manufacturer Safran discusses how our students took part in a 24 hour design challenge for the company.

Designing for an Antarctic Expedition

Cardiff Met Product Design students work with extreme adventurer Richard Parks to help create a sled canopy for an exhibition to Antarctica.

DS Smith Product Design Challenge

Find out how Product Design students worked with a packaging company to come up with concepts to make e-commerce more sustainable.

APPLYING TO CARDIFF SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN
What to Include in Your Portfolio

Student Recruitment Officer and Cardiff School of Art and Design graduate Abbie shares her portfolio tips.

7 Things That Make us Different

Dean of Cardiff School of Art and Design Professor Olwen Moseley explains some of things that set us apart.