Throughout the course you’ll explore all types of visual languages and experiment with as many different mediums, materials and technologies as you can, including:
- Image Making
- Conceptual Thinking & Idea Generation
- Editorial Design
- Social Design & Sustainability
- Information Design
- Motion Graphics & Animation
- User Interface & User Experience/Service Design
- Narrative and Sequence
- Professional Practice
Throughout your time on the course, you will focus on critical thinking and spend time developing strong ideas and unique approaches.
You’ll learn the skills and techniques you need to become highly employable. And you’ll build a network of people in the industry – through visiting speakers, industry mentors and live briefs with real organisations – that will be invaluable once you graduate. You’ll have opportunities to learn from other disciplines, travel, get involved in research and take on work placements.
In your third year, you can choose to complete a dissertation or a business plan to help you prepare for your next step – whether it’s further study, securing a role in the industry or building your freelance career.
Subject: Fundamentals of Graphic Communication - 40 credits
What does it mean to be a graphic communicator? Your first module challenges any preconceptions about the profession as you start to explore the words, images and narrative that communicate your messages – and develop the visual media skills you need to create them.
Subject: Graphic Communication in Context - 20 credits
Your second Subject module will explore context in relation to the communication of concept and will explore user interface and user experience through social design.
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.
Subject: Who’s the Designer? - 40 credits
This module focuses on your professional development. You’ll examine your strengths and interests as a designer as you continue adding to your expertise and developing your practice – laying the foundations for your future career. You’ll understand the crucial relationship between client, designer and audience through branding, social advertising, book design and professional practice, including learning how to put yourself out there with your own digital portfolio and an opportunity to craft your own design identity.
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.
Constellation: Critique - 40 credits
By critiquing literature, journals and exhibitions, you’ll hone your ability to put your design practice into context. You’ll also have opportunities to interact with students and staff and delve deeper into your areas of interest.
Subject: Specialist Practice - 40 credits
This is the time to really concentrate on what you want to do once you graduate. You’ll work with industry mentors and tackle live briefs focusing on real life design challenges. You will also have the opportunity to enter international design competitions including D&AD, ISTD, RSA, Creative Conscience and YCN as you build on your skills and specialist interests, in the pursuit of developing a strong graduate portfolio.
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 - 40 credits
Your practice is underpinned by your knowledge. Demonstrate your research and analysis skills in your final constellation submission, where you’ll explore ideas in both written and practical forms.
*modules available through the medium of Welsh
Learning & Teaching
From the outset, you will gain hands-on experience in practical online and studio sessions and workshops – developing your core material skills. Lectures, led by members of the academic staff, will broaden your theoretical understanding of your chosen field, whilst more focused and targeted seminars are designed to provide guidance for meeting more individual intellectual and practical demands.
Students will also work with a personal tutor throughout their three years of study. Personal tutors will meet students once a term to offer pastoral support and guidance, and to check in with students on their engagements with all aspects of the course.
The team continues to practice as designers, and ensure that professional practice skills are embedded throughout the curriculum so that each project is a stepping stone toward graduate employment. We are part of a vibrant community of practitioners both within the university and with the graphic design industry in Cardiff and beyond; and this enriches the contribution that our students make both as students and as graduate designers to the real world.
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, practical and technical workshops both on campus and online. Throughout the three years, students are offered a vibrant learning environment, both in the studio and online, that nurture student’s career ambitions and trajectories.
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 to do so, support in forming your own business.
The course has excellent relationships with the Welsh and London design communities as well as with research and cultural partners. Our graduates are in prominent design positions worldwide and are responsible for graphic design output in an expanse of cultural, social, technological, political and environmental contexts.
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.
Entry Requirements & How to Apply
Applicants should have a strong art and/or design portfolio and demonstrate a commitment to art and/or design, and preferably five GCSEs to include English Language (or Welsh First Language) and Mathematics* at grade C or above / grade 4 or above (for applicants holding newly reformed GCSEs in England)
Following an interview and assessment of portfolio, our typical offers can range between:
- 96 - 120 points from a successfully completed Art & Design Foundation Diploma or/and
- 96 - 120 points from at least 2 A Levels; Welsh Baccalaureate – Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be considered as a third subject
RQF BTEC National Extended Diploma / Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma: MMM -
- 96 - 120 points from a combination of Scottish Highers and Scottish Advanced Highers
- 96 - 120 points from the Irish Leaving Certificate at Highers to include 2 x H2 grades from any subject (minimum grade H4 considered)
- 96 - 120 points from the Access to HE Diploma within a relevant subject
*For Welsh applicants sitting the reformed Mathematics GCSE, we will accept either GCSE
Mathematics or Mathematics – Numeracy.
For applicants only undertaking 2 A Levels or equivalent, or applying with other life experiences, other qualifications and/or art & design achievements will be considered along with the rest of the academic profile and we may issue a graded offer in lieu of an offer using the UCAS Tariff.
If you are studying combinations of the above, or if your qualification isn’t listed please either contact Admissions or refer to the
UCAS Course Search for the entry requirements. Further information on our entry requirements, including qualifications from the EU can be found by clicking
Students whose first language is not English will need to provide evidence of fluency to at least an IELTS 6.0 standard or equivalent. For full details about how to apply and English Language qualifications please visit the
International pages on the website.
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
Read more about our Art & Design Interview Days
What do we look for in an applicant?
Acceptance at interview is based upon a balance of four criteria:
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. Part-time applications should be made direct to the University at
For further information please visit our How to Apply pages at
Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) and Credit Transfer into year 2 & 3
If you are interested in transferring credit from another institution to study at Cardiff Met for a course which accepts entry for year 2 and/or 3, you can find further information on this and information on how to apply on the RPL page. Please contact Admissions for any queries that you have on RPL.
A mature applicant is anyone over the age of 21 who didn't go to university after school or college. Cardiff Met welcomes applications from mature applicants and further advice and information can be found
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
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
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.