Cardiff School of Art & Design>Courses>Graphic Design & Communication - BA (Hons) Degree

Graphic Design & Communication - BA (Hons) Degree

Entry Year

Shape behaviour, inform perception, and disrupt narratives.

Graphic Design & Communication makes an essential contribution to the material and visual cultures that surround us. An indispensable force that shapes our world, and a catalyst for social, cultural and political change. It has the power to dictate, persuade, and importantly – pose questions.

On this degree you will explore the changing landscape and role of graphic design within a 21st-century context, navigating the challenges of globalisation, inclusivity, and sustainability. You will engage with cutting-edge studio practice, collaborate across diverse disciplines, delve deep into methodology and theory, tackle real-world challenges through live briefs with real clients, and embark on self-directed design projects to explore your creativity.

We believe that the role of the designer is equally critic, curator, author, craftsperson, philosopher, communicator, collaborator and instigator, and will support you in becoming a skilled practitioner ready for national and international employment.

Course Content

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:

  • Typography
  • Image Making
  • Conceptual Thinking & Idea Generation
  • Editorial Design
  • Branding
  • Advertising
  • 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.

Year One

Subject: Fundamentals of Graphic Design & 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 Design Digital Contexts - 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.

Research Basics - 20 credits*
This module aims to develop students' core academic research skills including locating sources, evaluating credibility, and analysing information. It will provide the foundations from which students will cultivate their confidence to engage in theoretical discourse and idea-driven dialogues which will be required throughout their undergraduate studies.

Interdisciplinary Understanding - 40 credits
This module aims to introduce you to the principles of Interdisciplinary working: collaborative working, critical thinking and reflection. Projects within the module will challenge you to work with another discipline to explore a societal and cultural theme or challenge​.

​Year Two

Subject: Design Systems - 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.

21st Century Challenges - 40 credits
The 21st Century Challenges module builds upon the introduction to Interdisciplinary problem-solving developed at level 4 to continue to refine, and begin to apply, your skillsets through real-world projects and live briefs. Projects will tackle 21st Century Challenges to develop your leadership, collaboration, future literacy/critical thinking skillsets.

Real-World Contexts - 20 credits
The Real-World Contexts module challenges you to apply the situated awareness and future-thinking skills to deploy your own practice in the creation or promotion of value for a variety of external stakeholders and communities.

Research Proposal - 20 credits*

The Research Proposal offers you an opportunity to strengthen your research skills, consolidate your research experience and orientate your level 6 contribution around an enquiry of your choosing that is inspired by your learning across all modules at level 4 and 5. This research proposal will be used to continue your personal and professional development at level 6 where you will identify a route for your own enquiry.

Year Three

Subject: Specialist Practice - 60 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.

Positioning in Practice - 20 credits
The module aims to support your readiness in developing your unique professional career. It will embed attributes reflective of the requirements of real-world practice aligned to your specialist discipline​.

You will have the opportunity to reflect upon how your experiences over the last 3 years have allowed you to position yourself as a professional in preparation for graduate level work, continued study, research, and entrepreneurial ventures.

Contribution - 40 credits*
Your practice is underpinned by your knowledge. Demonstrate your research and analysis skills in your final research submission, where you 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.

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.

All programmes within CSAD are delivered through a studio-based approach to learning. Studio-based learning provides an authentic learning environment which fosters cohort level community building, peer learning whilst being authentic to the demands of the individual disciplines. All studio spaces are bespoke to the needs of the disciplines within which students will receive a variety of learning opportunities including:

Group seminars, group critiques (crits) & presentations, one to one tutorials, technical workshops, peer learning, independent guided learning.

Students take a significant lead in their studies, develop their own research focus and expertise base and actively engage with the process of assessment and the manner in which their individual expertise is expressed and tested.

Students will be supported as they work autonomously such that they are able to generate significant and unique learning through rigorous, self-directed and collaborative practice.


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.

You'll learn the skills and techniques you need to become highly employable. You'll build a network of people within the design industry - through visiting speakers, industry mentors and live briefs with real organisations - that will be invaluable for your graduate career trajectory. You'll have opportunities to learn from other disciplines, to travel, get involved in research and take on work placements.

The course has excellent relationships with the Welsh and London design communities as well as with research and cultural partners. Our students have been recognised within international design competition briefs, winning awards and commendations from Creative Conscience, D&AD, ISTD and RSA.

​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 such as Wolff Olins, Ragged Edge, Warner Brothers, DesignStudio, UNED Studio, The Royal Mint, Cowshed, Clout Branding, Golley Slater, Only Orca, Toward, Mr. President, Ustwo, Mytton Williams, Arobase Creative, Tiny Wizard and Antler.​

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 master's level. They have opportunities to take this further, through a Professional Doctorate in Design.

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. No specific subjects required. Welsh Baccalaureate – Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate considered as a third subject.
  • BTEC National / Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma: MMM-DDM
  • T Level: No specific subjects required.
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma: No specific subjects required.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma: 24 points. No specific subjects required.
  • Irish Leaving Certificate: No specific subjects required. Higher level subjects only considered with a minimum grade H4.
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: No specific subjects required.
  • 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

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.

Contact Us

For general enquiries please contact the Admissions Team on 029 2041 6044 or email

For course specific enquiries, please contact BA (Hons) Graphic Design & Communication​ Admissions Tutor, David Wrenne:


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 Code:
W210 - 3 year degree

Place of Study: 
Llandaff Campus

Cardiff School of Art & Design

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

Degree Highlights

Senior Lecturer David Wrenne explains what the BA (Hons) Graphic Design & Communication degree course at Cardiff School of Art & Design has to offer.

Meet the Team: David Wrenne

Programme Director David Wrenne discusses his love of graphic design, and how his experience in the industry helps prepare his students for their own careers.


Graphic Design & Communication StudiosOur Graphic Design & Communication Studios offer collaborative working spaces and relaxed seating areas to encourage community, as well as individual workspaces and group teaching areas.

Take a Virtual Tour


Printmaking WorkshopsOur Printmaking Workshops offer facilities for processes including Relief, Intaglio, Stone Lithography, Screenprinting, Letterpress and Bookbinding, as well as modern Laser Cutting.

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Student and Graduate Experience
Discovering my creative voice as a graphic designer thanks to Cardiff Met

Shannon discovered her voice as a designer whilst studying at Cardiff Met thanks to support from industry professionals, tutors and technicians.
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How Graphic Communication at Cardiff Met helped me land my first design job

Izzy blogs on her life since graduation, and how her Graphic Communication Degree Show helped kickstart her career.
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Becoming a well-rounded designer with Graphic Communication at Cardiff Met

Graduate Kieran shares how Graphic Communication at Cardiff Met prepared him for his role at a London design agency.
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What to Include in Your Portfolio

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