Image representing Graphic Design

Graphic Design - HND

UCAS code 012W


Planning to start this September? We may still have full-time vacancies available for this course. View 2019 course details.

Develop the knowledge, understanding and methods required by today's graphic designers.  This course provides a blend of theory and practice which will help you develop the skills required for a range of career opportunities in the design industry.  This qualification is taught at West Kent College's University Centre in Tonbridge and is awarded and quality assured by the University of Kent.


The programme is a great blend of theory and practice and aims to produce designers capable of confidently solving a breadth of visual design problems. The skills acquired will help prepare you for a range of career opportunities in the design industry.

This qualification is delivered at West Kent College's University Centre in Tonbridge but is awarded and quality assured by the University of Kent. It is at level 5 of the UK qualification framework and is equivalent to the first two years of a degree programme.

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Course structure

You study six core modules in the first year. In the second year, you will study four core modules and select one optional module from a choice of three. 

Stage 1 

  • Design for Digital Media (15 credits) 
  • Graphic Design with Computer Applications 1a (15 credits) 
  • Graphic Design with Computer Applications 1b (15 credits) 
  • Web Design (15 credits) 
  • Graphic Design & Typography 1 (30 credits) 
  • Visual Communication (30 credits) 

Stage 2

  • Graphic Design & Typography 2 (30 credits) 
  • Graphics: Specialist Project (30 credits) (A self-initiated project) 
  • Design Context & Analysis (15 credits) 
  • Methodology (15 credits) 
  • A choice of Illustration, Photography or Animation (30 credits)

Teaching and assessment

Your work will be assessed continuously throughout the course. This occurs via critiquing sessions, presentations and a formal assessment at the end of each module. There are no timed examinations for this programme. Practical workshops, lectures and seminars are a key feature of higher level study and you will be expected to attend and participate in these activities. You will be given ongoing, regular feedback to assist your decision-making and to support the direction of your work. Regular attendance is essential so that a good design dialogue can be maintained as this forms the basis of the design process. This largely occurs through one-to-one meetings. You will keep a record of your research and development as these underpin the journey taken to arrive at the final outcomes.

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • Widen participation in Higher Education by providing opportunities for students to gain a HND/C in Graphic Design.
  • Support and encourage learners to develop their creative, professional and personal approach to the subject through the provision of high quality teaching, guidance and learning within a stimulating and well-resourced environment.
  • Offer opportunities to learners, regardless of culture, background, learning difficulties or disability, to develop both academically and creatively within the medium.
  • Increase learners’ knowledge of graphic design with regard to historical and contemporary contexts so as to provide an intellectual basis for the understanding of attitudes, issues and debates within contemporary visual culture and emerging contexts.
  • Encourage independent learning and the ability to begin to work in an autonomous and professional manner.
  • Enable learners to understand graphic design’s place within visual culture and society and facilitate their ability to place their own work in an appropriate context. Produce achievers who have an intellectual understanding of the structures and institutions of design practice and who are equipped with a range of knowledge, skills, techniques and adaptability to carry the practice of graphic design forward in an ethical, professional and social context, and with regard to further study and research.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain a knowledge and understanding of:

  • The historical evolution of design, visual communication and related media together with the significance of the works of other designers. 
  • The differing contexts and concepts relating to graphic design and its place within contemporary and emerging visual culture together with basic critical theory and its application within contemporary design practice.
  • Visual communication and the use of visual language.
  • Research methods and the application of appropriate methodologies to analysis and ideas development.
  • Legal and ethical requirements of intellectual property.
  • Observation of sound ethical  working practices and professional responsibilities relating to the subject and to society.
  • Design techniques, processes and materials and their application, including the implications and potential of key developments in current and emerging media and technologies.
  • Contemporary and emerging professional practice and the relationship of graphic designers with stakeholders (such as, audiences, clients, communities and consumers).
  • Articulate, synthesise and generate knowledge and understanding in effective ways in the contexts of creative practice, employability and enterprise, preparation for further study , research and personal development.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual skills:

  • The use of creative methods, systems and techniques to generate, develop and evaluate ideas in response to themes or tasks.
  • The use of appropriate techniques and conventions to visually represent a range of objective and subjective information, meanings and messages.
  • The articulation of knowledge, understanding, attributes and skills in the contexts of professional practice, further study, research and personal development.
  • The undertaking of research using appropriate resources and methods.
  • The visual, oral and written presentation of ideas and concepts.
  • The analysis and evaluation of the work of themselves and others.
  • The demonstration of critical thinking and analysis skills through the presentation of arguments and conclusions.

Subject-specific skills

You gain the following subject-specific skills:

  • The generation of ideas, concepts, proposals and solutions in response to briefs and as self-initiated and collaborative work.
  • The use of visual language within graphic design to convey intended meanings and messages.
  • The selection and application of appropriate technical and practical materials, applications, skills and environments relating to techniques for design.
  • The demonstration of professional practice and presentation skills.
  • The application of ethics, resourcefulness and entrepreneurial skills in support of their own professional practice.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • Self-development – the ability to manage own roles, responsibilities and ethical applications; to study independently; to manage own time in achieving objectives; to undertake personal and career development; to transfer skills gained to new and changing situations and contexts; to identify personal strengths and needs. 
  • Collaboration – the ability to relate to and interact effectively with individuals and groups; to work effectively as a team member; to undertake collective endeavour and negotiation; to accurately define and review the work of others; to treat others values, beliefs and opinions with respect.
  • Communication – the ability to organise, analyse and evaluate information effectively; to articulate ideas and information effectively in visual, oral and written forms; to present ideas and work to audiences in a range of situations.
  • Management – the ability to select and use a variety of information sources; to identify and solve a range of routine and non-routine problems; to work within given time frames and deadlines; to self-identify professional development, entrepreneurial and enterprise opportunities. 
  • Technology – the ability to research, source, navigate, use, select, receive, evaluate and respond to a variety of information from a variety of sources; to select and use a range of technological equipment and systems; to select and effectively employ appropriate communication and information technologies.
  • Creativity – the ability to apply a range of skills and techniques to develop a variety of ideas in the creation of new/modified and potentially innovative products and solutions; to use a range of thought processes to identify and define intellectual and practical tasks; to articulate reasoned arguments through reflection, review and evaluation.
  • Flexibility – to develop skills of perseverance, openness, empathy, citizenship and adaptability in the face of emerging design problems, issues and contexts


Graduates of this programme typically enter design agencies or similar settings. A large percentage progress to the College's one-year BA (Hons) Top-Up Degree in Graphic Design. 

The degree programme provides further opportunities to hone your skills and leave with a portfolio that is more pathway-specific and tailored to your intended career direction.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold a minimum of 64 UCAS Tariff points from one of the following qualifications: 

  • BTEC Extended Diploma in a relevant subject at grade MPP or above 
  • Two A Levels at grades CC or above, including a relevant subject 
  • BTEC Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Pass grade or above 
  • An equivalent qualification in a relevant subject 

Although not a mandatory requirement for entry to the programme, students aptitude for study at this level and their future employment prospects will benefit from holding GCSEs in English and Maths at grade C or above (or an equivalent level 2 qualification). 

Mature applicants (those aged 21 years or over at the start of the course) who do not hold one of these qualifications but who possess relevant experience or skills, and who can present a portfolio of work which demonstrates their creative potential, are welcomed and will be considered on an individual basis. 

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.


The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

A materials fee, currently set at £40 per year, is payable for each year of the programme. This fee will contribute to the cost of inks for the Mac room printers and the supply of basic materials such as tracing paper. An additional fee for trips, currently set at £80 per year, is also payable for each year of the programme to cover admission fees for all external visits organised by the College and to contribute to the cost of guest speakers and workshops. Please note that this fee will not cover your travel costs for the external visits.

Contact West Kent college for more information about accommodation and living costs


For more information about funding, please see the West Kent College website.