Graphic Design - BA (Hons)

The graphic designer of the future is a keen observer who cares about how messages are conveyed and received. They are curious, empathic, caring, and cleverly connect the unexpected to create original work to be experienced across a range of media and locations. BA Graphic Design at the University of Kent encourages you to develop your own socially-responsible and ethical design skillset generating new work through a series of challenging briefs.

Overview

Work in dedicated design studio spaces to develop your own unique style and portfolio through a series of projects inspired by identity, process, environment, form and affect. From a range of starting points – light and shadow, place and space, identity and interaction – you will generate portfolio pieces to include specialist signage, book cover designs, fundraiser catalogues, infographics, interactive design experiences, animated posters and exhibition design. Each of which takes into account project stakeholders and considers sustainability, ethics and social justice at the core.

Why study Graphic Design at Kent?

  • Your course, your way: Study all aspects of Graphic Design with a selection of specialist lecturers and design practitioners and external client. Your finished design work for your portfolios will go beyond the confines of the page and the screen into areas such as experiential marketing, projection mapping and spatial graphic design.
  • Access fantastic facilities: Our specialist spaces include design and dedicated model workshops; laser-cutting facilities; computer studio and labs; a digital hub; and a Digital Crit Space for presenting design proposals which includes 75-inch Clevertouch screens.
  • Get career ready: Produce live briefs for a range of clients in real-work situations and develop your capacity to showcase the World Economic Forum’s ‘Top 10 Job Skills of Tomorrow’. You can also add a year in Computing, Journalism or a Language to your degree to increase your employability.
  • Explore Canterbury: Our modern city is a hub for creatives yet historically and architecturally diverse enough to inspire your projects. Placed in the heart of rural Kent, you can travel to London in under an hour by train, and coastal beaches are a bus ride away.
  • Join our community: As part of the School of Architecture, you can attend guest lectures and research seminars with industry professionals or join the student-run Kent Architectural Students Association (KASA) and help organise social events, design competitions and the End of Year Show

Your course

Graphic Design is crucial to all communication, even more so today than ever before with the expansion of platforms and their interconnectivity and compatibility. Through this programme you develop and build on these fundamental principles providing you will the skills and confidence to develop your own design identity. Explore and exploit the digital age, developing a responsive practice where you are proficient working in 2D, 3D and 4D - moving images. By the end of your course, you will be fully prepared for a career in graphic design and the expanding design opportunities in the Creative Industries.

You study all aspects of Graphic Design, from typography, photography to editorial design, and importantly motion graphics. This programme provides the opportunity for resolutions that exists from beyond the page and screen into areas of experiential marketing and constructed spatial graphics. You will be fully prepared for a career in graphic design and the expanding design opportunities in the Creative Industries.

See the modules you'll study

Study abroad

We have partnerships with universities around the world, offering you the chance to study abroad for a term or for a year. Rising to the challenge of living in another country and immersing yourself in a different culture is a rewarding experience and demonstrates to potential employers that you are independent and flexible in your outlook.

Year in industry

It is also possible to undertake a year’s placement in industry either at home or abroad, gaining experience working in a professional environment. We offer support and advice to help you find a placement either in the design industry or other sectors such as charities and arts organisations.

Flexible tariff

Make Kent your firm choice – The Kent Guarantee

We understand that applying for university can be stressful, especially when you are also studying for exams. Choose Kent as your firm choice on UCAS and we will guarantee you a place, even if you narrowly miss your offer (for example, by 1 A Level grade)*.

*exceptions apply. Please note that we are unable to offer The Kent Guarantee to those who have already been given a reduced or contextual offer.

Entry requirements

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. All applications are assessed on an individual basis but some of our typical requirements are listed below. Students offering qualifications not listed are welcome to contact our Admissions Team for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.

  • medal-empty

    A level

    BBC at A Level in art /design/technology relevant subjects.

  • medal-empty Access to HE Diploma

    The University welcomes applications from Access to Higher Education Diploma candidates for consideration. A typical offer may require you to obtain a proportion of Level 3 credits in relevant subjects at merit grade or above.

  • medal-empty BTEC Nationals

    Distinction, Merit, Merit in an appropriate subject.

  • medal-empty International Baccalaureate

    30 points overall or 14 points at HL including Visual Arts or Design Technology

  • medal-empty International Foundation Programme

    Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average including 60% in Design/Art and Design module (plus 50% in LZ013 Maths and Statistics if you do not hold GCSE Maths at 4/C or equivalent).

  • medal-empty T level

    The University will consider applicants holding T level qualifications in subjects closely aligned to the course.

Portfolio advice

As a Graphic Designer you get paid to have ideas. As part of your application to the University of Kent, you are required to submit a portfolio as evidence of your artistic ability and potential to present your ideas visually.

Take time to plan this from the moment you decide to apply. Assessors at the University are expecting an indication of work in progress showing how you approach an idea or subject and develop the work from initial thought, through experimentation and enquiry, to resolved work. We do not expect to see professional outcomes at this level.

Below you will find details of what we are looking for and how your work will be assessed. You will also find tips on how to plan and present your work and what makes a strong Graphic Design portfolio.

What to include in your Graphic Design Portfolio

Requirements

1. Development/sketchbook work – up to 10 images of your development/sketchbook work (minimum of 5 images)

2. Resolved/finished work – up to 10 images of your resolved work (minimum of 5 images)

3. Influences/context images – up to 5 images which demonstrate your influences (minimum of 2 images, see below for more detail)

Each image can have up to 100 characters, including spaces and punctuation, of supporting/explanatory text.

Influences/context Images

The images demonstrating your influences may be images of work or objects which have inspired or influenced your work e.g.

· people working in the same medium or for the same audience, now or in the past

· people interested in the same subject or theme, now or in the past

· natural or man-made phenomena, objects, places, events which have inspired or provoked a response

Guidance

Assessors are interested in how you have decided to put your portfolio together; it should be carefully planned and well presented. They will also be judging your ability to edit your work, so be selective and strategic in your choice of material. If you have lots of high-quality work, include it to showcase your talent and commitment. If you haven’t, select your best: these key gems can show us that you know what you are good at, and how to show it. Resist the temptation to pad out your portfolio with mediocre work.

For entry to Year 1 Graphic Design a strong portfolio is likely to display the following:

· Evidence of ideas, concepts and problem-solving.

· Experimentation with materials and how ideas develop into more resolved pieces.

· Typographic skills.

· 2D and 3D skills.

· A broad range of projects undertaken with a variety of outputs not just one idea, technique or theme.

· Above all, while drawing and digital skills are desirable, assessors are looking to see ideas. Ideas should be evident at the centre of any work presented.

If you are applying to join Year 2, your portfolio should include:

· Evidence of more lateral thinking.

· Experimentation and risk taking.

· Graphic application, i.e. use skills with typography and a larger volume of text, leading to compositions.

· Ideally some work on a client or more commercial brief.

Each image can be accompanied by a small amount of text, and we encourage you to make use of this opportunity. Avoid including titles or describing the work and instead explain the ideas behind each piece, the challenge undertaken or any other significant factors. It may also be useful to explain why you have included the image in each category (development work, resolved work or influences).

Consideration should also be given to the graphical layout of the portfolio. Remember that assessors will be looking at your work on a screen so the digital image you present to them is what they assess. Poor quality photographs and bad scans of your work will not create a good impression. Take the time and care to make your work look as good as possible.

How we assess your portfolio

Portfolios are assessed by academic staff who are particularly interested in how you research and develop ideas in a visual way and how you engage with design. This is broken down into four main areas:

1. Visual Research and Enquiry – shows the level of your engagement in intelligent, structured visual enquiry and how well you communicate this.

2. Idea Development – shows your ability to appropriately explore and develop ideas, and your level of skills in the use of materials or techniques.

3. Selection and Resolution – shows how well you judge which ideas have the most appropriate potential and your ability to bring them to a level of completion appropriate to your intended outcome.

4. Contextual Awareness – shows the extent of your knowledge of the subject you have applied for and how your work relates to it.

How the content of a portfolio provides evidence for the above categories will vary enormously depending on the person – no two portfolios will be the same.

How to submit your portfolio

We will request a portfolio from you once your application has come through to us, and if you apply before the UCAS January deadline, you will be given a three-week window in which to submit your portfolio. Please upload your portfolio as a PDF document to the Kent Vision applicant portal. Please note, for uploads, the file size needs to be 5MB or under. If your file size is over 5MB, please email your portfolio to artshumsadmissions@kent.ac.uk.

Please ensure you allow time for the technical aspects of portfolio submission. Take time to familiarise yourself with the submission portal once it opens in December (you’ll get a link to it after you apply via UCAS) and work out what you will need to do to prepare your images.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.

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Course structure

Duration: 3 years full-time (4 with a year abroad/in industry), 6 years part-time

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include

This module will provide a broad introduction to the important key people and ideas in the development of visual communication and culture from the twentieth century to the present day. This will include an exploration of designers, artists and philosophers that have been significant in transforming our seeing and thinking.

Find out more about DESG4013

This module will introduce the attributes and language of typography. It will examine the principles of type and how it enables an idea to be written and given visual form. The module will examine the breaking of conventions and will encourage type/letterform experiments where function and form are challenged and where the concept of type as image is explored.

There will be the opportunity to pursue two and three dimensional outcomes as text is increasingly sculptural and integrated within architecture.

Find out more about DESG4014

During this module students will experiment and test the flexibility and fluidity of digital images, by drawing on previous projects (Photography & Imaging) students will work to produce a short film of both still and moving images for editorial production. Students will have the opportunity to explore the relevant industry software programmes to produce an online and physical catalogue of their digital imagery. The final project is directed by the student's specialism, 2D print or screen, 3D environmental (e.g. projection or sculptural) and 4D time based.

Find out more about DESG4015

The story or narrative is at the core of the majority of advertising and marketing campaigns as well as discrete design outcomes. This module will introduce the identification of narrative elements from a range of sources, understanding narrative structures with particular emphasis on storyboarding & script writing, often a combination of both. Exploring the hand drawn, collage and photomontage, utilising a rich range of techniques. Final projects can take experimental adventurous interpretations of a storyboard, including 2D & 3D comics, graphic novel book form, 3D structures and performance space (including live action/animation of space). Knowledge and skills gained on this module will be transferable to creative projects across the programmes.

Find out more about DESG4016

This module will provide a broad introduction to the important key people and ideas in the development of design culture from the twentieth century to the present day. This will include an exploration of designers, artists and media processes that have been significant in transforming our seeing and thinking.

Find out more about DESG4017

In this module students will be introduced to creative methodologies that demonstrate a strategic response to resourcing the communication problem/issue/brief.

It will consider the selection and shaping of ideas and concepts that advance intentions and solutions. The module will examine the responses and decisions that enable the articulation of an appropriate outcome.

Find out more about DESG4018

During this module students will produce digital imagery, predominately still images by responding to the world around them. Students will experiment and learn skills in the relevant industry software to enhance and manipulate imagery ready for production. Students will explore presentation techniques of photography and imaging and consider alternative ways to present and disseminate imagery and photography in the digital age.

Find out more about DESG4019

On this module students will be introduced to a range of 2D design techniques, processes, essential skills, and understanding to enable them to quickly and confidently communicate their own design concepts and solutions in response to creative exercises and briefs. The skills taught on this module will be required, developed and deployed on many other modules throughout the programme, and should be considered essential core skills. Graphics students will work in an open studio to establish a design ethos, where design is studied and seen to operate in the digital realm, on the page and spatially and environmentally in the physical realm.

Find out more about DESG4020

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include

How we play and interact with design is paramount to understanding user experience and engagement whether on mobile phones or in virtual environments. All designers must be comfortable in their ability to explore notion of play and interaction; in this module students will learn how to critically analyse users' needs and define user experience through systematic research principles. They will also design and make final outcomes using play and interaction methods. Underpinning the practical work, we will consider how digital media and interaction design plays within our lives, exploring how people use and respond to emerging technology and media.

Students will emerge equipped with adaptable practical and theoretical skills to allow them to design for current and future trends, whether creating for screen-based media or interactive experiences. You will gain experience in the use of computer-based authoring tools to design for audio, video, 2D and 3D experiences to design interactive interventions.

Find out more about DESG5001

This module focuses on embedding employability within a design curriculum in a seamless and meaningful way within the context of students' future working environments. Students will identify their own strengths and talents, form their own creative agencies and pitch for work to selected live brief clients. The aim of this module is to evaluate critically and develop a focused understanding of the commercial concerns of the creative business sector and to show their own work in a public space. The role of freelance, self-employed creative, the financial demands placed upon designers and the expectations of employers will be explored. It is anticipated that students will understand the changing creative job market and be well placed to make appropriate careers decisions accordingly. Several external talks and visits will focus on design jobs within the design sector and will provide a useful contact network for future internships and work experience.

Find out more about DESG5003

This module explores the wider context and application of branding and identity as applied to products and experiences. Starting from an exploration of historical, social, cultural and commercial contexts students will then undertake a series of briefs that enable them to apply their design skills to external spaces and interiors, packaging, moving image, storytelling and narrative. It will encourage initiative, exploration and innovation. The skills developed include audience engagement through the development of brand stories, cross cultural communication and brand personalities, the potential for societal change and for audience engagement through a range of technologies.

Find out more about DESG5005

The physical world is complex and yet most people navigate their way around it with ease. Wayfinding and signage greatly impacts how people engage with and experience indoor and outdoor spaces, and is important for architects, designers, and event organisers when planning projects. Designers find solutions to wayfinding and sign design while simultaneously reflecting and creating brand expressions.

This module will cover how to work with human behaviour, including the consequences of bad way finding systems. On a practical level students will undertake site visits, study the spaces to be handled, engage in ethnographic research, analyse visitor traffic, different visitor types and accessibility, learn how to apply readability, legibility and positioning for signs, locational, directional and directory signs. Students will plan and create signage and information design that allows a user the best experiences of outdoor events, buildings and exhibitions.

Through a series of workshops, students will learn to design effective wayfinding strategies, and receive guidance about issuing production information to manufacturers.

Find out more about DESG5006

Year in industry

You can extend your studies from three to four years by taking the Year in Industry option (this option is not available if you are studying on a part-time basis). This provides the opportunity to gain relevant workplace experience as part of your programme of study. You can also increase your contacts and network so that you can hit the ground running when you graduate. 

The Year in Industry is taken in addition to your standard undergraduate programme and normally falls between your second and final year. You typically work on a placement for the full calendar year, and salary and holiday entitlements vary according to the employer. The year is assessed on a pass/fail basis through employer feedback and a written report that you submit. Students also have the option to take a Term in Industry.

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability. 

You spend your year abroad at one of our partner universities. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. To find out more, please see Go Abroad.

Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include

This module introduces students to independent research project development and structures. It will cover academic and practice research and the relationship between the two, how each area can inform, develop and progress the other. The module will enable students to develop either an extended individual design practice project, or a dissertation (Extended Essay) on contemporary or historical developments in design and communication culture the following term. Students will engage with independent and critical thinking and advance their research skills.

This module takes the form of an individual research study. Students who wish to take the module should approach a member of staff with a proposal in advance of module registration, during the Spring Term of the previous academic year. Students pick a research topic of their choice; however, students are only allowed to register for the module with the permission of a staff member who has agreed to supervise the project, and who has the expertise to do so. The tutor will oversee the development of the extended research essay (dissertation).

Museums, cultural and heritage centres and managed visitor experiences are traditionally interpretive environments with many varied and complex stories to tell. This module examines the theory and practice behind the history, development, and future trends of graphic communication in these ‘environments’, exploring how a variety of traditional and new technologies and techniques can be used to communicate content in time and space to an audience. Particular attention will focus on the use of multimedia to bring ‘stories’ to life, providing a stimulating, multi-sensory experience that can entertain and educate visitors of all ages and across all cultures.

This module provides students with an opportunity to design and realise a major graphic design project (or coherent extract thereof) derived from their own developing interests and skills. Students will take significant control over the brief, their input and the outcome, affording a significant independent experience.

For the duration of the module lecturers act as art directors/supervisors and students negotiate their project brief and receive ongoing support. This project is a calling card for future employers; discussions of subject, context (client, location and audience) and realisation are crucial to the process.

The module asks students to develop their practice-based work towards a final outcome which may take the form of a combination of 2D graphic campaign (print/digital), moving image (motion graphics) project, a site intervention/transformation (material or digital) or proposal/visualisation exhibition/presentation - it will be substantial and multi-faceted.

Fees

The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9250
  • EU full-time £16400
  • International full-time £21900
  • Home part-time £4625
  • EU part-time £8200
  • International part-time £10950

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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.

Fees for Year in Industry

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Fees for Year Abroad

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status.

Additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Teaching and assessment


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.

Careers

Apply for Graphic Design - BA (Hons)

UCAS application cycle for 2023 is open. You can search courses and apply via the UCAS website.

Our Open Days are a great way to discover more about the courses and get a feel for where you'll be studying. Along with campus tours, online chats and virtual events there are lots of other ways to visit us.

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

Enquire online for full-time study

Enquire online for part-time study

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

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