Graphic Design BA (Hons)

Why choose this course?

Kingston University was ranked No. 1 in London for graphic design* in the Guardian University League Tables 2023 (*covers graphic design and illustration animation).

Our Graphic Design students have won more than 50 international competitions in the last four years including RSA, Creative Conscience Awards, ISTD and D&AD. This reflects the quality of work from this practice-based course.

On this course you'll be encouraged to be innovative, invent and inspire change. In addition to learning core design and research skills, you'll work on live projects throughout the course: recent collaborations have included RSA, D&AD, Creative Review, The Science Museum, Amnesty International, Croydon Council, The British Film Institute and Save the Children.

You'll be encouraged to be innovative, invent and inspire change. In addition to learning core design and research skills, you'll work on live projects throughout the course: recent collaborations have included RSA, D&AD, Creative Review, The Science Museum, Amnesty International, Croydon Council, The British Film Institute and Save the Children.

You'll develop a personal practice through rigorous investigation of a range of focused projects. Design fields include photography, film and animation, typography, interaction, service design, user experience, social design, digital, book and editorial design.

At the end of the course, you'll be equipped with a combination of creative skills, cognitive processes and methodologies that will help you to shape the future for business, culture and communities.

Attendance UCAS code Year of entry
3 years full time W210 2023

For 2023 entry please ensure your application is submitted before the UCAS January deadline 2023 as this course may not be in a position to consider applications submitted after this date.

Please note: We do not accept applications for Year 2 (Level 5) or 3 (Level 6) entry onto this course.

Location Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston

  • We're ranked No.1 in London (Guardian University League tables 2023).
  • Students in Kingston School of Art have access to all of our world-class workshops and making spaces, including digital media labs, 3D workshops, printmaking, film and photography facilities.
  • Our Graphic Design students have won 52 international competitions in the last five years including RSA, Creative Conscience Awards, ISTD and D&AD.

The Art School Experience

As part of Kingston School of Art, students on this course benefit from joining a creative community where collaborative working and critical practice are encouraged.

Our workshops and studios are open to all disciplines, enabling students and staff to work together, share ideas and explore multi-disciplinary making.

Two students collaborate on a design project.

What you will study

The Graphic Design course has an applied approach to the expanding field of graphic design: you'll use our studios and facilities to experiment, exploring new ways to push the boundaries of visual communication.

You'll have plenty of opportunities to participate in live projects and work with the broader design industry: collaboration, teamwork and cross-disciplinary projects are strongly encouraged to reflect professional practice. 

The course hosts regular visits to studios, events and conferences both within the UK and further afield.

Modules

Year 1

Year 2

Optional year

Final year

Year 1 encourages an open-minded and exploratory approach to understanding design. You'll work on individual and team projects, to develop your knowledge of the design process, visual language, typographic principles and core skills.

Core modules

Concept and Challenge

30 credits

This module focuses on the generation of concepts and ideas. The aim of the module is to develop conceptual ability and creative confidence in responding to a range of design and communication challenges. It introduces you to different ways of thinking and generating ideas, with emphasis on currency, appropriateness and dynamism of approach and solution. Project briefs encourage you to expand your knowledge and experiences, challenge assumptions, subvert norms and learn about the role of risk within the creative process.

Visual Vocabularies

30 credits

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the fundamental principles and components of graphic design and visual communication, through a range of projects, workshops, experiments and exercises that explore the relationship between materials, methods, messages and meaning. Key areas include typography and layout, hierarchy and composition, visual thinking and visual language, process and production techniques and context. The emphasis in this module is on developing core competencies that underpin graphic design practice.

Communication and Context

30 credits

The aim of this module is to introduce you to how the designer can engage, interact with and respond to different contexts and varied audiences. These include the personal and professional, geographical and environmental, social and political, commercial and educational, local and global. The emphasis in this module is on developing experience and understanding of how design and communication function in the wider world.

Image & Text - Communication Design History for Graphic Design

30 credits

This module presents a chronological history of graphic design production from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day in Europe and North America. In doing so, its aim is to consider the different factors that have affected and influenced the production of imagery during this period. The first part of the module focuses on issues of process and practice, and seeks to chart the developing relationship between graphic design and associated professions like illustration, whilst conveying the overarching attitudes and ideas that have coloured artistic and design production and discussion. In the second part of the module you will consider the professional development of design for communication and media, the evolution of ‘popular' mass imagery and the role of changing technologies and techniques, including the moving image and animation, in the development of image and text production and reproduction. Key themes relating to graphic arts and imagery, including the consumption of mass media and imagery, image and consumer culture and the emergence of ‘new' media in art, design and communication, will be explored. The module engages with critical texts to allow you to examine the relationship between theory and practice in design and to gain an understanding of the development of graphic design as a cultural response to modernity. This module will provide a historical and critical framework through image-based lectures, screenings and study visits.

Year 2 helps you develop creative and interpersonal skills, used to explore imaginative ways to communicate. You'll develop a particular area of graphic design through self-initiated projects, complementing your studio work. You'll learn about the wide social and cultural context in which graphic designers work, and will collaborate with students from other courses on projects. You'll also gain useful career management skills and will have the opportunity to study abroad or undertake a work placement.

Core modules

Process and Purpose

30 credits

The emphasis in this module is on exploring and understanding the design process, with particular focus on the relationship between research, development and the successful realisation of ideas. The module introduces you to a range of methodologies including design thinking, prototyping and iteration and through varied briefs, workshops and project work, examines how these methods inform design process and effective solutions. Projects are designed to extend design vocabularies and knowledge of materials and visual languages (including typography, photography and moving image) as vehicles for communication and to hone analytical and critical evaluation skills in the resolution and realisation of ideas.

Design Interactions and Innovations

30 credits

The aim of the module is to explore different modes of communication and dissemination. The focus is on the interactive nature of graphic design and visual communications, with emphasis on the way in which designers engage audiences and participators in their practice. The projects in this module encourage you to experiment, embrace risk and develop innovative approaches and solutions. They will introduce you to strategies for extended research and collaboration and develop interpersonal and communication skills. The module requires you to consider how your ideas can be meaningfully applied in appropriate contexts and to relevant audiences. It includes opportunities for you to develop interdisciplinary projects and explore the possibilities of participatory practice.

Design Directions

30 credits

The aim of this module is to develop understanding of the role of the designer and enable you to contextualise your personal design vision and ambition. This includes developing understanding of how to present work in a dynamic and appropriate manner and equipping you with the ability to develop and express opinions and adopt different perspectives in relation to a range of issues and contexts (social, commercial, cultural, environmental and political). The emphasis in this module is on developing knowledge, awareness and a growing confidence in articulating ideas verbally and visually and includes the design of a positioning portfolio in preparation for Level 6.

Critical Issues in Graphic Design: Research and Practice

30 credits

This module builds on the historical and thematic content introduced at Level 4 and emphasises the theorisation of contemporary graphic design practice. A series of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, screenings and visits informs and supports your own emerging research interests and the development of independent visual and academic research skills that cross history/theory and design practice. Lectures and seminars will deepen critical and theoretical engagement with contemporary issues in graphic design. Seminar tasks and assessments are carefully designed to foreground projects that support the location of graphic design as a discipline. Research methodologies are introduced through case studies and practical activities that reflect the issues explored through the module's contemporary content.

Many of our students take advantage of the ERASMUS scheme to spend a year studying or working in Europe. We have a network of links with prestigious design institutions.

Over 100 students from the course have made use of the ERASMUS Exchange over the last four years. Graphics students on the ERASMUS programme have studied in 17 different institutions.

Over 50 students have made use of ERASMUS funding to support industrial placements. The ERAMUS programme has supported over 40 students from all over Europe studying at Kingston. The study abroad programme with links in Japan, Korea, and the US supports students studying internationally.

In your final year, you'll work from a range of briefs, and develop your own, to reflect your personal interests and career aspirations. Some students work a range of areas; others choose to specialise in one. This could be branding, social design, editorial design, film and moving image, photography, advertising and promotion, typography or interactive design. Your interests and self-directed work will inform the written element of the course.

Core modules

Design Studies

30 credits

This module is concerned with the continued exploration and refinement of techniques, themes and tools that will inform an innovative approach to idea generation and insight gathering. The module places emphasis on the completion of a significant body of creative work that strategically reflects the individual's interests, achievements and ambition at Level 6. It requires work which demonstrates diversity of content and imaginative and appropriate realisations of design-led solutions to a professional standard.

Positioning and Presenting Your Design Practice

60 credits

This module is concerned with supporting the practical and strategic development of a professional body of work that accurately reflects the consolidation of an individual's design practice endeavour at level 6. Providing the opportunity to identify personal attributes and strengths, to critically edit and select from project work, to manage, organise and refine that work as required, for effective portfolio presentation across a range of appropriate professional formats. In addition, preparation for employment or postgraduate study will be undertaken, informed by industry professional talks and seminars on relevant self-promotional techniques and approaches.

Dissertation: Research and Reflection

30 credits

Building on the links between research and practice embedded at Level 5, the Critical and Historical Studies (CHS) Dissertation: Research and Reflection module focuses on in-depth research, critical enquiry and reflection on questions and critical issues emerging in students' own practice, and pertinent to the practice of their own discipline.

Over the module, students will initiate and develop an individual research topic; identify and evaluate appropriate archives, bodies of critical literature, visual/material sources and research methods; manage their study time; engage with and respond to tutorial dialogue and peer feedback, and apply critical and analytical skills to produce a 7-8000 word written Dissertation, supported by a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials.

Please note

Optional modules only run if there is enough demand. If we have an insufficient number of students interested in an optional module, that module will not be offered for this course.

Entry requirements

Typical offer 2023

UCAS tariff points: 112-128

Level 3 qualifications, including Art and Design subjects (i.e. A-levels, BTEC Diploma, Access Diploma, IB Diploma, etc.). The preferred entry route is to first take a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design or recognised equivalent course.

Additional requirements

Entry onto this course will require submission of a digital portfolio as part of the application process. Further details about the portfolio will also be sent via email after submission of application.

See portfolio guidance below for more information about how to prepare your portfolio.

International

All non-UK applicants must meet our English Language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 6.0 overall, with no element below 5.5.

Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Portfolio guidance

Applicants are required to send alongside the UCAS application and personal statement, a portfolio of 20-25 pages as outlined below.

Digital portfolio format

  • You are required to send alongside the UCAS application and personal statement, a portfolio of 20 to 25 pages in landscape format and saved as a PDF file format.
  • Include in the PDF for each page: a title for a drawing or painting, short description of project brief(s). with your responses and intentions. Answer the following questions: What was successful about your approach to the project? What might you do differently?
  • You may have an animation or moving image/film which can be uploaded to Vimeo, Flickr or YouTube and supply links in your portfolio. Please check that the link you send works.
  • The portfolio is uploaded as a PDF file through Admissions to OSIS.

Digital portfolio content

  • We welcome work which shows the applicants previous experience and interests, which may be in art and design, graphics, painting, illustration, photography, printmaking, typography, digital or textiles. 
  • It is not essential to demonstrate digital skills in your portfolio.
  • The portfolio should give a snapshot of your work to date and may include finished and ongoing but incomplete work. This means presenting evidence of thinking about and testing, art and design ideas and approaches through: pages from sketchbooks, development pages, worksheets, notebooks, printmaking, lettering, painting, photographs, three dimensional objects, models and mock ups, or textiles.
  • You may consider showing several sketchbook pages on a single slide (4, 6, 8 pages) for some of your projects as this will show how you develop your work through visual research and experimentation.
  • Kingston expects you to develop good drawing and visual research skills, so examples of these should be evidenced, through observation/life drawing and examples of sketch and idea book pages or worksheets sheets.
  • You should show the development of at least one project from visual research and early approaches to an outcome.

How will my portfolio be reviewed?

Due to the possibility of travel restrictions relating to Covid-19 the KSA courses will not be able to undertake interviews. The Course staff team and student panel will undertake the selection process, considering, the quality of the work you present in your portfolio, your personal statement and your UCAS application and supporting reference.

Typical offer and UCAS points explained

Like most universities, we use the UCAS Tariff point system for our course entry requirements.

Find out more about UCAS Tariff points and see how A-level, AS level, BTEC Diploma and T-level qualifications translate to the points system.

Teaching and assessment

Modules will be delivered through: lectures, seminars, workshops, group critique, individual tutorials, demonstration, projects, briefings, study visits, peer learning, independent learning and study skills.

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for final assignments. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Academic support

Our academic support team here at Kingston University provides help in a range of areas.

Dedicated personal tutor

When you arrive, we'll introduce you to your personal tutor. This is the member of academic staff who will provide academic guidance, be a support throughout your time at Kingston and who will show you how to make the best use of all the help and resources that we offer at Kingston University.

Your workload

Time spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity

  • Year 1: 60%
  • Year 2: 50%
  • Year 3: 40%

In all levels, a minimum of two studio days each week are tutor-supported. Students are required to spend the rest of the week doing self-directed research and project work in support of their studio practice. Project-related work takes place both in and outside the physical studio environment but the studio accommodation itself is a focus for teaching and informal, peer assisted learning.

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Type of learning and teaching

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 1
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 720 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 480 hours
Year 2
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 600 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 600 hours
Year 3
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 480 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 720 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises of practical (eg presentations, exhibitions) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Type of assessment

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 1
  • Coursework: 100%
Year 2
  • Coursework: 100%
Year 3
  • Coursework: 90%
  • Presentation: 10%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Your timetable

Your individualised timetable is normally available to students within 48 hours of enrolment. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled learning and teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9am and 6pm. For undergraduate students, Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities, but there may be occasions when this is not possible. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally attracts approximately 110 students per year and tutorial group sizes are normally 15-30. However this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course?

This course is taught in the Design School, Kingston School of Art. Our staff are practising designers, researchers and academics who'll enrich your student experience with contemporary issues, events and challenges. Influential guest speakers reinforce the currency of the course, providing the latest insights into practice.

Facilities

You'll use our studio spaces and facilities to experiment and explore new ways to push the boundaries of projects and open discourse across disciplines.  

Collaborative and multi-disciplinary teamwork is actively encouraged between students, across faculty courses, international institutions and with industry.  

Throughout the course, you'll be encouraged to explore and develop expertise in current design approaches, techniques, media, and application including branding, editorial, interactive design, packaging and 3D design, advertising, information design, digital moving image, sustainable and experiential design. 

Skills and techniques such as typography, photography, moving image, printmaking, rapid proto-typing, analysis and research, human factors, presentation, interactive and graphic software all support project work by helping realise solution-led ideas.

Course fees and funding

2023/24 fees for this course

The tuition fee you pay depends on whether you are assessed as a 'Home' (UK), 'Islands' or 'International' student. In 2023/24 the fees for this course are:

 Fee category Amount
Home (UK students) £9,250*
International Year 1 (2023/24): £16,500
Year 2 (2024/25): £16,800
Year 3 (2025/26): £17,100

For courses with a sandwich year, the fee for the placement year can be viewed on the undergraduate fees table. The placement fee published is for the relevant academic year stated in the table. This fee is subject to annual increases but will not increase by more than the fee caps as prescribed by the Office for Students or such other replacing body.

* For full time programmes of a duration of more than one academic year, the published fee is an annual fee, payable each year, for the duration of the programme. Your annual tuition fees cover your first attempt at all of the modules necessary to complete that academic year. A re-study of any modules will incur additional charges calculated by the number of credits. Home tuition fees may be subject to annual increases but will not increase by more than the fee caps as prescribed by the Office for Students or such other replacing body. Full time taught International fees are subject to an annual increase and are published in advance for the full duration of the programme.

Eligible UK students can apply to the Government for a tuition loan, which is paid direct to the University. This has a low interest rate which is charged from the time the first part of the loan is paid to the University until you have repaid it.

2022/23 fees for this course

The tuition fee you pay depends on whether you are assessed as a 'Home' (UK), 'Islands' or 'International' student. In 2022/23 the fees for this course are:

 Fee category Amount
Home (UK students) £9,250*
International Year 1 (2022/23): £16,200
Year 2 (2023/24): £16,500
Year 3 (2024/25): £16,800

For courses with a sandwich year, the fee for the placement year can be viewed on the undergraduate fees table. The placement fee published is for the relevant academic year stated in the table. This fee is subject to annual increases but will not increase by more than the fee caps as prescribed by the Office for Students or such other replacing body.

* For full time programmes of a duration of more than one academic year, the published fee is an annual fee, payable each year, for the duration of the programme. Your annual tuition fees cover your first attempt at all of the modules necessary to complete that academic year. A re-study of any modules will incur additional charges calculated by the number of credits. Home tuition fees may be subject to annual increases but will not increase by more than the fee caps as prescribed by the Office for Students or such other replacing body. Full time taught International fees are subject to an annual increase and are published in advance for the full duration of the programme.

Eligible UK students can apply to the Government for a tuition loan, which is paid direct to the University. This has a low interest rate which is charged from the time the first part of the loan is paid to the University until you have repaid it.

Note for EU students: UK withdrawal from the European Union

The Government has recently announced that new students from the European Union and Swiss Nationals starting their course after August 2021 will no longer be eligible for a student loan in England for Undergraduate or Postgraduate studies for 2021/22 academic year. This decision only applies to new EU students starting in 2021/22. If you are an existing/continuing EU student, you will continue to be funded until you graduate or withdraw from your course.

Need to know more?

Our undergraduate fees and funding section provides information and advice on money matters.

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.

Textbooks

Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost from £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.

Travel

Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Materials and equipment

You will need to purchase your own chosen art materials and design tool kit at an estimated cost of between £50 and £100.

The materials and equipment, some of which you may already own, include drawing materials, pens, pencils, dip pen, scalpel, stanley knife, scissors, bone folder, A3 cutting mat, cutting compass, protractor, steel rule, type depth scale, sketch/note books, paper pads, tapes, glue, range of inks, paint brushes, etc.

You will also need to purchase your own digital back up storage such as USB sticks and a portable hard drive (approximately £50).

Field trips

There may be optional study visits and field trips. For example, a 5-7 day European field trip will cost approximately between £300- £350.

External shows and exhibitions

The approximate cost of participating in the third year (level 6) show is £150.

There may also be costs for participating at external shows and exhibitions. You could incur travel costs which will vary according to the location.

After you graduate

Our graphic design graduates are renowned for being autonomous, versatile, entrepreneurial visual communicators. They are employed worldwide in the fields of branding, advertising, digital moving image, typography, interactive design, packaging and 3D design, photography, information design, and sustainable and experiential design.

Exceptional achievements in international competitions (including the D&AD Awards, Creative Conscience Awards and the RSA Student Design Awards) mean that our students hold a strong reputation for innovation, creativity and commercial understanding.

Many graduates develop their own design practices, while others choose to take postgraduate courses before embarking on their careers.

Student success

Kingston School of Art's Graphic Design students have won 52 international competitions in the last four years, including:

  • RSA;
  • Creative Conscience Awards;
  • ISTD;
  • D&AD.

This reflects the quality of work from this practice based course.

Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.