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BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Overview

Please note, this course is not accepting entries for 2018 and 2019. If you are interested in studying design and how it interacts with the environment, check out our BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts and BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling programmes.

Our new Product Design & Innovation programme is unlike any traditional product design course, arising directly from a diverse and discursive art school ethos. Through talking, drawing, crafting, breaking and hacking, this transformational programme will equip you with the tools you’ll need to challenge conventional thinking and help transform the future of product design.

Encouraging innovation, it combines physical and digital product design with an understanding of contemporary shifts in sustainable, ethical and open design principles in order to train the designers of the future.

Sustainable Design Workshop: Jamie and his students 'teardown' a mass produced toaster to improve it's design.

Working at the interface between physical and digital interactions, we offer design in a way that is unique in the UK. Through practical and theoretical exploration and innovation we’ll show you how to find the best possible design solution to each problem, without being confined to just one discipline.


Students have access to a range of facilities, from our Fab Lab to our Craft, Design and Fabrication workshops.

Through creative thinking, disruptive design principles and cross-disciplinary ideas exploration, you will consider how design shapes and impacts upon society, sustainability and lifestyle. 

But we don’t just teach you to how to design and make, we also show you how to consider relevant issues in your design thinking, and understand how to take your product directly to market. From self-start-ups to crowdfunding, we encourage a creative approach that moulds you into an entrepreneur, a change-agent and an innovator.

Making an international mark on design at the Making Futures conference in Beijing.

Our ideal student is up for a challenge, ready to disrupt and to make an impact on the world. You’ll be part of a creative community of artists, designers and makers, which is big on innovation and collaboration.

Based at the centre of the college’s industry-standard Design and Fabrication Workshops and our international community of sustainable design, the programme gives you the critical tools to join an industry that contributes over £70 billion per year to the British economy, and is vitally important across the world. 

Design Disruptors Trailer - A documentary from InVision.

What will I achieve?

We’ll teach you the traditional design skills that you’ll need to meet a commercial client brief – such as 3D modelling and computer-aided design (CAD), both of which you can put into practice using the 3D printers in our Fab Lab.

And we’ll encourage you to break the rules, find new solutions and solve problems in an ethical and sustainable way, designing products and schemes that balance the needs of the economy with those of our environment, lifestyles, and society.

Responsible design solutions and innovation are important to us: as a society we’re currently using twice as many resources as the planet can sustain. But unlike programmes of design study that focus solely on sustainability, we’ll teach you to balance the needs of the economy with those of the environment.


“I believe designers possess the power to have a truly meaningful and significant impact on the world, and should therefore, always be striving to design ethically and sustainably.  This programme will equip students with the right skills putting them on the path to designing and creating a better world.” — Katy Evans, Sustainable Design Education Program Manager at Autodesk


Our aim is to encourage and support your creative education, helping develop your career throughout your studies and after. As a graduate of this programme, you will become essential to the expansion of the UK’s design industry – one of the most established and respected in the world. 

In the UK, businesses, where design is integral to operations, are twice as likely to have developed new products and services.

As part of a progressive, free-thinking, independent ethos, we’ll encourage you to experiment with new processes and take risks, cutting across the confines of traditional thinking and subject designation. 

Our on campus gallery draws in a busy schedule of exhibitions and talks from national and international artists across all disciplines. Work: Silo Studio.

We engage with areas that other design programmes don’t have the flexibility to explore. 

You’ll engage with the entire lifecycle of your designed outcomes – from resource identification, through development and production – including e-commerce. We’ll equip you with the tools you’ll need to challenge conventional thinking and help transform the future of product design.


The UK’s design industry is one of the most established in the world. In the UK, businesses where design is integral to operations are twice as likely to have developed new products and services. Successful UK businesses and iconic brands such as Virgin, Jaguar Land Rover, O2, Dyson, and Diageo all regard design as essential to innovation and market expansion.
Arts Council England.

Opportunities for studying abroad are available at our partner institutions, click here for more.

Highlights — BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation:

  • Combine physical and digital product design with understanding of contemporary shifts in sustainable, ethical and open design principles.
  • Enjoy workspace in a dedicated design studio, and access to a range of state-of-the-art workshops, materials and technologies.
  • Embrace an ethos with experimentation and innovation as the norm, and where our open door policy encourages cross-discipline collaboration with other subject areas and specialisms.
  • Explore cutting-edge 2D, 3D and 4D technology, where digital and physical interactions meet in exciting new ways.
  • Join a dedicated creative community where you’ll be surrounded by fellow artists, designers and makers.
  • Engage with the entire lifecycle of your designed outcomes; from resource identification, through development and production.

Have a question for our team? Email:

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation is validated by The Open University.

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Modules

Year 1

BADE101 Introduction to Product Design & Innovation

This module is intended to expose you to a wide range of design traditions and their fundamental relevance to professional product design standards.

You will be introduced to the practical frameworks relevant to the product design profession, including communication, prototyping and realisation which will be centralised around 3 principle models of design; User-based, Market-based and Theory-based, carried out through design projects.

You will respond to a number of tasks that will evolve your strategies and skills for developing, testing and presenting design proposals. Through these projects you will cultivate an awareness of a range of ‘design models’ that will enable you to develop your design skills within the context of contemporary product design & innovation practice.

BADE102 Sustainable Design

Unfortunately, many product designers play a central role in contributing to environmental degradation; since design and the production of material culture drive consumption and consumption requires a constant flow of materials and infrastructure (currently estimated at 50% more than our planet can provide). There is a clear need for the contemporary product designer to work much harder to balance economic demands with those of the environment, whilst respecting communities and cultures.

You will be introduced to new models of ethical design practice and engage in Complete Systems Thinking and Sustainable Design methodologies. You will be introduced to tools and concepts including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and made aware of the global manufacturing logistics, currently challenging ethical practice. Through assignments, you will explore sustainable product design & innovation concepts such as ‘design for longer life’, ‘design for repair’, ‘design for recycling’, ‘design for re-manufacture’, ‘Upcycling’ and ‘emotionally durable design’.

BADE103 Interaction Design

The recent explosion in software and data production forces objects and information further together than ever before, unifying them into new forms, often realised as complex and ‘smart’ responsive systems and products. These new, networked systems are often devoid of adequate seamless end-user integration. The contemporary product designer will be instrumental in evolving and integrating software and data into new user-focussed products, systems and service experiences.

You will explore the potential for new types of human interactions between rapidly evolving information, data, systems and objects. You will be introduced to software environments and interactive prototyping tools, such as Arduino and 3D Printing where you will explore design solutions for new products and services.

You will be encouraged to develop virtual and physical environments in prototyping new solutions. Through a range of workshop activities, you will build an understanding of data and information design methodologies, tools and languages, extending your awareness of interaction design potential.

BADE104 Professional Practice & PDP 1

This module is designed to help you explore the shape and patterns of employment in product design and related industries, to enable you to start to match your current skills knowledge and portfolio to those required to successfully compete for work in your intended career. Having identified areas for development, you will work with the module leader to update your Professional Development Plan (PDP blog) enabling you to identify those experiences and skills you will need to acquire during your degree course. The module will cover a wide range of general skills including personal SWOT analysis, effective professional communication with employers, CVs, applications, looking at freelance working and design consultancy, including starting to consider issues around contracts, copyright and working with other agencies.

BAIS300 Interdisciplinary Studies

This module provides an opportunity to expand and develop students’ skills and knowledge, through the introduction of new approaches and methods that broaden and extend their understanding of practices both in their subject area, and the wider creative context in which they work.

The module will introduce students to interdisciplinary approaches and methods in their subject, and open up possibilities for engagement with practices both within and outside their immediate subject area. As such, this Module complements all of their study to date, and contributes to their wider knowledge and understanding of creative practices.

The module will encourage students to explore new skills and knowledge, develop team working skills, and above all encourage a reflective understanding of their own skills and contribution within an interdisciplinary context.

BCOP100 Contexts of Practice 1

This module will introduce you to key theories and will provide a range of critical approaches supporting the investigation, interpretation and analysis of contemporary product design & innovation. You will study a range of concepts that have shaped the way that we understand design in its wider historical and cultural contexts. You will develop core research and communication skills to help you to articulate and contextualise your understanding of the themes covered in this module. The knowledge gained in this module will support your product design & innovation practice by developing an understanding of the relationship between practice and theory.


Year 2

BADE201 Disrupting Design: Systems, Objects & Interactions

Product design is not static and as such, the contemporary product designer must be able to move quickly with shifts in culture, technology, society, economics and politics, etc. Experimental and ‘Disruptive’ design approaches are useful innovation models for trialing and testing what product design is, as well as exploring what product design might become.

Within this module you will take on the role of product designer as provocateur, probing the world of systems and objects to explore potentials for new product and service experiences. By exploring and prototyping virtual-physical relationships through disrupting the status quo, you will extend awareness of the varying contexts and languages of product design, as well as the convergence of your own practice with other disciplines; such as systems and information architecture, software development, engineering, manufacturing and psychology.

BADE202 ChangeMaking: Environment, Ethics & Economy

Mainstream product design & innovation now interacts with economies, environments and communities from across the globe. Design students need critical and comprehensive understanding of the many types of systems, contexts, frameworks and infrastructures that enable these design interactions to take place.

This module is centralised around the globalisation of commercial product design. It builds on the previous Level 4 module in Sustainable Design and Level 4 module in Interaction Design, focusing on equipping product design students with a range of experiences in these differing contexts; in order to foster a greater sense of global design responsibility and ethical product design practice. A series of workshops, sessions and assignments will challenge students to negotiate live projects and competitions, marrying the need for ethical and sustainable considerations within commercial product design & innovation practice.

Students will research, develop, present and propose new product design & innovation solutions that carefully consider the environment as well as the economy. This module is primarily concerned with the development of strategic product design & innovation approaches that can guarantee competitive outcomes for stakeholders and consumers, whilst also respecting and protecting valuable resources and communities.

BADE203 Professional Practice & PDP 2

This module extends skills acquired during Level 4 allowing you to further explore professional product design & innovation practice alongside varying scales of commercial freelance design and entrepreneurial opportunities. Running across Level 5, it will inform an understanding of the level of professionalism, creativity and adaptability required to negotiate a career in product design and associated professional industries.

You will have the opportunity to respond to the requirements of a range of professionally focused projects. Whether you work on live briefs and external commissions, or competitions and simulated briefs, you will be expected to research thoroughly and produce products that take into account clients, audiences and contexts.

Throughout the module, you will also consider business and practice skills required to plan for a career in design, including the skills and attributes required in contemporary practice alongside developing an understanding of the guidance available for product designers relating to Intellectual Property (IP) and copyright.

Continuing on from the good practice set up in the Level 4 Professional Practice module, reflection will also be an ongoing, continuous process recorded and archived through your PDP blog.

GCOP200 Contexts of Practice 2

This module extends and develops the themed ideas, concepts and critical discourses introduced in Contexts of Practice 1. You will attend core lectures and participate in a themed seminar series designed to deepen your understanding of product design & innovation practice in its wider contexts. This themed approach encourages you to make considered and appropriate links between your area of practice and wider contextual and interdisciplinary discourses.

You will continue to develop critical approaches to research, which will inform your understanding of the relationship between context and practice. You will undertake a contextual research project that links the thematic focus of your particular seminar series to your area of creative practice, which culminates in a designed research project.


Year 3

BADE301 Research and Experimentation

This module will stipulate the overarching direction and outline research methodologies that will provide a platform from which your Creative and Professional Conclusion module may develop.

It is a period of reflection on past creative outcomes and the success of their commercial application. The questioning of theories and experimentation in practical processes will allow you to plan your final project and negotiate a course towards its conclusion considering future product design & innovation career or learning aspirations.

Negotiated proposals for outcomes must evidence indicative inclusion of contextual studies subject matter and creative intent for the final year must be clearly definable at the end of this module.

BADE302 Creative and Professional Development

This module will enable you to use personal career ambitions to position yourself for progression to employment, self-employment or to post-graduate study in product design & innovation. It will provide multiple opportunities for you to assimilate previous industry experiences and research into both contextual subject matter and product design & innovation outcomes of the final year modules.

The module will encourage consideration of audiences, end-users and relevant markets. Relationships with appropriate external agencies, individuals and professionals will be explored and interactions with the creative, commercial and cultural environments will be investigated.

BADE303 Creative and Professional Conclusion

This module represents the culmination of the knowledge, skills and understanding acquired throughout the entirety of your study on the programme through the engagement in a product design & innovation project that is the result of a self-initiated or self-selected brief.

BADE304 Contexts of Practice 3

This module provides you with two pathways. Each pathway supports the development of independent critical thinking and requires you to consider and contextualise your product design practice by situating it within a wider set of discourses and contexts. Pathway One is an opportunity to conduct a substantive piece of independent research, which is focused on an area related to your product design & innovation practice. Pathway Two is a practice-led research project, with critical commentary.


Module details listed above are indicative content only.

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Staff

Kevin Jenkins

Kevin Jenkins
Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader
MA Subject Tutor

Kevin is an MA qualified product designer with 20 years commercial experience. He has always been fascinated by form, design, new technologies and materials. Alongside heading up our Product Design & Innovation programme, Kevin also runs Box and Pad Ltd, consulting in product design, furniture design, product visualisation and design development with clients in the UK, USA, Europe and the Far East. 

Box and Pad has designed products and fixtures and managed design development for projects for BT, The National Trust, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Topshop, New Look, Haagen Dazs,  various colleges, hospitals and academies.

He won Innovation of the Year at the British Sign Awards 2016 for his Shimmerdisc design. 

The staff listed on this programme are correct at the time of writing. Students will be notified if there are any changes to key staff (i.e. Programme Leaders and Lecturers).

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Student Work

Raising awareness of the environment with thermochromatics by Ash Henderson

Student working in our FabLab.

Neon Workshop held by Richard William Wheater of NEON Workshops Ltd

BA (Hons) Glass student work.

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Students Say

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Careers & Alumni

This programme will give you the skills, confidence and aptitude to build a career in a diverse range of design professions that increasingly rely on innovative thinking and collaboration.

You’ll benefit from visiting lecturers and presentations from practising designers. Our tutors are also practitioners, with direct experience of working in their fields – so you’ll work on live briefs and many of the projects you’ll work on will be with real clients.

Our strong international connections allow our students to take a semester of study with one of our partner institutions within Europe and North America, and in turn, we welcome overseas students from those institutions to join us in our design studios, creating an exciting cultural exchange.

Our graduates become:

  • Designers
  • Project Managers
  • Design Managers
  • Design Consultants
  • Entrepreneurs/Start-up Founders
  • Strategists for the Public and Private Sector
  • Product Designers
  • Creative Directors
  • Technical Directors
  • Researchers
  • Lecturers


Careers & Enterprise in the Curriculum’ at Plymouth College of Art 

Professional practice is embedded within all of our programmes.  Throughout your studies, you will have the opportunity to develop the key professional, transferable skills for employability in the creative industries and potentially work in partnership with other sectors locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

From writing and making the most of your CV to gaining industry experience, the acquisition of professional skills has been written into the programmes of study by our staff teams, who have ‘real world’ experience. They are also supported by our Industry Liaison Groups, who help inform the development of the higher education curriculum.

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Entry Requirements

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Resources

This programme offers you workspace in a dedicated design studio. You’ll get to experiment and specialise using the college’s excellently resourced workshops, materials and technologies.

These offer access to cutting-edge digital facilities, such as our Fab Lab housing 3D printers, 3D scanners, CNC routers, laser cutters, 3D design software from Autodesk and Siemens, and 4D prototyping tools such as Lego Mindstorm and Arduino, to bridge virtual and physical designs.

You’ll be able to cut across the college’s facilities, with opportunities to work in glass, metal, wood, ceramics, plastics, digital image-making, and fabrics, dependent on your interests and desired outcomes.

Through our Careers & Enterprise office, you will have support from a dedicated team focused on developing creative career opportunities. And this doesn’t stop when you graduate, we want to stay in contact and help support you through the first two years of your career.

Our Ceramics Workshops.

Facilities at the college include:

Animation, Film and Photography Studios

Our students make full use of our industry-standard dedicated studio spaces – including our infinity cove, green screen, and specialist sound studio (with Foley pit and vocal recording booth) – plus our stop-motion suite, our darkrooms, and plenty of individual edit suites, all up-to-date with the latest industry-standard software.

Ceramics and Glass Workshops

With a glass furnace that works at 1,100 degrees, 10 potters wheels, resources for hot, warm and cold glass processes, a plaster room for mould making, 16 kilns, a well-stocked glaze mixing area and individual studio space, our Ceramics and Glass Workshops have a real ‘wow’ factor, rivalling any art school around the country.

Our Glass Studios.

Drawing Studios

With north-facing windows, a ‘methods and process’ area, individual studio space and a specialist life-drawing studio, our impressive, open-plan, triple-height Drawing Studio is a huge space, perfect for many different activities and specialisms.

Fab Lab

Our ‘fabrication laboratory’ is kitted out with the latest in digital design technologies – from 3D printers to 3D scanners, a vinyl cutter, CNC milling machine, CNC router and laser cutter. It adds a whole new level of opportunity for students across all creative walks of life.

Our Fab Lab is a digital design hub filled with the latest in 3D technologies.

Fashion Studios

This large professional studio offers a real-life fashion experience in a fabulous space with sea views. Specialist industrial and domestic sewing machines, a range of knitting machines and a wide stock of fabrics and knitting yarns sit alongside a media and marketing Mac suite, a fully operational CAD cutting facility, and a library of designer garments to inspire.

Fine Art Printmaking Studios

A fantastic facility supporting fine art printmaking, our dedicated space caters for a wide range of programmes and processes. You’ll get access to a 150-year-old Columbian press, an Albion press, a historic and rare wallpaper press, and an automatic FAG proofing press, plus a broad selection of metal and wood type, vacuum screen-printing beds, and four etching presses.

Jewellery Design Studio

Housed in our fantastic new Craft, Design and Fabrication Workshops, this stunning space provides everything for contemporary and traditional techniques in jewellery design, including benches supplied with gas and oxygen, in-house metal casting resources, hand and machine-forming tools, facilities for vitreous enamelling, and a separate chemical room for etching, anodising and patternation. We also have larger metalwork equipment for welding, brazing, cutting and grinding.

Textile Studios

With views out to sea and 35 metres of print tables to encourage experimentation, our Printed Textile Design Studios also boast a fantastic Mimaki fabric printer, digital embroidery resources, industrial sewing machines, sublimation printers, a dye lab, heat presses, a tufting gun and a Mac suite. It’s got to be one of the best printed textile workshops in the UK.

Our Textile Studios.

The Print Lab and Equipment Resource Centre

The Print Lab offers affordable and quick print services for all our students who are looking for anything from large-format or solvent printing, to photo printing, scanning or vinyl cutting, and a wide range of finishing services. And our highly experienced Equipment Resource staff can advise you on which of our 6,000 pieces of industry-standard kit – from underwater cameras to traditional large format cameras and all free to hire – will best meet your needs.

Woods and Plastics Workshop

Alongside the latest in new technology, we value the long-standing traditions of making in wood and plastics – and have developed an excellently-resourced workshop that is open to all our students. It boasts a wide range of kit, including an impressive CNC router, plenty of saws and lathes, and strip-heaters, as well as greenwood-working facilities.

Our Photographic cove.

Our Fine Art Printmaking Studio.

BA (Hons) Product Design & Innovation — Interview

Course Code: 1819
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