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BA (Hons) Graphic Communication — Overview

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication is an ambitious course that responds to the opportunities presented through emerging communication methods. It supports the development of specialist and generalist approaches to graphic communication, with a focus on the opportunities afforded by advances in new technologies alongside those offered by traditional or hybrid approaches. 

Graphic design is a central component in the course, but this forms part of a wider understanding and application of expanded communication methods through graphic means. 

Effective communication is essential if we are to face the many challenges in front of us as a global community.

Graphics is an international language with which to create 360 degree communication with each new generation.

Font studio Dalton Maag give a talk to our students about their latest projects.

Working with both physical and digital resources, students will forge their own professional journey within an ever expanding communication landscape. Students will have opportunities to explore motion, print, social and interactive media, to produce powerful and meaningful graphic content. 

We work with design agencies and public communication voices regionally, nationally and worldwide on commercial campaigns and social media. Recently our students have worked with JDO Raw, Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs, Plymouth Design Forum, Upshot Design Agency, Creative Conscience, Getty Images, Trevor Pettit, and Ramuntcho Matta.

Examples of first destination graduate appointments and roles include:

Designer at JC Decaux; Junior Designer at Pro Direct; Graphic Designer at Brand Potential; Junior Graphic Designer at Studiose; Freelance Designer at Walgreens, Boots Alliance; UX Designer/Web Developer; Designer at Sponge Plymouth, UK; Designer at Felt Branding Agency, UK, Designer at 33 Seconds.

Core specialisms include: 

Digital Graphics, Motion Graphics and Emerging Technologies, Graphic Design and Typography, Brand Identity, Brand Communications, Social Media Campaigns.

Recent external contributors to the programme include:

  • The Design Kids
  • Creative Conscience
  • Plymouth Design Forum
  • Upshot Design Agency
  • Getty Images
  • James Edgar
  • Trevor Pettit
  • Ramuntcho Matta

This course was previously titled BA (Hons) Graphic Design. The new title reflects the inclusion of a broader range of communication methods available using modern technology. 

Please note, this programme is only available for full time study, a part time study offering is not available.

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication — Modules

Year 1 (Level 4)

BAGC101 Introduction to Communication explores what it means to be a graphic communicator and how successful communication design can have a positive impact upon people’s lives.  Students will be encouraged to investigate the relationship between client, designer and audience/end user and through primary and secondary research they will identify the qualities of successful 360 graphic communication. The 21st century shift into both pervasive and convergent media, provides communicators with sophisticated tools that allows them to track, monitor and gather data about the audience; a good understanding of the contemporary platforms will inform the design of the client message. The students will be encouraged to investigate the potential range of contemporary communication platforms, in order to further enhance their understanding and insight into the audience/end-user. The modules running alongside in Semester One should also impact upon the generation of ideas and visual communication of solutions within this module: BAGC102 where principles of graphic design and layout are explored and BCOP100 content - lectures and writing about cultures and contexts. The skills developed throughout this module will be utilised and extended throughout the programme, providing some of the fundamental building blocks of graphic communication and the implementation of best practices, in terms of methodology, for the student’s 3 year journey.

BAGC102 Graphic Design is intended to introduce students to the fundamental language of graphic design and its application within the field of communication. Students will be invited to apply and explore design principles such as colour, composition, shape, form and texture alongside developing skills in typography and layout design. Using a combination of both traditional and digital platforms, students will respond to a number of projects that will develop their ability to realise their concepts visually.  The outputs and outcomes could include poster design, editorial design for magazines and books, book cover design, packaging, logo design or advertising. This module links to the communication methodologies being developed in the parallel module, BAGC101 and the skills developed throughout will be utilised and extended throughout the programme.

BAGC103 Creative Image Making explores the power and potential of images to communicate complex, impactful ideas. Within this module, students will focus on the techniques and aesthetics of image-making alongside creative play through a range of creative image-making processes. Students will be supported to explore digital and analogue techniques - experimental, hand drawn and handmade practices alongside production of artwork through digital processes. Combined with the communication and design skills gained in previous modules, it is expected that the skills and techniques explored here will continue to be progressed and applied throughout the rest of the programme.

BAGC104 Professional Practice and Personal Development Planning (PDP) 1 is designed to help you explore the shape and patterns of employment in your chosen field and to enable you to start to match your current skills knowledge and creative portfolio to those that you will require 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) enabling you to identify those experiences and skills you will need to acquire during your degree programme. The module will cover a wide range of general skills including effective professional communication with employers, CVs, applications, looking at freelance working, including issues of contracts, copyright and working with agencies etc.

BAIS300 Interdisciplinary Studies provides an opportunity to expand and develop skills and knowledge, through the introduction of new approaches and methods that broaden and extend the student’s 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 the student’s study to date, and contributes to their wider knowledge and understanding of creative practices. The module will encourage students to explore new skills, knowledge and approaches including team working and problem solving. Above all, it will encourage critical reflection on the range of interdisciplinary approaches and contexts explored within the module.

BCOP100 Contexts of Practice 1 introduces students to key theories and ideas, and provides a range of critical approaches to support the investigation, interpretation and analysis of contemporary art, design and media. Students will study a range of concepts that have shaped the way that we understand art, design and media in its wider historical and cultural contexts. Students will develop core research and communication skills to help them to articulate and contextualise their understanding of the themes covered in this module, and the knowledge gained will support creative practice by developing an understanding of the relationship between thinking and making. 

Year 2 (Level 5)

BAGC201 Digital Communication Design focuses on experience design, the process utilised to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire journey of acquiring and integrating the product or service, including aspects of branding, design, usability, narrative and function. This module is designed to build upon the previous knowledge of digital communication design skills that have been experienced to date on the programme.  It is based on the creation and development of research methods - from paper based design development to preliminary ideas, through to final production of prototypes using the conceptual, technical and digital skills developed. The module culminates in final presentations of work. Students will be introduced to the process of test, evaluation and iteration in order to provide a sustainable and successful product/services.The module will introduce students to analytical problem solving, approaches to graphic communication applied to the complete user experience. This module will strengthen the learners’ appropriate creative abilities and technical skills required of digital design, as well as extend their understanding of the broad fields in which the discipline is practiced.

BAGC202 Design Values

At this stage of the programme, students are ready to explore their creative identity and identify their values as graphic communicators in a 360 degree context, updating their skills and developing ownership of the direction of their future practice. They will be expected to apply their skills to the development of ideas, iteration of concepts, and production of outcomes that allow them to present meaningful messages in ways that are engaging, relevant and worthwhile. We want students to develop awareness and understanding of the social contexts and environmental responsibilities of design. This module will allow students to explore their own creative practice and aspirations up to this point, building on their skills and experiences across the programme so far.   Students will be encouraged to reflect upon interests to date and directions they wish to pursue within the design communication industry. The module presents students with the opportunity to investigate and develop creative solutions and strategies to communicate design solutions in a range of their own chosen media, and further research and advance both theoretical and technical skills required to pursue those interests. 

BAGC203 Professional Practice and Personal Development Planning (PDP) 2 explores many different areas of practice and investigated various career options in line with your PDP in Level 4. Your progression routes may involve continuing your education, employment in the industry, self- employment or an artistic pursuit that requires funding from bodies such as the Arts Council. This module will represent the culmination of your creative and professional discoveries to date as you develop, refine and present your professional portfolio as a creative and professional body of work, to self-promote across a range of platforms, both analogue and digital. For example, you would creatively present a body of work that displays exploratory responses to assignments supporting identification of future aspirations and direction.

GCOP200 Contexts of Practice 2 extends and develops the themes, ideas, concepts and critical discourses introduced in Year One. Students will attend core lectures and participate in a lecture/ seminar series designed to deepen their understanding of creative practice in its wider contexts. This themed approach encourages students to make considered and appropriate links between their 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.

Year 3 (Level 6)

BAGC301 Research & Experimentation builds on the evaluation of students’ previous work, their intentions for the year, and requires each student to undertake a period of concentrated research, experimentation and development. The intention is to deconstruct preconceived ideas and work patterns, and to allow new creative formations to emerge through calculated risk taking and critical reflection. Throughout, the emphasis is on the exploration and development of concepts, media and methods, rather than finished outcomes. It is likely that this intense period of research and experimentation will underpin some of the critical choices made when you map out your aims in the subsequent design thinking for the Creative & Professional Conclusion module in semester two.

BAGC302 Creative & Professional Development enables students to use personal career ambitions to position themselves for progression to employment, self-employment or to postgraduate further study.  It will provide multiple opportunities for students to assimilate previous professional experiences and research into both contextual subject matter and creative outcomes of the final year modules.  The module will encourage students to consider their practice in terms of the requirements of audiences, end-users and relevant markets. Students will further develop and refine their approach to Graphic Communication, considering the targeted audience, appropriate platforms and professional contexts, through the production of self-promotional materials. They will be encouraged to produce an integrated suite of effective marketing and support materials, and a promotional strategy that clearly positions their work as a professional practitioner in their chosen context.

BAGC303 Creative & Professional Conclusion builds upon students’ previous achievements & iterations to culminate in a final body of work for exhibition, and as a platform for further advanced study or entry into the world of professional practice. As such this body of work will demonstrate depth of understanding, creative innovation, aesthetic, conceptual and technical skills, and will be supported by the production of a portfolio of self-promotional materials in BAGC302. Students will start this concluding module by further refining their area of investigation through a Statement of Intent (brief). This will be consolidated into a final programme of practical studio work through negotiation with the module leader and appropriate specialist staff.

BAGC304 Contexts of Practice 3 provides students with two pathways. Each pathway supports the development of independent critical thinking and requires them to consider and contextualise their practice by situating it within a wider set of discourses and contexts:

  • Pathway One - Written Research Project (WRP) is an opportunity to conduct a substantive piece of independent research, which is focused on an area related to creative practice. 
  • Pathway Two - Contextual Enquiry Project (CEP) is a practice-led research project with critical commentary, in which students conduct an in-depth inquiry intended to inform and reposition their creative practice.

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication — Staff

Amanda Duffin

Amanda Duffin
Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader

Amanda has over 25 years experience in all areas of brand communications, from working at board level and shaping a brand, to delivering compelling and appealing visual messages for various B2B and B2C companies including; Sainsbury’s, Worcester Warriors Premiership Rugby Club, Neal’s Yard Remedies, various national Universities, Hilton Hotels, AGA, Fired Earth and Sony, to name a few.

She holds a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design from Plymouth University, which she completed in 1997. Prior to returning to her roots at Plymouth College of Art, she lectured on the Foundation Degree in Graphic Design at University Centre Weston and the BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree at The University of Gloucestershire.

She is 100% dedicated to nurturing creativity and is an advocate of inspiring an environment where students grow through collaboration, not competition, resulting in the production of powerful, resonating creative output that truly connects in the way intended.

She splits her time between leading the BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme at Plymouth College of Art, running her brand consultancy, and managing the Creative Confidence in Design Forum. She also has interests in traditional processes, such as letterpress and screen-printing, and can be found (or not found) most weekends exploring the coast in her T5 camper van.

Frédérique Santune

Frédérique Santune

Frédérique is a designer with fifteen years experience focused on cultural and educational fields, mainly in Paris.

Currently a PhD student at CADRE University of Wolverhampton, she is educated to Masters level in Art and Design, specialising in graphic and digital design, at école supérieure d’art et de design d’Amiens, France. She also gained an extra research year in interactive research A.R.I. at école nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, Paris.

Frédérique is interested in both paper and screen-based media, as long as it involves user journeys through words. She focuses her teaching on encompassing practice and theory, informed by a cross-disciplinary approach. Here at Plymouth College of Art, Frédérique teaches BA (Hons) Graphic Design theory and practice and is a Subject Tutor for our MA Visual Communication programme.

Andrew Way

Andrew Way

Andrew has been at Plymouth College of Art since 1992 as a lecturer teaching on a range of courses – from National Diploma Graphic Design, Multimedia, Digital Graphics through to Foundation Degree Graphic Design, FD Illustration, BA (Hons) Graphic Design.

His main specialist interests and teaching practice lies in new media technology, incorporating digital image manipulation, website design static and animated - for mobile phone, and tablet devices.

Andrew’s current research practice is focused on developing online interactive teaching materials, animated video student promotional showreels, and experimentation with future developments such as motion tracking and touch screen systems.

Previously Andrew worked commercially within the print industry designing products ranging from small items like business cards to full-colour editorial magazines and websites.

Andrew was certified as an Adobe Campus Leader in 2018. Adobe Campus Leaders are a global community of educators who foster creativity with Adobe solutions.

Matthew Thame

Matthew Thame

As a practicing graphic designer and founder of Studio Auto, Matt Thame has consistently reinvented and modified his output, resulting in a body of work that is both extensive and incredibly diverse.

Matt has built an international reputation for striking design work for the music industry, with a prolific output for many major record labels. His work on album covers for labels such as Strut Records & Universal is particularly renowned. Studio Auto continues to broaden its client base to include current arts organisations, corporate identities and independent artists.

Matt works in a multi-disciplinary style incorporating illustration, photography and typography in a flexible and individual approach to each project.

As a tutor at Plymouth College of Art, Matt enjoys sharing ideas, encouraging potential, expanding skills and communication, drawing on his own experiences as a working designer to complement and enhance the students discovery into the demanding standards that are required of a contemporary graphic designer, in presentation, creative process, conceptualization and art direction.

Sam Rowe

Sam Rowe

Sam Rowe is a Lecturer and Subject Leader on BA (Hons) illustration, where he team-teaches modules on sequential illustration, professional practice, and independent and self promotional practices.

Outside of his time teaching at Plymouth College of Art, Sam is a freelance illustrator working mostly in editorial newspapers and magazines, with clients such as The New York Times, Financial Times, NPR and The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.

He has also worked as a graphic designer with Dyson, Bristol University, St Monica Trust and other clients. Prior to joining the teaching staff at the college, Sam taught illustration at the universities of Gloucestershire and Plymouth.

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) Graphic Communication — Student Work

Thyra Bankole

Tatsu Ishikawa

Max Burke

Todd Taylor

Ash Henderson

Hannah Pellatt

Betsy Humberstone

Charlotte Johnstone

Hope Parnell

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication — Students Say

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication — Careers & Alumni

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication — Entry Requirements

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication — Resources

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication — Interview

UCAS: W214 Full Time / Institution: P65