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BA (Hons) Graphic Design — Overview

The graphic design industry plays a vital role in society. This dynamic and continually evolving area touches every aspect of your day-to-day life, from the packaging and labelling of your favourite jeans to the apps you use on your phone every day.

Our Graphic Design programme will challenge you to explore the relationship between design and the wider world, gain essential skills, and encourage you to develop your own ideas and individual approach. 

'Eos' by Max Burke

Through our commitment to core design skills such as creative and critical thinking, ideation, typography, print, layout and investigative practice, together with contemporary digital media and other associated disciplines, we’ll encourage you to develop your own unique voice and offer.

We encourage students input on the programme allowing you to become active learners and therefore shaping and influencing the course as you progress.

 We want our graduates to be future leaders within the design world. We want you to investigate, influence, innovate, and be at the forefront of change. 

Across three years of study, you’ll cover everything from brand identity to design for print, illustration to information graphics, emerging design contexts such as apps to web-based digital design, including digital storytelling and UI design. 

Our students showcasing their work to industry at D&AD:New Blood

You will also get the chance to exercise your entrepreneurial ambitions and work directly with live clients and global design studios, and generate your own saleable design projects. To be a successful graphic designer you must be innovative, creative and a problem-solver.

You’ll need to understand your tools, media, message and audience. Our programme will help you to develop these critical skills and explore international design practices in a broader professional context. 

Practice-led teaching – taught by research-active staff who are influenced by current trends and industry developments – is an advantageous element to this programme. 

Our graduates are highly regarded and recognised within the industry. They continue to receive numerous awards and secure jobs across the sector (national and international), freelance opportunities, internships and work placements. 

Our three-year programme includes guest lectures from renowned speakers and visits to start up agencies culminating in a major exhibition of work on a national platform in London.

What will I achieve?

You’ll gain skills and knowledge while developing your creativity and understanding of the wider professional context. 

Equipped with a creative toolkit in graphic design, you’ll develop your independent practice in creative processes in digital and non-digital mediums. 

You’ll learn to become independent and to turn your ambitions into reality through self-promotion and enterprise, developing your own aesthetic sensibilities, powers of innovation, and capacity for intellectual enquiry.

Follow us on Behance, Instagram and Twitter for more.

Our graduates do fantastic things – from creating designs for the Rolling Stones and Katy Perry to working with the Bolshoi Theatre, The House London and the Tate.


BA (Hons) Graphic Design – Highlights:

  • Learn about a diverse range of graphic design applications, including print and interactive design, publishing and information design, and typography and motion design. 
  • Acquire knowledge from approachable and committed staff with vast experience in design context, typography, letterpress, publishing, installation, interactive design, motion, branding, photography, printmaking, illustration, bookbinding and professional practices. 
  • Gain first-hand experience of real-life work situations through The Agency, a studio practice, with job roles and paid projects providing opportunities to develop enterprise skills, and to engage with live client-led briefs. 
  • Explore both traditional handcraft resources and digital technology to support your creative, conceptual and innovative design thinking. 
  • Observe how international agencies run and visit up-and-coming exhibitions on our exciting programme trips to Paris and Berlin.

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BA (Hons) Graphic Design — Modules

Year One


This module will take an innovative look at the relationship of images to texts, and texts to images, exploring images as narrative vehicles, and typography as images.

The intention is to support you by providing you with creative examples and opportunities that will allow you to explore the relationships between images and texts, and to test the possibilities of both as primary elements of communication media.

This module will also develop hand-rendering skills alongside digital imaging techniques and narrative development.


This module is intended to expose you to a wide range of visual traditions and their illustrative fields of communication. Observation, analysis, research methodologies and creative problem-solving strategies will be core practice to this study. Alongside, with the practice of fundamental traditional and digital skills, and art & design principles such as colour, composition, shape, form and texture. You will respond to a number of projects that will develop your strategies and skills for generating and recording ideas. Through these projects you will cultivate your awareness of a range of ‘visual languages’ and develop your visual communication skills.


Within this module, you will focus on problem solving and creative play with a range of creative image making processes. You will be supported to explore both experimental hand drawn practises and printing techniques, to the production of artwork through digital processes and software ready for final print production. In this module you will build on your knowledge of creative image making processes, for example by screen printing, etching, collagraph, letterpress, vector graphics, collage, etc.



This module 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 personal SWOT analysis, effective professional communication with employers, CVs, applications, looking at freelance working, including issues of contracts, copyright and working with agencies etc.


This module provides an opportunity to expand and develop skills and knowledge in fields beyond the immediate programme environment, in subject areas which are nonetheless relevant to your personal career aspirations, and which have the potential to develop new horizons and feedback into future modules. You will engage in an elective offered by a discipline outside of your own. Electives may include: drawing, costume accessories, live art, printmaking, curatorial practice, web design, interactive media, creative writing, studio or location photography, underwater imaging, film making, contemporary crafts, textiles, & fashion marketing and promotion.


This Level 4 module will introduce you to key ideas and theories and will provide a range of critical approaches supporting the investigation, interpretation and analysis of art, design and media. You will study a range of ideas and concepts that have shaped the way that we engage with, produce and consume art, design and media. You will develop core research and communication skills to help you to articulate and contextualise your understanding of the themes covered throughout this module and within the programme.

Year Two


The module is designed to apply and build on digital media design. It is based on the development and creation of research, from paper based design development to preliminary ideas, through to final production of design idea using the technical skills developed. Formative individual presentations of design progress are considered to be integral to development within this module of study, culminating in final presentations of work.


This module will explore further the relationships of texts to images; the focus will be on investigating the relationship between Graphic Design applied practices and contemporary processes as a catalyst for expressive graphic communication.

The module provides you with opportunities to investigate and develop creative solutions to communicate a visually expressive discipline applied to diverse forms, from brand identity, packaging and publishing to environmental interior/exterior applications and creating original typestyles.

You will further develop hand-rendering skills and experience a wider range of 2D and 3D materials, processes and techniques alongside digital imaging support.



Throughout the programme you will have explored 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.

For example, you would creatively present a body of work that displays exploratory responses to assignments supporting identification of future aspirations and direction.


This Level 5 module extends and consolidates the Level 4 introduction to the investigation, interpretation and analysis of art, design and media. Through a series of themed lectures and seminars this module encourages you to make appropriate links between your area of practice and wider theoretical and contextual discourses. You will continue to develop critical approaches to research, which will inform your understanding of the relationship between context and practice.

Year Three


Starting from the evaluation of students’ previous work and their intentions for the year, this first module will require each of the students to undertake a period of concentrated research, experimentation and development. The intention is to deconstruct pre-conceived 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 Development module.


Following on from the Research & Experimentation module, this module is intended to support the further development of ideas, processes and media, but with the purpose of developing these towards finished or presentable outcomes.

At the start of this module, students will have identified their own focus for investigation and explained and verified their aims through a Statement of Intent. This will be consolidated into a programme of ideas generation and practical studio work through negotiation with the module leader and appropriate specialist staff.

The module will therefore help to confirm aims and objectives, and prototype potential solutions, ahead of the Creative & Professional Conclusion module, and it is envisaged that work initiated within this module is likely to continue into the concluding module.


This module builds upon students previous achievements 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 corpus 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 relating to personal professional aspirations.

Continuing from the Creative & Professional Development module, students will start this concluding module by further refining their area of investigation through a revised Statement of Intent. This will be consolidated into a final programme of practical studio work through negotiation with the module leader and appropriate specialist staff.


This module 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 is an opportunity to conduct a substantive piece of independent research, which is focused on an area related to your creative practice. Pathway Two is a practice-led research project, with critical commentary.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design — Staff

Neil Leonard, Programme Leader

Neil's passion for teaching brought him to Plymouth College of Art after years teaching subjects ranging from Multimedia and Illustration to Fashion Journalism and Advertising. He brings years of broad experience to our students as Programme Leader for our BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree.

As a freelance graphic designer, Neil has worked with The Big Issue, BT, John Lewis, Sony, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Department for Business, Innovations & Skills, and many more.

Neil has interests in traditional processes, such as letter pressing and screen-printing, describing them as being 'influential and informative to the students’ development through the course in terms of problem-solving, mechanics, and work ethic.

Read more about Neil Leonard in our Introducing feature.

Andrew Way, Lecturer

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.

Matthew Thame, Lecturer

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.

Frédérique Santune, Lecturer

Frédérique is a versatile 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.

James Edgar, Visiting Lecturer

James is a part-time lecturer on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme at Plymouth College of Art. He is a practising designer with over fifteen years experience at leading London design studios and publishing houses. 

He grew up in Plymouth and studied at Plymouth College of Art for one year prior to his degree in Graphic Design and Illustration. He currently lives in Plymouth where he runs his own studio, with most of his client base situated in London and elsewhere around the UK. 

James’ areas of expertise include art direction, identity, branding and strategy, editorial and publishing, exhibition and spatial design, as well as interactive and digital projects.

In 2014 James’ designs were nominated for both the Best British Sports book and for Best Cover Series Style Award at the ABCD Awards.

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 Design — Student Work

James Usill

Sue Lewry

Tatsunori Ishikawa

Student work by Max Wylde

'Open Your Mind' typographic work by Joshua Fathers

A playful book cover design for Alice in Wonderland by Maria Busacchi

Hannah Baldwin

Oliver Harrison

Ash Henderson

Zara Walker

Student work by Casey Byrne

Zara Walker

Student work by Alan Qualtrough

Student work by Jamie Wynn

Student wrk by William Hall

Film still from Allie Couch's graphic design film 'Changing Perspectives'

Claude Compere

Student work by Casey Byrne

BA (Hons) Graphic Design — Students Say

Nick Martin – BA (Hons) Graphic Design year 3

“I’m from London and did my Foundation at Ravensbourne. I was still undecided and it was a bit of a random decision to come here but I’ve never looked back. I started to find what I’m really good at and am concentrating on motion graphics and art direction in advertising and branding. I like to be in charge of the process. 

The show will have my motion graphics work. I’ve made a series of one- minute long ‘Science Stings’ potentially for the Science Museum. I like a challenge. The course has been great, the tutors are really good. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. The module choices give you opportunities for new skills and ideas. There’s always something to see here, new ideas, and in the last three years things have really improved. The tutors have pushed me; the facilities are good – you can come in anytime – and they’ve not abandoned traditional graphic design crafts like bookbinding.”


Jamie Pearce – BA (Hons) Graphic Design year 2

"My work is mainly print-based, editorial and typographic design. I’m interested in grid systems and I’ve been exploring connections between architecture and 2D using folded paper. My thesis was on 3D urban grids. I’ve completed several live briefs in and out of college and at the moment I’m designing the publication for our show at New Designers. The course tutors are really supportive. They push you to develop your own visual style and allow you to experiment freely, offering guidance when it’s needed. I get a lot of face-time with tutors and we have our own workspace and studio.

I started the course after spending five years in the Army. I was born in Plymouth and wanted to come back. The course has a good range of study areas, not just typography. It’s very open and there’s a good creative flow. You’re not pigeonholed. I did a Level 0 course which was helpful and interesting, giving lots of media to explore."


James Usill – BA (Hons) Graphic Design graduate

“Extraordinary resources are available to you, from physical crafts to digital fabricaton. You learn from practising designers and inspiring visiting lecturers who can offer insight into your work." 

BA (Hons) Graphic Design — Careers & Alumni

From day one you’ll operate as though you are working in a professional studio, receiving live briefs and engaging with professional artists and companies within the design industry.

We have amazing industry connections, including Dalton Maag, JCDecaux, Sky Arts, YCN, GF Smith, Planning Unit and Saatchi & Saatchi as well as the college being a member of D&AD. 

Students get inspired by design studios and museums in trip to Berlin

We actively encourage students to participate in prestigious industry competitions and meet challenging open briefs from the International Society of Typographic Designers, YCN and Penguin Random House, to name a few – giving you every opportunity to thrive in a creative but ambitious atmosphere. 

Our students exhibit at major international shows such as New Designers and D&AD in London, where they have consistently won awards. 

Our students showcasing their work to industry at D&AD:New Blood

Our graduates do fantastic things – from working with the Bolshoi Theatre and Tate, to creating designs for Katy Perry, Nine Inch Nails and Wu-Tang Clan.

Design groups and creative businesses currently employing our graduates include News Corp, Imagination, Grey London, Tapestry Creative Media Production Agency, October Associates, Pro:Direct, JCDecaux, Lego, The Team, Sky, Elements Festival,  Parragon, Fox International Channels and 33Seconds. Graduates have also gone on to form their own companies, such as  Fuggart and Altitude.

Award-winning students

Our students are more than just 'Graphic Design students' – they're Graphic Designers from the day they arrive. And award-winning ones at that...

Sue Lewry – Best in Show at D&AD's New Blood 2015

Sue Lewry won a prestigious 'Best in Show' at D&AD's New Blood in 2015 for her fashion-focused 'Sumi' brand, combining her interests in digital and print design. She was later selected to exhibit in the Gallery at Plymouth College of Art as part of our 'Best of Summer Show' exhibition. Read more about her New Blood win.

Sue Lewry won an impressive 'Best in Show' at D&AD's New Blood 2015.

Tatsunori Ishikawa – Featured as 'Top 50 Design Graduate of 2015' in Computer Arts magazine

2015 grad Tatsunori Ishikawa's interactive music-branding 'UNSEEN' project impressed the editors of Computer Arts magazine, who selected him as one of the top 50 design graduates in the country of 2015.

Tatsunori Ishikawa's 'UNSEEN' project was featured in Computer Arts 'Top 50 Design Graduates of 2015' issue.

Ash Henderson – Sky Award at New Designers 2014

Ash Henderson impressed at 2014's New Designers with his heat-sensitive interactive educational tool for children, winning the prestigious Sky Award. Ash's prize included £1,000 as well as a priceless one month internship with Sky's design team. Following this, Ash landed a job with JCDecaux – the biggest outdoor advertising corporation in the world. Read more.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design grad Ash Henderson receiving his award from Sir John Sorrell.

Gethin Oliver – Opta Sports competition win

2014 graduate Gethin Oliver scored a £1,000 prize after entering – and winning – a competition set by Opta Sports, the biggest contributors of sports data in the world for his creative goals infographic. Read more.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design grad won £1,000 in an infographic competition by Opta Sports.

Hannah Pellatt – One to Watch at New Designers 2014

Hannah Pellatt picked up plaudits from legendary Graphic Designer Malcolm Garrett – who created the iconic artwork for bands like Buzzcocks, Magazine, Simple Minds, Duran Duran and Peter Gabriel – who selected her at 2014's New Designers as one to watch in a blog for the Design Council. Read more.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design grad Hannah Pellatt was highlighted as one to watch at New Designers 2014.

Matt Wilson – Future Pioneer Award at New Designers 2013

Graduate of 2013, Matt Wilson's 'Conflict Free Electronics' impressed the Design Council at New Designers, winning the Future Pioneer prize. Read more.

Matt Wilson won the Future Pioneer Prize at New Designers 2013.

Nicholas Martin – Award winner at New Designers 2012

Nicholas Martin graduated in 2012 with a New Designers award and has since worked on projects for brands including Barbour, Calvin Klein and Sky. Read more.

Nicholas Martin was an award winner at 2012's New Designers.

Design groups and companies formed by our graduates, or currently employing our graduates, include:

Lagoon Group, October Associates, Bamboo Creative, Matrix Creative Agency, Tapestry Broadcasting & Media Production, Pro:Direct, JCDecaux, KF:D Ltd, Big Wave Media, The Team, Sky, Elements Festival, Luminus Group, Lockstone Printing Media, Parragon, Fox International Channels, Imagination, The House London Ltd, D2 Creative Ltd, Fuggart and Altitude.

Some of our recent graduates and alumni:

Thomas Donald -
Louis Dyer -
Tom Gordon -
Nick Martin -
Matt Wilson -
Jon Baron -
Drew Turner -
Mark Grant -
Miles Noble -
Lee Penton -

Graduates become:

  • Graphic / Digital Designers
  • Corporate Identity and Brand Developers
  • Packaging and Print Designers
  • Art Directors
  • Brand Identity Designers
  • Digital Artists
  • Illustrators
  • Interactive Designers
  • Publishing and Editorial Designers
  • Website and App Designers
  • Motion Graphics Designers

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) Graphic Design — Entry Requirements

Minimum 5 GCSEs, grade C or above, from a general range of educational GCSE subjects, preferably including at least one from Art, Design, Textiles or Media.
200 UCAS Points

BTEC National Diploma - MMP grade
Access to HE Art and Design
Irish/Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers
International Baccalaureate
Other International Qualifications

Applications welcome from candidates without formal qualifications who can provide evidence of their creativity.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design — Resources

The college has amazing facilities that all students can use including a Mac suite, risograph printing, screen-printing and letterpress facilities, the FabLab and a dedicated design studio.

You’ll also benefit from high levels of contact time, input and support from our specialist staff, who are professional practitioners.

You will have the opportunity to work on live client briefs. Students will be given the opportunity to visit working agencies and exhibitions in European cities such as Berlin and Paris on study trips. 

There is even the chance to take part in Erasmus exchanges with universities in France, Spain, Germany and Cyprus. 

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.

Our Mac Suite.

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.

Our Fine Art Printmaking Studio has a wide range of presses open to all students.

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.

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, an 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.

Our Printed Textile Design Studio offers a wide range of resources and processes including screen-printing.

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.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design — Interview

The Design Hub Blog

UCAS Code: W214 Full Time
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