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BA (Honours) Graphic Design

Open the door to your career in the creative industries.

Course length 3-4 Year(s)
Location City Campus
UCAS W210 Course code

Course description

What you study

Study to be a graphic designer and develop a design portfolio full of ideas to enter and challenge the graphic design industry.

You learn about the core principles of graphic design and its application across a range of sectors and have the opportunity to explore advertising, packaging, motion, user experience design or graphic design. The path you choose can be reflected in your award title, such as BA (Honours) Graphic Design: Motion, so you can easily communicate your strengths to prospective employers when you graduate.

Key areas of study

Key areas include • advertising • user experience design • motion and interactive • structural graphics • typography • graphic design topics, such as typography, printmaking, photography, programming, digital publishing, branding and marketing.

During the course, you’ll focus on a range of media, develop your critical skills and learn how to solve problems creatively. The course is delivered by tutors who are expert practitioners in a number of areas.

Developing your design portfolios is an important way for you to evidence your talents and skills to employers when you graduate. We support your you through portfolio surgeries that include visits from professionals in the industry. Throughout the course, we’ll be looking for you to innovate and take creative risks.

Placements and work experience

You have the opportunity to enhance your career prospects by taking part in international competitions, live briefs and work placements. There are also funded residential study trips at home and student funded trips abroad, complemented by visits to design conferences and professional design association events. If you are doing your work placement in another European country there may be funding available through the Erasmus programme.

During the third year of the course you can take an optional placement year. Placements give you the opportunity to apply your learning, develop new and existing skills and increase your knowledge and experience. You can take a placement overseas as part of the Erasmus plus scheme. Our students have secured placements with companies with a global reputation such as • Condé Nast • Touchpress • UsTwo • Interbrand • Why Not Associates • Graphic Thought Facility.


You have access to a huge range of creative resources to experiment and engage with. You can take advantage of facilities such as • 3D printing for rapid prototyping • the latest hardware and software, including Adobe Creative Suite and Arduino • TV, film and photography studios • a creative media centre • performance spaces • a gallery • well-equipped workshops with access to a range of traditional printing facilities including screenprinting, etching, letterpress and risograph.

You also have access to our learning centre featuring a specialist art, design and media library and extensive online resources.

Professional recognition

This graphic design degree is accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

GCSE mathematics and English at grade C or grade 4 above, plus one of the following

• 112 UCAS points including at least 64 points from two A levels, or equivalent BTEC National qualifications. We accept AS levels. We accept General Studies


• 96 UCAS points from three A levels, including at least 64 points from two A levels, or equivalent BTEC National qualifications. We accept General Studies

New UCAS tariff points system for courses starting from September 2017. This is significantly different to the current points system and uses an alternative method of calculation. You can find information about these changes on the UCAS website and use the UCAS tariff calculator to work out your points.

• Access – an Access to HE Diploma with at least 45 credits at level 3 and 15 credits at level 2. At least 18 level 3 credits must be at merit grade or above, in a media-related programme from a QAA-recognised Access to HE course, or an equivalent Access to HE certificate.

If English is not your first language you must have an IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all skills or equivalent. If your English language skill is currently below IELTS 6.0 we recommend you consider a Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve an equivalent English score.

If your application is successful, you will be invited to attend a selection event with a portfolio of work to demonstrate your ability. Find out about the selection process and how to produce a strong portfolio.

We welcome applications from people of any age. We may be flexible in our normal offer if you can show a commitment to succeed and have the relevant skills and experience. This must show that you will benefit from and finish the course successfully.

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

Course structure

Four years full-time (including one year work placement) or three years full-time

Typical modules may include

Year one

The first year introduces you to higher education level study including • writing • research methods • ideas generation • design thinking. You learn to be independent and how to work effectively in teams.

A visual communication lecture programme introduces histories and theories of visual communication and encourages critical debate and analysis. It links directly to your studio practice. You learn many of the essential skills and basic principles required to practice as a graphic designer and reflect on your learning. In this year you already begin to develop a portfolio for your future career.

Year two

The second year builds on thefoundations laid in first year. A critical practice is established thatencourages reflection and debate amongst your peers and the wider designcommunity. Research methods underpin expanded design methodologies leading to amore professional approach. You build on your understanding of subject historyand theory within your practice, broadening your contextual knowledge andfurther developing critical and analytical skills in preparation for yearthree.The design projects are often company initiated, and involveworking directly with clients. You are supported to meet this challenge anddevelop your skills, knowledge and understanding to a professional level. Youexplore how your discipline can affect change for diverse audiences in avariety of settings.

There is a clear focus onpersonal and professional development manifest in the production of a creativeportfolio of projects. Your areas of strength are identified as preparation ismade for either sandwich placement or final year of study.

Year three

Optional placement year

Final year

You are at the centre of the learning experience and make fully supported, negotiated choices about the direction and composition of your final year against clearly defined learning outcomes. Through a process of research and discussion with academic staff, you determine a body of set and self-directed study that allows you to develop your graphic design practice. At this level you will be expected to engage with increasingly complex cross-disciplinary problems in a variety of contexts, considering diverse audiences, clients, markets, users, consumers, participants, co-workers and co-creators.

By taking increasing responsibility for the management of your work, you are preparing for life as a professional designer. The scale and nature of the projects undertaken in the third year is negotiated with tutors to enable you to develop a portfolio that best supports your career aspirations.

The degree award title is determined by your final graduation project module. This approach ensures that you will graduate with a degree title that reflects your chosen subject specialism. For example, if you elect 'Graduation Projects Graphic Design: (Motion)’, you will graduate with a BA(Hons) Graphic Design: Motion.

  • coursework
  • projects
  • essays


There are excellent career prospects for graduates in a range of design jobs in the UK and overseas in areas such as • graphic design • advertising • designing for environments and three-dimensional spaces • branding and identity • illustration • printmaking • animation • motion graphics • interactive design and app development • typography • editorial and digital publishing • teaching • further study

Here are just a few examples of the careers developed by some of our graduates, who work across a broad range of roles within the creative industries.

Jamie Portch
Jamie is a freelance illustrator who has continued to succeed since graduating in 2011. He received the Association of Illustrators New Talent silver award in 2011 and was also selected for Creative Review's illustration annual 2011.

Ben Mclaughlin
Alongside photography graduate Theo Simpson, Ben set up Mass Observation – a design agency which was described in the New York Times blog as being ‘one of Britain’s most exciting new design practices’. Ben and Theo produce beautifully designed books of photography and typography and have exhibited in many galleries.

Hannah Rummery
Hannah is a graphic designer who currently works at global design firm Gensler. Hannah began her career as an ecommerce graphic design manager at the fashion label All Saints, before moving to branding and retail agency Dalziel + Pow. While at university she specialised in graphic design.

Neil Coghlan
Neil graduated in 2008 where his work was spotted at D&AD's 'New Blood' exhibition and from there he landed a job as a motion designer at the UK's biggest ad agency – AMV BBDO. Neil is now the company director of Aszyk – a small design studio specialising in motion graphic design and communication.

Alex Tizard and Jonathan Rands
Alex and John graduated in 2011 and have worked together for several London-based advertising agencies before joining Grey. They won the Clear Channel Student Awards – Lynx 2010, were shortlisted for The Shelf awards 2010 and won D&AD Workshops Manchester 2010.


Home / EU student

We do not charge course fees during a placement year.

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

For the course fee and further information on scholarships and bursaries please visit our fees and funding pages.

International student

We do not charge course fees during a placement year.

2016/17 academic year

Typically £12,250 a year

2017/18 academic year

Typically £12,750 a year

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

How to apply

You apply for this course through UCAS.

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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