Students looking around an exhibition


Graphic Design (with Foundation Year)

Please note the tariff points stated for this course are indicative. The tariff points for 2018 will be published by August 2017.

About this course

Entry year:
Course code:
Tariff points:
Art and Design
Foundation Year: Frenchay and Years one to three: City Campus
Four years
Programme leader:
Colum Leith
Key fact:
Our BA(Hons) Graphic Design is taught by practising graphic designers. You will learn in a studio environment with professional-standard facilities and a real-world dynamic.

Page last updated 12 June 2017


Why BA(Hons) Graphic Design?

Graphic design, in its many forms, makes an increasingly powerful contribution to the cultural and economic life of contemporary society. It exists in the public domain, is an indicator of current cultural thinking and is a catalyst for social, cultural and political change. Our BA(Hons) Graphic Design explores the changing concept of graphic design and the role of the graphic designer in society and the professional world; designer as curator, author, craftsperson, editor, educator, collaborator and agitator.

The course provides excellent preparation for a creative career in the UK and abroad. Many of our graduates establish their own freelance businesses or independent design companies.

Why study this course?

During the first year of this course, you'll study at UWE Bristol's Frenchay Campus. From the second year of your course onwards, you'll be based on Bristol's historic waterfront at the Arnolfini. Situated above this internationally renowned centre for contemporary art, you will be at the heart of Bristol's creative and cultural community, with access to UWE Bristol's City Campus and all it has to offer.

Taught by practising graphic designers, learning takes place in a studio environment with exceptional department facilities and a real-world dynamic. The course ranks very highly in the National Student Survey (NSS).

Nine final year students on the course won prestigious national awards in the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Student Design Awards 2014/15.

In recent years graduates' work has been exhibited at D&AD New Blood, London, where they have won Best in Show awards and commendation for collaborative projects.

Current students are regularly shortlisted for the Best British Book Design and Production Awards.

Real-world experience

Our strong industry links with the thriving city of Bristol ensure ongoing input from professional designers. You will not work on hypothetical designs. Projects are socially and culturally relevant, whether undertaken inside or outside the University.

We encourage and support work placements, internships and volunteering throughout the course. We have welcomed speakers from Julia Studio, Moving Brands, Mother London, Muf, APFEL and Bookworks, among many others.

Where it can take you

The course provides excellent preparation for a rewarding freelance or studio careers in graphic design. Many of our graduates have found work with highly respected companies in the UK and worldwide.

Watch our film about related Art courses at UWE Bristol.

Watch: The learning and teaching experience



In the Foundation year (Year zero), the content is designed to develop your academic skills. It also raises awareness of the relevance the disciplines which span the arts, creative and cultural industries will play in your future, professional lives.

The four modules will have three hours of teaching each week (12 hours of scheduled class time in total), and focus on developing students as creative practitioners across the spectrum of art and design disciplines.

Foundation year (Year zero)

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Drawing and Making
  • Developmental Projects
  • Foundation Project
  • Academic Skills.

You will study the Foundation year alongside students from other Arts, Creative Industries and Education courses and so you may transfer to another course in one of these areas at the end of a successful Foundation year.

The normal expectation is that you must pass all Year zero modules before progressing to Year one.

Across Years one, two and three of the course (below), Professional Practice/Work Experience modules allow you to explore and effectively engage with industry and professional outcomes as an emerging practitioner.

Year one

Emphasis is placed on experimentation and critical reflection, providing opportunities for you to experience a range of mediums, processes, technologies and concepts. You will explore communication through image-making, typography, print and screen graphics.

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Introduction to Words and Images
  • Communicating with Words and Images
  • Critical Perspectives
  • Professional Practice and Work Experience 1.

Year two

You will consider the professional aspects of graphic design. Option modules provide opportunities for exploring and focusing on particular areas of interest including type and print, moving image, and visual narratives. In Year two you can also take part in Erasmus international exchange.

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Exploring Graphic Design Process
  • Creative Analysis
  • Professional Practice and Work Experience 2.

In addition, you will study one of the following optional modules:

  • Developing Practice in Graphic Design
  • International Exchange.

Final year

You will focus on a self-directed programme of study culminating in a final show. You will have the opportunity to undertake live briefs, national and international competition including RSA and ISTD.

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Preparation for Extended Study in Graphic Design (or Introduction to Level 3 Graphic Design for Level 3 entry students only)
  • Extended Study in Graphic Design
  • Independent Research Project
  • Professional Practice and Work Experience 3.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching is through projects, lectures, seminars and tutorials.

For more details see our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.


A variety of assessment methods are used including projects, essays, group presentations and visual presentation. There are no exams. Critical evaluations are written throughout the course. In these students are expected to critique and analyse their own work and also relate it to the broader context and history of graphic design practice. Marks from modules undertaken at levels two and three can contribute to your final degree.

For more details see our full glossary of assessment terms.



We have extensive links with industry and commerce and with the cultural and voluntary sectors. You will explore and engage with industry as an emerging practitioner. We have strong links with studios throughout the region and encourage and support work placements, internships and volunteering opportunities.

In partnership with West of England Design Forum, our second year students can take part in its Design Buddies mentoring scheme.

Our students typically spend 36 to 40 hours per year engaging with industry-related projects.

Study exchanges with European colleges of Art and Design are available as part of the EU-funded Socrates programme.


European and international visits and field studies are an integral part of the course, depending on take-up. Recent trips have included Berlin, Istanbul and Krakow. Students are expected to pay for these but prices are kept within strict limits.

We also make regular visits to design studios, publishers, paper merchants and printers, including GF Smith Paper Merchant, the Environment Agency, Burleigh-Portishead Press, Fedrigoni Papers and Ripe Digital Printers.

Study facilities

During your initial year, you'll be studying at UWE Bristol's Frenchay campus. During this year you'll have access to all the facilities and accommodation available to UWE Bristol students.

From the next year of your course you'll be studying at the City Campus at Arnolfini, which occupies the top three floors of the Arnolfini building on Bristol's harbourside and offers studio and teaching spaces for Graphic Design students. Computing facilities and student support services are available. Visual Culture modules and a range of guest lectures are delivered here as well as at other sites within the City Campus.

You are able to access the range of resources available at other City Campus sites, including Bower Ashton. Bower Ashton houses the main library supporting the creative and cultural industries as well as student support services.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE Bristol has to offer.


The CODA award is presented to a final year student at the Creative Industries Degree Show.

Student successes

  • Visit Typenowhere, a website set up to support student learning and to act as an online platform to exhibit UWE Bristol students work and successes.
  • Visit the 2015 final year publication website, Blast 101.
  • Winner of the CODA award in 2015, Dan Smith's website showcases his work.
  • See alumni website City Edition Studio.

Showcase your work

Take a look at some of our students' exhibits by visiting Level 2 Vimeo and Level 3 Vimeo, along with our flickr and Tumblr pages.


Careers / Further study

Our students go on to successful careers in a range high-profile studios and companies as graphic designers and account managers. Recent graduates have found work at Eye Magazine, JWT Advertising, McCann Erickson, the Guardian, Two Times Elliot, The Times and Sunday Times, Undercurrent Brands, Esterson Associates, Studio Makgill, DRAFTFCB, Play Nicely, Redhouse Lane Communications, Hello Charlie, Peloton, BDH, Dirty Design, Pentagram, NB:Studio, City ID, Think Public, Domain Associates, Telegram, dn&co, Oakwood, nerv interactive,YCN, Collision Films, Mind Design, Aardman Animations and Plastic Horse.

Some continue with their studies. Three of our recent students are studying for the MA Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, London.

Award-winning Careers Service

Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.

Creating employable students

UWE Bristol places strong emphasis on employability and skills development at every level. Through work placements, volunteering, study abroad and initiatives nurturing talent and innovation, you will have opportunities to gain valuable real world experience, allowing you to graduate with diverse career opportunities and a competitive place in the job market.

Visit our Employability pages to find out about careers, employers, real world experience and what our students are doing six months after graduating.

Be inspired

Watch Alex's YouTube film about preparing for employment.

Watch James's YouTube film about how he combines studying with co-running a club night.

Read about Olivia's winning Christmas e-card design.

Read about how Jane manages life as a mature student with a family and day job.

Look at UWE Bristol students' work on flickr.

Useful links

UWE - careers in graphic design

Prospects - careers in the creative arts sector


Full Time Course

FeesAmount (£)
International-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee12500
International-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)1563

Indicative Additional Costs

FeesAmount (£)
Additional Course Costs - Full Time - Home/EU - Indicative Maximum Cost Per year400
Optional Field Trip - (Maximum Cost)500

Supplementary fee information

Further information about fees and funding.


Typical offers

  • Tariff points: 48
  • GCSE: For all applicants, Grade C or above, or Grade 4 under newly reformed GCSE grading, in English Language, or equivalent. Please note the University does not accept Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Certificates in Adult Numeracy and Literacy as suitable alternatives to GCSEs.
  • A-level subjects: No specific subjects required. Points from A-Level General Studies and AS-Level subjects (not taken onto full A-Level) can be included towards overall tariff. You must have a minimum of one A-Level.
  • EDEXCEL (BTEC) Diploma: No specific subjects required.
  • Access: Achievement of the Access to HE Diploma; no specific subjects required.
  • Baccalaureate IB: No specific subjects required.

Entry requirements

Applicants will be invited to submit a digital portfolio for review.  We are interested in your creative ideas, skills and ability.

Due to the creative nature of the course, you will be considered on your own individual merit and potential to succeed. We may make different offers where appropriate to candidates who have a strong portfolio, or substantial relevant work/other experience and whose motivation and skills would enable them to succeed on the course. In your application, please give full details of any relevant work experience and qualifications (including modules and units).

Students who expect to achieve a higher tariff score may also be interested in our BA(Hons) Graphic Design course.

Please read the general information about entry requirements.

UWE Bristol's International College
If you do not meet the academic or English language requirements to study this course you can qualify by completing preparatory study at our International College.

How to apply

Please apply through UCAS.


Please see the general information about applications.

For further information


UWE Main Campus

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