BA(Hons) Graphic Design (with Foundation Year)
Please note there are no vacancies for new applications to this course for September 2021.
Page last updated 30 March 2021
Study in a studio environment with professional-standard facilities and the focus on the real-world skills you need to succeed in your career.
Why study graphic design?
Graphic design makes a powerful contribution to the cultural and economic life of contemporary society.
It exists in the public domain, acts as an indicator of current cultural thinking and is a catalyst for social, cultural and political change.
The role of the graphic designer in society and the professional world is multifaceted; designer as curator, author, craftsperson, editor, educator, collaborator and agitator.
Studying graphic design is excellent preparation for a creative career in the UK and abroad.
Why UWE Bristol?
BA(Hons) Graphic Design is based at the Arnolfini, at the heart of Bristol's creative and cultural community. You'll learn from practising graphic designers in a professional studio environment.
Past students have won awards in prestigious national competitions such as the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Student Design Awards and the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD).
In recent years, graduates' work has been exhibited at D&AD New Blood, London, with several being identified as 'Ones to Watch' and commendations received for several collaborative projects.
Our City Campus is a powerhouse of inspiration and collaboration, and home to our many CityCreatives. It spans Bristol and is made up of Bower Ashton and renowned contemporary arts centres Spike Island, Arnolfini and Watershed.
Our strong industry links with the thriving city of Bristol ensure ongoing input from professional designers, with extra mentoring support also on offer through the West of England Design Forum.
You won't be working on hypothetical designs. Projects are socially and culturally relevant, whether undertaken inside or outside the university.
Go on work placements and internships, or volunteer, to gain valuable workplace experience.
Attend talks from studios like OK/RM, Pentagram, Moving Brands, Mother London, Muf, APFEL and Book Works.
Showcase your work to talent scouts and potential employers at the final year CreativeIndustries Degree Show.
Focus on the avenues that most interest you, and graduate with an impressive portfolio of work, ready to make your mark in the industry.
This course will give you the skills and confidence to find out what type of artist you are. Not only will you develop your creative portfolio while studying the foundation year, but you will have the opportunity to reach and improve your English language and communication skills through a unique module designed for those in the creative arts.
Find out our country specific requirements on our Country Information pages.
Where can it take me?
This course prepares you for an idea-driven, sustainable and flexible freelance practice, or studio career in graphic design.
Many of our graduates find work with highly respected design studios in the UK and worldwide.
Others go on to further study, such as a master's in graphic design or graphic arts, or pursue a career in research or education.
Watch: The learning and teaching experience
The optional modules listed are those that are most likely to be available, but they may be subject to change.
Year zero (Foundation year)
You will study:
- Drawing and Making
- Developmental Project: Building a Creative Identity
- Foundation Project
- Academic Skills.
You normally need to pass your foundation year before going into Year one.
You will study:
- Introduction to Words and Images
- Communicating with Words and Images
- Critical Perspectives
- Professional Practice and Work Experience 1.
You will study:
- Exploring Graphic Design Process
- Creative Analysis.
Plus, two optional module from:
- Developing Practice in Graphic Design or International Exchange
- Professional Practice and Work Experience 2 or Collaborate.
You will study:
- Preparation for Extended Study in Graphic Design OR *Introduction to Level 3 Graphic Design
- Extended Study in Graphic Design
- Independent Research Project
- Professional Practice and Work Experience 3.
*For Level 3 entry students only.
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
Learn through a mix of projects, lectures, workshops, seminars and tutorials.
Engage with industry and explore different career options through professional practice modules.
Craft your skills as a researcher, and work with academics and partners helping to shape new thinking in graphic design. The tutors on this course are active in their field, and are involved with the Centre for Fine Print Research, and the Pervasive Media Studio and Bristol VR Lab.
Build critical questioning and persuasion skills, and expand your ideas about what design can be and do, working on projects with a social purpose, as well as commercial briefs.
Experience and experiment with a range of media, processes, technologies and concepts. Discover how to communicate through image-making, typography, print and screen graphics.
Present your work at the final year Creative Industries Degree Show. Develop your network at our alumni and industry events.
Develop enterprise skills, to open the door to different careers. About 50% of graphic designers work on a freelance basis, so we'll cover areas such as how to find clients, promote yourself and run your own business.
See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.
Percentage of time you'll spend in different learning activities, each year:
|Year||Scheduled learning and teaching study||Independent study||Placement study|
*Calculated from compulsory and optional modules (where applicable) each year
Visit Typenowhere, a website set up to support graphic design students' learning and act as an online platform to exhibit UWE Bristol students' work and successes. See City Edition Studio to explore work of our alumni.
Read about how Olivia created the winning UWE Bristol Christmas e-Card.
All students have the opportunity to join the student-run Graphic Design Society. The society runs social events, workshops and cross-year critiques of students' work.
There are mentoring opportunities with industry professionals, as part of the West of England Design Forum's Design Buddy Scheme. The D&AD also runs a Graduate Academy and many of our students have won places to secure this additional industry support.
You can expect to be assessed through projects, essays, group presentations and visual presentation. There are no exams.
You'll write critical evaluations and analyse your own work through the course, relating it to the broader context and history of graphic design practice.
See our full glossary of assessment terms.
Approximate percentage of marks awarded by each assessment method*:
|Year||Written exam assessment||Coursework assessment||Practical exam assessment|
*Calculated from compulsory and optional modules (where applicable) each year
This course is an institutional member of the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD).
Over the past few years, our students have been extremely successful in the ISTD scheme, receiving commendations, merits and pass certificates.
Students who get work experience tend to graduate with more skills, industry knowledge and a professional network, making them sought-after graduates.
We have extensive links with industry, commerce and the cultural and voluntary sectors.
You'll explore and engage with industry as an emerging practitioner. Undertake work placements, internships and volunteering opportunities with studios across the region.
You'll typically spend 36 to 40 hours a year engaging with industry-related projects (from year one onwards).
Get help to find your placement and support throughout from department staff and our award-winning careers service.
Grow your personal and professional network, and develop specialist subject knowledge by spending a semester at one of our fantastic partner universities abroad.
Increase your confidence, intercultural communication skills and boost your employability.
Explore our study abroad pages to find out more.
European and international visits and field studies are an integral part of the course, depending on take-up.
Recent trips have included New York, Tokyo, Berlin, Istanbul and Krakow. Students are expected to pay for these but we keep prices within strict limits.
You'll go on regular visits to design studios, publishers, paper merchants and printers, including GF Smith Paper Merchant, Burleigh-Portishead Press, Fedrigoni Papers and Ripe Digital Printers.
You'll be based 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 other sites within the City Campus.
Bower Ashton houses the main library supporting the creative and cultural industries as well as student support services.
A mix of traditional and hands-on learning environments helps you quickly take on essential knowledge and skills, standing you in good stead for your professional career.
Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.
Careers / Further study
Tailoring what and how you study, you can shape the course towards your chosen career path.
As this is an industry that's constantly evolving, we'll also prepare you for where the market is heading. You'll have the flexibility and breadth of skills to take your talents in different directions.
Our students go on to successful careers as graphic designers, art directors, digital designers, creatives, studio managers and account managers for a range of high-profile studios and companies.
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
- Play Nicely.
Plus, 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.
Others become researchers, educators or go onto further study.
Our award-winning careers service will develop your employment potential through career coaching and find you graduate jobs, placements and global opportunities.
We can also help find local volunteering and community opportunities, provide support for entrepreneurial activity and get you access to employer events.
Visit our employability pages to learn more about careers, employers and what our students are doing six months after graduating.
Full Time Course
Indicative Additional Costs
Supplementary fee information
Additional costs are for items you could need during your studies that aren't covered by the standard tuition fee. These could be materials, textbooks, travel, clothing, software or printing.
- Tariff points: 48
- GCSE: Grade C/4 in English Literature or Language, or equivalent. We do not accept Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Certificates in Adult Literacy and Numeracy as suitable alternatives to GCSEs.
- English Language Requirement: International and EU applicants are requirement to have a mimimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 5.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*). *The university accepts a large number of UK and International Qualifications in place of IELTS. You can find details of acceptable tests and the required grades you will need in our English Language section. Visit http://uwe.ac.uk/englishlanguagerequirements
- A-level subjects: No specific subjects required.
- EDEXCEL (BTEC) Diploma: No specific subjects required.
- Access: No specific subjects required.
- Baccalaureate IB: No specific subjects required.
If you exceed the entry requirements you may be eligible for BA(Hons) Graphic Design.
For country specific entry requirements please find your country on the Country Information pages.
Applicants will be required to submit a digital portfolio for review. For more details on the process, please visit our selection page.