Design Principles (20 credits)
As a backbone to studio practice you study the underlying principles of design, from figure-ground to Fibonacci, from colour to kerning, from storytelling to hierarchy. These principles come to your attention through the completion of two design briefs with built-in iteration and critique from fellow-students and external passers-by.
Design Fundamentals 1 (20 credits)
The production of original visual material making use of principles is vital to graphic design. In this module you will be introduced to designing for print and how graphic design conveys messages, meaning and information compositionally through the development of shape, structure, balance and hierarchy, and semantically through typography. Investigate and research through watching and walking, then create and communicate using professional image production software and associated processes and techniques (such as applications in the Adobe Creative Suite).
Design Fundamentals 2 (20 credits)
Every graphic designer needs to understand the limits and possibilities of designing for web. You will study the basic concepts of web design and production using industry standard tools and techniques. You will be introduced to a range of different technologies and practices that will give you an insight into how the web works and the different ways of producing material for it. At the same time exercise your brain with more theoretical concepts such as Web standards, Human Computer Interface (HCI), Accessibility and Usability.
Image (20 credits)
As a designer the capacity to generate your own visuals renders you highly valuable. In this module you will explore the production of images using a range of equipment and tools to fulfil design briefs. Initial sessions will cover a range of manual illustration styles and the equipment required to complete them and also cover a range of digital and photographic and hybrid technologies and approaches. You will learn to transition between physical and digital in the creation and preparation of images to be used to convey messages and moods.
Moving Image (20 credits)
The smallest movement can command massive attention. As a designer possession of video and animation skills will impact on your design solutions. You will be introduced to basic digital video production practical skills and produce a short animation for web based distribution. In doing so you will explore the technical considerations of encoding, bandwidth and interaction. You will be encouraged to make experimental use of digital and analogue animation techniques with reference to other creative forms such as flip books, stop-motion, motion graphics.
Design History (20 credits)
Design is even more meaningful when it is understood in context. This module encourages you to situate design within the broader cultural, political, artistic and commercial contexts as you examine both past and contemporary practices and practitioners. Knowledge and understanding acquired through this module will directly inform your preparation and design development for the project modules. While this content is intended to support and underpin your practical project development, you are also expected to engage in essay writing and develop skills in research and the articulation of arguments through writing.
Design Project: Materials and Processes (20 credits)
Materials and processes lie at the very heart of design; from the tactile qualities of screen printing to the functionality of apps, the ways that paper can be folded and scored to the physical illumination of light sources. By understanding what materials are used for and capable of, you will also be able to present novel and challenging uses, enabling design innovation and the creation of unexpected solutions to briefs. This project is based upon recognition of the critical importance of materials and processes (physical and digital), the very constituent materials that the designer must work with and use to solve problems. It forces you to critically assess materials for their utility and qualities, seeking new ways of applying them within the confines of a design brief.
Design Project: Interpretation and Translation (20 credits)
Translation is an indispensable tool, a means to convert information from one medium to another whilst retaining the message and its spirit. Interpretation here requires you to take a journey into the realm of hidden stories and little-known facts. Through exploration of how interpretation and translation can spark imagination and conjure the invisible you will produce memorable and meaningful experiences that educate, entertain, inspire and evoke. All designers must be comfortable in their ability to interpret and translate; from client to audience, from word to image, from miniature to giant. You will undertake two design briefs, one in response to a field trip, and much experimentation linked by ideas of design authorship.
Design Theory: User-Centered Design (20 credits)
This module further develops your understanding of the interconnectedness of theory and practice within graphic design, and in particular the critical importance of understanding the needs, demands and perspectives of audience and client. This module serves as a supportive perspective to the themes and complexities explored within the project modules (materials and processes, interpretation and translation, play and interaction, and intervention and provocation). In so doing Design Theory: User-Centred Design presents critical and often contradictory perspectives on these themes, through the exploration of exemplars and texts. This situates design within the broader cultural, political, artistic and commercial contexts, and exposes the competing discourses that a designer must be aware of, must navigate, and make use of.
Design Project: Intervention and Provocation (20 credits)
Design is active, it naturally calls for and brings about change. Thus the actions of the designer have weight, significance, and ultimately responsibility. This project recognises the critical importance of the design’s ability to call for and bring about change, and within it you will explore the ways that you can intervene and provoke reflection and change. In so doing the you will recognise that the designer is not simply a subordinate element of a commercial design process, but that design can be used for social good, questioning the status quo and normative behaviours. This project forces you to critically assess the messages and prevailing social context of design and designing, seeking ways of exploring and applying this within the confines of a design brief.
Graphic Design Agency (20 credits)
You set up your own design agency and then take on a brief from a local professional design company whose senior team act as your mentors for the duration of the module. You visit their studio, receive a brief and present in their boardroom. The best designers may be offered internships and even part-time employment – this is great for your CV, and for when you graduate. The whole experience is a rollercoaster ride of pain and pleasure. You will learn when to ask high-gain questions and when to be confident in your own design decisions. You will witness first-hand the pace at which the world of branding and marketing works. And in the real world feedback can be brutal. It’s OK; you’ve learned by now that it’s not personal, it’s about the work.
Design Practice: Employability and Exhibition (20 credits)
You will learn skills of entrepreneurship and the business of design from practicing professionals. Our alumni love to come in to talk you through their transition from university to workplace. You will develop a complete portfolio of materials to enable you to apply for jobs within the creative industries or work as a freelancer. Visiting lecturers will help you hone your portfolio and provide you with useful ideas to develop your own contact network for future internships and work experience. Exhibiting your work is intended to ensure you realise the importance of presentation within a public arena.
Design Project: Simplicity and Complexity (20 credits)
Designers constantly negotiate the relationship between simplicity and complexity often encountering situations where design can only make incremental or temporary improvements. The worlds of infographics and data visualisation aid humans to rationalise, examine and interact with their surroundings. In addition to being a humbling and useful concept to engage with, simplicity and complexity also helps prepare you for the pitfalls and challenges within a Final Major Project that follows after this module. You will uncover the ways that design can respond to messy real-life contexts.
Graphic Design: Final Major Project (40 credits)
Now it is over to you. You will be guided and supported as you undertake an individual research and design project into a topic pf personal interest. Using research-through-design you will investigate, explore and communicate your findings using your skills as a designer to do so. The Final Major Project is your chance to conceive, plan and create a major project under your own initiative with tutorial support from subject-specialist tutors. Introductory seminar sessions will encourage you to work swiftly; examining a variety of projects and related outcomes. Early workshops will develop your capacity to generate ideas, plan your time, and write your proposal. Your Final Major Project is your opportunity to produce a substantive piece of work that represents the culmination of your understanding and ability in your chosen areas of creative, graphic design practice.
Graphic Design: Dissertation (40 credits)
Your dissertation is an individual study that explores an idea and makes a case or argument. You will be supported in the completion of a proposal form indicating the proposed topic for study explaining how it sits within graphic design as a discipline, and mention any resources considered to be essential to collect data and to lead to its completion. You will be expected to produce a written individual study of approximately 8,000 words. A 200-word abstract at the beginning of the piece will summarise the topic, the approach adopted and the main conclusions. Your individual study can embrace any topic related to graphic design, either a further development of work explored earlier in the Programme or a new topic that sits within graphic design. You will be expected to indicate how the proposed dissertation intersects with graphic design as a discipline – this therefore allows you to propose emergent and novel dissertation subjects but ensures that you remain focused upon and within graphic design as a discipline.
Design Project: Play and Interaction (20 credits)
Play is how we engage our human brains to develop novel ideas and solutions. How do we design for play? How can design seek to evoke a sense of enjoyable? How we play and interact with design becomes paramount to understanding the user experience and engagement. All designers must be comfortable in their ability to explore notion of play and interaction; you will make and also learn how to critically analyse users’ needs and define user experience through systematic research principles, play and interaction methods
Global Experience in Media, Art and Design (20 credits)
This module offers you the opportunity to respond to a media brief set by a foreign client, in a foreign university with foreign and other Media, Art and Design students. The module consists of five taught sessions across semester 2 and a one-week field trip to a European partner university. Undertaking this module will challenge you to become aware of your own cultural assumptions, and how these might inform professional practice to develop an informed understanding of other people’s ways of thinking and acting in the world. You will develop skills to assist you to communicate and operate effectively and appropriately within multicultural contexts and teams. In addition, you will acquire specific, critical understanding of how similar and different the practice of your future profession may be in different national and/or cultural environments, and develop an intercultural set of skills enabling you to navigate across cultural similarities and differences in your future career.