BA single honours Graphic Design with Foundation Year 2020/21

Year of entry

A number of our degrees are also offered with an additional foundation year (Year 0). Whether you are a school-leaver or someone considering returning to study but don’t have the entry requirements for your chosen subject, a foundation year course may be just what you’re looking for.

A foundation year is the first year of a four year programme which:

  • provides an introduction not only to study at University but also to your chosen subject
  • offers you a highly supportive environment where you can develop the self-confidence, knowledge, skills and understanding for further study.

There are no right answers. When you study Graphic Design there are no exams; there is only doing and making.

Following the Foundation Year you will explore areas including:

You will start by gaining a thorough understanding of design principles, processes and history together with technical skills for print, web, image and motion graphic design creating portfolio pieces as you go. Our specialist staff assist you in developing your own expertise as you 'think through making' as you respond to themes such as interpretation, play, materials & processes, and provocation. You put your skills to use in the real world through live briefs and national competition briefs. To capitalise on your design work, you will learn business and entrepreneurial aspects of the industry from successful local designers.

92% of Graphic Design students were satisfied with the quality of their course

National Student Survey 2019

Graphic Design is the best job in the world. Not only do you get to be paid for being creative you also use your brain to influence human behaviour and action through visual and sensorial, communication. Good designers are in demand and provided you have the necessary skills, talents and determination you will always be able to find work. Added to that, no two days are the same. At CCCU from day one we regard you as a designer with thoughts and opinions as you develop a portfolio of work moving seamlessly from analogue to screens and back again. 94% of students agree that staff teaching Graphic Design are good at explaining things. It is true – we love what we do, but we love what you do even more.

View an example of student work.

At CCCU our emphasis is on building creative confidence, technical skills and critical understanding. The programme is designed for those with an interest in graphic design but who may not necessarily have studied it in the past. You should be willing to take calculated risks and to step out of your comfort zone in the quest to produce thoughtful work.

Top reason to choose this course

  • From day one at CCCU we regard you as a designer with original thoughts and opinions and more than able to make a meaningful contribution in the world.
  • You can combine output formats, or specialise – screen, web, motion, print, analogue, sensory – the choice is yours.
  • You will develop a personality of resilience and a portfolio of brilliance in readiness for work.
  • You will engage in team-working in a learning community through collaborative projects with other students, and with staff.
  • You will undertake live briefs to broaden your client-facing skills and confidence.

“Working with Finally design studio in Canterbury was the highlight of my second year. In groups, the CEO and Managing Director of the studio worked alongside us as both client and mentors during the branding project. I came away from this brief with a better understanding of how a design studio is run, the deadlines involved and what it's like to work collaboratively on a design project. This module opened up the opportunity for myself and my project partner to work part time at the studio during our third year of university, giving us some real studio experience.”.

Emily Porritt,  Graphic Design graduate 2018

Year 1 is diagnostic. You undertake a range of research, analytical and technical design experiences in combination with principles of layout, coding, image, motion, colour and typography. Your tutors will encourage you to integrate practice and theory constantly. Year 2 challenges your capacity to respond to a series of themed briefs through a combination of ‘conceptual thinking’ and ‘thinking through making’. You will also set up your own design agency and undertake a competitive live brief set by a local design firm. In Year 3 you will learn business and entrepreneurial aspects of the industry from successful local designers as you produce a final major project and dissertation. This degree supports you in a range of design careers and future destinations, including progression into postgraduate study.

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

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There is no compulsory work experience within the course but your will have plenty of opportunities to work on live briefs for external clients and to enter national and international competitions. You are encouraged to undertake one freelance project per year, building your own networks and contacts, and to bring work experience you’re your course through self-negotiated summer placements. Freelance practitioners in related fields (illustration, printmaking, book binding, the business of design) will deliver one-off workshop sessions and industry insights and encourage your entrepreneurial activities.

The course taps the expertise of practitioners in related fields (illustration, printmaking, book binding) for one-off workshop sessions and uses a mentoring system with external design agencies to support the professional practice module.

Foundation Year Zero

As a student on a Faculty of Arts and Humanities Foundation Year course you will undertake 4 core modules introducing you to study in the arts and humanities and university level skills. 

Core Modules

Semester One

  • Life and Study 

A module introducing you to Life and Study at university, equipping you with the personal management skills you need to make the most of your time here. 

  • Understanding Arts and Humanities 

A module introducing research methods and key skills, such as academic writing, referencing, presentations and critical reading. 

Semester Two

  • Being Human

A module introducing modernity and how it is identified and researched. You will choose your own individual example of modernism, whether it be an object, a work of art, an idea or a piece of literature. 

  • School Core Module 

A module designed to equip you with the skills relating to your chosen subject area, providing you with a seamless transition to level 4/year one.   

Complementary Modules 

In addition you will be offered two complementary modules, one to be studied in each semester. For this subject you will study:

Semester One

  • Foundation Media and Visual Communications

You will explore key creative processes, aesthetics and principles that underpin work in the creative sector, such as pre-production, experimentation and the use of these skills to produce work in a suitable format. 

Semester Two

  • Ways of Seeing Aesthetics

You will be introduced to some of the key ideas and principles that explain the ways we see and understand the world around us. 


  • Analysing British Cinema 

You will study the key principles of textual film analysis using examples from British cinema. Each lecture will study a different aspect of a given topic, such as History, Genre, Landscape and Politics and be studied via a close analysis of a specific film.

Core modules

Year 1

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.

Year 2

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.

Year 3

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.

Optional module

Year 2

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.

Graphic design is a creative professional discipline that remains in strong demand, due to the ways that its underpinning principles inform almost all visual communication. Graduates from the course have moved into a range of creative careers, including working as graphic designers either salaried within design agencies or on a freelance basis.

Our interdisciplinary ethos and approach assists graduates in working not only in prescribed work roles such as graphic designers, graphic artists and artworkers, but in working across the range of creative industries including graphic design, influencing, marketing, social media, web design and beyond.

“I chose CCCU because I was very warmly welcomed when I got in contact for information about the university. I found in my time in CCCU that people are very keen to socialise with you and are interested in learning about your background. My biggest fear was the cultural difference I would have to face but it was easy to settle in.”

Simran Vohra (Year 3 Graphic Design student)

Many students also continue on to further study, such as postgraduate courses in graphic design or related creative disciplines both at Canterbury Christ Church University and at other institutions.

Recent graduate destinations include:

Alumni in Work around the World

Lisa Sloan (2013) – Lecturer in Art & Design at Peterborough Regional College

Rachel Philogene (2014) – Interactive Designer at Teads and, London

Margaret Limbu (2016) – Graphic Designer at Bigjigs Toys Ltd., Folkestone

Rachel Hancock (2014) – Creative Lead at PROGRESS, Ashford & Masters Student CCCU Graphic Design

Becky Upson (2016) – Graphic Designer at ASAP UK Ltd. & Masters Student CCCU Graphic Design

Luke Sutton (2014) – Creative Director at LEAP Marketing & Brand Development, Maidstone

Alana Handford (2014) – Digital Designer at The Simply Group, Faversham

Elliot Galbraith (2014) – Digital Brand Manager at Match Grade Medical, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

Daniel Palmer (2015) – Freelance Motion Graphics Designer

Nik Suchak (2015) – Director at Anabasis Media, Broadstairs

Tyler Ayers (2015 & 2017) – Junior Designer at Truth, London

Mark Willis (2017) – Brand Videographer & Graphic Designer, Mountain Warehouse

Kieran Walker (2017) – Junior Web Designer at Smart Domain Group

Clarissa Holt (2018)  – Designer at Dassie Artisan, Brighton


The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  UK / EU Overseas
Full-time - Foundation Year 0 £7,050 £9,910
Full-time - years 1-3 * £9,250 £13,000

Tuition fees for all courses are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

* The tuition fee of £9,250  / £13,000 relates to 2020/21 only. Please read the 2020/21 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2020/21 tuition fees and mid-course year on year fee increases.

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIs the cost Included in the tuition fee?Is the cost an additional cost to students?
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) The costs of Field trips are not included in the Tuition fee unless the trip is a compulsory element of the module. Yes, unless the Field trip is a compulsory element of the module.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  This varies depending on the Course - please refer to individual course webpages for further information about additional costs of travel and accommodation for placements.

This varies depending on the Course - please refer to individual course webpages for further information about additional costs of travel and accommodation for placements.

Purchase of own text books

No – students are expected to purchase their own text books. Yes – students are expected to purchase their own text books.

Data & Barring Service (DBS) Checks

This varies depending on the Course - please refer to individual course webpages for further information. This varies depending on the Course - please refer to individual course webpages for further information.

Occupational Health Checks

This varies depending on the Course - please refer to individual course webpages for further information. This varies depending on the Course - please refer to individual course webpages for further information.
Professional Body registration No - students are expected to pay for their own Professional Body registration, if applicable. Yes - students are expected to pay for their own Professional Body registration, if applicable.
Travel to other sites No – students are expected to pay for the cost of any travel to other University sites, however a mini bus service is provided free of charge between Old Sessions House and Polo Farm / Hall Place in Canterbury. Visit the shuttlebus webpage for more information. Yes - students are expected to pay for the cost of any travel to other University sites, however a mini bus service is provided free of charge between Old Sessions House and Polo Farm / Hall Place in Canterbury. Visit the shuttlebus webpage for more information.
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons the cost is included in the tuition fee (a maximum of one set of clothing provided per student). Further information can be found on course webpages. Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons the cost is included in the tuition fee (a maximum of one set of clothing provided per student). Further information can be found on course webpages.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course are included in the Tuition Fee. Specific course related information can be found on course webpages. Students must pay for additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course, or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student. Specific course related information can be found on course webpages.
Library fees and fines Yes – all Library fees and fines are an additional cost payable by the student. Yes – all Library fees and fines are an additional cost payable by the student.
Printing and photocopying A £15 print / photocopying credit is provided to all students each academic year on their University Smartcard. Any additional print / photocopying costs must be paid for by the student. A £15 print / photocopying credit is provided to all students each academic year on their University Smartcard. Any additional print / photocopying costs must be paid for by the student.
Social events The tuition fee does not include the cost of any social events, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, the costs of social events are an additional cost payable by the student unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies IThe cost of the Graduation ceremony itself is included in the tuition fee for the student to attend the ceremony. However, guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student or their guests. The cost of the Graduation ceremony itself is included in the tuition fee for the student to attend the ceremony. However, guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student or their guests.


You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical workshops.

Each module will require you to respond to at least one “brief” as in industry. This will specify your deign challenge, itemise resources and assets, note any restrictions and advise a schedule of activities. Practical workshops will teach you the skills and technical knowledge you will need to respond to the briefs. Lectures will give you a firm grounding in the theoretical aspects of graphic design and will help you to develop your critical understanding of your own practice. Seminars in smaller groups will enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in lectures and enable you to express your ideas, observations and experiences in a supportive academic environment. In addition to these three learning approaches you will present your work regularly during critiques, where academic staff and your peers will help you to develop your work and improve the quality of the course work you produce. Finally, you will meet with your academic personal tutor to get personal support on your academic journey.

During practical workshops, you will be introduced to specialist facilities and after this initial introduction you will have access to these throughout your course.

You will typically have around 12 contact hours per week, but your actual contact hours depend on any optional modules you select.

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will continue learning through self-study. Typically, this involves working on briefs, and preparing for coursework assignments, workshops and seminars, reading journal articles and books and undertaking research in the library. Independent learning will take up to 24 hours per week.

Your module tutor will direct you towards specific readings and/or activities to complete before class.

In some of your modules in year two and three, you will undertake independent research. You will work under the supervision of a member of the course team. You will meet with your supervisor regularly, who will enable you to research effectively and reach your full potential.

Overall workload

Your overall workload typically consists of 12 contact hours and up to 24 hours of independent study. In addition, there will be field trips.

For each 20-credit module, total study time is about 12 hours a week.

Academic input

The team consists of highly qualified academics, who a have interests and experience in diverse areas of graphic design. All of the teaching team hold teaching qualifications and are research-active, sharing a range of expertise and experience. They all have experience in delivering research-informed teaching. For more information see individual CCCU staff profiles, and our professional practice web sites:

“CCCU graphic design students are open, resourceful, and keen to tackle new challenges. It is always a pleasure to work with them.”

Shelley Bartlette

Kate McLean (Programme Director) –

Nadine Smith –

Shelley Bartlette –

Rob Flowers –

Tony Lyons –

Becky Glendining –

Tom Kell –

Note: All programmes are informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2020

Graphic Design is assessed mostly through practical submission that comprise final design work and supporting documentation for each practical module. There is one essay-based module in each year. Each module contains several opportunities for “crits” in which you receive critical feedback on your work from your tutors and peers.

Percentage of the course assessed by coursework

Portfolio­based practical submission and essays will typically be used to assess the Graphic Design course. You will be responding to a number of creative briefs that enable you to propose and develop solutions using the skills, approaches and disciplines that you deem appropriate. You are assessed against module-specific Learning Outcomes. There are no exams.

Year 1

  • 80% practical coursework
  • 20% written coursework

Year 2

  • 80% practical coursework
  • 20% written coursework

Year 3

  • 80% practical coursework
  • 20% written coursework


You will receive formative feedback on all practice assessments and summative feedback on end of module assessment hand-ins. Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor. We aim to provide you with feedback within 15 working days of hand-in.

Our specialist facilities and equipment include Mac computer labs; an open­access student design space; a screen printing studio offering the chance to print posters, designs and T­shirts; a  gallery space; large format digital printing equipment; 3D printing equipment; a laser cutter; photographic studios and darkrooms; and a range of bookable equipment, from Wacom tablets to Go-Pro video cameras.

Graphic Design is located in our new Daphne Oram creative arts building on our Canterbury campus. The building has bespoke learning spaces for our art and design students and is equipped with the latest technology.

We work with a range of design companies and other industry partners as the initiators of live client briefs. In recent years these have included Finally Agency, Red Bullet Agency, Edible Kingdom, John Baxter (Parisian author and literary walking tour guide), Broadstairs Folk Festival, Saga Holidays, Greyhound Board of Great Britain, Sea Green Art and The Canterbury Society.


Full-time study

Apply via UCAS

Need some help?

For advice on completing your application please contact the Course Enquiry Team:

Tel:+44 (0)1227 928000

Fact file

UCAS course code

  • W212 Graphic Design with Foundation Year

UCAS institution code

  • C10


  • 4 years full-time


  • September 2020

Entry requirements

  • Applicants should normally have 32 UCAS Tariff points. We will also welcome applications from students with few or no formal Level 3 qualifications who wish to return to education and applicants may be asked to attend an interview.

    You do not need to have significant prior knowledge of Arts and Humanities related subjects but should be motivated to study the subject.



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Last edited: 03/12/2019 10:23:00