Being a graphic designer is fun, stimulating and inspiring. Designers are creative problem solvers, and because every problem is different, every day is different. You will be challenged to think differently, even professional designers are constantly developing their skills. There are always new trends, new technologies, new ideas, and new sources of inspiration – a creative mind never stops learning. It is more than just a job – it's a way of life.
The course is studio based, practical, hands-on and creative. It offers you many different ways to make graphic design work as you explore the different contexts and formats in which graphic design is experienced. It allows you to decide what kind of designer you want to be. It will test and challenge you to expand your understanding and knowledge of what graphic design is, what it can do and what it is for.
You will be introduced to typography and layout, drawing as observation and problem solving, identity and branding, packaging and point of purchase, exhibition design, publication and printing, and digital moving image. The course has a great resource base for you to use. Typically our students work on Apple Macs in computer labs, screen print and Letterpress print in our Printing Studios and build prototypes in the wood and metal workshops.
Last year our first year students worked with London based design collective ‘Le Gun’ on a two-day drawing event which transformed the Markeaton Design studio into an immersive world of drawn fantastical creatures that covered every wall on site. Our second year students worked on live projects and competitions including working with Derby Museum to make interpretive tools to engage new museum audiences. Second year students won awards at this year’s Young Creative Network (YCN) Student Design Awards in London and a summer internship at international design consultancy Johnson Banks. Third year students were briefed by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) at Markeaton Street, for the RSA Student Design Awards. The RSA student briefs tackle social engagement and allow students to explore graphic design solutions for real world issues.
We understand how important it is to have the professional skills that you need to make the transition from University to employment. So we have a professional practice module in the second year that is all about researching the industry, meeting designers and studios, building design networks, identifying your strengths and promoting yourself as a graphic designer. This work has helped our students prepare for graduate life, with 93.8% of our students being in graduate level destinations within six months of completing this course (HESA 2016).
New for 2016/17
Two new exciting developments for this year are our big new design studio which is shared with animation and illustration students and the School’s brand new Digital Print Resource which is located right alongside the studio. In the Digital Print resource you will be able to access (under guidance) high quality printing on many different types of materials, laser-cutting, book-binding, and many other printing options.
The Degree Show
At the end of the course the third year students show their work at the Degree Show at the Markeaton Street site and we also take a selection of work to the London graduate design shows. Last year we had stands at New Blood, the D&AD national showcase event for new graduate work in London, and New Designers.
All art and design courses are based at our Markeaton Street site where modern, purpose built studios and labs provide a modern creative space for our arts students. Markeaton Street encompasses Chandos Pole Street (home to our Fashion and Textiles courses) and Britannia Mill (home to Fine Arts). Students on any of our theatre related courses also get to study at Derby Theatre, and Dance students study at Deda.
Markeaton Street is a 15 minute walk from Kedleston Road, and is serviced by regular free site shuttle buses.
Explore our facilities through 360 views:
Art and Design creative spaces
You will study modules such as:
The focus of the first year is on understanding the fundamentals of your subject and developing key skills.
- Graphic Design Practice (20 credits) - Fundamental skills and design principles.
- Visual Exploration (40 credits) - Exploring, collecting, collating and presenting
- Visual Culture: History (20 credits) - Historical and critical frameworks for art and design communication and media.
- Visual Problem Solving (40 credits) - Design Strategies, idea generation and concept development
The second year is about reviewing and analysing your responses to the subject and starting to identify your strengths and interests. You will be encouraged to experiment with, and test your graphic design solutions and to experience another subject discipline (in the option modules)
- Visual Culture: Theory (20 credit) - Theoretical and critical frameworks for visual communication and media.
- Directed Projects in Graphic Design (40 credit) - Collaborative and employer briefs set by external partners
- Professional Practice (20 credits) - Visiting speakers, case studies, links with employers and developing marketing and promotional skills.
- Design Strategies (40 credit) - You will explore readability, information hierarchy and usability, effective typography, layout and control of aesthetic considerations - all strategies needed to communicate effectively to your target audience.
- Sequential Illustration (40 credit) - You will explore how sequences can be created and manipulated to communicate concepts effectively within the format of books, exhibitions, editorial, packaging, reportage, to name just a few possibilities.
- Digital Moving Image (40 credit) - An opportunity for you to experiment with making and manipulating digital moving images and creating a substantial digital film-making project.
The third year is a synthesis (a drawing together) of everything you have learned on the course.
- Negotiated Study in Graphic Design (40 credit) - Advanced studio briefs and competition opportunities negotiated with module tutors.
- Visual Culture: Extended Essay (20 credit) - A self-directed essay project that incorporates current debate and critical thinking and analysis within the specialism of graphic design.
- Specialist Practice in Graphic Design (40 credit) - A major self-initiated graphic design project.
- Destinations (20 credit) - Employability and Summer Show development and planning.
Teaching is delivered mainly through studio-based and experiential learning using project briefs. This is supported with tutorials, lectures, seminars, visiting speakers and visits to galleries and exhibitions.
You'll work with both local and national project partners on live project briefs and national competitions. This year our students have worked with Derby Museum and Art Gallery, John Smedley and POPAI (Point of Purchase Advertising International). They have also responded to competition briefs from Johnson Banks, Young Creatives Network, Penguin Books and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Student Design Awards. Nicholas Raven produced More than a Pill for the Royal Society of Arts Student Design Awards 2016/17.
As you develop your studio based project work you will also build a Personal Development Plan that provides a road-map for continuous reflection on your studies, progress and future career planning. The Professional Practice module at Stage Two of the course allows you to research areas of the design sector and meet employers.
Assessment is based on coursework, relevant to each module. This may include portfolios of artwork, exhibitions, sketchbooks, research and background material, essays, reports and presentations.
Every year students from the School of Arts celebrate their time at University by showcasing their work at an end of year Degree Show at Markeaton Street and across the City of Derby. The Show usually runs throughout June and is a fantastic opportunity for potential employers, friends, family, industry and members of the public to see exciting creations by the next generation of artists, designers, creators and makers from Derby. The Show takes the form of:
For a glimpse of last year’s Degree Show take a look at our flickr photo album.
September 2019 typical entry requirements
|UCAS points||112 (up to 16 from AS-levels)|
|Specific requirements at A-level|
No specific subject requirements
|Specific requirements at GCSE||GCSE Maths and English Grade C/Grade 4 (or above) or equivalent qualification|
|Interview / Audition||Yes - see interview details|
Alternative entry qualifications:
- BTEC - DMM
- Access to HE Diploma 60 credits: 45 at level 3 with a minimum of Dist: 15 Merit: 24 Pass: 6
We usually consider an A-level in General Studies as a supplementary qualification. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.
Our entry requirements for this course should be read together with the University's general entry requirements, which details subjects we accept, alternative qualifications and what we're looking for at Derby.
As a graduate you could work in a design studio, freelance, art direction, editorial design, typography, branding, advertising, corporate identity, interactive media, signage, design consultancy or online design.
You have the opportunity to further enhance your skills by considering our MDes (Masters of Design) in Graphic Design or our MA in Visual Communication.
If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.Contact us
† Additional information about your studies
Download programme specification
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Additional costs and optional extras
We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, state-of-the-art facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.
Included in your fees
- Access to all resources in Visual Communication studio and related workshop areas (printmaking, digital print)
- All software used on the course is available on the University computers in the dedicated studio spaces
- The programme uses Adobe Creative Suite which is installed on all Macs in MS102 and MS012
- Materials (for drawing and group work related activities) are provided for set coursework tasks
- Compulsory Study Visits, Participation in University Degree Show and a stand at a London Graduate Show
- A programme of high profile visiting speakers from Industry
- Additional access to wider University Arts’ facilities including equipment loan store and other facilities, such as digital print workshops
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
- Printing of design work - print bureau prices range from £0.65 - £55 depending on size and paper quality. However, a minimum expectation would be approx. £25 - £50 for printing these materials
- Students should purchase a practice folder and an outcomes folder (Approx. £50 each)
- A2/A3 Portfolio (£5 - £50)
- USB Flash Drive (approx. £10 - £15 depending on brand and storage capacity)
- A4 Sketchbook (approx. £10 each)
Optional costs not included in your fees
- Individual student accounts for the Adobe Creative Cloud run on a subscription of £16.24 per month (price taken February 2018) available on the Adobe Website
- External hard drive (approx. £50 - £100 depending on brand and storage capacity)
- No none curricular trips are currently included. If future events are of specific interest to the Graphic Design then we would publish these as extracurricular, none compulsory trips. UK Based from approx. £10 - £100 depending on event and distance and from Derby; International (European) approx. £250 - £600 depending on event location
Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.