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Course details

Study options

Full-time: 3 Years

UK/EU fee

£9,250 per year* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2020/21)

UCAS points

112 (September 2020 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BA/BSc (Hons)

Start date



Markeaton Street, Derby Campus

If you do not achieve the typical entry points required, you may want to consider studying this course with foundation year.

View with foundation year optionView with foundation year option

Course description

Product Design at Derby is aimed at creative people who may have studied Art and Design or Design Technology at school or developed a passion for the subject since leaving formal education. We will help you to build on your creativity and develop an understanding of the reality of design for manufacture. Because we teach in small groups we can help you to develop your potential as an individual and support your personal enthusiasm for design.

We recognise that the role of the Product Designer is constantly evolving along with the way that products are produced and consumed. You will be exposed to a wide range of potential outcomes encompassing traditional mass manufacturing and the current trend towards maker culture which is centred on a more individual approach. This is reflected both in the teaching and the facilities that we offer.

You'll focus developing your creativity and practical skills that employers tell us they want from graduates:

93% of students said that they were satisfied with the overall quality of this course, according to the National Student Survey 2019.

Choose a BA or BSc route

This course has been designed to give you the option to tailor it to match your personal interests. There is a common first year for all product design students, after which you can choose whether to focus on a BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons) pathway. 

You'll study at Markeaton Street and work in studios and workshops, running alongside advanced computer based systems, to develop the traditional design skills and creative processes that employers say are relevant in a modern design environment.

Our programme leader, Terry Watson, contributed to an article in The Independent exploring the benefits of a degree in product design. 

93%overall satisfaction for BA (Hons) Product Design**National Student Survey 2019
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I have learned about the importance of sustainability and real-life situations that the product designer has to consider, as well as the importance of understanding the people who would be using the product.

Anna Maresova
Product Design graduate
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Wooden frame in the shape of a helicopter with small propellers inside the frame
Photo of a blonde male wearing glasses and a white shirt looking at the camera

The course allowed me to develop my abilities and try more daring designs, testing my creative and critical thinking skills. Lecturers supported good design and gave critical feedback to improve the final product.

Macauley Metcalfe
Product Design graduate


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 and our print-making facilities). 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 our Virtual Tour:

Markeaton Street

Art and Design creative spaces


Our Makerspace is a community run facility where all students and staff of the university can collectively meet, work and share infrastructure. You can get creative with tools like laser cutters, 3D printers, power tools and more basic hand tools for prototyping of work on your own projects. The space is intended for people with all levels of experience and backgrounds from the expert working on their latest masterpiece down to the beginner who has never used tools before but wants to learn how to make things.

Explore the Makerspace in the STEM Centre virtual tour below:

A 360 look around the Additive Manufacturing equipment at the STEM centre

What you will study

Year 1Year 1Year 2Year 2Industrial Placement YearIndustrial Placement YearYear 3Year 3

Code: 4PD506

Design Encounters

This Module introduces key skills and knowledge that form the basis of Product Design. Students will experience a range of inputs, both practical and intellectual delivered across facilities that include classrooms, the design studio and workshops in the form of lectures, tutorials and hands-on sessions.

Individual and team-working exercises will build a body of work that will form the basis of an assessment portfolio. It is expected that students will take the opportunity offered by studio and workshop sessions to experiment with design solutions and explore possibilities in this supportive environment where experimentation and risk taking is encouraged.

More information
40 Credits

Code: 4PD507

Technical Exploration

Students will develop skills in Computer Aided Design (CAD) enabling them to produce robust models and assemblies for use in design development and to communicate their ideas effectively using industry accepted techniques.

The module provides an opportunity for students to develop their technical skills and knowledge. Learning is gained through a blend of lectures, practical workshops and laboratory experimentation.

Students will develop skills in Computer Aided Design (CAD) enabling them to produce robust models and assemblies for use in design development and to communicate their ideas effectively using industry accepted techniques.

Theory of materials and manufacturing processes will be underpinned by laboratory experimentation and practical investigation. The necessary engineering principles and analytical tools will be developed to enable the appropriate specification of components.

More information
40 Credits

Code: 4PD508

Thinking About Design

This module develops student’s knowledge and understanding of Design as a practice, discipline and profession, beginning their journey into Design as a research practice. Students will learn the fundamental principles and processes of academic research and develop visual, textual and verbal communication strategies to articulate and disseminate their research findings, which they will digest into a visual, textual essay.

Looking at examples of contemporary design practice and historical precedents, students will develop an understanding of the development of Design as a profession during the 20th century and consider the possibilities for Design in the 21st century. Students will begin to understand their own inspiration as a designer and will begin to articulate their preferences and possibilities for their personal development.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 4PD509

Thinking Through Design

Thinking through Design continues the development of students as design practitioner-researchers through an understanding of the inter-relation of Design Thinking and Theory and Practice. Students will engage with Design Theory and Thinking as a creative process for problem finding and solving; fusing creativity, conceptual, critical and systems thinking with the approaches deployed by designers to develop methods for analysing complex problems and situations.

Students will be presented with a series of scenario based learning exercises, articulating a problem, situation and client and will be required to work collaboratively to develop an approach and response to the scenario drawing on a toolkit drawing on both established design thinking approaches and their own experimentation. These will be presented as creative pitches, enabling students to hone their communication and presentation skills.

Students will also be given an individual design problem which they will investigate, and present as a visual, textual essay. This will enable them to enable them to think about the expression of their thinking.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5ME508

Failure Analysis

In general, the methods for stress analysis developed in stage 2 are adequate for everyday use. However for some advanced applications a deeper understanding of the application and limitations of standard theory is required. This module seeks to extend the knowledge of students in the field of engineering materials and stress analysis.
20 Credits

Code: 5PD501

Design Project Concept

Product Designers are often expected to work within the confines of a very specific brief. This module centres around the development of a range of concepts developed from an existing product or product category. These concepts are then refined towards the production of a realised conceptual design through the use of two and three dimensional product design and development skills.

It will closely mirror the commercial approach to new product design conception where initial concepts are refined towards considered product ideas that are then pitched to clients or corporate decision makers who will then decide which concepts are taken through to the product development stage.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5PD502

Design Project Development

Following on from Design Project Conception, this module focuses on the student’s ability to work as part of a team to develop a product concept through to the level of a production prototype. It will closely mirror the commercial approach to new product design and development where initial concepts are refined towards a production reality.

The delivery of the module will be split between lectures, workshop, studio and computer laboratory but students will also be expected to engage with self-directed study in groups and as individuals. Core knowledge will be provided through lectures and key CAD skills, required to assist the development process, will be delivered in group sessions and through the use of guided self-study materials.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5PD506

Innovation Applications and Personal Development Planning

This module seeks to focus on innovation and its impact in relation to effective new product design and development. It explores why some individuals and organisations are much better at this than others, and attempts to establish the reasons why this is through interactive discussion and debate using case studies.

Further to this, the module aims to develop the students understanding of the importance of creating and maintaining a portfolio demonstrating a range of their design skills, as part of the wider focus of Personal Development Planning (PDP).

Additionally, this module will provide you with the opportunity to relate your academic knowledge and vocational skills to the professional work environment.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5PD507

Product Engineering Design

Part of the role of a product or engineering designer is to analyse and evaluate the functionality and manufacturability of a product or component. The designer’s ability to understand and utilise computer aided analytical tools during the development process can greatly reduce the time and expense of costly reworking and modification at later stages of the design cycle.

In this module Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) tools will be studied and techniques applied in the analysis of mechanical properties and suitability for manufacture, thus building on existing knowledge of materials and engineering science. The ability to then apply good engineering practice and principles to product design activity, following on from this, requires an in-depth understanding of those principles. 

This module seeks to develop understanding of principles in the reliable and effective functional design of products, in order for them to perform satisfactorily and efficiently/effectively throughout their intended product lifecycle.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5ME501

Computer Integrated Manufacturing

The module is delivered through a blend of lectures, active learning in the computer laboratory and workshop based practical sessions, through which the student will be introduced to ways in which computers are utilised within manufacturing processes. Specific tasks will be set to investigate the workflow from design through to manufacture, using CNC controlled machinery.

Students will also evaluate quality processes associated with component inspection and a variety of technologies used for coordinate metrology.

A sound understanding of the theoretical and practical application of these widely used systems helps to develop an awareness of the impact of component design on the manufacturing process. This knowledge is important for engineering and design professionals engaged with a wide range of roles in the manufacturing sector.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5PD503


The module has been designed to explore the process of eco-design and its relationship with modern design, manufacturing methods and materials. The use of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in the design process and legislation relating to environmentally responsible design will be examined.

The module will also analyse the difficulties involved in environmental supply chain management. It will enable the student to develop a holistic approach to the eco-design process and develop the sense of teamwork in the design process.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5ME886

Applied Professional Practice

This module provides a framework for the development of “lifelong learning” skills appropriate to all areas of professional practice; including objective setting, planning, negotiating, implementing, demonstrating and reflecting.

The emphasis in this module is on the analysis and evaluation of the work completed within the organisation. This module also gives you the opportunity to relate your academic knowledge to the work environment.

More information
40 Credits

Code: 5ME887

Contemporary Issues in Professional Practice

Students need to be aware of the commercial realities and external factors that influence the success of an organisation. This module provides opportunities for students to acquire an understanding of contemporary issues that may impact on industrial and professional practices relevant to a career within their chosen discipline.

During this period of work experience, students can gain a deeper appreciation of the responsibilities arising from both corporate and individual responses to such issues, thus enabling them to relate to the wider world when exploring a personal direction for potential career development.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6ME502

Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Systems

The objective of this module is to deliver the fundamentals of advanced manufacturing technology and the state-of-the-art of computing and IT in manufacturing.

The module will expand the students’ knowledge of contemporary manufacturing systems in order to provide a thorough understanding of the application areas of the modern manufacturing technology in industry and commercial environments.

The module will also develop necessary analytical ability and technical skills in manufacturing software, hardware and controls.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6PD505

Design Management and Personal Development Planning

This module focuses on two main areas. Firstly it acts as a vehicle for students to consolidate knowledge gained throughout their programme of study by considering and evaluating the front end process of product introduction, from identification of market opportunity, primary and secondary market research and conceptual design development, alongside strategic marketing objectives for the product design.

It seeks to emulate group work experience that may be encountered in industry, in which group size is larger (and therefore group management issues are different), received information is limited, and the project is at a relatively high level of complexity.

The module utilises a student centred approach to learning in which project management and team skills are developed. The students are responsible for their own project management and group dynamics, and are therefore encouraged to develop a variety of transferable skills and personal development initiatives.

This leads into the second aspect of Personal Development Planning, where students are expected to develop and present a portfolio of their work at a level whereby it could be delivered to prospective employers.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6PD506

Major Project Research

This module is the foundation for creating a fully integrated piece of product design for the Major Project module that accompanies it. It provides students in their final year with a challenge to identify and undertake a detailed study using a wide range of resources. It also aims to develop the student’s power and self-management capability to work independently, researching a topic of their choice, in depth, using relevant concepts and techniques.
20 Credits

Code: 6PD995

Major Project

The project is seen as an important element of the specialist degree. It provides students in their final year with a challenge undertake a detailed study and present a major piece of relevant work from within their own resources.

This project follows the Major Project Research module, the student is expected to continue the development of their design proposal through to realisation.

The module aims to exploit the student’s power to work independently, developing the design for a specific, self-chosen, product in depth using appropriate techniques and processes.

More information
40 Credits

Code: 6ME501

Advanced Engineering Materials and Applications

Students will be able to develop a systemic understanding of the combined effects of temperature, environment and stress upon the service life of materials and formulate essential property requirements that will enable you to select materials to satisfy conditions in their application to prevent failure.

They will also be able to enhance the quality and performance of an engineering system, process or product taking into account pressures due to environmental concerns in additional to financial or technical considerations.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6PD500

Advanced Ecodesign

This module is a negotiated individual project and seeks to help develop and apply the understanding of sound environmental design practice. The project should reflect a good understanding and application of environmental and sustainability criteria to an appropriate area within the field of product design and development. The student should be able to make practical use of theories learnt.
20 Credits

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

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Open Days

Register your interest for a future Open Day and we'll be in touch as soon as we are able to welcome you on campus.

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How you will learn

Your lecturers have real world experience as designers working for manufacturing companies and as consultants, so you'll benefit from their expertise. You'll learn through practical studio-based project work with formal lectures, seminars and debates to give you a good theoretical knowledge. You'll put your learning into context through industry learning opportunities, live project work, competitions, teamwork, cultural field study visits and visiting speakers.

Our courses are highly practical and hands-on, and you’ll spend most of your time in the studio and workshop, developing 2D and 3D design. Your work will be on display at the University’s Degree Show in your final year. Work is then hand-picked to be displayed at New Designers in London, an excellent opportunity to network and make vital contacts to get you started in your career.

How you are assessed

Assessment is 100% coursework, using a range of mainly project-based outcomes.

Degree Show

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:

Take a look at highlights from the 2019 Degree Show.

Personal academic tutoring

Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.

Find out more about personal academic tutoring

Who will teach you

Terry Watson

Terry Watson
Programme leader

Terry is the Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Product Design. He teaches a range of modules that focus on practical and studio based studies in Industrial Design and Furniture Design, and also looks after the Independent Studies aspect of the Product Design Programmes.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Entry requirements

September 2020 typical entry requirements

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points112 (up to 16 from AS-levels)
Specific requirements at A-level

No specific subject requirements

Specific requirements at GCSEGCSE Maths and English Grade C/Grade 4 (or above) or equivalent qualification
IELTS6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area)
Interview / AuditionYes - see interview details

Alternative entry qualifications:

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.

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Academic Achievement Scholarship

We’re offering eligible students a £1,000 scholarship to celebrate your hard work and success.

Learn more about the Academic Achievement ScholarshipLearn more about the Academic Achievement Scholarship

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees


£9,250 per year*



£14,045 per year


* The fees stated above are for the 2019/20 academic year; fees for 2020/21 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. We will update this information as soon as it is available.

Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

UK/EU students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for EU students post-Brexit

International students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree


Our graduates have shown that there is a wealth of career opportunities available to product designers, in the UK and abroad. This course will give you the skills and knowledge you need to start your career, both in the product design profession and in related areas.

You can go on an optional work placement between stages two and three, which is a fantastic opportunity to gain some real experience of working in the industry. You'll also gain an additional qualification - the Diploma in Professional Practice. Find out more about placements

Every year we select graduates to showcase their work at the New Designers exhibition which is a great opportunity to network and make vital industry contacts.

Employable Graduates – we’re ranked 15th highest amongst all UK universities and 12th for English institutions with 96% of graduates in work or further study within six months of completing their degree.

Graduate Sam Johnson landed a dream job at Lego, and is now an established designer, here's what he had to say about the course: “Studying the course at the University of Derby helped me develop a very good understanding of the design process and CAD software. Plus I learned new skills in drawing, rendering and presentation which resulted in me landing my childhood dream job as Junior Designer with Lego after graduation.”

Career opportunities

  • product designer
  • 3D designer
  • packaging/point of sale designer
  • product visualiser

Our graduates have gone on to work for employers including:

  • Rolls-Royce
  • Triumph
  • Ford
  • Dyson
  • Lego
  • BAE Systems

Contact us

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 Contact us

Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

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, excellent 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

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

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.

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