Graphic Design BA(Hons)

Graphic Design BA(Hons)

Image from 'Fourth Floor Salon' project work by Barney Stepney, graphic design, University of BrightonImage:  from 'Fourth Floor Salon' project work by Barney Stepney 

"Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated" Paul Rand 

At the University of Brighton Graphic Design study is about challenging everything, from preconceptions about graphic designers, to the fabric of culture and the ways to engage a society. As a graphic designer you’ll create systems, solve problems and communicate in order to direct, inform, entertain and challenge. The core skills of a graphic designer are rooted in language, narrative, typography and an understanding of markets, people, stakeholders and design intentions. Your graphic design work can impact on economic, political, social, cultural and personal life.

Graphic Design work by Ashton Milton university of BrightonImage: Second year folded card project work by Ashton Milton 

Graphic Design influences every aspect of people’s lives and communicates a multitude of messages through a diverse range of media. Necessarily in a fast changing environment, flexibility, adaptability and dynamism are key attributes for the graphic designer. The graphic designer creates systems, solves problems and communicates to direct, inform, entertain, immerse, appeal to and challenge us, potentially impacting on economic, political, social, cultural and personal life. Graphic Design is the art of every day life. 

If you're joining us you'll be expected to develop your own ideas, responding to the many stimuli that a creative city like Brighton can generate. You'll work with other students on a whole range of projects, developing your skills as a graphic designer, but also experimenting with a wealth of visual communications tools.

And you're joining a prestigious institution. Chances are you'll know that already. Our staff list past and present, and our many successful graduates, are evidence of the vibrant, creative culture and the ambitions of excellence that we've had in Graphic Design over a history that goes back more than a hundred and fifty years.

Jamie Eke work for Graphic Design course Brighton 2013Image: Jamie Eke, second-year work for Graphic Design project and exhibition. 

A Graphic Design degree will challenge you intellectually as well as practically. You'll leave us equipped to go into a professional world able to communicate, think, collaborate, and generate creative responses to any problems you have to deal with. Your three years with us will be part of a journey that takes you forward with something unique to offer to the world both in the way you ask and answer questions.

Katy Angus, project work from second year, Graphic Design, University of BrightonImage: Image: second-year project by Katy Angus including film, graphic and artistic exploration

A degree course at the College of Arts and Humanities in Brighton means you'll be among creative, critical and intellectual minds from a range of disciplines. Although you'll be focusing on your development in Graphic Design, there's a huge range of opportunities at the faculty. No doubt over your years with us you'll develop interests and insights you can't even imagine yet, and skills that will be learnt from a range of individuals and environments.

For a start you'll be a close partner course with our Illustration BA(Hons), reflecting on your own skills and practice alongside friends with many different interests. It doesn't stop there. We've got film makers, fine artists, dancers, philosophers and writers in the faculty and it could be that you engage with great ideas from a number of traditions as you find your own answers to that question "What is Graphic Design." We offer a module from a completely different course as part of your second year so you can really experiment, while your critical and cultural studies component will bring a rich and challenging experience that helps you make links and connections beyond the traditional subject definition and will give you confidence of understanding of the intellectual as well as the professional elements of graphic design.

You'll have plenty of opportunities for exhibiting your work. Our second years add their profiles and recent work to their own Graphic Design and Illustration website, there's an interim show for that year too. Then the final year builds to assessment and the College of Arts and Humanities Graduate Show, which draws crowds of around 15,000 each year to see the students' work, the GDI finalists then take their work to London, engaging with professional studios, agents and customers at every stage.

Butser Hill, second year Graphic and Design Work by Kate JonesImage: second-year project work by Kate Jones 

What you'll be doing

Monday and Friday are taught studio days, with additional group workshops, seminars and one-off live projects interspersed throughout the year.

The staff team set project briefs, run intermediate and final critiques, organise small group seminars, student presentations and individual tutorials. The practice based studio culture is supported by a series of introductory workshops: book binding/book arts, letterpress, printmaking, and digital software introductions: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign in the first year and in the second year: web, motion graphics and animation. As a Graphic Design BA(Hons) student you will be able to join life drawing classes too.

Weekly Professional Practice lectures in which individuals or groups of designers, illustrators, photographers and animators present their work, spans two thirds of the year for second and third year students. The course organises study trips to both European and North American destinations and facilitates a full programme of studio and gallery visits. In the last two years the course has organised trips to New York, San Francisco, Berlin and Amsterdam. These visits are optional and are paid for by students.

You will receive two types of feedback about your work: Formative and Summative.

  • Formative Feedback is any guidance from staff or from your peer group, which helps you to reflect on the direction, quality and development of your work. This may be offered verbally in the studio, at an intermediate critique, or during a tutorial.
  • The Summative Feedback forms part of the Formal Assessment Process and takes place twice a year near the end of each semester. Throughout the course your work is assessed against a set of Assessment Criteria, which are linked to the Units of Study you undertake. You are asked to evaluate your own work and the written feedback and accompanying individual tutorial help you to consider your strengths and weaknesses.

Year by Year

Year 1 introduces you to the basic concepts of visual communication in graphic design. Through a series of studio based projects and workshops in computing, letterpress, photography and book arts, you will begin to develop your own visual language.

Year 2 introduces the key concepts of sequential communication with a focus on self-initiated, collaborative, experimental and independent ways of working. You will also begin to explore the creative industries via a personal and professional development programme. In years 2 and 3 you will also attend a weekly professional practice lecture by guest speakers working within the industry.

In year 3 you build upon the creative and analytical abilities you have developed. Teaching encourages greater personal development as you move towards a more self-directed programme of study. You will work on set and self-initiated projects, prestigious competition briefs and live industry projects, whilst establishing professional practice links.


Year 1 
Specialised core skills and studio practice workshops:
Computing for image-making 
Letterforms, word and image 
Book arts 
Cultural and critical studies

Year 2 
Integrated contextual and professional modules 
Personal and professional development 
Cultural and critical studies 
Faculty options
Live briefs: Analogue and digital, animation, letterpress, web design, screen-based graphics, video editing and production 

Year 3 
Self-initiated projects 
Live briefs 
Cultural and critical studies 

Helen Dean, net for packaging of cold cure elixier, second-year project in Graphic DesignImage: Helen Dean, net for packaging, second-year project in Graphic Design

Facilities for graphic designers at Brighton's College of Arts and Humanities

The staff team collectively believe in the value of ‘studio based learning’, as it enables students to learn informally from one another, as well as the staff, and closely reflects the collaborative experience of professional practice. The year groups are relatively small in size (approximately 45). All Graphic Design BA(Hons) students are provided with a dedicated studio, in which they can work up to five days per week Monday to Friday during term time. The studios are open between 8.00am and 8.00pm. During the build up to the Final Graduate Show, students from all years convert the studios into an exhibition spaces. Each year group has a studio shared with Illustration students, which supports both collaborative practice between the two disciplines and informal debate and critique. Each student has individual desk space within the studio.

The College of Arts and Humanities provides a central media centre and a new Digi-hub with computing facilities and other tools specific to the needs of designers and illustrators. There are opportunities to work at stations within the building or to hire specialist equipment including materials for sound, film and photography

We are proud to have one of the country's best-stocked specialist art and design libraries, and you'll be introduced to it and helped through by professional, dedicated library and Information Service staff.

The faculty's internationally important Design Archives include a wealth of work in graphic design and illustration that students can refer to, while a specialist Centre for Research and Development supports the interests of staff and student research work within our subject and promotes the opportunities for postgraduate and research study in illustration and sequential design.

Helen Dean, second year project statementImage: Helen Dean, "I'm interested in packaging design and branding. I enjoy producing work with an interesting concept that when visualised conveys the message clearly. I mainly work with digital collage and photography to accompany type

Two specialisms: Letterpress and Book Arts

Both Illustration BA(Hons) and Graphic Design BA(Hons) courses share dedicated technical workshops in Letterpress Printing and Book Arts. Each of these workshop areas is supported by a dedicated technician. As a first year student you receive inductions in both Letterpress and Book Arts.

Letterpress printing in the ‘west’ was developed by Johannes Gutenbergs, who invention movable metal type c1455. For many design historians this marks the beginnings of modern Graphic Design as it represents the point at which messages and information were first mass produced and distributed in an identical form. The Letterpress inductions teach you how to set type and print work in small multiples. The workshop has a wide range of metal and wood type and three presses on which you are able to print and produce project work. The staff team collectively believe you will benefit by working with letterpress production and gain a far deeper understanding of the fundamentals of typography. Illustration students frequently use the presses for relief/block printing images.

The Book Arts workshop inductions for first year students teach you how to operate equipment in the room together with a set of techniques for folding paper into signatures, making a book block and binding simple books. The induction enables you to work, with technical support, in the workshop throughout the three years of your study. In the second and third year more specialised technical demonstrations introduce a wider range of case binding techniques to support those students for who are particularly interested in editorial and book design.

Many Illustration Courses in the UK do not have Letterpress or Book Arts workshops with dedicated technical staff, who support the development of your work. The staff team believe that you should be able to develop work through traditional analogue techniques as well as digital, print, web and interactive mediums.


Barney Stepney. Letterpres work for the 6x6 exhibition.Images: left and right, 'A visual representation of the levels of noise within a 1200-ft radius of the letterpress studio'. Barney Stepney's work in progress using letterpress. The brief and project were set for the 6x6 exhibition. Read more at


work by paul burgess, jasper goodall and george hardieImages: work by staff in illustration (left to right) 'Family', Paul Burgess [Mixed media collage]; Johnnie Walker limited edition packaging, Jasper Goodall; 'Slave', Professor George Hardie

Our expert staff

It goes without saying that an internationally reputed course has a top-quality staff team.

Our staff team on Graphic Design BA(Hons) is made up of full time, academic and technical staff, fractional staff who combine teaching one, two or three days per week with working as a professional designer or illustrator and occasional staff who are characteristically professional designers who teach on the course up to ten days per year. The combined staff team produces a very rich body of teaching, research and professional experience which supports your development as a designer. Find out more about the staff across Graphic Design and Illustration.

Throughout the three years of the course the aims of the staff team are to encourage, support and advance the development of your individual work within illustration. We hope you will find the experience challenging, yet rewarding. The opportunities provided by the course and those made from your own and collective year group initiatives will place you in an advantageous position to make confident and informed decisions in relation to prospective professional employment or further academic study. We aim to support your learning through a range of lectures, seminars, technical workshops and though individual tutorials as well as weekly informal studio-based feedback and guidance sessions. 


Our research culture embraces theory and practice, your teaching staff contribute to articles in scholarly journals and, through their innovative illustration work, add to the academic knowledge base that illustrators use around the world.

This commitment to the advancement of the subject informs staff development, renewal and growth whilst ensuring that the curriculum the students experience is, relevant, up to date and challenging. The staff team's passion for the subject is constantly renewed and transmitted to students through the annual selection of internal projects, workshop experiences, live briefs with real clients, types of competition, reviewing the range of professional speakers invited to talk and encouraging students to propose additions and planning the extent of the studio visits both in London and during the International study trips. Research collaboration with other leading Art Schools and Universities provide you with opportunities to enrich your studies.

Staff in Illustration and Graphic Design combine research and or professional practice in a range of fields. These include: typography, letterpress printing, book design, exhibition design, photography, art direction, animation, digital sound and music.

The Staff teams active engagement in both research and professional practice has clear benefits for you as student. Through research the staff are able to keep abreast of developments within the discipline and seek to make specific contributions towards the advancement of the field.

This year Illustration and Graphic Design staff have: hosted an Illustration Conference, published both books and articles, featured work in exhibitions, designed exhibitions, delivered papers at several conferences, hosted symposiums and been invited to lecture in France, Portugal, Israel and Korea. Staff often involve students in conference activities. Recently the second year Graphic Design students designed the programme of events for the Letterpress Conference at St Bride Library of Printing and were all able to attend at a reduced rate whilst Illustration students from the second and third year were able to attend the illustration Conference.

Contact with staff

Both the Illustration and Graphic Design courses have a dedicated administrator who is situated within the department and provides invaluable support for students. To compliment the Core time meetings, and ensure that all students can check what and when they are expected to attend both courses make extensive use of online Virtual Learning Environment support.

Technical staff have responsibility for supporting your learning within the workshops and working with academic staff to ensure you as a student make the most of the opportunities provided by the course. The technical staff have other responsibilities which as a student you may be less aware of: budgets, equipment purchase, machine maintenance, health and safety responsibilities, show building and dismantling etc and administrative and management roles in relation the smooth running of the Faculty.

Among your academic staff, there will be a Year Coordinator, Course Leader and Academic Programme Leader, supported by a regular specialist member of studio staff who teaches and is involved in assessment and feedback. As well as sharing their knowledge and experience with you on the course Academic staff have additional responsibilities which run concurrently with their commitments to your development. These responsibilities include: assessment and marking, course management, administration, student feedback reports, recruitment, interviews, a range of committee work, research and professional practice and liaising with external organisations - and of course they are all practising, highly successful illustrators and graphic designers too.

Our graduates are working across the diverse range of disciplines within the contemporary creative industries. You may choose to work as a freelance practitioner employed by the newspaper and magazine publishing industries, book designer, design consultancies, branding specialists and advertising agencies, as well as to establish your own portfolio of work as an exhibiting artist, working as an individual or as part of a studio collective. Many graduates go onto postgraduate studies, this year at the Royal College of Art and Brighton; in recent years CSM, LCC, and Kingston. Recent employers of our graduates include: Its Nice that, Macmillan, Becks, Inter brand and Channel 4 and students are working internationally in Switzerland, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Korea, and China.


Graphic Design BA(Hons)

Graphic Design BA(Hons) at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities

Student work in Graphic Design

Student work in Graphic Design at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities

Programme Specification

PS-BAHonsGraphic-Design-updated-17-JUNE-14.pdf at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities [pdf 521.4 KB]