Product Design - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
Full Time (3 years)
September 2016, September 2017

This undergraduate product design degree course focuses on the design and development of creative, contemporary and innovative products, considering user centred design, social context and commercial understanding.

The course is the ideal choice if you're interested in a career as a product designer/developer. You will learn a range of research and design methods alongside continual practical skills development. Live student projects take place throughout the course, enhancing your employability, communication skills and professional practice.

New for 2017/18

Product and Furniture Design

If you’re looking to start this course in 2017, it's important to know that the content and structure are undergoing a substantial review and are likely to be different to what is outlined here. Next year’s course will also have a new name: Product and Furniture Design. We’ll publish more detailed information about the changes over the next few months. If you’re starting in 2016, the course content/structure won’t be affected by the review.

Sign up for course updatesMore about our new curriculum

What's covered in the course?

You will examine the process of designing and developing functional and desirable products, examining how social and cultural factors influence design decisions. You will develop knowledge and understanding of design in response to collaboration, professional practice and commercial and economic considerations.

By working on live projects you will explore how businesses operate at a commercial and technological level. The course shares common modules with BA (Hons) Furniture and Lifestyle Products, and BA (Hons) 3D Designer Maker, introducing you to a variety of specialised design briefs.

You will experience key aspects of the design process through theoretical study and product design relationships to scales of manufacture, in particular design for mass market. Engaging with making from the outset enables you to fully realise design concepts and create convincing models and prototypes.

You'll also benefit from the insight of guest speakers such as Chris Lefteri, Materials Expert and Author and Industrial Designer and co-founder of the materials council – Ian Hunter.

There aren’t many people who can say they have worked on a Hollywood blockbuster! So not only is it a major claim to fame, but it was a unique experience that only we have on our CVs and I felt confident that we would stand out because of it. Jordan Brocklehurst

Why Choose Us?

  • Study trips and international opportunities provide new cultural perspectives and shared common experiences.
  • You’ll have the chance to join the student led ‘Society of 3D Design’ with other likeminded students to take part in collaborative opportunities, creating a community between different disciplines of 3D Design.
  • You’ll develop design communication and visualisation skills using recognised industry standard programmes such as SolidWorks, Adobe Creative Suite and AutoCAD.
  • You will develop practical skills throughout the programme through extensive workshop practice. You will hone your making skills as well as experiencing rapid prototyping and digitally driven techniques.
  • Live projects and industrial collaborations provide you with invaluable real world experiences and hone your communication and professional development skills.
Student ambassador helps Open Day visitor

Open Day - 19 November 2016

Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 19 November 2016. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

This course is open to International students

Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

Discover Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Co-Op
  • Frinker

And in jobs such as:

  • IT Analyst
  • Designer

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students

Portfolios are not mandatory for any undergraduate course within the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design if you are a UK-based home student. However, if you'd like to provide a portfolio before or on your applicant visit day, you may do so electronically or physically (however we would prefer electronically). Find out more details here.

A portfolio is required for International applications.  Find out more details here.

280 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2016/17
GCE A Level/ AS Level BBC at A-Level or 280 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A-Levels
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years) D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years) DMM - 280 UCAS points
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years) D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points
BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design Distinction
International Baccalaureate Diploma 28 points overall
Irish Leaving Certificate 280 UCAS points - Higher Levels
Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher 280 UCAS points
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) 120 tariff points combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points
Other qualifications
If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
EU/International students
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements 2016/17
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses). 28 points overall
Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.


International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2016 FT 3 years £9,000 per year Apply via UCAS
Sep 2017 FT 3 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2016 FT 3 years £12,000 per year
Sep 2017 FT 3 years £12,000 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Guidance for UK/EU students


UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Non-EU (International) students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.

3) Through UCAS

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.

The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Year one

These skills building combined modules are core modules across all 3D Design courses.

After completing year one, you will be eligible for Certificate of Higher Education (120 credits).

Modules include:
Design Methods and Visualisation (term one)
30 credits
Design Evolution (term one)
15 credits

These specialist modules take place in terms two and three and have some common lecture content with other courses.

Material Technologies (term two)
15 credits
Form, Function and Feeling (term two)
30 credits
Global Trends (term three)
15 credits
Design Roots (term three)
15 credits

Year two

After completing year two, you will be eligible for Diploma of Higher Education (240 credits).

Modules include:
Design Principles and Processes (term one)
30 credits
Design Communication (term two)
30 credits
User Needs and Professional Experience (term two)
30 credits
Design Ethics (term three)
30 credits

Year three

After completing year three you will be eligible for Honours Degree - Pathway Specific (360 credits).

Modules include:
Competition and Collaboration (term one)
30 credits
Signature Project (Contextual Research and Analysis) - term two
30 credits
Signature Project (Development and Realisation) - term two and three
60 credits

Taught by experienced designers, makers and academics, this course combines practice with theory to give you a fully rounded learning experience.

Extensive workshop facilities will help you to realise your proposals, creating functional and commercially viable designs. This hands-on approach allows you to understand the opportunities and limitations of materials and construction methods.

You’ll be taught alongside students on BA (Hons) Furniture and Lifestyle products and BA (Hons) 3D Designer Maker courses.

The modules outline the year and programme structure for all 3D Design courses.

Teaching breakdown

36 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
64 Time in independent study RoyalBlue

Assessment breakdown

90 Coursework FireBrick
10 Practical exams #fece5a

Overseas opportunities

The course benefits from strong international partnerships. The Product Design course is taught in Hong Kong at third year in parallel to the UK programme, providing exciting collaborative opportunities. National and international visits introduce new cultural perspectives. Trips to Barcelona, New York, Prague and Milan have taken place over the last few years.

Student stories

Patrick le Quément

Leading automotive designer Patrick le Quément’s motto is ‘Design = Quality’, and it’s an approach that has defined the former chief designer at Renault’s career. A graduate in Product Design BA (Hons), Patrick joined French car manufacturer Simca in 1966, before returning to England to work for Ford as a designer in 1968. His successes during this period include the Ford Cargo truck and the Ford Sierra in the early eighties.

Patrick's designs have won many awards around the world, while he has personally received the Knight of the Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur and the French Grand Prix National for Industrial Design.

Jordan Brocklehurst

Jordan Brocklehurst is a conceptual designer. In the short time since graduating, he has worked on a design for an attraction at Thorpe Park and, along with two other students from his course, was asked to create a costume for Hollywood Blockbuster Thor: The Dark World.

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further Study

You have the opportunity to further your studies after finishing the undergraduate course with a postgraduate degree like MA Product Design, MA Design and Visualisation, or MA Design Management at the School of Architecture and Design.

Trips and visits

Trips take place during the course – ranging from an induction week trip to the London Design Festival to factory visits with local and regional companies where you can explore manufacturing in context.

Student stories Matt Aitkenhead

Founding his Own Company

All-England ski racing champion Matt Aitkenhead has achieved phenomenal success since graduating from the BA (Hons) Product Design Degree.

His career has gone from strength to strength, with his designs being sought after by companies all over the world.

One of the largest automotive accessory distributors have agreed to take the product, which is being sold in the UK by Tesco, Asda, garage forecourts and many others.

Enhancing employability skills

The practical and vocational nature of the programme will prepare you for progression into a variety of sectors of employment from junior designers and CAD visualisers to independent design consultants and product designers and developers.

Professional practice and employability throughout the course is encouraged through internship opportunities, industry collaborations and national and international competitions.

We have worked with organisations including: Triwall, RBS Ltd, Tektura, Hartman, Petainer, Hi Macs, Yorkshire Water, the Environment Agency, Touchstone Trust, and Burbidge & Son to name a few.


As a winner of the RSA Student Design Awards, Oliver Liddard won a paid Severn Trent Water Internship worth £2,500.

The brief for the project was Water Water Everywhere and students were asked to design an attractive and engaging product, service or system that addresses water management in the urban environment.

Oliver’s winning project was called Rethink Sink: a household sink with a tipping bowl that reminds users how much water they use by keeping the water in the bowl and then tips so that water can be decanted into another bowl and reused for another purpose.

More about our placement opportunities...


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate jobs

Recent graduates are working in a variety of design sectors including consultancies, furniture manufacturers, rotational moulding design, theming design and creation, shop fitting, interior design and many more.

Whilst studying, students have the opportunity to apply for a ‘workshop monitors’ position, providing basic technical support to fellow students using the workshops, ensuring they are used in a safe way and helping the technical team with general housekeeping duties. This is a great opportunity if you are practically minded.

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Studying in the UK is better

Overseas students studying in the UK are happier and have a better learning experience compared to those studying in other countries.

The International Undergraduate Students: The UK's Competitive Advantage report asked 365,754 international students studying outside their home country to give their feedback on what it's like to study in this country. And the UK scored top in every aspect.

So if you're looking at studying with us, you'll be making a good choice.

Overall measures: ranked positions
Undergraduate 2014 2014 2014 2013 2014
Recommendation 1 4 3 5 2
Overall satisfaction 1 4 3 5 2
Arrival overall 1 2 4 5 3
Learning overall 1 4 3 5 2
Living overall 1 2 5 3 4
Support overall 1 4 5 3 2

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our product design course is most popular with international students from:  

Brunei Flag


Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

Birmingham School of Architecture and Design is based at the state-of-the-art £62 million Parkside Building, a new development on our City Centre Campus within Eastside.

The new building has added an extra dimension to the School. Our campus has extensive studio and workshop provision and cutting-edge equipment reflecting the broad range of study opportunities on offer. The building has been designed to actively promote shared space opportunities, for students to engage with others across the University as part of the learning experience.


In many cases, our main studio and workspace is the city of Birmingham.
We give our students the opportunity to work on many collaborative projects involving the transformation of the city. These include:

  • Working on-site at the £600 million re-development of New Street Station
  • Work on our neighbouring Curzon Building, which forms Phase 2 of the City Centre Campus development
  • Nearby Off-campus Nest Gallery based within Glenn Howells Architects


We have our very own digi.lab, which is used for prototyping and as a learning resource. Here, you can experiment with 3D printing and laser cutting, preparing you to work on our range of larger machines. You will work in a home studio base five days a week, and also enjoy the opportunity to share others’ facilities and space when necessary.

Digital Presentation

At the School, we have placed a large emphasis on digital presentation. We currently have nine plasma screens for such uses, and try to keep our facilities as paper-free as possible.

Additional information

Home to the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, School of Fashion & Textiles and School of Visual Communication, the five-floor site is packed with workshops, studios and social ‘collision spaces.’

Workshops include the very latest in industry-standard equipment reflecting the broad range of study opportunities on offer.

You will have access to the new water-jet cutting equipment, Vicon 3D - an external tracking motion capture facility, and Gypsy, an exo-skeleton-based motion capture system to extend the many possibilities for production of 3D animation and films.

There’s also a comprehensive range of tools and machinery in the wood and metal workshops, including Water-jet cutting, 3D printing, laser cutting and a suite of wood machines, metal fabrication and extensive ceramics, plaster and glass facilities.

You will also have access to Vicon 3D - an external tracking motion capture facility, and Gypsy, an exo-skeleton-based motion capture system to extend the many possibilities for production of 3D animation and films. You will get to use photographic studios allow you to develop the presentation of your product & furniture outcomes.

You can use the latest in high-tech digital print, plus a range of other facilities including:

  • Editing and animation suites with unique equipment
  • Digital Visualisation Hub
  • Traditional print
  • Photographic studio and darkroom
  • High power laser cutters and rapid prototyping systems
  • Theatre
  • Fashion workshops
  • Computerised looms and printers
  • Art shop
  • Library
  • Café

We are committed to showcasing the best student concepts and collections in exhibitions and on catwalks that include New Designers and Birmingham Made Me, London Fashion Week, London Free Range.

Meet our staff

You will be taught by well-established art and design professionals who provide a remarkable range of expertise and industry insight.

See a full list of our staff

Dean Cain

Dean is a visiting lecturer – teaching second and third year students across Product Design, Furniture and Lifestyle Products, and 3D Designer Maker courses. Dean has worked as a Senior Product Development Manager for IKEA in Sweden and China, as well as product development manager for Kingfisher PLC and is currently managing director for a successful utilities company.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295