Develop your creative and academic skills with our exciting, innovative course in Graphic Communication. You’ll get to experience the constantly evolving world of graphic design, advertising and motion graphics, as well as our invaluable industry links.
You’ll be tasked with using your imagination and experimentation, tackling the contemporary issues, ideas and ethics the graphic design industry faces.
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: Graphic Communication. 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.
Our Visual Communication (Graphic Communication) undergraduate degree works in partnership with other key subjects within the School of Visual Communication, providing you with interdisciplinary practice across all areas of the School.
You will receive an introduction to all four Visual Communication routes – graphic communication, illustration, film and animation and photography – before studying your chosen pathway in more detail.
This course is designed to keep up with the rapid pace of the creative sector, developing not only your skills and knowledge, but giving you room to specialise in what interests you. With a mixture of creative collaboration, external projects and live briefs, the course will push you to go beyond the world of photographic practice, but into the associated areas of employment.
You will learn through collaborative study, portfolio production and project work, and will undertake live projects to ensure you regularly engage with industry.
Throughout the course, you will have the chance to submit work to photographic competitions and will have the opportunity to join professional bodies such as D&AD.
Your modules are designed to make you think, respond and produce dynamic creative work. You will develop an in-depth conceptual and technical knowledge of graphics and advertising, looking at art history, projects and portfolio production.
Practitioner staff encourage your creative development and originality, helping you develop your own direction and understanding of graphics and visual communication.
Inspiration and direction from my tutor at Birmingham City University really helped shape me as a creative, and that has helped me move forward to where I want to be and believe in myself. Sarah Carter
Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 11 June 2016. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.
Please note: we are currently reviewing our entire course provision for 2017/18. Details will be included in your registration email.
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information about how we're transforming the futures of creative practitioners.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio.
280 UCAS tariff points or equivalent, see typical offers below.
|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|
|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/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).
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
If you are a full-time undergraduate applicant for the 2016/17 year, and show particular potential, we may be able to make you an unconditional offer if you make us first choice and satisfy certain criteria.
To be considered you must hold, or be predicted to achieve:
280 tariff points or above from three A levels (equivalent to grades BBC or above)
be predicted DMM profile at BTEC level
You will also be required to attend an interview.
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.
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2016||FT||3 years||£9,000 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2016||FT||3 years||£12,000 per year||Apply via UCAS|
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.
Your portfolio might be viewed when you are not present, therefore make sure it is easy to use. Think of it like a book. Your name and a title on the outside will be useful - this also helps distinguish the front from the back!
Include relevant work related to the subject area of interest. Know about the course you are applying for. Show ideas generation, experimentation and risk taking. Within your portfolio, are you able to demonstrate knowledge of the subject discipline, practitioners and individuals that have inspired you?
Show examples of paintings, drawings, photographs, three-dimensional work, time-based work and anything else relevant to the area of practice.
Try to show one full project from start to finish with the preparatory drawings included. Annotations are helpful as they show how you research and reflect on the development of your work.
Include three to four final pieces that you are able to talk about. This might include 3D models rather than photographs.
Include sketchbooks. This will give us an understanding of how you think (through your annotations) and allow us to see the development of your drawing. (If the portfolio is digital, photograph or scan some of the best pages).
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.
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.
There are three ways to apply:
You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.
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.
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.
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:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
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.
Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.
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.
Introduction to Visual Communication
You will receive an introduction to the four Visual Communication routes – graphic communication, illustration, photography, film and animation – before studying your chosen communication pathway in more detail. Within this module you will be provided with the opportunity to undertake collaborative work. You will work alongside students across all disciplines of visual communication, learning the underlying principles of the field.
On this module, you will work alongside staff and fellow students to identify your own specialism within visual communication. You will learn new skills and techniques relevant to practice, and be prepared for tackling the issues that the creative industries face.
Practice in Action
We will teach you to think and perform as a creative practitioner, enabling you to produce innovative ideas and imaginative solutions that are essential to professional practice.
Exploring Meaning Through Narrative
Within this module you will explore the appropriate theories and philosophies which explain, discuss and challenge our ideas about creative practice. You will gain a better insight into meaningful production, and produce work that responds to a brief content for a mini-project.
In this module, you will experience the collaborative conditions that exist in modern practice, engaging and contributing to a variety of reflective practice. You’ll work in students from different areas, producing content shaped by collaboration.
Subject in Context
Within this module you will be expected to consider Visual Communication practice in relation to audiences, clients and markets. You will develop a range of working strategies, methods and materials, applying these to underlying concepts and established principles within the discipline of graphics. A requirement of this module is that you will engage with external competitions that are within your area of expertise.
Investigating Contemporary Practice
Within this module you will conduct research into an area of employment which is specific to your area of interest, exploring areas such as networking, freelance practice, entrepreneurship, self-promotion and introductory media. This research will be supported by seminars and lectures from industry experts and practitioners.
Identifying Personal Direction
This module is there to help you develop and construct a clear creative direction within your on-going practice, identifying skills you wish to refine and develop, as well dealing with contexts that link to your professional direction. You will produce work that focuses on a particular area of interest and that clearly connects to your chosen professional direction as well as examining related theories. You will also be asked to prepare work, undertake presentations and present dissertation proposals in preparation for your final year.
You will conduct a study in which you’ll explore your own creative direction and show an in-depth understanding of visual communication. You will be expected to draw upon a range of analogue and digital skills and competencies.
Defining individual practice
This module is designed to encourage you to define your area of individual practice. You will nurture your ability to source and apply research, allowing you to work independently and articulate ideas that are central to your professional practice.
You will produce a major project portfolio, developing your negotiation and planning skills as well as showcasing your newfound range of skills and knowledge. You will exhibit a professionally presented portfolio, where you will successfully communicate ideas, information and adequate problem solving.
First year of study encourages students to gain confidence in their chosen discipline; this follows an introduction to common Visual Communication principles and a brief opportunity to gain a better insight into the range of subjects the course delivers.
Your modules will cover the processes of production within graphic communication, exploring meaning, making and defining practice. You will develop entrepreneurial and collaborative skills through the 'Introduction to Visual Communication’ module. You will be expected to crowdsource funding to publish your own magazine designs.
You will further develop your collaborative talents through modules such as Practice in Action, where you will be expected to organise, fund and publicise your group outcome.
Images: Ben Lupton / Joshua Sallon
Second year of study contextualises your chosen discipline within specific aspects of contemporary practice. Live projects, industry links and competitions form a key part of the curriculum from this stage of the course. You will also get an opportunity to opt for a Collaborative Practice module, working with students from different areas.
To begin the preparation for final year study, students begin to focus on a more discreet area of specialism within their subject, working in smaller groups with a tutor with expertise in their chosen specialism. They also embark on research of an area of industry/employment which matches their aspirations beyond graduation. This is supported by seminars and lectures from industry experts and practitioners who explore such areas as networking, freelance practice, entrepreneurship, self-promotion and introductory media.
Images: Amritpal Sembhi / Tom Armstrong
Third year of study moves to negotiated projects and insists on greater autonomy and independence of study. Students develop sustained and individual bodies of work, supported by a greater depth of research and understanding, stimulated and contextualised by a dissertation.
The professional futures of all students are embedded in their project work and will be expertly articulated through a major project portfolio, the best of which is showcased in the graduate show. All students will also have an opportunity to be nominated for a Visual Communication Graduate Award. Recent sponsors of these awards have been industry leaders, such as illustrator Dave McKean and Creative Director Trevor Beattie.
|27||Time in lectures, seminars and similar||MidnightBlue|
|73||Time in independent study||RoyalBlue|
Hallmark Cards Award winner 2015 for 'Picture perfect designs by Nora Wright.' An illustration student has won a Hallmark Cards Award, plus a prestigious work placement with Hallmark Cards for her work.
Nora Wright said she was "surprised, amazed and delighted" to have been chosen for the Hallmark Cards Award. She will receive a cash prize along with a two-month placement with Hallmark Cards that starts in September, after impressing the retailer. The judges said: "Nora's work displayed a quirky use of character line work with collage that portrayed original and commercial narrative illustrations."
Ian Dodds Lecturer in Illustration, School Of Visual Communication at Birmingham City University said: "The New Designers show was a hugely successful event for us. We took 27 Illustration and Graphics Communication students to exhibit their work, which was a great experience for them being in front of industry buyers. As well as Nora's award, we also secured placements for our students with Next, Tigerprint, M&S, Oxford University Press, Ny-lon and Skew, together with interest from some of the top illustration agencies."
The Creative Skillset Tick is the quality mark for excellence in training courses and education in the Creative Industries. It identifies the UK’s most industry-focused courses and apprenticeships enabling universities, colleges and employers to recruit the brightest talent.
Our Creative Skillset accreditation shows that we will provide you with industry-relevant skills and good links with companies and potential employers.
The accreditation also assures employers that students graduating from our course have the levels of knowledge and skills they need.
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.
Our course is designed to develop your transferable skills and widen your industry knowledge. Therefore, should you wish to progress into postgraduate study you will have developed the ability to plan and produce research that is innovative, original and challenges the field of visual communication.
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to apply for postgraduate study here within the University, which includes our research-based MA in Visual Communication.
We encourage you to explore Birmingham’s creative sector. By immersing yourself within the industry, whether it’s through volunteering, or taking on research roles, you will be able to add to your skillset. Birmingham is a diverse and vibrant city, with a thriving creative industry, so we advise you make the most of your time here and engage in as many activities as possible.
Throughout the course you will discover and refine a portfolio of practice which best suits your motivations and aspirations. Through this you will develop as a creative individual, equipped not only for a career within the illustration spectrum, but with the transferable skills to benefit a whole range of professional contexts.
This degree is designed to enhance your skills and aptitude, preparing you for a career within a landscape that is continuously changing. You’ll develop specialist knowledge and understanding within the field of illustration. As a creative practitioner and graduate of this course you will be able to generate a range of potential ideas and visual solutions. You will have the ability to produce creative work that demonstrates sound judgements in accordance to the theories and concepts of illustration and visual communication subjects, responding to the demands of industry.
You will develop an in-depth understanding of the relationship between theory and practice through research, allowing you to create meaningful, well-informed work and preparing you to take on further study. You will gain an understanding of the underlying concepts and established principles that govern creative practice.
Alongside this you will establish a range of working strategies, methods and materials, learning how to apply these to production. You will also discover, and respond to, the influence of audiences, clients, markets and other participants in relation to visual communication practice.
We strongly believe that creating relationships with industry will enable you to develop your profile and enhance your professional networks. Networking is vital to furthering your opportunity to undertake work placements and paid jobs.
While placements are not a compulsory aspect of this degree, you will be encouraged to engage with industry, incorporating this throughout your work. Engagement with industry is a core focus throughout this programme.
You will also be presented with the chance to attend trips and visits which will widen your insight into the working-practices of industry. In addition to this, as a School we have multiple working-relationships with organisations, allowing our students to take on professional roles and gain experience.
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.
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.
We are very proud and pleased to say that our Visual Communication (Illustration) graduates are highly imaginative, inter-disciplinary creative practitioners. Popular destinations for our graduates include publishing, design-related organisations, art directions, teaching, marketing and web companies.
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:
We welcome students from across the world. Our graphic communication degree has an international cohort of students, particularly from regions such as South East Asia, alongside students from across Europe, the UK and the West Midlands region.
Our graphic communication degree is driven by an ideas-based philosophy. This differs to programmes offered internationally, which focus solely on design craft.
As an international student you will benefit from studying alongside a diverse range of students, all with different backgrounds and experience. In addition to this, the course is led by tutors with experience of teaching and learning through international partnerships. We have established a creative learning community with the School, where you will be able to engage and work collaboratively, producing high-quality, imaginative work. You will also benefit from studying in close proximity to the UK’s diverse and continuously changing creative industries, you are encouraged to engage and network regularly with these industries.
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.
Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £57 million Parkside Building, part of our City Centre Campus.
We offer extensive studio and workshop space and cutting-edge equipment such as Vicon 3D (an external tracking motion capture facility) and Gypsy (an exoskeleton-based motion capture system). Both of these systems extend the possibility for production of 3D animation and films.
You will enjoy access to our Hollywood standard MILO unit. We were the first School of Visual Communication in Europe to offer MILO motion capture technology, now one of only two owned by Universities in Europe.
We offer cutting-edge provision such as digital print centres and Sonny Ross became the first student on the Visual Communication course to master the art of the RISO machine. He has since used this to produce many successful RISO publications including “Rojo & Baxter” which has been a success at various zine and book fairs across the country.
We have a team of talented staff who are dedicated to sharing their expertise and specialist knowledge of the creative industries. Our academics have vast experience and include Higher Education Academy (HEA) Fellows and industry practitioners. Full-time academics engage with practice through continued professional development and part-time staff, through their own design consultancies.
Jane is an experienced designer, typographer and illustratorwith over 15 years’ industry experience in brand and visual identity, illustration, design for print and photography. Jane has worked with some well known brands to start-up enterprises – producing engaging graphic design work that is driven by solid creative direction. Her illustrations have been featured in a number of publications such as Wallpaper, Computer Arts, Frieze, The Guardian, The Festival Annual, Amelia's Magazine and Design Week, as well as being exhibited and sold worldwide.