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.
You can now gain a prestigious British degree while completing all or part of your studies in China, thanks to a new collaboration with a leading Chinese university. The Birmingham Institute of Fashion and Creative Art (BIFCA) is a partnership between Birmingham City University and Wuhan Textile University (WTU) based in Wuhan, China.
BIFCA offers a selection of creative arts degrees taught with the opportunity to spend two years of your studies at WTU’s fantastic Wuhan campus and two years in the exciting city of Birmingham, or the full four years at WTU.
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 Open Day for this course will take place in 2018. Register your interest and we'll let you know details as soon as they are available.
To welcome all new home and EU undergraduate degree students starting in 2017 or 2018, we're giving at least £150 worth of credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials. Even better, it doesn’t have to be repaid.
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:
Please check our entry requirements to find out if you're eligible to apply for one of BIFCA's courses. If you're unsure, please contact us: email@example.com
The courses delivered by BIFCA are equivalent to the respective courses run at Birmingham City University in the UK. Therefore any current Year 1 students who wish to spend one year or one semester studying abroad may be able to spend their entire Year 2 or half of their Year 2 studying the same modules in Wuhan, China.
To be eligible, you must have successfully passed all the required modules and obtained the credits for your Year 1 study. If you wish to express your interest, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
BIFCA will recruit the highest performers in the China National Art and Design examination. If you're from China and are eligible to apply to study the course, you'll be expected to pass the required provincial art test.
If you live in Hubei Province you'll be required to achieve minimum Tier 1 level in the Gaokao matriculation examination.
If you live outside Hubei Province you'll be required to meet the provincial educational requirement for Sino-British jointly delivered courses.
If you're a non-Chinese, non-Birmingham City University student, you'll be required to complete an application to BIFCA showing evidence of equivalent qualifications and have a minimum of a Level 5 IELTS.
A portfolio will be required to support the application. If you wish to express your interest, please contact us: email@example.com
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."
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The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.
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.
Whether you’ve not started yet, or just making final tweaks, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students on how to nail your personal statement by 15 January. You can download our free ultimate personal statement guide which includes all you need to know!
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.
Academic Language Skills for Art, Design and Digital Media
Communication and Study Skills for Art, Design and Digital Media
Key Concepts and Reflective Practice for Art, Design and Digital Media
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.
Integrated Research Skills for Art, Design and Digital Media
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.
Year One includes an introduction to common Visual Communication principles and a brief opportunity to gain a better insight into the range of subjects the course delivers
Year Two encourages students to gain confidence in their chosen discipline.
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
The third 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
The fourth 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.
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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 £62 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.