Graphic Communication with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
W21F
Attendance:
Full Time (4 years)
Starting:
September 2019
Campus:

This four-year degree course (incorporating a foundation year) has been specifically designed to allow you to undertake an additional year of study which will build stronger creative footings to ensure successful progression through their chosen degree program.

Working in a lively and energetic environment, you will be given the freedom to expand your knowledge of practical skills, creative exploration and conceptual development, underpinned by broad critical understanding, academic writing and emerging theoretical principles.

There will be a range of opportunities to work on collaborative and individual projects aimed to develop employability partnerships and to identify the role of developing practitioner. BA teaching staff from across both schools will work closely with you throughout the course to prepare you for progression.

After successful completion of the foundation year, you will have the flexibility to switch (should you wish to change direction) onto a number of related undergraduate degree programmes within Birmingham School of Art or the School of Visual Communication.

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication:

Our diverse and exciting BA (Hons) Graphic Communication degree course is a must for anyone passionate about graphic design and looking to pursue a career in the creative industries.

Thanks to established links with major advertising agencies, publishing houses and interactive design groups, the course is structured to provide you with industry-relevant skills in the fields of communication, branding, strategy, creative advertising and design, in still and moving images, both in print and online.

Lecturers are well placed to give commercially relevant guidance based on current trends and historical contexts. We run an in-house agency that will prepare you for entering the world of design, your work experience will come from placements, studio visits and real live briefs.

Collaboration with other disciplines is encouraged, developing new ideas and connections with subjects such as illustration, photography and film and animation.

What's covered in the course?

The Graphic Communication course expects you to stand out through your imaginative thinking, passion and commitment to new ideas and international perspectives. You will study a course that will enhance your design skills and challenge your creative thinking, helping you identify the latest directions in design and advertising communication on a world stage.

We attract independent learners who are creative, imaginative, playful, full of passion and totally aware of the power they possess to facilitate change, inform opinion and make their mark in industry.

In three years you will be engaged in all the practical and intellectual skills as practitioners in an ever-changing commercial environment. Many graduates have gone on to become leaders in their field of specialism and they often return to the University to share this knowledge.

You will immerse yourself in our vibrant creative community, based at our City Centre Campus, where you will find screen-printing, letterpress facilities, Adobe software training rooms and studio facilities to enhance your design work. You will also have the opportunity to study abroad for part of the course, or to go on trips to destinations such as New York, Berlin or Paris.

You will engage with live project briefs with companies and industry partners. These range from local to international and include such companies as the following - Moonpig, NHS, Studio Bonito, McCann Erickson, The Times, Chapter, One Black Bear, Cogent Elliott, Leo Burnett London, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, Fluid, Z3, Boxer, Momentum, CBSO, Ikon, Birmingham Hippodrome, John Taylor Hospice, Hello Creatives, DMA, and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Your tutors are enthusiastic about their specialisms, which fosters an invaluable knowledge transfer within the course. We have exceptional levels of external engagement, with visiting lectures given by nationally and internationally-recognised practitioners, as well as having numerous links with industry, workshops, seminars, masterclasses, careers advice, portfolio reviews, mentorships and placements.

"The B-Hive competition, and winning first place, was a huge opportunity for real-life work experience and a great addition to my CV. Also from this, Adobe produced a video about me and my project as part of their ‘Make –it’ campaign, which led to more exposure and opportunities." Laura Miele

Why Choose Us?

  • The School of Visual Communication prides itself on a long-established national and international reputation. It consists of a range of courses that celebrate innovation and allow you to realise your creative ambitions.
  • We have the only in-house active agency in the region which allows students to gain first-hand experience of real-life briefs set by clients.
  • Your portfolio will be showcased to a number of potential employers through our home-grown and independent talent pool, We Grow Cherries, as well as during your graduate show.
  • Live project partnerships include NHS, Moonpig, Beehive, Studio Bonito, McCann Erickson, The Times Newspaper Group, Chapter, One Black Bear, Cogent Elliott, Leo Burnett London and more.
  • Graphic Communication has developed a series of professional public facing lecture programmes entitled  ‘Type Talks’. Design luminaries are invited to debate current design issues with eminent practitioners, such as Neville Brody, Jonathan Barnbrook and Adrian Shaughnessy, presenting their work to students and staff.
  • This course has exciting trips to provide stimuli for your creative briefs. Cultural trips are planned for London, Berlin and New York, and these excursions will include visits to exhibitions, museums and studios visits.
  • Our end-of-year awards are sponsored and presented by high-profile names, with most award winners offered placements which have led to permanent employment.

 

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 25 November 2018. Book your place to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

This course is not open to International students

Where our students go

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

  • Saatchi & Saatchi
  • McCann
  • Bartle Bogle Hegarty

And in jobs such as:

  • Creative Director
  • Graphic Designer
  • Copywriter

Course Accreditations

This course is accredited by:

Creative Skillset Tick

Entry Requirements

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

UK students
Essential

80 UCAS tariff points.

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements
A level  CDD. Must be offered along with either one A-level or one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma qualification.

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma

MMP
Access to HE Diploma 60 credits overall - 15 credits at level 2 and 45 credits at level 3

Scottish Higher

Achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points achieved from either five Highers or a combination of two Highers offered with two Advanced Highers.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall. Students who do not complete the IB Diploma and who achieve the minimum of 11 points from two Higher Level subjects, will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificate.

OCR Cambridge Technical Certificate

Must be offered along with either two A-levels or two BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diplomas of 80 tariff points. Cannot be offered as a standalone qualification.

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma

MM. Can be offered along with either one A-level or one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma qualification to achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points.

Scottish Advanced Higher

Achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
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.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2019 FT 4 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Sorry, this course is not available to international students.

Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. 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 up to a maximum of five per cent.

Guidance for UK/EU students

UCAS

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

Portfolio Guidance

You are not required to submit a portfolio for this course.

What's included

As part of your course you will become a professional member of Design and Art Direction (D&AD). D&AD is a British educational charity, which exists to promote excellence in design and advertising. Your membership could culminate in you showcasing and exhibiting your work in London in your final year of study.

You will become a member of the Paper Library, a resource for designers, creatives and brands. The library features thousands of paper, boards, packaging materials, coverings and foils from the world’s leading mills and producers, as well as exemplary samples of print and packaging. This is a resource that will help you to become proficient at ordering and selecting the appropriate stock for your design work.

All students are provided with access to the online training site Lynda.com and Adobe accreditation is also available for all students.


Additional Costs

Materials and equipment
During your first year, you will be required to budget around £150 for initial design equipment and materials, while in your final year you will be expected to invest in a portfolio to present your final work for assessment (advice will be given on sourcing the most cost-effective suppliers).

Materials and equipment needed for the final year is varied and driven by the individual student needs - some students will spend very little as their practice is predominantly achieved through digital media or perhaps recycled materials. For the more expensive projects, students actively seek funding through various mechanisms including the Student Union's Eco Fund.

Trips and travel
There are a number of live projects which require field visits. A coach may be organised, or alternatively students make their own travel arrangements, dependent on the destination and the specifics of the visit. As part of the School, there are a number of optional educational trips organised that aim to add richness to your experience. Past trips have included Berlin (£320), Venice (£397) and New York (£639).
 
Laptops and digital equipment
You’ll require a laptop computer (PC or Mac OS), although you can also hire a laptop for up to six hours a day from the University. Alternatively, you can use one of our shared computer rooms. Apple also offer a discount on laptops for UK students - go to Apple for Education for more details.

Additional costs

The additional costs listed at the bottom of the page are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

Foundation year

Working in a lively and energetic environment you will be given the freedom to expand your knowledge in conceptual development, practical skills and creative exploration underpinned by broad critical understanding and emerging theoretical principles.

You will work individually and collaboratively to develop a stimulating visual portfolio of work that evidences your enthusiasm for further study within a specific subject area.

BA teaching staff from across both Birmingham School of Art and the School of Visual Communication will work with you throughout the course and you will have full access to all of the University facilities.

The two first semester modules will run in conjunction with each other to enable understanding of the relationship between developing work and potential contexts.

These modules will form the building blocks for future work and will focus on developing confidences with techniques, learning skills and productivity. The two final semester modules will run in conjunction with each other to enable a positive integration between Perspectives on Practice and Creative Realisation. 

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Understanding Context
20 credits

This module explores the term ‘Context’, what it means to a practitioner and how you can apply it to your own work. You will explore how the context of your work can radically alter its meaning.

You will experiment with the design and layout of gathered information, supported by relevant seminars and workshops. Experimenting with layout and physical compilations of information you will produce a zine and/or other production. This will evidence carefully considered documentation techniques alongside an understanding of the word ‘context’.

Download the full module specification

Creative Development & Production
40 credits

Artists work in a globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world. Their art is a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenge traditional boundaries and defy easy definition.

This module will look at experimental approaches to drawing to identify radical new solutions from the perspective of the contemporary world we live in.

Download the full module specification

Perspectives on Practice
20 credits

During this module you will meet lecturers, researchers and partners from across BCU, the city and further afield to open your understanding of practiced based creative work. Through lectures and workshops, you will be introduced to the versatility of subject areas in terms of ideas, development, research, materials, techniques and contexts. 

Download the full module specification

Creative Realisation
40 credits

Creative realisation is not just about the practice of producing creative responses, it is about identifying the factors that generate creative thinking and facilitating the process.

For this module you will draw on your own creative strategies to facilitate the development of a project that is appropriate for progression onto your chosen BA (Hons) course.

Download the full module specification

First Year

Your first year of study will introduce you to the basic skills and critical framework within Graphic Communication. You will be taught through a series of modules, which provide you with the knowledge to further explore this ever-expanding discipline.

You will develop skills that encompass composition, line, form, narrative, type, imagery, colour, juxtaposition and ideation. From these fundamental principles, you can tailor the remainder of the course to areas of graphic communication that are of particular interest to you and your future career aims. Through your modules you will discover the application and use of colour, light, scale, composition, the typographic hierarchy, motion design, UI and interactive design.

Fundamental visual communication issues will be addressed through a series of core lectures and theory seminars. You will also have the opportunity to work with other students from across the School by selecting one of five in house options. 

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits): 

Introduction to Visual Communication
20 credits

This module introduces the universal principles and theories of visual communication, celebrating the wider opportunities for interdisciplinary practice within the School. The aim of the module is not only to introduce you to the principles within your own chosen subject area, but also to provide opportunities to take workshops in other subject areas, seek advice from experts in other disciplines and work collaboratively with students from across the Visual Communication subject areas. 

Download the full module specification

Principles and Practice of Graphic Communication
40 credits

The aim of this module is to emphasize the importance of research through an engagement with historical and contemporary concepts. The project(s) will focus on aspects of typographic communication, advertising and branding, supported by digital platforms and examine how we communicate ideas in new and imaginative ways.

Download the full module specification

Enterprise of Graphic Communication
20 credits

This module will consolidate your practice undertaken in the previous Level 4 projects. Allowing you to develop further your creative process as a designer for performance, it will build on and extend your visual and technical vocabulary, and prepare you for progression to level five. 

Download the full module specification

Discourse
20 credits

Throughout L4, a series of Perspectives lectures will be delivered on a regular basis, exploring a wide range of themes appropriate to the analysis and production of visual communication outcomes. These lectures will be coupled with studio-based discussions and/or activities considering discipline-specific research. Discourse follows on from this lecture series, and is a module in which you will produce a written response. The module, and preceding lecture series, will supply you with a broad contextual framework that will underpin your practice. 

Download the full module specification

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules:

Narrative (Space and Place)
20 credits

The ‘Space and Place’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Narrative (Time and Sequence)
20 credits

The ‘Time and Sequence’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Narrative (Sound and Movement)
20 credits

The ‘Sound and Movement’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Narrative (Text and Image)
20 credits

The ‘Text and Image’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

Narrative (People and Identity)
20 credits

The ‘People and Identity’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.

Download the full module specification

 
Please note list of optional modules is indicative only. Students’ choice will not be guaranteed for optional modules but a fair and transparent process will be adopted and shared with students.

Second Year

Through a combination of theory and experiment, you will learn how to evaluate and apply principles to practice, and will receive opportunities for placement, field study, collaborative and interdisciplinary work. We shall help you to develop your own personal direction, focusing towards the establishment of a specialised and flexible area of practice.

You will learn how to effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences. You will enhance your ability to work collaboratively within a working environment, demonstrating knowledge of the main methods of enquiry within the field.

You will develop your critical awareness, individual style and perspective and. You will formulate approaches to solving problems, helping you to further understand the creative role, opportunities and responsibility of the contemporary designer. 

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):

Context of Graphic Communication
40 credits

In this module students will interpret their own practice in the context of the professional world and consider communicating in a wide range of ways. The focus will be addressing the world of graphic communication in a professional context. Interrogation of studio practice with live briefs and competitions will allow students to expand their knowledge of graphic design, advertising and branding. 

Download the full module specification

Identifying Direction
40 credits

This flexible module reflects upon the range of experiences in Level 4 and Level 5 to allow you to identify a specific direction for your own practice and future aspirations. This will then form the initial stage and design of your Level 6 study. In this module, you will explore possible approaches, areas of research and projects that will help define your area of practice. 

Download the full module specification

Collaborative Practice
20 credits

The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines, or with academic staff. Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities and with the support of academic staff. Within this module framework, several kinds of collaborative opportunities are available. For example, with the approval of your supervisor, you can determine a project based on your own interests; your supervisor may set you a predetermined project to enable you to work with other students in a way that is appropriate to your subject area; or there may be opportunities for you to collaborate with staff on research projects. In all cases, you must apply your subject skills to an interdisciplinary project which will be agreed in advance with your supervisor.

Download the full module specification

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules. 

Work Placement
20 credits

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and ADM Careers+.

Download the full module specification

Live Project
20 credits

This module provides an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills to an external, professional brief. The brief will be set by an external client/ agency, in consultation with your supervisor, and it could be a ‘real life’ problem to be solved, or a simulation. It is an opportunity for you to engage in a professional manner with an aspect of your subject area, which contributes to the development of employability skills within the supportive infrastructure of the University. Where appropriate, the project may involve interdisciplinary collaboration with students from other courses. In this way, it reflects the collaborative, flexible nature of employment within the Creative Industries.

Download the full module specification

 
Please note list of optional modules is indicative only. Students’ choice will not be guaranteed for optional modules but a fair and transparent process will be adopted and shared with students.

Final Year

During your final year of study you will be supported in establishing the confidence to acknowledge and assert your own distinctive work identity. You will be required to demonstrate within your work a particular view of what constitutes a design proposition.

You will enhance your communication skills, allowing you to develop confidence and understanding, allowing you to capably articulate your views and knowledge to others.

The final year of the programme is designed to help you demonstrate a systematic, extensive and advanced knowledge of contemporary Graphic Communication. You shall work autonomously or collaboratively to a professional standard on self-generated projects, with creativity and imagination. 

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Critical Practice
60 credits

Level 6 Critical Practice constitutes a step progression from Level 5, building and elaborating a more advanced expansion of study.

Critical Practice provides the opportunity to adopt an increasingly autonomous commitment to the individually chosen direction(s), from the wide spectrum of Visual Communication and Creative Design Practice. These directions are established with guidance and academic rigour through individual tutorials, guest professionals, workshops, group discussion and peer participation.

Download the full module specification

Major Project
60 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practice-based portfolio.

Download the full module specification


Images: Amritpal Sembhi / Tom Armstrong


Classroom projects and activities

Moonpig
Students across different disciplines have collaborated on a joint project to create a mood board, which has generated dialogue and narrative for further investigation. The final outcome has culminated in designs being taken from conception to production and have allowed students to undertake pitches, studio visits and see their work being produced and sold in the UK card industry.
 
Look book
Students successfully collaborated with photography and fashion staff and students to create a look book. This substantial editorial was professionally designed and printed. The student’s involvement included design, art direction, typographic hierarchy, editing, production and setting up the editorial for print.


Student work

Our final-year students engage with briefs which have social benefits as well as experimentation and commercial outcomes.

The following students work are exemplars of these aspects:

  • Richard Jones has an affinity for visual identities and brand strategy, ensuring all aspects are rationalised. Richard’s work exemplifies a broad socially aware design ethic and encompasses work with the RNIB and Winterbourne Press
  • Nora Bruno’s passion for creativity and design brought her to the UK about six years ago. Nora enjoys working with ink, paper, typography, calligraphy and hand lettering. Her work represents her passion for working in an experimental way and the use of mixed media such as screen-printing, letterpress and mixing printmaking with digital techniques
  • Taylor Lantelli enjoys all kinds of art and design, and would consider herself more of a 'maker' because she loves creating tangible objects. In terms of graphic design, her real passion lies in anything print and editorial. She finds publications fascinating and views every page as a separate piece of artwork.

View examples of student work...


How Do You Draw in 3D?

Watch one of our first year Visual Communication students learn to draw and design in a 3D space.  See how Virtual Reality can become a source of creative inspiration.

Accreditation and professional associations

The School has great associations with many industry bodies and professional associations. We are members of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design, Association of Photographers, Association of Illustrators, D&AD (the professional association of designers and advertising), The Society of British Theatre Designers, The Association of Photographers in Higher Education, and the Royal Society of Arts.

We are accredited with Adobe and Creative Skillset. Both these accreditations were hard-earned and demonstrate the standing we hold in industry.

This course is accredited by the following organisation:

Creative Skillset Tick
Creative Skillset Tick

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.

Further Study

As graduating students you will follow your own career path, which may mean going straight into industry. However, many students look at the opportunities we offer for postgraduate study at the University.

The School runs a one-year MA Visual Communication course as a natural progression from its undergraduate courses. You will be encouraged to continue your journey with us and develop your practice further.

Trips and visits

While you study the course you will be offered opportunities to go on group excursions both in the UK and abroad. There are usually three overseas trips a year, which we offer both at subject level, as well as School level, to Venice, New York and Berlin.

Locations do alter each year to allow for students to experience a range of cities. We always put on UK study trips to places such as London, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool. Where possible, UK trips are free or heavily subsidised.

As a Visual Communication student, you’ll be encouraged to take advantage of these trips as we see them as adding extra value to your course and they do offer additional research opportunities.

Enhancing employability skills

Our students are required to achieve all of the learning outcomes set by the Graphic Communication course and pursue excellence by engaging with competition and live briefs, achieving Adobe accreditation.

Practice-led, knowledge-applied education is facilitated by you engaging and participating in workshops, lectures and seminars. The curriculum, live briefs and the agency will sharpen and improve your employability skills and prospects.

Internationalisation of the student cohort, links with Erasmus+ and Birmingham City University’s strong links with China, Malaysia and Thailand offer you a varied global curriculum.

Placements

You are required to develop strong networks, identifying opportunities and work placements appropriate to your practice. Visits to companies, interviews and live projects are an excellent way to introduce you and to develop these links. More formal placements have included opportunities with IE Design, Green Room and Fluid, along with various graphic design opportunities including editorial design, branding and art direction. 

Summer placements with high-profile companies Z3, TDL and most recently White October have been offered as rewards for live project initiatives. These prestigious opportunities allow students to gain a real insight into the creative approaches used by these organisations.


Links to Industry

Our partnerships with industry include the following: day briefs, live briefs, competitions, pitches, curriculum development and awards ceremonies. Live project partnerships include NHS, Moonpig, Beehive, Studio Bonito, McCann Erickson, The Times Newspaper Group, Chapter, One Black Bear, Cogent Elliott, Leo Burnett London and more.

OpportUNIty

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.

Graduate Jobs

The School of Visual Communication offers a broad education as well as the very specific subject skills. We see many graduates working in the creative industries, but also in a variety of employment from management, education, tourism, marketing and freelance business.

Industry demands are constantly changing, so it’s important that we prepare you for all eventualities. The internationalisation components mean you are made aware of global expectations and the possibilities of work outside the UK. All modules have transferable skills built into the teaching, meaning you are able to apply your knowledge to a variety of tasks and challenges.

Graphic Communication graduates work in a range of careers including:

  • Creative director
  • Typographer
  • Graphic designer
  • Copywriter
  • Editor
  • Educator
  • Digital production
  • Exhibition designer
  • Creative assistant
  • Manager
Parkside - City Centre Campus
Parkside - Milo Studio

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.

The Parkside Building also offers:

  • exhibition space
  • digital and analogue photographic facilities and studios
  • dark rooms
VisCom Hires and Loans landscape
VisCom Hires and Loans Portrait
VisCom Hires and Loans CU
VisCom The Agency sign
VisCom The Agency 2
VisCom The Agency 3
VisCom Animation 1
VisCom Animation 2
VisCom Animation 3
VisCom Animation 5
VisCom Milo CU
Dr Who Angel Green Screen 1
Dr Who Angel Green Screen 2
VisCom Dark Room
VisCom Dark Room Pegs
VisCom Developing Rostrum
ADM VisCom Dark Room Processing
ADM VisCom Photography Studio 2
VisCom Albion Press 1
VisCom Albion Press 2
VisCom Albion Press 3
VisCom Screen Printing 1
VisCom Roller Press 1
VisCom Letterpress 3
VisCom Letterpress 2
VisCom Letterpress 1
ADM VISCOM Print Room Paint
VisCom Print Room WS
VisCom A0 Printer
VisCom Technical Assistance
VisCom Riso CU
VisCom Design for Performance
VisCom Wacom 1
VisCom Wacom 2
VisCom Paper Library Landscape
VisCom HTC VIVE
VisCom Operation Aquilla 2
VisCom Operation Aquilla 3
VisCom LightBoc and Creative Space
VisCom LightPen 1
VisCom LightPen 2
VisCom Riso CU
VisCom Typographic Archive 1
VisCom Typographic Archive 2
External Parkside Building and Water Feature
Parkside building from Curzon building
Parkside Interior

We have fantastic letterpress and screen printing facilities and typographic archives as part of our facilities. We offer book-binding and printing techniques as part of the course. Students also have access to 3D printing and wood workshop facilities within the building.

Students from Graphic Communication also have the opportunity to use letterpress and printing in the Winterbourne Press with lecturer Rebecca Howson.

Our Staff

All staff are practitioners in their field and are currently designing or researching in the following areas: typography, wayfinding, interactive design, motion graphics, brand and UI, packaging, print making and letterpress.

Our staff have professional profiles which include designing at agencies such as: Pentagram, Nucleus Design, Luxon Carra, Williams & Phoa, Sony, NHS, Stocks Taylor Benson, Wyatt International, Currentstate, Keanebrands, Purelm, Green Room and Fish in a Bottle.

Visiting tutors include Rebecca Foster and Brian Sheppard who have strong industry profiles and current practices in branding and advertising respectively.

Tracy Allanson-Smith

Programme Leader Graphic Communication

Tracy is particularly interested in the integration of professional briefs from the creative industry, partnerships between industry and education and creating new synergies and ways of working in this fast moving area of design. Tracy is an experienced external examiner, visiting tutor, guest speaker and external consultant for online module development at institutions across the UK; appointments have been made at the University of Hertfordshire, University of Bolton, Nottingham Trent University, Surrey Institute of Art & Design, Central St Martins, West Hertfordshire College of Art & Design and Norwich School of Art. Tracy is also a member of the International Society of Typographic Design. Design Posts: Pentagram. Nucleus Design. Luxon Carra, Pentagram, London, Futurebrand, Nucleus Design, Boots, Nottingham.

Freelance Design: Coley Porter Bell, Still Waters Run Deep, Erga Design, Marks & Spencer, Wickens Tutt Southgate, Hill Watson, Luxon Carra, Nucleus Design, Davies Baron, Diefenbach Elkins.

Clients include: Co-op, Hogg Robinson, Thomas Cook, British Airways, Worten (Electrical Store, Portugal), Sock Shop Caura, Santa Cruz Operation, Eureka! Children's Museum, The British Library, Royal National Theatre, Mazda Xedos, Edinburgh Park, Ciba Geigy.

Her work spans across the following areas of design: typography, packaging, exhibition design, retail, branding, literature, corporate identity and wayfinding.

David Osbaldestin

Deputy Course Director

David has specialist knowledge in brand experience and advertising design. David has a rich background engaging with industry and a passion for typography. David is currently investigating the sans serif in Britain, and typography as an index to cultural values through his PhD research. In addition to this, David represents the University through the EyeCandy festival and is a member of the Printing Historical Society.

Previous work has included: Chair of Birmingham Artists and founder of the Periscope Gallery, Company Secretary of Vivid, and academic consultant for the Plus+ International Design Festival. David was also an Innovation Mentor for Service by Design and Chair of the digital brand panel for Hello Business.

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Phil Thompson

Phil Thomson

Senior Lecturer

Phil draws upon his extensive experience in advertising as an art director and copywriter. With a decade of experience and knowledge running his own design studio, as well as ongoing experience in education, Phil brings a wealth of knowledge to the School. Phil is well-placed to understand the fundamental nature of the visual arts in a commercial context, where ideas and creative risk-taking are the most valuable currency.

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Colette Jeffrey

Senior Lecturer BA Visual Communication

Colette is a full-time lecturer in Graphic Communication and a part-time PhD researcher. Before joining Birmingham City University in 2009, she worked for 15 years as a wayfinding consultant, inclusive design director and information designer. She researched and co-wrote the NHS official guidance on wayfinding in hospitals, published in 1999 and has had research papers and articles published on wayfinding in hospitals and other complex environments. As project director and inclusive design director at Applied, a specialist wayfinding and information design consultancy based in London, she carried out user-focused research and developed map and sign solutions for legible city projects in Brighton and Leeds. As wayfinding design director at The Brand Union and Information Design Unit she designed wayfinding systems for over 50 sites, including 20 NHS hospitals, the Natural History Museum London, Tower Bridge, Wembley Arena, Heathrow Airport and shopping centres in Dublin and Dubai.

Colette has recently begun a PhD study exploring how people get disorientated inside buildings and what they do when they are spatially disorientated. She will compare her observational findings with data collected from professionals who design complex environments and develop wayfinding strategies to identify correlation or disparity.

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James-Brierley - Staff

James Brierley

Part time Lecturer BA Visual Communication (Web and Mobile Design) and Digital Creative.

A graduate of the University James has over 15 years of experience working within the digital sector. As a digital creative, James has worked on a wealth of agency-side and commercial projects for a range of clients including: Cancer Research UK, Silver Cross, Random House, ITV, VTech, Harper Collins, Sport England, E.On, Seven Trent and Zurich.

As Creative Director at BPI Agency, James has worked on a mixture of business to customers and large corporate websites, apps, micro sites, e-commerce, games, digital marketing campaigns, and digital strategy.

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Jonny Griffiths

Jonathan Griffiths

Lecturer in Graphic Communication. Video and Motion Graphic – Designer, Director.

A video and motion graphic designer, director, and company owner, Jonathan has over 15 years of creative and digital agency experience. He has worked for national and international creative studios and brands. Within two years his company received direct commission from clients such as PayPal, Town Hall Symphony Hall and London’s Footpatrol store (part of JD sports). Jonathan has provided motion content in many shapes and forms to creative agencies and production companies, such as Butlins, Haven, Nokia and Kering.

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Professor Andrew Kulman

MA Course Director and Principal Lecturer

Andrew Kulman has worked as an illustrator and Graphic Artist since leaving the RCA in 1987. His work has been exhibited both nationally and Internationally, winning numerous Industry awards. He has had several illustrated books published and has appeared in magazines and publications both in the UK and abroad.

His recent research interests is centered around the mechanised image and recently he has been involved in the areas of transdisciplinary practice, namely the areas where Design and Fine Arts cross over.

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Jane Anderson

Lecturer in Graphic Communication (Full Time)

Jane is an experienced designer, typographer and illustrator with over 18 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.

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