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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.
More about BIFCA
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
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Entry requirements here
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 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. You can apply until 30 June.
If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.
Get personal statement advice
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
View examples of student work...
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.
Find out more
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.
Learn more about BCUIC
Our students come from around the world but our visual communication course is most popular with international students from:
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.
An award winning illustrator, Andrew has produced work ranging from children’s books to billboards and has been employed by a wide range of clients. Andrew’s passion lies in the graphic image, he has always researched and developed new methods of printmaking and has exhibited both in the UK and overseas. In 2015 he was chosen to represent England at the NID Open Electives in India. His work is in both private collections and public collections including the Tate Library and the National Collection V&A. Andrew has featured on the BBC, and in many magazines, including Sunday Times, Financial Times, New Scientist, Atlantic Journal, Vogue, Elle. He is has worked for major publishers, Jonathan Cape, Penguin Books, Bloomsbury, Picador and in America, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux and Simon and Schuster.
He has exhibited widely in UK and Europe and has work in National collections including the V&A art collection and the Tate collection of prints. He was selected for the third International Egyptian Print Triennial. He is a regular exhibitor at the Royal College of Art (RCA Secret) and has exhibited in the Association of Illustrators and European Illustration awards. He is the recipient of numerous industry awards, D&AD (consumer poster), WH Smith award for editorial, Vogue Sotheby award, V&A award for publishing.
Read Andrew's full profile
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.
Read David's full profile
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.
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.
Read Phil's full profile
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.
Read Colette's full profile
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.
Read James' full profile
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.
Read Jonathan's full profile
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.
UK enquiry form
+44 (0)121 331 5595
International enquiry form
+44 (0)121 331 5389
Contact the admissions team
+44 (0)121 331 6295