Our Product and Furniture Design course focuses on the design and development of creative, contemporary and innovative products and furniture, considering user centred design, social context and commercial understanding. Throughout your degree, you will be encouraged to explore materials, techniques and processes in relation to scales of manufacture, from one-off bespoke design to design for standardised mass production.
You will learn a range of research and design methods alongside continual practical skills development. Live student projects take place throughout the course to enhance your employability, communication skills and professional practice.
You will examine the process of designing and developing functional and desirable products and furniture, examining how social and cultural factors influence design decisions. You will develop knowledge and understanding of design in response to collaborative, professional, commercial and economic considerations.
Alongside research and design development skills, you will also increase your practical knowledge through extensive hands-on exploration. Engaging with making from the outset enables you to fully realise design concepts and create convincing models and prototypes. Underpinned with strong contemporary design thinking, you will explore the breadth of scales of manufacture across product and furniture design to be able to position yourself within a global industry.
By working on live projects, work placements and collaborative projects, you will explore how businesses operate at a commercial, technological, ethical and sustainable level. Second year students recently worked with Philips, developing user-centred lighting applications and third year students exhibited and sold work at Minima: one of Birmingham’s key contemporary design showrooms. You’ll also benefit from the insight of guest speakers from across the design spectrum from designer makers to industrial designers and product and furniture developers
From Barcelona to New York, study trips and international opportunities provide new cultural perspectives and shared common experiences.
You’ll have the chance to join the student-led Society of 3D Design to take part in collaborative opportunities, creating a community between different disciplines of 3D design.
You’ll develop design communication and visualisation skills using recognised industry standard programmes such as SolidWorks, Adobe Creative Suite and AutoCAD.
You will develop practical skills throughout the programme through extensive workshop practice and develop skills in rapid prototyping and digitally driven techniques.
Live projects and industrial collaborations provide you with invaluable real world experiences and hone your communication and professional development skills.
Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Saturday 21 March 2020. Register your interest to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students. We'll be in touch once booking is open.
Meet or beat our entry requirements and you could be eligible for an achievement scholarship worth £1,000.
*Terms and Conditions apply - some undergraduate courses are not eligible for this scheme. The £1,000 scholarship is made up of an £850 scholarship and £150 free credit to spend in an online shop.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels.
|GCE A Level/ AS Level||BBC at A-Level or 112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A-Levels|
|Access to Higher Education Diploma||Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway|
|BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years)||D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years)||DMM - 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years)||D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design||Distinction|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||
Obtain a minimum of 28 points overall. Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 14 points or above from three higher level subjects and alongside other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 112 UCAS Tariff Points.
|Irish Leaving Certificate||Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 112 tariff points, achieved in four Higher level subjects.|
|Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher||Achieve a minimum of 112 tariff points achieved from either five Highers or a combination of two Highers offered with two Advanced Highers.|
|Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options)||Grade Pass plus grades CC at A-Level (or equivalent qualifications) to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.
Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
In addition to qualifications, EU and international applicants will also need a good digital portfolio.
Please see your country page for further details on the equivalent qualifications we accept.
In addition to the academic entry requirements listed above, international and EU students will also require the qualifications detailed in this table.
|EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements|
6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands.
If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.
|International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).|
International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).
Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2020
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2020
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. 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.
UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.
There are three ways to apply:
Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.
If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.
The following direct entry students will be required to submit a digital portfolio at the point of application.
This can be submitted via your applicant portal. Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips on putting your portfolio together.
UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*
The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.
You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.
The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on your course. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.
All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
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.
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.
First-year modules introduce key principles, processes and methods.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits)
Design Principles and Processes
Studio and workshop based activities will introduce you to a range of fundamental design principles to broaden and improve your knowledge and understanding of the design process. You will explore a variety of issues, guidelines and general design considerations that are relevant for designers.
Contextual and Cultural Studies
The module introduces you to some of the critically defining key events and precedents that have influenced and shaped historical and contemporary design. This module engages with the key design ideologies of the 20th and 21st Century, developing an understanding of the principles of design analysis, critical analysis, academic writing, questioning and debate.
This module introduces students to fundamental elements and key methodologies of visual expression and communication. Through drawing and image building assignments, students will develop a comprehensive range of 2D and 3D skills in order to develop a visual language to respond effectively and creatively to design tasks and formal briefs.
Materials and the Made Object
The design process relies on a rich understanding of the nature of materials; their physical properties, inherent qualities, and how they can be manipulated (processed). This module seeks to embed an understanding of material and process technologies that will enable you to design with specific parameters in mind and appreciate the limitations of what you are designing with. This will encourage you to embrace material qualities as part of the design process, and actively explore the creative application of current and future technologies.
Scales of Manufacture
This module will introduce basic principles and considerations when designing for various scales of manufacture, helping you to develop an awareness of the impact of economies of scale on design thinking. The module will introduce fundamental strategies in designing for different markets and you will explore the relationships between scale, context and implementation.
Employability-focused modules during your second year year enhance industry knowledge and experience.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits)
The main focus of this module is to enable you to develop more advanced CAD skills (SolidWorks) and use these in relation to the design process. As your skills develop you will be expected to utilise and correctly synthesise the SolidWorks program in line with industry recognised production methods and techniques. This will enable you to develop and realise designed concepts using digital technologies and to effectively communicate design intentions within the context of manufacturing and industry.
This module will apply the ‘user-needs’ design philosophy as a framework to enable you to build upon and synthesise core design skills introduced at level 4 of the programme.
Design Synthesis will engage our students in the appropriate observational and analytical approaches required to develop user-centred design outcomes. The module will address the philosophy behind human-centred design and will encourage you to develop your own reasoning by putting the ‘needs and requirements’ of the ‘person/client/user’ at the centre of the process.
This module will give you the opportunity to ‘focus’ your studies through self-directed practice, researching a personal area of interest and creating outcomes that reflect your developing knowledge of Product and Furniture Design. This gives a guided introduction to the largely self-initiated study you will experience in level 6.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following list of OPTIONAL modules.
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.
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.
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+.
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.
Modules in your final year encourage individual direction through live projects/competition and a self-written major design project.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits)
Design in Context
This module seeks to familiarise you with the initial stages of client contact in terms of responding to a brief and analysing an opportunity/problem. You will produce and evaluate appropriate innovative concepts with a view to selecting the most suitable for presentation back to the client/organisation as a series of options.
The source of the briefs for the module may be a competition such as the Royal Society of Arts or a live client company contact. In all cases, the briefs would be industry facing.
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.
Major Design Project (Development and Realisation)
This module provides the opportunity for you to undertake a major self-directed design project derived from the major project research undertaken in the previous module Major Project. In consultation with academic staff you will be responsible for the planning and implementation of a programme of work that will enable you to showcase the skills you have attained throughout the course.
Taught by experienced designers, makers and academics, this course combines practice with theory to give you a fully rounded learning experience.
Extensive workshop facilities will help you to realise your proposals, creating functional and commercially viable designs. This hands-on approach allows you to understand the opportunities and limitations of materials and construction methods.
Final year BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design students recently exhibited and sold their work at Minima; one of Birmingham’s key contemporary design showrooms. The fifteen selected students work in the collection included table-top products, desk and pendant lighting designs, furniture and homewares.
The students’ final pieces were created in response to a brief that tasked them with designing and making a collection of innovative and desirable objects or artefacts that could be sold in either John Lewis, Made.com, Heal's, WallpaperSTORE, or Not On The High Street. The designed objects also needed to fit within the retailer’s ethos, beliefs, style and approach, and fulfil the necessary requirements to be sold within their retail spaces.
Speaking afterwards, Level 6 Co-Ordinator and Lecturer Richard Underhill said: “As aspiring designers, our students aim to create objects which can be touched, lived with and worn. Being able to show their work within a collective of designers is a powerful experience; it’s a boost of energy to any designer to be celebrated and seen.”
In 2019, three students were given the opportunity to take part in the yearly Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers Tour. The four-day tour takes students around North West furniture businesses to see how the industry operates.
“I am very grateful to my tutors and the Furniture Makers Company for providing such an educational and valuable experience. Every day was a chance to learn about different methods of production within the furniture industry, this opened my eyes to the range of job opportunities that are out there. I had many interesting conversations about the current furniture industry, what is predicted for the future, portfolio advice and general career tips. It was extremely heartening to see the shared concern about the sustainability of furniture manufacturing within the UK.
We were all impressed by the companies we visited and the steps which have already been taken to reduce environmental impact, in addition to the acknowledgement that there is more to be done. The industry tour also allowed the meeting of like-minded people – everyone was enthusiastic about design and really friendly. It was great to share ideas and projects and we still keep in touch now.”
Emma Jones – Second Year Student
Product and Furniture continued our industry collaboration with Philips Lighting during 2018 -19. Once again students were tasked with exploring Philips Lighting cutting edge technology and applying it to the ‘user centred’ design framework.
The focus of the project centred on the work space, with significance placed on new working practices and environments such as, co-working spaces. STEAMhouse was used as a live ‘co-working’ environment. Part of the objective was to understand both the cultural significance of co-working spaces/studio practice environments and home office environments and the various activities carried out within them. Students also explored and utilised a range of Philips Lighting technologies, which could enhance either the co-working / studio practice or home office environment itself and/or enhance and add value to the users experience of the co-working / studio practice / home office environment.
Throughout the project key members of staff from Philips Lighting provided students with feedback as well as technical guidance. The project also provided students with the experience of pitching and presenting their ideas to an established global company, which enriched the overall project from a student perspective.
You can apply to study abroad at one of our partner universities worldwide as part of an exchange programme as part of your degree. You can also apply to study or work abroad with Erasmus+ (within the EU) you may benefit from a grant that can contribute to some of the costs during your stay overseas.
You can further your studies with a postgraduate programme. The University offers a range of relevant courses, including MA Product and Furniture Design, MA Interior Architecture Design, MA Design Management and MA Design and Visualisation.
Search all our architecture and design postgraduate courses here.
A key element of being a designer is exploring different cultural environments and capturing design inspirations from new sources. BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design students recently spent a fantastic study week in Barcelona, providing them with further first-hand experiences of iconic designs from Europe. Closer to home, students have also visited the Centre of Alternative Technology in Wales, covering aspects of sustainability from environmental building to organic growing.
The course has a vocational emphasis and is focused on employability. Throughout your study you will engage with real briefs, collaborative opportunities and external industry links. You will develop skills in a broad range of working approaches, from synthesising and applying problem solving and creative thinking skills, to 3D computer modelling, where you will use the latest industry standard software.
Extensive workshops support modelling and prototyping skills, and you will create high-quality outcomes using a wide range of materials, techniques and processes. The course supports personal development as a creative, knowledgeable designer, maximising the potential to obtain positions in national and global companies.
The course develops skills and experience in and around the subject of scales of manufacture, from bespoke, one-off and batch production to standardised mass production. The interdisciplinary nature of design engages relationships across a broad spectrum of specialist areas of study, and we nurture this philosophy through collaborative and professional practice approaches.
This BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design course offers you the opportunity to gain invaluable work placement experience during the second year of the course, through modules and industry collaborations.
The Faculty also offers a specific optional work placement module, which can be taken up in your second year. The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes as well as subject and transferable skills through experience in the work place, and tasks course participants to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. Students are normally expected to arrange their own placement, with support from academic staff and BCU Careers.
As part of the work placement module, students have the opportunity to attend specific sessions, which relate to the development of their digital presence, portfolio content and presentation, and the formulation of CV’s and covering letters for potential work placement providers and future employers.
We also have a continually evolving and expanding data base of industry partners within and outside of the West Midlands, who have collaborated with the course on various projects and have taken on students within their practices, either whilst students continue to study on the course, during the summer break or once their academic studies are completed.
Many of our graduates return to where they spent time on placement during their second year. 2019 graduate Jodie Mairs undertook a placement at MacMaster, and returned as an employee after graduation.
Speaking about the work placement afterwards, Jodie said:
“My placement at MacMaster Design during my second year was a valuable experience. Being in a real life working environment taught me many things including efficacy without compromising quality, and gave me the opportunity to exhibit at 100% Design during London Design week.
The placement proved so important when wanting a career as a maker, as you never stop learning. It gave me more confidence going into my final year and resulted in a full time position at MacMaster after graduation.”
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.
Alex Round, a 1st class graduate from BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design, has designed ground breaking safety features for ambulance trolleys carrying neonates, a term for a newborn child, in the UK and worldwide.
The UK Neonatal Transport Group statistics show that there are approximately 16,000 transfers of premature and ill babies each year. The transfer of neonates is a stressful process that could contribute to long-term health complications caused by excessive movements of the neonate during acceleration and deceleration or in the event of a crash of up to 40MPH.
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.
Graduates can progress to a diverse range of design professions, ranging from product developer, exhibition and event designer, furniture contractor, industrial designer and independent designer maker.
‘Birmingham’s course is extremely important as it is one of very few providers of skilled people for industry. For this I would like to give the course an exceptional commendation.’
‘This course also gives its students great opportunities. Tutors are all industry aware people who care about the industry readiness of their students which is also evidenced by the fact that year on year students go straight into some amazing jobs.’
Dr Lynn Jones – External Examiner for BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design
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:
Our course is popular with students from around the world, particularly China, Hong Kong, Brazil and Malaysia.
Brazilian student Julia Damiati Rezende developed a significant portfolio of work during her studies on the second year of Product Design. We welcomed Julia from the Brazilian scholarship programme Science Without Borders. As well as completing the second year of the BA, Julia has continued to work with postgraduate staff and students, developing her conceptual approach to design. She is currently researching Arts, Design and Behaviour: Convergences Between Body and Digital Technology.
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.
When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £340 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.
You’ll be based in the multi-million pound Parkside building – part of our City Centre Campus – with technology and facilities that reflect advanced professional practice. We offer facilities which will accurately reflect the work environment you will enter after graduating. These include Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and a computer-generated Virtual Building Site, creating real life scenarios for you to work on.
While based in The Parkside Building, you will get sharpen your CAD and digital visual communication skills, prototyping and digital production, while also having access to a range of specialist software, workshops, computer and project learning laboratories, and a social learning space.
You’ll also benefit from:
From industry-standard software, to our workshops and studio spaces, everything you need will be at your fingertips from day one. Working with our expert technicians, you'll be supported from concept through to completion.
Workshop facilities are integral to the programme and you will have access to an extensive range of prototyping equipment, including wood machining equipment, metal fabrication, CNC router, four axis milling, waterjet cutting, plaster, ceramic, glass workshops, 3D printing, laser cutting and etching, plastic forming, and ply moulding. A large range of hand and power tools also support model making and prototyping for Product and Furniture Design.
Our teaching staff bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the programme, both in terms of design and prototyping. Many are engaged in design across the scales of manufacture, with significant experience in design for mass market as well as designing for commission and low volume production.
Dean is a visiting lecturer – teaching second and third year students across Product Design, Furniture and Lifestyle Products, and 3D Designer Maker courses. Dean has worked as a Senior Product Development Manager for IKEA in Sweden and China, as well as product development manager for Kingfisher PLC and is currently managing director for a successful utilities company.