Product and Furniture Design - BA (Hons)

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Our Product and Furniture Design course focuses on the design and development of creative, contemporary and innovative products, considering user-centred design, sustainability, social context and commercial understanding....

  • Level Undergraduate
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City Centre
  • Award BA (Hons)
  • Start date September 2024
  • School Birmingham School of Architecture and Design
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

This course is:

Available with Professional Placement year

Open to International Students

Overview

Doris Van Roojen: Everything we use in our lives has been designed from your pen, your phone. So, designers is really underpin everything that we do and it is really important that universities teach these courses and give us the tools to do that because without design, we'll never move forward. We'll just stay where we are at the minute.

Mat Jones: So the courses in the School of Architecture and Design are all about enabling students to find their own voice, to bring their own ideas to their studies, and develop the projects that are of interest to them in places that they're interested in.

Miruna Oprean: It was quite interesting because all this project for me has been a roller coaster, but then the tutors were very, very supportive and they were there to kind of like, help me out, get out of those moments. And now, of course, they love it.

Mat Jones: I think the purpose of the inspired festival is really to connect the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media with the city and with the people of the city through the different events, the activities, the billboards and advance and so forth. It's a really strong way of connecting our students with the city and the communities that they live in and work in.

Doris Van Roojen: You've worked on this for so long and it's your little baby, and then it's like, well, well, what's next? And the inspired festival is really allowing us to kind of present our work and get it out there, which is just an amazing opportunity.

Edith Chirapa: Making all of this and then showcasing it and people actually talking about it and actually thinking, Oh wow, it looks really good. And I'm thinking, actually, I did make that.

Mat Jones: For the students, it's a really proud moment to see their work exhibited, see the outcome of their studies shown to a broader audience, shown to industry professionals, to the creative industries.

Murina Oprean: I just feel like it's highly important to have this space to show, because it just felt like a massive reward after all these years of hard work. Um, to kind of have this little space of yours and people see what you're capable of.

Doris Van Roojen: And it's absolutely amazing. It really kind of makes us feel as well, like, they're reaching for us and they're helping us make the next steps by getting our work out there and hopefully noticed by someone.

Edith Chirapa: In all builds on something. But every day is a learning experience. So just enjoy it.

Our Product and Furniture Design course focuses on the design and development of creative, contemporary and innovative products, considering user-centred design, sustainability, social context and commercial understanding. From ideas to production, you will be equipped with specialist knowledge and skills to help you design and develop products that address real-world challenges and enhance user experience.

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 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.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

You will examine the process of designing and developing functional, inclusive and sustainable 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. 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.

Professional Placement Year

This course offers an optional professional placement year. This allows you to spend a whole year with an employer, following successful completion of your second year, and is a great way to find out more about your chosen career. Some students even return to the same employers after completing their studies.

If you choose to pursue a placement year, you will need to find a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will be able to draw on the University’s extensive network of local, regional, and national employers, and the support of our Careers teams. If you are able to secure a placement, you can request to be transferred to the placement version of the course.

Please note that fees are payable during your placement year, equivalent to 20% of the total full-time course fee for that year.

I would highly recommend this course to anyone looking to study design. The facilities are incredible and the tutors are really supportive and helpful. I have learnt so much and developed as a designer more than I expected to. Thanks to this course, I was able to win the Made.com award at New Designers which was an incredible experience. I was also shortlisted for 3 other awards too! Throughout New Designers I was approached by several companies who were hiring  and interested in seeing my portfolio. Fortunately I secured a job before the end of final year as a Product Designer for Foresso. I really love my job and I'm so grateful to BCU for providing me with the skills I needed for the industry.

2022 Graduate - Aamana Bibi Nawaz (Winner – New Designers 2022 – MADE.COM Collaboration Award)

Why Choose Us?

  • Live projects and industrial collaborations provide you with invaluable real-world experiences and hone your communication and professional development skills.
  • You will develop practical skills through extensive workshop practice within our Ceramics, Plaster, Wood and Metal workshops.
  • From water jet cutting, to 3D printing, you will develop skills in rapid prototyping and digitally driven techniques.
  • The course has achieved notable success in design events, securing major awards and commendations at New Designers and the Young Furniture Makers Exhibition.
  • Two-thirds of the impact of our research was judged to be very considerable (3*) or outstanding (4*) - REF2021.

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to learn about this course in detail, chat to students, explore our campus and tour accommodation. In the week before the event, we’ll post you an event programme to plan your day and find your way.

Next Open Day: 29 June 2024

Book Now

Entry Requirements

These entry requirements apply for entry in 2024/25.

All required qualifications/grades must have been achieved and evidenced at the earliest opportunity after accepting an offer to help confirm admission and allow for on-time enrolment. This can also include other requirements, like a fee status form and relevant documents. Applicants can track their application and outstanding information requests through their BCU mySRS account.

Essential requirements

112 UCAS tariff points

Please note: If you qualify for our BCU Accelerate scheme, you could receive an offer that is two grades below our normal entry requirements. Find out more about BCU Accelerate.

Applicants will also need to submit a good portfolio.

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 3 years
  • TBC

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Project materials (mandatory)

This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected, but are likely to be in the region of £50 to £100 in year 1, £100 to £150 in year 2 and £200 to £300 in year 3.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of safety equipment in order to use the workshop facilities, including safety shoes/boots.

Media consumable items (mandatory)

You may use outside processes that will incur charges such as plating, powder coating, casting or specialist 3D printing. Depending on the processes used, you may spend between £200 to £600. The total cost for art supplies, such as sketchbooks, markers, drawing equipment and consumables is likely to be between £120 and £300.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Guidance for UK students

UK 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

  1. Register with UCAS
  2. Login to UCAS and complete your details
  3. Select your course and write a personal statement
  4. Get a reference
  5. Pay your application fee and submit your application

Guidance for International students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form, and submit them together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

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.

3) Through UCAS

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.

Portfolio guidance

If you receive an offer to study this course, you will be required to submit a portfolio. We ask that this is submitted within four weeks of receiving your offer.

Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips on putting your portfolio together.

Portfolio guidance

If you receive an offer to study this course, you will be required to submit a portfolio. We ask that this is submitted within four weeks of receiving your offer.

Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips on putting your portfolio together.

Personal statement

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:

  • Course choice - Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
  • Career plans - If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
  • Work experience - Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
  • School or college experience - Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
  • Non-accredited skills or achievement - 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.

Worried about Personal Statements?

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

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Course in Depth

Year one

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)

Modules include:

Year two

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)

Modules include:

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

Professional placement year

Final year

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)

Modules include:

Download course specification

Download now

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.

BOSS X BCU project

Product and Furniture design work created from the Boss and BCU project

Working in collaboration with BOSS design, second-year students were tasked with exploring and developing innovative products, artefacts or furniture concepts that enhance, improve and better facilitate the future multi-generational workspace, in either the residential office environment, ‘conventional’ onsite office or both.

Students engaged with a variety of discipline-aligned methods including: drawing to explore ideas, model making to varying scales which are appropriate, engaging and researching ergonomics and anthropometrics, as well as, researching ‘real world’ manufacturing processes and techniques utilised within industry.

Communication of ideas visually and verbally, also formed a significant part of this project, with students gaining invaluable employability skills by presenting directly to a client and possible future employer.

Several Product and Furniture Design students participated in alternate weeklong placements with Boss Design. This provides invaluable industry experience and significant personal development opportunities, which undoubtedly helps those students during their final year on the course and after graduation.

Employability

Enhancing employability skills

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. 

Placements

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.

My internship at Kirkdale Studios during my third year was a great creative experience and helped me to navigate the transition from a student to a working designer. I was given the opportunity to work on live projects, communicate directly with factories, and learn professional skills before even graduating.

Evie Mcginley – Kirkdale Studio

More about our placement opportunities

Our Graduates

Emily Cross at Young Furniture Makers Exhibition 2023

Emily Cross

"Studying Product and Furniture Design at BCU prepared me for my next step into the design industry. For me, the supportive set of tutors helped me develop myself as a designer. By using industry-standard software, cross-disciplinary group projects and navigating the iterative process of design I feel confident in my new role as a junior product designer for Crofts and Assinder. I am eternally grateful to BCU for the opportunities that have been made available to me such as selling my products at the Minima Showroom and exhibiting my furniture pieces at New Designers and Young Furniture Makers.”


Charlie in the studio

Charlie Adlem

Without my second-year summer placement at HF Contracts, I simply wouldn’t have my current job. The skills and expertise gained during the 8 weeks were enough for HF to take me on full-time after I graduated.

"It gave me an invaluable taste of the real world that fed into my education, it not only taught me workplace skills but motivated me in my university degree to strive for more and reach my full potential.” 


Hugo Parnell-Hopkinson

In the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to work in a variety of design industries. Consequently, I have collaborated with many remarkable design teams to bring projects from sketches to reality. From luxury wrist-ware technology to cabin designs of bio-fuelled transportation in city centres. Towards the end of 2021, I moved to Hong Kong to further expand my design experience and career. I now work for the Jacal Group, originally a business with its roots in interior design, but more recently a collection of companies devoted to creating beautiful things no matter the industry. I was brought on as their Design Strategist and Project Manager to help direct design decisions within the company. My goal is to launch a product and furniture series alongside my fellow in-house designers for use in new clubhouses and apartments across Hong Kong and China.


Katy in the studio

Katy Thompson

"Currently, I am working as a junior furniture finisher at Matthew Cox. A small (but perfectly formed) furniture company making bespoke, made-to-measure and range pieces in Stamford, Lincs. My job role covers a lot, from sandblasting and metalworking to oiling and painting. I really love my job, working with a great team of like-minded and creative people in a very varied and always interesting role, I feel truly lucky. In the finishing department, we work on everything that comes through from the making department. Projects vary in scale from small stools and chairs to large kitchen islands and grand dining tables. We are the last point of call before the furniture is sent to customers, making my job very important and very rewarding!"


International

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 international students

Our course is popular with students from around the world, particularly China, Hong Kong, Brazil and Malaysia.

Studying abroad is one of the most fulfilling decisions you could make, going away from your country is a bold decision because you have to start a new life from scratch, but that’s the amazing part.

This semester at BCU has been an experience that has broadened my perspective, the university was very welcoming to international students, and the instructors and staff of the program were a tremendous help to learn as much as possible in my time here, offering their guidance in every step I needed and inspiring me to work with many different materials and processes that were new to me. The support towards design is outstanding, and it encouraged me to make an extra effort in all my projects.

Overall, I’m very grateful for this experience and would highly recommend coming here to anyone that is thinking about it.

Paola Buitron Quiroz – Study Abroad Exchange - Mexico

Facilities & Staff

Parkside gallery

Our Facilities

When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the exceptional quality of our campuses. With an investment of over £400 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

You will be based in our multi-million pound Parkside building – a state of the art facility located within our City Centre Campus. Here you will have full access to our recently upgraded, high spec CAD (Computer-Aided-Design) workstations situated within our dedicated computer labs and open access areas. We also provide access to leading edge digital design software, enabling you to explore technical drawing, graphics, 3D modelling, visualization, animation, computation, simulation, and virtual reality.

The Parkside Building is also home to our digital fabrication labs, where you will be able to explore 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC machining, ceramics, glass and traditional model-making, guided by our team of expert technicians with access to our on-site material store, and professional printing facilities.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • Design studios
  • Physical and digital library
  • Loanable laptops
  • Dedicated social spaces
  • Cafés

Take a look around on our virtual walkthroughs

Photo Gallery

From industry-standard software, to our workshops and studio spaces, everything you need will be at your fingertips from day one. Working with our dedicated teaching teams and expert technicians, you'll be supported from concept through to completion.

Making

The Parkside Building is also home to analogue and digital workshops, where you will be able to explore 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC machining, ceramics, wood and metal processes, guided by our team of expert technicians.

Our staff

Jason Nicholson

Product and Furniture Design Course Leader

From a career journey beginning in metalsmithing and related products, Jason has a wide experience in various product design sectors – in particular furniture and lighting design. He has taught across a range of specialist courses, focussing and developing ‘making’ as an integral part of the design process. A ‘hands-on’ member of staff with...

More about Jason

Wayne Pottinger

Product and Furniture Design lecturer

Wayne Pottinger is a lecturer and coordinator of the level five (second year) Product and Furniture Design course. Before joining Birmingham City University Wayne established his own design practice alongside Natalie Cole. Pottinger and Cole’s practice designed and developed products for retail and their objects were stocked in well-respected...

More about Wayne

Emma Jones

Product and Furniture Design Lecturer

Emma is a Lecturer on the BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design program, currently teaching across all three levels of the course. Before joining the Faculty of Architecture, Design, and Media as a full-time member of staff in January 2022, she was a Specialist Lecturer in the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, delivering 3D design...

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Andrew Trujillo

Product and Furniture Design Tutor and Interior Architecture Tutor

Andrew grew up in Colombia, and came to the UK to study a degree in Industrial Design (Transportation). He worked in the marine sector mostly, gaining 30 years of experience and designing yachts from 10M to 107M; Motor and sail, slow and fast. Andrew also designed motor homes, private jet interiors and residential interiors and exteriors, and...

More about Andrew