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Design for Future Living - BA (Hons)

  • UCAS Code: 1041
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Starting: September 2021
  • Study mode: Full Time (3 years)
  • Location: City Centre

We live in a time of rapid social, economic and environmental change. Demand for housing is increasing, but not enough new homes are being built. Not only that, home ownership is out of reach for a lot of people. The type of housing we need is changing, and this course will give you the opportunity to meet these challenges head on.

Design for Future Living aims to develop exciting and innovative design thinking, questioning preconceptions about how society lives now and into the future. Developed in collaboration with TV architect George Clarke’s Ministry of Building, Innovation and Education (MOBIE), the course places you at the forefront of the next generation of designers tackling the design and delivery of new homes. You could break new ground through an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to designing for future living.The course prepares a new model of creative, skilled and disruptive designer with knowledge of home, digital technologies and creative design.

What's covered in the course?

How we live affects us all. Housing is a basic human right but what we produce doesn’t always meet today’s needs. Our homes should be smart, well designed and affordable; they should create a sense of community, respect the environment and support changing family structures. We urgently need new design thinking to revolutionise how we live.

The BA (Hons) Design for Future Living is a unique opportunity for you to lead the way in designing how and where we live. Through innovative ideas, new design methods, advanced technologies and entrepreneurial skills, you will critique, challenge and disrupt traditional thinking around the idea of ‘home’ and develop radical alternatives.

Design - the course embodies our ethos of “design through the scales”, from product design, furniture, interior spaces and architecture to urban design. In the final year, you will have the opportunity to pursue your own interests through a major project.

Make – we have a tradition and pre-occupation with “making”, inspired by Birmingham’s industrial and artisan heritage, making this an ideal setting for exploring new approaches to the production and manufacture of homes. Using our workshops and the city beyond, you will explore advanced materials, digital and analogue fabrication and technology transfer from product design, manufacturing and industry.

Live – we see houses not as ‘one size fits all’ units but as homes for specific users in specific places. Throughout the course, you will be challenged to consider the implications of your designs on how people live.

The course prepares a new model of creative, skilled and disruptive designers with knowledge of how new understandings of home, digital technologies and creative design can shape the places we live.

George Clarke

Why Choose Us?

  • Work on a wide range of briefs from product design, to architecture, to urban design.
  • You will gain unique knowledge of how new understandings of home, digital technologies and creative design can shape the places we live.
  • Developed in collaboration with TV Architect George Clarke’s MOBIE, offering a unique opportunity to engage with industry leaders.
  • You’ll gain real industry experience through a valuable work placement.
  • Take part in Co.LAB, our interdisciplinary live project initiative based within the School.
  • Birmingham School of Architecture and Design is highly respected and has a rich history of providing education and opportunities. It celebrated its centenary in 2009.

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our Virtual Open Day for this course will take place on 22 November 2020. Book now and we will email you with a link to the Virtual Open Day for your subject area of choice.

Register your interest

This course is open to International students

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Discover Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

This course is developed in collaboration with:

mobie logo

Employment pathways might include:
  • Design: architectural practices, design agencies.
  • Delivery: prefabrication industries, house builders, off-site manufacturing industries (such as yachts or caravans).
  • Development: developers, housing associations, policy makers and local authorities.

Entry Requirements

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

Essential Requirements

112 UCAS points.

  • GCSE English Language at grade C/4 or above
  • GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above
  • No level 2 equivalent qualifications can be accepted
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level) See level 3 entry under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details
Scottish National 5
  • English Language at grade C or above
  • Maths at grade C or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
IELTS Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • BBC / 112 UCAS points
  • A maximum of 4 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.
AS and AS VCE Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 112 pts
Access to HE Diploma
  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3 with 18 credits at merit or distinction
  • Construction, Planning, Built Environment subjects preferred but other subjects also considered
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)
Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)
  • Distinction
  • Can be considered alongside other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 112 pts
IBO Certificate in Higher Level
  • 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
  • Considered with other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 112 UCAS Tariff Points
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level Maths, grade 5 or above from the IB Diploma will be accepted
International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • Obtain a minimum of 28 points overall
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level Maths, grade 5 or above from the IB Diploma will be accepted
Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers) Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 112 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language and Maths taken at either Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma DMM
Scottish Advanced Higher
  • Achieve a minimum of 112 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades CCD
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of CD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of CC in two Highers).
  • Merit overall
  • Design, Surveying and Planning T Level considered
UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design Merit overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology Merit overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts Merit overall
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.

Additional information for EU/International students

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

Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.

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).

Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.


International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

Mature Applicants

Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.

Don’t meet our entry requirements?

You could apply for a foundation course or a course at our International College. These routes have lower entry requirements and act as the bridge to a full degree. To find out more, please select your status:

Home student International student

  • UK students
  • International students

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2021

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

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.

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
 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

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.

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.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

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

Additional costs

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.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

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.

Worried about personal statements?

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

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

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.

Year one

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

History of Modern Architecture and Design
20 credits

This module engages with the key design ideologies of the 20th Century. The History of Western Architecture has an on-going complex relationship with Modernism. Despite having moved beyond Modernism and post-modernism, at the beginning of the 21st Century, the designed environment we live in; buildings, furniture, interiors and the public realm, still holds traces of and responds to elements of the Modernist ideologies. (VAM, 2006)

How We Live(d)
20 credits

The past decades have seen profound shifts in how we live. Patterns of life are changing; new forms of living, social change, digital media and advanced technologies are challenging traditional models of home. Demand for housing is not being matched by supply, and many of the homes built are either in the wrong place or not the types of home we need. Expectations of what a new home is and does are also changing.

Through weekly lectures and seminars, you will be introduced to an overview of the evolution of current housing markets and the conditions affecting contemporary housing design and delivery. Starting from a historical perspective, the module explores theories and models of home ownership, development patterns, regulations, legislation and planning policy affecting housing delivery, illustrating the complexities of designing homes fit for the future.

Technology Transfer
20 credits

In this module, you will explore the growth of offsite manufacture and parallel industries with potential to transfer technology into the house building sector. Since the 1998 Egan Review ‘Rethinking Construction’, prefabrication, off site manufacture or Modern Methods of Construction have been seen as a key approach to boosting innovation and productivity in the construction industry. While a recurring theme, its potential has yet to be fully realised.

Through seminars and practical workshops, you will gain an understanding of the principles and processes used in factory based and off site manufacture across a range of industries. 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.

20 credits

Inhabit introduces students to design for an inhabitant, considering scale and ergonomics in the development of design proposals.

It introduces a broad range of skills for communication and representation of design through the use of basic design projects. These projects and tasks provide solution-based opportunities to develop knowledge and understanding of the design process. This could include research methods, design thinking, brainstorming, brief analysis, and human factors, explored through an iterative, non-linear design cycle reflecting the nature of the built environment. The module will introduce mechanisms of expression, exploration and representation and will enable you to develop ideas and identify future creative directions.

Future Homes 1
40 credits

This studio-based module develops your skills in three-dimensional design at the scale of the single dwelling. It uses the design of a single home as a vehicle to challenge preconceptions about what a home is and how we live. This is explored at the scale of retrofit or adaptation of a single existing dwelling and a new build dwelling. Design studies within this module will typically relate to representing spaces and their relationships, inhabitation, experience, scale, privacy, environment and material quality.

Year two

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

20 credits

Through seminars and practical workshops, the module explores how processes such as building information modelling (BIM), virtual reality, digital fabrication and off-site manufacture are revolutionising the procurement and construction of homes. As well as learning about software used in production of components and buildings you will explore the impact of different approaches on design teams, project timescales and on site.

Housing and Community
20 credits

This studio-based module builds on Future Homes 1 to introduce concepts of urban design through the design of multiple homes and the relationships between them. Working at the scale of a housing development, the module asks you to design a number of different house typologies and combine these into a housing development. Through design studies you will explore concepts and principles of best practice urban design, for example public and private space, thresholds, overlooking, access, context and sustainability.

20 credits

Praxis is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, practiced, embodied, or realised. Praxis may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realising, or practicing ideas.

We understand that not all of our graduates will go on to become practicing Architects. An architectural education, particularly the degree course, is a well-rounded education that can lead into numerous other career paths as well as the route to professional qualification. With this in mind we have a clear roadmap for our students in terms of professional knowledge, business awareness, and transferrable skills.

20 credits

The Birmingham School of Architecture and Design occupies a distinctive interdisciplinary territory between the study and practices of the creative arts with the built environment professions.

Links with the professional context are reinforced through alumni, renowned tutors, events and live research projects. Equally, the School’s position within ADM means that students and staff are well connected to the creative scene of the city.

CO.LAB (the Collaborative Laboratory) is a vehicle for a range of projects that seek to directly engage students with this dynamic context. It is an opportunity for students to work with individuals and groups outside of their discipline area, engaging in a broad creative network.

Future Homes 2
40 credits

This studio-based module will introduce you to the principles of co-housing design. Learning from exemplars across the UK and beyond, you will carry out design explorations at the scale of the home and community to consider the dynamics of individual and collective experiences of future living.

Year three

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

20 credits

The module asks you to develop a research process through analysis of a case study in a rigorous academic format before developing your own systems, made and tested at a large scale. Case studies, related to the overarching theme of Year three modules, are used to develop questions around current and future systems for the production of places to live. You will then use the physical and/or digital workshop facilities to fabricate, assemble and analyse your design response in practical, strategic and/or architectural terms.

Design Entrepreneurship
20 credits

The module introduces you to the business of design and the role of design management. It involves you in a series of engaging lectures and workshops which explore the world of design practice and how complex design problems can be addressed. The teaching and learning will cover design business structures, business planning, entrepreneurship, collaboration and leadership, psychometric design strategy, design thinking and innovation.

Throughout the module, you will work both independently and collaboratively, with students from a range of design disciplines to research and investigate how to set up and sustain a design business. You will study the practice of design and explore a range of models and theories, whilst conducting primary and secondary research methodology, applying analysis, synthesis and critical argument.

Design Project Management
20 credits

The emphasis of the teaching and learning will be based on design project management, design finance, project finance, intellectual property rights, personal professionalism, and presentation skills, whilst demonstrating how to create a proposal. You will apply these models, theories and principles to your studies and utilise your research skills developed throughout the course to formulate a highly structured and well-narrated and convincing project proposal.

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.

Designing across the scales from product design to architecture to the city, you will have unique skills making you ideally placed to develop new approaches to the homes of the future.

Your projects will explore objects, spaces for living and future homes and communities. Through hands on experience you will understand the potential of new technologies and technology transfer. Working individually and in team-based activities, you will develop your professional and entrepreneurial skills ready for industry.

The course goes beyond lectures and gives you great opportunities. Interdisciplinary working is part of our ethos; you'll be part of Co.LAB, a collaborative architecture and design initiative within the School working on live projects. This engagement with one-to-one scale interventions and real-world practice helps you to become a more rounded and responsive designer.

As part of the Praxis module, you will undertake a work placement during year two, with options including design practice, construction, manufacture, developer, and more. This engagement with one-to-one scale interventions with students and staff from various disciplines, external partners and real-world practice helps you to become a more rounded and responsive professional.

The collaboration with MOBIE brings a wealth of knowledge and industry connections to the course.

Study and work abroad

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

This course is developed in collaboration with:

mobie logo

The BA (Hons) Design for Future Living programme is located within the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design.

The course builds upon the School’s employability driven reputation, by providing students with the knowledge and skills to work in industry.

The collaboration with MOBIE brings a wealth of knowledge and industry connections to the course.

As well as gaining course-specific skills, you could also gain broader tools through our Graduate+ programme, which will help enhance your employment options by helping with careers development, employability activities, volunteering and part-time work experience.

Allied with these course-specific experiences, you will also have access to a range of support staff and services from the University’s Careers Service, who can help with:

  • Reviewing CVs, covering letters and application forms
  • Career planning and decision making
  • Preparing for interviews and assessment centres
  • Developing portfolios
  • Networking with employers
  • Advice about self-employment and entrepreneurship


As part of our commitment to developing the essential skills required as part of the BA (Hons) Design for Future Living, we have continued to develop the two-week, assessed work placement scheme in Year Two. The placement is part of the PRAXIS (Management Practice and Law) module and takes place towards the end of the academic year.

While on placement, organisations are encouraged to provide you with a wide range of activities, including meetings, site visits and design reviews, as well as developing additional writing, CAD and graphic skills.

More about our placement opportunities...


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.


BCU Graduate+

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.

More about Graduate+
This course is developed in collaboration with:

mobie logo

Employment pathways might include:
  • Design: architectural practices, design agencies.
  • Delivery: prefabrication industries, house builders, off-site manufacturing industries (such as yachts or caravans).
  • Development: developers, housing associations, policy makers and local authorities.

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:

The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations

The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations for international students.

The first-class experience offered by universities are reflected in the world’s largest survey of international students. International students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

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

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

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:

  • Design studios
  • Computer and project laboratories
  • Social learning space
  • Café
  • Meeting point

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. 

Dr Matthew Jones

Associate Professor and Director of Technical Studies

Matthew is a qualified architect and Director of Technical Studies at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. As well as overseeing technical input across the School he teaches in the architectural design studios.

A graduate of the Welsh School of Architecture (WSA), Matthew worked at the Young Architect of the Year Award finalists Design Research Unit Wales (DRU-w) and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Architects before founding his practice, Coombs Jones. He taught at the Welsh School of Architecture and the University of the West of England (UWE) before joining BSoAD in 2019.

Matthew’s PhD by design explored place specific approaches to the development of rural towns, a theme he continues to explore through practice and research. He is currently writing a book for RIBA Publishing, ‘Transforming Towns’, which aims to demonstrate the potential of contemporary architecture to positively transform small towns and villages in the UK. He has further experience in socially engaged and participatory place making, community-led planning, public engagement and university-community live projects.

He recently organised a conference in partnership with the research group AMPS exploring health and wellbeing in the built environment from which an edited book has recently been published. Matthew was a judge for the RIBA President's Awards for Research 2017.

Read Matthew's full profile