Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
Our diverse and exciting BA Graphic Communication degree course is a must for anyone passionate about graphic design and looking to pursue a career in the creative industries.
Thanks to established links with major advertising agencies, publishing houses and interactive design groups, the course is structured to provide you with industry-relevant skills in the fields of communication, branding, strategy, creative advertising and design, in still and moving images, both in print and online.
Lecturers are well placed to give commercially relevant guidance based on current trends and historical contexts.
Collaboration with other disciplines is encouraged, developing new ideas and connections with subjects such as illustration, photography and film and animation.
Our BA (Hons) Graphic Communication course expects you to stand out through your imaginative thinking, passion and commitment to new ideas and international perspectives. You will study a course that will enhance your design skills and challenge your creative thinking, helping you identify the latest directions in design and advertising communication on a world stage.
We attract independent learners who are creative, imaginative, playful, full of passion and totally aware of the power they possess to facilitate change, inform opinion and make their mark in industry.
In three years you will be engaged in all the practical and intellectual skills as practitioners in an ever-changing commercial environment. Many graduates have gone on to become leaders in their field of specialism and they often return to the University to share this knowledge.
You will immerse yourself in our vibrant creative community, based at our City Centre Campus, where you will find screen-printing, letterpress facilities, Adobe software training rooms and studio facilities to enhance your design work. You will also have the opportunity to study abroad for part of the course, or to go on trips to destinations such as New York, Berlin or Paris.
You will engage with live project briefs with companies and industry partners. These range from local to international and include such companies as the following - Moonpig, NHS, Studio Bonito, McCann Erickson, The Times, Chapter, One Black Bear, Cogent, Leo Burnett London, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, Fluid, Z3, Boxer, Momentum, CBSO, Ikon, Birmingham Hippodrome, John Taylor Hospice, Hello Creatives, DMA, and Saatchi & Saatchi.
Your tutors are enthusiastic about their specialisms, which fosters an invaluable knowledge transfer within the course. We have exceptional levels of external engagement, with visiting lectures given by nationally and internationally-recognised practitioners, as well as having numerous links with industry, workshops, seminars, masterclasses, careers advice, portfolio reviews, mentorships and placements.
"The learning environment we are in has really helped me to develop my creative thinking. We’re able to collaborate with students across different courses which will be a useful skill when going into the world of work, as the majority of creative jobs involve working in a team and collaborating across different areas." Josh Johnson
Our next Virtual Open Day is taking place on Saturday 20 March. It's the perfect opportunity to virtually tour our facilities, hear from some of our staff and get a feel of what it's like to study at BCU.
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information about how we're transforming the futures of creative practitioners.
Zak was worried about starting university but the positive atmosphere at BCU made him feel welcome straight away.
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.
|LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS|
|IELTS||Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.|
|Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications|
|A Level and Advanced VCE||
|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||
|Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)||
|IBO Certificate in Higher Level||
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||
Obtain a minimum of 28 points overall
|Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers)||Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 112 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects.|
|OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma||DMM|
|Scottish Advanced Higher||
|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|
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, 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 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 2021
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2021
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 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.
If your application is progressed, you will be asked to submit a portfolio of your creative work. Your portfolio is your opportunity to show us examples of your work and creative interests to support your application.
If you are a UK home-based student this can be submitted digitally or you can physically bring it in. Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips and advice on putting your portfolio together.
If you are an EU or International student you will be asked to submit a digital portfolio as part of your application. Please see our international portfolio guidance page for guidance on how to create and submit your portfolio.
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.
As part of your course you will become a professional member of Design and Art Direction (D&AD). D&AD is a British educational charity, which exists to promote excellence in design and advertising. Your membership could culminate in you showcasing and exhibiting your work in London in your final year of study.
You will become a member of the Paper Library, a resource for designers, creatives and brands. The library features thousands of paper, boards, packaging materials, coverings and foils from the world’s leading mills and producers, as well as exemplary samples of print and packaging. This is a resource that will help you to become proficient at ordering and selecting the appropriate stock for your design work.
All students are provided with access to the online training site Lynda.com and Adobe accreditation is also available for all students.
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.
During your first year, you may need to budget for initial design equipment and materials, and in your final year you will be expected to invest in a portfolio to present your final work for assessment (advice will be given on sourcing the most cost-effective suppliers).
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.
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.
Your first year of study will introduce you to the basic skills and critical framework within Graphic Communication. You will be taught through a series of modules, which provide you with the knowledge to further explore this ever-expanding discipline.
You will develop skills that encompass composition, line, form, narrative, type, imagery, colour, juxtaposition and ideation. From these fundamental principles, you can tailor the remainder of the course to areas of graphic communication that are of particular interest to you and your future career aims. Through your modules you will discover the application and use of colour, light, scale, composition, the typographic hierarchy, motion design, UI and interactive design.
Fundamental visual communication issues will be addressed through a series of core lectures and theory seminars. You will also have the opportunity to work with other students from across the School by selecting one of five in house options.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):
This module introduces the universal principles and theories of visual communication, celebrating the wider opportunities for interdisciplinary practice within the School. The aim of the module is not only to introduce you to the principles within your own chosen subject area, but also to provide opportunities to take workshops in other subject areas, seek advice from experts in other disciplines and work collaboratively with students from across the Visual Communication subject areas.
The aim of this module is to emphasize the importance of research through an engagement with historical and contemporary concepts. The project(s) will focus on aspects of typographic communication, advertising and branding, supported by digital platforms and examine how we communicate ideas in new and imaginative ways.
This module will focus on how graphic designers can play an active and creative role in society, looking at the way designers are bypassing traditional working models and developing their own voice as independent thinkers/creators. It will engage students in active learning towards producing for example, a publication for an exhibition, conference, symposium, trade fair or event.
Throughout L4, a series of Perspectives lectures will be delivered on a regular basis, exploring a wide range of themes appropriate to the analysis and production of visual communication outcomes. These lectures will be coupled with studio-based discussions and/or activities considering discipline-specific research. Discourse follows on from this lecture series, and is a module in which you will produce a written response. The module, and preceding lecture series, will supply you with a broad contextual framework that will underpin your practice.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:
The ‘Space and Place’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.
The ‘Time and Sequence’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.
The ‘Sound and Movement’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.
The ‘Text and Image’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.
The ‘People and Identity’ optional L4 module is designed to equip students with a good understanding of the issues surrounding these two areas. This will be achieved through a conceptual and practical understanding of the narrative process.
Through a combination of theory and experiment, you will learn how to evaluate and apply principles to practice, and will receive opportunities for placement, field study, collaborative and interdisciplinary work. We shall help you to develop your own personal direction, focusing towards the establishment of a specialised and flexible area of practice.
You will learn how to effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences. You will enhance your ability to work collaboratively within a working environment, demonstrating knowledge of the main methods of enquiry within the field.
You will develop your critical awareness, individual style and perspective and. You will formulate approaches to solving problems, helping you to further understand the creative role, opportunities and responsibility of the contemporary designer.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 credits):
In this module students will interpret their own practice in the context of the professional world and consider communicating in a wide range of ways. The focus will be addressing the world of graphic communication in a professional context. Interrogation of studio practice with live briefs and competitions will allow students to expand their knowledge of graphic design, advertising and branding.
This flexible module reflects upon the range of experiences in Level 4 and Level 5 to allow you to identify a specific direction for your own practice and future aspirations. This will then form the initial stage and design of your Level 6 study. In this module, you will explore possible approaches, areas of research and projects that will help define your area of practice.
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.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:
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+.
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.
During your final year of study you will be supported in establishing the confidence to acknowledge and assert your own distinctive work identity. You will be required to demonstrate within your work a particular view of what constitutes a design proposition.
You will enhance your communication skills, allowing you to develop confidence and understanding, allowing you to capably articulate your views and knowledge to others.
The final year of the programme is designed to help you demonstrate a systematic, extensive and advanced knowledge of contemporary Graphic Communication. You shall work autonomously or collaboratively to a professional standard on self-generated projects, with creativity and imagination.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):
Level 6 Critical Practice constitutes a step progression from Level 5, building and elaborating a more advanced expansion of study.
Critical Practice provides the opportunity to adopt an increasingly autonomous commitment to the individually chosen direction(s), from the wide spectrum of Visual Communication and Creative Design Practice. These directions are established with guidance and academic rigour through individual tutorials, guest professionals, workshops, group discussion and peer participation.
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.
Students successfully collaborated with photography and fashion staff and students to create a look book. This substantial editorial was professionally designed and printed. The students' involvement included design, art direction, typographic hierarchy, editing, production and setting up the editorial for print.
Our final-year students engage with briefs which have social benefits as well as experimentation and commercial outcomes.
The following students work are exemplars of these aspects:
Watch one of our first year Visual Communication students learn to draw and design in a 3D space. See how Virtual Reality can become a source of creative inspiration.
While you study the course you will be offered opportunities to go on group excursions both in the UK and abroad. There are usually three overseas trips a year, which we offer both at subject level, as well as School level, to Venice, New York and Berlin.
Locations do alter each year to allow for students to experience a range of cities. We always put on UK study trips to places such as London, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool. Where possible, UK trips are free or heavily subsidised.
As a Visual Communication student, you’ll be encouraged to take advantage of these trips as we see them as adding extra value to your course and they do offer additional research opportunities.
Take a look at our blog to see the latest news and events from the School and get an insight into life as a Graphic Communication, Illustration, Photography or Design for Performance student here.
As graduating students you will follow your own career path, which may mean going straight into industry. However, many students look at the opportunities we offer for postgraduate study at the University.
The School runs a one-year MA Visual Communication course as a natural progression from its undergraduate courses. You will be encouraged to continue your journey with us and develop your practice further.
Our students are required to achieve all of the learning outcomes set by the Graphic Communication course and pursue excellence by engaging with competition and live briefs.
Practice-led, knowledge-applied education is facilitated by you engaging and participating in workshops, lectures and seminars. The curriculum and live briefs will sharpen and improve your employability skills and prospects.
Internationalisation of the student cohort, links with Erasmus+ and Birmingham City University’s strong links with China, Malaysia and Thailand offer you a varied global curriculum.
You are required to develop strong networks, identifying opportunities and work placements appropriate to your practice. Visits to companies, interviews and live projects are an excellent way to introduce you and to develop these links. More formal placements have included opportunities with IE Design, Green Room and Fluid, along with various graphic design opportunities including editorial design, branding and art direction.
Summer placements with high-profile companies Z3, TDL and most recently White October have been offered as rewards for live project initiatives. These prestigious opportunities allow students to gain a real insight into the creative approaches used by these organisations.
Our partnerships with industry include the following: day briefs, live briefs, competitions, pitches, curriculum development and awards ceremonies. Live project partnerships include NHS, Beehive, Studio Bonito, McCann Erickson, The Times Newspaper Group, Chapter, One Black Bear, Cogent, Leo Burnett London and more.Take a look at how students have worked with industry here.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.
Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.
The School of Visual Communication offers a broad education as well as the very specific subject skills. We see many graduates working in the creative industries, but also in a variety of employment from management, education, tourism, marketing and freelance business.
Industry demands are constantly changing, so it’s important that we prepare you for all eventualities. The internationalisation components mean you are made aware of global expectations and the possibilities of work outside the UK. All modules have transferable skills built into the teaching, meaning you are able to apply your knowledge to a variety of tasks and challenges.
Graphic Communication graduates work in a range of careers including:
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:
Students come to study in the School of Visual Communication from all over the world but we have nurtured some long-standing relationships with Malaysia, Thailand, China and India.
If you are a student from these countries, or any other, you should consider studying with us as we offer a wide curriculum that has internationalization built into the modules. We actively encourage trans-disciplinary teaching, group projects and have established relationships with colleges and industry overseas.
We take a pride in developing strong creative communities and these thrive on the injection of different cultural experiences. To develop a sense of sharing all experiences and ideas is fundamental to the philosophy of Visual Communication.
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.
Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £62 million Parkside Building, part of our City Centre Campus.
We offer extensive studio and workshop space and cutting-edge equipment such as Vicon 3D (an external tracking motion capture facility) and Gypsy (an exoskeleton-based motion capture system). Both of these systems extend the possibility for production of 3D animation and films.
You will enjoy access to our Hollywood standard MILO unit. We were the first School of Visual Communication in Europe to offer MILO motion capture technology, now one of only two owned by Universities in Europe.
We offer cutting-edge provision such as digital print centres and Sonny Ross became the first student on the Visual Communication course to master the art of the RISO machine. He has since used this to produce many successful RISO publications including “Rojo & Baxter” which has been a success at various zine and book fairs across the country.
We have fantastic letterpress and screen printing facilities and typographic archives as part of our facilities. We offer book-binding and printing techniques as part of the course. Students also have access to 3D printing and wood workshop facilities within the building.
Students from Graphic Communication also have the opportunity to use letterpress and printing in the Winterbourne Press with lecturer Rebecca Howson.
All staff are practitioners in their field and are currently designing or researching in the following areas: typography, wayfinding, interactive design, motion graphics, brand and UI, packaging, print making and letterpress.
Our staff have professional profiles which include designing at agencies such as: Pentagram, Nucleus Design, Luxon Carra, Williams & Phoa, Sony, NHS, Stocks Taylor Benson, Wyatt International, Currentstate, Keanebrands, Purelm, Green Room and Fish in a Bottle.
Visiting tutors include Rebecca Foster and Brian Sheppard who have strong industry profiles and current practices in branding and advertising respectively.
Colette is Associate Professor of Wayfinding and Inclusive Design. She has a Doctorate in navigation, wayfinding and architecture and is an expert in why people get lost inside buildings having devised wayfinding strategies for over 30 NHS hospitals, the Natural History Museum in London, Tower Bridge, Wembley Arena, Heathrow Airport and shopping centres in Dublin and Dubai.
At Birmingham City University, Colette teaches Graphic Communication at undergraduate level in BICA, teaches students in Wuhan China studying at BIFCA, and supervises PhD students exploring any aspect of wayfinding and visual communication. Before joining BCU in 2009, Colette worked for over 15 years as a graphic designer, wayfinding consultant, project director and inclusive design director at Brand Union and Applied Wayfinding in London, having trained at the Information Design Unit. Whilst at IDU, she researched and co-wrote the official NHS book on wayfinding for hospitals. Colette continues to have research and design work published in many international journals and books (see Publications link below).
Colette is Board Member and a Trustee of the Royal Institute of Navigation and is a Director and co-Chair of the Sign Design Society, two international professional organisations representing people involved in all aspects of navigation and wayfinding. For both organisations, Colette is a Higher Education lead and is actively involved in supporting students and graduates to get involved in the wayfinding and navigation industries.