Reasons to study visual arts in Birmingham
1. Design agencies, studios and arts organisations are on your doorstep
Whether you’re interested in photography, graphic communication, design for performance or illustration you can be sure that you’ll have the chance to work with a host of agencies, studios and arts organisations based in the Midlands and beyond. The opportunities are facilitated through live project briefs, competitions, placements, masterclasses, guest lectures, trips and more.
For example, as part of our partnership with Grain, we hold symposiums, portfolio review days and lectures for BA (Hons) Photography students to get involved in. BA (Hons) Graphic Communication students have also worked with agencies on live project briefs and representatives from local brand communications, marketing, design and web agencies such as Alive!, Digital Glue and FRA Creatives have even come in to give them professional advice on their portfolios.
The close proximity to such organisations also makes Birmingham an ideal place for you to seek out placements during your studies with us and can even lead to acquiring full time roles. BA (Hons) Design for Performance students have previously worked with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Costume Hire and mac Birmingham, giving them a real insight into the creative approaches used in industry.
2. The staff are well informed, skilled and research active
One of our best resources are our staff. Many of them are artists and designers sometimes running their own design business or photography studios. These skills are brought to the studio and classes through lectures and workshops. We strongly believe that by sharing knowledge with one another we learn effectively. Research underpins everything we do and in turn impacts on what students do too.
3. Work with local design and film festivals
Birmingham hosts numerous music, film, food, literary and visual arts festivals giving you ample volunteering opportunities. School of Visual Communication students have recently worked with Flatpack Film Festival, a Birmingham-wide experimental film festival celebrating cinematic and audio-visual invention, and Birmingham Design Festival, a celebration of the local, national and international design industry, in a variety of roles.
Volunteering can be a great way of networking with people in the industry and can even lead to a permanent job as exemplified by BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student Emily Caplan. Emily volunteered at Birmingham Design Festival with the hope of scoping out potential job opportunities and left with a permanent role at global advertising agency McCann Birmingham. Read more about her 130 second interview here.
4. Take part in competitions set by local companies
Working on projects with real organisations gives you invaluable experience and could give your CV the edge when applying for a graduate role. Our city is home to hundreds of companies and the University is often approached with competition opportunities for students. Through competitions our students have designed a tote bag for high street store MUJI Birmingham, painted sculptures for public art events, created packaging for Bee9 Urban Honey and much more!
5. Exhibit your work in the city
When you come to study at BCU you’ll become part of a university that has close connections with the City, projects and initiatives will be offered to us from local businesses and industry partners and your contribution will be of significant value. We always encourage students to take up these opportunities as they can lead to future employment. Students have exhibited in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham New Street Station, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, DanceXchange and a variety of spaces in Digbeth.
6. Be based in the heart of the action
Birmingham is the UK’s second-largest city with a population of around one million people. It is also the youngest major city in Europe, with under-20s accounting for 29% of its population (West Midlands Growth Company) and the second most cost-effective city for students (UNiDAYS 2017). We have excellent transport links giving you easy access to other major cities such as London, where you can exhibit at events such as D&AD New Blood and Free Range. You’ll also be a stone’s throw away from Digbeth, which was previously voted the ‘Coolest Neighbourhood in Britain’ by The Sunday Times' Homes supplement. Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. even filmed scenes for Ready Player One there!
7. Birmingham is a developing city for the 21st Century
In the School of Visual Communication we’re preparing students for a world where technology and digital fluency is going to play a significant part of life, but we’re also giving our students a chance to address important matters such as sustainable living and ecological concerns. We do this through discussion and specifically designed projects.