How to prepare for your course

We often get asked how students can prepare for their course, so help keep you busy over summer, our Course Directors have put together a list of activities you can do to get ready for September.

Art home blog primary


Course Director: Helen Wheeler

Have a go at producing a piece of illustration that in some way encapsulates your thoughts, feelings, hopes or dreams from the past year. This period of time has been different for all of us; mixed emotions, memories, both negative and positive experiences that will be imprinted on us for the rest of our lifetime.

Your illustration could tell a story or convey a feeling. It could feature family and friends, your favourite Netflix series or band. Maybe a new skill you learnt or a project you completed.

Is there something over the past year that you liked? Missed? Hoped for? Reflected on?

The illustration produced should provide a visual narrative for a viewer to share the experience with you. It could be a series of images, or a single, stand-alone print. Your work can be handmade or digital.

We’d love to see what you come up with, so if you do have a go at the task, take a photo of your work and tag us on Instagram using @bcuillustration, or bring it in to show us if you decide to join us in September.

You could also check out the following websites for up-to-date news on illustration and the creative industries as a whole. 

Finally, if you're interested in reading a book about the rich history of recent illustrators, check out 50 Years of Illustration by Lawrence Zeegan.

Art making the most of being at home blog sketchbookPhotography

Course Director: Joe Miles

It’s an exciting time to be studying photography because, as we are sure you’re aware, there is a huge demand for people who can create compelling content and tell interesting stories. The primary focus of all our students is to make work that differentiates them and that demonstrates their technical and creative abilities.

Some things for you to watch

For anyone joining the course we recommend that you watch some of the following, mostly, short videos:

VisCom home CRM blog_photographySome books for you to read

These are a couple of our core course textbooks and you could purchase these, but as soon as you enrol and get your BCU ID you can access them for free through our library.

  • Photography the Key Concepts by David Bate. 
  • Ways of Seeing by John Berger. The TV series this was based on is linked in the previous section.

Something for you to do

When we take photographs we are often asked to tell a complex story with only one image. Obvious examples of this are movie posters, which may convey a montage of different scenes or just show one significant scene expressing something of the content of the movie.

Taking movies as your inspiration, make a photograph that could be used in a poster, which attempts to tell a story of your choice. You can use any story, either one you have read or one you have made up, as your start point. The story you choose does not have to be true. You can use any stylistic approach you wish and you can also add text to the image if it helps give it context.

VisCom home CRM Photography 2It would be great to see what you make, so if you’re planning on joining us in September, please feel free to bring the image with you on a memory stick or as a print to show us.

You can also keep up to date on the latest happenings from the course by following us on Instagram.

VisCom home CRM Foundation

Graphic Communication

Course Director: Chris Morris

Over the summer it’s important to keep drawing, working and developing an awareness of graphic communication. Some useful websites to look at include:

They include all sorts of content from presentations to lectures and podcasts to workshop activities, which will help you to develop your understanding of the subject.

In addition, you could use this time to become familiar with creative agencies and learn more about the work they’re producing. During the course you'll have the opportunity to go on a trip to New York, where we visit several creative agencies to see first-hand how they work. There are a wealth of agencies you could look into, but to start you off take a look at the following:

VisCom CRM home GraphicsFor anyone intending to join the course in September, you may also want to get a head start on the essential reading list:

  • The Advertising Concept Book. A complete guide to creative ideas, strategies and campaigns, Pete Barry.
  • Think Now, Design Later, Thames & Hudson.
  • Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing, Mark Shaw.
  • The Fundamentals of Creative Advertising, Ken Burtenshaw, Nik Mahon, Caroline Barfoot.
  • Teach yourself copywriting for creative advertising, J J Gabay.
  • The Copy book: How 32 of the world’s best advertising writers write their Advertising, Alastair Crompton.

Finally, if you’d like to work on something creative, you could also try doing a task based on things available to you at home. For example, you could put together a sketchbook of ideas based around a subject like typography. Try to find items around the house such as labels or packaging design and add notes about why you find them interesting.

VisCom home CRM Graphics 2

Digital Marketing

Course Director: Chaka Jones

Throughout the duration of the course you will be immersed in real-world, professional advertising and marketing communications. During the summer we run our collaborative practice module in conjunction with the likes of BBC Creative and the British Film Institute.

I thought you might like to have a go at the task last year's students worked on, so if you have some spare time have a go at the following:

Make a three to eight minute video ‘news package’ for BBC News and Current Affairs.

Safely research and report a news story that relates to your own experience of the recent pandemic. As a video journalist you should source appropriate clips, contributors and narration to share as a participant and/or observer. Your content should be in news documentary style, suitable for BBC News or documentary shows on any BBC channel (e.g. Stacey Dooley Investigates on BBC Three or a news bulletin on BBC1) and last no longer than eight minutes in total.

NTI home CRM 2

Foundation Year

Course Director: Jo Newman

Using a random word generator enter the first and last letters of the following word: REJUVENATED.

Generate a new word each day and work creatively on a response that lasts between five minutes to two hours long depending on your surroundings and mood!

Anything is possible – you could film, draw, record with narrative, cook, wash, photograph, sculpt, paint etc.

You can document your results in a sketchbook, on random pieces of found papers/surfaces or on a blog – students on the course successfully use Tumblr for online sketchbooks if you would like to give it a try.

For those empty moments where you are looking for something satisfying to do, but are not sure what it is, take a look at this list of ‘things’ to motivate and inspire.

  • Watch an art film
  • Read CRAFTS – a magazine that’s about more than just traditional crafts!
  • Take a look at it’s nice that, a contemporary arts platform
  • Learn more about figure drawing on this blog
  • If you're doing any kind of design, have a look at this great article about designing to a grid


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