Subject Leader - Art & Design
Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology
Graphic Communication Design BA (Hons)
BA with Foundation: W211
Full Time: 3 years
Full Time Foundation: 4 years
Fees UK 23/24:
Full Time: £9,250
Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250
Fees International 23/24:
Full Time: £14,750
Integrated Foundation Year: £14,750
Get in touch
For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:
This programme was previously titled Graphic Communication BA (Hons)
Graphic Communication Design BA (Hons) explores the communication of ideas and messages to diverse and evolving audiences through a dynamic range of media that highlights the potential of what design can achieve.
Studio culture is at the heart of the Graphic Communication Design programme, naturally fostering the creativity, collaboration and debate that inspire personal perspectives on design. Students experiment with a range of traditional processes and emerging technologies to challenge established conventions of image-making and meaning.
Through engaging with real-world problems, social issues and commercial scenarios students develop critical, reflective and professional skills that will prepare them for the ever-changing creative industries.
On Graphic Communication Design BA (Hons) you will have access to specialist resources, regular guest lecturers and industry contacts, as well as the opportunity to work with live commercial briefs, international competitions, and social impact initiatives. In recent years, several of our students have either been shortlisted or have gone on to win international design competitions, such as Penguin Cover Design Award, and D&AD New Blood awards.
Along with exhibiting your work in your final year Degree Show, we have had students participate in D&AD’s ‘New Blood’ and the ‘New Designers’ industry graduate degree showcases in London.
- Dedicated GCD design studio with access to Macbooks, creative software, cameras and lighting kits, sound and print facilities.
- High-quality teaching from experienced practising designers and educators.
- Participate in social design projects.
- Work based learning through live commercial projects with a real focus on your future career, with employability modules in all years of the course.
- Success with national and international competitions.
- Study trips and cultural visits.
- Technical support and specialist workshop demonstrations.
- Regular input from industry professionals.
- Guaranteed paid internship with the Northampton Employment Promise.
- HP Laptop and software included with this course, see Eligibility criteria and Terms and Conditions.
At the heart of our programme is the creation of visual ideas that convey a message – this could be to sell, entertain or solve a commercial problem, or to expand awareness and understanding of an issue, or to influence and persuade people to think about or see something in a different way.
We do this through considered, well researched and tested design solutions and use targeted technologies and channels to reach out and make a difference – the successful communication of a message is determined by its effective design; this is how we influence, create an emotion, and have impact.
We explore Graphic Communication Design through commercial, social, cultural, and environmental issues via a mix of practical work, critical study, live industry projects and design competition briefs. You’ll be taught in various ways including large and small group teaching, lectures, workshops and individual tutorials, group presentations and seminars, and we do this through a combination of face to face and online teaching, exploring digital media and software alongside craft skills such as print making, 3D and photography.
We look at 4 areas on the course, these are:
Commercial – here we develop your technical skills, practice the principals of graphic design and apply these to commercial projects and briefs – this includes understanding how audiences think and respond, and how we approach and manage the design process to create effective solutions.
Experimental – here we encourage your individual responses to themes and issues that are not commercially focused – we challenge you to use your visual skills be used to convey complex and thought-provoking messages, and we develop your ability to see differently, think differently and explore different mediums and formats.
Changemaker – here we focus on Graphic Communication Design’s role as a force for positive change through projects that explore social, ethical and environmental concerns. You are encouraged to develop empathetic and mindful approaches using your creative skills for progress and transformation.
Professional and Critical – here we expose you to the wider creative industries, the various roles and skills needed to work as a professional designer and how the business of design works. Additionally, we explore the development of visual culture and how it’s affected us and our world, and how we and others see and understand the world around us. Along with this you develop your research abilities and your reflective and analytical writing skills.
What do our students go on to do with these skills?
When graduated our students go on to work in a wide range of creative roles; some go on to work in agencies, some work as freelancers, some start their own businesses, producing work across branding, advertising, illustration, editorial and publishing, film and moving image, interactive and online design, UX and UI, packaging and photography. Additionally, some go on to post graduate education to further enhance their skills and knowledge.
There is a wide range of career and post graduate options for you to explore, so throughout the 3 years on the course, we will help you to identify and focus in on what your skills and interests are. Through your modules and the teaching and support from your lecturers, by the end of your 3rd year you will have had the opportunity to work on a detailed career plan that will set you on your path.
Penguin Cover Design and the D&AD The New Blood Awards
Both the Penguin Cover Design and the D&AD The New Blood Awards are an invaluable introduction to the reality of working in the creative industry and gets your work seen by some of the biggest names in the creative industry. Students on our Graphic Communication Design BA (Hons) course have been regular winners over the many years.
Our students are regularly shortlisted listed for the Penguin Cover Design Award and this year was no different. We had two students shortlisted – Evy Diepenbroek and Karla Ayree for the Adult Fiction category, with Karla beating hundreds of fellow designers from across the country to win the prestigious national prize.
Karla was named winner of the prestigious awards ceremony in June for her cover design for ‘Girl, Women, Other’ by Bernardine Evaristo.
Evy Diepenbroek’s design was shortlisted for the same prize
See all winners and shortlisted designers here – Penguin Random House Design award.
We also had success in the D&AD New blood competition last year with our 2022 graduating student Laura Tucker winning a pencil for her Giff Gaff Recycling animation.
Employability Gold Award
By completing certain core modules in your first, second and third year, you will obtain the Northampton Employability Gold Award. This will be a reflection of how you have developed your employability during the course and mean that you qualify for the Northampton Promise. The Northampton Promise means that if you are unemployed twelve months after graduation the University will find you a paid three to six month internship.
Please note the modules shown here relate to the academic year 22/23. The modules relating to the academic year 23/24 will be available from June 2023.
Principles and Processes (40 Credits)
Module code: 2DD1038Status: CompulsoryThis module introduces the fundamentals of Graphic Communication Design principles and process in a playful and open environment where risk taking is actively encouraged. Students explore traditional and experimental skills for digital and analogue processes. Lateral thinking, ideation and creative responses are at the heart of the module.
Contemporary Conversations - Challenging Issues (20 Credits)
Module code: 2DD1039Status: CompulsoryThe module introduces the students to challenging issues within contemporary Graphic Communication Design conversations. The conversations encourage students to explore the practitioner?s responsibilities, sensory experiences, social tensions and critical ideas that underpin creative practice.
Design in Action (40 Credits)
Module code: 2DD1040Status: CompulsoryThe purpose of this module is to put the principles of Graphic Communication Design into action, using creative and technical skills in real-world applications. Project briefs focus on understanding varied themes and the role of audiences and other stakeholders in the creation of targeted design solutions.
Exploring the Creative Industries (20 Credits)
Module code: 2DD1041Status: CompulsoryThe purpose of this module is to explore and understand how the creative industries work and are continuously adapting to contemporary cultures. Students will define the essential characteristics of a professional graphic communicator and be introduced to the variety of roles within the creative sectors.
- Principles and Processes (40 Credits)
Industry in Action (40 Credits)
Module code: 2DD2028Status: CompulsoryThis module develops students? ability to creatively respond to Graphic Communication Design challenges through real-world problem solving exercises. Students apply professional practice skills to live projects and competition briefs, navigating the needs of different audiences and the complex demands of commercial design practice.
Developing Dialogues - Matters of Concern (20 Credits)
Module code: 2DD2029Status: CompulsoryThrough this module students encounter different perspectives about the changing processes and politics of cultural and creative institutions. The module enables students to navigate multiple conceptual positions in order to identify their creative and personal matters of concern within their practice and wider dialogues.
Changemaker - Design and the Community (40 Credits)
Module code: 2DD2030Status: CompulsoryThis module focuses on Graphic Communication Design?s role as a force for positive change through projects that explore social, ethical and environmental concerns. Students are encouraged to develop empathic and mindful approaches to communication using their creative skills for progress and transformation in local and global contexts.
Emerging Spaces and Practices (20 Credits)
Module code: 2DD2031Status: CompulsoryThis module explores the boundaries of the ever-changing and contemporary creative industries, including design as a speculative practice. Students experiment and take creative risks through new and emerging ways of working, challenging conventions to define new personal visual languages and environments in which innovative communication design can be experienced.
- Industry in Action (40 Credits)
Preparing for industry (20 Credits)
Module code: 2DD3012Status: CompulsoryThe purpose of this module is for students to confidently define their post-graduation trajectory. Students will develop and apply interpersonal skills and industry knowledge to a range of work models from the evolving creative industries. This module concludes with a detailed presentation outlining the students? professional intentions.
Professional Portfolio (40 Credits)
Module code: 2DD3013Status: CompulsoryThis module enables students to establish a professional graduate portfolio through a series of industry-related briefs covering a range of contemporary design practices. Impactful ideas targeted at defined audiences are central to this module, with students encouraged to take risks and explore new and emerging ways of working and communicating.
Major Project (60 Credits)
Module code: 2DD4007Status: CompulsoryThe purpose of this module is to develop a progressive and impactful body of practice and writing, based on thorough critical research into an area of personal interest within contemporary visual culture. Outcomes will form a significant part of the graduate?s portfolio, showcasing specialisms within contemporary graphic communication design.
- Preparing for industry (20 Credits)
Your taught study will be a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and technical demonstrations, usually for 15 hours per week, depending on your level of study. In addition, we recommend that you spend around 10 hours per week in self-directed study time. You will have access to technical facilities and studies outside of taught time.
Standard entry requirements apply. A typical offer would be:
- BCC at A-Level or,
- DMM at BTEC or,
- Pass (C and above) at T Level
A Foundation Diploma in Art and Design will also be accepted.
Applicants are interviewed and are requested to provide a portfolio of their own work in Art and Design. International students may submit their portfolio electronically. Students with a relevant HND or Foundation Degree with a suitable profile of achievement may be admitted onto year two or three.
For more more information on how to make an application, please visit our How to Apply page.
If you are an International student and would like information on making an application, please see our How to Apply page.
Integrated Foundation Year Entry Requirements
Admission to this foundation programme is normally:
- DEE at A-Level or,
- MPP at BTEC or,
- Pass (D or E) at T Level
However, we would also like to hear from you if you have professional or industry experience instead, a range of other qualifications or self-developed subject knowledge that relates to the programme you wish to study.
English Language Requirements
All International and EU students applying for a course with us must meet the following minimum English language requirements:
- IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) with a minimum of 5.5 in all bands
for study at undergraduate level
For information regarding English language requirements at the University, please see our IELTS page.
2023/24 Tuition Fees
Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 23/24 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.
- UK – Full Time: £9,250
- UK – Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250
- International – Full Time: £14,750
- International – Integrated Foundation Year: £14,750
2022/23 Tuition Fees
Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 22/23 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.
- UK Full Time: £9,250
- UK Integrated Foundation Year: £9,250 for the foundation year; thereafter standard fees apply
- International Full Time: £14,000
- International Integrated Foundation Year: £14,000 for the foundation year; thereafter standard fees apply
Materials, Events and Visits
Materials for workshops, entry to competitions associated with your programme of study, and those visits that are necessary for your course are all made available at no additional charge.
We recommend that you budget for additional printing costs (approximately £30 per year for laser and large format printing) and any specialist design materials that you may require (£50 or more depending on materials) per year.
There are optional trips, both within the UK and overseas: UK visits and Trips will cost approximately £50 per year. Overseas trips or visits will cost approximately £350 per trip
The 3rd year Degree Show held in the summer additionally requires contributions [or your own fund-raising activities] to support the funding of a catalogue and marketing materials costing approximately £20 each, along with further contributions to exhibit at the off-site Graduate Design shows in London, approximately £25 each.
As part of our course, you will get a free subscription to the full Adobe Creative suite for the duration of your course and we have our own suite of MacBooks to use in our design studios and access to iMacs however, if able, buying your own Apple computer is recommended.
As you will expect on an Art and Design course, you’ll be expected to provide your own day to day art and design materials such as sketchbooks, pens, pencils, markers, rulers etc.
We have an onsite Art shop that can cater for all these needs and your staff team will talk you through what you will need prior to starting your course.
At the University of Northampton, everything we do, from funded trips to paid internships, is to give you everything you need to make a difference when you leave.
If you join this full time Graphic Communication Design degree at Northampton, you will receive a laptop when your course begins. The laptops are built to a bespoke custom specification ideal for use in the seminar room, collaborative group work or studying at home.
Whatever your ambitions, we’re here to help you to achieve them. We’ll support you to identify the skills you’re learning during your course, find your strengths and secure practical experience so that when it comes to applying for jobs or further study you’ll feel confident in standing out from the crowd. We’ve created the Northampton Employment Promise because we are so confident that if you focus on your studies and complete one of our awards you’ll be highly employable by the time you graduate. Putting you in a great position to secure employment or continue your studies.
To check out the full list of perks, visit our Student Perks page.
The Integrated Foundation Year (IFY) offers a new and exciting route into studying for a degree, attracting ambitious and driven students who are willing to learn and advance.
If you have non-standard qualifications or do not quite meet the admissions requirements we can offer you a fantastic opportunity to study a four year programme which includes an Integrated Foundation Year. The Integrated Foundation Year will help you develop the theoretical/practical and academic skills you need, in order to successfully progress to the full award.
Our four-year courses will enable you to successfully follow the degree pathway of your choice while gaining essential study skills. The foundation year of your chosen degree will be studied on a full-time basis and is aimed at supporting the transition to higher education. Years two, three and four are then studied as a standard degree programme.
Every year the Graphic Communication Design team invite guest speakers, industry professionals and creatives into our studios to talk to our design students. In recent years we have had Adrian Shaughnessy, Ken Garland, Alan Moore, Jonathan Barnbrook and Malcolm Garrett to name but a few, along with practical workshops and Industry led portfolios reviews. We also invite our past students to talk about their current jobs and life after university.
How will I be taught on Graphic Communication Design BA (Hons)?
You will be taught through a variety of methods such as;
- Project briefs (staff-set/self-set /industry/competition)
- Individual, group tutorials and seminars
- Group critiques and presentations
- E-tivities/Active Blended Learning / Online activities
- Visiting speakers and Industry Guests
You will be taught by your core team of Senior Lecturers, Lecturers and Associate Lecturers – and you have contact with them week in, week out. It is these lecturers that deliver the majority of your taught experience, set project briefs, assess your work and lead study visits.
How will I be assessed?
You will be assessed through a range of graphic communication design assignments, design competitions and live projects [producing individual work as well as working in groups] including design work submitted through portfolio presentations [this maybe printed, digital, online or physical], oral presentations and pitches, written work and self-assessments.
Are there any suggested reading and resources?
Yes, we suggest looking up the following titles for some inspiration:
- Graphic design: a user’s manual – Adrian Shaughnessy
- Know your onions: graphic design – Drew De Soto
- The A-Z of visual ideas: how to solve any creative brief – John Ingledew
- The art of looking sideways – Alan Fletcher
- Design History, A Students’ Handbook – Hazel Conway
- Graphic Design: A New History – Stephen Eskilson
- On Creativity – John Hegarty
- Creative Review
- Eye: the international review of graphic design
- Baseline: international typographics journal
- Computer Arts Magazine
- Its Nice That (web)
- Design inspiration – Design Inspiration
- Computer Arts magazine / CreativeBloq
Subject Leader - Art & Design
Senior Lecturer - Graphics & Illustration
Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology
Senior Lecturer in Graphic Communication
Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology
Associate Lecturer (Graphics & Illustration)
Graphic Communication Design BA (Hons)
Senior Lecturer in Graphic Communication
After graduating in BA (Hons) in Performance and Visual Arts from the University of Gloucestershire in 2000, Trevor ran a successful multimedia design practice in Cheltenham, working across website design, print, branding, moving image, photography, music and sound for various established businesses (tech, retail, hospitality, recruitment, public services), start-ups and visual and audio artists.
Trevor is a practicing designer and musician, having recent national radio airplay with his latest music project ‘Call Me Zuko’.
Careers and Employability
A Graphic Communication Design degree can open up your career options. You will not be limited to one specific type of role, but rather be able to pursue numerous career paths. Our Graphic Communication Design graduates use their design skills to work in:
- Editorial and Publishing
- Digital moving image
- Interactive design
- Online, social media and app design
- Packaging design
- Information design
Throughout your time on the course, as well as post-study, we offer support to ensure you receive the guidance and information needed to succeed in your field of work.
Our postgraduate courses are a great way to enhance the skills you have already learnt. Benefit from our 20% alumni discount on postgraduate fees to give yourself a CV that will catch the eye of employers.
Facilities and Special Features
When you study Graphic Communication Design at the University of Northampton, you will enjoy access to a number of different facilities and services to help you in your studies, including;
- Large specialist studio spaces with dedicated access to Mac-books, digital cameras, lighting kits and sound recording equipment.
- Additional iMac design suite
- Subsidised digital printing
- Printmaking facilities and professional photography studios with controlled lighting studios
- Video editing suites
- Free Adobe Creative Cloud software account for your duration on the course