BA (Hons) Graphic Design

This course has a new course title: BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design

Please note: BA (Hons) Graphic Design is currently undergoing developments in 2015/16 and will be revalidated as BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design, subject to formal approval.

All applicants applying for September 2016 entry will be applying for the newly revalidated version of the course. Please note that aspects of the current course content are subject to change and further information will be available shortly.

This course equips you to become a versatile graphic communication design practitioner in a wide range of media and contexts, from paper to screen, from digital environments to public spaces. Your degree will prepare and position you to navigate an ever-changing profession and will position you broadly for a career in design and design strategy. You will develop the core languages of typography, digital, design writing and reading and will have the opportunity to work in illustration, photography, printmaking, letterpress, coding and motion graphics. You will become a critical maker and design thinker equipped for the distinctive complex challenges of the 21st century.

This course is part of the: Graphic Communication Design programme. 

Scholarships and Awards available:

Charlotte and Dennis Stevenson Awards
Foundation for Essex Arts Scholarships
Mead Scholarships and Fellowships
Yat Malmgren Bursary
Fung Foundation Study Abroad Scholarship


Rebecca Ross and Peter Hall in conversation

Rebecca Ross and Peter Hall in conversation

"One of the biggest challenges is to work out how graphic design can confront environmental, political and social crises without making the problems worse."

Barney McCann, The Mods, 2015

Barney McCann, The Mods, 2015

Haonan Shen and Xue Wen, Identity Crisis of a Time Traveller, 2015

Haonan Shen and Xue Wen, Identity Crisis of a Time Traveller, 2015

Tatiana Aspinwall, Tactile Language, 2015

Tatiana Aspinwall, Tactile Language, 2015

Stefan Iyapah, Blink of An Eye, 2015

Stefan Iyapah, Blink of An Eye, 2015

Arjun Harrison-Man, Kershaw Daylight III: Hacking the Dead, 2015

Arjun Harrison-Mann, Kershaw Daylight III: Hacking the Dead, 2015

Eleanor Hyland-Stanbrook, Eat It Don’t Tweet It, 2015

Eleanor Hyland-Stanbrook, Eat It Don’t Tweet It, 2015

Jasmine Ami Jones, Fire Pattern, 2015

Jasmine Ami Jones, Fire Pattern, 2015

Madeline Lim, bl'nk, 2015

Madeline Lim, bl'nk, 2015

Great reasons to apply

Please note that this course title has changed to BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design

  • BA Graphic Communication Design supports students seeking a specialist design focus, those interested in developing hybrid practices and those looking for a more generalist graphic communication design education.
  • Choose from areas of study to develop professional approaches in, for example, typography, coding, illustration, interaction, advertising and branding.
  • Develop collaborative and team-working skills and hybrid practices across disciplinary boundaries.
  • Co-design your curriculum for final year study, developing themes and issues for exploration and experimentation.
  • Elect to tackle live briefs engaging local government, non-profits and companies such as LVMH, Samsung and Sony.
  • Participate in national and international student design competitions, including RSA and D&AD.


Course Leader

Peter Hall

Course Location

King's Cross, London

Study LevelUndergraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length3 years full time
Home/EU Fee

£9,000 per year (2016/17).

Please note that fees are subject to inflationary increase.

International Fee

£17,230 per year (2016/17).

Please note that fees are subject to inflationary increase.

Start DateMonday 25 September 2017
Autumn Term DatesMonday 25 September - Friday 8 December 2017
Spring Term DatesMonday 8 January – Friday 16 March 2018
Summer Term DatesMonday 16 April - Friday 22 June 2018
Application Route


Application DeadlineApplications for 2017/18 entry will close on 15 January 2017.
UCAS CodeW215
University CodeU65

Content and structure

Graphic communication design is the art of generating and diffusing visual culture. Its practice is as old as cave painting but with the advent of mechanical, photographic and then digital means of reproduction, graphic communication design became a dominant and ubiquitous force in the world, disseminating the ideas and norms of our visual culture. As a means of recording, informing, promoting and persuading, graphic communication design is responsible for shaping the ways people see and act in the world.

This course aims to develop your technical and conceptual skills and situate your practice socially and ethically, so that you emerge with strong technical skills, creative abilities and an understanding of the power of design to influence and shape human behaviour. This is particularly important amid unprecedented social, political and environmental changes.

The accelerating pace of transformation raises important questions about the future forms the world will take and, as a consequence, the future aims and possibilities of graphic and communication design. Such challenges demand that practitioners envisage and direct change, and accept responsibility as managers of material and cultural resources, data and information.

During their studies, BA Graphic Communication Design students:

  • Choose disciplinary areas of focus and build strengths in specific technical skills.
  • Co-create content based on student-initiated themes and issues.
  • Acquire skills and process knowledge based on both the historical tradition of the graphic communication design discipline and the potential and pitfalls of new technology within the systems and structures of society, providing a practical expression of the connections between meanings and audiences.
  • Join a large, diverse design student community spread across five continents while enjoying direct access to London, one of the world's great capital cities of design.
  • Have easy access to London’s vast cultural and social resources.

The ability to think critically about the purpose of what we do is crucial in developing a strategy of sustainability within our discipline and beyond. The future belongs to those responsible and reflective practitioners who understand the extended potential of graphic design and possess the creative openness to explore its possibilities.

We support and encourage all BA Graphic Communication Design students to imagine, express and communicate responsibly the new, the exciting and the different.

BA Graphic Communication Design runs for 90 weeks full time over three years, and is divided into three Levels (or Stages), each lasting 30 weeks. The whole degree course is credit-rated at 360 credits, with 120 credits at each Level (Stage).

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications the Levels for a BA are: Level 4 (which is stage 1 of the course), Level 5 (Stage 2) and Level 6 (Stage 3).

There's a progression point at the end of each Level and, in order to progress, all units of the preceding Level must normally have been passed.

If you're unable to continue on the course a Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE) will normally be offered following the successful completion of Level 4, or a Diploma in Higher Education following the successful completion of Level 5.

To gain a BA (Honours), students must successfully complete 360 credits. The final award consists of marks from Level 6 units only, weighted according to their credits.

Course outline

The BA Graphic Communication Design curriculum is delivered through a mix of project work, lectures, seminars and assignments in discrete units.

BA Graphic Communication Design offers you a common introductory diagnostic experience during the first year, followed by two years of selected and more specialised study driven by your interests and preferences. The degree programme includes a contextual studies (Context) element and gives access to a comprehensive range of technical workshops and resources, both digital and analogue.

Main study - Stage One

Stage 1 will introduce the landscape and languages of graphic communication design and welcome you to a community of designers. You will be inducted into the core languages of graphic communication design– reading and writing, typography and digital – through lectures, workshops, seminars and individual and collective projects. This stage will include introductions to the history of design and theories of communication. You will have the opportunity to experience different specialist areas of design before making a negotiated choice of focus in which to begin Stage 2. Teaching will be intensive, timetabled across 2.5 days.

Main study - Stage Two

You will begin Stage 2 in your chosen specialist area and will have the opportunity to begin to collaborate with students across the course and across the college, with options to shift focus at key points as the year progresses. The course encourages you to explore hybrid practices through projects where different specialist areas meet and mix and discipline boundaries are expanded and explored. This stage will focus on communication skills: how to communicate verbally, visually and in writing as an integrated practice. You will be mapping the field, thinking through making, exploring practice and working collaboratively. As you move towards Stage 3, you will be involved in co-designing the content and curriculum for your final year and will be supported in making a negotiated choice of Community of Practice. You will explore notions of collaboration, participation and the relationship with audiences. Communities of Practice will be supported by lectures, workshops and seminars that will explore cultural, social and theoretical contexts of contemporary graphic communication design practice.

Main study - Stage Three

Stage 3 will address problem finding, problem solving and problem setting. The focus will be on depth of knowledge, and situating practice around student-initiated issues and themes. This is an outward-facing stage designed to facilitate students in making connections and building networks. You will work in Communities of Practice based around thematic areas that have been arrived at

through the co-creation conference in Stage 2. You will be tutored by a group of staff that will bring studio and writing together to facilitate and support the production of a body of work that situates all aspects of the student’s practice.

Developing your skills - external activities

There are opportunities to engage with live briefs led by local government or clients such as LVMH, Camden Council and Sony, and to participate in national and international student design competitions, such as RSA and D&AD. The course is a member of D&AD - BA Graphic Design students gain from discounts on submissions to the D&AD Student Awards and other benefits.

Arrangements for work experience or internships are encouraged and facilitated on an informal basis. Study trips, student exchanges, studio visits and collaborative projects (either within UAL or with partner institutions at home and abroad) offer further opportunities to study within a broader context. During Stage Two a number of 'Study Abroad' students from the USA and other countries join the course for one, two or three terms.

The course has a strong history and a reputation for thinking through making. You will have opportunities to learn prototyping, craft and production skills through workshops and projects that explore the synthesis between thinking and making as an essential part of the design process. You will explore what making means in relation to both traditional and contemporary practice – for example, you will be able to explore code as a material and at the same time choose to do bookbinding; you might experiment with analogue printmaking alongside physical computing; stop-frame animation and augmented reality. This approach extends beyond making into ‘breaking’ – you will be encouraged to challenge, experiment, disrupt and subvert and to make your own tools.


Programme DirectorRebecca Wright
Course LeaderDr. Peter Hall

Stage 1 LeaderEmily Wood
Stage 2 LeaderKira Salter

Stage 3 LeaderDr. Catherine Dixon
Senior Lecturer (Advertising)Clive Challis
Senior Lecturer (Moving Image): Esteban Gitton 
Senior Lecturer (Illustration)Andrew Hall

Senior Lecturer (Design & Interaction): Kira Salter (Stage 1 & 2) and David Preston (Stage 3)
Professor of Typography & Senior LecturerProfessor Phil Baines
Senior Lecturer (Printmaking & Bookbinding)Douglas Bevans
Senior Lecturer (Context)Andrea Lioy
Senior Lecturer (Context): Dr. Paul Rennie
Senior Lecturer (Photography)Gary Wallis

Senior Lecturer: Cath Caldwell
Lecturer: Jaap de Maat
Lecturer: Luise Vormittag
Visiting Fellow: Lucienne Roberts
Visiting Fellow: Jack Schulze
Practitioner in Residence: Paul Elliman

External Liaison Co-ordinator: Julie Threapleton


BA Graphic Communication Design students leave with a broad and valuable understanding of graphic communication design practice in its many forms. Skills acquired enable graduates to become versatile practitioners in many exciting and diverse professions.

Recent alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of careers within the subject, embracing interactive design, web design, advertising, graphic design, information design, illustration, photography, film & TV, animation, editorial design, typographic design, packaging design, brand development, exhibition design, book design, 3D design, as well as in fine art, writing and filmmaking.

Course alumni include: Alan Aboud, Alan Fletcher, Andy Altman, Colin Forbes, Damon Murray, Derek Birdsall, Dylan Jones, Graham Wood, Huw Morgan, Jonathan Barnbrook, Katy Hepburn, Ken Garland, Lucienne Roberts, Michael Worthington, Minkie Spiro, Morag Myerscough, Paul Neale, Phil Baines, Platon, Richard Hollis, Sandro Sodano, Stephen Sorrell, Tom Hingston, Tony Chambers.

Design groups or companies formed by our graduates or employing our graduates include: Aboud Sodano, Bibliotheque Design, Barnbrook Design, Fallon, FUEL Design, GTF, Johnson Banks, Moving Brands, Multistorey, Pentagram, Praline, REG Design, Sans+Baum, Studio Myerscough, Tom Hingston Studio, Tomato, Why Not Associates, Wolff Ollins.

Developing your links

At the end of Stage One you will be expected to take part in the 'End of Year Folio Show' and at the end of Stage Two, the 'Work in Progress Show'; these shows are public exhibitions and although not assessed, are seen as key learning experiences as preparation for your Degree Show.

There are regular opportunities to engage with client-led live briefs featuring brands, such as LVMH, Samsung and Sony, and to participate in national and international student design competitions, such as RSA, Lloyds TSB, and D&AD. The course is a member of D&AD - BA Graphic Design students gain from discounts on submissions to the D&AD Student Awards and other benefits.

Arrangements for work experience or internships are encouraged and facilitated on an informal basis. Study trips, student exchanges, studio visits and collaborative projects (either within UAL or with partner institutions at home and abroad) offer further opportunities to study within a broader context. During Stage Two a number of 'Study Abroad' students from the USA and other countries join the course for one, two or three terms. Context 'creative writing' groups, student clubs such as 'book club' and 'sketchbook club', exhibitions such as 'work in progress', 'pop-up shows' and the 'degree show', 'interest groups', 'guest lectures' and a school-wide 'elective' present additional opportunities for social interaction or collaboration.

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit our Careers Support page.

Entry requirements

This degree course requires portfolio evidence.

Selection is determined by the quality of the application, indicated primarily in your portfolio of work and written statements. A very high proportion of successful applicants complete a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. 

Applicants are normally expected to have achieved, or be expected to achieve, the course entry requirements detailed below:

  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
  • A pass in 1 GCE A level
  • Passes at GCSE level in 3 other subjects (grade C or above)

This educational level may be demonstrated by possession of equivalent qualifications; e.g. International Baccalaureat or High School Diploma.

Applicants may also be considered for portfolio review exceptionally if the course team judges the application demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence.  This might be

demonstrated by, for example: related academic or work experience; the quality of the personal statement; a strong academic or other professional reference; or a combination of these factors.

In such cases candidates would be expected to present a portfolio of equivalent standard to a one-year Foundation course in Art and Design and have achieved, or expect to achieve:

  • Passes in 2 GCE A Levels (80 UCAS tariff points normally including one single award)
  • Passes at GCSE level in 3 other subjects (grade C or above)

English language requirements

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language you will be asked to provide evidence of your English language ability in order to apply for a visa, enrol, and start your course. The standard English language requirement for entry is IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in any one paper, or equivalent. For further information visit the English Language requirements page.

Applicants who will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa should check the Visa and Immigration page which provides important information about UK Border Agency (UKBA) requirements.

International applicants can download the International Application For Admission PDF below: 

International Undergraduate Application Form (PDF 185kb)

What we look for

We're not only looking for people with a passion for graphic communication design, but also for those open to new ideas, informed risk taking and future challenges - applicants who are willing to involve themselves in disciplines and practices within the broader field of graphic communication design, including advertising, design & interaction, illustration and moving image.

Student selection criteria

We select applicants according to your potential and current ability to:

Work imaginatively and creatively in graphic and visual media

  • apply original thought to any given problem and not mimic prevalent styles

Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities

  • show a high level of visual skill and creativity as evidenced in the portfolio

Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry within your work

  • demonstrate potential to experiment, to test the parameters of design
  • add innovation and quality to the practice of graphic communication design
  • demonstrate relevant research and reflect critically on your learning

Demonstrate cultural awareness and/or contextual framework of your work

  • identify historical and contemporary graphic design practices
  • identify social and/or cultural influences on your work

Articulate and communicate intentions clearly

  • discuss your work in group situations
  • present your work appropriately and effectively

Demonstrate commitment and motivation in relation to the subject and the course

  • develop your own ideas and address project briefs
  • show willingness to collaborate
  • reflect your knowledge of this degree course

Portfolio and interview advice

We are as interested in seeing your research and development work as we are in seeing your final outcomes. When asked to submit a ‘mini-portfolio’ (see below) or a complete portfolio, please ensure it contains evidence of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ research, ideas development and experimentation with media as well as finished pieces. Your work could be the result of set projects and self initiated work, or it could be work in progress and finished pieces. We like to see sketchbooks/notebooks, worksheets, working drawings and notes, life-drawing, photography, moving image work, interactive media or 3D work. Some evidence of your use of letterforms or typography, possibly in combination with imagery, can be useful to include, however it is not essential to show attempts at 'professional' graphic design. Some evidence of your digital software skills can be interesting to see, though remember we are looking for potential in terms of your thinking, your ability to tackle visual problems and find inventive/creative solutions. Visually communicating your ideas is more important than simply demonstrating your digital proficiency.

It is useful to organise your complete portfolio into categories to make it easier to view and to include simple, but meaningful descriptions of your projects/briefs. We suggest that you place what you consider to be your best work at the front of the folio. Avoid repetition: The quantity of work to include is your decision, but keep in mind the need to represent the full range of your abilities and to edit it well. The size of the physical portfolio is your choice - it is easier to view A2 folios, but we can also view A1 size. Please photograph 3D work if it is very large. We are happy to see sketchbooks, but avoid including those that are predominately empty pages. It is useful to see an example of

academic essays/written research related to art/design/graphic design history or theory. Collaborative/team projects should be indicated in the portfolio. Please make sure that you have your name and UCAS ID number clearly printed on your portfolio and on any loose items such as sketchbooks.

We would prefer if your current institution could authenticate the work by including a verification within the portfolio.

Because of time constraints, it is not always possible for the selection panel to view moving image work (films, videos) and interactive work (web-based) in their entirety. It may be useful to submit storyboards as an alternative. Please ensure that you have kept your original files and only submit copies on USB stick or via the online application portal.

As part of the selection process you may be invited to a group interview at CSM. Be prepared to talk about the work in your portfolio - for example, which work you consider to be your best and why? You should also be able to explain your motivation for choosing Graphic Communication Design at CSM or perhaps your intentions with regard to your future ambitions within the field. It may be useful to consider who or what is your inspiration, etc. Be assured that we endeavour to keep the group interviews as informal and relaxed as possible.


Please note that the title of this course has changed from BA (Hons) Graphic Design to BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design.

2016/17 entry

Home / EU applicants

Apply to BA Graphic Communication Design through the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website. From the UCAS home page go to 'Apply', where you’ll be able to register and create a password that gives you unique access as you complete your application form.

The University UCAS code is UAL. The University code is U65. The course code is W215.

International applicants

If you are from outside the European Union, you have three options to apply for undergraduate courses:

  • Apply through UCAS
  • Apply directly to ‌Central Saint Martins. ‌Choose this option if you are only applying to undergraduate courses at UAL. (Application form below)
  • Apply through one of our overseas representatives.

Visit the undergraduate application page for full details of these options.

If applying direct to Central Saint Martins, please complete the form below and sent it along with copies of supporting documents (such as previous qualifications / references) by mail to: International Office, Central Saint Martins, The Granary Building, Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA, UK.

International Undergraduate application form [PDF, 185 KB]

Study Abroad

For information on applying to Study Abroad please visit the Study Abroad section.

We're here to help

Our website includes all the information you need to successfully apply. However, if you still have unanswered questions about the admissions process, please fill out our course enquiry form.

The University has a dedicated team to help prepare you for your studies. For help on visa requirements, housing, tuition fees and language requirements visit the University's International section.

The Language Centre offers international students quality language training from qualified and experienced teachers. The Pre-sessional Academic English Programme is available to all international (non-EU) students who have been offered a place on a full time course at the University of the Arts. For further information visit the Language Centre website.

We also offer a number of short courses that enable students to improve their portfolios and English skills before applying to their chosen course. For further information visit our Short Course section.

Deferred entry

Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

What happens next?

Home/EU and International applicants applying through UCAS

Stage 1 - Initial selection

We read and consider every application form - academic qualifications gained, qualifications pending, the personal statement and reference. If you meet the entry requirements, you may then be invited to submit a ‘mini-portfolio’.

In order to achieve consistency the number of images required is TEN (10) only.

Your mini portfolio should contain images of primary and secondary research, ideas development and experimentation with a different range of materials, techniques and media as well as finished pieces. Your work could be the result of set projects and self-initiated work. We like to see images from sketchbooks or notebooks, working drawings, life-drawing, photography and media manipulation, 2D or 3D work. Demonstrate your ability to tackle visual problems and find inventive and creative solutions. It is useful to organize your portfolio into categories to make it easier to view. Avoid repetition and demonstrate a wide range of your skills.

The mini portfolio should comprise images of your best work showing your skills and thinking. It should include:

  • Sketching
  • Two and three-dimensional work including experimentation and development
  • Material and media manipulation
  • Inspiration and research material
  • Demonstration of textile techniques and skills
  • A 250 word statement about the mini-portfolio

Concluding selection

We look carefully at your mini portfolio images and again at your personal statement and reference. If selected you will be invited to submit your full portfolio, which should be brought to the course and left for consideration by a selection panel. Decisions are made on the basis of a portfolio review, your documentation and performance at a group interview in order to clarify aspects of your application or your work (see above). A minimum of two academic staff review portfolios and assess candidates on the basis of the selection criteria (see above). Notes are kept on the work seen during the folio review/interview process.

Please note that if you are not able to attend the group interview in person, selection will be made on the basis of your application form, personal reference and submission of a portfolio, which you can send to the course. Postal portfolios should be either printed photocopies/digital prints or digital files - ‘PDF’, ‘PowerPoint’ or ‘QuickTime’ formats only (on USB stick which must be in Apple Mac readable format and no larger than 20 megabytes. Please test before posting and clearly label with your name and UCAS ID number). Please see Vimeo guidelines for saving movies to USB. 

Sound files should be rendered as MP3 or AAC and should be 16 bit, 320kbs.

International applicants applying directly to Central Saint Martins

You will be asked to submit a full portfolio for review. This can be in the form of printed photographs or images on USB. If you are in the UK you can bring your portfolio of original work to the College. Selection is usually based on the review of your portfolio of work and may also include an interview.

Home/EU Postal Portfolios should be sent to Student Administration, BA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts London, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA.

International Postal Portfolio should be sent to the International Office, BA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts London, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA.

Receiving results of your application

  • If you applied through UCAS the result of your application will be communicated to you via UCAS track
  • If you made a direct application, the result will be emailed or sent by post
  • If you applied through one of our overseas representatives, they will tell you the result of your application.

You’ll only receive further communication directly from the college if your application has been successful and this will be in the form of a full offer pack.

Industry collaborations

Working with paying clients on live briefs will give you valuable commercial experience which may mean your work being taken forward for production or, if so desired, in the purchase of your intellectual property. All paid projects are conducted within a carefully developed legal framework, which includes student agreements to protect your work and help you realise its commercial value. 

Recent client projects in the Graphic Communication programme include: TetraPak | Karstadt | Sony Music | Beefeater Gin | Fabriano | Kagome | Hewlett Packard | Tod's | Fresh. Find out more about the Lacoste client project. 

Once you’ve graduated, you may be picked as part of a small team to work on a live creative brief, organised by our Business and Innovation department, under the supervision of an experienced tutor. This can be a valuable first step in working professionally in a chosen discipline and has resulted in graduates being hired by clients.

CSM Graphics graduate designs stunning Foyles building wrap

In a competition curated by Futurecity, ten recent BA Graphic Design graduates were selected to develop artwork proposals that would celebrate the character of both Central Saint Martins and Foyles, exploring the status of the two institutions as cultural icons and bringing their heritage to life for this large-scale temporary artwork.

BA Graphic Design graduate and current MA Communication Design student Rebecca Hendin’s playful illustration was selected by a panel of judges from Futurecity, Foyles and Saint Martins Lofts and unveiled earlier this month.

Visit the News section to find out more.

CSM Graphics work with Beefeater on #MyLondon photography campaign

Central Saint Martins BA Graphic Design students had the opportunity this autumn to work alongside the Beefeater Gin #MyLondon campaign, which invited people to send in photos of what London means to them.

Winner Natalie Braune had the IP of her winning photo purchased by Beefeater and received £1000. Her photo captured the interaction between iconic London monuments and the patterns they make on the people around them.

Visit the News section to find out more.


Enquire about this course

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