BA (Hons) Product Design

BA Product Design believes product design solutions should meet the wants and needs of real people. Widely recognised externally as an environment in which rigorous thinking generates creative, commercially relevant work, this course gives you the intellectual, academic and subject-specific skills you need to define your own professional practice.

Central Saint Martins' Product and Industrial Design courses are recognised for world-class excellence by the award of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education 2013.

This course is part of the: Product, Ceramic & Industrial 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

Queen's Anniversary Award awarded for Innovation in Design Education.

C-12 Pot, Sharon Hung, BA Product Design, 2013. Photo: John Sturrock

C-12 Pot by Sharon Hung, 2013

5 great reasons to apply

  • Undertake projects in direct contact with relevant industrial contacts and social enterprises including DESIS Network, Heinz, Procter and Gamble, Nokia, Alessi, Whirlpool, Unilever, Samsonite and Diageo.
  • Our lecturers and alumni have been associated with the production of groundbreaking products since 1947, including the first production laptop, the original London Routemaster bus, and the Apple iPhone.
  • We have produced more Royal Designers for Industry in the subject than any other undergraduate course in the world.
  • The course has been recognised for world-class excellence by the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education 2013. 
  • Benefit from a multi-disciplinary art school environment made up of an exceptionally diverse community of creative individuals

Facts

Course Leader

Paul De'Ath

Course Location

King's Cross, London

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

£9,250 per year (2017/18).

Tuition fees for undergraduate degree courses have been set at £9,250 per year for full-time study. This applies from the 2017/18 academic year, subject to changes in the law. Tuition fees may increase in future academic years for new and continuing students, in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Please visit our Undergraduate Tuition Fees page for full information on tuition fees.

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

International Fee

£17,920 per year (2017/18).

Please note that fees are subject to inflationary increase.

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

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

UCAS

Application DeadlineApplications for 2017/18 entry will close on 15 January 2017.
UCAS CodeW240
University CodeU65

Content and structure

BA (Hons) Product Design is part of the Product, Ceramic and Industrial Design programme. Product and Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins is concerned not only with the skills and professional practice of the subject, but also places an emphasis on the role of creative experimentation and critical evaluation.

These help to challenge the assumptions and ideas around design and design practice and its relevance in the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental contexts.

Since 1938, our lecturers and alumni have been associated with groundbreaking products. These include the first laptop computer (Bill Moggeridge), the original London Routemaster bus (Douglas Scott), and the Apple iPhone (Daniele De Iuliis/Apple Industrial Design Group) among many others. We look to BA Product Design graduates to carry forward this tradition, to be innovators, to be questioning practitioners who understand the potential and the responsibilities implied by their contributions to the material world.

Since its first introduction as a discrete subject area, the professional practice of the Product/Industrial Designer has evolved to reflect other changes in manufacture, consumption and the wider concerns of society.

Most recently, this has informed a shift in the focus of BA Product Design students’ activities away from a purely market-orientated and problem-solving approach to a more analytical and critical approach. This accommodates an increasingly complex series of reference points including those provided by related and emerging disciplines such as sociology, politics, ethics, interaction design, service design, and experience design.

Design is about people

Designers have to understand people and their behaviours before formulating a response to their wants and needs. BA Product Design students’ understanding of people and their behaviour is informed through a consideration of ergonomics and usability as well as the ability to read and interpret market drivers and the softer, less tangible emotional responses to the material world. This approach is incorporated into increasingly complex projects that emphasise and develop appropriate research methods. In some cases, this is also enhanced through collaborative working methods. The programme reinforces deep learning through collective as well as individual activity.

Design is a process – not a thing

Whilst the output of the Product/Industrial designer is predominantly concerned with manufacture and production, the subject is predicated on the notion that design is a process-driven activity: the practice of applying a relevant process to a particular context. Out of such a process a very broad range of design outcomes might emerge: consumer durables, personal accessories, packaging and branding, furniture and lighting as well as other outcomes which might be categorised as service or system design, or even design strategy. The subject is therefore unconstrained by the conventions of specific typologies or pathways, and it is an approach that we believe enables you to be flexible, confident, creative and open to a broad range of unfamiliar and new high level design opportunities in strategic innovation and the design and creative sectors.

Design is about the future

Product and Industrial Designers are frequently called upon to conceptualise new products and systems of which consumers and users will have had no or little previous experience. You are encouraged to consider the impact of technology, consumer attitudes, environmental issues, cultural shifts and many other factors in the development of work directed at a future scenario. You are invited and encouraged to embrace change and to challenge accepted cultural and commercial norms. This flexibility makes you highly valuable in the more strategic and management roles that lie beyond mainstream design practice.

BA Product 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

BA Product Design is arranged over three academic years and is designed to offer you an experience in which you learn and apply product design processes to a progressively challenging range of contexts. In this way the degree course builds your capacities as confident, questioning, highly creative practitioners capable of dealing with complex issues in the development of product design responses.

Stage One builds your subject knowledge and skills while introducing you to our brand of studio working and integrating you within our community of practice. Through a series of projects you’ll go on to focus on specific product design skills such as computing, 2D and 3D sketching, and workshop skills in wood, metal, and plastics. You also build knowledge of design for manufacture, and intellectual skills in areas like semiotics. The year finishes with a tour of London design studios intended to give you an insight into the breadth of practice labelled product design.

Stage Two extends your skills and locates you in professional contexts through external briefs provided by industry. Here you get the opportunity to consider and plan your future as a practitioner and to take more responsibility for initiating and managing your own work. You will, for instance, be exploring the relationships between branding and product design, and how ideas from outside of the discipline can be used to explore and inform creative design responses.

Stage Three provides you with a sustained opportunity to pursue your own agenda through writing and design exploration. This is your chance to bring together creative, intellectual, entrepreneurial and practical capacities developed over the previous two years to forge a product design outcome limited only by the time allocated and your own ambition. The final year closes with a real-world scenario in which you partner an external client to deliver a specific project. Absolut, Body Shop, Habitat, Kodak, Proctor & Gamble and Samsung are among our recent collaborators. This project represents a really useful springboard to professional design practice.

The degree course has three closely interrelated areas of study that are delivered through project work, lectures, seminars, workshops and assignments. Areas of study are:

  • Design Studies
  • Technical Studies
  • Contextual Studies

Design Studies

The ability to generate and translate ideas into resolved designs is crucial. Design Studies develops your creativity with idea generation, problem solving, drawing and presentation technique, sketching and finished model making. It also helps build the project management and verbal presentation skills you’ll need in order to develop and communicate your designs.

Technical Studies

Technical Studies enables you to gain an understanding of materials and processes, manufacturing methods, and 2D and 3D CAD skills within industrial contexts of batch and mass production. It develops your ability to research and specify components, materials and manufacturing processes for any product design project.

Contextual Studies

Contextual Studies examines some of the key historical, theoretical, and social contexts from which products acquire meaning and in which product design practice operates. Crucially in our programme it’s taught in-studio alongside Design Studies to allow ideas and thinking from radically different disciplines to inform and energise.

Bigger Picture Unit

The bigger picture unit brings together students from across the school to work in mixed groups. The unit promotes critical thinking through the presentation of ideas, debate and discussion, and requires you to consider your subject in a wider context and to position your practice within the ‘ bigger picture’ of cultural production and meaning making.

Personal and Professional Development builds the skills and knowledge you need to be an active member of a learning community, to become a self-sufficient learner, and to be able to enter the professional world and manage your subsequent career development.

Developing your skills - external activities

A high proportion of tutors are practicing designers and many student projects are informed by direct contact with relevant industrial contacts. Recent examples include Nokia, Procter and Gamble, Liberty, Unilever, Samsonite and Diageo. While significant focus remains on the practical skills necessary to successfully bring an object into physical being, students are encouraged to precede this activity by identifying appropriate problems and design outcomes that successfully meet the physical, psychological and emotional wants and needs of real people.

Staff

Course Leader: Paul De'Ath 

Stage 1 Leader:David Scothron BA (Hons) MDes RCA
Stage 2 Leader:Jane Penty
Stage 3 Leader: Paul Sayers BA (Hons) PGCHE 

Contextual Studies Leader & Stage 3 Coordinator: Dr Betti Marenko PhD
Technical Studies Leader:Rob Thompson

 

Careers

BA Product Design students leave with a broad and valuable understanding of product design practice in its many forms.

Skills acquired enable BA Product Design graduates to become versatile practitioners in a range of exciting and diverse contexts and international locations.

Recent BA Product Design alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of student activity within the subject:

Product Design Manger, Transport for London
Senior Concept Designer, Mexx, Amsterdam
Experience & Innovation Director, LEGO, Denmark
Industrial Designer, PDD, London
Senior Researcher & Strategist, SeymourPowell Foresight, London
Designer, IDEO, London
Designer, IDEO, San Francisco
Design Research Manager, Nokia, London
Design Manager, Nokia, London
Design Manager, Xindao, Shanghai
Industrial Designer, LG, Milan
Furniture Designer, Atelier Bellini, Milan
Designer, Zaha Hadid Architects, London
Lighting Designer, Lighting Design International, London
Cross Platform user Experience Manager, Microsoft, Seattle
Designer, Eker Design, Oslo
Design Manager, Russian Standard, Moscow
Store Designer, Louis Vuitton, Paris
Retail Systems Designer, Barrows, Durban
International R&D Designer, Mamas & Papas, London
Advertising Designer, Synergy Advertising, Karachi
Design Planner, Lenovo Group, Beijing
Industrial Designer, Vtech, Hong Kong
Industrial Designer, Panasonic, Tokyo

Entry requirements

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.

Minimum Entry Requirements

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 Baccalaureate or High School Diploma.

Applicants may be considered exceptionally on the evidence submitted in the application form (personal statement, work experience, reference), if they 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 (grade C or above)
  • Passes at GCSE level in 3 other subjects (grade C or above)

Additionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may also still be considered 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.

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 English language requirement for entry for this course 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. 

What We Look For

We are not only looking for a passion for product design, but also for people open to new ideas, to informed risk-taking and to new challenges. Those willing to involve themselves collaboratively with the student group and with the different disciplines and practices informing product design. 

Selection Criteria

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

Work imaginatively and creatively in product and three dimensional design 

  • Engage with experimentation and invention;
  • Show imagination and ambition in proposals for their work;

Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities 

  • Demonstrate a high level of visual and 3 dimensional skill;
  • Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry within their work
  • Demonstrate relevant research and reflect critically on their learning;
  • Demonstrate a passion for design and a fascination for the world around them;

Demonstrate cultural awareness and/or contextual framework of their work

  • Demonstrate an awareness of historical and contemporary product design practices;
  • Identify social and/or cultural influences on their work;

Articulate and communicate intentions clearly

  • Discuss their work in group situations;
  • Present their work appropriately and effectively; 

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

  • Develop their own ideas and address project briefs;
  • Show willingness to collaborate;
  • Reflect their knowledge of this course;
  • Demonstrate a mature outlook and high self-motivation.

Apply - UK/EU

When to Apply

The deadline for equal consideration for all applications (Home, EU and International) is the 15 January 2017.

Please note that not all courses are able to consider late applications. Applicants may only change their course choice within 14 days of submitting an application. Any changes made to your application after 15 January 2017 will result in the application being marked as late.

Applying and How Your Application Is Considered

You will need to apply through the UCAS online application system.

Go to ‘Apply’ from the UCAS homepage, where you will be able to register and create a password that gives you unique access as you complete your online application form. Central Saint Martins (CSM) courses are listed under University of the Arts London.

  • University code: U65
  • Course code: W240
  • There is no 'campus code' for CSM
  • This course does not accept Year 3 Entry.

What Happens Next

If you meet the entry requirements you will be invited to submit a mini portfolio through UAL’s online portfolio review tool.  The mini portfolio should be no more than 10 images comprising of your best work showing your sensitivity to three dimensional design, your skills and thinking. It should include: 

  • Sketching
  • Three-dimensional work including experimentation and development
  • Finished work accompanied by a short explanation of the piece and your thinking
  • Idea generation
  • Inspiration and research material
  • A 250 word statement about your current work in which you may want to refer to artists whose practices you feel have influenced it; you may wish to refer to problems and how you solve them and to the ideas and interests important to the work you are showing us.

Following a review on your mini portfolio, you will either be invited for a full portfolio review or your application will be rejected via UCAS Track.

Full Portfolio Review

If you have been successful with your mini portfolio, we will invite you to a full portfolio review.  These normally take place at the college in February and March.

If you are unable to attend the full portfolio review in person, you will be asked to submit a FULL portfolio (up to 30 images) through UAL’s online portfolio review tool.  Please note that we do not accept portfolios by post.

Your portfolio should demonstrate the following: 

  • Design development, whether for a college project or in personal work, i.e. designs and design ideas that have originated through personal experience and visual research and progressed through logical stages to a finished design solution. This could be two-dimensional work or made objects;
  • Evidence of 3-dimensional work, but not necessarily related to product design;
  • The design work included should reflect creative thinking, initiative and personal commitment to a particular project;
  • Good drawing and sketching skills.

We are interested in you as an individual, your personal interests, your creativity and initiative in finding out about your proposed area of study. We would also like to know about your favourite designers and artists, where you have seen their work at first hand and other ways in which you acquire information on the creative work and practitioners that interest you.

How We Notify You of the Outcome of Your Application

You will receive the outcome of your application through UCAS track.

Deferred Entry

Please note that CSM does not accept application for deferred entry. 

Apply - International

When to Apply

The UCAS deadline for all Undergraduate applications for both Home/EU and International is the 15 January 2017.

Please note that not all courses are able to consider late applications. Applicants may only change their course choice within 14 days of submitting an application. Any changes made to your application after 15 January 2017 will result in the application being marked as late. 

Applying and How Your Application is Considered

International applicants may apply through one of three routes only:

Further information on applying via UCAS is provided on the Applying through UCAS page.

For applicants who want to apply directly to UAL, the direct application form may be found here:

Applications for the academic year 2017/18 will be accepted from November.

For full details on the application process, visit the Undergraduate application page.

Go to ‘Apply’ from the UCAS homepage, where you will be able to register and create a password that gives you unique access as you complete your online application form. Central Saint Martins (CSM) courses are listed under University of the Arts London.

  • University code: U65
  • Course code: W240
  • There is no 'campus code' for CSM.
  • This course does not accept Year 3 Entry.

For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page.

Immigration History Form (for International Applications Only)

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an Immigration History form.

We will email you an Immigration History form when we receive your application.

You will need to send this back to us, by email, with copies of the following documents:

  • Your passport photo page 
  • Your current visa (if you have one) and any previous UK study visas
  • Your current English language certificate (if you have this)
  • Your academic qualifications (A2, IB, high school diploma, foundation etc. - if completed. Translated into English)

Please note: If you do not complete and return your Immigration History form we will not be able to proceed with your application and portfolio review.

What Happens Next 

If you meet the entry requirements we will invite you to attend a portfolio review or submit your portfolio digitally. 

  • If you currently live in the United Kingdom and applying from within the UK, you will be invited attend a full portfolio review at the college, between January and March.
  • If you are unable to attend the full portfolio review in person, you will be asked to submit a digital portfolio through UAL’s online portfolio review tool.
  • Please note that we do not accept portfolios by post

Your portfolio should demonstrate the following:

  • Design development, whether for a college project or in personal work, i.e. designs and design ideas that have originated through personal experience and visual research and progressed through logical stages to a finished design solution. This could be two-dimensional work or made objects;
  • Evidence of 3-dimensional work, but not necessarily related to product design;
  • The design work included should reflect creative thinking, initiative and personal commitment to a particular project;
  • Good drawing and sketching skills

We are interested in you as an individual, your personal interests, your creativity and initiative in finding out about your proposed area of study. We would also like to know about your favourite designers and artists, where you have seen their work at first hand and other ways in which you acquire information on the creative work and practitioners that interest you.

How We Notify You of the Outcome of Your Application

You will receive the outcome of your application through UCAS track.

If you applied through one of our overseas representatives, they will tell you the result of your application.

Deferred Entry

Please note that CSM does not accept application for deferred entry.

Study Abroad Applicants

International undergraduate students may apply to join a BA course for a period of up to three terms as a study abroad student.

Please visit the UAL Study Abroad for details of how to apply to one of our courses or contact the UAL Study Abroad Team central offices for more information:

T: +44 (0)20 7514 2249
E: studyabroad@arts.ac.uk
W: UAL Study Abroad

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 Product, Ceramic and Industrial Design programme include: Nespresso, Roche Bobois, John Lewis, Canal and River Trust, Action Dog. Find out more about the News UK 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.

Enquire about this course

If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for or want to ask us a question about this course, please fill out our enquiry form.

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