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


Course Leader

Paul De'Ath

Course Location

King's Cross, London

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

£9,000 per year (2016/17).

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.

International Fee

£17,230 per year (2016/17).

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


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.


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



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

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. 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:

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

Applicants are selected according to their demonstration of 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 your work
  • Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities
  • Demonstrate a high level of visual awareness and
  • Sensitivity to three-dimensional form
  • Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry within your work
  • Show relevant research and critical reflection on your learning
  • Demonstrate a passion for design and a fascination with ideas
  • Demonstrate cultural awareness and/or contextual framework of your work
  • Demonstrate an awareness of historical and contemporary product design practices
  • Identify social and/or cultural influences on your work
  • Articulate and communicate intentions clearly
  • Discuss your work in individual and group situations
  • Present your work appropriately and effectively
  • Demonstrate commitment and motivation in relation to the subject and the course
  • Demonstrate a mature outlook and high levels of self-motivation
  • Develop your own ideas and address project briefs
  • Show willingness to collaborate
  • Be informed about this degree course

Portfolio and interview advice

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 3-dimensional work, but not necessarily related to product design;
  • The design work included should show creative thinking, initiative and personal commitment to a particular project; good drawing and design sketching skills.

Both in your portfolio and at the interview 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 how you have acquired more information about the work that interests you.


2016/17 entry

Home / EU applicants

Apply to BA Product Design through the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) online at 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 W240 BA/PD.

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 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 applicants applying through UCAS

Please note we no longer accept postal submission for mini portfolios.


After you have successfully applied to the course through UCAS, you will be sent an email from us in due course with instructions on how you can submit your mini portfolio via

Your mini-portfolio will be a set of up to 10 images. You can format the images in any formats (For example: presentation boards). These should show 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


Maximum of 10 images. You can format the images in any format (For example: presentation boards). When you create your mini portfolio on Flickr, you must add the following:

  • Your full name
  • Your UCAS Personal ID Number
  • The name of the course that you have applied for
  • Your email address


The mini portfolio must be received no later than 2 February.

Following a review of your mini portfolio, you will either be invited to attend Full-Portfolio Review or your application will be rejected. You will be notified of this decision on your UCAS TRACK.

Full-portfolio review

When you attend with your full portfolio, your application may be successful, you may be invited to interview in order to clarify any aspect of your application or your work, which is not evident from the material submitted, or you may be rejected. You will be notified of this decision on your UCAS TRACK.

Please note that if you are unable to attend the portfolio review the College may not be able to re-schedule, however you could arrange to submit evidence of your work by post.

You should send a second non returnable A4 portfolio, which further explains your mini-portfolio and documents recent progress and resolution of ideas. Please refer to the portfolio advice above in preparing your postal portfolio, but also remembering:

  • The quality of the work is more important than the quantity
  • Please supply title, media and dimensions of each piece, bottom left of the image
  • Where possible, scan rather than photograph work. Large or 3-dimensional work should be photographed
  • Please organise your work by project, with supporting work presented alongside final outcomes
  • Make sure you label your A4 portfolio with your name

Please ensure the sheets are attached in order to preserve the sequence. Do not send original work.

International applicants applying through UCAS

You will be contacted by International Office in regards of submission of your Full-Portfolio OR attendance of a Full-Portfolio Review (if you currently live in the UK).

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.

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

Selection is conducted by two members of staff and offers of places are made on the basis of selection criteria above. Notes are kept in relation to decisions made following the interview process.

Receiving results of your application

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.
  • 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 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.

Make an enquiry