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Complement your full-time study with a short course

Magazine page with shapes
  • Written byYusuf Tamanna
  • Published date30 July 2021
Magazine page with shapes
Short Courses: Books and magazines at Imprint Exhibition, Copyright holder: Lewis Bush

Thanks to her trans-Atlantic upbringing, Beatriz Mowat has always been interested in art.

“I grew up abroad in over six different countries ranging from Brazil to Russia, although I am British. I studied Art up to AS Level at college. I thoroughly enjoy visiting art galleries, exhibitions and museums. I am interested in culture and history which is perhaps why I find art so fascinating!”

Beatriz is currently in her second year at university in London studying a BA in Japanese. She says she chose her BA because it combines her love for languages with art, history and culture perfectly.

When Beatriz finished her first year at university, it was  during the first lockdown in the summer of 2020. She admits because of the lockdown she had nothing to do, so she turned to short courses to occupy her time.

A photo of Beatriz Mowat

“I decided to use the time I had to reignite my interest in art, but I also wanted to combine it with a useful, transferable skill that I could use in the future. I chose to do the Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course with Central Saint Martins. I had never explored graphic design before, so it was an incredibly interesting experience.”

Alyssa Spaeth is another student who attended one of our Communication and Graphic Design short courses, this time opting to study the Strategic Branding, Identity and Brand Experience Online Short Course offered by Central Saint Martins.

“I took the Strategic Branding, Identity and Brand Experience Online Short Course with Marc Wood during lockdown last spring. I had learned about UAL during my time interning at a creative studio in London just before the pandemic hit,” Alyssa says.

Short courses had been on Alyssa’s radar for a while, but she was never able to find a course that would fit with her schedule alongside university and her internship.

A Photo of Alyssa Spaeth

“When lockdown started it was the perfect opportunity to finally take a class at UAL and grow my knowledge in design during all my free time. I had always been interested in learning more about brand identity design and was hoping to eventually take a class about it, so when I saw that UAL was offering this course, I registered for it right away!”

Like Beatriz, Alyssa also grew up moving around internationally a lot when she was younger and hails from the United States, but she also has British Citizenship and has considered the UK home for the last 12 years.

“From a young age, I always loved to draw and paint, but never considered studying it in university because I had the misconception that instead a career in STEM would bring me more success,” Alyssa admits.

“But then discovered the field of graphic design. It’s the perfect means to blend my love of visual arts with my desire to creatively communicate messages and information. Since then, I've been able to grow as a designer from valuable experiences in the classroom and internships in both Boston and London.”

I left the course with a finished piece of work that I could add to my personal portfolio - a complete visual and strategic repositioning of the Toms shoe brand

— Alyssa Spaeth

At the time we spoke, Alyssa was entering the last few months of her final year of undergraduate study pursing a degree in graphic and information design at Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts. She credits moving around a lot as a child as a major influence on her both personally and professionally.

“It fueled my desire to experience cultures different than my own and opened my eyes to the importance of appreciating alternate opinions and outlooks in life. Not only do I try to incorporate my cultural experiences into the work that I create, I also seek to approach every design endeavor with a worldly perspective - I try not to limit myself to one way of thinking or creating.”

I would be very encouraging to anyone considering taking a short course at UAL as they are constructive but also enjoyable

— Beatriz Mowat

While on the Graphic Design for Beginners Online Short Course, Beatriz appreciated the simple yet effective structure of the classes. “Each week had a different, clear focus that we would analyse in detail,” she tells me. She also enjoyed working alongside other students who shared her passion for art.

“It was very interesting seeing everyone's work and hearing how they interpreted each task; it was always fascinating - never boring!”

Since completing the course Beatriz says she now in a better position to look at graphic design with a critical eye, instead of taking everything at face value.

“Being able to look at graphic design in an analytical manner has been extremely gratifying. I’m still studying at university, so I’ve not been able to use my new skills in my career yet. But I plan on applying these skills in the future as I am keen to explore the product world of technology where graphic design is super important.”

On Alyssa’s short course, the students were challenged to rebrand an existing identity from start to finish and she thoroughly enjoyed the practical assignments they completed alongside the lectures.

But beyond challenging and exciting assignments, Alyssa was pleasantly surprised at learning just how much strategic work went into developing a brand and how the course made her rethink what she thought a brand encompassed.

“Prior to taking the course, I had defined a brand as a purely visual quality. But I now understand and appreciate the fact that it can be so much more. I learned about how every brand has a set of values and a distinct personality, and when developing a brand, one must consider how it might be perceived and interacted with,” Alyssa explains.

In doing the course, it’s helped reaffirm Alyssa’s goal of pursuing a career that involves brand identity in some capacity. “The course allowed me to understand the essential role that branding plays in determining whether a company fails or succeeds, and I want to be a designer that aids brands in leaving a lasting impact on society.”

“I also left the course with a finished piece of work that I could add to my personal portfolio - a complete visual and strategic repositioning of the Toms shoe brand. I am very proud of this project and am hoping that this addition will strengthen my portfolio and help differentiate me from the crowd as I begin to search for professional opportunities,” Alyssa tells me.

I can genuinely say that in just two short months on the course, I gained just as much knowledge on the subject as a standard undergraduate class. It's a worthwhile endeavour

— Alyssa Spaeth

Alongside her already busy schedule, Alyssa is heavily involved in an organisation called Scout. It’s a student led design club that works for real-world clients outside of her university to help them develop their brand identities. Serving as the project lead for the conference team, she is responsible for guiding a group of designers and developers in creating the visual identity for the annual spring conference.

Thanks to the fruitful experience she had on her course, Alyssa was able to directly apply what she learned to her work with Scout.

“The team had to first develop a brand personality that would then guide the creation of its visual identity - and my knowledge from the course helped me do this!”

With so much gained from their short course experiences, both Beatriz and Alyssa would not hesitate to recommend the benefit of doing a short course.

“I would be very encouraging to anyone considering taking a short course at UAL as they are constructive but also enjoyable. You can home in new skills as well as sharpen skills you already had,” Beatriz advises.

“I would tell them to go for it, no doubt,” Alyssa adds. “I can genuinely say that in just two short months on the course, I gained just as much knowledge on the subject as a standard undergraduate class. It's a worthwhile endeavour. The classes provide you with an in-depth understanding of a very specific topic, often coming from tutors that are working professionals in that industry.”

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Short courses in communication and graphic design are just some of many subject areas we cover. We have courses for students interested in fashion business, illustration, fine art and interior design. Visit our upcoming short courses information page to see all the courses we’re running in the months ahead.

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