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Central Saint Martins

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BA (Hons) Ceramic Design

Start date
September 2019
Course length
3 years, or 4 years with Optional Diploma in Professional Studies full time
UCAS code

Course summary

Applications closed 2019/20
Applications for 2019/20 entry to this course have now closed. Visit the ‘Courses with places available’ page for a full list of UAL courses that are open for application.

Unique nationally, this course provides a design-led creative experience of ceramics within a broad subject context and brings an ethos of responsible design to the study of markets and manufacture.

This course is part of the Product, Ceramic and Industrial Design Programme.

Great reasons to apply:

  • Designing through making allows you to access ideas through a unique material. The deep knowledge of one material helps you to appreciate the opportunities in ceramics but also its translation into other materials
  • Ceramics as a subject spans a number of differing professional practices. We visit studios, factories and retail opportunities on study visits in the UK and Europe
  • The course has consistently very high responses in the National Student Survey for its supportive learning community and its relevance as a creative career
  • There are many product designers, fashion designers, graphic designers and fine artists in the job market. There are very few Ceramic Designers; this means on graduation you have a different creative story, think differently and other skills which will make you stand out in a crowd
  • Ceramics has a visual language in all cultures and is intrinsic to people’s lives, needs and memories. Design projects with the profession whilst on the course help appreciate the currency of culture and its extraordinary value.

Open day

The next round of open days will take place from October 2019 to January 2020, please check back here by mid September 2019 to book.

Scholarships, awards and funding

Mead Scholarships and Fellowships
Yat Malmgren Bursary
The Fung Scholarships

Course Leader, Anthony Quinn talks about the course experience, alongside students Jo Pearl and Ewelina Bartkowska

Student work

Course catalogues

BA Ceramic Design stories

The Community Kiln

Building on Ignition – a public participation project connecting people with clay – the staff and students of BA Ceramic Design have created a community kiln at The Skip Garden.

Show Two: in pictures

Show Two: Design opened last night as the College showcased performances, installations and work by our graduating students from over 20 courses on our design-led Programmes.


Close up image of a pink and wide oval 3D object


Find out more about our casting workshops

Students working with clay and ceramic pieces on display inside the Ceramics Workshop at Central Saint Martins

Ceramics (1st floor)

Find out more about our ceramics facilities.

Course details

BA (Honours) Ceramic Design is a specialist design course. We believe that ceramics can engage an individual in the process of design and provides a gateway into its own and other visual languages, critical discourses and an increasing diversity of professional and personal opportunities.

The essential premise of the degree course's philosophy is explored through the understanding and knowledge of the material and technologies and the potential for designing and learning through making, to provide an intellectual as well as 'hands on' currency in creative work for the 21st century.

BA Ceramic Design seeks to explore and challenge the versatility of clay both as a creative and functional medium - a material that is universal and unique, sustainable and enduring, whilst also being both one of the oldest and newest technologies. Its classic characteristics can be developed into an almost infinite range of products and future contexts.

We help you to establish networks, which we believe are fundamental in linking methodology to practice through real world exposure. Positioned at the heart of these is ceramics, with its potential to engage with other subjects and disciplines - making explicit a unique pattern of experience that links education to industry, business, arts, science and technology, reflecting national and international lifestyles.

By definition, these networks create a constantly evolving curriculum, which you can react to and also propose new opportunities, looking to the future of the subject from a position of 'anything might be possible' including:

  • The mass produced, the multiple and the bespoke
  • The manufactured and the crafted
  • The illustrative, the ornamental, the decorative
  • The social, the cultural, the iconic, even the ironic
  • The sculptural, modelled and monumental
  • The technological and the experimental
  • The architectural, installation and the environmental
  • The responsible, ethical and sustainable
  • The high tech and the low tech.

BA Ceramic 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).

The Diploma in Professional Studies provides you with the optional opportunity to secure an industrial placement (or series of placements) related to product design to be carried out over 20 weeks in an additional year between stage two and three. The DPS is an additional award credited at 120 credits.

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications the Levels for a BA are: level four (which is stage one of the course), level five (stage two) and level six (stage three).

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 four, or a Diploma in Higher Education following the successful completion of level five.

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

Course units

During the three stages of the degree course you will have staff-led projects at the beginning leading to self-determined and individually negotiated programmes of work towards the end of stage two and all of Stage three.

You'll use practical and CAD production skills such as modelling, casting, moulding, throwing, handbuilding, decorating, glazing, drawing, printing and firing and translating these explorations into creative work.

You'll learn by experiencing a range of design outlooks. BA Ceramic Design focuses in particular on three complementary approaches, through which your creative practice and learning style can usually be identified and from which projects are constructed.

Design by practice, introduced in stage one, focuses on the making experience and the intrinsic qualities of objects and materials.

Design by project explores design within distinct parameters. Introduced in Stage Two, the process is often linear with specific outcomes and points of delivery.

Design by concept, introduced in stage three, takes a more fluid approach. Highly reflective and research based, it focuses on building a framework for design thinking.

Towards the end of Stage two and throughout Stage three you'll draw on these methodologies in your self-initiated projects. These descriptions are not exclusive - they often overlap, and the way you negotiate them helps you develop your own design process while being able to use other approaches in differing professional contexts. Stage three is the most integrated of all the stages, mirroring as far as possible the challenges you might expect to meet in professional practice.

Areas of study - BA Ceramic Design has closely interrelated areas of study, delivered through project work, lectures, seminars, group tutorials and assignments. Areas of study are:

Ceramic design studies comprises studio practice, which is the main vehicle you will use to articulate your creative ambitions. applied technology, contextual studies and personal and professional development are embedded into studio practice and provide a critical framework for understanding, exploring and developing your personal and professional expression of design through the ceramic material (and where appropriate through other materials).

Applied technology provides specialist teaching, technical instruction and access to technical resources in order to explore craft, manufacture and production, and so underpins the Studio Practice element including health and safety awareness. Applied technology also embraces the study of clay, glazes and computer-aided design, e.g. Photoshop, Rhino and Illustrator. These introductory sessions will be largely timetabled in stage one and two, but it is expected that you will investigate and build on these areas as continuing development of your ceramic design practice.

Contextual studies is embedded into all units of the course. Additionally, there are discrete elements in stages one and two, and a dissertation in stage three. Contextual studies explores precedent and circumstances, methodologies and histories, theories of production and consumption, criticism and communication, purpose, potential and audience. Through 'contextual studies' you'll learn to reflect on your understanding of research, development and practice and to the kind of analysis, evaluation and synthesis that help you to identify your critical position or attitude.

Personal and professional development gives you 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.

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.

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.

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.


Anthony  Quinn

Anthony Quinn

Course Leader and Stage 3 Leader, BA Ceramic Design

Duncan  Hooson

Duncan Hooson

Stage 1 Leader, BA Ceramic Design

Emma  Lacey

Emma Lacey

Stage 2 Leader, BA Ceramic Design

Elizabeth  Wright

Elizabeth Wright

Contextual Studies Leader, BA Ceramic Design, MA Design (Ceramics); MA Design (Furniture); MA Design (Jewellery)

Visiting Practitioner: Barnaby Barford
Visiting Practitioner: Ian McIntyre
Visiting Practitioner: Anna Barlow
Visiting Practitioner: Matt Raw
Associate Lecturer: Teresa Peters
Diploma in Professional Studies Coordinator: Carla Sorrell

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

One or a combination of the following accepted full level 3 qualifications:

*          Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4) and 1 A Level at Grade C or above

*          2 A Levels at grade C or above (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)

*          Merit, Pass, Pass (MPP) at BTEC Extended Diploma (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)

*          Pass at UAL Extended Diploma

*          Access to Higher Education Diploma (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)

*          Or equivalent EU/International qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma

And three GCSE passes at grade 4 or above (grade A*-C).

Entry to this course will also be determined by assessment of your portfolio. A very high proportion of successful applicants complete a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

APEL - Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

Exceptionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

*          Related academic or work experience

*          The quality of the personal statement

*          A strong academic or other professional reference

*          OR a combination of these factors.

Each application will be considered on its own merit but we cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English Language Requirements

IELTS level 6.0 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English Language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

We select applicants who can demonstrate current ability and potential to:

Work imaginatively and creatively in 2D and 3D visual Media:

  • Engage with experimentation and invention
  • Show imagination and ambition in proposals for your work
  • Take informed risks.

Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities:

  • Through your portfolio, demonstrate a range of approaches to design development, originated from personal experience of visual research and progressed through logical stages to a finished design solution
  • Evidence handling a material or medium (ideally clay) with sensitivity to its qualities
  • Demonstrate engagement and improvement in recently learned technical skill.

Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry within your work:

  • Evidence an ability to evaluate your achievements critically.

Demonstrate cultural awareness and/or contextual framework of your work:

  • Evidence an interest in contemporary art and design
  • 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
  • Show initiative.

What we are looking for

We are not just looking for a passion for ceramic design – we are also seeking people who are open to new ideas, informed risk taking and challenge, and who are willing to get involved in the different disciplines and activities of ceramic design practice.

Making your application

Applications for 2019/20 entry for this course are now closed. Applications for 2020/21 entry will open in Autumn 2019.

For EU applicants concerned about Brexit, please see our dedicated page: Brexit Information for Students.

You should apply though Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and you will need the following information:

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W270

We do not consider applications for Year 3 Entry for this course.

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by 15 January 2019 for equal consideration.  However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

Applications for 2019/20 entry for this course are now closed. Applications for 2020/21 entry will open in Autumn 2019.

You can only apply to the same course once per year whether you are applying via UCAS, UAL representative or using the UAL online application system. Any duplicate applications will be withdrawn.

If you are applying via UCAS you will need the following information:

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W270

You can only apply to the same course once per year whether you are applying via UCAS, UAL representative or using the UAL online application system. Any duplicate applications will be withdrawn.

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

We do not consider applications for Year 3 entry for this course.

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by 15 January 2019 for equal consideration. However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online via UCAS or through a UAL representative or direct application you will need to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  If you do not complete the check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

After you apply

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

What happens next

Initial application check

We check your application to see if you meet the standard entry requirements for the course.  If you do, you will be invited to attend a full portfolio review or submit a full portfolio digitally.

Full portfolio review and interview

We are interested in you as an individual. Our focus is on your personal interests, your creativity and your initiative in finding out about your proposed area of study. We would like to know about your favourite designers and artists, where you’ve seen their work at first hand, and how you have gathered more information about the work that interests you.

If you are unable to attend in person, you can submit a full portfolio online and we may interview you by Skype.

Please note that we do not accept portfolios by post.

Portfolio advice

Your portfolio should contain a range of visual material, including sketchbooks, research and photographs of three dimensional pieces or work of scale. Bring no more than two 3D pieces, in any material.

Your work should demonstrate creative development, whether for a college project or in your personal work. By creative development, we mean:

  • Ideas that have originated in your own experience and research and progressed towards potential visualisation
  • Ideas, visual research and experimentation are more important than finished design solutions and can be shown in 2D work, or through 3D objects
  • It’s important that the creative work you include reflects and demonstrates your thinking, initiative and personal commitment to a particular project, theme or idea.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

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

Fees & Funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250 (2020/21).

Tuition fees for undergraduate degree courses have been set at £9,250 per year for full-time study. This applies from the 2018/19 academic year, subject to changes in the law. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students, in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Please visit our Undergraduate tuition fees page for more information.

International fee

£22,920 (2020/21).

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. Please read the information on our additional costs page.


Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

BA Ceramic Design graduates take their knowledge of materiality into an ever increasing range of careers from ceramic practice, design practice and art practice, critical writing, commercial and broader design and cultural trend-spotting and also working with both bespoke, batch and volume production.

At present these are exemplified by BA Ceramic Design alumni such as Kathleen Hills, Ian Stallard of Fredrikson Stallard, Tamsin Van Essen, Jason & Lucy Boatswain of Diffuse, Annabel Johnson and Petr Weigl.

This designer/producer approach offers BA Ceramic Design design graduates a rich model of practice that creates autonomy and opportunity. The model is upheld by showcase marketing initiatives such as 100% Design, Designer's Block and Hidden Art, where our graduates consistently flourish.

Developing your skills

BA Ceramic Design has excellent links with a range of external affiliates in London and beyond that underpin the curriculum, including individuals and companies. It has a history of successful collaborative projects, including Thorsten van Elten, Marks & Spencers, Conran Shop, Vista Alegre Portugal, Few & Far, Wedgwood, Armourcoat, Stanton Williams, Joseph Joseph, Emel Magazine, Traidcraft, Ella Doran and the British Museum.

External projects in recent years have included;

Open competition across all years:

  • Across four European colleges:  Cersaie architectural ceramics project in association with Italian Tile Manufacturers in Bologna – first prize and two runners up.
  • Surface pattern for porcelain tableware with Viste Alegre, Portuguese manufacturer. Winner gained placement and 10 designs put onto ware.
  • Mug and surface designs with Ethos, volume manufacturer. Four students selected for production receiving royalty payments with cash prizes. Shown at trade fairs and shops such as Urban Outfitters and Argos.
  • Competition for a ‘Christmas Crib’ for St Martins-in-the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. Two of our third year students designed and installed a sculpture that celebrated the meeting of international travellers and used as a focal point for the Christmas Carols.

Second year client based team projects:

  • As part of your professional development you will have the opportunity to undertake a number of collaborative projects. There are links with a range of household names including Conran Shop,Wedgwood, Ikea and also some key contributors to creative practice within architecture, spatial, product and decorative arts both in terms of unique, batch and volume production.
  • There are also opportunities to work with specific manufacturing sectors including tableware and architectural ceramics.

Third year individually framed projects:

  • Individuals often choose to frame one of their personal projects with outside collaboration. For example, a surface pattern project for pets with Marks and Spencers, a conceptually driven product which enriches contemporary life  informed by ancient cultural understanding with  product design consultancy Doshi Levien and a series of illustrative panels for Southwark Cathedral reflecting life in Borough Market, London.

Recent alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of student activity within the subject.

  • Pacharapong Suntanaphan (Yod)
    Collaboration with textile designer; showed at Designers Block and Design Boom; exhibited ' Art Hand Design'; showed at ICFF, New York and Metropolitan Works; colour and detail designer for Nissan UK.
  • Tamsin van Essen
    Showed at Designers Block, Design Boom and Apothecaries Guild; exhibited 'Art Hand Design', Crafts Council show and in USA; set up studio in Prague.
  • Patrick Morris
    Established a design company in New Zealand that is sourcing production, imminently launching collection; showed at Ambiente 2008; showed at 100% East and Designers Block; winner of Ceramic Industry Forum award at New Designers.
  • Angel Ha
    Designing for Chinese ceramic design company; full time employment German design company; showed at 100% East.
  • Mabel Bibby
    Designer-maker studio, group; teaching in Botswana.
  • Pedro Kalache
    Designer-maker studio with architectural ceramics; school and community based clay projects; commissions for architectural projects.
  • Hannah Padgett
    Architectural ceramics full time for Lambs Terracotta, Brighton; Thailand six-month sustainability placement developing ceramic product with Hill Tribes; working for websites selling design products; showed One Year On, New Designers; showed at Tendence Frankfurt; MA course on Design and Sustainability at Kingston University.
  • Matilda Moreton
    Designer-maker studio; teaching summer courses at CSM; two significant commissions for hospital panel installations; continuing practice.
  • Simeon Featherstone
    Part-time ceramics technician CSM; part-time MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments; showed at Tendence Frankfurt.
  • Maham Chesti
    MA Design at CSM; freelance designer, also teaching in Pakistan and UK; PhD Royal College of Art.

Developing your skills

Recent external and competition projects have included: Cersaie architectural ceramics project across four European colleges in association with Italian tile manufacturer in Bologna - first prize and two runners-up. Surface pattern for porcelain tableware with Viste Alegre, Portuguese manufacturer - winner gained placement and ten designs put onto ware. Mug and surface designs with Ethos, volume manufacturer - four students selected for production receiving royalty payments with cash prizes, shown at trade fairs and shops including Urban Outfitters and Argos. Competition for a 'Christmas Crib' for St Martins-in-the-Fields, London - two third-year students designed and installed a sculpture celebrating the meeting of international travellers that was used as a focal point for Christmas carols.

Second-year client-based team projects

As part of your professional development you'll undertake a number of collaborative projects. The course has links with a range of household names including Conran Shop, Habitat, Wedgwood and Ikea. We also have links with key contributors to creative practice in architecture, spatial, product and decorative arts within unique, batch and volume production. There are also opportunities to work with specific manufacturing sectors including tableware and architectural ceramics.

Third-year individually framed projects

Students often choose to 'frame' their personal projects using outside collaboration. Examples include a surface pattern project for pets with M&S, a conceptually driven product that enriches contemporary life using ancient cultural understanding with product design consultancy Doshi Levien, and a series of illustrative panels depicting live in Borough Market for Southwark cathedral, London.


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