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Central Saint Martins

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BA (Hons) Product Design

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

Applications closed 2019/20
Applications for 2019/20 entry to this course have now closed.

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 and Industrial Design Programme.

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.

Open days

The next round of open days will take place from mid October to early December 2019, please check back here mid September 2019 to book online.

Scholarships, awards and funding

Mead Scholarships and Fellowships
Fung Scholarships

Students Aathirai Muthu Kumar, Sasha Brumi, Tong Zhang and Kaye Toland discuss their Degree Show work.
Stage One students create a model of the Original 1227™ Anglepoise desk lamp as their workshop induction project.

Course catalogues

Student work

BA Product Design stories

Course overview

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).

The Diploma in Professional Studies provides you 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 2 and 3. The DPS is an additional award credited at 120 credits.

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 units

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.

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.


Paul  De'Ath

Paul De'Ath

BA Product Design, Course Leader

Betti  Marenko

Betti Marenko

Contextual Studies Leader, BA Product Design; Tutor, MA Industrial Design

David  Scothron

David Scothron

Stage 1 Co-Leader, BA Product Design

Simon  Donald

Simon Donald

Stage 1 Co-Leader, BA Product Design

Mike  Hankin

Mike Hankin

Stage 2 Co-Leader (Acting), BA Product Design

Kok Chian  Leong

Kok Chian Leong

Stage 2 Co-Leader (Acting) and Technical Studies Leader, BA Product Design

Paul  Sayers

Paul Sayers

Stage 3 Leader, BA Product Design

Jane  Penty

Jane Penty

Sustainability Design Leader

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:

120 UCAS tariff points which can be made up of one or a combination of the following accepted full level 3 qualifications:

  • 3 A Levels at grades ABC (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4) and 1 A Level at Grade C or above
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma equivalent to 120 UCAS tariff points (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)
  • Or equivalent EU/International qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma

And five GCSE passes at grade 4 or above (grade A*-C) including English Language, Mathematics and a double award at science, or two separate sciences such as Physics or Chemistry, and one other subject (Art & Design or Design Technology are recommended).

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 product and 3D design:

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

Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities:

  • Demonstrated a high level of visual and 3D 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.

What we are looking for

We are not only looking for applicants with a passion for product design, but also for people open to new ideas, to informed risk taking and to challenge, willing to involve themselves in the various different disciplines and practices of product design.

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:                 W240

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.

There are three ways international students can apply to an undergraduate course at Central Saint Martins:

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.

For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Students webpage.

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

International application to this course for 2019/20 entry is now closed.

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 submit a mini portfolio through UAL’s online portfolio review system.

Mini portfolio

The mini portfolio should be no more than 10 pages comprising your best work showing your sensitivity to 3D design, skills and thinking. You can create the pages in any layout (for example, presentation boards) but they should be uploaded as jpeg images.  It should include:

  • Sketching
  • 3D work including experimentation and development
  • Finished work accompanied by a short explanation of the piece and your thinking
  • Idea generation
  • Inspiration and research material.

Following the review of the mini portfolio we select a small number of applicants to move on to the next stage of the process.  These applicants will be invited to a full portfolio review.

Full portfolio review

On the review day, we will first ask you to drop off your portfolio for review.  After this we will conduct short individual interviews in order to clarify aspects of your application or your work.

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 full 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 2D work or made objects
  • Evidence of 3D 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.

Please remember:

  • The quality of the work is more important than the quantity
  • Where possible, large or 3D work should be photographed and scanned
  • Please organise your work by project, with supporting work presented alongside final outcomes.

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 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

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


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