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BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design

Start date
October 2020
Course length
Three years full-time
UCAS code

Applications closed 2020/21

We are no longer accepting applications for 2020/21 entry to this course.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we are unable to say at this point if places will become available before the autumn intake. Please check this page regularly as places may become available later in the cycle and if they do, we will reopen applications.

Visit the Courses with places available page for a full list of UAL courses that are open for application.

Coronavirus updates

If you've applied for a pre-degree or undergraduate course starting in 2020/21, see guidance for prospective students during the Coronavirus outbreak.

BA Graphic Communication Design supports interdisciplinary, hybrid and specialist designers.

This course aims to equip you with the creative, conceptual, technical and critical skills expected of designers in the twenty-first century. It is part of the Graphic Communication Design programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Platforms and communities: You can specialise in a guided selection of platforms based on disciplinary areas of expertise: Narrative and Voice; Strategy and Identity; Time and Movement; Information and Systems; and Experience and Environment. Later in the course, these lead to communities of practice, based on themes and issues.
  • Co-design your curriculum: In your final year of study, you will directly influence the curriculum by developing subjects for exploration and experimentation.
  • Wide-ranging and specialist practice: The course structure allows you to balance the relationship between breadth and specialism.
  • Live projects: You can elect to tackle live briefs engaging local government, non-profits and companies. Recently, this has included work with organisations such as the BBC, the British Library, Lightvert, Louis Jadot, Mother, NHS Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, Tezenis and Transport for London.

Open days

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

Scholarships, awards and funding

Mead Scholarships and Fellowships
Fung Scholarships

Learn about BA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins

Student work

Graphic Communication Design on Instagram

BA Graphic Communication Design stories

Designing with Conversation

We talk to recent graduates exhibiting in Designing in Turbulent Times at the Lethaby Gallery. The designers here exploit creative tools to provoke or inform conversation

Bauhaus Rules

Vic Reeves and BBC4 came to Central Saint Martins to put six recent graduates through their Bauhaus paces

Show Two: Simba Ncube

Throughout Show Two: Design, we’re celebrating the work of our graduating students and asking them to share the process behind the practice.


Course overview

Graphic communication design practice is changing. The wide availability of design software and digital production tools has resulted in a re-evaluation of what the trained, skilled designer can offer. In response, design professions have developed more sophisticated consultancy models. Design thinking, marketing, branding and strategy are now offered as a central part of their services. Graphic communication design is also increasingly carried out in a diverse range of contexts. These range from large commercial and governmental departments to independent practitioners and small enterprises.  

BA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins takes into account this current industry climate. It explores graphic communication design as an expanded practice. It will provide you with a solid grounding in the discipline's core languages, contexts and applications, while also encouraging you to test and stretch its boundaries. The course structure is devised to support three types of practitioner: 

  • The inter-disciplinary designer or polymath who wants to stay broad-based 
  • The hybrid designer who works across a targeted combination of areas 
  • The specialist who has more specific discipline focus 

The course curriculum places emphasis on five core processes: typography, digital, context, image and print. These are taught throughout the course and will provide a foundation for your studio work and theoretical studies. Led by staff specialists, you will also be introduced to areas such as photography, printmaking and bookbinding.  

The course structure enables student mobility across five platforms and communities of practice. The platforms are an investigation into the multiple disciplines of graphic communication design. They are formulated in correspondence to areas of contemporary design practice. The platforms give focus to the intentions and values of your practice. They also offer points of departure as you develop your identity within a community of practice in Stages 2 and 3. Overall, this unique structure will allow you to be directly involved in the co-creation of the course curriculum. 

Course units

The BA Graphic Communication Design curriculum is delivered through a mix of project work, lectures, seminars and assignments in discrete units. The project brief is the main vehicle for learning and teaching. Briefs usually require an individual response to a problem, theme, issue or provocation. You will produce an outcome which considers content, form, communication and audience. The course also aims to provide regular opportunities to engage with client-led, live briefs. In the past, this has included work with organisations such as Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide and Camden Council.  

Stage 1 

Unit 1: An Introduction to Graphic Communication Design 
Unit 2: Media and Methods  
Unit 3: Core Processes  
Unit 4: Introduction to Platforms

Stage 1 will introduce you to design methods through a complex or “wicked” problem. This will immerse you in an intensive graphic communication design project. You will begin with skills in research, collaboration and idea generation. This will be followed by an introduction to the media and methods of graphic communication design practice. You will undertake projects which involve workshop areas and processes. These will include photography, printmaking, letterpress and digital media. In the latter half of Stage 1, you will be introduced to the five platforms of the course. The platforms are: 

  • Narrative and Voice: Keywords include illustration, storytelling, image-making, photography, visual language, pacing and framing 
  • Strategy and Identity: Keywords include branding, advertising, visual identity, marketing and persuasion 
  • Time and Movement: Keywords include moving image, animation, sound design and performance 
  • Information and Systems: Keywords include information design, typography, UX, UI, data visualisation, mapping and publishing 
  • Experience and Environment: Keywords include exhibition design, social design, digital media, interaction design, event design and service design 

The platforms act as a departure point for the skills and approaches associated with a specific area in graphic communication design. Each platform corresponds to an area of professional practice, but is open-ended. This reflects the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of graphic communication. In Stage 1, you will study in three of the five platforms. You will be placed in these platforms based on a survey of your preferences.  

Stage 2

Unit 5: Exploring Practice 1  
Unit 6: Bigger Picture  
Unit 7: Exploring Practice 2  
Unit 8: Identifying Communities of Practice  

In Stage 2, you will develop your skills through the platform structure. Although they are distinctive in character, there are commonalities and shared experiences. This allows students to see the interconnections in the landscape of design practice. You will have the opportunity to both specialise and collaborate with students across the course and College. You will explore notions of collaboration, participation and the relationship with audiences. This stage is delivered through lectures, workshops and seminars. These explore cultural, social and theoretical contexts of contemporary graphic communication design practice. You will also have opportunities to engage further in the techniques and skills introduced in Stage 1.  

Stage 3  

Unit 9: Situating Practice  
Unit 10: Communities of Practice 

Stage 3 addresses problem-finding, problem-solving and problem-setting. You will focus on depth of knowledge and situating your practice. You will work in student-initiated communities of practice, based around ideas arrived at in Stage 2. Communities of practice are led by tutor teams with relevant experience in theory and practice. This is an outward-facing structure, allowing you to make connections and build networks. The aim is to broaden your practice in relation to wider socio-cultural issues and to support your professional practice after graduation.  

The final unit is focused on the development of a substantial body of work and written critical reflection. This should have a clear direction, strong rationale and demonstrate your priorities as a creative practitioner.  

Exchange opportunities 

Students enrolled on this course have the opportunity to study outside of the UK at a partner institution. Studying overseas provides students with the chance to experience a new culture. It also allows for an alternative perspective on your course’s subject discipline and different learning and teaching methods. The application process for these opportunities is competitive. Alongside this, the course is actively engaged in the University’s Study Abroad scheme, with the incoming international students bringing an important additional dynamic to the course. 

Mode of study 

BA Graphic Communication Design runs for 90 weeks in full-time mode. It is divided into three stages over three academic years. Each stage lasts 30 weeks.   

You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study, which includes teaching time and independent study.   

Credit and award requirements 

The course is credit-rated at 360 credits, with 120 credits at each stage (level).   

On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA Hons degree).  

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications the stages for a BA are: Stage 1 (Level 4), Stage 2 (Level 5) and Stage 3 (Level 6). In order to progress to the next stage, all units of the preceding stage must normally be passed: 120 credits must be achieved in each stage. The classification of the award will be derived from the marks of units in Stages 2 and 3 or only Stage 3, using a dual algorithm.   

If you are unable to continue on the course, a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) will normally be offered following the successful completion of Level 4 (or 120 credits), or a Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) following the successful completion of Level 5 (or 240 credits).

Learning and teaching methods

Your primary means of learning will be through studio practice. This is supported by:  

  • Unit and project briefings 
  • Set and self-initiated project briefs 
  • Inductions, lectures and seminars 
  • Workshops and interdisciplinary study teams 
  • Event-based teaching (publication, conference, exhibition) 
  • Learning by doing (thinking through making) 
  • Peer learning 
  • Self and peer assessment 
  • Guest speakers 
  • Group discussions, reviews and critiques 
  • Working with clients on live projects and competitions 
  • Essay writing and supervision 
  • Independent study 
  • Platform-based teaching  
  • Communities of practice (working student groups based on student-initiated themes. 

Assessment methods

  • Evidence of participation in taught activities 
  • Presentation of a completed set of projects 
  • Portfolio and verbal presentations 
  • Individual written reflections 
  • Learning agreements 
  • Written and visual documentation 
  • Essays 
  • Critical reports  


Peter  Hall

Dr Peter Hall

Course Leader, BA Graphic Communication Design

Catherine  Dixon

Dr Catherine Dixon

Stage 1 Leader, BA Graphic Communication Design

Jaap  de Maat

Jaap de Maat

Stage 2 Leader, BA Graphic Communication Design

Kira  Salter

Kira Salter

Stage 3 Leader, BA Graphic Communication Design

Platform Leader, Experience and Environment: Abbie Vickress
Platform Leader, Information and Systems: Paul Finn
Platform Leader, Strategy and Identity: Dr David Preston
Platform Leader, Narrative and Voice: Andrew Hall
Platform Leader, Time and Movement: Michelle Salamon

Typography Subject Leader: Professor Phil Baines
Lead Tutor Print and Production: Simon Goode

Contextual Studies Subject Leader: Dr Paul Rennie
Contextual Studies Tutor: Andrea Lioy

Photography Subject Leader: Gary Wallis
Course Lecturer: Mikael Calandra Achode

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 and Design (Level 3 or 4) and one A Level at grade C or above
  • Two 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)
  • 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.

AP(E)L – 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 cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English language requirements

IELTS score of 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

Applicants are selected according to their demonstration of potential and current ability to:

  • Work imaginatively and creatively in graphic and visual media
  • Apply original thought to any given problem and not mimic prevalent styles
  • Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities
  • Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry within their work
  • Demonstrate potential to experiment, to test the parameters of design
  • Demonstrate relevant research and reflect critically on their learning
  • Demonstrate cultural awareness and/or contextual framework of their work
  • Identify historical and contemporary graphic design practices
  • Articulate and communicate intentions clearly.

What we are looking for

We are interested in students who are prepared to question and to take a critical perspective and who show potential to develop as innovative artists.

Making your application

We are no longer accepting applications for 2020/21 entry to this course. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we are unable to say at this point if places will become available before the autumn intake. Please check this page regularly as places may become available later in the cycle and if they do, we will reopen applications.

Applications for 2021/22 entry will open in Autumn 2020.

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

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W215

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 120 credits (year 1) or 240 credits (years 1 and 2) in the equivalent units/modules on a degree course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer to year 2 or year 3 respectively. The Admissions Tutor will consider applicants for entry to year 2 and 3 on a case by case basis, subject to places being available on the course. You must apply through UCAS and indicate POE 2 for entry to year 2 or POE 3 for entry to year 3 on your application. Further information can be found in our UAL External Student Transfer Policy.

Deferred entry

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 2020 for equal consideration. However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

We are no longer accepting applications for 2020/21 entry to this course. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we are unable to say at this point if places will become available before the autumn intake. Please check this page regularly as places may become available later in the cycle and if they do, we will reopen applications.

Applications for 2021/22 entry will open in Autumn 2020.

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

  • Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) online application system
  • One of our official representatives in your country
  • A direct application

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:                 W215


If you have successfully completed 120 credits (year 1) or 240 credits (years 1 and 2) in the equivalent units/modules on a degree course at another institution and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer to year 2 or year 3 respectively.  The Admissions Tutor will consider applications for entry to year 2 or 3 on a case by case basis, subject to places being available on the course.  You must apply through UCAS and indicate POE 2 for entry to year 2 or POE 3 for entry to year 3 on your application. Click here for important information about our UAL External Student Transfer Policy .

Deferred Entry

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 2020 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 submit a mini portfolio through UAL’s online portfolio review system.

Mini portfolio

The mini portfolio should be no more than 10 pages comprising of your best work showing your 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:

  • Primary and secondary research, ideas development and experimentation with a different range of materials, techniques and media as well as finished pieces
  • Your work could be the result of set projects and self-initiated work. We like to see images from sketchbooks or notebooks, working drawings, life-drawing, photography and media manipulation, 2D or 3D work
  • Demonstrate your ability to tackle visual problems and find inventive and creative solutions
  • It is useful to organize your portfolio into categories to make it easier to view. Avoid repetition and demonstrate a wide range of your skills. Include brief (one-sentence) explanatory captions.

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 – Home / EU applicants

If you have been selected you will be asked to choose a time to attend a full portfolio review at college.  As part of the review applicants are invited to a group interview at CSM. Be prepared to talk about the work in your portfolio - for example, which work you consider to be your best and why? You should also be able to explain your motivation for choosing Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins or perhaps your intentions with regard to your future ambitions within the field. It may be useful to consider who or what is your inspiration, etc. Be assured that we endeavour to keep the group interviews as informal and relaxed as possible.

Reviews are likely to take place in the weeks beginning 6 January, 17 February and 24 February, 2020.

Full portfolio review – International applicants

International applicants will be invited from January to March, 2020.

If you are unable to attend the full portfolio review in person, you will be asked to submit a FULL digital portfolio (up to 30 pages) through UAL’s online portfolio review system.  We may also interview you by Skype.

Please note that we do not accept portfolios by post.

Portfolio advice

The full portfolio should demonstrate a range of skills appropriate to the subject area, containing examples of work completed within recent years, whether for a college project or personal work. It is important that the work applicants include reflects their engagement in creative practice, critical thinking and technical abilities and also that they include evidence of background research, e.g. sketchbooks, preliminary work and written material.

Ideas, visual research and experimentation are more important than finished work.

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 Graphic Communication Design students leave with a broad and valuable understanding of graphic communication design practice in its many forms. Skills acquired enable graduates to become versatile practitioners in many exciting and diverse professions.

Recent alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of careers within the subject, embracing interactive design, web design, advertising, graphic design, information design, illustration, photography, film & TV, animation, editorial design, typographic design, packaging design, brand development, exhibition design, book design, 3D design, as well as in fine art, writing and filmmaking.

Course alumni include: Alan Aboud, Alan Fletcher, Andy Altman, Colin Forbes, Damon Murray, Derek Birdsall, Dylan Jones, Graham Wood, Huw Morgan, Jonathan Barnbrook, Katy Hepburn, Ken Garland, Lucienne Roberts, Michael Worthington, Minkie Spiro, Morag Myerscough, Paul Neale, Phil Baines, Platon, Richard Hollis, Sandro Sodano, Stephen Sorrell, Tom Hingston, Tony Chambers.

Design groups or companies formed by our graduates or employing our graduates include: Aboud Sodano, Bibliotheque Design, Barnbrook Design, Fallon, FUEL Design, GTF, Johnson Banks, Moving Brands, Multistorey, Pentagram, Praline, REG Design, Sans+Baum, Studio Myerscough, Tom Hingston Studio, Tomato, Why Not Associates, Wolff Ollins.

Developing your links

At the end of Stage One you will be expected to take part in the 'End of Year Folio Show' and at the end of Stage Two, the 'Work in Progress Show'; these shows are public exhibitions and although not assessed, are seen as key learning experiences as preparation for your Degree Show.

There are regular opportunities to engage with client-led live briefs featuring brands, such as LVMH, Samsung and Sony, and to participate in national and international student design competitions, such as RSA, Lloyds TSB, and D&AD. The course is a member of D&AD - BA Graphic Design students gain from discounts on submissions to the D&AD Student Awards and other benefits.

Arrangements for work experience or internships are encouraged and facilitated on an informal basis. Study trips, student exchanges, studio visits and collaborative projects (either within UAL or with partner institutions at home and abroad) offer further opportunities to study within a broader context. During Stage Two a number of 'Study Abroad' students from the USA and other countries join the course for one, two or three terms. Context 'creative writing' groups, student clubs such as 'book club' and 'sketchbook club', exhibitions such as 'work in progress', 'pop-up shows' and the 'degree show', 'interest groups', 'guest lectures' and a school-wide 'elective' present additional opportunities for social interaction or collaboration.

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

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