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Central Saint Martins

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BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design

Start date
September 2019
Course length
3 years
UCAS code

Course summary

Apply to start in September 2019
This course has places available for UK and EU applicants only. Applications have now closed for international students.

Read our Guide to applying for a course starting this September. For a full list of UAL courses open for 2019/20 entry, visit the ‘Courses with places available’ page.

This course equips you to become a versatile graphic communication design practitioner in a wide range of media and contexts, from paper to screen, from digital environments to public spaces.

Taking this broad perspective, you’ll develop not only technical and conceptual skills but engage socially and culturally, understanding the power of design to shape human behaviour.

This course is part of the Graphic Communication Design programme.

Great reasons to apply:

  • BA Graphic Communication Design supports students interested in developing hybrid practices, specialist approaches and those looking for a more general and strategic graphic communication design education
  • Choose from areas of study to develop professional approaches in, for example, typography, coding, illustration, interaction, moving image and branding
  • Develop collaborative and team-working skills and hybrid practices across disciplinary boundaries
  • Co-design your curriculum for final year study, developing themes and issues for exploration and experimentation
  • Elect to tackle live briefs engaging local government, non-profits and companies
  • Gain support and feedback from a larger community of professional design practitioners.

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
Yat Malmgren Bursary
Fung Scholarships

Learn about BA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins

Student work

Course catalogues

Graphic Communication Design on Instagram

BA Graphic Communication Design stories

How to solve an awkward silence

In 2018, Central Saint Martins commissioned its own beer from Hammerton Brewery. Each year students from the Graphic Communication Design programme redesign its packaging. We catch up with 2019’s graphic designer duo.

Poster Parade

Sarah Campbell, Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection curator talks us through the current temporary display at the London Transport Museum, Poster Parade, which features the work of five Central Saint […]

Making magazines

Last month saw two conferences bring the best editors and designers in the industry to the College With just one week in between, the Graphic Communication Design Programme and the Fashion […]

Feeling festive

To bring a little festive cheer before the close of term, the College ran a student competition for a Christmas campaign. Here, we share the design and catch up with […]


Letterpress facilities


Find out more about our Letterpress workshop

Print workshop

Print Workshops

Find out more about the printmaking facilities

Image of computers in a room

Digital Media

Find out more about our digital media facility at King's Cross

Course details

Graphic communication design is the art of generating and diffusing visual culture. Its practice is as old as cave painting but with the advent of mechanical, photographic and then digital means of reproduction, graphic communication design became a dominant and ubiquitous force in the world, disseminating the ideas and norms of our visual culture. As a means of recording, informing, promoting and persuading, graphic communication design is responsible for shaping the ways people see and act in the world.

This course aims to develop your technical and conceptual skills and situate your practice socially and ethically, so that you emerge with strong technical skills, creative abilities and an understanding of the power of design to influence and shape human behaviour. This is particularly important amid unprecedented social, political and environmental changes.

The accelerating pace of transformation raises important questions about the future forms the world will take and, as a consequence, the future aims and possibilities of graphic and communication design. Such challenges demand that practitioners envisage and direct change, and accept responsibility as managers of material and cultural resources, data and information.

During their studies, BA Graphic Communication Design students:

  • Choose disciplinary areas of focus and build strengths in specific technical skills
  • Co-create content based on student-initiated themes and issues
  • Acquire skills and process knowledge based on both the historical tradition of the graphic communication design discipline and the potential and pitfalls of new technology within the systems and structures of society, providing a practical expression of the connections between meanings and audiences
  • Join a large, diverse design student community spread across five continents while enjoying direct access to London, one of the world's great capital cities of design
  • Have easy access to London’s vast cultural and social resources.

The ability to think critically about the purpose of what we do is crucial in developing a strategy of sustainability within our discipline and beyond. The future belongs to those responsible and reflective practitioners who understand the extended potential of graphic design and possess the creative openness to explore its possibilities.

We support and encourage all BA Graphic Communication Design students to imagine, express and communicate responsibly the new, the exciting and the different.

BA Graphic Communication 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 units

The BA Graphic Communication Design curriculum is delivered through a mix of project work, lectures, seminars and assignments in discrete units.

BA Graphic Communication Design offers you a common introductory diagnostic experience during the first year, followed by two years of selected and more specialised study driven by your interests and preferences. The degree programme includes a contextual studies (Context) element and gives access to a comprehensive range of technical workshops and resources, both digital and analogue.

Main study - stage one

Stage one will introduce the landscape and languages of graphic communication design and welcome you to a community of designers. You will be inducted into the core languages of graphic communication design– reading and writing, typography and digital – through lectures, workshops, seminars and individual and collective projects. This stage will include introductions to the history of design and theories of communication. You will have the opportunity to experience different specialist areas of design before making a negotiated choice of focus in which to begin stage two. Teaching will be intensive, timetabled across 2.5 days.

Main study - stage two

You will begin stage two in your chosen specialist area and will have the opportunity to begin to collaborate with students across the course and across the college, with options to shift focus at key points as the year progresses. The course encourages you to explore hybrid practices through projects where different specialist areas meet and mix and discipline boundaries are expanded and explored. This stage will focus on communication skills: how to communicate verbally, visually and in writing as an integrated practice. You will be mapping the field, thinking through making, exploring practice and working collaboratively. As you move towards stage three, you will be involved in co-designing the content and curriculum for your final year and will be supported in making a negotiated choice of Community of Practice. You will explore notions of collaboration, participation and the relationship with audiences. Communities of Practice will be supported by lectures, workshops and seminars that will explore cultural, social and theoretical contexts of contemporary graphic communication design practice.

Main study - stage three

Stage three will address problem finding, problem solving and problem setting. The focus will be on depth of knowledge, and situating practice around student-initiated issues and themes. This is an outward-facing stage designed to facilitate students in making connections and building networks. You will work in Communities of Practice based around thematic areas that have been arrived at

through the co-creation conference in stage two. You will be tutored by a group of staff that will bring studio and writing together to facilitate and support the production of a body of work that situates all aspects of the student’s practice.

Developing your skills - external activities

There are opportunities to engage with live briefs led by local government or clients such as LVMH, Camden Council and Sony, and to participate in national and international student design competitions, such as RSA 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.

The course has a strong history and a reputation for thinking through making. You will have opportunities to learn prototyping, craft and production skills through workshops and projects that explore the synthesis between thinking and making as an essential part of the design process. You will explore what making means in relation to both traditional and contemporary practice – for example, you will be able to explore code as a material and at the same time choose to do bookbinding; you might experiment with analogue printmaking alongside physical computing; stop-frame animation and augmented reality. This approach extends beyond making into ‘breaking’ – you will be encouraged to challenge, experiment, disrupt and subvert and to make your own tools.

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 Graphic Communication programme include: TetraPak | Karstadt | Sony Music | Beefeater Gin | Fabriano | Kagome | Hewlett Packard | Tod's | Fresh. Find out more about the Lacoste 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.

CSM Graphics graduate designs stunning Foyles building wrap

In a competition curated by Futurecity, ten recent BA Graphic Design graduates were selected to develop artwork proposals that would celebrate the character of both Central Saint Martins and Foyles, exploring the status of the two institutions as cultural icons and bringing their heritage to life for this large-scale temporary artwork.

BA Graphic Design graduate and current MA Communication Design student Rebecca Hendin’s playful illustration was selected by a panel of judges from Futurecity, Foyles and Saint Martins Lofts and unveiled earlier this month.

Visit the News section to find out more.

CSM Graphics work with Beefeater on #MyLondon photography campaign

Central Saint Martins BA Graphic Design students had the opportunity this autumn to work alongside the Beefeater Gin #MyLondon campaign, which invited people to send in photos of what London means to them.

Winner Natalie Braune had the IP of her winning photo purchased by Beefeater and received £1000. Her photo captured the interaction between iconic London monuments and the patterns they make on the people around them.


Rebecca  Wright

Rebecca Wright

Programme Director, Graphic Communication Design

Peter  Hall

Peter Hall

Course Leader, BA Graphic Communication Design

Phil  Baines

Phil Baines

Typography Subject Leader, BA Graphic Communication Design

Kira  Salter

Kira Salter

Stage 3 Leader, BA Graphic Communication Design

Stage 1 Leader: Catherine Dixon
Stage 2 Leader: Jamie Hearn (Acting)

Platform Leader Strategy and Identity: Clive Challis
Senior Lecturer (Time and Movement): Michelle Salamon (Acting)
Senior Lecturer (Narrative and Voice): Andrew Hall
Senior Lecturer (Information and Systems): Paul Finn
Senior Lecturer (Experience and Environment): Abbie Vickress

Senior Lecturer (Reading and Writing): Andrea Lioy
Senior Lecturer (Context): Dr Paul Rennie
Senior Lecturer (Photography): Gary Wallis
Senior Lecturer (Digital Media): Jaap de Maat

GCD Programme Visiting Fellow: Jack Schulze

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

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

Please note, this course has places available for UK and EU applicants only for 2019/20 entry. 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:                 W215

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 for international applicants. 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.

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

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W215

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 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

Full portfolio review takes place at college, normally between February and March.

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.

Please note that we do not accept portfolios by post.

As part of the selection process you may be 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.

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 (2019/20).

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

£19,930 (2019/20).

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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