Graphic and Communication Design BA

Year of entry

2024 course information

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Start date
September 2025
Delivery type
On campus
Duration
3 years full time
Work placement
Optional
Study abroad
Optional
Typical A-level offer
ABB (specific subject requirements)
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBC at A Level and a Pass in the Access to Leeds module.
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Graphic design students

Studying BA Graphic and Communication Design at the University of Leeds bridges the gap between thinking and doing, valuing research activities and contextual studies as much as creative practice. Through a combination of making, reading, and writing, you'll become a critical and innovative thinker and practitioner; informed by the past, able to challenge the present, and be prepared for the future.

As the world changes and grows more complex, our need for communication design has never been greater. Our challenge-led teaching, situated within one of the few Russell Group research intensive universities to offer this subject, will help you to develop the key theoretical, practical, and professional skills vital in the creative industries. You'll embrace user-centred approaches, being taught graphic design as a transformative system to create powerful social and economic impact.

You'll build from a foundation in subjects such as typography, interaction design, and design for print, you'll be given challenging briefs to push you to achieve your best. At every stage of the course you can also choose options to match your passions. By offering you a year in industry or a year studying abroad, we provide the flexibility to support you in shaping your education to reach your ambition.

With two independently-led projects in the Final Year, you have the chance to specialise and tailor the focus of your studies and produce two ambitious and large bodies of work with which to impress potential employees.

Specialist facilities and support

Take a virtual tour of our facilities.

We offer excellent facilities and technical support for developing your creative skills. We have a range of dedicated spaces where you can work independently. We also have a number of practical workshop studios and specialist facilities: sculpture programme studio, 2D programme studio, fashion design studio, knit and weave studio, photography studio, print workshop, laser cutting and 3D print workshop, printmaking workshop, XLab for Immersive Technologies and 3D workshop.

We provide access to a team of excellent technicians across the full range of skills who can help you to realise your work to reach its potential. We also provide a range of other support to enhance your experience and prepare you for the workplace: free dedicated software, a wide range of technical induction programmes free access to LinkedIn Learning Tutorials, free camera and video recorder loan, supporting a Degree Show, external promotion, Yorkshire Fashion, visiting speakers from industry or other institutions around the world.

Course details

We highly value research activities and contextual studies as integral to contemporary creative practice. We believe that this means you’ll graduate with the flexibility and adaptability that employers are looking for. You’ll be equipped with a broad range of resilient skills that allow you to be able to address the vital design challenges of the future.

Our course develops your understanding of issues of digital change, diversity, sustainability and inclusivity to address these challenges. Social and historical contexts and the need for social change are at the heart of our courses. You’ll learn and co-create with classmates across programmes, addressing global challenges through cross disciplinary design and creative thinking. As well as mastering your core creative discipline, you will be able to respond reflexively to change and future challenges.

Year 1

In your first year, you’ll learn about history, design culture and technologies relating to graphic design and how societal change impacts the industry. You'll gain research and analysis skills and write reflective essays in response to contemporary and historical design perspectives. You’ll be introduced to skills in visual communication for a range of purposes. At Level 1, you’ll also be creatively challenged by varied design ‘jams’ to establish skills in rapid creative idea generation.

Simultaneously, you'll engage with an exciting range of practical design projects, starting to build your portfolio from Year 1.  Developing skills in typography and image-making, you’ll respond to a range of creative challenges – from branding to persuasion. 

Year 2

In your second year, you'll develop an awareness of professional standards within graphic design as you expand your portfolio of practical work. You'll use your academic knowledge to conduct and undertake critical analysis and evaluation as you create graphics in respond to various societal needs.

You’ll also build skills in immersive and interaction design as you continue to expand your design knowledge. You'll learn about more advanced ways of conducting research in the graphic design area. 

Year 3

All of this will prepare you for your final year, in which you'll apply all the practical and academic skills you've learned. These will culminate in creative projects, where you'll demonstrate your advanced graphic design, insight and communication skills. You’re given room to expand your interests into two independently led projects that will demonstrate in-depth research and developed responses to a topic in the field.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1
Compulsory modules

Design Studies: Foundation (20 credits) - This module provides opportunities to develop the foundational skills of scholarly research, academic writing and critical thinking. You’ll be immersed in key issues and debates informing the changing values and future of design and consider how these have been influenced by social and historical forces. It will equip you with the skills to read and understand academic texts and apply theoretical ideas to your own design practice. You’ll also be introduced to research methods for finding and analysing texts and images. 

You’ll develop your awareness of the complexity of challenges that design and society faces and an ability to analyse the relevance of and make connections between the contexts, issues and subject fields that will shape your future studies and professional careers.

Creative Challenges and Communication (20 credits) - This module involves a range of rapid and team-led design jams as you are taught a variety of design thinking skills that are both broad and discipline specific. Being able to visually communicate design solutions in a range of formats is fundamental to this module – principles of type choice, layout and image usage are taught. 

Graphic and Communication Design Principles (40 credits) - This module provides students with an understanding of fundamental Graphic and Communication Design principles by examining the relationship between type and image. You’ll explore typography, layout, and image making approaches that are informed by, and contextualised within, design histories, practice, and contemporary disciplinary discourse.   

You must take one module (20 credits each) in a defined area of study-based specialisms. These may include modules in areas such as: 

  • Drawing, Theory and Practise 

  • Introduction to Information Design

Optional modules

(20 credits each)

  • Colour Design

  • Creative Thinking

  • Introduction to Photography

Year 2
Compulsory modules

Design Studies: Exploration (20 credits) - This module will develop your research and analysis skills and show you how these can be used to tackle the complex challenges faced by society today. You’ll learn how to apply a range of different research methods to explore the role design plays in our lives. This module will equip you with an understanding of how you can use design research to create positive change in the world and the confidence to put this knowledge into practice.

Design for Interaction and Experience (20 credits) - This module teaches skills in planning and designing post digital experiences. Team-based demonstrations introduce you to the potential of emerging technologies that may shape the future of design. You will engage with new media theories that help contextualise your work. Practical principles of designing for physical interaction (such as designing installations or digital experiences) are introduced and you learn how best to present your creative responses using a range of techniques.

Graphic and Communication Design for Society (40 credits) - This module expands your understanding of design as a problem -solving discipline that communicates with others and tackles the complexities of the role that graphic and communication design plays in society and industry. Concepts of interaction, expression, and empathy within design are explored, building on and developing the core concepts learnt in Year 1 modules, to explore how design functions in and shapes people's lives.    

You must take one module (20 credits each) in a defined area of study based on staff specialisms. These may include modules in areas such as: 

  • Book Arts 

  • Advanced Branding

 Optional modules

(20 credits each)

  • Contemporary Illustration

  • Collage Culture

  • Contemporary Photography

  • Advanced Colour

  • University of Leeds Discovery Module 

Year 3
Compulsory modules

Major Research Project (40 credits) - In your final year, you’ll carry out an academic research project, building on the research and analytical skills developed throughout your studies. You’ll select from a range of project types, enabling you to focus on a subject of specific interest, developing the skills required for your future career. 

Graphic Design Self Directed Project (40 credits) - This module provides students with the opportunity to formulate a major graphic and communication design project proposal that aligns with their personal interests and career aspirations. You’ll demonstrate their ability to propose a substantial body of work within a set framework, execute their proposal and demonstrate visual communication skills. The project proposal will be negotiated through ongoing discussions with staff and fellow students.  

Graphic Design Innovation  (20 credits) - This module positions graphic and communication design as a discipline that can pose and explore questions, not just solve them. Starting from the premise that design as a discipline ought to ask questions of itself and of the wider world, you’ll use speculative and critical approaches to design practice to formulate future-facing responses to emerging challenges posed by industry and society.

Optional modules

(20 credits each)

You must take one module (20 credits each) in a defined area of study based on staff specialisms. These may include modules such as: 

  • Contemporary Advertising 

  • Collaborative Marketing and Promotion

  • Fashion Styling and Photography

  • Social Design

  • University of Leeds Discovery Module 

Learning and teaching

Creative problem solving and design thinking methods are central our teaching in the School of Design. Your learning will be enhanced by a range of contemporary teaching methods which encourage active learning and are underpinned by inclusive and authentic learning activities, including team working, creative sprints and industry facing scenarios.

We follow a campus-based blended learning approach, you’ll have a range of resources in the virtual learning environment which are accessible at all times, including videos and pre-work to help you prepare. You’ll attend lectures which are carefully designed to invite engagement and participation, seminars enable you to delve deeper into key topics, workshops to learn and practise design making, crit sessions and tutorials to discuss work in progress.

Collaboration with staff and your peers is the foundation of our teaching and learning, giving you input into their learning journey. Two of your core modules will be studied with classmates from other design disciplines, here you will benefit from our community of learners, to contribute their diverse perspectives, and to encounter those of others, with global industry practices in mind. Your module tutors have dedicated office hours, which means there’s always the opportunity to ask questions.

A typical week in your first year may include 8 to twelve hours of in person and online study, one to four of specific workshop and studio session, regular personal tutor sessions. These activities provide a rich resource to support further investigation in your private study time. Private study is important at university and a potentially significant change from the way you have been taught previously. This is space where you can reflect and critique materials from taught session, including further reading, writing, designing and making. You’ll be guided through this process by your tutors to help you develop your knowledge and research skills. The ability to work independently is a key skill to your development as creative professional and thinker.

You’ll also have the ongoing support of your Academic Personal Tutor.

There is an active visiting lecturer programme, formed of industry and academic experts, including School of Design alumni.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.

Assessment

You’ll be assessed through a variety of methods, these may include visual 2D and 3D responses, portfolios of text and image, blogs, short videos, presentations as well as more traditional essays, reports and occasional exams. Some of your assessments will be based upon collaboration with your peers. This collaboration could be in the development of artefacts, proposals and/or various forms of visual and textual communication in response to problem-based issues.

The nature of assessment will change as you progress through your course:

  • at Level 1 assessments focus on your understanding and acquisition of new knowledge and practical, digital, academic and professional skills

  • at Level 2 assessments focus more on establishing how well you understand, analyse and apply this new knowledge and new skills in relation to real-world, local and global settings

  • in your final year study becomes more self-directed with forms of assessment often being negotiated and agreed with tutors

Throughout each year of study, it is to be expected that you’ll find that assessments are progressively more challenging. To support you as you navigate assessment at the different levels of study, we provide formative as well as summative assessment. Formative assessment gives staff an opportunity to give you feedback on personal progress, in good time before a summative deadline. Given the range of assessment types in any one level of study, formative assessment and feedback enables you to reflect upon your personal progress and establish which forms of assessment allow you to play to your strengths.

Authentic assessment means relevant assessment; in terms of contemporary contexts and relevant to your personal interests and your future aspirations. The authenticity of assessment is an important consideration in how we design assignments and project briefs. This means that we think carefully about the relevance of assessment outcomes; not only in academic terms but also in terms of your chosen career path, skill development needs and the future of work in your chosen discipline. Where appropriate, there will be an element of choice in your assessment. Some projects will allow you to choose the focus and format of your submission.

Dialogic teaching methods emphasise in-class discussion and support staff-student debate. This approach to teaching and learning enables staff to hear all student voices. In turn, for some modules, this in-class dynamic may facilitate and inform the co-production of assessment tasks. Co-production of assessment tasks means that staff and students work together to devise fair and inclusive assessment; both formative and summative. This allows staff to consider the requirements of a module alongside opportunities to allow students to harness their strengths.

While remaining considerate of module and course learning outcomes, where relevant and beneficial, we strive to adopt a flexible approach to assessment design. This flexibility allows us to respond to student voice, maintain an agility that allows us to react to global, social and cultural change and respond swiftly to opportunities to devise projects with our industrial partners. We aim for all assessment to be relevant, meaningful and engaging.

Entry requirements

A-level: ABB including art/design subject or media. Excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking

If you don’t have an art or design-related subject but you are taking Media Studies A-level, we may also consider your application based on a high grade at GCSE in Art/Design and a portfolio of images of recent and relevant work.

GCSE: 5/6 A-C (or 4+) including English.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. An interview and a piece of written work may be required.

BTEC

DDM in art/design. Excluding Art Foundation Diploma; please see Other Qualifications section.

Cambridge Pre-U

M1, M1, M2 including art/design or media.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall with 16 at Higher Level including 5 in Visual Arts and 4 in English.

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3, H3 including art/design or media.

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

BB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers OR B in Advanced Highers and AAABB in Highers OR AABBBB in Highers.

Welsh Baccalaureate

Please note that we don’t currently accept the Welsh Baccalaureate.

Other Qualifications

UAL Extended Diploma: Distinction in the UAL Extended Diploma (or High Merit where available).

Art Foundation course: Whilst we welcome students who have completed an Art Foundation course, this is not a requirement for entry and doesn’t usually count towards entry requirements,

In exceptional cases, we may make you an offer conditional on achieving an Art Foundation qualification: we may consider your application if you’re taking a validated Art Foundation course and have ABB or above at A-level not including Art or Design.

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year

This course is designed for students whose backgrounds mean they are less likely to attend university (also known as widening participation backgrounds) and who do not currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry to a degree.

The course will give you the opportunity to be taught by academic staff and provides intensive support to enable your development of academic skills and knowledge. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will progress to your chosen degree course. Find out more about the Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year

International

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information, contact the School of Design Undergraduate Admissions team.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.


Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

Fees

UK: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

There are additional costs of study that students need to cover. We estimate that these additional costs could be as described below, but this amount may vary depending on how you decide to respond to university briefs and the range of materials and techniques you decide to adopt.

Equipment and material costs

Students need to cover the cost of printing their work during the course, including specialist print workshop costs. Students also need to cover costs of copying and supplying their own basic materials (eg pens, pencils, cutting tools, paper, ruler) and more course specific materials (eg sketchbooks, specialist papers, specialist fabrics, sculpting materials, specialist tool), as well as print portfolios.

The approximate cost of these items in recent years has been:

• Level 1 – £100 - £170
• Level 2 – £100 - £150
• Level 3 – £200 - £600

Computers and digital equipment

To ensure you can make the most of your studies at Leeds, you’ll need to make sure your laptop meets the system requirements for your course.

Some of our courses require the development of work using industry standard specialist software. As/if required by your course, the School will provide this to you when you arrive. We also use a blended learning model where you’ll need to access course materials and video conference using a computer or mobile device (eg laptop, tablet, smartphone). Costs for a laptop will vary depending on the exact specification. You should expect to pay between £1000 - £2,500.

If you’re buying a new laptop for your studies, then we recommend that you wait until you’re registered as a student so that you take advantage of discounts given to university students. Delaying purchasing also allows you to find out from your programme leader what you need. Depending on your circumstances you can benefit from a laptop loan or further support from our Financial Assistance Fund.

You’ll also have access to further digital equipment in our studios and using our loan scheme. But, you may decide to purchase your own equipment (from Year 1 or as your studies progress) which will result in additional costs. Examples include a drawing tablet (£50 - £500) and a digital camera (£200 - £1500).

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Applying

Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

We typically receive a high number of applications for BA Graphic and Communication Design. The number of applicants exceeds the number of places available so, to ensure that we treat all applications fairly and equitably, we may wait until after the UCAS equal consideration application deadline has passed before making a final decision on some applications.

If we put your application on hold for review after the UCAS application deadline, we will send you an email to let you know. Although you may have to wait longer than usual to receive a decision, you will hear from us by mid-May at the latest, in line with the deadline that UCAS sets universities for making decisions on applications submitted by the January UCAS deadline.

Offer decisions are made based on an overall review of applications including predicted grades, breadth of knowledge demonstrated through qualifications, personal statement, extra-curricular and work experience, and contextual information. We look for enthusiastic and talented students who have the potential to succeed in their studies with us and contribute to our community.

Read our guidance about applying.

Documents and information you’ll need

If you have not studied art/design at A-level (or equivalent), we may also consider your application based on a high grade at GCSE along with a portfolio of relevant work. Please contact us for more information about portfolio submission.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Design

Contact us

School of Design Undergraduate Admissions

Email: designundergrad@leeds.ac.uk
Telephone:

Career opportunities

Flexibility, resilience and transferable skills are desirable attributes for creative industry professionals. In the School of Design, as well as providing you with research led, industry informed subject-specific knowledge, we aim to equip you with the best possible skills for a variety of careers. Design thinking, combined with excellent research and criticality skills are increasingly valued across a wide range of sectors; therefore, your degree from the University of Leeds opens opportunities across disciplines and multiple industries, as well as in your course-related specialism.

On completing this course, you’ll have strong visual and critical awareness, as well as a commercial understanding of advertising and fast-changing markets. You’ll have developed research and critical skills that make you an independent thinker, reflecting critically on the information you have and then drawing your own conclusions. All of these qualities are highly valued by employers in a range of industries.

Graduates have gone into careers in a number of different fields. Many continue with their professional practice – our graduates have gone to work for companies like Saatchi + Saatchi, FutureBrand, Exposure, Spiekermann Partners, Zitromat, McCann-Erikson, Smoke & Mirrors, Show Media, Elle Magazine, BBYO, SSY, Allgood, Golden, Prego, Elmwood, Cosmo, Apple, Nike, TBWA, BBH, Wieden + Kennedy, Root and Brand Union.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. We have over 300 University partners worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

You can also spend a Year in Industry during your third year. This is a fantastic opportunity for your personal and professional development, and may lead to the offer of a permanent role at placement companies.

Students have carried out placements at companies such as Tequila, FutureBrand, Spiekermann Partners, Zitromat, Show Media, The Chase, Saatchi + Saatchi, BBYO, SSY, Allgood, Prego, Elle Magazine, McCann – Erikson, Yell, Radio Aire and NE6.

Read more about our Year in Industry in the School of Design.

On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

Industrial placements are taken after your second year. This will extend your studies by 12 months. For your work placement in industry, the staff at Leeds will help you with your CV and recruitment process and provide details of organisations.

Student profile: Isabel Clapham

Throughout my placement I gained valuable real-world experience, including interpersonal skills and self-confidence. I also have secured a job role at the company to return when I graduate.
Find out more about Isabel Clapham's time at Leeds

Student profile: Emily Moore

My placement year was a highly valuable experience. I learnt how the industry and agencies work, including industry and software skills which highly aided my work and work ethic in final year.
Find out more about Emily Moore's time at Leeds

Student profile: Rosie Farrow

I really valued how industry relevant and exciting the types of projects that Leeds students produced were.
Find out more about Rosie Farrow's time at Leeds