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Undergraduate course

Graphic Design BA (Hons)

Through live briefs and competitive projects, make your mark in an ever growing creative field.

Graphic Design is everywhere. From the moment we wake we encounter numerous works by graphic designers. Whether it’s a logo on a box of cereal, the road signs on your way to school, or the pages of your favourite website. It guides us through our lives, improves accessibility to services and spaces, it influences our opinion of brands and people and tells us stories about the world. This is why Graphic Design is so powerful.

100% of Graphic Design students felt that they have opportunities to apply what they have learnt to through their course. (National Student Survey 2020)

100% of Graphic Design students were happy with the opportunities they had to provide feedback on their course. (National Student Survey 2020)

York campus

  • UCAS Code – W210
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum Entry Requirements

    96 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

Discover why York St John is The One

Course overview

On this course you will learn the fundamental principles of visual language, putting these into practice through a series of practical projects. You will develop the skills, techniques and processes that embody contemporary graphic design and use a range of mediums and platforms to develop creative design solutions. You will be introduced to the history and theory of graphic design and be encouraged to explore areas of interest to you.

We work closely with industry partners to ensure the skills you learn are relevant to today’s employers. You will pitch your work directly to leading industry professionals as you undertake live client and competition briefs. We support you to develop a high-quality professional portfolio through industry-led portfolio surgeries and a two-week industry placement.

Graphic design is simply conveying ideas through images and text but from that point an endless horizon is visible. Encompassing press printing, editorial, illustration, digital design, motion graphics, branding, photography, psychology, typography and more, the study of graphic design offers enormous opportunities for specialisation, investigation and imagination.

With us you will draw on expertise from across our School, pursuing an interdisciplinary approach to creative problem solving and developing yourself as a unique and talented designer.

Creative, multidisciplinary and intensely human – graphic design is many things to many people. Study this course at York St John and find out what Graphic Design is to you.

Course Structure

Level 1

You will undertake a series of practical design projects, which are built around the fundamental principles of visual language. You will be introduced to theoretical and practical concepts in design, learning key histories and theories. You will learn how to apply these principles to key areas such as typography, branding, drawing, packaging, editorial, and print.


Modules include:

Design Practice (60 Credits): Throughout this module you will be introduced to fundamental principles of visual language alongside an introduction to the skills, techniques and processes that embody contemporary graphic design.

Specialist Projects (40 Credits): Within this module you will apply the practical and theoretical knowledge you have learnt to a series of real world graphic design projects. To support this you will also be introduced to some more advanced practical techniques including; photography, screenprint, etc.

Design research (20 Credits): You will be introduced to design history and theory through a series of lectures, seminars, and gallery/museum visits. You will learn how to inform your practice and design decisions with greater understanding of analysis, research and debate.


Level 2

You will be encouraged to identify your own specific areas of interest and undertake a range of specialist projects, including; live client and competition briefs. You will have the opportunity to pitch your work direct to clients and leading industry professionals. You will be encouraged to collaborate with students from across the school on multidisciplinary projects. You will develop and construct a professional portfolio, and have the opportunity to take part in industry led portfolio surgeries culminating in a two week placement.


Modules include:

Specialist Studio Practice (60 Credits): You will undertake a mixture of live client and competition briefs, culminating in a body of work which is specific and unique to your own practice. You will have the opportunity of weekly critiques and feedback in which to inform and develop your responses.

Design Applications (20 Credits): You will be introduced to motion graphics and screen based design principles and techniques. Building on your first year introduction to Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign you will be guided through applications including; Adobe After Effects, Premiere, and Xd. There is also the opportunity to become Adobe and/or Autodesk accredited.

Collaborative Projects (20 Credits): You will work in teams across a range of design courses, including; Interior Design, Product/Furniture Design, Games Design, and Animation. You will learn how to manage yourself effectively and work collaboratively in order to respond to and solve complex design problems.

Professional Portfolio (20 Credits): You will learn how to communicate and understand the context of your practice in a professional setting. You will develop and produce a professional portfolio and online presence, showcasing your individual approach to graphic design.


Level 3

You will undertake a self-determined practical programme of study informed and influenced by a thorough and rigorous research practice. You will enhance and refine your own practice, through creative thinking and problem solving. Through the development and writing of a research report you will contextualise your practice within your chosen area of study.


Modules Include:

Major Project (60 Credits): You will undertake a series of self-identified projects which will enable you to demonstrate your areas of expertise and interest. This will be informed by self-initiated research methods and practice. You will be supported by weekly personalised tuition and feedback opportunities.

Client Project (40 Credits): You will undertake a series of live and/or competition briefs, which align with your practice and identified areas of interest. There is the opportunity to work with the courses broad range of industry contacts and international design competitions.

Design Research and Innovation (20 Credits): You will explore the context of your practice within thematic areas of visual language and culture, including; social and ethical concerns, politics, sustainability and the environment.

Teaching & assessment


The programme based learning will take place primarily in studios and workshops.  Externally learning will be delivered through live projects, work based learning placements, and virtually through the University eLearning platforms such as Moodle (Virtual Learning Environment)and Turnitin. All these platforms of learning integrate to stimulate and support your development as a reflective Graphic Designer.


Students will be taught using a wide and varied range of teaching methods, including:

  • Lectures
  • Demonstrations
  • Seminars
  • Individual and group tutorials
  • Group and individual presentations
  • Visiting speakers / lectures
  • Use of audio-visual material
  • Use of e-learning
  • Use of appropriate IT
  • Workshops
  • Technical support


The programme recognises that, as a higher education student, you need to gain and develop a range of graduate attributes which is why the programme places a significant emphasis on your independent learning. The programme thus aims to provide an environment in which you are encouraged to take responsibility for your role in managing your learning and outcomes.

Reflection is central to learning on this degree. It encourages you to relate new material you may encounter to your existing knowledge and expertise. In addition to being a part of good quality knowledge transfer, reflection supports learning by enhancing the whole experience. The new programme will offer you the time to reflect in a variety of ways; such as learning journals, formative feedback, the use of portfolios, reflection on work related learning and internships, tutorial interaction, peer and self-assessment, assignments and a review of your own continual professional development (CPD) plan. It will also facilitate an understanding of your own learning processes and their relationship with and to other creative industries.

You will be encouraged to recognise your learning is not confined to formal teaching situations and encouraged to undertake independent preparation as a follow up to your formal teaching sessions. The programme seeks to offer a range of technical support and independent study that might include both theory and practical sessions. The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team support staff in using some of the core online student services, such as Moodle (VLE) and Mahara (e-portfolio), which you can openly access as part of your online learning experience.

Assessment methods

Formative feedback will take place weekly, with formative assessment taking place twice a semester. A personal design and learning portfolio is key to the reflective practice and the programme will offer a system for developing a professional design portfolio which will record both the process and outcomes of your design projects. This will also enable you to record other professionally relevant achievements and competences. You will not be expected to undertake any examinations whilst on the degree.

Entry Requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements. Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our international pages.

If your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Personal statement

Essential criteria

As well as a strong standard of written English, the ability to demonstrate knowledge and interest in the subject is essential. This can be done in a variety of ways, for example, visits to design exhibitions, museums or collections. Applicants will also show an ability to 'think outside the box' and have relevant experience of group work.

Valued criteria

We also value the ability to demonstrate a real enthusiasm for the subject that goes beyond achieving good grades in exams. Examples of this include involvement in projects or entering competitions, and being aware of any current issues relating to design, such as sustainability. Candidates will also be able to discuss influences including favourite designers, design product or style of design.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

Fees and funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK or EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 202 entry onto this course is

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time.

These prices apply to all UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page.

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

International 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree.

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

Aspire Card

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