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Furniture Design BA (Hons)

This programme shares many of its design modules with Product Design, but allows you to specialise in the design and production of furniture. There are two main pathways, allowing you to specialise either in industrial furniture production or on the smaller-scale, more bespoke end of the market. Both options encourage you to explore your creativity while building your practical and theoretical skills.

UCAS course code
York St John University
Course fees
2019 - 2020: Home & EU students: £9,250 per annum, International (non EU) students: £12,750 per annum
3 years full-time | Part-time options available on request
Study Abroad
Yes - see our study abroad web pages for more information
Start date
September 2019
Art, Design and Computer Science

Course Overview 

Studying Furniture Design at York St John University enables you to undertake a demanding and exciting range of design modules many of which are shared with product design. The programme of work enables you to develop your specialist area as a ‘Furniture Designer-Maker’ or a ‘Furniture Designer for Industry’ being two pathways under a single award. As a furniture designer-maker you will have the opportunity to develop a set of ‘hand-making’ skills, producing highly crafted furniture, embedding technology in a creative, commercial and cultural context. Furniture design for industrial production is an adjacent pathway to that of the furniture designer-maker. Design in and for industrial production requires you to develop both theoretical and practical knowledge and an understanding of commercial-volume manufacturing processes, constituent technologies, the market and economies of scale that supports design for volume production. In both the furniture design pathways there will be a core of research and critical developmental processes that underpins your work.  What are the other foremost reasons to apply to study furniture design at York St John University? We have great studios, CAD and workshop facilities, a career relevant degree, enhanced skills programmes, a period of work experience, study abroad opportunities, live project design briefs with industry and commerce, practicing design staff, technical demonstrators and last but not least, a fantastic location in the heart of the City of York.

We look forward to welcoming you to York St John University to begin your design career

Duncan Brooks-Senior Lecturer Furniture & Product & Design Programme

89% of Graduates from our Design courses were in employment or further study within six months.

DLHE 2017

Course structure

Level 1

At Level one you will be equipped with the basic skills and understanding for furniture design practice. You will develop an effective design language and establish a foundation of important skills in the studios and workshops. These core skills will include drawing, modelling, making, communication, graphic layout, creative thinking, research methodologies, processes, materials, aesthetics, presentation etc. Extensive workshops support your practical skill development.

Modules Include

  • Design Practice 3D  (60 credits) This module covers a variety of aspects involving the use of visual language. You will develop a broad range of visual skills, such as perspective and orthographic drawing, schematic and thematic sketching, rendering and understand the use of materials for prototyping ideas. In addition, you will learn digital skills for graphical presentation and software applications relating to computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM). More broadly, the module will conduct lectures and tutorials to address oral communication and presentation techniques in order to equip you to become a more versatile designer.


  • Design Research for the Designer Maker (20 credits) This module addresses some of the research methods commonly used in three dimensional design. Typically the aim of 3D design research is to ask, observe, think and learn (with objectivity) from people who interact on a day to day basis with products, furniture and interior spaces. The module will involve you in a process of problem based learning; observing people to find out how ‘user types’ work with products, furniture and environments (user centred clinics) thus enlisting user participation in the design of three dimensional artefacts and spaces. With the user positioned at the heart of 3D design research, you will consider the materials and technologies that are appropriate to make objects and environments that more precisely fit the real needs of a user population.


  • Specialist Projects 3D (40 credits) Students of design need to undertake assignments set in a variety of working situations in order for them to be able to work effectively as an individual with others and to develop knowledge and understanding of emerging technologies and practices in both interdisciplinary and specialist project contexts. In part 1 of the module you will choose from a selection of collaborative projects that calls upon you to problem solve using generic design skills in research, communication, concept development, negotiation and presentation. In part 2 of the module you will develop discipline specific skills embedded in a selection of a specialist project that helps you to focus and progress into year 2. As a furniture designer you will develop a specific knowledge and understanding of theory and practice in areas such as human factors, ergonomics, contextual studies, user-populations, materials and processes.



Level 2

At Level two, projects become more technical and design briefs more challenging to enable you to further develop knowledge, understanding and practical skills as a ‘Furniture Designer-Maker’ or a ‘Furniture Designer for Industry’. As a furniture designer-maker you will have the opportunity to develop a set of ‘hand-making’ skills, producing highly crafted furniture embedding technology in a creative, commercial and cultural context. Furniture design for industrial production is an adjacent pathway. You will benefit from professional practice initiatives which include speakers, live projects and ‘crits’ and client feedback culminating in the work experience module.

Modules Include

  • Digital Design Applications (20 credits) This module is designed to equip you with theory and practice of industry standard digital applications for product design. You will develop the analytical and critical skills associated with Computer Aided Design (CAD) software necessary to match the specific needs in the creative industries. You will also develop an awareness of ‘cross platform’ digital applications, enabling you to utilise these more effectively when working collaboratively or through interdisciplinary contexts. The module will extend your knowledge about technical processes, including demonstrating the advantages of the different systems from rapid prototyping including areas such as stereo-lithography, laser cutting, and 3D printing. This will enable you to confidently articulate your work and to experiment with a range of digital tools to achieve real and virtual outputs.


  • Specialist Studio Practice:Furniture Design (60 credits) This module offers you the opportunity to undertake a variety of specialised design work. You will identify design problems, write a design brief, plan for and execute a range of work that is based on research into the sector or topic of choice. This is delivered through a series of projects, including tutor led, client and competition projects. Alternatively you may propose self-generated design briefs. This module is an ideal vehicle for you to practice and apply your developing skills to construct a portfolio of design work that articulates both technical competences and your own developing ‘voice’ in furniture design. These will form an evolving practice in 3D and furniture design studying the following; an advanced knowledge of materials, processes and technologies, design for craft based, batch and industrial production, ergonomic modelling, product testing and evaluation and CAD-CAM.


  • Specialist Studio Practice: Furniture Design (Student Exchange) (40 Credits) Students, who are wishing to study abroad with our International partners during semester 2, will need to undertake this optional module during semester 1 of year 2. This will provide you with sufficient credits to enable you to undertake additional programme related modules abroad in semester 2.   

  • Professional Portfolio (20 credits) It is important that students gain some experience of professional practice in industry and commerce particularly as many are ambitious at graduation to start their professional careers in a freelance capacity. The module offers ‘preparation’ and ‘practice’ for a period of work-related learning through the development of a student CV, letter of application, interview techniques and planning. Visiting speakers from a variety of disciplines will be invited to inform you of real world scenarios. Additionally, you will undertake ‘work based learning’ either through a client project or within an appropriate design related environment. Both the ‘Careers Department’ and programme tutors will support you to secure an appropriate work related learning placement.


  • Collaborative Project (20 credits) This module will be structured as an intensive collaborative group project requiring you to collaborate across the specialist design awards and also with external “clients” to resolve complex social, spatial, economic or cultural problems through design. Drawing on models such as service and systems design thinking, you will engage in live collaborative research and problem solving, presenting your solutions in an exhibition context. This will enable you to understand the possibilities of interdisciplinary practice, through a range of real and virtual processes. This will provide you with fundamental practical and interpersonal skills referenced to in professional industry practices.



Level 3

At Level three, furniture design briefs allow you to develop your specialist interests. Focus will be on professional practice, working on personal briefs or those set by private clients and/or furniture companies such as Vitra. A range of designers will provide guest lectures to expose you to how the design process actually works commercially. You will develop a range of effective techniques for presenting work in both 2D and 3D.

Collaborative project work for furniture designers is currently well established in the Art and Design Department. This can be witnessed in the form of the exhibits at the annual summer shows, the student work showcased at New Designers - the Creative Industries Partner Employer Forum, and graduate progression into professional practice employment.

Modules Include

  • Design Research and Innovation Proposal (20 credits) The Design Research and Innovation Proposals module (DRIP) supports the programme aim and aspirations for emerging design graduates to produce ‘new and unexpected outcomes’ leading to various forms and levels of innovation. Innovative design in a contemporary society requires thinking design practitioners who are able to understand the theoretical, cultural and social structures which underpin design problems and their potential solutions. This module aims to enable this level of thinking for you as a graduating design student. 


  • Major Project (60 credits) The aim of this module is to enable you as a furniture designer to execute your graduate design brief. The brief will be researched, proposed, argued and planned for in the adjacent module- Design, Research & Innovation Proposal(s). You are tasked to demonstrate that you are capable of applying design skills to identify and overcome problems, present a critical argument to support decision making and apply reasoning and practical skills in order to offer creative and technical solutions to the problem(s). You will aim to make work that contributes toward and embeds discipline based debate in the contemporary cultural and technological context. The module is a frame work that enables you to demonstrate your graduate skills as a designer and to focus on your plans for continuing professional development. You will be encouraged to engage in designing for the following areas of professional practices such as furniture design, products, homeware, CAD, electrical goods and consumer durables.


  • Client Project (40credits) This module enables you to build competences with and produce work that addresses the needs and requirements of clients, competitions and user groups. The context and detailed requirements of the client centred design brief will be established in the adjacent module - Design Research and Innovation Proposal. Work in this, the Client Project module, will therefore extend and address the developmental, technical and presentational design resolution aspects of the client-centred design brief. Therefore you will be expected to research and negotiate a furniture design brief with a client and in so doing establish your credentials as an autonomous independent practitioner. The programme is well connected to a variety of designers and studios around the local and national region, providing you with the opportunities to engage with projects that have ‘real world’ experiences. You will engage in ‘live’ project(s) in liaison with our industry partners helping to prepare you in a broad range of design practices for further employment opportunities.



Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Disability Advice

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of disability advice services to assist students throughout their studies.

Teaching & Assessment

The programme has been designed to meet the needs of those of you who wish to undertake a degree in a broad range 3 D design related activities currently; furniture, product and interior design. Programme delivery will utilise a blended approach incorporating tutor led sessions, group work and individual tutorials, technical support and learning reinforced by virtual learning environments (VLEs).


The programme is concerned with ensuring that you have the opportunity to experience a variety of teaching and learning strategies across the modules offered. These are structured to facilitate successful achievement of the learning outcomes of each module.

You will be provided with a range of teaching and learning strategies across the modules, including:

  • Reflective learning
  • Independent learning
  • Collaborative learning
  • Facilitated learning

Teaching methods

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 & feedback

Project feedback will be undertaken at timely points to enable effective progression into the next project, usually at the same time as a portfolio review to enable ongoing holistic assessment. A personal design and learning portfolio is key to the reflective CPD process 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, and also enable you to record other professionally relevant achievements and competences. This portfolio will be reviewed regularly, usually three or four times per semester, to track progress and aid with setting objectives for future projects. This will be timed to coincide with appropriate stages in projects and modules. This will also particularly be used to provide context for your specialism decisions at the end of level four and also to guide the independent project choices for level six. The portfolio review will be integrated into the academic tutorial system to provide coherent personal learning support for all design students. Summative feedback, reflecting the formative feedback stages and portfolio reviews, will be communicated within 3 weeks of the final submission at the end of a module.

You will not be expected to undertake any examinations whilst on the degree.

Entry requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 - 112 UCAS Tariff Points

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

Calculate your tariff points.

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.

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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 will depend on whether you're a UK & EU student or an international (non-EU) student. Tuition fees are charged for each year of your course.

Find out more about funding for Foundation Year and/or Placement Year by visiting the Funding Advice pages of our website.

York St John offer special reductions to students graduating from York St John University Undergraduate degrees in 2019 and continuing directly onto Postgraduate study. Find out more about discounts and scholarships.

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


Tuition fees

UK & EU 2019 / 20

The York St John University tuition fee for the 2019 entry to Foundation Degree, BA and BSc, PGCE Primary and Secondary and UG Health Programme degrees is £9,250 per year for UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

Fees & Funding

Overseas 2019 / 20

The York St John University tuition fee for the 2019 entry to Foundation Degree, BA and BSc, PGCE degrees is £12,750 per year for international students.

Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

International Fees & Funding

Student Work

Our Design students have worked on a wide range of real-life design projects in partnership with local and international organisations including Hiscox, TeleWare and Playscheme.

Examples of student work on 3D design courses at York St John (PDF, 2.3MB)

Furniture Design student work
VFurniture Design student work
Furniture Design student work
Furniture Design student work

International students

We welcome international students from all over the world at York St John University and have a vibrant international community. You can find out more on our International Pages about how you can study with us and what it’s like to live and learn in York, one of the UK’s most historic cities.

Unistats data for this course

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Do you have a question about this course? Fill out our form to send a question to our Admissions team. Alternatively, you can call us on 01904 876598.

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