• Overview
  • Levels and Modules
  • Start Dates
  • Entry and Portfolio Requirements
  • Fees and Discounts
  • Careers
  • Student Discounts and Offers
  • Tutors
  • Course Duration
  • Advanced Entry


What does the course involve?

The BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme is a practical, contemporary undergraduate design course. You will develop your design skills using a wide range of traditional and modern techniques to complete various activities and briefs. You will build a portfolio that showcases your ability and demonstrates your potential as a designer.

Our tutors, who are all experienced practitioners and educators in graphic design, will provide unlimited one-to-one tuition via our online study website, IDI-Study. This is also where you will upload your work for assessment and discuss projects with your peers.

When you graduate, you will have developed an individual approach to your design work and have confidence in your own abilities as a graphic designer.

You will also have created a successful graphic design portfolio and gained in-depth industry knowledge that will be of invaluable benefit in furthering your future career in the design industry.

All of our course materials are online and communication is asynchronous, which gives you the flexibility to study at times that suit you.

Subject to minimum student enrolment numbers, you can choose from full-time, part-time or accelerated study modes on all BA (Hons) programmes. You can find out more about the different modes of study.

Levels of Study

The course is broken down into three levels:

  • Level 4: Certificate of Higher Education
  • Level 5: Diploma of Higher Education
  • Level 6: BA (Hons)

Download the Programme Specification for detailed information about the course, browse the tabs to find out more about what is involved in each of the three levels of study, the module descriptions and more.

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Levels and Modules

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Level 4: Certificate of Higher Education

Throughout Level 4, you will develop the fundamental skills and techniques used in graphic communication. You will be introduced to a wide range of media and materials, working with both traditional media and modern digital technology, such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

Level 4 Module Descriptions

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Visual Communication

This first combined module will introduce you to core visual communication skills in both graphic design and illustration as a foundation for specialisation in your chosen discipline.

This module will improve your understanding and knowledge in the preparation for a career within the creative industry, in which designers and illustrators are required to collaborate. You will also be provided with opportunities to extend your research abilities, problem-solving skills, range of design thinking and craft and mark-making techniques. You will be challenged to consider your creative thinking in the production of exciting designed and illustrated visually narrative solutions.

The work for Visual Communication assessments will include the generation and development of ideas, the manipulation of digital imagery, and the production of narrative artwork in answer to the two main briefs. As part of your studies you will also develop your awareness of target audiences as well as refining your presentation and communication skills.

You will be introduced to the worlds of contemporary graphic design and illustration, providing the key skills and opportunity to allow you to make an informed decision about your future as either a graphic designer or an illustrator.

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Graphic Design Essentials Part 1

This first specialist graphic design module introduces you to the core skills needed by contemporary graphic designers and tests your knowledge and design problem solving abilities through a series of graphic design project briefs.

The module introduces you to the graphic design pathway, building on your core skills and knowledge in typography, layout, print formats and production, digital design software and creative problem solving. There is a strong emphasis on the design process, design research, idea generation and idea development leading to the realisation of effective design solutions.

Within the briefs you will produce a portfolio of both print and digital graphic design outcomes within a variety of contemporary contexts. You will explore contemporary graphic design in a range of design sectors reflecting established and emerging aspects of the industry including editorial design, packaging design, and identity and branding.

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Critical and Cultural Studies

Critical and Cultural Studies at Level 4 will encourage you to reflect on the relation between art, photography, design, media histories and cultures, as well as your own creative practice.

You will become familiar with a range of modern graphic design and illustration practices and debates, and understand their role in contemporary culture. You will also explore a variety of theoretical, historical, professional, cultural and critical perspectives relating to these practices.

This module also gives you the opportunity to improve your critical analysis skills and you will communicate your ideas using correct, conventional academic referencing. A series of activities will give you the opportunity to practise these skills and receive feedback before you complete your final essay.

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Level 5: Diploma of Higher Education

Level 5 study is often referred to as ‘the professional year’, as the main emphasis throughout is on industry-relevant briefs, negotiating your own briefs, and advanced practice activities. On completion of Level 5, you will have a thorough understanding of idea generation and development, and a clear idea of the visual skills and techniques required to work in the graphic design industry.

Level 5 Module Descriptions

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Graphic Design Essentials Part 2

This module builds on Level 4 Graphic Design and aims to both reinforce and further develop your core skills, knowledge and creative decision making ability, whilst introducing you to new essential skills and technologies such as web design and other screen applications.

There is an increased focus on idea generation and the skills necessary to create, select and evaluate design content. The activities and project briefs will reinforce your core skills in typography, layout, craft skills and design for print, while integrating your knowledge with digital design and emerging digital media platforms.

Within the briefs, you are encouraged to consider your audiences and users, and to exercise critical thinking, analysis and reflection as part of the design process.

In the briefs, you will explore contemporary graphic design across a range of integrated contexts reflecting emerging sectors of the industry including graphic design for exhibitions, editorial design, identity and branding, packaging design and multimedia experience design.

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Graphic Design: Professional Development

This module addresses key issues and concerns in self-promotion with a view to preparing you for employment within the contemporary graphic design industry. Your work on the briefs will be carried out in relation to professional and industry contexts, with a view to developing your understanding of professional practice in contemporary graphic design.

You will be asked to carefully consider your portfolio in a number of physical and digital formats as well as other core aspects of self-promotion such as personal stationery and the design and creation of printed and/or digital portfolios. You will consider your work as a marketable product, and consider how to record, photograph, annotate and present it to professional audiences and clients.

Throughout your work on the briefs, you will gain an insight into the world of graphic design through your own reflective research investigating leading contemporary design practices. This will allow you to explore professionally related themes, and encourage you to reflect on your personal brand and professional aspirations as an emerging designer.

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Graphic Design Live Projects

This module provides you with an opportunity to put into practice all of the skills, understanding and knowledge acquired so far on the programme. The project briefs will be focused on practical set design briefs drawn from a range of national and international design competitions or other equivalent industry briefs and live briefs.

The project briefs are designed to develop your design work in preparation for producing professional and competition standard work. The project briefs will provide opportunities to develop your graphic design skills in areas such as branding and identity design, packaging, typography, advertising, editorial, digital, web and screen design.

Within the briefs you will be encouraged to develop your own original and unique approach to design problem solving. Alongside this, you will further develop your skills in research, editing, idea generation, development and critical reflection, as well as the technical skills required to realise and implement your ideas.

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Critical and Cultural Studies

At Level 5, you will be introduced to critical theories and methodologies relevant to your own discipline. You will learn how to critically engage with your own practice, as well as that of others.

You will undertake in-depth research and set out aims and objectives for further study, suggesting possible methods of approach. You will complete a series of activities and receive ongoing tutor feedback, which will support you in your choice of research topic for the final brief. You will also further develop your academic writing skills.

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Level 6: BA (Hons)

Level 6 is ‘the portfolio year’, which is centred on building a portfolio of work in preparation for entering the design profession. You will develop your ability to approach your work critically and with a greater degree of independence. You will also fulfil a range of industry typical briefs and be encouraged to enter various national design competitions.

As this is your final level of study before you begin to practise graphic design professionally, you will also acquire the self promotion and marketing skills necessary to establish contacts, work experience, and employment within the industry.

Level 6 Module Descriptions

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Critical and Cultural Studies

This module will enable you to conduct an in-depth study of an aspect of design culture of your choice, with emphasis on the analysis of appropriate social, cultural, economic, technical, historical and aesthetic issues relevant to your chosen topic and creative work.

You will have the opportunity to bring your own interests into your work, and your independent research will be supported through discussion with your peers in the forums and course materials. You will also further develop skills in research, organisation and planning, and critical analysis.

The assessed element of this module consists of a 6,000 word essay or technical report.

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Graphic Design Advanced Practice 1

This module aims to provide you with the learning and skills required to confidently complete national and international competition briefs or other appropriate set briefs to advanced standards.

The set competitions will vary, but examples of suitable competition briefs include Design & Art Direction (D&AD), Young Creative’s Network (YCN), International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD) and other relevant equivalent set and live briefs. The briefs will challenge you to further develop your knowledge, understanding, skills and abilities. The project briefs will cover a wide range of discipline areas within graphic design such as branding and identity design, packaging, editorial layout, book design, advertising campaigns and digital/screen design.

The module aims to help you to achieve professional standards and to produce advanced professional work equivalent to national and international design competition standards, as well as to meet your own personal employment ambitions. Alongside guided and peer group learning and critique, at this level you are also expected to work with a high degree of independence and personal initiative in order to fully develop your own individual directions and identity as a graphic designer.

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Graphic Design Advanced Practice 2

This final module on the BA (Hons) programme represents the culmination of your undergraduate design journey. It contains a series of challenging and rewarding set and personally generated project briefs, which will develop your commitment and passion for design, as well as your time and project management skills.

In the module, you will complete a Final Major Project alongside at least two other projects, one of which will be a piece of personal design self promotion. The work produced within this module will form the bulk of your final graduating portfolio, and there is scope and potential for you to select projects that provide a unique and individual direction to your portfolio.

Your Final Major Project will typically emerge from a set of self-negotiated briefs. This constitutes the most ambitious design project undertaken on the programme. In addition, you will complete a further competition brief or negotiated self-initiated project. A self-promotion exercise completes the module, during which you will consider self-branding and the presentation of your work in printed and digital formats in order to launch your design career.

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Start Dates

Most of our applicants are keen to start their studies as soon as possible, so we have intakes in February, June and October. Depending on the course you choose, you may be able to start in any intake, but there could be some restrictions. You can apply directly on our website at any time for any future intake and your Admissions Advisor will be able to confirm when the next start date for your chosen course will be.

Even if you are unsure about when you would like to start, or which course is best for you, contact us and a member of our Student Recruitment Team will be able to advise you.

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Entry and Portfolio Requirements

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We consider all applications on an individual basis and welcome applications from those with non-standard qualifications and from a variety of backgrounds.

Education, Skills and Work Experience

With all applicants, we like to see either some evidence of previous study within art and design or visual (skill) evidence of art and design experience.

UK Applicants

For UK applicants, we require either between 240 and 260 points from GCE A Levels (or equivalent), including art related subjects, and English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above, or a relevant level of equivalent skills and experience.

International Applicants

You will normally have completed either a pre-degree course in visual arts, which may be a Foundation or equivalent course leading to a BTEC National Diploma/Certificate or equivalent international qualification.

All applicants from non-majority English speaking countries need to provide proof of English language proficiency. One of the following qualifications (or equivalent) is required:

  • GSCE English Language grade A-C
  • IELTS 6.0 (with no less than 5.5 in any band)

Portfolio Guidelines

To be eligible to enrol on the programme, we are looking for work that shows an interest in, and aptitude for, visual communication. It is often sufficient to provide a few examples that demonstrate your graphic design skills, but you can also include examples of any work you have done in illustration, photography, painting, printmaking, digital media, text based pieces, and other art and design media.

Your portfolio should show evidence of the design cycle, from generating ideas, through development, to a completed outcome. Including examples from your sketchbook or journal is a good way to showcase this. Above all, we want to see evidence of your enthusiasm for creativity and your eagerness to learn more.

For more information see our Portfolio Guidelines page.

Reading and Materials Requirements

During your studies with IDI, you will need access to specific pieces of equipment, which will enable you to complete your coursework. Sourcing these will be your responsibility and any costs incurred are not included in your fees. For further information about the equipment requirements, please refer to the programme Reading and Materials List.

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Fees and Discounts


  • Our standard fees for degree level courses are £4,500 per level
  • There are three levels in a BA (Hons) degree programme
  • Fees are payable per level


From £576 per month
  • Two instalments of £2,304
    Total payment of £4,608 per level*
  • Eight instalments of £576
    Total payment of £4,608 per level*



From £288 per month
  • Four instalments of £1,152
    Total payment of £4,608 per level*
  • 16 instalments of £288
    Total payment of £4,608 per level*


*Please note these figures include a small administration fee.

Employers and self-employed student discounts

We offer a discount to employers who are supporting their employees to study with IDI. Students who are self-employed can also benefit from this discount.

We can also arrange a group price for employers who want to support a number of employees.

For details of payment options and to find out how this could benefit you and your business please contact Danielle Gray on 0131 777 9321 or Freephone 0800 917 1118 or by e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Future Finance student loans

IDI is partnered with Future Finance to offer current and prospective students on the following courses the opportunity to apply for loans:

  • All MA courses
  • All BA (Hons) courses

To find out more about fees, funding and Future Finance student loans, please click here.


Should our fees be subject to an increase at any time during your studies, your fees will be fixed at the level you paid at the start of your course, as long as you follow your original pattern of study.

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This course will prepare you for a career as a graphic designer, as well as for design-related roles in digital graphics, online media, communications and marketing, publishing, advertising and various other related fields.

Following on from your undergraduate studies, if you decide that you want to further specialise in graphic design, we also offer an MA Graphic Communication award.

You can find out more about our Postgraduate Programme in Art and Design here.

Potential Careers:

  • Graphic Artist
  • Creative Director
  • Graphic Designer
  • Communications Manager
  • Illustrator
  • Promotional Designer
  • Production Artist
  • Print Layout Designer
  • Digital Printing Specialist
  • Way Finding and Signage Designer
  • Package Designer
  • Exhibit Designer
  • Art Director
  • Integrated Marketing Designer
  • Freelance/Independent Designer
  • Graphic Designer for Film/Television
  • Web Designer
  • Graphic Design Teacher/Lecturer
  • Multimedia Designer
  • Motion Graphic Designer
  • Environmental Graphic Designer
  • Animator
  • Teacher/Lecturer
  • Editorial Designer


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Student Discounts and Offers

Through partnerships and initiatives, we are able to offer our students institutional discounts on various products and services to help you gain access to quality materials at an affordable fee.

Adobe Creative Cloud

As an IDI student, you would be eligible for a discount of up to 80% off Adobe Creative Cloud* on production of an approved 'Proof of Student Status' letter.

*Adobe Creative Cloud is only available in selected countries. Find out if you can gain access from where you live by clicking here.

Graphics Direct

IDI students can also receive additional discounts. Enter ‘IDI’ at the Graphics Direct checkout and you will receive an extra 10% off, even on discounted and sale items.


All of our tutors are professionals with first class educational experience. We guarantee our students a consistently high standard of tuition, guidance and support across all of the online art and design courses that we deliver.

Click on the images below to find out more about their practice and experience:

  • Belinda Langlands

  • Ella Goodwin

  • Elspeth Edmondson

  • Joanna Kane

  • Jonathan Williams

  • Kimberley Roworth

  • Robert Potts

  • Simon Gomes

  • Tina Burton

Course Duration

The BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme is available to study in the following modes:

  • Part-time – Completed in twelve semesters (four years)
  • Full-time – Completed in six semesters with two semester breaks (two years, eight months)
  • Accelerated full-time – Completed in six semesters (two years)

Expected minimum studying time commitment per study mode:

  • Part-time – 15 to 20 hours per week
  • Full-time – 30 hours per week

The hours per week indicate time spent on directed activities. However, you will also need to consider the additional time needed to read support materials and other resources, upload your work to the IDI-Study site, communicate with your tutors and interact with your peers within the forums.

If you begin studying and feel that the pace isn’t quite right for you, you can change your study mode within the first four weeks of study, or on completion of a level.

Advanced Entry

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If you have a previous qualification in graphic design or a closely related field, or extensive industry experience (at least five years), you may be considered for advanced entry onto either Level 5 or 6 of the degree programme.

Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

Accredited Prior Learning (APL) is the process for accessing and recognising prior experiential learning or prior certificated learning for academic purposes. This recognition gives the learning a credit value and allows it to be counted towards the completion of a degree or other award.

Credit is the common currency of university programmes. Each course module has a credit value and these credits are accumulated towards the full award. For example, an honours degree requires 120 credits at each of Levels 4, 5 and 6.

The APL process is intended to stop learners repeating learning that they have already achieved.

There are two types of APL:

Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (APCL)

Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) is learning that has been recognised previously by an education provider, evidenced by formal certification, and assessed and recognised for the award of credit.

If you have previously studied a course that has broadly the same learning outcomes as ones on an IDI programme, then you can apply to have these credited against your degree. However, if a qualification or credit is more than five years old, it could be considered out of date and may not be used towards a degree.

If you have international qualifications, we may ask you to provide an official document that states how your international qualification compares to UK qualifications. You are likely to have to pay for this service.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) is learning that has been achieved through experiences outside the formal education and training systems, normally associated with a working environment, which has been assessed and recognised for the award of credit by the University. It is different from formal learning, as it is often unstructured and can be more personal and individualised.

APEL applicants can develop skills, strengths and knowledge from a range of experiential learning. Please be aware that learning must be at an equivalent level to that on the modules offered on our programmes and you must be able to evidence it. This is typically done by means of a portfolio. It is usual for this to involve some sort of reflective writing about your learning, but it might involve many other forms of evidence too.

It is important to remember that it is the learning from experience rather than the learning itself that is assessed for credit and so you will need to be able to articulate this.

Making an Advanced Entry Application

When completing an application for advanced entry, you will be asked to provide evidence that you have confidently met the learning outcomes of the level(s) for which you are claiming credit. Your Admissions Advisor will help you with this

Completed applications will be submitted to our Admissions team and forwarded to the Academic Leader for review. After review, a recommended entry level will be given and you will receive feedback on your application. If your claim for Accredited Prior Learning (APL) is full or partly on Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL), you will be invited to attend a viva via Skype to support your claim.

In some rare cases we can offer credits for one or more modules in a level, but this is not common or advisable, as the modules have been developed for you to benefit from the complete learning journey. There are also no payment plans in place for this situation and in most cases you will be required to pay for the full level.

If you are successful in your claim for advanced entry, you will be sent a conditional offer. This condition is based on confirmation of your claim for credits from the University of Hertfordshire’s Board of Examiners who will approve the award of credit on your student record. At this stage you will be invited to confirm your place on the course by making payment.

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