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BA (Hons) Graphic Design


What does the course involve?

The BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme is a practical and modern undergraduate design course.

During your studies with IDI you’ll greatly develop your design skills – using a wide range of traditional and modern techniques to complete activities and briefs. You’ll also build a portfolio that showcases your unique ability and potential as a designer.

Through our online study website, you’ll receive unlimited one-to-one tuition from tutors who are all experienced design professionals. This is also where you’ll discuss projects with your peers, and upload your work for assessment and feedback.

With IDI, you’ll develop an individual approach to your design work, and will graduate with complete confidence in your abilities as a graphic designer.

Course duration

You’ll complete the programme across twelve semesters, delivered over four years. All semesters consist of twelve weeks of study, followed by four weeks of assessment processes.

While studying, you’ll be expected to set aside a minimum of 15-20 hours per week for your directed activities. You should also consider additional time needed to read supporting materials, upload your work to the site, and for discussion with your tutors and peers in the forums.


This course will prepare you for a successful career as a graphic designer, and for design-related roles in digital graphics, online media, communications and marketing, publishing, advertising and many other related fields. (Find out more about starting a career in graphic design.)

For more detailed information about the course, you can download the Programme Specification here.

Next Start Dates: 16th October 2017, 19th February 2018 and 18th June 2018

Levels and Modules

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 more information about the equipment requirements, please refer to the Reading and Materials List.

*The module content, mode of delivery and assessment methods for this programme are subject to change.

Entry and Portfolio Requirements

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

(UCAS have introduced a new points tariff for 2017, you can find out more and calculate your own UCAS points here.)

For UK applicants, we require either 96 UCAS points from GCE A Levels (or equivalent), including art related subjects, and English Language and Mathematics at grade 4 or above (grade C and D or above if prior to 2015), 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)

You can find more detailed information on our entry requirements page.

Advanced entry

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.

Find out more about advanced entry, and see if you could be eligible.

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.


Fees and Discounts

Payment in Full Payment Plans


per level

  • There are three levels in a BA (Hons) degree programme
  • Fees are payable per level


per level

  • 4 instalments of £1,152
    (total payment of £4,608*)
  • 16 instalments of £288
    (total payment of £4,608*)

*Please note these figures include a small administration fee. If you choose to pay with a payment plan you need to pay your first instalment to secure your place. Your next payment is due approximately one month after your start date.

Employers and self-employed 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 us on 0131 777 9321 or Freephone 0800 917 1118 or by e-mail:

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.


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:

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