BA Product Design is arranged over three academic years and is designed to offer you an experience in which you learn and apply product design processes to a progressively challenging range of contexts. In this way the degree course builds your capacities as confident, questioning, highly creative practitioners capable of dealing with complex issues in the development of product design responses.
Stage One builds your subject knowledge and skills while introducing you to our brand of studio working and integrating you within our community of practice. Through a series of projects you’ll go on to focus on specific product design skills such as computing, 2D and 3D sketching, and workshop skills in wood, metal, and plastics. You also build knowledge of design for manufacture, and intellectual skills in areas like semiotics. The year finishes with a tour of London design studios intended to give you an insight into the breadth of practice labelled product design.
Stage Two extends your skills and locates you in professional contexts through external briefs provided by industry. Here you get the opportunity to consider and plan your future as a practitioner and to take more responsibility for initiating and managing your own work. You will, for instance, be exploring the relationships between branding and product design, and how ideas from outside of the discipline can be used to explore and inform creative design responses.
Stage Three provides you with a sustained opportunity to pursue your own agenda through writing and design exploration. This is your chance to bring together creative, intellectual, entrepreneurial and practical capacities developed over the previous two years to forge a product design outcome limited only by the time allocated and your own ambition. The final year closes with a real-world scenario in which you partner an external client to deliver a specific project. Absolut, Body Shop, Habitat, Kodak, Proctor & Gamble and Samsung are among our recent collaborators. This project represents a really useful springboard to professional design practice.
The degree course has three closely interrelated areas of study that are delivered through project work, lectures, seminars, workshops and assignments. Areas of study are:
- Design studies
- Technical studies
- Contextual studies
The ability to generate and translate ideas into resolved designs is crucial. Design Studies develops your creativity with idea generation, problem solving, drawing and presentation technique, sketching and finished model making. It also helps build the project management and verbal presentation skills you’ll need in order to develop and communicate your designs.
Technical Studies enables you to gain an understanding of materials and processes, manufacturing methods, and 2D and 3D CAD skills within industrial contexts of batch and mass production. It develops your ability to research and specify components, materials and manufacturing processes for any product design project.
Contextual Studies examines some of the key historical, theoretical, and social contexts from which products acquire meaning and in which product design practice operates. Crucially in our programme it’s taught in-studio alongside Design Studies to allow ideas and thinking from radically different disciplines to inform and energise.
Bigger picture unit
The bigger picture unit brings together students from across the school to work in mixed groups. The unit promotes critical thinking through the presentation of ideas, debate and discussion, and requires you to consider your subject in a wider context and to position your practice within the ‘ bigger picture’ of cultural production and meaning making.
Personal and professional development builds the skills and knowledge you need to be an active member of a learning community, to become a self-sufficient learner, and to be able to enter the professional world and manage your subsequent career development.
Developing your skills - external activities
A high proportion of tutors are practicing designers and many student projects are informed by direct contact with relevant industrial contacts. Recent examples include Nokia, Procter and Gamble, Liberty, Unilever, Samsonite and Diageo. While significant focus remains on the practical skills necessary to successfully bring an object into physical being, students are encouraged to precede this activity by identifying appropriate problems and design outcomes that successfully meet the physical, psychological and emotional wants and needs of real people.
BA Product Design Programme Specification 2018/19 (PDF, 525KB)
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