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Graphic Design

BA (Hons)

School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Art and Design


Start Date(s): September


Three years full-time


UK - £9,250 per year

International - £14,820 per year

In Brief:

  • A consistent record of success in both graduate employment within the design industry and national design competitions
  • Consistent record of success in national competitions such as D&AD Student Awards, Roses Student Awards and YCN
  • A broad, future facing, socially responsible approach to the subject allowing for personal ambitions and directions within the discipline to be discovered and explored
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

Be inspired, think creatively, respond to change, be innovative, develop solutions, captivate, articulate, entertain and inspire! This course offers a broad experience of graphic design with the opportunity to increasingly personalise and shape the direction of your studies throughout the three years.

On the course, you’ll learn to develop research informed and ideas-led solutions to increasing complex visual communication challenges. You have the opportunity to engage with an extensive range of creative processes of production, embracing both the digital and traditional processes of design.  This course allows for the development of a broad range of specialist skills in areas such as typography, branding, illustration and image making, information design, signage and way-finding, art direction, exhibition design, editorial design, service design, front-end web design, user experience and  user interface design.

Our graduate employment profile is excellent and supported through the focus of the curriculum on externally partnered and live briefs, networking events, exhibitions and competitions that our students engage with and undertake during their studies. There are many opportunities to engage with the local  creative community within Greater Manchester as well as the wider industry on a national and international level. Our prime location on the University’s main campus within the New Adelphi building also fosters excellent opportunities for you to work collaboratively with students studying across  a wide spectrum of disciplines.


Course Details

We support students to develop idea led solutions, embracing the digital and at the same time engaging with traditional processes such as bookbinding and printmaking. Teaching is informed by research and academic staff contribute to subject networks, international conferences, exhibitions, books and papers. Student learning is facilitated through a range of workshops, seminars and lectures with additional support from a team of demonstrators.

The curriculum covers a broad range of specialist skills in both traditional and emerging areas such as design research methods, ideas generation & creative thinking, typography, branding, art direction, print-making, illustration & image making, bookbinding, photography, motion design, ambient media, interactive and multimedia design.

Course Structure

The course provides an integrated structure to facilitate the development of your personal practice and progress from level to level.

Year One

You will broaden your experience of graphic design through the development of your understanding of the fundamental design principles traditionally used within graphic communication design practice such as form, proportion, contrast, balance, space, colour and symbol. You will also be supported in the development of your awareness of the contextual factors, theories and debates surrounding contemporary design practice through the introduction of complex ‘wicked’ design challenges.

Year Two

You will build on your developing skills and gain deeper understanding of specific areas of practice within graphic design. You will also explore the social, ecological and political roles and responsibilities of the designer. Opportunities to collaborate with partners from other disciplines, both internal and external to the University, will facilitate the imagining of new roles for the designer in the 21st century and the development of key professional skills.

Year Three

Year three will allow you to continue to refine and focus your individual skills through the development of a portfolio of personally selected and self-directed projects and engagement with the industry and external partners. Through your negotiated major project and theory assignments you will continue to articulate, define and focus your practice as a designer, making supported decisions regards your ambitions beyond graduation.

Year 1                

Semester 1                

This module introduces a variety of approaches to developing an applied understanding of the fundamental design principles used within graphic communication design practice. Through a series of practical workshops and projects students will examine: process, materials, form, proportion, contrast, balance,        space,        colour        and symbol and their impact and use.                          
The Critical & Contextual Practice module gives students the opportunity to intellectually explore and interrogate their chosen discipline. The module is supported by workshops, lectures and seminars aligned to and in support of the development of studio practice. The module aims to embed writing        as        a        connected and integral part of design process where a series of interlocking, complementary texts and artefacts will be produced to help build deeper understanding of the theories, debates and discourses that surround the discipline of graphic communication design.                        

Semester 2                

This module aims to develop an awareness of the contextual factors, which affect contemporary graphic communication design practice through the study of challenging real-world ‘wicked’ problems. Students will be introduced to working within the constraints inherent in designing for specific        purposes        and        encouraged to give due consideration of their responsibilities as designers to any stakeholders involved. Focus will be placed on the application of previous learning, the development of personal design processes and capabilities regards the generation of ideas and application of creative        thinking.                        
Further developing the knowledge and skills you acquired in semester 1.                        

Year 2                

Semester 1                

In this module students will research how 21st Century designers are expanding their role beyond the aesthetic and commercial and are applying their creative skills contributing to social, ecological and political issues. Students will participate in several projects intended to help the development        of socially responsible design practices and the broadening of perspective on how and where design can be applied in an ethical manner. These projects may range from devising and communicating inventive proposals to local level, everyday problems, to larger and more complex global issues such as food        production, energy consumption, mass education and the protection and improvement of natural ecosystems and resources.                        
This module will allow students to work alongside a live client and/or collaborate with other programmes within the School or wider university. The learning will be further reinforced through group discussions in practical classes, project supervision sessions, workshops and one-to-one tutorials.  The        module will develop student’s awareness of the benefits of collaborative practice and the relationship between design and business.                        
This module introduces further knowledge and context and facilitates the academic application and continuing development of the knowledge and skills gained on the course. Students will investigate and test their position in relation to creative and cultural communities relevant to their developing practices.        The module will also provide practice in working with others and explores the nature of applying research in collaborative situations.            

Semester 2                

This module challenges students to utilise graphic communication skills and knowledge in the answering of a live design brief. Through negotiation students will be encouraged to select and answer a project with externally set requirements. The work produced for this unit should demonstrate a clear understanding        of the aims, goals, objectives and needs of stakeholders involved (clients, collaborative partners and target audiences). Students will have opportunity to expand and apply the skills and learning gained in an educational context within a professional setting.                        
This module will allow students to investigate possibilities for graphic communication design connecting and interacting with other subjects such as sociology, anthropology, politics, science, philosophy, psychology, economics and technology. Through a series of project challenges, workshops and seminars        students will generate and evaluate ideas that help indentify individual ambitions and develop specialist technical and practical skills.                        
Further developing the knowledge and skills you acquired in semester 1.                        

Year 3                

Semester 1                

This module offers the opportunity to consolidate specialist interests by enabling students to select from a range of projects that allow flexibility of process, media and outcome. These projects will be either course set, industry partnered or from a range of design award schemes.                        
This module requires you, in consultation with programme staff, to formulate, investigate and produce an individual response* to a subject area connected to visual culture or key critical, professional subject debates. It will also allow you to consider and articulate a personal agenda and prepare for        life after graduation through the development a post degree plan and related portfolio of work.        

Semester 2      

The Negotiated Major Project module is designed to allow students to bring together and synthesise their prior learning and experiences on the course through the definition, negotiation and implementation of a self-determined programme of study. Students are encouraged to identify a theme, topic, issue        or set of issues around which to focus their exploration leading to the development and presentation of a significant body of work.                        
Further developing the knowledge and skills you acquired in semester 1.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

Entry Requirements

Qualification Entry requirements
Foundation Diploma in Art and Design Pass = 165 (plus other additional qualifications to a total of 280pts)
You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
English and Maths GCSE grade C
UCAS tariff points 112 - 120 points, to inlcude a grade C or above in an Art & Design or Design & Technology subject
GCE A level 112- 120 points, to inlcude a grade C or above in an Art & Design or Design & Technology subject
BTEC National Diploma DMM Art & Design or Design & Technology
BTEC Higher National Diploma Applicants may be considered for entry into year 2
Foundation Degree Applicants may be considered for entry into year 3.
Scottish Highers 112 - 120 points Art & Design or Design & Technology
Irish Leaving Certificate 112 - 120 tariff points, Art & Design or Design & Technology
International Baccalaureate 30-31 points including Art & Design or Design & Technology

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

English Language Requirements

Applicant profile

Applicants should be able to demonstrate knowledge and enthusiasm about design, and be keen to develop skills in all areas throughout all stages of the creative process. We would like to see evidence of creative thinking, thorough research skills and experimentation with a range of media and ideas as  well as the application of problem solving skills and evidence of critical judgement and analysis. All applicants are required to bring a portfolio to interview, which should include examples of your working processes such as secondary and primary research, ideas generation and project development in  sketchbooks and/or worksheets as well as final outcomes.

Personal Statement: Your application statement should be succinct and personal to you. It should provide information that helps the admissions tutor determine the suitability of your application. 

It should provide answers for questions such as:

  • Why do you want to study Graphic Design?  
  • When did you realise this was the subject you wanted to specialise in?  
  • Who, within the field of creative practice, has produced work that you admire?  
  • What do you hope to gain through degree level study?  
  • How has your education and life experiences so far prepared you for degree level study?

Fees and Funding


Fees 2019-20

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9,250 per year
Full-time International £14,820 per year

Fees 2018-19

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9,250 per year
Part-time Your annual fee will be calculated pro rata to the full-time fee according to the number of credits you are studying.
Full-time International £14,400 per year

Additional costs

Students should expect to pay approximately £40 for studio levy, £100 for materials and £20 for study visits per year. Costs are approximated based on the current academic year.

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.


We employ a range of teaching methods including practical workshops, seminars, tutorials, lectures and self-directed study for skills development. Design projects provide the main focus of learning and students have regular opportunity to gain feedback on their work through group tutorials and evaluative seminars. Students benefit from learning to practice within large studio environment, which helps develop a working studio culture and facilitates further support and collaboration with peers, tutors and demonstrators. Project delivery ranges from one-day tasks to longer projects running the length of a semester or the whole academic year. Students are given opportunities to develop transferable communication and organisational skills through enhancement opportunities including team working, presenting project work and project management.

Live and externally partnered briefs are integrated into several modules and there are opportunities to engage with industry through co-curricula projects, networking events, exhibitions and visits to and from local creative practitioners. Students are all required to record, reflect and evaluate their experiences and progress through the course and are supported through a personal tutorial system. Students are encouraged to develop their subject awareness, contextualise their practice and develop skills that facilitate an ability to work independently. Collaborative practice and key team working skills are also developed.

There are regular group tutorials to feedback on progress, talks and debates to explore ideas and concepts, seminars to develop discussion around subject related themes and workshops to develop a variety of cognitive, practical and technical skills. A wide variety of assessment methods are used and modules often require the assessment of a mixture of visual, verbal and written outcomes.


For studio based modules you will be assessed on 100% coursework, which usually comprises of research and development work including ideas generation, design process, final outcomes and reflective analysis and evaluation.

The Critical & Professional Contexts modules offers a theoretical and cultural underpinning to your design practice and submissions throughout the course take the form of written outcomes, presentations and visual artefacts.

The weighting between practical and written work across the course is approximately:

  • Practical studio work 80%
  • Contextual and written work 20%


Graduates work in many areas of graphic design, including design for print, branding, editorial design, illustration, interactive design including app design, ezine and e-book design, online marketing and web design, as well as motion graphics. Students also move into related careers within the ever evolving creative industries in marketing, project management, social media and account handling.

Graduates wanting to pursue further research can progress to our Master’s programme in Art and Design with pathways including Communication Design and Creative Education.

Graduates work locally, nationally as well as internationally at companies such as Love Creative, Vault 49 New York, Typo com, Raw, Great Fridays, Mainframe, Code, Office, TBWA, GQ, Harpers & Queen, Showstudio, Skaggs Advertising in New York, Sha-La-La workshop, Hong Kong and Zietgiest in Germany. Graduates work within the creative industries, as well as freelance, and others pursue careers in teaching.


Career Prospects

Alumni Profile

David Ryan Robinson

Graduated in 2011 after studying on the Illustration pathway. He was already picking up commissions in his final year, notably his artwork for the Allie Moss album “Late Bloomer”. The Guardian also commissioned Ryan to draw Manchester types for their Manchester Festival supplement inspired by his series of prints of the creative spaces of Salford developed while at the university for the “Information Exchange” at Hub for Chapel Street Open studios. Ryan currently runs his illustration practice whilst working as a designer at Cartoon Network (Turner Enterprises).

Clients include the Guardian, the Times, Cartoon Network [adult swim], EDF Energy, Becks Beer, BBC, TBA Magazine, Sports Relief, Allie Moss, The Cornerhouse, Afflecks Palace, Islington Mill.

Dan Teanby  

Since graduating in 2016 Dan has already built an impressive track record. Whilst studying on the Graphic design course he developed a large client base such as the independent music festival, Parklife and the learning disabled arts based charity Venture Arts through working as a freelancer for a variety of design studios. As a result of undertaking placements at Manchester based companies such as Lazerian and HAND studio, Dan attended Milan Design Week where he was engaged in projects involving companies such as G.F Smith papers. Dan’s commitment to both his own studies and those of his peers were recognised through a Best Student Award for the School of Arts and Media. Watch this space!

Charly Harvey

During her final year at Salford Charly was commended for YCN student awards, through leading a team to win the Propercorn competition brief. Since graduating in 2015 with a first class honours degree, Charly undertook an internship at The Chase, one of the North West’s leading creative consultants with Ben Casey and Peter Richardson. She also worked with Manchester based design studios Absolute Media and Transmission before starting her business with a partner.
They created Cabin, a design hub and freelance platform to share inspiration, network with industry and generate design work for themselves and with companies such as Zeven Media.
Recently Charly won 1st and 2nd place in a logo competition for Penguin.

Links with Industry

We offer many opportunities to engage with industry and the programme has close links with a range of design companies and industry networks both locally and nationally.

Industry experience is also integrated into module delivery with live briefs and other opportunities such as print fairs and exhibitions at internationally acclaimed venues within the North West and beyond.

Live projects include Decode Recode as part of the official Opening of the University Building at MediaCityUK, this ran for 24 hours project with 24 countries, a live media Jam. Students designed branding, marketing and exhibition design for a networking event, DNA Carnival at Islington Mill, Salford. Other live briefs include Magma store promotion, album cover and merchandising for Ali Moss Late Bloomer (BT Ad) and ‘Sharing the Making’, a group that interacts with artisans in Peru to connect them with companies in the UK to offer fair trade. Another project was with BBC21CC, students worked alongside BBC media trainers teaching digital media skills to produce content for the BBC Big Screens.

Whilst not an assessed part of the course or part of a module, students are supported and encouraged to search for and undertake live briefs, freelance work or industry placement during the course, usually during the summer vacation period between Levels 5 and 6.

Students gain work experience at a broad range of companies including Code, Design by Day, Hallmark, Havas Lynx, True North, DR ME, Lazerian, Like A River, Doodledo and Unconvention.

The Graphic Design programme delivers a popular professional speakers’ occasional programme of leading design professionals, from a broad range of disciplines, to present their individual philosophies and portfolios. Past speakers have included practitioners such as Textbook Studio, DR ME, Music, Si Scott, Peter Saville, Pete Fowler, John Burgerman and Trevor Johnson.

Further Study


The graphic design course has large studios within the New Adelphi builidng so that you can benefit from working within a creative community and develop skills for working within a studio culture. There is access to various computer suites on campus complete with appropriate industry standard software. In addition, there are a range of specialist technical areas such as a photography department with facilities supporting both digital and traditional processes, a print room which has newly equipped water based and traditional print processes and fully equipped 3D Workshop areas. All these areas are supported by a range of expert technical demonstrators who will induct you with the wide range of processes.

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