Award-winning designer Lizzie Mary Cullen's work is in demand: she's collaborated with MTV, Zizzi, Somerset House and Harvey Nichols. She's also been named one of the 'Hot 50 People Making a Difference in Design' by Design Week.
This design degree allows you to develop strong design thinking while exploring your own creative focus. We encourage you to act through design to effect change, propose new visions of the future, and engage with sustainability.
You need to demonstrate post-16 study in art and design (a Foundation course, BTEC or NVQ Level 3 in Design is usually required) or be an A-level student with a strong art and design portfolio. We also welcome applications from mature students without formal qualifications who have relevant work experience and/or art and design work, and also from students without A-levels in Art and Design, but have an interest in a future career in the creative industries (this may include students with strong A-levels in the humanities and sciences).
After submitting your application you'll be contacted if you have been selected for interview. We'll be interviewing throughout the autumn and winter, so please apply as early as possible.
At interview, we ask you to bring a hard copy of your portfolio as well as a 200-word piece of writing. Your portfolio should include a selection (about 12 pieces) of your most creative work, and should represent a variety of art and/or design approaches and outcomes. We encourage you to choose work from a range of interests outside of your studies.
If you're an international or EU student who is unable to attend an interview in person, we may offer a telephone/online interview. Prior to this you'll be asked to submit an electronic portfolio, which should be 12-20 items that represent a variety of your design work and approaches. Again, please include work that reflects the broad spectrum of your creativity. Find out more about the electronic portfolio requirements.
If your first language is not English, please check our English Language requirements.
Using an interdisciplinary approach, you will engage with a diverse set of critical and practical ideas, and will be encouraged to push beyond the boundaries of traditional design specialisms. The BA Design equips you with the skills and confidence to build a career in a wide range of professions: opening a host of potential career pathways.
For us design is not just a way to make and do things; it is a way to understand and engage with the world. With this philosophy in mind we have developed a highly successful and innovative programme, where you learn to see design as a complex combination of systems and actions, and not just as a set of distinct practical skills.
The BA Design degree enables you to think imaginatively about the possibilities of design, and ultimately to define your own creative practice. Throughout your time at Goldsmiths you will discover how design affects the environment as a whole, as you investigate its role within society and culture. The BA Design is not only concerned with understanding what design is; our curriculum provides you with a way to explore what design might be.
The three-year degree is structured around five different courses – Studio Practice, Contextual Studies, Technical Studies, Methods and Processes, and Professional Practice. These courses support and complement one another within each year of study, and as you progress through the years they are designed to build a coherent set of experiences. Click on the Courses & Structure tab above for more detailed information.
There are no formal written examinations on this programme; work is assessed through continuous assignment-based submissions. Studio Practice is assessed by a combination of project presentations and portfolio displays.
The degree classification is mainly determined by the examinable elements, which include projects, essays, presentations, reports and final exhibition. All work from all years contributes to the final degree classification, but some consideration is given to your improvement and progress as you move through the programme.
If you register your interest in this programme we will keep you informed about open days and send you relevant further information.
The three-year degree is structured around five different courses. These courses support and complement one another within each year of study, and as you progress through the years they are designed to build a coherent set of experiences.
Studio Practice: This course is where the majority of the practical, project-based work is delivered, discussed and assessed. Studio Practice is delivered through a series of unique structured briefs in Years 1 and 2, and progresses into Year 3 with the development of a student-led major project and exhibition.
Contextual Studies: Contextual Studies provides the theoretical core of the BA Design. All students attend lectures on a wide range of design-related issues, ranging from ethics and sustainability, to semiotics and psychology. In the final year this course supports the writing of the Context Report (dissertation).
Technical Studies: A series of technical workshops, delivered to first and second years, covering a broad base of skills. You encounter traditional 3D materials and technologies, and advanced computer-aided design and manufacturing. Technical workshops also cover image production, manipulation and film making, as well as fundamental aspects of typography and graphic layout.
Methods and Processes: In Year 1 this course equips you with a set of tools for designing, looking at research methods and ways to generate and record ideas. In Year 2 the course prepares you for workplace environments, introducing aspects of professional presentation and communication.
Professional Practice: All students undertake a Professional Placement between Years 2 and 3. This course encourages you to develop a more professional approach to your own work, and to generate valuable contacts for future employment.
Studio projects are formulated to allow you to develop your own ways of thinking. You will be challenged to push your ideas, and given space and support to develop an understanding of artefact, user, site and situation.
Methods and Processes
Concentrating on the techniques and processes in research, modeling and drawing.
These workshops focus on specific areas within the discipline. They'll give both a critical and technical introduction into areas such as making, still image, graphic communication and textiles.
You'll explore ways that the contemporary designer can negotiate a changing social, cultural, ecological and political terrain. You'll be encouraged to adopt a personal, ethical and ideological stance in tackling projects concerning the social, cultural, environmental and political domain.
In the spring term you'll work on ‘industry-based projects’, the briefings for which come from the commercial sector. These projects allow you to present to design professionals, gaining valuable experience and insight. The projects are set by a broad range of design professional and commercial sectors, such as Imagination, Pentagram, Hive, Raw Nerve and Lewisham Council.
Methods and Processes – Professional Practice
This course asks you to engage in design as a professional practice. It opens up the extensive nature of the design industry, in order to increase your understanding of the role of a practicing designer.
These sessions cover a range of skills, which build upon the previous year. We offer workshops such as interactive design, moving image, electronics, object manufacture, rapid prototyping/CAD and graphic communication.
During the summer term you are expected to secure and undertake a placement of at least six weeks in duration. You are required at the beginning of Year 3 to submit an assessable presentation based on your work placement.
In the final year you develop your own projects, supported by an individual ‘mentor’. Workshops enable you to formulate, develop and realise a project. Major projects must have a strong conceptual underpinning and be well founded and reasoned.
The final stage of Year 3 is the presentation and exhibition of design practice project work. This is an important part of the educational experience – calling for teamwork, organisation, management and design, developing a range of skills critical to future careers.
This major piece of writing presents the contextual and theoretical framework for your major project. This 6,000-word report develops alongside your project and is a personal piece of work.
On this degree you'll attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, and will improve your communication skills. You'll also go to workshops and tutorials that will develop practical and technical skills in design.
But this is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, or producing project work.
This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. We don't just want you to accept what we tell you without question. We want you to be inspired to read more, to develop your own ideas, and to find the evidence that will back them up. Independent study requires excellent motivation and time management skills. These skills will stay with you for life, and are the kind of transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers.
Learning and teaching on this degree will take place through:
Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches.
The programme encourages you to:
These skills are sought after in many areas of employment.
Most of our BA Design graduates find employment in the creative and cultural industries. The most recent National Student Survey marked Goldsmiths undergraduate Design students as the most employable in the country, with 98% securing a design-related job in their first year after graduation.
Our graduates have:
Our students and graduates have also been successful in national and international competitions. BA Design students have won:
Design the future first
At Goldsmiths design is in our DNA. But we’re not interested in just producing it. We’re interested in defining it. We see design as a discipline with a dual impact: forecasting the future and reflecting the world now. It’s an influence we take seriously. From capturing scents of everyday life to new concepts for future food production, design is at work tracing every moment of life – but it also has the power to transform it.
As a department we’re interested in drawing on the creative and cultural diversity that’s unique to Goldsmiths, so we’re always looking over the fence at a whole range of other disciplines from anthropology to philosophy - using the history of everything that influences design as a way to understand the context in which it’s produced.
We want you to go on to have your own self-sustaining practice that can change over time, so you’ll learn about design not just as a commercial enterprise, but also as a means to question and critique the status quo. And you don’t have to know what kind of a designer you’ll be; we give you the time and the freedom to experiment, use tools, explore materials and discover different modes of making.
Facilities within the department include:
Find out more about facilities in the Department of Design.
Teaching within the department is based on excellence in staff research and practice. All members of academic staff engage in research. This helps us remain at the cutting edge of theory and practice in design and in design education, meaning that your degree is dynamic and relevant to industry.
Find our more about staff in the Department of Design.
Our undergraduate student shows take place every summer. They attract significant positive attention in the media and in the design community.
Find dates for forthcoming shows, and explore the Design degree shows archive.
BA Design Open Days are usually held in October/November. Check forthcoming dates.
Please also see College-wide open days.
"I've already got plans to set up my own studio with a few other members of the course."
"Goldsmiths has a good reputation, especially for the degree I'm doing. You get a lot of industry people coming to the degree shows."
"Just to be in my final year in a peer group alongside a jewellery maker, alongside a product designer, alongside a graphic designer, all working together with the same kind of design process behind you – it was just so vibrant."
The course was kind of perfect for me in the sense that it was wonderfully vague, and I mean that in the most positive manner, because the company I currently work for is wonderfully vague in the types of projects that we adopt. We were taught about the process behind design and the thinking behind design. It helped you to unconsciously steer you towards what it was that you are interested in… I really wanted to do bigger spatial stuff and more architectural projects.
Just to be in my final year in a peer group alongside a jewellery maker, alongside a product designer, alongside a graphic designer, all working together with the same kind of design process behind you, and thinking about design – it was just so vibrant and that was what attracted me to the studio I now work for. It’s the same thought process and the degree set me up perfectly for that.
I work as a project designer for Heatherwick studio, a position I landed immediately after completing my degree. I have been the project designer on many of the studio’s high profile projects, such as the recently launched New Bus for London, overseeing the design from inception through to detail and manufacture. The team is quite a flexible one, which sees designers like myself work alongside makers, engineers and architects. My role entails work on all elements of the design process; from concept development, prototyping, 3D modelling and visualisation; to leading small design teams on certain projects; as well as engaging with the wider client and consultant teams.
Interviewed by the Department of Design
Alexander (graduated 2007)
Alexander was nominated for Best New Director at the UK MVAs, has produced artwork campaigns for two Mercury nominated albums (La Roux and James Blake), and has produced over 30 music videos including the recent number one from Gabrielle Aplin
"Goldsmiths was a great training ground."
Design problems are often like puzzles that have no obvious or direct solution (until you make one). Goldsmiths challenged me to think progressively, to be curious and always ask questions, so instead of searching for the logical answer, Goldsmiths encourages you to establish your own logic. Which can be very helpful when you’re pitching in a crowded industry.
Being at Goldsmiths meant I could integrate into the local community and join in with a network of creative people, which in turn meant that I could start out as a graduate knowing loads of interesting people to work with.
I now direct music videos and short films, and also work as an art director/designer on music projects. Goldsmiths was a great training ground, and like a lot of things it's about what you put in, and many of the practical skills I picked up were self motivated, the actual course is more a place to develop your ideas and train your creative processes. I’ve found that it all comes down to the quality of your ideas, so it's really great that the College keeps that as the focus.
Sam (graduated 2008) and Ben (graduated 2010)
Together they founded PAN, a design and research studio focused on the crossover between technology and experience
"The course gave us the confidence to make the transition to being professional smoothly, both through its work placement programme and by teaching us that how we think is more important than the technical skills we have."
We founded PAN in 2011 – we were interested in using our learned design skills to create new and compelling experiences; salient moments in time that would have a lasting effect on people. Our work includes elements of interaction design, building immersive theatrical environments, and creating objects that affect the way people experience their environment.
We have built installations for clients such as Marks and Spencer, Tom Dixon and The British Council in the past year. All of our work is rooted in a philosophy that people value experience over anything else.
Studying at Goldsmiths was very enjoyable, but the design faculty also taught us a lot about critical thinking, and provided us with robust design processes that allowed us to work across many disciplines.
We formed soon after we left Goldsmiths and the course gave us the confidence to make the transition to being professional smoothly, both through its work placement programme and by teaching us that how we think is more important than the technical skills we have.
It was more than a design education, it encouraged us to be inquisitive about the world and to see ourselves as active participants in it. We were taught that design is not just about problem solving, it's about engaging with our environment and getting excited.
Image: The 'building's brain' installation PAN built for La Gaite Lyrique
Kirsty (graduated 2006)
Since graduating Kirsty has worked as a product designer for Fabrica, head of product development for Established & Sons, and is currently co-curating the Vera Chapter project
"I've gained so many skills from the course, it pushes you to question everything, and it gave me strong communication skills and the ability to be able to present my ideas and my work."
Goldsmiths really provided the foundations for getting me where I am now. Its approach is completely unique and I think employers really appreciate that we are taught in a much more holistic way, it makes us stand out from the other thousands of graduates.
In my first year at Goldsmiths I was completely lost, not really knowing the directions to take. The design tutors and the incredibly diverse course programme really helped me to develop, expanding my knowledge and creative thinking. I've gained so many skills from the course, it pushes you to question everything, and it gave me strong communication skills and the ability to be able to present my ideas and my work. It gave me great experience in working in teams, as well as self-motivation. The diverse mix of people and cultures also plays a huge role in your own personal growth.
I've recently finished a year-long residency at Fabrica – Benetton's Research Laboratory based in Italy – within the Product Design department. My role as a multidisciplinary designer was extremely varied; I worked on several projects for galleries, creating limited edition pieces manufactured in glass, wood and ceramic. We were also responding to commissions from companies who wanted products for their collections; furniture, lighting, rugs, textile, and graphics. Part of the role was also designing for the Benetton Group; accessories, clothing, retail spaces and pop up installations.
The four years prior to this I was the Head of Product Development for British furniture company Established & Sons. I was responsible for managing a small team, where we developed all the designers' ideas from the first concept stage to the point of manufacture. It was an exciting role that really gave me a huge insight into the world of business, manufacturing and processes, as well as working alongside some of the world's leading design studios, such as Jasper Morrison, Barber Osgerby, Industrial Facility, Maarten Baas, and the Bouroullec brothers.
An ongoing project I co-curate with French designer Erika Muller is Vera Chapter. It's an inspirational and thought provoking multi-disciplinary show evolving around a fictional character. Stepping away from the mass-market design approach, which mainly produces for the average and standard end-consumer, the initial thinking process behind each of the chapters is creating a response to one individual. And that individual is Vera. Vera is a fictional character based on a series of photographs from a girl's family found a few years ago in a second hand shop in Brighton. Each chapter a group of artists and designers have been commissioned to respond to one image from the series in order to create Vera's fictive and collaborative biography. It's an ongoing investigation of design, art, literature, creativity, memory, narrative and how we experience our life world.
Image: Vera Chapter two – by KM and ÉM – Kirsty Minns and Érika Muller
Photography by Jorge Luis Diéguez
Dominic (graduated 2011)
Now a filmmaker who runs I Owe Youth, a small collective in Dalston
"The course offers a wide range of experiences and skills which, if used to their fullest, can propel you into the field of work you wish to operate in after university."
Looking back at my time on BA Design, I realise now how important the course was in gearing me up with the skills and processes I've needed to have found myself being a filmmaker. Throughout the course we developed technical practical skills, essential knowledge in tools and creative systems needed to make high quality work. The other side of the course focused on process and how to steer a project. A whole term set aside in the second year for work experience was a great opportunity to pick up more key skills before graduating. For me, the course offers a wide range of experiences and skills which, if used to their fullest, can propel you into the field of work you wish to operate in after university (whether you know what you want to do before or after finishing uni).
I now run a small collective called I Owe Youth based in Dalston, London. A group of us with a mixture of creative backgrounds decided to come together with the intention to cross-pollinate our creative spores. Working in a group of mixed disciplined minds has given us a unique creative approach when we come to produce our films. Only six months old, we're about to release our second project with more in the pipeline for 2013. We also use our design backgrounds to brand, storyboard and communicate what we do as a group. Personally I run the collective and direct the projects that come into the group and ones which I bring in. My personal work is a mixture of fashion and recently short film making.
BA Design, graduated 2011
"The best way I can describe my job is doing things connected to the internet. Narrowing it down any further feels a bit restrictive."
BA Design, while providing a good starting point in terms of technical skills, allowed me to try lots of different things so I could figure out what it was that I really liked. At Goldsmiths I was expected to be able to find my own routes to learning, which suits me very well and was a good preparation for the future
I now work as a Creative Technologist. The best way I can describe my job is doing things connected to the internet. Narrowing it down any further feels a bit restrictive. I reside somewhere in a space between interaction design and development. Sometimes I make websites, other times I write programs that communicate with other programs or systems over the internet, other times I build simple electronic objects that gather data. I get a bit bored when I have to do similar things, so I try doing projects that challenge me and teach me something new.
I work freelance and on contracts, so every project brings something different. I miss out a little on bonding with a team and on working on long-term projects, but on the other hand I keep meeting and working with really interesting people.
I do a mixture of working remotely from home, from my desk I squat at Lighthouse's office in Brighton, and from client's offices. So far I haven't been able to figure out which is my favourite, maybe I just like the variety. Can you spot a theme yet?
Jo (graduated 2007)
Now leading a service design practice for a not-for-profit public sector consultancy, of which he's also a partner
"The design course at Goldsmiths is truly unique in how it brings together serious critical thinking and a culture of open creativity."
Since leaving Goldsmiths I have followed a route that has taken my design practice to some unique places, where I have been able to apply my design education in some strange and wonderful ways. I am now a partner of the Innovation Unit, a not-for-profit public sector consultancy that used to be a central government think tank. I am leading a service design practice, which focuses on using a design led process to delivering radical new policy and strategy for local and central government, both here in the UK and around the world.
The design course at Goldsmiths is truly unique in how it brings together serious critical thinking and a culture of open creativity. My design education at Goldsmiths has been a fundamental foundation that has afforded me the belief and capability to apply a design led methodology to try and solve some of the most complex challenges we face; from working to design out poverty in London boroughs to creating radical new models of teaching for New York's most disadvantaged school pupils.
"Goldsmiths really questions if we need more products, and how we can shape the world – how design can shape the world."
It’s been a really incredible huge learning curve in those three years, especially the last year, and I just learnt so many different skills in all different disciplines – like thinking, conceptualising ideas, really knowing how to teach yourself, where to get things made.
The main drive of this course is the concept of the project – so finding a good concept is what Goldsmiths really does, it encourages you to be critical and think a lot. Goldsmiths really questions if we need more products, and how we can shape the world – how design can shape the world. Goldsmiths' design course is very critical, we're always asked why we're doing things, why we come up with a concept or an idea. That's the main drive. And it really allows you to work in different disciplines, so you're not put into a box, where it says 'I'm a graphic designer', so the student can sort of shape their project around their interest.
Interviewed by the Department of Design
"A lot of the process work and the theoretical and speculative side is something which isn't available on other courses and so to graduate with that behind you is a real asset and I think it make you highly valuable as a potential employee."
My experience of studying at Goldsmiths is that it's been really varied. At the very beginning of the course I had absolutely no practical skills at all and as far as thinking as a designer was concerned there was very little to build on. I came here straight after a gap year so to be thrown at the deep end how I was, it was a real challenge and it still is today. The course pushes you further than you have ever been pushed before and I think that is really valuable because you come out stronger at the end. A lot of the process work and the theoretical and speculative side is something which isn't available on other courses and so to graduate with that behind you is a real asset and I think it make you highly valuable as a potential employee.
The department's approach is distinctive probably because of its speculative and process nature. A lot of other courses don't deliver these kinds of experiences because they focus purely on the product and not so much about the research, which informs it. Also its social and ethical stances are something that's extremely unique. A lot of designers don't consider these elements when they create their outcomes so to be able to do that and to be able to experience that for three years kind of puts you in good stead when you graduate.
Interviewed by the Department of Design
"It’s not just project design, it’s not just video and not just graphics... everyone is encouraged to find their niche and really explore that."
When you come to the [end of year] show and see everyone's work and it's such a varied exhibition... you can tell that Goldsmiths' approach to design is really different to that of other universities. There's definitely a sense of identity throughout the whole thing, but then everyones work is so different and you can really tell that it has a different outlook than many other design courses: it’s not just project design, it’s not just video and not just graphics, and everyone is encouraged to find their niche and really explore that and if you don't want just one niche then you can do how many other things you like.
People’s design language is so much broader that you would see perhaps in other exhibitions, and people seem to have a slightly different and more imaginative understanding of things like social environments.
Interviewed by the Department of Design
"People here share a very open vision of what design is."
When I decided to enrol at university, the BA Design at Goldsmiths was the only course I applied to. Where else would I have learnt such a variety of design skills? I’m a naturally good maker, I love getting my hands dirty and working on the materiality of an object.
Three years on, the Foundry is still my favourite place, but I’m a good all-rounder now. In the process I came across practices I got really passionate about and the ones I didn’t find so immediate to get into, but it doesn’t matter, as it all contributed to make me into a better and more versatile designer. I’m much more analytical and aware of my responsibilities as a designer, but at the same time the course has enhanced my individuality.
People here share a very open vision of what design is. I don’t think I’ve ever heard: “No, you can’t do this. This is not design!”. And this has given me an incredible sense of freedom.
"Goldsmiths is provocative, it's about a community that encourages creativity and freedom of thought."
I came to Goldsmiths for the Design course itself, being in a vibrant city like London was just a bonus. I don’t think there is anywhere else that offers such a dynamic, interdisciplinary and radical programme.
Design and vision are born out of a critical engagement with the world; I’d say it’s about being perpetually curious. Although teaching objective design for people and contexts, the course has a wonderful balance to allow you the space to learn about yourself. Through engaging with photography, film, casting, design history and the study of culture (and much more) the course has developed my practical skills and understanding but ultimately it is about exploration, and generating a personal understanding of what design is and where you position your individual practice.
Design is the ultimate communication tool, it is a device aimed at change. In many ways I’d say that the BA Design course epitomises Goldsmiths’ ethos. Goldsmiths is provocative, it’s about a community that encourages creativity and freedom of thought. We challenge conventions but it’s not about irrationally and erratically pushing boundaries, it’s about understanding why convention is what it is and what it ought to be. Furthermore it’s a place to be heard and initiate change.
I have loved studying here and I think that I’m more passionate about my subject than ever.
"Studying here you feel like you are sitting next to someone who is going to invent something that is going to revolutionise the world. The thoughts of the people sitting next to you, they are new."
The experience of studying at Goldsmiths is really good. I come from Lithuania and there it's different. They are more directed towards product or furniture design so there is not a lot of freedom for individual thought. At Goldsmiths there’s a lot of space for personal intervention… individualism, perhaps. And people are great and helpful.
The design department at Goldsmiths is distinctive because it’s very unique. I haven’t seen a course like BA Design anywhere else, first of all. Studying here you feel like you are sitting next to someone who is going to invent something that is going to revolutionise the world. The thoughts of the people sitting next to you, they are new. And that’s what Goldsmiths is about. It's about critical practice and thinking critically about the world surroundings and that's why it's unique.
Interviewed by the Department of Design
"Goldsmiths has a wide variety of facilities that you can use."
Goldsmiths has a wide variety of facilities that you can use. For making, for instance, you can go down to the workshops and use all of the CAD software, which I think a lot of other people [at other universities] don’t necessarily have. And we have really good design-oriented technicians, who are really useful. What makes Goldsmiths really different is our conceptual thinking.
Interviewed by the Department of Design
"You’re not focused just on graphic design or on creating products. You're able to work in the way you want and there are no restrictions."
My experience of studying design at Goldsmiths has been really interesting. It's such a broad course. There are so many areas. You’re not focused just on graphic design or on creating products. You're able to work in the way you want and there are no restrictions as to how… so if you want to create something you just go and create it and it doesn't have to be done in a certain way.
The department's approach to design is really broad. There is no one way to design. It really encourages you to experiment in so many different ways and it really questions what design is, and what you can create is so varied. It's really good.
Interviewed by the Department of Design
"I didn’t want to focus on a course that was aesthetics-based."
I chose this course because it's so different to other courses. I didn't feel ready to focus on one discipline and in a way, I don’t think I will. I’m interested in the creative process of design, rather than focusing on graphics or products or something like that, which is kind of how it's set on other courses. I’m more interested in the collaborative way of working and I didn’t want to focus on a course that was aesthetics-based. I wanted to continue my reading, writing and learning, which you can do in this course, learning about materials and culture and ecology in design, which has been really interesting.
Interviewed by the Department of Design
Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW, UK
Telephone: + 44 (0)20 7919 7171
Goldsmiths has charitable status