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.
Why study BA Design at Goldsmiths?
- You'll undertake a professional placement in your second year, allowing you to gain invaluable work experience and professional contacts. Recent placement organisations have included Imagination, Oxfam, Alexander McQueen, Selfridges and Studio Myerscough
- Our graduates are industry leaders – they work in top design consultancies (Pentagram, Heatherwick studio) and companies (Dyson, Selfridges, Oxfam), they've set up their own design studios (including Jailmake, PAN Studio, UsCreates), and they've progressed to become senior designers, consultants, and creative directors
- You'll be taught technical skills by staff who work in the industry and have their own practices
- The degree offers excellent teaching, in an exciting and dynamic educational environment
- You'll have dedicated studio space and use industry-standard workshops, with the latest in laser cutting and 3D modelling technology
- We're the top Design degree in the UK for the second year running, with a score of 100/100 (Guardian University league tables by subject 2016)
- Our students regularly work on and win national awards
- Our degree shows attract massive interest from creative industry leaders who offer exciting placements to our students, and careers to our graduates
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.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Martin Conreen
What you'll study
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.
Year 1 (credit level 4)
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. Studio Practice is where the majority of practical, project-based work is delivered, discussed and assessed.
Contextual Studies provides the theoretical core of the programme. In your first year you study:
- Histories and Theories – lectures, visits and practical exercises on the historical and theoretical context of design in the 20th century unravel the main theoretical influences on design and designing.
- Design and Meaning – lectures and practical exercises looking at the roles that psychology and semiotics play in design. You'll examine the complex nature of design thinking and creative techniques, and the ways in which these relate to actual practice. You'll also be encouraged to explore your own personal responses to the design process.
- Ecology and Design – you'll explore relationships between nature, culture, industry and other social systems, while highlighting possibilities for change in response to current environmental and cultural issues. The context for this module is the emerging field of Eco Design. It is broad-based to give an overview of key issues and ideas.
Methods and Processes
Concentrating on the techniques and processes in research, modelling and drawing, this module equips you with a set of tools for designing, looking at research methods and ways to generate and record ideas.
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.
Year 2 (credit level 5)
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.
- Ethics and Sustainability – This lecture programme asks why the ethical stances of designers, the moral features of the design process, and the value-laden nature of various objects and images, are important in design. You'll also explore ideas relating to the ecological understanding of design and culture towards a widening of perspective and engagement in contemporary ecological concerns.
- Society and Culture – Lectures and practical exercises investigate design in the context of society and culture. You'll examine a number of socio-cultural influences on designers, design processes and design outcomes, and will be encouraged to explore the ways in which your own designs are framed by these influences.
- Material Culture – Lectures and practical exercises investigate design in the context of what has become known as material culture. You explore various attitudes to cultural production, examine notions of consumption and taste, and investigate the various practices that have been built around these attitudes and notions. You will be encouraged to explore the ways in which your own designs are framed by material culture.
Methods and Processes – Professional Practice
This module asks you to engage in design as a professional practice and prepares you for workplace environments. It opens up the extensive nature of the design industry, in order to increase your understanding of the role of a practising 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. At the beginning of Year 3, you will be assessed on a presentation based on your work placement.
Year 3 (credit level 6)
You develop your own projects in Year 3, 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.
This programme is taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. You’ll also be expected to undertake a significant amount of independent study. This includes carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, and producing essays or project work.
How you’ll be assessed
You’ll be assessed by a variety of methods, depending on your module choices. These include coursework, examinations, group work and projects.
The following information gives an indication of how you can typically expect to be assessed on each year of this programme*:
- Year 1 - 100% coursework
- Year 2 - 38% coursework, 62% practical
- Year 3 - 38% coursework, 62% practical
*Please note that these are averages are based on enrolments for 2016/17. Each student’s time in teaching, learning and assessment activities will differ based on individual module choices.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
We accept the following qualifications:
International Baccalaureate: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655
Access: Pass with 45 Level 3 credits including 30 Distinctions and a number of merits/passes in subject-specific modules
Scottish qualifications: BBBBC (Higher) or BBC (Advanced Higher)
European Baccalaureate: 75%
Irish Leaving Certificate: H2 H2 H2 H2
We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score of 6.0 with a 6.0 in writing and no element lower than 5.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for degree-level study.
You may also be able to apply if you're a mature student without formal qualifications, as long as you have relevant work experience and examples of your art and design work. If you don't have 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), then we will also consider your application.
After submitting your application you'll be contacted if you have been selected for interview. We interview throughout the autumn and winter, so please apply as early as possible.
If you're invited to an interview, we'll ask you to bring along a hard copy of your portfolio. If you're an international or EU student who can't attend an interview in person, we'll ask you to submit an electronic portfolio.
In your portfolio you should aim to include a range of work that shows the breadth of your developing skills and interests. Include only work that you can talk about. We are not looking for success stories but at how you demonstrate your working process, your motivations and learning, and if and how you have begun to develop your own identity through your practice. In addition we require you to bring a printed copy of your answers to the Pre-interview Questions that were sent to you when invited to interview.
For more information about what we would like to see at interview, please see our guidance on creating a portfolio.
Fees & funding
The programme encourages you to:
- Develop as an independent and reflective learner
- Gain the skills that will enable you to play an important role in the discipline: now, and in the future
- Think systematically through issues, situations and topics
- Reflect on the social and cultural implications of design
- Understand and address key concepts and issues of sustainability
- Critique and develop your design methods and processes to arrive at sensitive and meaningful conclusions
- Represent, communicate and manifest your ideas convincingly
- Develop, refine and apply methods and strategies that create meaningful relationships between design and people
- Develop innovation and creativity skills, and personal and interpersonal skills
These skills are sought after in many areas of employment.
Most of our BA Design graduates find employment in the creative and cultural industries.
Our graduates have:
- worked for top London design consultancies (Pentagram, Heatherwick studio, Imagination, Moving Brands)
- worked for major UK companies (Dyson, Selfridges, Eden Project, Oxfam)
- set up their own design studios (including Jailmake, PAN Studio, UsCreates)
- worked as freelance designers
- progressed to become senior designers, consultants, design managers and creative directors
- found employment in the public sector and NGOs
- had work commissioned for public spaces, private companies and charities
You can find out more about career options open to you after graduation on our Design careers page.
Our students and graduates have also been successful in national and international competitions. BA Design students have won:
- New Designer of the Year Award
- RSA Design Directions Award
- the Design Museum’s ‘Design Mart’
- NESTA’s Creative Pioneer Programme
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.