IB: 33 points overall with Three HL subjects at 655
3 years full-time, with a professional placement during Year 2
Design isn’t just a way of making and doing; it’s a way of understanding and engaging with the world.
Why study BA Design at Goldsmiths?
- The BA Design degree enables you to think imaginatively about the possibilities of design. Not just what design is; but what it might be. You’ll discover how design affects the environment as a whole, as you investigate its role within society and culture. You’ll learn to see design as a complex combination of systems and actions, and not just as a set of distinct practical skills.
- We give you access to studio space and industry-standard workshops, with the latest in laser cutting and 3D modelling technology.
- You’ll work on live briefs set by real life companies. These projects allow you to develop your ideas and present to design professionals, gaining valuable experience and insight.
- In your second year, you’ll have the chance to do a placement. Past placement hosts have included Selfridges and Alexander McQueen.
- Our graduates have gone on to work for top London design consultancies and major international brands including Dyson, LEGO, Google and Burberry. Many have also gone on to set up their own design studios.
- Students and graduates have also been successful in national and international competitions, winning awards including the New Designer of the Year Award, RSA Design Directions Award, the Design Museum’s ‘Design Mart’ and NESTA’s Creative Pioneer Programme.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dash MacDonald.
What you'll study
For 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of certain programmes are delivered. To check what changes affect this programme, please visit the Programme Changes page
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.
- Philosophy and Design – this course aims to explore an expanded sense of the ecological through philosophical politics and ethics, and design philosophy, to challenge the embedded logic systems and structures of consciousness that perpetuate ecological problems within a complex global world.
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.
Society and Culture - This one-week intensive course investigates ideology and design in the context of society and culture. It examines a number of socio-cultural influences on designers, design processes, systems, and architectures. The course introduces various readings of society and culture so as to give a sense of the ideological context of design, but also to show how design creates ideology itself.
Material Culture - This course investigates design in the context of what has become known as Material Culture. The course explores various attitudes to cultural production, examines notions of consumption and taste, and investigates the various processes and practices that have been built around these notions. Though a series of lectures, practical exercises and self-directed learning students will be encouraged to explore the ways in which their own designs are framed by material (and immaterial) culture
Design Politics and Ethics - From national level parliamentary enquiries to the founding of design-led policy labs and the realisation of new design-led government departments like the Government’s Digital Services, Design has emerged as a significant practice in the shaping and realising of our political and moral landscape. But how has design practice responded to this opportunity?
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.
The following information gives an indication of the typical proportions of learning and teaching for each year of this programme*:
- Year 1 - 41% scheduled learning, 59% independent learning
- Year 2 - 26% scheduled learning, 61% independent learning, 13% placement learning
- Year 3 - 11% scheduled learning, 89% independent learning
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, 63% practical
- Year 3 - 38% coursework, 63% practical
*Please note that these averages are based on enrolments for 2019/20. Each student’s time in teaching, learning and assessment activities will differ based on individual module choices. Find out more about how this information is calculated.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
What our students say
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
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.
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 (or equivalent English language qualification) 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.
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
Annual tuition fees
These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2021/2022 academic year.
From August 2021 EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for 'Home' fee status. EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will be classified as 'International' for fee purposes, more information can be found on our fees page.
- Home - full-time: £9250
- International - full-time: £21380
It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time if you require a Student Visa, however this is currently being reviewed and will be confirmed in the new year. Please read our visa guidance in the interim for more information. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.
If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.
In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.
There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.
The programme encourages you to develop as an independent and reflective learner and think systematically about the role of design: now, and in the future. You'll learn how to understand and address key concepts and issues of sustainability and how to critique and develop your design methods and processes to arrive at sensitive and meaningful conclusions.
You'll also gain the ability to represent, communicate and manifest your ideas convincingly, develop, refine and apply methods and strategies that create meaningful relationships between design and people and develop your innovation and creativity skills, and personal and interpersonal skills.
Most of our BA Design graduates find employment in the creative and cultural industries, with many setting up their own businesses. You can find out more about career options open to you after graduation on our Design careers page.