Our BA (Hons) Product and Furniture design course focuses on the design and development of creative, contemporary and innovative products and furniture, considering user centred design, social context and commercial understanding. You will be encouraged to explore materials, techniques and processes in relation to scales of manufacture, from one-off bespoke design to design for standardised mass production. This course is the ideal choice if you're interested in a career as a designer, maker, and developer of products and furniture.
You will learn a range of research and design methods alongside continual practical skills development. Live student projects take place throughout the course to enhance your employability, communication skills and professional practice.
You will examine the process of designing and developing functional and desirable products and furniture, examining how social and cultural factors influence design decisions. You will develop knowledge and understanding of design in response to collaborative, professional, commercial and economic considerations.
By working on live projects, you will explore how businesses operate at a commercial, technological, ethical and sustainable level. Alongside research and design development skills, you will also increase your practical knowledge through extensive hands-on exploration. Engaging with making from the outset enables you to fully realise design concepts and create convincing models and prototypes. Underpinned with strong contemporary design thinking, you will explore the breadth of scales of manufacture across product and furniture design to be able to position yourself within a global industry.
We also boast valuable international opportunities. In the past, students on this course have collaborated with international packaging company Tri-Wall, working together for an exhibition in Hong Kong. Our second-year students have also exhibited a range of products at PMQ, a creative hub for local design talent also located in Hong Kong. You’ll also benefit from the insight of guest speakers, such as materials expert Chris Lefteri and furniture designer Valentina Glez Wholers.
"Studying at Birmingham City University has allowed me to obtain a broad range of skills, ranging from Photoshop to welding, as well as giving me the opportunity to learn a variety of software and technologies. I’m now capable of taking a project from the initial stages of conceptualisation (sketching) right the way through to planned pre-production (working prototypes and technical drawings).” Benjamin Banks
From Barcelona to New York, study trips and international opportunities provide new cultural perspectives and shared common experiences.
You’ll have the chance to join the student-led Society of 3D Design to take part in collaborative opportunities, creating a community between different disciplines of 3D design.
You’ll develop design communication and visualisation skills using recognised industry standard programmes such as SolidWorks, Adobe Creative Suite and AutoCAD.
You will develop practical skills throughout the programme through extensive workshop practice and develop skills in rapid prototyping and digitally driven techniques.
Live projects and industrial collaborations provide you with invaluable real world experiences and hone your communication and professional development skills.
* Please note this course has changed name for 2017/18. The KIS data below relates to the previous course title.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
Portfolios are not mandatory for any undergraduate course within the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design if you are a UK-based home student. However, if you'd like to provide a portfolio before or on your applicant visit day, you may do so electronically or physically (however we would prefer electronically). Find out more details here.
A portfolio is required for International applications. Find out more details here.
112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
|UK Qualification||Requirements 2017/18|
|GCE A Level/ AS Level||BBC at A-Level or 112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A-Levels|
|Access to Higher Education Diploma||Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway|
|BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years)||D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years)||DMM - 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years)||D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design||Distinction|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||
For students who complete the full IB Diploma: Obtain a total of 14 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
For students who do not complete the full IB Diploma: Obtain a total of 16 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
|Irish Leaving Certificate||112 UCAS points - Higher Levels|
|Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher||112 UCAS points|
|Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options)||Grade Pass plus grades CC at A-Level (or equivalent qualifications) to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points|
|If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.
Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
|EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements 2017/18|
|IELTS||6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).||
For students who complete the full IB Diploma: Obtain a total of 14 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
For students who do not complete the full IB Diploma: Obtain a total of 16 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
In addition to the above, applicants will also need:
International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).
If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.
UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2017||FT||3 years||£9,250 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2017||FT||3 years||£12,000 per year|
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.
The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.
UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.
There are three ways to apply:
You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.
Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.
If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.
UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*
The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.
You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.
The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on your course. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.
All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.
We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
First-year modules introduce key principles, processes and methods.
After completing year one, you will be eligible for Certificate of Higher Education (120 credits).
Design Principles and Processes
Studio and workshop demonstrations and activities will introduce a range of fundamental design principles and 3D methods, materials, techniques, processes and technologies that are relevant for designers. This module will provide an introduction to key design factors including research methods, brief analysis, design issues/opportunities and human factors.
Contextual and Cultural Studies
The module introduces some of the critically defining key events and precedents that have influenced and shaped historical and contemporary design. The module engages with the key design ideologies of the 20th and 21st Century, developing an understanding of the principles of design analysis, critical analysis, academic writing, questioning and debate.
This module introduces you to fundamental elements and key methodologies of visual expression and communication. Through drawing and image building assignments, you will develop a comprehensive range of 2D and 3D skills in order to develop a visual language to respond effectively and creatively to design tasks and formal briefs.
Materials & The Made Object
This module seeks to embed an understanding of material and process technologies that will enable you to design with specific parameters in mind and appreciate the limitations of what you are designing with. This will encourage you to embrace material qualities as part of the design process, and actively explore the creative application of current and future technologies.
Scales of Manufacture
This module will introduce basic principles and considerations when designing for various scales of manufacture, helping you to develop an awareness of the impact of economies of scale on design thinking. The module will introduce fundamental strategies in designing for different markets and you will explore the relationships between scale, context and implementation.
Employability-focused modules during your second year year enhance industry knowledge and experience.
After completing year two, you will be eligible for Diploma of Higher Education (240 credits).
The main focus of this module is to develop more advanced CAD skills and use these in relation to the design process. As skills develop you will be expected to utilise and correctly synthesise the SolidWorks program in line with industry recognised production methods and techniques.
This module will engage you in the appropriate observational and analytical approaches required to develop user-centred design outcomes. The module will address the philosophy behind human-centred design and will encourage you to develop your own reasoning by putting the needs and requirements of the person/client/user at the centre of the process.
This module will give you the opportunity to focus your studies through self-directed practice, researching a personal area of interest and creating outcomes that reflect your developing knowledge of product and furniture design.
Collaborative Practice (optional module)
The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines, or with academic staff.
Live Project (optional module)
This module provides an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills to an external, professional brief. The brief will be set by an external client/agency and your tutors and it could be a ‘real life’ problem to be solved, or a simulation.
Work Placement (optional module)
The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context.
Modules in your final year encourage individual direction through live projects/competition and a self-written major design project.
After completing year three you will be eligible for Honours Degree - Pathway Specific (360 credits).
Design in Context
This module seeks to familiarise you with the initial stages of client contact in terms of responding to a brief and analysing an opportunity or problem. You will explore the breadth of design context in terms of the requirements of the client, the user and the market, as well as associated broader social, political, ethical and sustainable issues.
Major Project (Research and Reflection)
The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and informed research project exploring an area that of personal interest. From these findings you will then frame a clear design project context statement which will set the goal and framework for the development of a range of initial design concepts.
Major Design Project (Realisation)
This module provides the opportunity for you to undertake a major self-directed design project derived from the major project research undertaken in the previous module. In consultation with academic staff you will be responsible for the planning and implementation of a programme of work that will enable you to showcase the skills you have attained throughout the course.
Taught by experienced designers, makers and academics, this course combines practice with theory to give you a fully rounded learning experience.
Extensive workshop facilities will help you to realise your proposals, creating functional and commercially viable designs. This hands-on approach allows you to understand the opportunities and limitations of materials and construction methods.
You will spend two-to-three days per week in the classroom depending on year and level of study.
|37||Time in lectures, seminars and similar||MidnightBlue|
|63||Time in independent study||RoyalBlue|
Several first-year students were successful with creative packaging designs entered into the prestigious 2016 Student Star Pack competition.
Two commendations, two bronze and two silver awards were presented to winners at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in London. Concepts included a series of ‘pet pod’ carriers, a portable keyboard stand and an articulating cardboard and leather light.
Product Design student Kenneth Lee, of the Birmingham City University-accredited Hong Kong Design Institute, was presented with the Eden Project Award and £1,250 for his entry ‘50/50’ submitted as part of the global RSA Student Design Awards 2015/16. The RSA Student Design Awards is the longest-running student design competition in the world, challenging young people across the globe to tackle real-world issues facing society, the environment and business.
Beau Birkett graduated with First Class Honours, specialising in furniture and lifestyle products. For his final collection, he developed a range of sustainable furniture using PET felt made from recycled plastic bottles and responsibly-sourced ash. In order to further develop the material, Beau was awarded the prestigious Louisa Anne Ryland travel scholarship to Copenhagen.
With a love for Japanese and Nordic design, Beau believes design, science and education are the keys to a sustainable world. His works show consideration not only for the user but also for the environmental impact they create.
The materials used in his products can easily be dismantled and composted to feed nature, or recycled to make more products, therefore minimising waste.
Jordan Brocklehurst is a conceptual designer. In the short time since graduating, he has worked on a design for an attraction at Thorpe Park and, along with two other students from his course, was asked to create a costume for Hollywood Blockbuster Thor: The Dark World.
As part of the Erasmus scheme you have the opportunity to study abroad at one of the school's partner institutions in your second year.
Second-year Product Design specialist Sana Mafa had a fantastic opportunity to study design at Rome University of Fine Arts. During the second semester, she studied four modules, including 3D Digital Modelling techniques and architectural model making.
Student Ingvild Funderud Bjornstand, originally from Finland, recently completed her second year on our course, specialising in furniture and lighting. Her work was also exhibited at London’s prestigious New Designers exhibition.
You can further your studies with a postgraduate programme. The university offers a range of relevant courses, including MA Product Design, MA Interior Design, MA Design Management and MA Design Visualisation.
Search all our art and design postgraduate courses here.
In February 2016, students spent a week in Barcelona on a study trip. Various excursions and tours allowed students to explore the city, culture and rich heritage. The Gaudi fest was a chance for students from first, second and third years to share activities and experiences. The visit complemented the academic experiences of students, and enhanced the appreciation of cultural and critical perspectives.
Founding his Own Company
All-England ski racing champion Matt Aitkenhead has achieved phenomenal success since graduating from the BA (Hons) Product Design Degree.
His career has gone from strength to strength, with his designs being sought after by companies all over the world.
One of the largest automotive accessory distributors have agreed to take the product, which is being sold in the UK by Tesco, Asda, garage forecourts and many others.
The course has a vocational emphasis and is focused on employability. Throughout your study you will engage with real briefs, collaborative opportunities and external industry links. You will develop skills in a broad range of working approaches, from synthesising and applying problem solving and creative thinking skills, to 3D computer modelling, where you will use the latest industry standard software.
Extensive workshops support modelling and prototyping skills, and you will create high-quality outcomes using a wide range of materials, techniques and processes. The course supports personal development as a creative, knowledgeable designer, maximising the potential to obtain positions in national and global companies.
The course develops skills and experience in and around the subject of scales of manufacture, from bespoke, one-off and batch production to standardised mass production. The interdisciplinary nature of design engages relationships across a broad spectrum of specialist areas of study, and we nurture this philosophy through collaborative and professional practice approaches.
Working with local industry develops professional understanding and creates opportunities for work placements and internships.
In the past, students have worked with interior designers, product designers, furniture manufactures, and design fabricators, including McMaster, HF Contracts, JSC Rotational and Scruffy Dog Design, Create and Deliver.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Previously, Product and Furniture Design students have collaborated with an International Packaging Company Tri-Wall, for a Hong Kong exhibition. Tri-Wall is a market leader in cardboard manufacture and construction, making its products in Monmouth, Wales and holding its international headquarters in Hong Kong.
Second-year students from the UK and third-year students from our Hong Kong Product Design programme exhibited a range of products at PMQ – a creative hub for local design talent located in Sheng Wan, Hong Kong Island.
Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.
Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.
Graduates can progress to a diverse range of design professions, ranging from product developer, exhibition and event designer, furniture contractor, industrial designer and independent designer maker.
With industry-linked projects, students have been able to forge links with design and manufacturing companies. From an initial two-week internship with a plastics rotational mouldings company during his second year, product design student Oli Graham went on to become their full-time industrial designer following graduation.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
Our course is popular with students from around the world, particularly China, Hong Kong, Brazil and Malaysia.
Brazilian student Julia Damiati Rezende developed a significant portfolio of work during her studies on the second year of Product Design. We welcomed Julia from the Brazilian scholarship programme Science Without Borders. As well as completing the second year of the BA, Julia has continued to work with postgraduate staff and students, developing her conceptual approach to design. She is currently researching Arts, Design and Behaviour: Convergences Between Body and Digital Technology.
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.
Birmingham School of Architecture and Design is based at the state-of-the-art £62 million Parkside Building, a new development on our City Centre Campus within Eastside.
The new building has added an extra dimension to the School. Our campus has extensive studio and workshop provision and cutting-edge equipment reflecting the broad range of study opportunities on offer. The building has been designed to actively promote shared space opportunities, for students to engage with others across the University as part of the learning experience.
In many cases, our main studio and workspace is the city of Birmingham.
We give our students the opportunity to work on many collaborative projects involving the transformation of the city. These include:
We have our very own digi.lab, which is used for prototyping and as a learning resource. Here, you can experiment with 3D printing and laser cutting, preparing you to work on our range of larger machines. You will work in a home studio base five days a week, and also enjoy the opportunity to share others’ facilities and space when necessary.
At the School, we have placed a large emphasis on digital presentation. We currently have nine plasma screens for such uses, and try to keep our facilities as paper-free as possible.
Workshop facilities are integral to the programme and you will have access to an extensive range of prototyping equipment, including wood machining equipment, metal fabrication, CNC router, four axis milling, waterjet cutting, plaster, ceramic, glass workshops, 3D printing, laser cutting and etching, plastic forming, and ply moulding. A large range of hand and power tools also support model making and prototyping for Product and Furniture Design.
Home to the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, School of Fashion & Textiles and School of Visual Communication, the five-floor site is packed with workshops, studios and social ‘collision spaces.’
Workshops include the very latest in industry-standard equipment reflecting the broad range of study opportunities on offer.
You will have access to the new water-jet cutting equipment, Vicon 3D - an external tracking motion capture facility, and Gypsy, an exo-skeleton-based motion capture system to extend the many possibilities for production of 3D animation and films.
There’s also a comprehensive range of tools and machinery in the wood and metal workshops, including Water-jet cutting, 3D printing, laser cutting and a suite of wood machines, metal fabrication and extensive ceramics, plaster and glass facilities.
You will also have access to Vicon 3D - an external tracking motion capture facility, and Gypsy, an exo-skeleton-based motion capture system to extend the many possibilities for production of 3D animation and films. You will get to use photographic studios allow you to develop the presentation of your product & furniture outcomes.
You can use the latest in high-tech digital print, plus a range of other facilities including:
We are committed to showcasing the best student concepts and collections in exhibitions and on catwalks that include New Designers and Birmingham Made Me, London Fashion Week, London Free Range.
Our teaching staff bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the programme, both in terms of design and prototyping. Many are engaged in design across the scales of manufacture, with significant experience in design for mass market as well as designing for commission and low volume production.
Jemma teaches history and theory of Architecture across many of the courses in the School, as well as tutoring in the architectural and interior design studios at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She is currently completing her Doctoral research ‘Spatial Representations of Memory and Identity in the City’. Her research examines how post-industrial cities in the UK are spatially transformed through time by the layering of new and existing expressions of cultural identity; in particular as a result of postcolonial migration. The project seeks to understand the role that the collective memory of post–colonial diasporic communities plays in the formation of the cultural identity of space within UK cities.