Graphic Communication - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
W211
Attendance:
Full Time (3 years)
Starting:
September 2018
Campus:

Our diverse and exciting BA (Hons) Graphic Communication course is a must for anyone passionate about graphic design and looking to pursue a career in the industry.

Thanks to established links with major advertising groups, publishing houses and interactive design, the programme is structured to provide you with industry-quality skills in the fields of communication, branding and advertising design, both in print and online.

Lecturers are well placed to give commercially relevant guidance based on contemporary trends and historical contexts. We run an in-house agency that will prepare you for entering the world of design and your work experience will come from placements, studio visits and real life briefs.

What's covered in the course?

The Graphic Communication course expects you to stand out through your imaginative thinking, passion and commitment to new ideas and international perspectives. You will study a course that will test your design skills and help you identify the latest trends in design and communication on a world stage.

We need independent learners who are playful, full of passion and totally aware of the power they possess to facilitate changes, inform opinion and make their own mark in the creative industries.

In three years you will be engaged in all the practical and intellectual skills as leaders in an ever-changing commercial environment. Many graduates have gone on to become leaders in their field of specialism and they often return to the University to share this knowledge.

You will immerse yourself in our creative community, based at our City Centre Campus, where you will find screen-printing, letterpress facilities, Adobe software training rooms and studio facilities to enhance your design work.

You will engage with live project briefs with companies and partners. These range from local to international and include the following -  Moonpig, NHS, Studio Bonito, McCann Erickson, The Times, Chapter, One Black Bear, Cogent Elliott, Leo Burnett London, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, Fluid, Z3, Boxer, Momentum, CBSO, Ikon, Birmingham Hippodrome, John Taylor Hospice, Hello Creatives, DMA, and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Your tutors are enthusiastic about their specialisms, which fosters an invaluable knowledge transfer within the programme. 

"The B-Hive competition, and winning first place, was a huge opportunity for real-life work experience and a great addition to my CV. Also from this, Adobe produced a video about me and my project as part of their ‘Make –it’ campaign, which led to more exposure and opportunities." Laura Miele

Why Choose Us?

  • The School of Visual Communication prides itself on a long-established national and international reputation. It consists of a range of courses that celebrate innovation and allow you to realise your creative ambitions.
  • We have the only in-house active agency in the region which allows students to gain first-hand experience of real-life briefs set by clients.
  • Your portfolio will be showcased to a number of potential employers through our home-grown and independent talent pool, We Grow Cherries, as well as during your graduate show.
  • Live project partnerships include NHS, Moonpig, Beehive, Studio Bonito, McCann Erickson, The Times Newspaper Group, Chapter, One Black Bear, Cogent Elliott, Leo Burnett London and more.
  • Graphic Communication has developed a series of professional public facing lecture programmes entitled  ‘Type Talks’. Design luminaries are invited to debate current design issues with eminent practitioners, such as Neville Brody, Jonathan Barnbrook and Adrian Shaughnessy, presenting their work to students and staff.
  • This course has exciting trips to provide stimuli for your creative briefs. Cultural trips are planned for London, Berlin and New York, and these excursions will include visits to exhibitions, museums and studios visits.
  • Our end-of-year awards are sponsored and presented by high-profile names, with most award winners offered placements which have led to permanent employment.

 

Student ambassador helps Open Day visitor

Open Days - 25 November 2017

Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 25 November. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

To welcome all new home and EU undergraduate degree students starting in 2017 or 2018, we're giving at least £150 worth of credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials. Even better, it doesn’t have to be repaid.

Find out more

This course is open to International students

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Saatchi & Saatchi
  • McCann
  • Bartle Bogle Hegarty

And in jobs such as:

  • Creative Director
  • Graphic Designer
  • Copywriter

This course is accredited by:

Creative Skillset Tick

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students
Essential

In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio.

112 UCAS tariff points or equivalent, see typical offers below. 

Typical Offers
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 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 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) in combination with other to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points
Other qualifications
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/International students
Essential
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements 2017/18
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses). 1

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:
English Group A - Grade 4 or above
OR
English Group B and Ab Initio - Grade 5

Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.

International Students

Entry requirements here

 

International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2018 FT 3 years £9,250 per year* Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2018 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 in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Guidance for UK/EU students

UCAS

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.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Non-EU (International) students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

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.

3) Through UCAS

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.

Portfolio Guidance

Your portfolio might be viewed when you are not present, therefore make sure it is easy to use - think of it like a book. Your name and a title on the outside will be useful - this also helps distinguish the front from the back.

Portfolio content

Be relevant 
Include relevant work related to the subject area of interest. Know about the course you are applying for. Show ideas generation, experimentation and risk taking. Within your portfolio, are you able to demonstrate knowledge of the subject discipline, practitioners and individuals that have inspired you?

Think about the basics
Show examples of paintings, drawings, photographs, three-dimensional work, time-based work and anything else relevant to the area of practice.

Tell a story
Try to show one full project from start to finish with the preparatory drawings included. Annotations are helpful as they show how you research and reflect on the development of your work.

The finished article
Include three to four final pieces that you are able to talk about. This might include 3D models rather than photographs.

The sketchbook
Include sketchbooks. This will give us an understanding of how you think (through your annotations) and allow us to see the development of your drawing (if the portfolio is digital, photograph or scan some of the best pages).

*Digital portfolio guidance will be available soon. 

Personal statement

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:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

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.

What's included

As part of your course you will become a professional member of Design and Art Direction (D&AD). D&AD is a British educational charity, which exists to promote excellence in design and advertising. Your membership could culminate in you showcasing and exhibiting your work in London in your final year of study.

You will become a member of the Paper Library, a resource for designers, creatives and brands. The library features thousands of paper, boards, packaging materials, coverings and foils from the world’s leading mills and producers, as well as exemplary samples of print and packaging. This is a resource that will help you to become proficient at ordering and selecting the appropriate stock for your design work.

All students are provided with access to the online training site Lynda.com and Adobe accreditation is also available for all students.


Additional Costs

Materials and equipment
During your first year, you will be required to budget around £150 for initial design equipment and materials, while in your final year you will be expected to invest in a portfolio to present your final work for assessment (advice will be given on sourcing the most cost-effective suppliers).

Materials and equipment needed for the final year is varied and driven by the individual student needs - some students will spend very little as their practice is predominantly achieved through digital media or perhaps recycled materials. For the more expensive projects, students actively seek funding through various mechanisms including the Student Union's Eco Fund.

Trips and travel
There are a number of live projects which require field visits. A coach may be organised, or alternatively students make their own travel arrangements, dependent on the destination and the specifics of the visit. As part of the School, there are a number of optional educational trips organised that aim to add richness to your experience. Past trips have included Berlin (£320), Venice (£397) and New York (£639).
 
Laptops and digital equipment
You’ll require a laptop computer (PC or Mac OS), although you can also hire a laptop for up to six hours a day from the University. Alternatively, you can use one of our shared computer rooms. Apple also offer a discount on laptops for UK students - go to Apple for Education for more details.

Sorry, this course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

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

Your first year of study will introduce you to the basic skills and critical framework within Graphic Communication. You will be taught through a series of modules, which provide you with the knowledge to further explore this ever-expanding discipline.

You will develop skills that encompass composition, line, form, narrative, type, imagery, colour, juxtaposition and ideation. From these fundamental principles, you can tailor the remainder of the course to areas of graphic communication that are of particular interest to you and your future career aims. Through your modules you will discover the application and use of colour, light, scale, composition, the typographic hierarchy, motion design, UI and interactive design.

Fundamental visual communication issues will be addressed through a series of core lectures and theory seminars. You will also have the opportunity to work with other students from across the School by selecting one of five in house options. 

Introduction to Visual Communication
20 credits

This module introduces the universal principles and theories of visual communication. The aim of the module is not only to introduce you to the principles within your own chosen subject area, but also to provide opportunities to take workshops in all subject areas, seek advice from experts in other disciplines and work collaboratively with students from all Visual Communication subject areas.

Principles of Graphic Communication
20 credits

Typography and form provide the fundamental building blocks that support almost every aspect of Graphic Communication. We are surrounded by visual, written and digital forms of type and lettering on a daily basis. This module is designed to develop your creative thinking by raising awareness to the visual impact of type and messaging with emphasis on exploring new territories for communication.

Practice of Graphic Communication
20 credits

The aim of this module is to emphasise the importance of research through an engagement with historical and contemporary concepts. The project will focus on aspects of typography, motion graphics, visualising, wayfinding, digital platforms, advertising and branding, and examine how you can communicate ideas in new and imaginative ways.

.

Discourse
20 credits

Building on the key principles articulated in the three modules in semester one, this complementary, contextual studies module will explore seminal design movements and practitioners of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It will provide you with a broad contextual framework that will underpin your design practice, both at university and in the future. 

Narrative
20 credits

You will have the opportunity to select one of five option modules offered across the school: People and Identity, Sound and Movement, Space and Place, Text and Image, Time and Sequence. Thematic in their approach they are intended to offer you multiple approaches to the diverse practice of Visual Communication.

Enterprise of Graphic Communication
20 credits

This module will focus on how graphic designers can play an active and creative role in society, looking at the way designers are bypassing traditional working models and developing their own voice as independent thinkers/creators. It will engage you in active learning towards producing a publication for a live exhibition or event.

Second Year

Through a combination of theory and experiment, you will learn how to evaluate and apply principles to practice, and will receive opportunities for placement, field study, collaborative and interdisciplinary work. We shall help you to develop your own personal direction, focusing towards the establishment of a specialised and flexible area of practice.

You will learn how to effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences. You will enhance your ability to work collaboratively within a working environment, demonstrating knowledge of the main methods of enquiry within the field.

You will develop your critical awareness, individual style and perspective and. You will formulate approaches to solving problems, helping you to further understand the creative role, opportunities and responsibility of the contemporary designer.

Context of Graphic Communication
40 credits

In this module you will interpret your own practice in the context of the professional world and consider communicating in a wide range of ways. The focus will be addressing the world of graphic communication in a professional context. Interrogation of studio practice with live briefs, competitions and the in-house agency will allow you to expand your knowledge through the two pathways, Graphic Design, and Advertising and Branding.

Identifying Direction
40 credits

This flexible module allows you to identify direction within your own practice and future aspirations. You will undertake approaches that will help define their area of practice, which is personalised to your own interests. The structure of this module encourages the development of a more focused, in-depth and advanced study through the use of self-directed projects.

Live Project
20 credits

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 could be a ‘real life’ problem to be solved or a simulation. It is an opportunity for you to engage in a professional manner with an aspect of your subject area, which contributes to the development of employability skills.

Collaborative Practice
20 credits

Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the creative industries, and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities with the support of academic staff. Within this module framework you are able to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines across the School and wider Faculty.

In your second year you will have the opportunity to replace 20 credits of study with the following module:

Work Placement

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the workplace and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and BCU Careers.

Final Year

During your final year of study you will be supported in establishing the confidence to acknowledge and assert your own distinctive work identity. You will be required to demonstrate within your work a particular view of what constitutes a design proposition.

You will enhance your communication skills, allowing you to develop confidence and understanding, allowing you to capably articulate your views and knowledge to others.

The final year of the programme is designed to help you demonstrate a systematic, extensive and advanced knowledge of contemporary Graphic Communication. You shall work autonomously or collaboratively to a professional standard on self-generated projects, with creativity and imagination.

Critical Practice
60 credits

Critical Practice provides the opportunity to adopt an increasingly autonomous commitment to your individually chosen direction. These directions are established with guidance through individual tutorials, guest professionals, workshops, group discussion and peer participation. It creates an environment where passion and dedication to creative activity can flourish. In this, the qualities of imagination and invention carry a high premium.

Major Project
60 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project. It is a culmination of your three years of study and should be a personal inquiry of a professional standard and a celebration of you as a work ready practitioner.

Hours in the classroom

The number of contact hours with lecturers varies depending on the type of activity, the module and the year group. The figures below show a weekly average but these will fluctuate throughout the year.

Scheduled Contact Hours:

  • First year  – 15 hours per week
  • Second year – 12 hours per week
  • Third year – 10 hours per week

These studio contact sessions usually consist of lectures, tutorials, workshops, seminars and group activities in numerous combinations. Additional to these scheduled hours you will be expected to undertake guided independent learning. You will use the facilities within the Faculty and beyond to further develop your individual projects.

The school offers a suite of optional technical workshops including printmaking, studio lighting and a wide range of software packages.



Images: Ben Lupton / Joshua Sallon

Teaching breakdown

valuelabelcolor
27 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
73 Time in independent study RoyalBlue

Assessment breakdown


Images: Amritpal Sembhi / Tom Armstrong


Classroom projects and activities

Moonpig
Students across different disciplines have collaborated on a joint project to create a mood board, which has generated dialogue and narrative for further investigation. The final outcome has culminated in designs being taken from conception to production and have allowed students to undertake pitches, studio visits and see their work being produced and sold in the UK card industry.
 
Look book
Students successfully collaborated with photography and fashion staff and students to create a look book. This substantial editorial was professionally designed and printed. The student’s involvement included design, art direction, typographic hierarchy, editing, production and setting up the editorial for print.


Student work

Our final-year students engage with briefs which have social benefits as well as experimentation and commercial outcomes.

The following students work are exemplars of these aspects:

  • Richard Jones has an affinity for visual identities and brand strategy, ensuring all aspects are rationalised. Richard’s work exemplifies a broad socially aware design ethic and encompasses work with the RNIB and Winterbourne Press
  • Nora Bruno’s passion for creativity and design brought her to the UK about six years ago. Nora enjoys working with ink, paper, typography, calligraphy and hand lettering. Her work represents her passion for working in an experimental way and the use of mixed media such as screen-printing, letterpress and mixing printmaking with digital techniques
  • Taylor Lantelli enjoys all kinds of art and design, and would consider herself more of a 'maker' because she loves creating tangible objects. In terms of graphic design, her real passion lies in anything print and editorial. She finds publications fascinating and views every page as a separate piece of artwork.

View examples of student work...


How Do You Draw in 3D?

Watch one of our first year Visual Communication students learn to draw and design in a 3D space.  See how Virtual Reality can become a source of creative inspiration.

Accreditation and professional associations

The School has great associations with many industry bodies and professional associations. We are members of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design, Association of Photographers, Association of Illustrators, D&AD (the professional association of designers and advertising), The Society of British Theatre Designers, The Association of Photographers in Higher Education, and the Royal Society of Arts.

We are accredited with Adobe and Creative Skillset. Both these accreditations were hard-earned and demonstrate the standing we hold in industry.

This course is accredited by the following organisation:

Creative Skillset Tick
Creative Skillset Tick

The Creative Skillset Tick is the quality mark for excellence in training courses and education in the Creative Industries. It identifies the UK’s most industry-focused courses and apprenticeships enabling universities, colleges and employers to recruit the brightest talent.

Our Creative Skillset accreditation shows that we will provide you with industry-relevant skills and good links with companies and potential employers.

The accreditation also assures employers that students graduating from our course have the levels of knowledge and skills they need.

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further Study

As graduating students you will follow your own career path, which may mean going straight into industry. However, many students look at the opportunities we offer for postgraduate study at the University.

The School runs a one-year MA Visual Communication course as a natural progression from its undergraduate courses. You will be encouraged to continue your journey with us and develop your practice further.

Trips and visits

While you study the course you will be offered opportunities to go on group excursions both in the UK and abroad. There are usually three overseas trips a year, which we offer both at subject level, as well as School level, to Venice, New York and Berlin.

Locations do alter each year to allow for students to experience a range of cities. We always put on UK study trips to places such as London, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool. Where possible, UK trips are free or heavily subsidised.

As a Visual Communication student, you’ll be encouraged to take advantage of these trips as we see them as adding extra value to your course and they do offer additional research opportunities.

Enhancing employability skills

Our students are required to achieve all of the learning outcomes set by the Graphic Communication course and pursue excellence by engaging with competition and live briefs, achieving Adobe accreditation.

Practice-led, knowledge-applied education is facilitated by you engaging and participating in workshops, lectures and seminars. The curriculum, live briefs and the agency will sharpen and improve your employability skills and prospects.

Internationalisation of the student cohort, links with Erasmus+ and Birmingham City University’s strong links with China, Malaysia and Thailand offer you a varied global curriculum.

Placements

You are required to develop strong networks, identifying opportunities and work placements appropriate to your practice. Visits to companies, interviews and live projects are an excellent way to introduce you and to develop these links. More formal placements have included opportunities with IE Design, Green Room and Fluid, along with various graphic design opportunities including editorial design, branding and art direction. 

Summer placements with high-profile companies Z3, TDL and most recently White October have been offered as rewards for live project initiatives. These prestigious opportunities allow students to gain a real insight into the creative approaches used by these organisations.


Links to Industry

Our partnerships with industry include the following: day briefs, live briefs, competitions, pitches, curriculum development and awards ceremonies. Live project partnerships include NHS, Moonpig, Beehive, Studio Bonito, McCann Erickson, The Times Newspaper Group, Chapter, One Black Bear, Cogent Elliott, Leo Burnett London and more.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

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.

Firewalking

BCU Graduate+

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.

More about Graduate+

Graduate Jobs

The School of Visual Communication offers a broad education as well as the very specific subject skills. We see many graduates working in the creative industries, but also in a variety of employment from management, education, tourism, marketing and freelance business.

Industry demands are constantly changing, so it’s important that we prepare you for all eventualities. The internationalisation components mean you are made aware of global expectations and the possibilities of work outside the UK. All modules have transferable skills built into the teaching, meaning you are able to apply your knowledge to a variety of tasks and challenges.

Graphic Communication graduates work in a range of careers including:

  • Creative director
  • Typographer
  • Graphic designer
  • Copywriter
  • Editor
  • Educator
  • Digital production
  • Exhibition designer
  • Creative assistant
  • Manager

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:

Further Information

Students come to study in the School of Visual Communication from all over the world but we have nurtured some long-standing relationships with Malaysia, Thailand, China and India.

If you are a student from these countries, or any other, you should consider studying with us as we offer a wide curriculum that has internationalization built into the modules. We actively encourage trans-disciplinary teaching, group projects and have established relationships with colleges and industry overseas.

We take a pride in developing strong creative communities and these thrive on the injection of different cultural experiences. To develop a sense of sharing all experiences and ideas is fundamental to the philosophy of Visual Communication.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

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

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.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our visual communication course is most popular with international students from:

Parkside - City Centre Campus
Parkside - Milo Studio

Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £62 million Parkside Building, part of our City Centre Campus.

We offer extensive studio and workshop space and cutting-edge equipment such as Vicon 3D (an external tracking motion capture facility) and Gypsy (an exoskeleton-based motion capture system). Both of these systems extend the possibility for production of 3D animation and films.

You will enjoy access to our Hollywood standard MILO unit. We were the first School of Visual Communication in Europe to offer MILO motion capture technology, now one of only two owned by Universities in Europe.

We offer cutting-edge provision such as digital print centres and Sonny Ross became the first student on the Visual Communication course to master the art of the RISO machine. He has since used this to produce many successful RISO publications including “Rojo & Baxter” which has been a success at various zine and book fairs across the country.

The Parkside Building also offers:

  • exhibition space
  • digital and analogue photographic facilities and studios
  • dark rooms
VisCom Hires and Loans landscape
VisCom Hires and Loans Portrait
VisCom Hires and Loans CU
VisCom The Agency sign
VisCom The Agency 2
VisCom The Agency 3
VisCom Animation 1
VisCom Animation 2
VisCom Animation 3
VisCom Animation 5
VisCom Milo CU
Dr Who Angel Green Screen 1
Dr Who Angel Green Screen 2
VisCom Dark Room
VisCom Dark Room Pegs
VisCom Developing Rostrum
ADM VisCom Dark Room Processing
ADM VisCom Photography Studio 2
VisCom Albion Press 1
VisCom Albion Press 2
VisCom Albion Press 3
VisCom Screen Printing 1
VisCom Roller Press 1
VisCom Letterpress 3
VisCom Letterpress 2
VisCom Letterpress 1
ADM VISCOM Print Room Paint
VisCom Print Room WS
VisCom A0 Printer
VisCom Technical Assistance
VisCom Riso CU
VisCom Design for Performance
VisCom The Shell 1
VisCom The Shell 2
Design for Performance shell
VisCom Wacom 1
VisCom Wacom 2
VisCom Paper Library Landscape
VisCom HTC VIVE
VisCom Operation Aquilla 2
VisCom Operation Aquilla 3
VisCom LightBoc and Creative Space
VisCom LightPen 1
VisCom LightPen 2
VisCom Riso CU
VisCom Typographic Archive 1
VisCom Typographic Archive 2
External Parkside Building and Water Feature
Parkside building from Curzon building
Parkside Interior

We have fantastic letterpress and screen printing facilities and typographic archives as part of our facilities. We offer book-binding and printing techniques as part of the course. Students also have access to 3D printing and wood workshop facilities within the building.

Students from Graphic Communication also have the opportunity to use letterpress and printing in the Winterbourne Press with lecturer Rebecca Howson.

Our Staff

All staff are practitioners in their field and are currently designing or researching in the following areas: typography, wayfinding, interactive design, motion graphics, brand and UI, packaging, print making and letterpress.

Our staff have professional profiles which include designing at agencies such as: Pentagram, Nucleus Design, Luxon Carra, Williams & Phoa, Sony, NHS, Stocks Taylor Benson, Wyatt International, Currentstate, Keanebrands, Purelm, Green Room and Fish in a Bottle.

Visiting tutors include Rebecca Foster and Brian Sheppard who have strong industry profiles and current practices in branding and advertising respectively.

Tracy Allanson-Smith

Programme Leader Graphic Communication

Tracy is particularly interested in the integration of professional briefs from the creative industry, partnerships between industry and education and creating new synergies and ways of working in this fast moving area of design. Tracy is an experienced external examiner, visiting tutor, guest speaker and external consultant for online module development at institutions across the UK; appointments have been made at the University of Hertfordshire, University of Bolton, Nottingham Trent University, Surrey Institute of Art & Design, Central St Martins, West Hertfordshire College of Art & Design and Norwich School of Art. Tracy is also a member of the International Society of Typographic Design. Design Posts: Pentagram. Nucleus Design. Luxon Carra, Pentagram, London, Futurebrand, Nucleus Design, Boots, Nottingham.

Freelance Design: Coley Porter Bell, Still Waters Run Deep, Erga Design, Marks & Spencer, Wickens Tutt Southgate, Hill Watson, Luxon Carra, Nucleus Design, Davies Baron, Diefenbach Elkins.

Clients include: Co-op, Hogg Robinson, Thomas Cook, British Airways, Worten (Electrical Store, Portugal), Sock Shop Caura, Santa Cruz Operation, Eureka! Children's Museum, The British Library, Royal National Theatre, Mazda Xedos, Edinburgh Park, Ciba Geigy.

Her work spans across the following areas of design: typography, packaging, exhibition design, retail, branding, literature, corporate identity and wayfinding.

David Osbaldestin

Deputy Course Director

David has specialist knowledge in brand experience and advertising design. David has a rich background engaging with industry and a passion for typography. David is currently investigating the sans serif in Britain, and typography as an index to cultural values through his PhD research. In addition to this, David represents the University through the EyeCandy festival and is a member of the Printing Historical Society.

Previous work has included: Chair of Birmingham Artists and founder of the Periscope Gallery, Company Secretary of Vivid, and academic consultant for the Plus+ International Design Festival. David was also an Innovation Mentor for Service by Design and Chair of the digital brand panel for Hello Business.

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Phil Thompson

Phil Thomson

Senior Lecturer

Phil draws upon his extensive experience in advertising as an art director and copywriter. With a decade of experience and knowledge running his own design studio, as well as ongoing experience in education, Phil brings a wealth of knowledge to the School. Phil is well-placed to understand the fundamental nature of the visual arts in a commercial context, where ideas and creative risk-taking are the most valuable currency.

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Colette Jeffrey

Senior Lecturer BA Visual Communication

Colette is a full-time lecturer in Graphic Communication and a part-time PhD researcher. Before joining Birmingham City University in 2009, she worked for 15 years as a wayfinding consultant, inclusive design director and information designer. She researched and co-wrote the NHS official guidance on wayfinding in hospitals, published in 1999 and has had research papers and articles published on wayfinding in hospitals and other complex environments. As project director and inclusive design director at Applied, a specialist wayfinding and information design consultancy based in London, she carried out user-focused research and developed map and sign solutions for legible city projects in Brighton and Leeds. As wayfinding design director at The Brand Union and Information Design Unit she designed wayfinding systems for over 50 sites, including 20 NHS hospitals, the Natural History Museum London, Tower Bridge, Wembley Arena, Heathrow Airport and shopping centres in Dublin and Dubai.

Colette has recently begun a PhD study exploring how people get disorientated inside buildings and what they do when they are spatially disorientated. She will compare her observational findings with data collected from professionals who design complex environments and develop wayfinding strategies to identify correlation or disparity.

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James-Brierley - Staff

James Brierley

Part time Lecturer BA Visual Communication (Web and Mobile Design) and Digital Creative.

A graduate of the University James has over 15 years of experience working within the digital sector. As a digital creative, James has worked on a wealth of agency-side and commercial projects for a range of clients including: Cancer Research UK, Silver Cross, Random House, ITV, VTech, Harper Collins, Sport England, E.On, Seven Trent and Zurich.

As Creative Director at BPI Agency, James has worked on a mixture of business to customers and large corporate websites, apps, micro sites, e-commerce, games, digital marketing campaigns, and digital strategy.

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Jonny Griffiths

Jonathan Griffiths

Part time Lecturer in Graphic Communication. Video and Motion Graphic – Designer, Director.

A video and motion graphic designer, director, and company owner, Jonathan has over 15 years of creative and digital agency experience. He has worked for national and international creative studios and brands. Within two years his company received direct commission from clients such as PayPal, Town Hall Symphony Hall and London’s Footpatrol store (part of JD sports). Jonathan has provided motion content in many shapes and forms to creative agencies and production companies, such as Butlins, Haven, Nokia and Kering.

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Jane Anderson

Part time Lecturer in Graphic Communication, Design and Production

Jane is an experienced designer, typographer and illustratorwith over 15 years’ industry experience in brand and visual identity, illustration, design for print and photography. Jane has worked with some well known brands to start-up enterprises – producing engaging graphic design work that is driven by solid creative direction. Her illustrations have been featured in a number of publications such as Wallpaper, Computer Arts, Frieze, The Guardian, The Festival Annual, Amelia's Magazine and Design Week, as well as being exhibited and sold worldwide.

Professor Andrew Kulman

MA Course Director and Principal Lecturer

Andrew Kulman has worked as an illustrator and Graphic Artist since leaving the RCA in 1987. His work has been exhibited both nationally and Internationally, winning numerous Industry awards. He has had several illustrated books published and has appeared in magazines and publications both in the UK and abroad.

His recent research interests is centered around the mechanised image and recently he has been involved in the areas of transdisciplinary practice, namely the areas where Design and Fine Arts cross over.

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