Course specification and structure
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UDDESTPR - BA Design Studio Practice

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Bachelor of Arts Level Honours
Possible interim awards Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Higher Education, Certificate of Higher Education, Bachelor of Arts
Total credits for course 360
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Subject Area Design
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 3 YEARS  
Part-time Day 6 YEARS  
Course leader Christopher Emmett

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

BA Design Studio Practice works with an area of the design sector and economy that is highly visible and vibrant. Its hybrid and interdisciplinary nature is for students who want to work in the broad area of design, (especially at the fringes, where it has elements of fine art practice), but who do not want to be restricted to being for example a ‘product designer’, a ‘graphic designer’, an ‘artist’ or a ‘ceramicist’. The course is cast in the mould of those contemporary European design studios that have been so influential in the last 30 years or so (Droog, Martino Gamper, Jongeriuslab, Tord Boontje, Glithero), in which practice might range from furniture and product design through textiles, clothing and graphic design, to installation and exhibition design. The course assumes the practices of designing and/ or making, but will not presuppose the acquisition of fine craft skills as a condition of success in outputs. The artefacts designed and created on this course are intended to communicate as much as to function well. The course will encourage students to think and make experimentally through direct experience of practical and creative working processes. There is a requirement to understand and interpret ideas through independent thought encouraging a personal design philosophy utilising informed research alongside practice.

The course is designed to share links with other disciplines in an exciting and event-filled approach to learning. Opportunities for critique and live discussion with external clients from a range of disciplines from fashion, textiles, furniture and film to architecture and fine art are offered as an approach to professional and practical learning throughout the three year programme. Learning will be supported with external visits to design studios and manufacturing companies to broaden understanding of the context of the work undertaken. The wealth of current practitioners amongst the teaching staff is supported by our intensive programme of visiting speakers who enrich the university atmosphere and encourage depth of debate.

Students will experience a range of live projects with high-profile external clients that will help to build a portfolio and CV in preparation for creative practice. Students are encouraged to enter competitions and exhibit through both self-initiated and staff-led shows and events. This work-based learning is achieved with participation in genuinely live projects with external clients and feedback on the students’ work. As part of their remit, students will document and publish their work and reflect on its reception to gain full and effective use of this experience which is central to personal professional development for every student.

With an understanding of industry and the need for flexibility in understanding the needs of the market place students are prepared for running their own practice or for working within established creative and experimental design studios. The course will also prepare students for application to a postgraduate course, where appropriate.

Students will graduate having experienced the energetic and challenging Studio structure that replicates the diverse and interdisciplinary structures of contemporary design practices with a variety of skills enabling a range of careers in design and make such as product developer, self-employed designer/maker or curator. In broader context students can follow careers in journalism, promotion, education, retail or digital media.
Teaching methods include: lectures, seminars, tutorials, live briefings, group formal critiques, workshops and studio practice.

Each year of study comprises of four year-long (30 weeks, 30 credit) modules in the areas of concept and realisation, subject-specific industry practice and cultural and contextual studies (including professional practice).

Lectures provide a critically informed overview of a topic, to conceptualise and contextualise the subject and illustrate applied approaches. Lecture series will be from industry experts and based upon contemporary industry subject matter.

Workshops and practical teaching takes a variety of forms. The objective is to apply knowledge and/or acquire technical competence, to think critically and creatively and to develop the capacity to work independently and in teams. Opportunities will be available to students to develop skills specifically relevant to their project work, a specific brief, or a cross-discipline collaborative project.

Studio practice enhances lectures, seminars, study visits, critiques, workshop activities, group and individual tutorials. Both projects and theoretical work offer opportunities for developing professional competency in presentation (including visual, spoken and text-based modes), using digital technologies, blogs, videos and photography.

Critiques allow students to benefit from feedback on their own and others’ work, to contribute to that feedback, and are a valuable part of the peer-to-peer learning that is a core expectation and reason for university study.

Project Briefs are developed through critical evaluation of contemporary practice and framed to build year on year with increasing challenge and contextual relevance to practice. The briefs are structured to enable a deep research-active response to student interests and the needs of the studio focus. At Level 6 the body of work accumulated is significant in its range and self-awareness and the relevance of cultural and practical developments in the broader industries. With shared projects across courses the opportunity for collaboration and increased effectiveness is evidenced.

Critical and Contextual Studies run in parallel to the design and subject-specific industry practice modules. These modules focus upon transferable graduate skills in the field of academic scholarship and writing as well as aspects of professional practice. As part of their professional profile, students need to be able to retrieve, analyse, interpret, articulate and structure information and knowledge for different purposes and audiences. These modules frame key skills of research within the specific context of design history and theory, taking into account the practice requirements of the industry, its professional, legal, ethical and institutional contexts. Intensive blocks of learning in seminar and lecture presentations, alongside site visits, image analysis, case studies, and workshops, aid acquisition of skills in presentation, visual and textual analysis and representation.

Blended Learning support is given through virtual learning portals at all stages of the course with lectures and briefs working with a blended learning approach. These learning communities offer students the opportunity to interact and offer a shared knowledge portal that supports research and studio sessions, exercises and lecture notes.

Course aims

The aims of this course are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. The course aims to:

  1. Deliver a high quality education in Design Studio Practice that will ensure graduates are knowledgeable, creative, technically able and work-ready
  2. Develop critical understanding of and creative approaches to the cultural, technological and economic factors surrounding the professional arena of studio practice for all areas of made objects, retail and exhibition scenarios.
  3. Engender an approach to professional development that facilitates self-reliance, ensuring individual practice that is accurately positioned in relation to current economic, ethical, cultural, environmental, material and global needs
  4. Enable an increasing confidence in entrepreneurial, promotional and presentational skills, encouraging cross- and interdisciplinary approaches and critical thought, seeking to lead the sector in design and practice.
  5. Develop curiosity, independent enquiry, critique and reflection upon practice through an integrated approach to theory, research, analysis and capacity to reason.
  6. Through working intimately with materials and making/ production, enable skills for professional practice including subject knowledge, efficiency, confidence and autonomy relevant to individual interests, creative ambitions and sector conditions.

Course learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the intellectual and practical process of design and creative practice and the broader academic debates in the design industry
  2. Recognise the relationships existing between manufacturing processes and technologies and how they apply to design, context, culture and the economy
  3. Apply a self-critical, investigative and evaluative approach to understanding the contemporary and historical framework associated with broad ranging studio practice

Cognitive Intellectual Skills

  1. Employ a range of intellectual skills independently appraising and articulating reasoned arguments to select, organise, structure, reference and formulate responses to complex issues towards the production of visual and material solutions
  2. Utilise disciplinary experimentation to develop and challenge ideas by understanding the context and critical issues that surround them bringing new ideas to the forefront of a personal design process
  3. Develop, challenge and make decisions clearly demonstrating ethical sensitivity based upon social, environmental and economic issues taking responsibility for personal approaches to practice

Transferable Skills

  1. Competently apply individual critical, practical and creative strengths to promotion in order to professionally articulate practice intent visually, textually and orally
  2. Respond to a defined industry or competitive brief and its constraints (including technological and aesthetic considerations), utilising creative opportunities towards professional project realisation
  3. Independently and collaboratively research, present and communicate ideas and design proposals through the use of appropriate oral and visual material and utilising written skills and techniques

Subject-Specific Practical Skills

  1. Demonstrate an individual perspective and personal creative ideology and employ the necessary skills to select appropriate materials and processes suitable for the realisation of creative intent in consideration of specified design outcomes.
  2. Realise specialist applications for resolved concepts and proposals, expressing ideas relating to personal design projects, through drawing, material sampling and modelmaking using a range of traditional and/or digital techniques.
  3. Apply knowledge of the design industry and the commercial contexts strategically placing outcomes within clearly defined markets, communicating through verbal, written and visual representation, exhibiting project work in a professional context.

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject Benchmark Statement; Art & Design( 2017)

Assessment strategy

An appropriate range of formative and summative assessment methods is used, including peer appraisal and reflective practice, studio based work and personal projects, presentations, seminars and portfolio reviews.

Formative assessment and feedback are provided in relation to each component of work in progress. Summative assessment corresponding to published criteria is given within each module on completion of coursework requirements.

Students are guaranteed a consistent approach to assessment and feedback across the years and the School to ensure they have a secure grasp of their progress. These approaches to assessment and feedback support students’ understanding of their learning by providing timely developmental feedback that promotes a deeper learning approach to their studies. Assessment methods such as reports, essays, critiques, presentations, digital and studio portfolio reviews allow differing learning styles, whilst encouraging reflective approaches. Each assessment (formative and summative) seeks to build students’ confidence as independent learners, providing pertinent advice for all aspects of learning.

The course team provides ongoing opportunities for scheduled tutorial ‘drop-in’ sessions and the course’s virtual learning environment offers students opportunities to discuss (with tutors and peers) their assessment strategies. Further support is available via personal academic tutors, Library Services, and University Student Services.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad

The understanding of the needs of industry and an introduction to work based learning is embedded from early beginnings in Level 4 with oral presentations to peers and staff. Competitive projects reflect current professional practice culminating in critiques and presentations at the faculty wide Celebration Week events. Students at this level take part in study trips and visits to manufacturers and designers in order to increase awareness of career possibilities from the outset.

  • Work-related learning with external live projects and opportunities for working professionally forms a core element in all courses with a minimum of 70 hours working on live projects for real organisations
  • Students will experience a competitive recruitment process or pitch for opportunities in levels 5 or 6.
  • They will be required to consider and document their experience of their live projects and with reflection and an increased level of understanding students will undertake forward career action planning.

Course specific regulations

ACADEMIC PROGRESSION: As a condition of progressing from level 4 to 5 and level 5 to 6, students are required to have gained 120 credits per level, that is, by achieving pass marks (40%) in all four modules in the preceding level of study.

Level 6: In order to achieve an honours degree award on this course, students must have completed and passed each Level 6 module at 40% or above.

Part-time study is defined as 60 credits per year. Consequently, in part-time mode, the duration of study for a 360-credit degree will be 6 years. The pattern of study in this instance shall be as follows:

Year 1: DN4005, DN4006
Year 2: DN4007, CP4011
Year 3: DN5011, DN5006
Year 3: DN5007, CP5011
Year 5: DN6013, DN6023
Year 6: DN6003, CP6011

Modules required for interim awards

All modules are core:

  • 3D Visual Research and Communication
  • 3D Design Principles
  • Workshop Practice
  • Critical and Contextual Studies 1
  • Making Matters
  • 3D Design
  • Design Resolution
  • Critical and Contextual Studies 2
  • Exhibition Practice
  • Critical and Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (3D)
  • 3D Project Design and Development
  • Major Project Realisation: Design Studio Practice

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

Students are required to reflect and critique their work and that of others throughout the programme with reflective learning embedded through level five study and within the final professional modules at level six. The required development and understanding of critical and intellectual application to design and self-reflective learning leads to increased employability and a sound understanding of industry requirements.

Students prepare personal development approaches through each level gradually building towards increasing articulation of thought process leading to better organisational strategies with a view to communication and presentation through verbal, visual and portfolio means.

Live projects, external clients and peer critique form central themes upon which students can build their personal development strategies and discover their ability to express ideas in a lucid and effective way.

Students keep reflective diaries or blogs and keep annotated sketchbooks alongside their practical work. Critical review is central to teaching methods with students regularly discussion their approaches, research and final outcomes in a rich and constructive approach to learning through thinking.

Arrangements on the course for careers education, information and guidance

Approaches to the planning of career choices are embedded within modules through all levels of the course. At each stage the student is given a range of intellectual tools with which to build on professional contextualisation of career pathways. Opportunities are offered for assimilation of personally driven skills and attributes through work related learning and CV building. External briefs with live clients give students the opportunity to appraise career paths in advance of graduation. Advice, help and support can be found through both academic staff and also the Accelerator Unit which provides business guidance and opportunities for undergraduates and graduates to kick-start their career.

Other external links providing expertise and experience

All students are expected to participate in a range of externally facing briefs with live clients. Alongside this invaluable opportunity for professional contextualisation of their work students experience the pressures and deadlines essential for professional understanding and achievement after graduation. Presentations take place both on university premises but can also take place externally in a range of venues from exhibition halls and galleries to company boardrooms.

Career opportunities

On graduation, you may go on to work as a designer, but you’ll also be well equipped to work in other fields including design education, journalism, or in cultural institutions such as museums. There will also be opportunities to consider in the retail sector, commercial galleries or in interior design practices.

Entry requirements

In addition to the University's standard entry requirements, you should have:

  • a minimum of grades BBC in three A levels in relevant art and design, art history or design and technology subjects (or a minimum of 112 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification in relevant art and design subjects) plus a portfolio review
  • English Language GCSE at grade C (grade 4 from 2017) or above (or equivalent)

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications. Suitable applicants living in the UK will be invited to a portfolio interview. Applicants living outside the UK will be required to submit a portfolio of work via email.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2017/18 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 31 May 2017 Last validation date 31 May 2017  
JACS codes W200 (Design Studies): 100%
Route code DESTPR

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 04 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP4011 Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (3D) Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM
DN4005 Workshop Practice Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR MON PM
DN4006 3D Design Principles Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR MON PM
DN4007 3D Visual Research and Communication Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR MON AM

Stage 2 Level 05 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP5011 Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (3D) Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU AM
DN5006 Design Resolution Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE PM
DN5011 3D Design Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE PM
DN5021 Materials, Technology and Markets Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU PM

Stage 3 Level 06 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP6011 Critical & Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (3D) Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR WED AM
DN6003 Exhibition Practice Core 30        
DN6013 3D Project Design & Development Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR FRI PM
DN6023 Major Project Realisation: Design Studio Practice Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM