Course specification and structure
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UDPUBLIS - BA Publishing

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 8 YEARS
Part-time Day 4 YEARS 8 YEARS
Course leader Susanna Edwards

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

BA (Hons) Publishing introduces a new title in an area of strategic growth for the Faculty. Drawn from the established publishing-related practice (within studios 15/16 and 16/17, BA Graphic Design, BA Illustration and the Hothouse project within the cluster), this portfolio expansion exploits new specialist appointments made within Visual Communication in 2015. This award will support practice within publishing across print and digital platforms with an emphasis on future digital publishing practice.

The course partners with real publishers in the field of design offering students the opportunity to research, curate, write, design and deliver content in print, on websites and social media platforms. Students will receive preparation to enter the world of professional design, to thoroughly research and clearly articulate ideas, communicate effectively with clients and understand the importance of identifying and communicating with particular audiences. This course will focus on providing our students with these attributes and ensuring that they have the confidence to succeed.

As well as traditional media such as books and magazines BA Publishing is concerned with investigating the act of publishing itself, and how it is relevant to practice as a visual communicator across traditional and non-traditional formats. As well as instilling the skills to design and produce published projects on various media platforms, students will investigate the practice of publishing as a creative act.

Students (with staff) will be working on projects that are about discovering designers ’individual voices, exploring the dynamic relationship between word and image and gaining expertise and inspiration from people working on the most innovative and mould-breaking publishing projects.

Projects undertaken on BA Publishing will enable engagement with a complete design process — from developing ideas and concepts, creating written and visual content and executing in designs and layouts; to the technical practicalities of making and delivering printed and digital publishing platforms, to reaching – and even making – audiences. Identifying audiences and learning how engage and speak to them is an important part of the course. It is a skill that applies to many areas of visual communication, whether it is for self-initiated projects and promoting one’s own work, or being able to offer commercial clients the ability to galvanise and connect with a market.

Communication is at the heart of great design. As well as visual creativity, this course emphasises the concomitant skills of verbal design thinking. The course guides students towards honing personal voices and vision as a designers. Students will form publishing teams and take on all the roles and jobs that would be involved in publishing projects in the professional working world, generating real outputs, with real audiences, which means designing for a live outcome, and also fostering an instinctive awareness of designing for a public or an audience. This will be useful and attractive to a wide demographic.

Provision within this field builds upon an established Faculty academic, staff research, practice and professional reputation. The profile of staff and alumni within the disciplines proposed, is strong with established routes into industry and/or professional partners/ projects. Creative practice is situated at the heart of Cass Visual Communication, building a thriving, dynamic, entrepreneurial and innovative learning environment. Courses will optimise existing Faculty facilities and expertise, as appropriate, and collaboration across the Faculty and wider University and with industry partners will be a key part of this course delivery.

The course seeks to specifically foster and provide:

  • Experimentation and learning, through direct experience of practice in multi-disciplinary studio-based working.
  • A culture of independent thought and directional ideas, encouraging individual choice and the production of critically informed contemporary publishing practice.
  • Projects that make use of London as a diverse site for cultural exchange and exploration.
  • Live projects with briefings and critiques that create a professionally realistic environment for students; opening up opportunities to further engage with and understand the industry, potentially leading to placements and employment.
  • Disciplinary engagement across the Faculty, providing opportunities for collaborative project work during study.

The course philosophy embraces experiential learning and a self-reflective practice that will lead each student to an individual design approach and method. Through immersion in studio practice, students are encouraged and enabled to develop a practiced understanding of their discipline, evolving approaches to working in collaboration with peers and through self-critique. Typically, students will devise and develop practical projects under staff guidance, gradually building up a reserve of sector-specific skills, testing and realising these skills against new ideas and their design potential. This approach ensures that the student is guided through their acquisition of technical competence, knowledge of critical practice and understanding of theory, and understands how to apply this, as the course progresses.

Teaching methods include: lectures, seminars, tutorials, external visits, live briefings, group formal critiques, workshops and studio practice. Every effort is made to make teaching as varied and student-centered as possible. The course is taught within the creative hub of London, and benefits from links with local design practitioners, publishers, companies, galleries and specialist shops. 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 seek to provide a critically informed overview of a topic, to conceptualize and contextualize 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, to master technique and to develop the capacity to work independently and in teams. Workshop and practical teaching will focus upon related skills such as, for example:

Design – Adobe Creative Suite / Typography / Layout / Art Direction / Photography
Editorial – Writing / editing / commissioning / curation
Publishing – publishing models / platforms / distribution / audience / funding
Production – paper & print / digital platforms / pagination / formats / book binding
Research / Culture – research methods / criticism / reflecting on contemporary practice / social and aesthetic context
Presenting – editorial / portfolio / promotion

Opportunities will be available to students to develop skills specifically relevant to their project work, a specific brief, or a 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, photography and websites. Through a rich mix of teaching styles and learning contexts, the course seeks to foster in its students confidence as autonomous learners, promoting imagination and effectiveness of design practitioners in the making.

Project briefs develop from year to year in accordance with contemporary practice, furthering research interests and project opportunities in context of the School and Faculty ethos. Disciplinary skills are embedded at the beginning of the course, and are built upon each academic year. The body of work accumulated at Level 6 is significant, making up an academic portfolio that demonstrates the full range of attributes that are required for career development in creative practice and/ or for entry to MA level Course. Shared projects across courses &/or years enables opportunities for peer-to-peer learning to be maximised.

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.

The course’s use of virtual learning supports students on day-to-day and project work in progres

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 publishing that will ensure graduates are knowledgeable, creative, technically able and work-ready
  2. Foster critical understanding of and creative approaches to the cultural, technological and economic factors surrounding the publishing industry now and in the future
  3. Foster self-reliance and openness to professional development, ensuring individual practice that is accurately positioned in relation to current economic, ethical, cultural, environmental, material, global needs
  4. Develop confident entrepreneurial, promotional and presentational skills, encouraging multidisciplinary approaches and critical thought
  5. Develop curiosity, independent enquiry and capacity to reason, critique and reflect upon practice through an integrated approach to practice and theory, research and analysis
  6. Through working intimately with digital platforms, 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. Describe, understand and explore the intellectual and practical process of creative practice in publishing and the broader academic debates in related fields such as graphic design, design writing, illustration and digital innovation
  2. Recognise how trends in publishing and developments or constraints in production and design processes, platforms and technologies influence each other and apply this knowledge to practice
  3. Apply self-critical, investigative and evaluative practice, understand the contemporary and historical framework associated with publishing to enable insight while developing an individual perspective and approach

Cognitive Intellectual Skills

  1. Observe, investigate and synthesise complex visual and material effects towards the production of creative published solutions
  2. Master the materials and processes associated with print media, demonstrating an understanding of the field of cross-disciplinary digital publishing, and the rapidly evolving possibilities for print-digital relationships.
  3. Take responsibility for the content and signature of individual creative practice within professional and commercial contexts, demonstrating ethical sensitivity and a reflexive, innovative personal approach as a professional in the world of publishing design. Demonstrate editorial thinking as part of the design process

Transferable Skills

  1. Competently apply individual critical, practical and creative strengths to self-promotion in order to professionally articulate practice intent visually, textually and orally
  2. Respond to a defined industry brief and its constraints (including technological and aesthetic considerations), utilising creative opportunities towards professional project realisation
  3. Work professionally and effectively with others through collaboration and negotiation, in a variety of roles, as sole practitioner and within a multi-disciplinary team

Subject-Specific Practical Skills

  1. Employ the necessary skills to select appropriate platforms, materials and processes suitable for the realisation of creative intent.
  2. Apply knowledge of the publishing industry and the commercial contexts to effective career planning, strategically placing your work within clearly defined markets and reaching defined audiences

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject Benchmark Statement; Art & Design

Assessment strategy

The course deploys a range of formative and summative assessment methods, including peer appraisal and individual reflective practices throughout studio based work and personal projects. These evaluative achievements are evidenced through coursework and demonstrated within presentations, seminars and portfolio reviews, to accommodate differing learning styles. Each assessment (formative and summative) seeks to build students’ confidence as independent learners, providing pertinent advice for all aspects of learning. Students are guaranteed a consistent approach to assessment and feedback across the years and Faculty to ensure they have a secure grasp of their progress.

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 advisors, Library Services, University Student Services and the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

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

Employability skills are integrated throughout the course. Students are encouraged to apply for and participate in subject-specialist work placements to gain professional experience appropriate to their discipline throughout the course. Work experience supports the emphasis of professional standards and undoubtedly increases confidence and currency of graphic design skills. In addition, the course has collaborative links with the creative industries directly through visiting professional designers who regularly teach and mentor throughout the programme.
Work-related learning is an integrated and mandatory part of the course, with at least 210 hours working on live projects for real organisations delivered through placement, live briefs and real entrepreneurial activities built into the course. The level six module ‘Design Competition’ and the Level 5 module 'Creative Industry Practice' are designated as the placement or work-related learning modules. Students will experience a competitive recruitment process or pitching for opportunities,
and they will be required to reflect on their experience of the project and undertake forward career action planning and communication.

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: DN4002 Design Principles,DN4004 Graphic Authorship
Year 2: CP4014 Critical & Contextual Studies (1), DN4001 Visual Research & Communication
Year 3: DN5003 Narrative, DN5012 Publishing
Year 4: CP5014 Critical & Contextual Studies (2), DN5001 Creative Industry Practice
Year 5: DN6001 Project Design & Development, DN6022 Major Project Realisation: Publishing
Year 6: CP6014 Critical & Contextual Studies (3): Dissertation, DN6004 Design Competition

Modules required for interim awards

Year 1/ Level 4 core modules:

• CP4014 Critical & Contextual Studies (1)
• DN4001 Visual Research & Communication
• DN4002 Design Principles
• DN4004 Graphic Authorship

Year 2/ Level 5 core modules:

• CP5014 Critical & Contextual Studies (2)
• DN5001 Creative Industry Practice
• DN5003 Narrative
• DN5012 Publishing

Year 3/ Level 6 core modules:

• CP6014 Critical & Contextual Studies (3): Dissertation
• DN6001 Project Design & Development
• DN6004 Design Competition
• DN6022 Major Project Realisation: Publishing

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The course places special emphasis on reflective learning, embedded in studio and design projects, to develop self-motivated and critically conscious students, equipped with sector-specific skills of creative and critical flexibility and practical knowhow, vital for future employability.

Throughout the course, students are asked to reflect upon their own learning development and practice, through dialogue and structured guidance in relation to blogs, sketchbooks, journals, logs and online feedback. Portfolio reviews, formative self and peer assessments, tutorials and written feedback support students’ understanding of their own working practice, providing formal observations to analyse and make key decisions about learning to date, while engaging with and developing mature working processes of their peers and teachers alike.

Critical and Contextual Studies modules are an integral part of the course, providing critical understanding of the historical and theoretical issues and context for the discipline. Engagement and ongoing dialogue and review of blogs sketchbooks, critical reviews and professional-practice portfolios and presentations stimulate reflection and understanding of personal and critical growth, to meet the learning outcomes of the course while developing as a fashion designer and/or maker. Regular critiques of work in progress provide constructive feedback, enabling students to reflect and develop their outlook and approach in relation to current and future projects.

Arrangements on the course for careers education, information and guidance

In addition to access to the University’s careers service, students will also be involved in employability and career preparation enhancement activities such as Making a Living week and the University Accelerator Unit’s initiatives, as well as through activities and experience as given below.

  • Contact and liaison with industry clients and professionals through live project work, publishing work and reaching external audiences, takeovers, exhibitions and competitions.
  • Careers advice (both promotional and presentational) is integral to the course within lectures and portfolio reviews
  • Competition, exhibition and publicity opportunities exist throughout the course.
  • Portfolio surgeries are carried out wherein the student is given encouraging and specific advice in regards to their presentational focus
  • A carefully curated programme of ‘Hothouse’ lectures by visiting speakers (outside of the core curriculum) provides insight to current issues and opportunities, these are publicly attended by students and external visitors ,companies and practitioners allowing for networking opportunities

Extra-curricular employability programmes such as the ‘Making a Living’ series of events offer opportunities for students to gain enhanced knowledge of specific aspects of professional life and to speak directly with industry and alumni for advice. This course equips students for every aspect of publishing as part of practice in design by exploring the designer’s role in relation to audiences and mediums for publishing, and students explore the roles of designer as author / designer as publisher / designer as editor. To this end, there is a focus on the collaborative nature of the role of designer – a partner in, author of and conduit for subject matter and content generated across the spectrum of creative fields. As well as connecting with industry partners outside the university setting, the course provides contexts to encourage collaboration with peers, staff and students from other creative disciplines in the University, fostering a cohort of collaborators and contacts to provide a mutual support structure upon graduation.

The course prepares students to enter the publishing profession in one of the following areas: a wide range of occupations including graphic designer, researcher, design writer, design editor, editorial illustrator, photographer and commissioner of design, writing, illustration and photography. Graduates can work as self employed freelance professionals, designers, designers within companies, creative directors or art directors in publishing, editorial commissioners, project managers and design journalists; or use their qualification for entry to courses at MA level.

Other external links providing expertise and experience

Students have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding whilst working on real-world creative briefs set by professionals and design bodies. There is also opportunity to enter designated professional competitions. There will be considerable emphasis on the professional presentation of project ideas. Recent live projects have included project work with, one of the most prolific digital design publishing platforms, with students taking over the platform publishing editorial content both written and designed. Visiting lecturers have included Anthony Burrill, Angharad Lewis, Sarah Boris, Paul Jenkins, It’s Nice That, LeGun. The Hothouse initiative has enabled students to self publish in print on the Faculty’s industry-standard printing resources and disseminate their work to industry.

Faculty Support and Consultancy:
The ‘Projects Office’ provides a supportive professional environment that allows students and staff to undertake consultancy commissions and research projects as well as providing project management support to live projects carried out by students as part of their course.

Career opportunities

This course equips graduates to perform in creative roles across the spectrum of publishing media, from traditional print to contemporary digital contexts, working in design, publishing strategy, editorial, commissioning, art direction or branding. It opens the door to a number of exciting careers in many aspects of design for publishing media including art, fiction, journalism, advertising, commercial and public service.

Entry requirements

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

  • a minimum of grades BBC, one of which from a relevant subject area in the arts, humanities and social sciences (or a minimum of 112 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification in relevant art and design subject) plus portfolio review

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications. We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

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.

If you do not have traditional qualifications or cannot meet the entry requirements for this undergraduate degree, you may still be able to gain entry by completing the Art and Design Extended Degree (with Foundation Year).

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.

Portfolios and reviews

Your portfolio should be selective, but include enough work to show the range of your interests and talents. We are interested in seeing how you develop a project from beginning to end, not only the finished work.

If you cannot bring some of your work to the portfolio interview, take photographs of your work and bring them instead.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2016/17 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 09 Aug 2016 Last validation date 09 Aug 2016  
JACS codes P400 (Publishing): 100%
Route code PUBLIS

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 04 September start Not currently offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP4014 Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (Graphics) Core 30        
DN4001 Visual Research and Communication Core 30        
DN4002 Design Principles Core 30        
DN4004 Graphic Authorship Core 30        

Stage 2 Level 05 August start Not currently offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP5021 Critical and Contextual Studies 2 (Visual Commu... Core 30        
DN5001 Creative Industry Practice Core 30        
DN5003 Narrative Core 30        
DN5012 Publishing Core 30        

Stage 3 Level 06 August start Not currently offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP6014 Critical & Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (... Core 30        
DN6001 Project Design and Development Core 30        
DN6004 Design Competition Core 30        
DN6022 Major Project Realisation: Publishing Core 30