Course specification and structure
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UFFRNTRE - FdA Furniture

Course Specification


Validation status Validated
Highest award Foundation Degree (Arts) Level Intermediate
Possible interim awards Certificate of Higher Education (Foundation Degree)
Total credits for course 240
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 2 YEARS  
Part-time 4 YEARS  
Course leader  

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

This two year intensive course provides a comprehensive grounding in professional skills to prepare for a career in the furniture industry, through the support of leading contemporary furniture makers, designers, conservators and academics.

The course introduces the principles of contemporary furniture practice in design, making and restoration. It covers key conceptual and technical aspects including visual analysis, design drafting skills, material specification, 3D skills, professional ethics and preparation for work. The programme integrates academic, subject-specific and work-based learning including ‘live’ project briefs and professional practice. The course aims to develop critically informed creative productivity and a capacity for independent learning and problem solving. Teaching is studio/ workshop-based supported by tutorials and seminars, visiting lecturers, and industry professionals. Excellent, industry-specification facilities include bench workshops (wood, metal and plastics), machining shop, finishing area, digital manufacturing, laser technology and prototyping technology for research, testing and exploration.

The learning and teaching strategies employed in FdA Furniture seek to secure established skills and knowledge of industry practice and process, providing an environment that encourages critical professional engagement. In this, head, heart, and hands-on approach, students will be inspired to direct their ingenuity into their practice. They will develop a range of practical skills, developing initiative through practical problem-solving, in this way promoting understanding of materials and processes, and, innovation and creativity in finding solutions. The course aims to provide an accumulation of knowledge and skill in preparation for entering the industry directly or for entry into Level 6 of Furniture & Product Design here within the faculty.

During the course, students will learn to design, make and/or restore furniture within intensive practice-led projects. Our philosophy embraces professional demands. This process of research, development, realisation and testing encourages students to identify and critically appraise the feasibility of project demands throughout their study.

The course engages with national, international and London-based live projects and competitions, wherever possible. The students work through assignments and projects building on existing skills, investigating and resolving problems with original solutions. This ensures that the student is guided through this acquisition of knowledge and understanding, as the course progresses.

Each year of the course comprises of four year-long (30 weeks, 30 credit) modules in the areas of concept and realisation, creative industry practice, contextual studies and professional practise. The project-led studio is built up of lectures, seminars, study visits, critiques, workshop activities, group and individual tutorials. Both projects and contextual studies offer opportunities for presentation, ranging from visual, spoken and text-based, using digital technologies, blogs, videos, photography and websites. The course seeks to foster development across a range of learning styles.

Project briefs develop from year to year in accordance with contemporary practice and production techniques and the developing research interests, project opportunities and ethos of the Faculty. Disciplinary skills are developed at the beginning of the course, moving to a studio-based system in the final year.

Contextual and Critical studies run in parallel to the project and creative industry practice modules. These modules focus on transferable skills of understanding the conditions and characteristics of the creative industries. Within the learning, students will reflect upon the practice requirements of furniture making or restoration, its professional, legal, social and environmental context. 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 basis, enhancing the studio environment through a blended learning approach.

Course aims

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

1. Offer a contemporary insight into careers in the furniture industry and related professions, providing creative opportunities and preparing students for employment and/or continued higher education and equipping them with the necessary skill-sets and knowledge

2. Enable students to become effective, independent and confident self-directed learners empowered with creative and critical abilities and develop professional thinking and self-expression through an integrated programme of relevant academic, subject specific and work based learning

3. Support the growth of the individual; fostering self-directed study, transferable professional skills, practice positioning and ethical responsibility in relation to personal and professional ambitions and working with others

4. Develop confident promotional, entrepreneurial, presentational skills and discipline related skills (including the range and scope of new technology and interdisciplinary approaches) necessary to be competitive and flexible within a dynamic field

5. Produce and champion high quality contemporary and traditional furniture practitioners and develop visual 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 the experience of materiality and making, enable diverse entry pathways into the furniture profession (with knowledge, efficiency, confidence and autonomy)

Course learning outcomes

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

Knowledge and Understanding

  1. Employ key principles, concepts and practices associated with the furniture profession and show familiarity with relevant regulation
  2. Describe and critique the role of craftsmanship, material and technology in historical and contemporary furniture production and/or restoration
  3. Utilise subject specific knowledge in specifying materials and products and respond to the current needs of furniture design, craft, restoration and production industries

Cognitive Intellectual Skills

  1. Synthesise critical thinking and problem solving in order to identify, devise and test practical solutions to creative problems
  2. Plan and undertake practical and theoretical research, analysis and presentation using relevant methods and sources

Transferable Skills

  1. Recognise professional norms of creative business and manage time and information effectively in order to plan, cost, carry out and monitor project work, from initiation to completion
  2. Work independently, and as a team member in order to effectively record and communicate project needs to clients and other relevant professional bodies

Subject-Specific Practical Skills

  1. Employ practical skills and processes appropriate to professional practice in the furniture industries
  2. Research, design, draw and present viable solutions, and work to recognised professional guidelines and standards as defined by national organisations

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Knowledge and Understanding
1. Employ key principles, concepts and practices associated with the furniture profession and show familiarity with relevant regulation:

Visual Research & Communication
Design Principles
Client Project Development
Project Realisation: Furniture
Creative Industry Practice


2. Describe and critique the role of craftsmanship, material and technology upon historical and contemporary furniture production and/or restoration:

CCS1
CCS2

3. Utilise subject specific knowledge in specifying materials and products and respond to the current needs of furniture design, craft, restoration and production industries:


Design Principles
Workshop Practice
Client-Project development
Cognitive Intellectual Skills


4. Synthesise critical thinking and problem solving in order to identify, test and devise practical solutions to creative problems:

Design Principles
Client-Project Development
Creative Industry Practice


5. Plan and undertake practical and theoretical research, analysis and presentation using relevant methods and sources CCS 1
CCS 2:


Design Principles Visual Research and Communication
Client-Project Development, Creative Industry Practice
Transferable Skills


6. Recognise professional norms of creative business and manage time and information effectively in order to plan, cost, carry out and monitor project work, from initiation to completion:

Creative Industry Practice Design Principles
Client-Project Development
Project Realisation: Furniture


7. Work independently, and as a team member in order to effectively record and communicate project needs to clients and other relevant professional bodies:

Visual Research and Communication
Design Principles
Workshop Practice
Creative Industry Practice
Subject-Specific Practical Skills


8. Employ practical skills and processes appropriate to professional practice within the furniture industries Workshop Practice:


Client-Project Development
Project Realisation: Furniture


9. Research, design, draw and present viable solutions, and work to recognised professional guidelines and standards as defined by national organisations:

Visual Research and Communication
Creative Industry Practice Client-Project Development
Project Realisation: Furniture

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject Benchmark Statement; Art & Design

Assessment strategy

A variety of formative and summative assessment methods are used within the course, ranging from peer and self-assessment, through studio-based work, workshops, written assignments and practical projects and exercises. These methods are aligned to the Faculty and University assessment strategies and with the course learning outcomes and curriculum.

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

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

This course utilises two main methods of work-place learning. These are learning for work (work-related learning) and learning through work (work-based learning) and develop incrementally across the course, in line with sector-specific needs and QAA guidance for Foundation Degrees. Authentic and innovative work-based learning (live competition and/or commission led practice) and work-related learning (live and/or simulated practice) are integral to the Foundation Degree and its design. Modes enable learners to develop transferable and discipline-specific skills, within appropriate role(s) for the workplace. Projects/ activities involve the development of higher-level learning within both the institution and the workplace, where the learning in one environment is applied in the other.

Work-related and work-based learning are imbedded within modules (Making Matters)and typically involves partnerships with public, private and voluntary sectors in ‘live’ project work and learning built around intended professional employment roles for the student. Acquisition of skills and knowledge during the course seeks to advance ‘real-world’ projects, commissions and artefact production with external clients. Learning is supported by a simulated commercial workshop environment, external visits and visitors. Please refer to Section 27 (Course Structure Diagram) for further information.

Course specific regulations

In FdA Furniture, the following course regulations shall apply:

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.

PROGRESSION FROM ‘EXTENDED DEGREE’;

i) The structure and scope of learning in the ’extended degree’ programme shall permit alternative course progression. In other words, students who succeed in passing all modules and who wish to, based on their learning experience in Level 3, may elect to alter the designation of the ‘extended degree’ they had embarked upon and to instead migrate onto another cognate degree title within the purview of the Faculty portfolio; that is not restricted to the original choice of course title upon admission. Progressing students may of course choose to continue onwards following the ‘early specialist’ route they joined at point of entry.

PROGRESSION ONTO THE RELATED BA (HONS) AWARD;

ii) Students who succeed in passing all FdA modules and who wish to, based on their learning experience in Level 4 and 5, may choose to progress onto the related BA (Hons) award (i.e. BA (Hons) Furniture & Product Design). Direct progression into final year (Level 6) of the BA programme will normally require course leader approval and a strong overall academic performance within the field.

PART-TIME MODE OF STUDY

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 AMD-ASD degrees shall be as follows:

Year 1: Principles of Practice, Tactile Response

Year 2: Critical and Contextual Studies 1, Visual Research and Communication

Year 3: Client-Project Development, Furniture Project Realisation

Year 4: Critical and Contextual Studies 2, Professional Practice

Modules required for interim awards

• 3D Visual Research and Communication
• 3D Design Principles
• Workshop Practice
• Critical and Contextual Studies 1
• Making Matters
• 3D Design
• Critical and Contextual Studies 2
• Project Realisation: Furniture

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The course places special emphasis on the processes of reflective learning, through a range of embedded methods within studio projects, to develop self-motivated and self-critical students, equipped with critical and creative skills vital to future employment prospects and development of the profession.

Throughout the course, students are asked to reflect upon their own learning development, peer participation and practice, through dialogue and structured guidance in relation to 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. Constructive guidance on work in progress is provided throughout, while engaging and developing personal and professional competency in an open, studio environment of reciprocal learning and reflection.

Ongoing dialogue and review of sketchbooks, critical reviews and professional-practice portfolios and presentations stimulate reflection and understanding towards achieving the learning outcomes of the course, in the process of developing as a product designer.

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. Industry specialists contribute where possible to critiques, providing further ‘real-world’ insight within the professional context and focus.

Arrangements on the course for careers education, information and guidance

• Study visits to furniture design/ making enterprises, restoration/conservation workshops, exhibitions, museums, galleries and retail outlets inform students of potential employment opportunities
• Contact and liaison with industry clients and design professionals through live project work, 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
• External exhibitions and trade fairs enable selected students to develop further career opportunities
• Students are supported to reflect upon their own practice throughout the course to progress successfully to their chosen field within the furniture Industry.
• Extra-curricular programmes such as the ‘Making a Living’ series of events offer opportunities for students to gain enhanced knowledge of specific aspects of professional life

Other external links providing expertise and experience

The course enjoys ongoing links with professional practices that regularly support students. Industry professionals and specialists play a strategic role in live projects, developing students’ understanding of context, client constraints and the commission process. Opportunity for industrial visits and national and international exhibitions occur regularly and lectures by visiting professional practitioners provide insight and inside knowledge and act as stimulus to learning. Design briefs engage students with companies and organisations such as Heal’s, Lloyd Loom Furniture, The Design Museum and Ligne Roset.

In addition, teaching staff bring a wide range of expertise and visibility for the Faculty collectively, recognised widely as expert professionals operating in the field of furniture and restoration/ conservation, cabinetmaking and product design including bespoke, office and public/ architectural furniture consultancy.

Faculty Support and Consultancy:
The Frederick Parker Collection of Chairs and the extensive company archive (on permanent loan to the University) provides a unique study collection.

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 Furniture FdA prepares you to enter the furniture profession in a wide range of occupations within manufacture and design. Graduates successfully progress to careers designing or making furniture; working freelance, in small and medium size companies, in museums or in the modern industrial environment. Roles can be as diverse as buyers and technology and design journalists.

You can also progress to Year 3 of the Furniture and Product Design BA (Hons) course.

Entry requirements

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

  • for entry in the 2017-18 academic year: a minimum grade C in three A levels or minimum grades BC in art and design, art history or design and technology subjects (or a minimum of 96 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification, eg BTEC National, OCR Diploma or Advanced Diploma)
  • English Language GCSE at grade C (grade 4 from 2017) or above (or equivalent)

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications.

We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We're proud that many of our students are career changers, finding their calling later in life. Formal qualifications are not always necessary as life and work experience can also be considered. In such cases, we ask for a CV and supporting letter. Commitment and enthusiasm are key factors when considering applications.

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.

Portfolio advice

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

Furniture makers work in both 2D and 3D, so bring examples of both. If you can't bring some of your work to portfolio interview, please bring photographs.

For makers, we always want to see traditional drawing whether observational, life or concept generating, so even if you have good CAD skills already, do include this.

Finally, be ready to talk about your work and how you see your future as a furniture designer or maker.

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 2013/14 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 02 Sep 2013 Last validation date 02 Sep 2013  
Sources of funding HE FUNDING COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND
JACS codes W730 (Wood Crafts): 100%
Route code FRNTRE

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 THU AM
          CITY AUT+SPR MON PM
          CITY AUT+SPR MON AM
          CITY AUT+SPR THU PM
DN4006 3D Design Principles Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU AM
          CITY AUT+SPR THU PM
          CITY AUT+SPR MON AM
          CITY AUT+SPR MON PM
DN4007 3D Visual Research and Communication Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU AM
          CITY AUT+SPR THU PM
          CITY AUT+SPR MON AM
          CITY AUT+SPR MON PM

Stage 1 Level 04 January start Not currently offered

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

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
DN5007 Making Matters Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR THU PM
DN5011 3D Design Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE PM
          CITY AUT+SPR FRI AM
          CITY AUT+SPR FRI PM
          CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM
DN5F07 Project Realisation: Furniture Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE PM
          CITY AUT+SPR FRI AM
          CITY AUT+SPR FRI PM
          CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM