Course specification and structure
Undergraduate Course Structures Postgraduate Course Structures

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 School of Art, Architecture and Design
Subject Area Design
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 3 YEARS  
Part-time Day 6 YEARS  
Course leader  

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.

Consideration has been given to the following: the Subject Benchmark Statement (Art and Design 2017), the HE Qualification Framework, the University’s Strategic Plan and Student Charter, the University’s Undergraduate Regulations, the views and feedback of students, external examiners and employers/ clients, developments within the subject area, and the changing needs of the cultural/ commercial sectors and professions. Due consideration has also been given to inclusivity in course and assessment design.

Embedded in the Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, the course draws on the strengths of teaching staff from across the School and the wide circle of academic and cultural contacts and collaborators attached to the School and University.

The course seeks to provide and foster:

• learning through direct experience, connecting academic and creative studies;
• student choice in subject and style of learning;
• a culture of independent and critical thought, encouraging the challenging of received ideas and practice;
• employability attributes, through live projects engaging with external partners, institutions and companies that create a realistic environment of professional expectations for students, preparing students for graduate-level employment;
• engagement across the School and University, providing opportunities for collaborative project work during study;
• individualised learning and study support opportunities, that cater for different learning styles;
• awareness of the duty of all to understand the impact of their decisions and actions as designers and to strive to act responsibly.

Each year of study comprises of four year-long modules in the areas of concept and realisation, subject-specific industry practice and cultural and contextual studies (including professional practice).
Typically, students devise and develop practical projects under guidance, building up a reserve of sector-specific skills, testing and realising new ideas and design potential, and introducing collaborative work with peers. This approach ensures that the student is guided through the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, as the course progresses through the three years.

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.

Lectures provide and encourage a critically informed view of a topic, contextualising the subject and illustrating applied approaches. Lectures provide students with a managed introduction to a theme, enabling them to continue with suggested or directed self-study.
Seminars enable students to debate and explore subjects, questions and assignments with peers and tutors, encouraging an open and collaborative approach to shared learning.

Tutorials support individual learning, allowing for individual approaches to study, and catering for individual interests. Tutorials can be diagnostic or can support specific assignment or project-related questions, and support differing student paths to achievement of learning outcomes.

External visits offer opportunities for vital direct experience with objects and sites of study, and to communicate with and learn from experts and specialists attached to partner institutions and bodies.

Live briefings and feedback are an important aspect of work-based learning, exposing students to experience of professional ways of working, of professional expectations of standards, and of the most current professional practice.

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.

Workshops offer students opportunities to engage in creative practice. Opportunities will be available to students to undertake workshop and studio practice relevant to their assignments or collaborative projects. The objective is to apply knowledge and/or acquire technical competence, to think critically and creatively, to master technique and develop the capacity to work independently and within teams.

Blended learning utilises the University’s VLE platform to support and reinforce reflective learning, to monitor progress through assignments, to foster peer-to-peer communication and collaborative research activity ,and to facilitate tutorial support for students and flexible approaches to learning

Project briefs develop from year to year in accordance with contemporary practice and opportunities for engagement with external partners that arise. Disciplinary research skills are embedded at the beginning of the course, and are built upon each academic year to ensure the maximum exploitation of the learning opportunities that projects and assignments offer. Students will graduate with a portfolio of work that will include written work and outcomes that exhibit analyses through the creation, manipulation, examination or curation of artefacts.

Critical and Contextual Studies run in parallel to the design and creative industry practice modules. These modules focus on transferable graduate skills in the field of academic scholarship and writing (alongside professional practice). 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 art/ architecture/ design history and theory, taking into account the practice requirements of the industry, and 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.

Digital Literacy is embedded in the curriculum through the use of the VLE and in curriculum delivery and expectations of digital capabilities as appropriate to task set and the level of study. Students make use of digital platforms alongside traditional approaches to research, develop and communicate their projects.

The course engages with international, national and London-based competitions and encourages students to extend these opportunities as extra-curricular activity, including collaborative publication and exhibition wherever possible.

Course aims

In studying Design Studio Practice at The Cass students will be able to learn all they need in order to become a fully rounded studio designer. The course aims to provide students with a broad based education which enables a personal definition of the strategic progress towards employment or self-sufficiency as a practitioner.

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 (LO4, LO5, LO7, LO9, LO10, LO11);
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 (LO1,LO2,LO3, LO6, LO10);
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 (LO5, LO6, LO7, LO9);
4. ensure an individual practice that is positioned in relation to economic, ethical, cultural, environmental, material, global needs (LO5, LO6, LO8);
5. 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 (LO4, LO7);
6. create practitioners with entrepreneurial, promotional and forward looking applications of their practice (LO2, LO5, LO8);
7. develop curiosity, independent enquiry, critique and reflection upon practice through an integrated approach to theory, research, analysis and capacity to reason (LO3, LO6);
8. through an integrated approach to practice and theory, research and analysis develop an understanding of the context for independent practice (LO1,LO4 , LO8, LO10, LO12);
9. 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 (LO2, LO5, LO6, LO10, LO11);
10. enable skills for professional practice (subject knowledge, collaborative team work, confidence and autonomy) relevant to individual interests and creative ambitions (LO1, LO7,LO9, LO11, LO12),
11. deliver individuals who are able to inspire, challenge and create work that places them at the forefront of their chosen professional directions (LO2,LO3 , LO5, LO6, LO8, LO12).

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 (CA2, CA3, CA8,CA10);
2 recognise the relationships existing between manufacturing processes and technologies and how they apply to design, context, culture and the economy (CA2, CA6, CA9, CA11);
3 apply a self-critical, investigative and evaluative approach to understanding the contemporary and historical framework associated with broad ranging studio practice (CA2, CA7, CA11);
Cognitive Intellectual Skills
4 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 (CA1, CA2, CA5, CA7);
5 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 (CA1,CA3,CA4, CA6, CA9, CA11);
6 develop, challenge and make decisions clearly demonstrating ethical sensitivity based upon social, environmental and economic issues taking responsibility for personal approaches to practice (CA2, CA3, CA4, CA6, CA7, CA9, CA11);
Transferable Skills
7 competently apply individual critical, practical and creative strengths to promotion in order to professionally articulate practice intent visually, textually and orally (CA1, CA3, CA5, CA10);
8 respond to a defined industry or competitive brief and its constraints (including technological and aesthetic considerations), utilising creative opportunities towards professional project realization (CA4, CA6, CA11);
9 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 (CA1, CA3, CA10);
Subject-Specific Practical Skills
10 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 (CA1, CA2, CA8, CA9);
11 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 (CA1, CA9, CA10);
12 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 (CA8, CA10, CA11).

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Module Title/Module Code/Learning Outcomes

Critical and Contextual Studies 1 (3D) CP4011 LO1,LO2,LO3
Workshop Practice DN4005 LO1, LO4 LO5, LO10, LO11
3D Design Principles DN4006 LO1, LO4, LO10
Visual Research and Communication DN4007 LO1, LO4
Critical and Contextual Studies 2 (3D) CP5011 LO1, LO2, LO3, LO6, LO7, LO12
Materials, Technology and Markets DN5021 LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6, LO7, LO8, LO9, LO12

3D Design DN5011 LO1, LO6, LO10,
Design Resolution DN5006 LO1, LO2 ,LO4, LO5, LO6, LO7, LO10, LO11
Critical and Contextual Studies 3 (3D) Dissertation CP6011 LO1, LO3
World of Work DN6035 LO7, LO8, LO9, LO11, LO12

3D Project Design and Development DN6013 LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6,
Major Project Realisation; Design Studio Practice DN6023 LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6, LO7, LO8, LO9, LO10, LO11, LO12

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Art and Design 2017

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy for the course has been designed holistically, to ensure manageable timing, workloads and clarity of expectations for students, and to avoid duplication of assessment of learning outcomes.

The assessment regimes for the modules and tasks are designed together with the briefs, prior to the start of the year, taking into account student, external examiner, professional collaborator and colleague feedback from previous instances. The requirements of briefs and their components, the assessment criteria, grading scheme and descriptors are published and explained to students at the start of the year and are designed to be used as consistently as possible, to avoid unnecessary complication. Assessment is related to the achievement of learning outcomes; qualification frameworks and subject benchmark statements are consulted to ensure clear language that is appropriate to level of study. Students are informed of the procedures for first, second and parity marking, and external examiner scrutiny of the assessment process and marks, to ensure that they understand and have confidence in the probity of the process and security of the final marks.

In every case, there is required formative assessment and feedback prior to summative assessment at set points. This is recorded so that it can be used by both students and staff to track further progress and engage support where it is required. Feedback follows good pedagogic practice in that it is constructed as ‘feed-forward’, with a focus on specific actions and strategies as to how to improve, not only on what requires improvement. Challenge to students is managed, so that students performing well in-year are encouraged to strive for excellence, while those performing less well experience clear, targeted and structured guidance, including notice of where they are doing well or are showing potential.

The course adheres to the University’s requirements for assessment and feedback turnaround times and to academic regulations for marking and second making sampling. Additionally, the course engages in Subject and School parity exercises to ensure that assessment standards are consistent. This is especially important in relation to studio delivery through which students on the same modules will be undertaking differing projects.

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

Work- related learning is embedded in the course both formally in the professional studies modules in year two and three and throughout the course through live projects, industry visits, visiting speakers and events such as ‘Making a Living’ and ‘Celebration’ weeks.

Work-related learning is an integrated and mandatory part of the course, in line with the University’s policy of securing a work related learning opportunity for each undergraduate student during their studies, with at least 70 hours working on live projects for real organisations delivered through placement, live briefs, real entrepreneurial activities or short in term work placements built into the course. Students will experience a competitive recruitment process or pitching for opportunities, and they will be required to reflect on their experience of the project or placement and undertake forward career action planning.

The majority of tutors and lecturers on the course are practitioners and share their knowledge and experience with students throughout their course of study. The studio delivery of the course means that opportunities for work related learning through collaboration with external companies, agencies, institutions, competitions and professionals can be taken up as they arise, if appropriate to the programme of study.

Studios function as simulations of professional workplaces, with expectations of professional standards, conduct and delivery building as the students progress from level to level. During their final year, students are expected to work independently towards completion of professional portfolio of projects, culminating in exhibition of these in the annual summer show and associated events.

Course specific regulations

ACADEMIC PROGRESSION: As a condition of progressing from level 3 to 4, 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 prescribed pattern of study in this instance shall be as follows:

Year 1:
DN4005 Workshop Practice
DN4006 3D Design Principles

Year 2:
DN4007 3D Visual Research and Communication
CP4011 Critical & Contextual Studies 1 (3D)

Year 3:
DN5006 Design Resolution
DN5011 3D Design

Year 4:
DN5021 Materials, Technology and Markets
CP5011 Critical & Contextual Studies 2 (3D)

Year 5:
DN6023 Major Project Realisation: Design Studio Practice
DN6013 3D Project Design & Development

Year 6:
DN6035 World of Work
CP6011 Critical & Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (3D)

Modules required for interim awards

Critical and Contextual Studies 1 (3D) CP4011
Workshop Practice DN4005
3D Design Principles DN4006
Visual Research and Communication DN4007
Critical and Contextual Studies 2 (3D) CP5011
Materials, Technology and Markets DN5021
3D Design DN5011
Design Resolution DN5006
Critical and Contextual Studies 3 (3D) Dissertation CP6011
World of Work DN6035
3D Project Design and Development DN6013
Major Project Realisation; Design Studio Practice DN6023

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The School’s studio system of curriculum delivery embeds reflective learning and personal development planning throughout the course.

Most summative assessment is at the end of year-long modules, with several formative assessment points formally instituted in the course of the year. At these interim formative assessment and feedback points, students reflect on their progress to date with their peers and course staff (with the benefit of feedback from professional partners), seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. The feedback and student reflection is recorded and forms an action plan for the next period of study.

This system is highly individualised, but also benefits from peer engagement in studio critiques. The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Throughout the modules and the course therefore, in this way, students build bodies of work, including reflections on progress and achievement, and planning for their future achievement of targets.

Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

Employability skills are integrated throughout the course. 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.
During their final year, students are expected to work independently towards the completion of a professional portfolio of projects, culminating in exhibition of these in the annual graduate show. Level 6 students are encouraged to develop entrepreneurial opportunities during the course and apply for and participate in subject-specialist work placements as well as gain professional experience appropriate to their discipline throughout the course. The course has collaborative links with the creative industries directly through visiting professional designer/makers who regularly teach and mentor throughout the programme.
Work-related learning is an integrated and mandatory part of the course, with at least 70 hours working on live projects live briefs and real entrepreneurial activities are built into the course. The level six module ‘World of Work’ is designated as the work-related learning module. Students will experience pitching for opportunities, and they will be required to reflect on their experience of the project and undertake forward career action planning.

Students can also benefit from support and guidance from the Careers and Employability services and the University’s business incubator unit, ‘Accelerator’. Students will experience a competitive recruitment process or pitch for opportunities in level 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.

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)
  • a portfolio review
  • English Language GCSE at grade C (grade 4) 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.

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.

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        
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
DN5006 Design Resolution Core 30        
DN5011 3D Design Core 30        
DN5021 Materials, Technology and Markets Core 30        

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 WED PM
          CITY AUT WED AM
DN6013 3D Project Design & Development Core 30        
DN6023 Major Project Realisation: Design Studio Practice Core 30        
DN6035 World of Work Core 30