Course specification and structure
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UDFUPRDE - BA Furniture and Product Design

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 6 YEARS  
Course leader  

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

The CASS’s unique BA (Hons) Furniture and Product Design course prepares students for a future career through direct access to the industry and its practices. The School has a 200-year history of education for industry and the wealth of knowledge and resources for furniture and product studies held by the course is unsurpassed. Students are guided to exploit their talents to the maximum in the designing and making of commercially aware products and they will graduate with unparalleled hands-on experience of contemporary furniture and product design and making practice. The course and its team will ensure that every design pursued is developed and presented appropriately to the market sector for which it is intended. The course defines ‘furniture’ and ‘product’ very widely so that no opportunities for innovation and collaboration with others are lost. Students may design and prototype traditional seat and case furniture, but also tableware, lighting, food, clothing, toys, infrastructure, systems, packaging, and other products.

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 furniture and product designers and to strive to act responsibly.

With an emphasis on critical and investigative creative development alongside attention to manufacturing excellence, the course introduces the principles of contemporary furniture and product design practice in both design and making alongside the effective utilisation of communication strategies for a range of professional and employment opportunities.
Students will cover key conceptual and technical aspects of furniture and product design and making, including visual communication, research methods for designers, design technical drafting skills, material and process specification, 3D making skills, professional ethics and critical thinking. The course programme integrates the development of academic attributes and subject-specific learning to help students to fulfil their potential as highly informed contemporary creative design activists with a capacity for independent thinking and problem solving.
Interaction with contemporary furniture and product practice and industry is fundamental to the development of confident and work-ready graduates. The contacts and experience that students will have on the course are a bridge between university studies and life as a professional practitioner. The course provides students with a structured environment that encourages external professional engagement with a range of high profile, national and international designers, companies, live projects and competitions. Students will work in excellent, industry-specification facilities including extensive workshops for wood, metal and modelmaking, finishing and digital manufacturing for research, testing and exploration.
The course aims to prepare students as designers and makers to be independent practitioners or to work as part of a larger furniture or product design or production team; for individual business start-up, and for entry to courses at a higher level. Graduates may also work in related fields such as design journalism, retail or marketing, management or teaching. The teaching and learning practices within the course promote:

• opportunities for students to experiment and learn through direct experience, achieving practised understanding of discipline and context;
• a culture of independent thought embedded in teaching and learning, to foster professional industrial and bespoke practitioners;
• a blend of industrial studio and workshop practice, provided in digital and traditional manufacturing workshops, computer labs, design studios and multi-media facilities;
• student participation in collaborative project work with industry to ensure awareness of current industry practice;
• opportunities for students to experiment and research within both subject specific and cross-disciplinary projects;
• use of London’s rich cultural heritage as a resource, allowing for projects to take place off-site as well as on campus;
• deliberate disruption of conventional design and research processes to promote innovation;
• real life testing of proposals in ethically sound scenarios.

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

Teaching methods include: lectures, seminars, tutorials, external visits, live briefings and feedback from partners, group critiques, workshops and opportunities for studio practice. Teaching and learning adopts a student-centered approach that identifies individual learning styles and accommodates them.

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.

Please check Course Handbook and WebLEarn for full text.

Course aims

Students on Furniture and Product Design will gain a range of skills from practical making skills to consideration of design and ideas which form the essential attributes of a professional designer maker. The course aims to provide students with an intensive creative 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 provide students with the skills and attributes relevant to current creative sector and commercial industries. It seeks to ensure that graduates are not only technically proficient but also have the capacity to think independently with the creative and cultural awareness to enable innovation and imagination through all aspects of commercial enterprise whether in employment or as self-employed creative activists.

The course fosters individual curiosity and a sense of enquiry, competence in research, analysis and presentation, independence of thought, self-reliance, confidence and openness to professional development. Furthermore, the School is committed to design practice that is actively engaged with the socially orientated and ethical dimensions of design through linking with local and wider communities in design activity.

The course aims to:

1. develop the student’s capacity to work within a professional and socially responsible framework (LO3, LO4,LO5,LO7, LO8, LO9,);
2. foster creative approaches to problem identification, design development and innovation in furniture and product, seeking to challenge accepted conventions of furniture and product design (LO1, LO3, LO5, LO8, LO9, LO10);
3. synthesise knowledge, skills and strategies that enable designers to improve quality of experience with the made world (LO1, LO5, LO8, LO11);
4. develop confident promotional, entrepreneurial and presentational skills across a wide range of media, encouraging multidisciplinary approaches and critical thought (LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6, LO7, LO12);
5. 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 (LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO8, LO11);
6. through the experience of materiality and making, enable professional ways of working (with knowledge, efficiency, confidence and autonomy) relevant to a student’s professional sphere and creative ambitions (LO1, LO3, LO5, LO6, LO8, LO11);
7. provide creative opportunities and equip students with the necessary skill-sets and knowledge that will ensure graduates are well informed, creative, technically able and work-ready (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6, LO7, LO8, LO9, LO10);
8. 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 (LO1, LO4, LO6, LO7, LO8, LO11, LO12);
9. 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 (LO3, LO4, LO6, LO9, LO11);
10. foster critical understanding of the professional practice of furniture design for the interior, fashion and cross disciplinary alternative markets (LO1,LO2,LO3, LO5, LO6, LO9, LO10);
11. produce and champion high quality contemporary furniture practitioners and develop visual curiosity, independent enquiry and capacity to reason (LO1, LO2, LO5, LO8, LO9, LO10, LO11, LO12);
12. 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 (LO4,LO5, LO6, LO7, LO8, LO12);
13. through the experience of materiality and making, enable diverse entry pathways into the furniture profession (with knowledge, efficiency, confidence and autonomy) LO2, LO4, LO6, LO9, LO11);
14. ensure an individual practice that is positioned in relation to economic, ethical, cultural, environmental, material and global needs (LO1, LO2, LO5, LO6, LO8, LO10, LO11).

Course learning outcomes

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

Knowledge and Understanding
1. recognise how furniture and products are situated within the broader histories and practices of material culture and the part that it plays in social and economic frameworks (CA2, CA3, CA5, CA6, CA7, CA8, CA10, CA11);
2. utilise a range of making and production technologies, material types and traditional and digital processes (CA7, CA10, CA11, CA13);
3. approach design questions, situations or problems through a systematic application of research, analysis and synthesis, using observation, recording, collaboration and creative thinking to develop design solutions that enhance human experience (CA1, CA2, CA4, CA5, CA6, CA7, CA9, CA10);

Cognitive Intellectual Skills
4. apply ‘reflection in practice’ in order to foster autonomy, independent thought and professional confidence in presentation (CA1, CA4, CA5, CA7, CA8, CA9, CA12, CA13);
5. generate relevant design propositions that challenge accepted paradigms and consumer expectations of contemporary furniture and product design (CA1, CA2, CA3, CA4, CA5, CA6, CA7, CA10, CA11, CA12);
6. recognise the symbiotic relationship of design and manufacture with design concept and theory and conduct informed making as an intellectual process and activity (CA4, CA6, CA8’ CA9, CA10, CA12, CA13);

Transferable Skills
7. present projects at various stages of development through visual, written and verbal presentations communicating knowledge and thought in practice (CA1, CA4, CA7, CA8, CA12, CA13);
8. recognise the effect of complex, multiple participant, and human factors upon creative thinking, project timescales and commercial constraints (CA1, CA2, CA3 CA5, CA6, CA7, CA8, CA11, CA12);
9. take responsibility for individual and group practice, developing professional interaction, collaboration, negotiation and communication within problem-solving (CA1, CA2, CA7, CA9, CA10, CA11, CA13);

Subject-Specific Practical Skills
10. make informed material choices and manipulate a range of traditional and contemporary processes, at scale and full size (CA2, CA7, CA10, CA11);
11. describe and practically implement data relating to ergonomics and anthropometrics and consider a full range of human and sensory factors with consideration of function and interaction upon human wellbeing (CA3, CA5, CA6, CA8, CA9, CA11, CA13);
12. analyse, communicate and represent structure, scale, form and material qualities through drawing, modelling, and visualisation skills (CA4, CA8, CA11, CA12).

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; Furniture and Product Design DN6011 LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6, LO7, LO8, LO9, LO10, LO11, LO12

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject Benchmark Statement; Art and Design (2017)

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy for the course has been designed holistically, to ensure manageable timing, workloading 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, with at least
70 hours working on live projects for real organisations delivered through placement,
live briefs and real entrepreneurial activities 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 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-based 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 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 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 CASS degrees shall be as follows:

Year 1: 3D Design Principles, Workshop Practice
Year 2: Critical and Contextual Studies 1(3D), 3D Visual Research and Communication
Year 3: 3D Design, Design Resolution
Year 4: Critical and Contextual Studies 2(3D), Materials, Technology and Markets
Year 5: 3D Project Design and Development, Major Project Realisation: Furniture and Product Design
Year 6: Critical and Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation(3D), World of Work

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; Furniture and Product Design DN6011

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

Successful completion of the course offers career opportunities within the furniture and product design profession and allied disciplines. The programme is also excellent preparation for postgraduate study and for mature students who wish to make a career change or return to work or study following a career break.

Graduates are prepared for business start-up in furniture and product design or making, and employment in established furniture and product design and manufacturing companies. Graduates gain transferable graduate skills and attributes and can use these to enter many fields of work, including the cultural industries and institutions, design journalism, retail or marketing, management or education. Graduates specialising in furniture and product design or making take part annually in exhibitions showcasing their project work and final pieces. These shows provide an important springboard for networking with representatives from the furniture and product industry and future employers.
Students can also benefit from support and guidance from the Careers and Employability services and the University’s business incubator unit, ‘Accelerator’.

Career opportunities

The degree prepares you to enter the design profession in areas including the creative industries, commercial and public sector bodies and self-employment. Our graduates attend major international furniture industry and trade events, and have gone on to work as furniture designers for companies including Kesslers International and McLaren Furniture. Former student Yinka Ilori has successfully set up his own design studio and now exhibits his work all over the world.

You could follow in the footsteps of our students who regularly win international competitions and participate in events such as the London Design Festival and Milan Furniture Fair. Such opportunities provide you with the connections to help launch your own career.

As well as opening up a wide range of occupations within furniture, product and architectural/interior design, you may also work as a buyer, furniture technologist, design journalist or educator in furniture and product design. The course will also prepare you for entry to courses at a master's level.

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 arts, humanities and social science subjects (or a minimum of 112 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification in relevant art and design subjects)
  • a portfolio review

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

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

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.

We also offer a two-year Furniture FdA course, providing successful students the option to either progress directly to Year 3 the Furniture BA or leave with a foundation degree.

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 2016/17 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 11 Jul 2016 Last validation date 11 Jul 2016  
JACS codes W260 (Furniture Design): 100%
Route code FUPRDE

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+SPR WED PM
DN6011 Major Project Realisation: Furniture and Produc... Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM
DN6013 3D Project Design & Development Core 30        
DN6035 World of Work Core 30