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 School of Art, Architecture and Design
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.
The course introduces the principles of contemporary furniture practice in design and making. 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 and workshop-based supported by tutorials and seminars, visiting lecturers, and industry professionals. Excellent, industry-specification facilities include machine and bench workshops, finishing area, digital manufacturing, laser technology and prototyping technology for research, testing and exploration.

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:

• experimentation and learning through direct experience in studio-based working;
• a culture of independent thought, encouraging individual choice and the production of critically informed design practice;
• projects that make use of diverse sites and origins for cultural exchange and exploration;
• disciplinary engagement across the School, providing opportunities for collaborative project work during study;
• 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).
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 School.
During the course, students will learn to design and make furniture through intensive practice-led projects. Our philosophy embraces professional industry demands. This pro-cess of research, development, realisation and testing encourages students to identify and critically appraise the feasibility of project demands throughout their study.

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 con-tribute 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 national, international and London-based live projects and competitions, engaging students in the work related learning experience that stretches imagination and increases employability. Students work through assignments and pro-jects building skills alongside investigating and resolving problems with creative solutions.

Course aims

Students in FdA Furniture will be able to learn a broad 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 a broad-based 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:

1. deliver a high quality education in the study and construction of furniture in preparation for careers in the furniture industry and related professions (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO6, LO8, LO10);

2. provide creative opportunities and equipping students with the necessary skill-sets and knowledge that will ensure graduates are well informed, creative, technically able and work-ready (LO2, LO4, LO5, LO7, LO9, LO10, LO11, LO12);

3. 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);

4. 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 (LO4, LO6, LO9, LO11);

5. 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, LO8, LO12);

6. produce and champion high quality contemporary and traditional furniture practitioners and develop visual curiosity, independent enquiry and capacity to reason (LO1, LO2, LO5, LO8, LO9, LO11, LO12);

7. foster critical understanding of the professional practice of furniture design for the traditional and alternative markets (LO1,LO2,LO3, LO6, LO9, LO10);

8. 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);

9. develop individual creative approaches to the cultural, technological and eco nomic factors surrounding practice (LO1, LO3, LO5. LO6, LO9, LO11);

10. ensure an individual practice that is positioned in relation to economic, ethical, cultural, environmental, material and global needs (LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6, LO11);

11. 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).

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 industry regulation (CA1, CA3, CA6, CA7, CA9, CA12);
2. describe and critique the role of craftsmanship, material and technology in historical and contemporary furniture production (CA1, CA2, CA6, CA7, CA8, CA10);
3. utilise subject specific knowledge in specifying materials and products and respond to the current needs of design, craft and production industries (CA1, CA7, CA9, CA10);

Cognitive Intellectual Abilities
4. synthesise critical thinking and problem solving in order to identify, devise and test practical solutions to creative problems (CA2, CA3, CA4, CA5, CA8, CA12);
5. plan and undertake practical and theoretical research, analysis and presentation using relevant methods and sources (CA2, CA5, CA6, CA9, CA10);
6. demonstrate an understanding of the content and signature of individual creative practice within professional and commercial contexts, demonstrating ethical sensitivity and an innovative personal approach as a professional practitioner (CA1, CA3, CA4, CA5, CA7, CA8, CA9, CA10);

Transferable Skills
7. 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 (CA2, CA3, CA8, CA10);
8. work independently to record and communicate project needs to clients and other relevant professional bodies (CA1, CA3, CA5, CA6, CA12);
9. competently apply individual critical, practical and creative strengths to self-promotion in order to articulate design intent visually, textually and orally to a professional standard (CA2, CA4, CA6, CA7, CA8, CA9);

Subject-Specific Practical Skills
10. employ the necessary skills to select appropriate materials and processes suitable for the realisation of design intent, taking into account specific aesthetic and material characteristics (CA1, CA2, CA6, CA7, CA12);
11. apply knowledge of the professional environment, design skills or commercial and manufacturing contexts to effective career planning (CA2, CA3, CA4, CA8, CA9, CA10);
12. employ practical skills and processes appropriate to professional practice in the furniture industries (CA2, CA3, CA5, CA6, CA12).

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Module Title 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,
Project Realisation: Furniture DN5F07 LO1, LO2 ,LO4, LO5, LO6, LO7, LO10, LO11

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 module in year two 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 de-livery of the course means that opportunities for work related learning through collaboration with external companies, agencies, institutions, competitions and professionals can be takin 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 and level 4 to 5, 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 5: In order to achieve a Foundation Degree degree award on this course, students must have completed and passed each Level 5 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 240-credit foundation degree will be 4 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:
DN5F07 Project Realisation: Furniture
DN5011 3D Design

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

Modules required for interim awards

All modules on the course are core and compulsory (there is no flexibility in choice or in the order in which modules may be taken). The part time route is prescribed (section 25).

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
Project Realisation: Furniture DN5F07

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.

Other external links providing expertise and experience

Foundation Degree Characteristic Statement 2015

Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

Employability skills are integrated throughout the course. 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’.

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:

  • 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  
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        
DN4006 3D Design Principles Core 30        
DN4007 3D Visual Research and Communication Core 30        

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
DN5011 3D Design Core 30        
DN5021 Materials, Technology and Markets Core 30        
DN5F07 Project Realisation: Furniture Core 30