Communication Design Degree BA (Hons)

BA (Hons) Communication Design - Graphics / Illustration / Photography

1. Overview

This course encourages an extensive understanding of Communication Design leading towards a focused study in your chosen specialism.

Students are supported to develop the creative, critical and technical skills necessary to pursue a career within today’s ever revolving communication design professions, across a wide range of industry sectors.

The curriculum is focused on developing ideas and problem-solving skills via a process of self-directed study, research, experimentation, creativity, innovation and enterprise.

2. What you will study

Year 1

This enables students to develop competency in the fundamental elements of the creative process including research, ideas generation and development, resolution and reflection. Students develop a broad range of core skills and knowledge that enable informed choices and decisions to be made as the curriculum progresses.

Projects are directed by staff, and students work within prescribed parameters. Design briefs are delivered through a combination of studio and workshop activity. Students are introduced to new ideas, concepts and working approaches through seminars, critiques, discussion forums and tutorials.

Year 2

The curriculum provides students with the ability to understand and apply knowledge of key theoretical principles through the provision of integrated projects; these include a broad range of practical and technical skills associated with the communication disciplines.

Projects are predominantly directed by staff, and design briefs are delivered through a combination of studio and contextual and critical study activity that enable focus on outputs that connect with personal interests. Subjects include: design principles, processes and methods; drawing and visualisation; graphics, illustration and photography; typography and print; editorial, book and advertising design; branding; packaging; 3D visualisation; information and motion graphics; video; moving image and web design.

Year 3

This year challenges students to consider their own creative direction and personal voice within studio. Students further develop their insight into their professional context, considering external opportunities and potential career pathways. Students explore the requirements of new business start-up and explore the skills to pursue a career as an independent practitioner.

Students undertake increasing levels of self-directed study and studio project work enabling a greater focus on developing specialist interests in preparation for Year 4. Opportunities to participate in a range of external collaborative projects and placement activities develop students’ professional aptitudes.

Year 4

This year provides the opportunity to undertake a sustained period of independent self-directed study at the threshold of professional practice. Students develop their own design brief in response to personal interests, researching subjects, themes and design questions that will underpin their study and final design outcomes.

Students will apply their critical design skills to a range of projects while collaborative design briefs and competitions will provide an opportunity to promote work externally at a national and international level.

Honours year is largely characterised by externally facing and socially engaged practice and the further development of individual specialism in line with career aspirations.

Guests @ Gray's 

Guests @ Grays invite national and international artists and designers to the School to speak about their work. They have had a phenomenal list of speakers that have visited the school in the last few years.

Critical and Contextual Studies (CSS)

Studio practice is supported at all stages by a contextual and critical studies programme. This allows students to engage with history, theory and contemporary practice within each studio specialism. The CCS programme is delivered through blended learning, including lectures, seminars and group tutorials. Students engage with research, analytical critical thinking and are offered various models of communication for assessment, from essays to multimedia digital submissions. In Year 4 students propose their own topic that leads to the submission of a professionally presented body of research.

The University regularly reviews its courses. Course content and structure may change over time. See our Course Disclaimer for more information.

3. How you will learn

Through the investigation of traditional techniques and the latest digital technologies, the syllabus explores the application of graphics, illustration and photography by way of studio based multi-disciplinary practice, whilst competition briefs and industry-led projects place an emphasis on the professional and commercial setting.

Open plan studios enable students across specialisms to work alongside each other creating a vibrant learning environment through shared learning experiences. Studio activities are supported and enriched by a programme of critical theory-based study exploring design culture and context through a series of lectures and seminars with further opportunities to participate in international study trips and industry-based placements with leading companies and designers.

The course has excellent links with industry, ensuring students gain relevant experience and develop the necessary skills required of today’s communication designers. Subjects include: design principles, processes and methods; graphics, illustration and photography; typography, print, editorial, book and advertising design; branding, packaging, 3D visualisation, information and motion graphics; video, moving image and web design.

In third year, you can make an informed decision as to which area you wish to specialise in, in preparation for your fourth-year Honours project and the Degree Show. Your chosen specialisation will be reflected in your final award title, allowing you to graduate with a

  • BA (Hons) Communication Design or
  • BA (Hons) Communication Design, Graphics or
  • BA (Hons) Communication Design, Illustration or
  • BA (Hons) Communication Design, Photography

Those working across specialisms may graduate with the final award title of BA (Hons) Communication Design.

4. Entry requirements

Year 1 Entry

SQA Higher: BBC to include English (or a subject requiring the use of English) and Art/Design.

GCE A Level: BC to include English (or a subject requiring the use of English) and Art/Design.

Irish Leaving Certificate Higher: B2B2C1 to include English (or a subject requiring the use of English) and Art.

IB Diploma: 24 to include Visual Arts and English at Higher Level (or a subject requiring the use of English).

Degree Link Programme: A relevant HNC from one of our partner FE colleges may be considered for year 2 entry.

Year 2 Entry

Suitable qualifications for entry to Year 2 or above may include a relevant HND or Diploma in Foundation Studies (Art & Design, Art, Design & Media).

All advanced entry applicants will be asked to submit a mini portfolio. Applicants who successfully pass this stage of the selection process will be invited to attend an interview.

Interview/Portfolio Review

Suitable applicants will be invited to attend the School with their portfolio for an informal review/discussion with academic staff. This allows you to meet staff, see the teaching environment and allows the School to explore our ambitions whilst reviewing your work. We will discuss your folio work and specific interests within art and design, as well as your aspirations. It will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions.

* All entry requirements listed here should be used as a guide and represent the minimum required to be considered for entry. Applicants who are made a conditional offer of a place may be asked to achieve more than is stated.

Non Standard Entry

Those who may not hold the standard qualifications, are encouraged to apply if they can evidence other appropriate life and work experiences. Such candidates are advised to contact the University during Open Days or the Visit Afternoons for further advice and guidance. A folio of work is still a requirement for this type of candidate.

English language requirementsfor those whose first language is not English.

5. Placements and accreditations

Students have the opportunity to participate in a diverse range of external activities throughout the duration of the course. This includes international field study trips, national competitions and live collaborative projects with a wide variety of external partners.

We offer the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus European Exchange Programme and industry-based placements with leading companies and designers. There are also a number of university clubs and societies and local creative collectives including Offset 57 (student business initiative) that offer a range of extra-curricular activities.

6. Student Funding

If you are a Scottish resident or EU national you are not liable to pay fees and should apply to SAAS for funding.

Students from other parts of the UK should visit the appropriate website:

7. Course Fees

For Academic Year 2016/2017

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1,820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £11,500 per academic year

For Academic Year 2015/2016

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £12,000 per academic year

For Academic Year 2014/2015

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £11,500 per academic year

For Academic Year 2013/2014

Scottish/EU Students

  • £1820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students

  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £10,000 per academic year

For Academic Year 2012/2013

Scottish/EU Students


  • £1,820 per academic year

Rest of UK Students


  • £6,750 per academic year

International Students

  • £9367 per academic year

For Academic Year 2011/2012

UK/EU Students

  • £1820 per academic year

International Students

  • £9300 per academic year


All course fees are reviewed annually and subject to change. Published fees apply to the course's mode of delivery. You will also be liable to pay a graduation fee of £40 before receiving a University award.

For further information see Student Finance pages


8. How to apply

You must apply online at UCAS - 

Once you register and create your username and password, you are guided through the process of applying. After submission, log in to your UCAS Track account and you can see the progress of your application, and view and respond to your offers.

9. Prospects

Recent graduates are currently employed in a variety of roles by leading companies across a wide range of commercial sectors including publishing, graphic and web design, broadcasting and advertising.

Several have established their own design consultancies while others are working as freelance designers, illustrators and photographers for major design consultancies and media organisations such as the BBC and Channel 4. A number have extended their academic understanding through further study at the Royal College of Art and other postgraduate institutions.

Visit the website created by students on this course.

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BA (Hons)



Start date


Course length

4 Years

Mode of Attendance


Academic school
Gray's School of Art
More information:
Undergraduate Admissions (01224) 262728

Grayscale - Students' website

Check out the website created by students on this course.

Robert Gordon University, Garthdee House, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen, AB10 7QB, Scotland, UK: a Scottish charity, registration No. SC013781