BDes (Hons) Graphic Design

Undergraduate, Full-time

Graphic Design BDes (Hons)

Join award-winning students and get practical work experience to shape the world around you on an industry-recognised graphic design course


The BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree has grown in ambition year on year, developing a highly regarded and carefully considered programme which meets current industry demands and nurtures thoughtful graduates who understand the value of ideas, ethics, concept development and design thinking.

This course provides the opportunity to study at a partner University overseas, or take a work placement in industry during your third year. 

The programme is also a D&AD Education Network member, and has won 'best in show' at the D&AD Graduate Showcase ‘New Blood’ in London for several years, as well as over 30 other individual student awards since 2011.

This four-year degree is supported by industry in Scotland and London, providing placements and projects for students. StudioLR, an award-winning Edinburgh studio has a strong relationship with the programme, providing input to projects and awarding a Graduate Prize every year.

Students in a design class

Mode of Study:



4 years

Start date:


UCAS code:


Study Abroad:


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Course details

This course emphasises the importance of ideas and originality of content as key elements and the fundamental cornerstone of the graphic design process. It encourages creativity, integrity, social and ethical responsibility and a sense of challenge in the work undertaken.

Sharing its first year with the Product Design and Interior & Spatial Design courses, this course will expose you to design in its broadest sense, including media, motion and spatial applications, and you'll study and create work that transcends the 2D format.

You'll gain the skills you need to successfully operate as a professional graphic designer. You'll work on conceptual thinking, design sketching techniques, illustration and the use of digital media. In addition, you'll learn verbal and visual communication techniques, effective client liaison, team working skills and business and marketing principles.

You'll attend master-classes given by notable international industry practitioners, and work on live briefs from studios and external clients from around the world, which will provide the opportunity not only to engage with current graphic design practice but also to build a network of contacts. The University Employer Mentoring Programme also offers the valuable opportunity to link you with an industry mentor.

This is a full-time course studied over four years and is accredited by Creative Skillset. You'll learn by a variety of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions and independent study.

  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    Core knowledge and contextual understanding (A1 to A6) is acquired through lectures, studio practical activities, seminars, tutorials, group work, fieldwork and guided independent learning.

  • note and pen Assessments

    Your knowledge and understanding of graphic design will be assessed using a combination of presentations of graphic design solutions, portfolios of creative work, exhibitions, essays and self-reflective reports, regular individual and group presentations of projects to tutors, peers and, where appropriate, external bodies. Assessment methods are dependent on the module deliverables, whether studio-based or theoretical/contextual and can be through presentations, a portfolio of creative work, or a written submission.

  • briefcase Work placement

    In the second trimester of your third year you will have the opportunity to study at a partner University overseas, or take a work placement in industry. Edinburgh-based StudioLR sponsors a best in show prize at our annual Degree Show, with the winner getting the chance to go and work with the agency for a month. We also have strong links with local agencies who offer mentoring and placements throughout the year, including Design Bridge in London, which has employed six of our graduates.

  • study abroad Study abroad

    The programme has a wide international footprint. In the second trimester of your third year you will have the opportunity to study at a partner university overseas, or take a work placement in industry. The programme currently has international partners in France, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Denmark and Finland.

    Students on the programme have also carried out international work placements and acted as research assistants on charity projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. The programme also collaborates with a Scottish charity, providing graphic design expertise for small business in the developing world.

Popular modules

Year 1

  • Foundation Digital Media 1
  • Foundation Digital Media 2
  • Foundation Graphic Design 1
  • Foundation Graphic Design 2
  • Visual Research Methods
  • Debating Design 1

Year 2

  • Design for Screen Based Communication
  • Graphic Design Studio 1
  • Debating Design 2
  • Graphic Design Studio 2
  • Illustration Text & Image
  • Design & Business

Year 3

  • Art Direction 1;
  • Art Direction 2
  • Graphic Design Studio 3
  • Graphic Design Studio 4
  • Design Research Methods

Year 4

  • Design Major Project
  • Minor Project 
  • Design Research Portfolio
  • Professional Practice Media Production

Also in year 4:

  • Enter work into competitions
  • Optional supervised work placement or overseas study module


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

As part of the selection process suitably qualified applicants will normally be required to submit a portfolio/attend an interview. This applies to all years of entry.

Our entry requirements indicate both Standard and Minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

Minimum year 1

SQA Higher

Standard Entry Requirement

BBBB including one of: Art, Product Design, Graphic Communication.

Minimum Offer Entry Requirement

BBCC including one of: Art, Product Design, Graphic Communication. Please note that each of these required subjects must be at Grade B or above.

You may be given an adjusted offer of entry if you meet our specified minimum entry requirements within our widening participation criteria, and outlined in our Contextual Admissions Policy. Click here for further information about our entry requirements and admissions policies.

A Level

BCC including one of: Art, Product Design or Graphic Communication.

Irish Leaving Certificate

Pre-2017 Grading System:

B1, B1, B3, B3 at HL including one of: Art, Product Design, Graphic Communication.

New Grading System:

H2, H2, H3, H3 at HL including one of: Art, Product Design, Graphic Communication.

BTEC (QCF) Extended Diploma Level 3

Minimum grades DMM (Distinction, Merit, Merit) in a related subject.

BTEC (QCF) Diploma

Minimum grades D*D* (Distinction*, Distinction*) in a related subject.

International Baccalaureate Diploma

Award of Diploma with 28 points overall with three subjects at HL with grades 6, 5 and 4. These subjects must include one of: Art, Product Design or Graphic Communication at grade 5. 

Minimum year 2

Please note there are limited places available for Year 2 entry. 

SQA Advanced Higher

BBC to include one of: Art, Product Design, Graphic Communication.

A Level

BBB to include one of: Art, Product Design, Graphic Communication.


Pass HNC in a relevant subject with Grade B in the graded unit.

Minimum year 3

Please note there are limited places available for Year 3 entry. 


Pass HND in a relevant subject with Grade B at SCQF Level 8 in all graded units.

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English. Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2020/21 2021/22
Scotland/EU £1,820 £1,820
England Wales and Northern Ireland (RUK) £9,250 £9,250
Overseas £15,522 tba
Students from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland starting in 2020/21 will be invoiced the 2020/21 fee for 3 years of their 4 years of study.

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

If additional compulsory costs other than the tuition fees are applicable, these will be detailed in the course details.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships


Blurred figure seen in front of students' designs at the Creative Degree Show

As our society becomes more and more visually-oriented, the need for excellent graphic designers increases. There is wide scope for employment including:

  • Packaging design
  • Branding
  • Advertising
  • Design management
  • Exhibition design
  • Web design
  • Editorial design
  • Merchandising

With further study, a career in design teaching could also be possible.

Winning Baby Box design with Graphic Design student Leanne Young