University subject profile: graphic design – The Guardian

What you’ll learn
A graphic design degree can help you make the leap from budding maker to creative professional, capable of producing inspiring work and surviving in a competitive job sector.

From motion graphics to typography, image-making to branding, courses often require you to develop a wide range of skills. You’ll also study the theory behind different areas of graphic design and be taught about the industry, how to find work, and how to build a professional portfolio.

Some courses facilitate visits to international cities to experience contemporary design around the world and find new inspiration.

How you’ll learn

Expect to spend plenty of time in the studio. When you’re not busy producing art, you’ll be in lectures considering the thinking behind different movements. You’ll be set essay-writing alongside practical work and will develop strong research skills. Students are assessed mostly through coursework, though sometimes through practical exams.

Courses are often taught by experienced designers who can offer up-to-date guidance on applying for work, surviving as a freelancer and dealing with financial issues, such as costing and fees.

Forging a career in this area is tough, which is why universities are dedicating more and more resources to helping young artists develop entrepreneurial and business skills while studying. You’ll probably receive guidance on developing an online presence where you can showcase your professional portfolio and find new job opportunities.

Universities are also boosting students’ employability by encouraging undergrads to take industry placements, produce live briefs for external clients, and carry out team projects as part of their course. Such experiences can show employers that you have the interpersonal skills and resourcefulness to succeed in a work environment.

Entry requirements
These vary, but admissions tutors will look to see if you have studied art or a design-related subject at A-level (or equivalent). A foundation diploma in art and design may also help your application.

What job can you get?
There’s no fixed career route. While many find full-time employment, others might set up their own business or freelance for a number of clients. Typical employers range from big companies such as John Lewis or Nike, working in their design studios, to organisations such as the National Trust. Work can also be found via social enterprises for local community arts projects.


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