In the UK, a degree is not mandatory to work in the graphic design industry. However formal qualifications from courses help lower the obstacles of self-learning and allow for faster progress in the area.

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Academic Routes

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Academic Routes

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Further Education

Higher Education

What do I need? A Portfolio

Graphic Design university courses require you to possess a portfolio of work submitted alongside your application.

A portfolio is a collection of drawings, documents, etc. that represent a person’s, especially an artist’s, work. – Cambridge Dictionary

Internships and voluntary work in graphic design companies can give you the chance to develop a portfolio. Otherwise if you have already started creating projects you are one step ahead.

Various universities offer short courses to allow you to create portfolios to permit entry to various universities. Example: Nottingham Trent University .

You must be able to show creativity, style and dedication in your portfolio.

Further Education

Further Education is considered Level 3 education in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The most common further education route is A-Levels but it’s not the only option. There are coursework based courses like BTEC. To pursue a Bachelors degree you must complete this stage first.

A-Levels

A-Levels are exam based courses. You can take from 3 A-Level subjects as most university courses require at least 3. For Graphic Design it is worth doing an A-Level in Art and Design. The other A-Levels you choose are fair game. What is most important is your passion for the subject and your portfolio.

What qualifications do I need? A-level courses will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3) . Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

Click here to find courses.

BTEC Diploma

The process of obtaining this qualification is more practical in comparison to the more theory based academic A-Level.

These qualifications are available at different levels and depending on this, the diploma can be equivalent to up to three (3) A-Levels. BTECs can be taken alongside other qualifications (such as an A-Level) and can permit entry to university.

BTEC diplomas in Art & Design, Graphic Design and Illustration, Architecture etc. are among good options for subjects related to Graphic Design.

What qualifications do I need? It depends on the BTEC diploma you’re pursuing. Level 3 BTEC diplomas will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

Click here to find courses.

But what if I’m over 18 and I have no Level 3 qualifications? We got you below.

Access to Higher Education

Access to Higher Education aka Access to HE, is tailored for students aged 19+ who intend to apply for an undergraduate course. These courses take only one year, performing as a fast track to higher education.

Access to Higher Education courses in Art & Design, Creative and Digital Media, 3D Modelling etc. are among good options for subjects related to Graphic Design.

What qualifications do I need? Access to HE diplomas will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ.

Click here to find courses.

Higher Education

All applications to undergraduate courses are done via UCAS. Graphic design undergraduate courses can done in foundation degrees, HND or Bachelors level. Searching Graphic Design courses on UCAS throws a wealthy bunch of universities for you to choose from.

With the copious choices given, it may make it difficult to decipher which is best for you.

To start narrowing it down, we suggest you first look at the entry requirements to the course and assess your existing or prospective exam/coursework results.

Next, have a look at the modules done by the university and assess if those are relevant to your career if you’ve already chosen. Also view the teaching quality at the university.

Finally, use comparative websites like Discover Uni or the Complete University Guide to compare course satisfaction and other statistics to make informed decisions.

What qualifications do I need? It varies per university but largely universities require at least 112 tariff points. Check the entry requirements per course on UCAS. Some courses have foundation entry options which allows you to gain the qualification and continue the course with lower entry requirements.

Foundation courses can also be taken if your results/points accumulated in a Level 3 qualification were not high enough to allow entry to a standard three-year Bachelors course.


Technical Routes

If you’re not interested in going the academic route to Graphic Design there are various options to choose from.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships can be searched for on UCAS or the National Apprentices Service . One can find apprenticeships schemes in the UK under titles like Junior Graphic Designers or Graphics Assistant Apprentice.

Places are limited in various areas and you will need to prove your potential with extra things such as an up to date portfolio. Positive attitudes and excellent communication skills are a plus. This helps communication between clients to ensure an accurate product.

What qualifications do I need? Apprenticeships will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the apprenticeship as the requirements may differ.

Internships

Like apprenticeships, internships can be found on UCAS. Otherwise google searched for internships are worth your while.

Places are limited in various areas and you will need to prove your potential with extra things such as an up to date portfolio. Positive attitudes and excellent communication skills are a plus. This helps communication between clients to ensure an accurate product.

What qualifications do I need? Internships will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the internship as the requirements may differ.

Posted by:Nandina Hislop

Editor-in-Chief | Instagram: @nandinahislop

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