Our top 17 graphic design courses in the UK - 99designs (2023)

In celebration of our incredibly talented Design Community we thought we’d tip our hats to the paths they’ve paved, from their early years as a student into a fully-fledged professional designer. In the UK, and globally, there are tonnes of great courses you can take to qualify or up-skill so we thought we’d pick a selection of our favourites to inspire and welcome anyone into the wonderful world of visual communications. It’s a fun, challenging and rewarding place to be.

Here’s a hand-picked selection of some of the highest ranking undergraduate courses at Colleges and Universities acrossthe UK. In no particular order, we present…

Our top 17 graphic design courses in the UK - 99designs (1)

1. Brighton University – Graphic Design BA

This 3 year course (with the option of a 4th year) supports students in the key tenets of graphic design, including typography, narrative and language as well as providing a real focus on how to understand markets and solve business problems. key traits for successful designers! As well as having access to one of the UK’s best stocked art & design libraries, students at Brighton University have studio access. Best of all, you can showcase your work at several shows including a Graduate Show which is normally attended by 12,000 people.

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2. Kingston University – Graphic Design BA

The Graphic Design BA at Kingston University offers you an excellent chance of employment. A high proportion of students are either in work or further study 6 months after graduating and the vast majority of students agree that the staff made their respective subject interesting. You can use the university’s studio spaces to explore different ways of visual communication and students are encouraged to experiment.

3. Lincoln University – Graphic Design BA

This course at the Lincoln University School of Architecture & Design and it focuses on improving the practical skills of students. You will be given the chance to engage with live project briefs which are set by external clients and there are also national and international briefs. In your final year you have the chance to create your own website in conjunction with your final year show.

4. Middlesex University London – Graphic Design BA

This course is designed not only to educate would-be graphic designers; it also looks to inspire them. Students at Middlesex University London benefit from access to outstanding facilities including workshops with technical support, traditional darkrooms and a huge art & design library. At the end of the course, students can exhibit their work at an Art and Design Degree Show which is attended by prominent figures in the creative industry.

5. Shillington College – Graphic Design

Shillington College offers an intensive graphic design course that can be completed in 3 months (full-time study) or 9 months (part-time study). Instead of spending your time in a lecture hall, you will benefit from hands-on demos and dynamic presentations. Each class has two teachers so there is plenty ofsupport during your sessions.

6. De Montfort University, Leicester – Graphic Design BA

This is a 3 year course which comes with the option of an added placement year. Approximately 93% of Graphic Design graduates at De Montfort University are in work or further study just 6 months after receiving their degree. The course includes project briefs designed by real clients from the design industry so you’ll receive a level of practical experience that is unmatched by other courses. You can enhance your skills with a placement at a large corporation; recent placements have been taken at organisations such as PepsiCo UK and GlaxoSmithKline.

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7. Salford University – Graphic Design BA

Salford University is just 2km from Manchester and students herehave enjoyed recent success in national competitions such as the Roses Student Awards and D&AD Student Awards. The university also has strong links with numerous companies in the creative industry so you have an excellent chance of placement with a big hitter in the industry. There is also the option to study overseas.

Graphic Design students at Salford are now based in the New Adelphi Arts Centre – the University’s new £55m purpose built creative hub, which as well as including specialist workshops containing everything from 3D printers to lithotables, also includes a 350 seat theatre, TV studios with HD cameras and recording studios featuring equipment not found anywhere else in the UK. The Graphic Design programme at Salford is a broad one that allows students to explore and define their own path through this multifaceted discipline, and which challenges them to develop and apply their skills to complex projects. Many of the projects on the course have a social focus and we ask student to explore the impact of their practice on the wider world. The University of Salford has a strong focus on industry collaboration, and our well established Graphic Design programme is supported by network of alumni and industry partners who provide input into the curriculum. This ranges from setting projects and offering advice to providing placements, freelance work and even employment to our students and graduates. As well as our nationally recognised full time academics, the programme is supported by a team of visiting lecturers currently working in the North West creative industries. This includes designers and illustrators from leading design studios such as Textbook Studio, DR ME and Wonder Room who regularly input into workshops, seminars and tutorials. Our students are further supported by a team of expertly skilled technical demonstrators in areas such as print, photography and 3D from practitioners such as www.johnpowell-jones.co.uk.

8. Northumbria University, Newcastle – Graphic Design BA

Northumbria University was ranked in the Top 20 of the 2016/17 Complete University Guide for Art & Design. Students receive practical hands-on experience and they benefit from working in a graphic design studio environment. The course focuses on providing you with real-world skills to increase your chances of employment but arguably the best element of this course is the chance to show your work at an exhibition in Newcastle and London.

9. Manchester School of Art – Graphic Design BA

If you take on the Graphic Design BA at the Manchester School of Artyou will have the chance to work in a studio based environment where you’ll be able to explore different forms of visual communication. You will apply the skills gained on the course in a number of industry related projects and there are work placement opportunities all over the UK. Students have benefited from placements at companies such as Love Creative, Elle magazine, Men’s Health magazine and many more.

10. Goldsmiths University of London – Graphic Design BA

This 3 year Graphic Design BA course at Goldsmiths University of London includes a professional placement during second year. It is the #1 design degree in the UK (for the second year in a row) and graduates have gone on to workfor top design consultancies such as Pentagram orfamous brandsincluding Selfridges and Dyson. As well as having access to studio space and workshops, you’ll get to use cutting edge design technology such as 3D modelling and laser cutting.

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11.University of Edinburgh – Graphic Design BA

This is one of the few Graphic Design courses that is 4 years in length and it takes place at the University of Edinburgh School of Design. As well as exploring the principles, theories and working practices of graphic design, you will benefit from a professional practice year (third year) where you can apply for an internship or live projects within the industry along with other options. Graduates can pursue a career in a wide range of fields such as packaging, experiential design, retail, marketing and much more.

12. Loughborough University – Graphic Communication & Illustration

Students who take on this course at Loughborough University will have the chance to become excellent visual thinkers who stand out in the creative industries. As it combines Graphic Communication & Illustration in one course, you benefit from tremendous flexibility. It is possible to ‘tailor’ this course to your specific interests whether you want to follow a career in app development, visual branding or even computer game design. There is an international study visit option and the chance to show your work at exhibitions.

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13. University of Reading – BA Graphic Communication

This is another unique degree option and serves as ideal preparation for students interested in a design career. During this course at the University of Reading, you will be taught by experienced designers with a wide range of projects to choose from. Most importantly, students will learn how to solve problems in the design of books, newspapers, magazines, mobile apps, websites and more. You also have the chance to work on professional assignments involves real clients and you will be expected to manage resources and budgets. Overall, this is an outstanding course in terms of preparing students for life in the creative industries.

14. Belfast School of Art–BDes Graphic Design & Illustration

Belfast Schoolof Artoffers this comprehensive 3 year BA course as part of the University of Ulster. Placing creative thinking and analysis at the centre of their approach, the coursefocuses students on developing awareness across all elements of Graphic Design & Illustration, includingbranding, typography, motion graphics, photography and packaging. In their final year, you’ll be encouraged to compete in major competitions such as Design and Art Direction (D&AD) and there’s also the opportunity to for a one year placement in industry or to study aboard.

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15. Leeds Collegeof Art– Graphic Design BA

As it is a place dedicated to the Arts, students at the Leeds College of Art will be surrounded by like-minded people so it is a great place to make friends and network. The Graphic Design degree is mainly studio-based and involves professionals visiting the college and delivering the lectures, workshops and seminars. This course has been awarded the Creative Skillset Tick which means it is one of the best graphic design courses when it comes to preparing students for a career in the creative industries.

16. Falmouth – Graphic Design BA

Students at Falmouth work in a studio environment and also have the chance to take field trips to major studios. Leading designers visit the college to provide live briefs and workshops and there are placement opportunities all over the UK. The college Design Lab includes traditional and digital production equipment and you even get to showcase your work at D&AD and the Royal Society of Arts.

17. Nottingham Trent University – Graphic Design BA

Students at Nottingham Trent University have the opportunity to study various disciplines including advertising, branding, animation, illustration and much more. The course is accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) and over 90% of graduates are either in work or further study 6 months after receiving their degree. You can apply to study overseas through the Erasmus programme and work on live briefs with major companies such as Paul Smith, Hallmark and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Life is far too short to spend it doing something you don’t really enjoy. For those in pursuit of a career that fulfils their creative talents, there’s a wide array of courses that can support you to achieve your goals. Our designers achieved it, and we truly believe that design can do anything. There are a wealth of design courses all over the UK and taking the next steps in enrolling in one of these could be the best decision you take for your future. We’re excited for you.


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