On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.
Design Projects and Prototypes 1: This covers a series of design projects for which you'll use your expertise from the other units of the programme. You'll design and make products that are attractive to the targeted market, backed with good scientific and design principles.
Materials and Processing: Learn about important properties of metals, plastics, ceramics and composites and why and how they're picked for product design. Energy and other environmental issues of materials and their processing are also covered.
Design Media: Present two and three dimension drawings, renderings and designs using manual and computer visualisation techniques. You'll learn how to professionally present your design media in an industrial situation.
Technological Principles: How basic scientific principles can help generate ideas and prove solutions. You'll learn about a range of mathematical, algebraic, physical and technological principles for developing solutions to design problems.
User-Centred Design: The psychology and physiology of your design users. By considering user capabilities and limitations, and likes and dislikes, you can make your designs more usable and pleasurable.
The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during the first year of this course. You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. Your independent learning could include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments.
- Learning and teaching: 353 hours
- Independent learning: 847 hours
- Non-credit bearing learning and teaching: 28.5 hours
Design Projects & Prototypes 2: You'll be encouraged to create more complex and innovative design solutions for functioning prototypes. Your projects will cover needs like functionality, human interaction, branding and design for manufacture.
Manufacturing & Production: You'll learn about modern manufacturing processes for competitive product development.
Product Design Tools: Learn about applied 3-D modelling techniques to support your design visualisation, realisation and presentation. You'll learn to support your design process by using computer, physical modelling and presentation skills, and colour, texture and light using computer and manual techniques.
Management & Commercialisation for Technical Projects: An introduction to business and management. You'll learn to identify and use a company's strengths and evaluate opportunities for competitive products. There will be a focus on consumer marketing, decision making, intellectual property rights, product liability and financial and management accounting.
Applied Technology: The physical laws that govern product design and manufacture. You'll learn about a range of physical and technological principles for the design of components, structures, machines and products.
The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during the second year of this course. You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. Your independent learning could include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments.
- Learning and teaching: 291 hours
- Independent learning: 909 hours
- Non-credit bearing learning and teaching: 28 hours
Year 3 (Placement)
You will complete a minimum 30-week industrial work placement which can be carried out anywhere in the world. You'll get an opportunity to include a period of academic study during this time. The placement year offers a chance to gain experience and make contacts for the future.
You'll choose a BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons) option during your placement year. The BSc option has more focus on the technological areas of design, while the BA option has more focus on the humanistic and contextual issues of product design.
Design Projects 3: The most important part of the BA and BSc option, you'll design an individual project. You'll creatively solve product design issues and present a project report, and use scientific, analytical and technological principles to make functional design solutions.
Design Prototypes 3: This unit is linked to the Design projects 3 unit. You'll make functioning prototype that's an accurate representation of your individual design project.
Business Development: Covering the importance of strategic management in the business development process. You'll raise your entrepreneurial spirit and business decision-making. This will enhance your capacity to recognise and capitalise on competitive and innovative opportunities in a changing business environment.
- Humanistic Design Studies: Design aesthetics and how to use these and other human considerations in your designs. You'll use a user-centred design methodology throughout your design lifecycle.
The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during the final year of this course. You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. Your independent learning could include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments.
- Learning and teaching: 672.5 hours
- Independent learning: 527.5 hours
- Non-credit bearing learning and teaching: 60 hours
How you will be assessed
You will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, and you will also undertake group work and written exams. The assessment methods for each unit can be found on the programme profile in the programme specification for your course. As an indication, 83% of the most popular units on this course in 2016/17 were assessed by coursework.
Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.
Download the programme specification for BA (Hons) Product Design.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.
The placement provides an excellent opportunity for you to gain first-hand industry experience. Find out more about how we support you during your placement.
How long is my placement?
You will begin your placement after completion of your second year of study and you must complete a minimum of 30 weeks although most students decide to work a full year. Placements take place within a relevant industry.
Why are placements important?
The experience that you will gain during your placement is invaluable in helping to make informed decisions about your future career path, as well as enhancing employment prospects upon graduation. You can work abroad, too! During the placement year you will have the chance to develop your interpersonal skills and build on the theory and knowledge you have gained so far. Many of our students find that they are offered permanent jobs after graduation by their placement companies.
Our students have previously worked for:
- Rank Xerox
- BT Labs
- Ford of France
Read more about Elliot Arnold's placement - he designed the exhibition stands used at the launch of "the new fiver" £5 note at Blenheim Palace.
Background and experience
The overall philosophy of this course is to produce graduates who, starting from an initial need, can design and develop well considered and potentially commercial products. Therefore, the ability of the applicant to think both laterally and logically, in both artistic and scientific domains is crucial in order to satisfy aesthetic, ergonomic, technological, manufacturing, standards and economic criteria.
In addition to the need for a broad basic knowledge and the ability to communicate in a wide range of disciplines, is the recognition that applicants must be able to think both creatively and analytically. The applicant must also have a desire to be able to learn about design by producing working prototypes of their solutions.
Experience of CAD would be beneficial although not essential.
We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their UCAS applications – and you may also be invited to attend an interview. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.
You will need to attend an interview for this course - find out more about what to expect at an interview, including where the interviews are held, and what you need to bring. You may also be required to bring along a portfolio of your work to support your application.
The dates of interview sessions will be available through myHub. You will receive details of how to access myHub once you have applied to BU.
Our offer making process
Our offer making will typically be based on your main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.
If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.
How we'll assess your application
We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.
If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.
Unconditional offer scheme
Applicants who are predicted to achieve strong academic results will be eligible for BU’s Unconditional Offer Scheme in recognition of their academic performance and potential to succeed at university. If you are selected for the scheme and commit to us as your firm choice of university, then we will match this commitment by making your offer unconditional, which will guarantee your place at BU.
You will receive a standard conditional offer based on the entry requirements for your course via UCAS Track and your offer letter – it will advise that you are eligible for the unconditional offer scheme. We will then update your offer to unconditional should you choose BU as your firm choice on UCAS Track. We believe that unconditional offers reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible, and we will reward you with an Academic Excellence scholarship of £1,000 in your first year if you achieve AAA or above at A-Level or equivalent.
2018 entry requirements
We use the UCAS Tariff to show our entry requirements and will accept a combination of grades from your qualifications. You can use the UCAS calculator to see how your qualifications equate to tariff points.
The entry requirements for this course are 104 - 120 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent. BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM.
Excluded subjects: General Studies
GCSEs: GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.
Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the askBU Enquiry Service to find out more.
Other qualifications: We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the askBU Enquiry Service – it may be that we can still consider it.
Access courses: 102 - 112 tariff points with any combination of Distinction, Merit, Pass grades.
- Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit (112 tariff points)
- Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff
- BTEC National Foundation Diploma/90-credit Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent
- BTEC National Extended Certificate/Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent
Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: 104-112 tariff points
Cambridge Technical qualifications:
- Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit (112 tariff points)
- Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff
- Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent
- Introductory Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent
International Baccalaureate (Diploma): 28-31 points overall including grade H5 from 2 Higher Level subjects.
Scottish Advanced Higher: 104 - 112 tariff points including a minimum of 2 Advanced Highers
Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent.
Extended Project Qualification: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by 2 A-levels or equivalent qualifications.
Deferred entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.
International entry requirements
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:
IELTS (Academic) 6.0 (with minimum 5.5 in each of the 4 components) or equivalent.
View further information about our English language requirements.
If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course? Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.
Academic entry requirements
You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.
This course combines practical skills, academic knowledge and excellent work experience to give you a head start once you begin your job search. Learning about the practicalities involved with making actual products will give you a true overview of the production process, preparing you for work at every level from designer through to production manager.
90% of students are in professional/managerial positions within six months of graduating from this course. They have been employed by a range of organisations, including AnglePoise, Atlas Furniture, Campbell Reith, Craftwood Interiors, Dyson, HM Forces, GSPK Design Ltd, Jonathan Coles Lighting, Lancome, Lush Retail Ltd, MDM Props, Princess Motor Yacht Company, Quadrant2Design, among many others.
You will be prepared for a variety of roles once you've finished your course, including:
- CAD engineer
- Clothing designer
- Design development engineer
- Design engineer
This course is accredited by the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED), which means you will have all the skills you need to get started in the industry as soon as you graduate.
*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.
Meet our staff
Course leader Franziska Conrad designed the QuickPitch pop-up tent when she was a student here at BU.
Dr Bryce Dyer, a Senior Lecturer in Product Design, created a new limb for athlete Colin Lynch, which was used as he represented his country at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Associate Professor Dr Tania Humphries-Smith is the current Chair of the Institute of Engineering Designers (IED), the UK’s only professional body representing those working in the many fields of engineering and product design. The IED accredit this course.
The table below indicates the latest changes to this course.
||Changes to this course
||Where the change was made
After an annual review of the placement year tuition fee, a price increase in line with current inflation, equating to 3% has been introduced.
2018 entry requirements have changed to 104 - 120 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent
Key facts and 2018 entry requirements
The entry requirements for this course are 104-120 tariff points including 3 A-levels or equivalent.
2018 GCSE entry requirements have changed to This course requires GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.
2018 entry requirements
This course requires a minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A* - C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including Maths and English or equivalent qualifications.
Change of second year unit title:
Product Design Tools
||Removal of required subjects for 2018
For 2018 entry at least one of: Art & Design, IT, Design & Technology, Science, Engineering, Manufacturing, Physics, Maths