BA (Hons) Visual Communications

With our open learning approach, the OCA’s Visual Communications degree (comprising of Graphic Design and Illustration courses) provides a real alternative to traditional campus based learning. Our inspiring course materials enable you to work at your own pace, in your own time, and whenever you choose to study. We have a thriving community of students all following their passion and achieving at the highest levels, supported by tutors who are experienced teachers and practising graphic designers and illustrators. As you work towards your Visual Communications degree, your work will be assessed against a set of criteria by our awarding university the UCA, one of Europe’s largest specialist universities for art, design, architecture, media and communication. This enables you to gain HE credits towards your degree and is based on an examination of your course portfolio rather than a formal exam. Click here to find out more about studying with the OCA.

Degree overview

Visual communications is the artistic practice applied to communicating through a visual language. The BA (Hons) in Visual Communications builds knowledge across the disciplines of graphic design, illustration and book design all aiming to prepare you to become a visual communications professional, capable of applying your intellectual and creative skills to communications solutions. To build a broad foundation of your knowledge as well as studying graphic design, illustration and book design you can also choose to study complementary course units including drawing, photography, painting, printmaking, textiles, creative writing, with art history and theory. As you progress to level 3 you can then apply your skills and understanding in a range of contexts, including client led briefs, competitions, and self-initiated projects. It supports the development of a personal and professional understanding of visual communications.

Work by Visual Communications student Dolores Costello

Degree aims

  • To provide you with the opportunity to engage with a range of options within visual communications and select a specialism.
  • To widen access to education in visual communications at undergraduate level through Open and Flexible Learning.
  • To provide an intellectually stimulating programme of study based on high quality study material and tutor support.
  • To encourage the development of a personal and professional understanding of visual communications and to establish a personal creative voice within it.
  • To provide an opportunity for you to apply your skills, knowledge and understanding to a range of contexts.
  • To develop autonomous learners capable of applying intellectual and practical skills in a chosen area of visual communications appropriate to employment, further study, or life-long learning.

The two mandatory course units at Level 1 (HE4) are:

If you have chosen one unit from above choose two from below. If you have chosen both the above units, choose one from below:

Course content

Full details of the content of the Visual Communications Open degree, and pathways available can be found through the BA (Hons) Visual Communications degree handbook and pathway documents, downloadable here. If you need more information about the content of this degree and the course units available through it, please call the office to speak to an advisor.

The BA (Hons) Visual Communications degree handbook

The BA (Hons) Visual Communications degree pathway

Creative careers

The Design Council’s Industry Insights Report 2010 highlights that 87% of design consultants employ less than 10 staff, supporting the view that emerging designers need to have the skills to be able to work in small teams and to be able to establish themselves in small businesses and as freelancers. This degree aims to prepare students to become visual communicator professionals and autonomous learners, capable of applying their intellectual and creative skills in a chosen area in employment, further study, or life-long learning.

Christian Lloyd

Programme Leader for Illustration, Graphic Design and Visual Communications

I am an educator, artist, and designer with an interest in do-it-yourself, community-based, and collaborative approaches to making art, design, and popular culture.

After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration from Chelsea School of Art, I worked on print based graphic design and web projects for community, arts, and education sectors. Often collaborating with other people, my work aimed to inform, educate, or entertain in some way.

As an educator, I initially worked for a variety of adult education organisations, before writing and running a degree in Visual Communication at Leeds College of Art (2003-12). I have been an External Examiner at Havering College London (2008-10), and currently lecture in contemporary art and illustration at Huddersfield University. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I maintain a diverse arts practice that has included performance, moving image, painting, and printmaking. I am currently involved with a collaborative project called Bristow & Lloyd (, which playfully explores the ways in which we tell stories about our everyday lives. The work encourages participation and involves working with written or spoken word through typography, small publications, or sound. Our Home Rules exhibition explored different ways people govern their domestic spaces through a collection of hand rendered signs. In 2001 I undertook a Masters in Contemporary Fine Art Practice which focused on my “less avant garde more ‘ava go” performance work.

Christian Lloyd profile image

Visual Communications Degree course units

The available course units for the BA (Hons) Visual Communications degree can be viewed below.

Level 1 (HE4)

Level 2 (HE5)

Level 3 (HE6)


Degree Programme Enquiry Form

Please fill in this form to begin the process of enrolling on the BA (Hons) Visual Communications degree or one of OCA’s other undergraduate BA (Hons) Open degree programmes. You are not committing to anything by filling in this form, and a member of the Head Office team will be in touch shortly to further discuss your application.

UCA logo

All of our degrees are awarded by the University for the Creative Arts – one of the UK’s leading specialist universities.