BA (Hons) Graphic Design

The OCA BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree curriculum focuses on the visual language of graphic design and application of creative problem solving to deliver visual solutions that communicate effectively. The combination of typography, image and layout are the basic visual building blocks of graphic design and are explored through an investigation of visual language and dynamics, in relationship to wider visual culture and through their application in a range of design contexts.

Degree overview

A practical and contextual understanding of typography and type design is introduced at HE Level 4 and extended at Level 5 of this Graphic Design Open degree. Editorial design, infographics, wayfaring, branding, campaigning and identity design are introduced as specialist practices at Level 5. Students are encouraged to expand their definitions of graphic design through an exploration of contemporary practices and the relation to on-going developments in print, new media and other forms of communication. A process led approach to creative problem solving examines the interpretation of briefs, the generation, selection and testing of ideas, visual research and outcomes.

Project work is framed around the client / graphic designer relationship, moving from a tutor to student led approach as the course progresses. This progression encourages students to undertake self-initiated and client-led external projects or develop forms of self or online publishing. Opportunities for collaboration with peers is encouraged through course material and supported via the OCA learning environment. Paper-based graphic design informs the majority of the course, with students introduced to web, screen-based and moving-image applications. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to develop personally meaningful work by interpreting their understanding of graphic design and tailoring project work to their own creative and learning aspirations. They are supported in becoming visually literate designers, and in developing their own creative voice that they can apply to a range of contexts.

The OCA BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree sits alongside a degree in Illustration and Visual Communications, sharing a range of learning material, resources and tutors. Shared units at HE Level 4 provide a variety of entry points onto the degree, and allow students the option to identify an area of specialism or choose an interdisciplinary pathway. Alongside a core unit in graphic design at HE Level 4, students can choose either a specialist Creative Book Design unit exploring editorial layout and design and/or a shared Visual Language unit that provides a practical framework to explore and develop students’ creative processes. Depending on this choice, students can also undertake units in book design exploring artists’ books, illustration, photography or creative arts. HE Level 5 is underpinned by a specialist unit in graphic design and graphic design options within the shared Visual Skills 2 unit that supports a process-led approach to generating ideas, and developing visual and technical skills across a choice of media and technologies. A shared structure and units at HE Level 6 provides a framework for students to contextualise their practice, develop a specialist understanding of graphic design, synthesise critical ideas and visual work through a body of written and visual research, and undertake a self-directed major project culminating in an exhibition and/or publication.

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Degree aims

  • To offer high quality and stimulating study material and tutor support through which students can develop a specialist understanding of graphic design practices
  • To provide flexibility for students to meaningfully establish their own creative voice and a  personal and/or professional understanding of their practice
  • To develop autonomous learners capable of applying their skills, knowledge and understanding creatively within a range of contexts

Course content

Full details of the content of the Graphic Design Open degree, and pathways available can be found through the degree handbook and pathway documents, downloadable below. If you need more information about the content of this Open degree and the course units available through it, please call the office to speak to an advisor.

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The OCA BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree handbook

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The OCA BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree pathway

Creative careers

The creative sector employs 1.5 million people in the UK alone. By studying with the OCA, you can kick-start your career in the creative industries by working part-time or doing an internship whilst gaining your academic qualifications at the same time.

With the UK’s creative sector booming, a Graphic Design degree has become a valuable asset for anybody seeking a career in this vibrant, diverse and rapidly growing sector. You might find yourself working for an advertising agency or media organisation, or you may prefer to open your own graphic design business or studio to pursue your own specific creative interests. Over 60% of Graphic Design graduates go on to work directly in the arts, design or media industries. As well as opening the door to design-specific careers, a Graphic Design degree can also make you employable in areas outside of the creative sector; jobs which a graphic design degree can prepare you for include landscape architect, media specialist, technical writer, marketing manager and front-end web designer. For more information on the careers your Graphic Design degree can lead to, please see the Graphic Design section on

Christian Lloyd

Programme Leader for Graphic Design, Illustration 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.

Graphic Design Degree course units

The available course units for the BA (Hons) Graphic Desing 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 OCA BA (Hons) Graphic Design 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.


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