University of Chester

Programme Specification
Graphic Design FDA
2017 - 2018

Foundation Arts Degree

Graphic Design

Graphic Design (WVR College)

University of Chester

Warrington and Vale Royal College

Warrington and Vale Royal College

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years (full time)

5 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Art and Design

QAA Art & Design, Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark


Art and Design

Thursday 1st May 2014

FdA Graphic Design aims to:

  • Provide an educational foundation for a range of creative, technical and management careers in Graphic Design;
  • Provide studies directly relevant to specialist areas of Graphic Design in which students intend to seek employment;
  • Enable students to make an immediate contribution in employment;
  • To provide the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment and progression to other qualifications;
  • Provide flexibility, knowledge, skills and motivation as a basis for future studies and career development;
  • Develop students’ ability in design through effective use and combination of the academic knowledge and practical skills gained in different parts of the programme;
  • Develop a range of skills and techniques, personal qualities and attitudes essential for successful performance in professional working life.

Students graduating from the programme should have the following attributes, skills and abilities.

FHEQ Level 4

  • Employ both divergent and convergent thinking processes in investigation and enquiry in response to design problems. (AR4330, AR4331)
  • Demonstrate the ability to generate ideas, concepts, proposals and arguments independently and or collaboratively. (AR4330, AR4331, AR4332)
  • Interpret the critical and contextual dimensions of Graphic Design through research, design artefacts and written work whilst encompassing the business, cultural, economic, environment, ethical, global, historical, political, societal, and/or theoretical context. (AR4333, AR4334)
  • Effectively demonstrate through research and design artefacts and written work, the designer’s relationship with audiences, clients, markets, users, consumers and/or participants. (AR4333, AR4334)

FHEQ Level 5

  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the well-established principles of graphic design, and of the way in which those principles have developed. (AR5331, AR5333, AR5335)

  • Knowledge of the main methods of enquiry in graphic design, and the ability to evaluate critically the appropriateness of different approaches to tackling graphic design issues.
(AR5331, AR5332, AR5333)
  • An understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analysis and interpretations based on that knowledge. (AR5330, AR5334)
  • Respond creatively to a range of client lead briefs demonstrating competence and refinement of a range of Graphic Design skills. (AR5330, AR5331, AR5332, AR5333)
  • Professionally articulate ideas and information comprehensibly in visual, oral and written forms within the context of Graphic Design practice. (AR5334, AR5335, AR5336)
  • Identify personal strengths and needs in the development of effective solutions to Graphic Design problems. (AR5334)
  • Critically select and employ communication techniques as well as information technologies with minimum guidance. (AR5334)





FHEQ Level 4

  • Be able to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems related to the study of graphic design and their work role. (AR4330, AR4335)
  • Be able to communicate the results of their study/work accurately and reliably, and with structured and coherent arguments. (AR4330, AR4332, AR4333, AR4335)
  • Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret their own and others work, to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of Graphic Design. (AR4330, AR433, AR4335)

 FHEQ Level 5

  • Effectively communicate information, arguments, and analysis, in a variety of forms, to specialist and non-specialist audiences, and deploy key techniques of the discipline effectively. (AR5330, AR5331, AR5333, AR5335)
  • Ability to apply underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they were first studied, including, where appropriate, the application of those principles in an employment context. (AR5330, AR5332, AR5336)
  • Effectively employ both convergent and divergent thinking in the process of observation, investigation, speculative enquiry, visualisation and/or making. (AR5331, AR5333, AR5334)


Practical and professional skills are embedded throughout the programme.

FHEQ Level 4

  • The ability to communicate effectively using both written, verbal and e-skills. (AR4331, AR4332, A4335)
  • The ability to research, assimilate and articulate findings (AR4330, AR4331, AR4332, AR4333, AR4334, A4335)
  • Personal reflection and evaluation (AR4333, AR4334)
  • The ability to research, source, select, manage and evaluate information (AR4330, AR4331, AR4332, AR4333, AR4334, A4335)

FHEQ Level 5

  • Formulate, analyse and evaluate an appropriate and relevant action plan for personal improvement, in the context of their work-role and career. (AR5335, AR5334)
  • The ability to research, experiment and refine practical design techniques and processes. (AR5330, AR5331, AR5332, AR5333, AR5334)
  • The ability to work effectively and professionally within a team in response to a design project. (AR5330)
  • The ability to manage advertising campaigns and an extended personal project and apply solutions across a range of appropriate media. (AR5330, AR5334)
  • Develop qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making. (AR5330, AR5334)

Professionalism is central to the educational aims of this programme. Although the programme itself is not directly linked to graduate memberships of professional bodies, the programme, through the modules, is delivered using best professional practice and current techniques.

Level 4

Communicate research findings accurately through written work, verbal presentation and practical outcomes. Present structured and coherent argument for solutions to Graphic Design problems [all Level 4 modules].

Level 5

Effectively communicate research findings to a variety of audiences from both professional and non professional settings, in the form of: supporting information for graphic design research; copyrighting; offering arguments and analysis through academic writing, editorial design, presentations, pitches to clients, reports and evaluations [all Level 5 modules].

The Foundation Degree programme is modular and conforms to the nationally recognised credit structure adopted across the university sector.  It comprises 2 levels of study and attainment. At each level, the student must gain 120 credits - that is 240 credits in total for the qualification. The Certificate of Higher Education is an exit award for those students who have successfully completed 120 credits at level 4 or above. 

The mode of study is full-time or part-time, with attendance.    

The approach to the programme takes the view that Graphic Design is fundamentally a creative problem solving activity, underpinned by in-depth research, critical analysis and reflection upon the needs of others and the demands of the brief. 

The programme conforms to the University Regulations with regard to the maximum length of the study, this being 5 years for the Foundation Degree and 3 years for the Certificate, unless an extension is granted due to illness or mitigating or exceptional circumstances by the Awards Assessment Board.  The course enables students to develop their specialist areas or to retain a broader perspective. In every case we aim to develop the student’s creative imagination and realise their full potential.

The programme consists of 12 modules:

Level 4: There are 6 modules at level 4

Level 5: There are 7 modules at level 5, and students are able to choose between modules AR5335 and AR5336.

Each 20-credit module has an allocation of 200 notional learning hours.

 Throughout students are supported and encouraged to take responsibility for the direction of their work and maintain a professional approach in order to achieve their personal goals. Each student is seen as an individual, with strengths and weaknesses, each with different requirements from the course. The programme aims to help them realise the full potential of their talents and become confident designers, through a challenging and enjoyable programme.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
AR4330 4 Idea Generation 20 Comp
AR4331 4 Typography Theory and Design 20 Comp
AR4332 4 Computer Applications in Design 20 Comp
AR4333 4 Specialist Historical and Contextual Referencing 20 Comp
AR4334 4 Professional Studies / Work Experience 20 Comp
AR4335 4 Visual Communication Through Design 20 Comp
AR5330 5 Advertising Campaigns and General Publicity 20 Comp
AR5331 5 Idea Origination and Communication 20 Comp
AR5332 5 Corporate Identity and Branding 20 Comp
AR5333 5 Exploring and Applying Creativity 20 Comp
AR5334 5 Self-Generated Final Project 20 Comp
AR5335 5 Critical Study 20 Optional
AR5336 5 Business Practice 20 Optional

Level four of the programme corresponds to Framework of Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ) Certificate level, successful completion of which would entitle a student to an exit award of a Certificate of Higher Education (120 Credits).

Level five of the programme corresponds to FHEQ Intermediate Level 5, successful completion of which would entitle a student to an award of Foundation Degree (240 Credits).



UCAS Points Required: 80 points  from Level 3 qualifications
For example: A levels; BTEC Extended Diploma; Access to HE Diploma; NVQ3
In addition, GCSE English at Grade 4/5 or C equivalent is desired or be willing to work towards this qualification

Where possible an academic or vocational reference will be required to ensure suitability for this level of programme. 

Students who do not meet the above admissions requirements will be considered for entry if they can demonstrate that they have relevant vocational experience, motivation and personal qualities appropriate for Foundation Degree level work.

All students are interviewed and are expected to provide evidence of their creative work through presentation of a portfolio/sketchbook.


The QAA Subject Benchmark 2008 recognises the richness and diversity of Art and Design including graphic design In developing the programme the designers acknowledge the Art and Design statement which specifies that graduates in the subject will acquire knowledge and understanding of the critical and contextual dimensions of their discipline, master the communication and information skills, and develop the critical awareness required to learn and articulate their learning in this area. In conjunction with this, the designers embodied the principles of the Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark (QAA065) which emphasises the involvement of employers. Employers have been identified and consulted on the design of the programme.  Employers complete a short questionnaire based on the modules offered and provide valuable feedback on what skills they would expect students to be learning.  Employers will also regularly review the Foundation Degree, through the college’s annual course reviews, employer forums and the HE Quality Programme Group, to ensure that it meets the needs of the Industry, whilst being a provider for valuable work placements. All students will take up a work placement with an employer (or attend a Professional Practice workshop led by a design professional). All students are assessed through live project briefs.    

In accordance with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (August 2008): Foundation Degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • knowledge and critical understanding of the well-established principles of their area(s) of study, and of the way in which those principles have developed. (This is achieved through their self analysis workbooks and in modules AR4333 Specialist Historical and Contextual Referencing, AR5335 Critical Study and AR5333 Exploring and Applying Creativity). 
  • the ability to apply underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they were first studied, including, where appropriate, the application of those principles in an employment context.  (This is achieved in AR4334 Professional Studies/Work Experience and  AR5332 Corporate Identity and Branding). 
  • knowledge of the main methods of enquiry in the subject(s) relevant to the named award and the ability to evaluate critically the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems in the field of study. (This is achieved through their self analysis workbooks and in modules AR4333 Specialist Historical and Contextual Referencing, AR5335 Critical Study  and AR5333 Exploring and Applying Creativity). 
  • an understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge. (This is achieved in all modules through their self analysis workbooks).

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information, and to propose solutions to problems arising from that analysis; (This is achieved in modules AR5330 Advertising Campaigns and General Publicity, AR5332 Corporate Identity and Branding and AR5331 Idea Origination and Communication)
  • effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences, and deploy key techniques of the discipline effectively undertake further training; (This is achieved in modules AR4334 Professional Studies/Work experience and AR5335 Critical Study)
  • develop existing skills and acquire new competences that will enable them to assume significant responsibility within organisation; (This is achieved particularly in module AR5334 Self Generated Final Project

And holders will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making.


A combination of learning and  teaching methods are employed:

Study skills sessions - to develop academic writing and research skills;

Lectures - Formal interactive lectures which will be used to introduce topics and/or specific bodies of knowledge to students;

Teaching workshops - Supervised practical and workshop sessions (individual and group) and demonstrations (for example, mark making techniques, mind mapping, latest industrial software training);

Tutorials - Individual and group tutorials using ProPortal online document to evaluate students progress and give formative feedback;

Seminars - Student led presentations, seminars, group discussion, which enable the sharing of individual experience an response to set tasks and peer evaluations;

Self directed learning -  and independent study, particularly using on-line materials, guided reading and resource based learning;

Work focused activity - Work based activities including work placement, using industry set "live" or competition briefs and including projects set by guest lecturers or visiting professionals;

Written work - Students will be required to produce a range of written work, including essays, reports, reviews and module evaluation;

Team work - Certain assignments will require students to work in teams to demonstrate their ability to work as part of a creative team. 

Level 4:

Learning is predominantly tutor-designed and guided, and students are offered opportunities for individual initiative within this framework, which provides groundwork in subject-specific and transferable study skills and encouragement to communicate accurately.  There is an opportunity for work based learning or employment focussed workshops which prepare the students for the high expectations of employers. 

Level 5:

Learning design remains largely tutor-guided and students are encouraged to work in collaboration with tutors and fellow-students.  There is opportunity for consolidation and development of appropriate study skills and for experiencing a range of appropriate methods for tasks in hand. The majority of project briefs at this level will be either industry created briefs or industry competition briefs.  The students also write, with guidance a self initiated final project brief.

Assessment within the programme has been designed to respond to the different aims of the foundation degree: i.e. to prepare students for the world of work where reports and presentations will be used rather than time constrained assessments and essays.   

The assessment strategy for the programme is designed to progressively develop learners who may have widely differing study skills on entry, for the academic rigour of the Foundation Degree programme.  Underpinning knowledge will be assessed by formal time constrained assessment; and by vocationally relevant and work focused assignments in both years. Both years have an element of group project work. The inclusion of live project briefs within the modules at level 5  reinforces the vocational nature of the Foundation Degree. Students will be aware of the level they are working towards through informal assessment feedback given each semester. 

The Foundation Degree in Graphic Design aims to develop the students’ skills directly related to the needs of the creative industries in the region whilst recognising transferable and multiple skills that are required in today’s working environment both locally and nationally.

The Foundation Degree responds to the employer needs by equipping students with the combination of the vocational skills, academic knowledge and transferable skills increasingly demanded by employers.

Graduates will have experienced all major areas of graphic design giving them access to a wide range of specialisms whilst also adding the opportunity for them to move into different areas as employer needs develop.  Students can pursue careers in graphic design, advertising, editorial design, web design, and computer operation.  The programme also recognises that learners may want to progress to a final year and students have the opportunity to progress to an Honours Degree final year at the University of Chester or other HE Institutions. 



Warrington and Vale Royal College supports all our students, we treat them with respect and have due regard for their privacy and well being, regardless of: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

There are many local companies with whom we currently have strong links and are involved with work placement opportunities, live project briefs and guest speaker/workshops. They also help by providing feedback on the performance of the students and suggest changes/improvements to project briefs.

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