University of Chester

Programme Specification
Product Design BA (Hons) (Single Honours)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)

Product Design

Product Design

University of Chester

University of Chester, Department of Art and Design at Kingsway

Kingsway Campus, Chester


Raffles College of Higher Education, Singapore (Level 6 only)

Undergraduate Modular Programme


Classroom / Laboratory,

3 Years

7 Years

Triannual - January - July - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Art and Design

Art and Design


Art and Design

Thursday 28th May 2015

Product Design is a rapidly developing area of design with new processes emerging in response to new materials, technologies, ecology issues and economic development. Design is established as a key component of innovation, not only in developing new physical products but helping to meet the complex challenges of society. This emerging area, termed ‘design thinking’, underpins the practical study of Product Design at the University of Chester. Product Design is creative, experimental and very rewarding in the context of social impact. Students on the programme will explore Product Design as a complex interaction of systems and human actions that give purpose to their practical skills.

The ethos of the department is that the study of art and design is a culturally and economically significant endeavour that is intellectually challenging and emotionally rewarding. The disciplines such as Product Design, studied within the department foster freedom of expression and the development of abstract concepts to material expressive form. We place importance on experiment and generating creative surprise. We have a playful yet serious approach to media, materials and processes. We have mutual respect for each other’s disciplines and foster a creative community within the department, faculty, university and city. We aspire to be creative, unconventional and professional.

Our ambition for our graduates is that they are creative thinkers highly prized by the creative industries that contribute considerably to economic growth. They will have developed an individual visual language, and can deal with the demands of an intensively competitive global marketplace.

Therefore the programme aims:

  • To deliver a progressive programme of study that encourages the development of independent thinking and personal responsibility and supports the practical creative experimentation that develops independent creative practitioners.
  • To enable students to locate Product Design within its theoretical, technical, ethical, social, professional and historical contexts.
  • To prepare students for the changing nature of Product Design as a profession and its interconnection with the wider creative industries.
  • To promote a multidisciplinary approach to Product Design and facilitate independent thinking and an entrepreneurial approach to new and emerging production practices, platforms, materials and tools.
  • To embed the fundamental principles and theories which form the foundations for effective communication and function through Product Design while encouraging intellectual enquiry into these theories and principles and the connections between theory, context and practice.
  • To provide a vehicle through which design and making skills relevant to Product Design practice can be experienced, utilised and deployed in an appropriate and informed manner.
  • To provide opportunities for a wide range of students, with diverse experiences, qualifications, and origins to think creatively, critically and analytically so that they may be prepared for graduate employment and/or independent practice.

Through engagement with the programme, students will be able to understand, and appropriately deploy creative process, practical technique, material and method in the construction of artefacts, visualisations and simulations that respond to design challenges. They will consider concepts and ideas as a means of both generating and responding to visual briefs, problems and proposals. Furthermore, they will record reflection on visual research and experiments as a means of prompting new avenues of design exploration, investigation and material enquiry. 

Level 4

Identify and engage with methods of product design, planning and production, history and cultural context. [AD4701, AD4702, AD4703, AD4704]

Level 5

Creatively exploit materials, techniques and technologies related to all aspects of product design. [AD5701]

Understand the interaction between commercial demands and the development of ethical sustainable products. [AD5702, AD5703]

Level 6

Demonstrate, through research, design production and texts, a sophisticated level of understanding of the product designer’s relationship with clients, manufacturers, markets, consumers and media professionals. [AD6701, AD6110, AD6305]

Demonstrate the ability to source, navigate, select, retrieve, evaluate, manipulate and manage information from a variety of sources with minimum guidance in written and practical work. [AD6701, AD6702, AD6110, AD6305]

Throughout the programme, students will perceive, consider and propose courses of action involving the deployment and application of design processes, insights, arguments and debates across a range of both practice and theory focused modules.  In so doing, students will exercise critical judgement in the evaluation of outcomes and the interpretation and implementation of ideas. This will involve the synthesis of new information, ideas and concepts with existing and developing experience to solve aesthetic, practical and theoretical problems or generate new aesthetic and theoretical meaning and understanding. Across the programme, students will adapt and apply knowledge to suit particular design purposes and scenarios, whilst diagnostically considering alternatives.

Level 4

Demonstrate awareness and application of research skills to evaluate design concepts, products and critiques. [AD4702, AD4703, AD4704]

Level 5

Assimilate ideas, form, content, processes and techniques based on reflective evaluation and feedback. [AD5701, AD5703, WB5101, AD5404]

Level 6

Effectively synthesize and articulate knowledge, understanding, attributes and skills in the contexts of product design creative practice, aesthetics, employment, further study, research and self-fulfilment. [AD6701, AD6702, AD6110, AD6305]

Practical Skills
Students will be able to acquire and expand a repertoire of practical making and visualising skills thus allowing choice in the application of these skills in relation to problem solving challenges or through speculative activity. Similarly they will research, organise and make use of textual and contextual information within both theoretical and practice situations. Students will also maintain and develop verbal communication, written communication and presentation skills so as to articulate ideas and concerns coherently.

Professional Skills
Students will be able to manage their time effectively with due regard to deadlines whilst operating in a resourceful manner employing lateral thinking techniques. Furthermore, students will develop a facility to solve problems based on experience and recognition of context. They may at times work collaboratively, taking into account other points of view whilst assimilating diverse sources of information in the synthesis of ideas, courses of action and outcomes. Students will have the opportunity to engage with client perspectives and the world of professional design practice. Throughout the programme students will evaluate their own progress and position, making amendments and changes as necessary.

Level 4

Demonstrate an awareness of the methods, tools, traditions and development of product design within its historical, social and cultural context. [AD4701, AD4704]

Level 5

Critically select, test and make appropriate use of materials, processes and environments in exploring and resolving design production projects. [AD5701, AD5702]

Manage and make appropriate use of the interaction between intention, process, outcome, context, and the methods of dissemination in product design projects and/or tasks. [AD5701, AD5702, AD5404, WB5101]

Level 6

Demonstrate resourcefulness and entrepreneurial skills to support their own practice, and/or the practice of others. [AD6702, AD6110]

Demonstrate competence in the practice, processes, techniques and methodologies required in the study, research and production of product designs. [AD6701, AD6702, AD6305, AD6110]

Students will employ verbal and written communication skills throughout the programme. Tutorial discussion, group seminar situations, formal presentations, journal/blog production, critique, case study, essay and report writing will form the diet of accumulated experience.

Level 4

Competently present ideas and information in visual, oral and written forms within the context of design practice. [AD4703, AD4704]

Level 5

Effectively select and employ communication techniques and information technologies to articulate ideas and experience in visual, oral and written forms within the context of product design practice. [AD5702, AD5703, AD5404, WB5101]

Level 6

Competently present ideas and work to expert and non-expert audiences in a range of situations related to product design practice. [AD6701, AD6702, AD6110]

Demonstrate the ability to develop well argued critiques in verbal and text form and present these effectively. [AD6701, AD6305]

Students will learn through being challenged by design projects with increasing complexity across the three years of study. They will be introduced to the cultural, social, economic and ethical concerns relating to the production of designed objects or user experiences and will develop an understanding of their position on these issues. They will acquire the confidence to push the boundaries of this exciting and constantly developing area and explore the entrepreneurial possibilities of the creative economy. Product Design is a well established entrepreneurial area with product designers regularly developing valuable intellectual property such as new or more effective / efficient products / devises or experiences.

Level 4

Level 4 (Year 1) will introduce students to visualisation and making skills plus key aspects related to the theory, practice and context of the discipline of product design and relevant technology. They will experiment with analogue and digital media and explore the interdependence of these resources. In order to increase confidence students will be introduced to a range of study skills to support an analytical and creative approach to the subject. Students will discover and explore the means of design inquiry through working with three dimensional form, scale and proportion with a primary focus on hand modelling and hand-drawing but also encompassing basic 2D CAD. Through a series of design tasks, as an individual and in group work, students engage with the core issues and techniques that effect the design and communication of designed products, the interaction of form and use and the human centred focus of good design is about ‘making things better for people’ so at its core it is people focused and at level 4 students are introduced to the challenges and rewards of this. During this year of study the programme will also will explore the development of product design in the context of contemporary culture, its trans-global nature and role in projecting cultural identity.

Level 5

Level 5 (Year 2) extends the students design ability through engaging with more complex ideas in the relationship between concept and realisation. With a myriad of materials and process both available and emerging level 5 adopts a dual approach. Students will explore practical ‘hands-on’ working with materials to develop understanding of how material informs design. A wide variety of materials and their associated manufacturing processes will be explored whilst conceptual designs informed by material understanding will be developed in 3D CAD and modelled using rapid prototyping technology. The challenge of the client/user relationship is addressed, as well as developing knowledge and understanding of how designers engage with the current dynamic social, economic, cultural and ethical concerns. During this year students will be challenged to demonstrate responsiveness to client input, show entrepreneurial skills, team working and work flow management, and business planning. Students will be required to present ideas and concepts to peers or clients and to respond to and offer peer feedback. All level 5 students will have the opportunity to undertake a experiential learning placement in a product design or related industry environment. There are further employability focused, options available such as WB5004 Learning in the Wider World and WB5008 The Study Abroad Experience.

WB5004 is similar in ambition to WB5101 but facilitates undertaking the work based learning placement at a location outside the UK. WB5004, although available to all students as an alternative to WB5101 this module must be applied for and participation is restricted to students who meet the criteria of interview, attendance and behaviour during Level 5. All students will be required to receive clearance from the PAT prior to departing on their overseas placement. Students are advised that, should their academic performance, attendance or behaviour deteriorate, they may no longer be eligible for WB5004, and will be switched to WB5101 Work-based Learning. Students must complete and have a Risk Assessment approved before they are eligible for this module.

WB5008 This module will be offered as a complementary year of study abroad to students who have successfully completed their second-year of study (level 5). Application will occur in January of Level 5. As such, students may be required to present evidence of successful completion of Level 4, satisfactory on-going assessment, academic references and attendance in order for their application to be accepted. Students must also complete a Risk Assessment to indicate that they are fully aware of the requirements for the exchange, university/college and destination that they are applying for.

Level 6

Level 6 (Year 3) will enable students to identify future career pathways through exploring the very broad range of opportunities within product design as a discipline. Students’ creativity and knowledge will be challenged through live client driven projects, self-generated assignments, competition entries, professional practice, research, and a sophisticated final major project that will be presented to public audience in the annual degree show. Within this level 6 final year of study students develop their work in line with their own design philosophy and career expectations. Through extensive original research they will establish their own approach to product design practice and competently produce two dimensional, three-dimensional and digital artefacts alongside related reflective and critical writing. The final year of the programme focuses on the designer’s awareness of the larger world, exploring the implication for objects, artefacts and systems designers conceive and create. Professional Practice and Design and Society supports students to explore and work with new knowledge, and to acknowledge emerging trends.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
AD4701 4 Introductory Studies 40 Comp
AD4702 4 Design Processes 40 Comp
AD4703 4 Visualisation 20 Comp
AD4704 4 Design Context and Culture 20 Comp
AD5404 5 Experiential Learning in Art and Design 20 Optional
AD5701 5 Materials and Processes 40 Comp
AD5702 5 Product Business 40 Comp
AD5703 5 Issues and Discourses 20 Comp
WB5004 5 Learning in the Wider World 20 Optional
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
AD6110 6 Professional Practice 20 Comp
AD6305 6 Dissertation in Art and Design 40 Optional
AD6701 6 Design and Society 40 Optional
AD6702 6 Major Project in Product Design 60 Comp

Level 4:
A candidate who successfully completes Level 4 will have accumulated 120 academic credit points, and will be
eligible for the award of Certificate of Higher Education*. These 120 academic credit points can be carried
forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.

Level 5:
A candidate successfully completing Level 5 will have accumulated 240 academic credit points, and will be
eligible for the award of Diploma of Higher Education*. These 240 academic credit points can be carried forward
cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.

Level 6:
A candidate successfully completing Level 6 will have accumulated 360 academic credit points, and will be
eligible for the award of an honours degree* in this case a BA (Hons) Product Design

(*see the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education: The framework for higher education qualifications in
England, Wales and Northern Ireland-August 2008).



For full details connected to University Admissions requirements and procedures, reference should be made to the current University of Chester Prospectus, the University website and UCAS website. 

Single Honours (3 year programme)

112 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent, including a grade C in Art, Art-based or Design and Technology subjects

BTEC National Diploma / Certificate (Art and Design): merit / distinction profile   

Irish Highers / Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects, including Art or an Art-based subject        

International Baccalaureate: 26 points, inc. HL Visual Arts at 5 or above

Appropriate Art Foundation Course, QAA recognised Access course, Open College Units or Open University Credits

Please note: A BTEC National Award or the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer 

Note: Applicants may be required to attend for portfolio interview

The interview process and meeting of prospective candidates on University Applicant Days demonstrates the Department’s desire to meet student's aspirations individually and recognises that individuality in the nature of their artistic ambitions.

Applications to undergraduate programmes are made through UCAS.

APL claims, (Accreditation for Prior Learning), from candidates who wish to be accredited for prior/experiential learning are carefully considered.  Applicants who have previously successfully completed study evaluated as equivalent to a total of 240 credits at Levels 4 and 5 in an appropriate related subject will normally be eligible for admission with advanced standing to Level 6 of the programme, depending on their respective profile of achievement [i.e. the merit/distinction profile]. This could include completion of a Foundation Degree, HND or an Advanced Diploma from Florence Institute of Design International or Raffles College of Higher Education in subjects benchmark approved by the University of Chester.

Mature students are considered on an individual basis and where appropriate relevant work experience will be taken into consideration. Students with non-UK qualifications should consult the Admissions' Tutor or the International Office at the University.

Raffles College of Higher Education Level 6 entry

Successful completion of RCHE Foundation Studies Certificate including successful completion of modules CZFO7006, CZFO7007,CZFO7008;

Or, successful completion of RCHE ELP Advanced English module CZEL9200.

Please note that the starting months for Level 6, Raffles College of Higher Education, Singapore, are January and July.

The starting month for Kingsway Campus, Chester, is September.


The structure of the product design programme reflects the Subject Benchmark for Art & Design 2008, available on the QAA website, and the Higher Education Qualifications Framework 2008 – also available on Careful consideration has been made in mapping the module learning outcomes against the benchmark requirements and level indicators. Within each module the learning outcomes and the assessment criteria are based on the descriptors of the ‘Characteristics of Learning’ at each level detailed in these national guidelines.

These benchmarks cite a number of common characteristics that should be achieved as a threshold by graduating students. These common characteristics are evident in the learning outcomes and module aims of studio practice modules where they are embedded and which cumulatively, through level progression lead to successful completion of the programme. For example the benchmarks identify art and design graduates as being able to: generate ideas, concepts, proposals, solutions or arguments independently and/or collaboratively in response to set briefs and/or as self-initiated activity. Employ both convergent and divergent thinking in the processes of observation, investigation, speculative enquiry, visualisation and/or making. Select, test and make appropriate use of materials, processes and environments. Develop ideas through to outcomes, for example images, artefacts, environments, products, systems and processes, or texts. Manage and make appropriate use of the interaction between intention, process, outcome, context, and the methods of dissemination. That they will be resourceful and entrepreneurial. The programme also enables students to evidence self management, critical engagement, communication and presentation skills cited by the subject benchmarks.

Also referenced is the development of graduating students’ relationship to professional practice within the discipline. These programme attributes are evident in the learning outcomes and module aims of theory, contextual and professional practice.

Relation of modules and levels of study to the Framework for Higher Education (FHEQ):

Level 4 is consistent with the FHEQ certificate level, where the holder “will have a sound knowledge of the basic concepts of a subject, and will have learned how to take different approaches to solving problems. They will be able to communicate accurately and will have the qualities needed for employment requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility.”

Level 5 is consistent with FHEQ intermediate level, where the holder “will have developed a sound understanding of the principles in their field of study, and will have learned to apply those principles more widely. Through this, they will have learned to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems. Their studies may well have had a vocational orientation, for example HNDs, enabling them to perform effectively in their chosen field. Holders of qualifications at this level will have the qualities necessary for employment in situations requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making.

Level 6 is consistent with FHEQ honours level, where graduates “will have developed an understanding of a complex body of knowledge, some of it at the current boundaries of an academic discipline. Through this, the holder will have developed analytical techniques and problem-solving skills that can be applied in many types of employment. The holder of such a qualification will be able to evaluate evidence, arguments and assumptions, to reach sound judgements and to communicate them effectively. Holders of a bachelor's degree with honours should have the qualities needed for employment in situations requiring the exercise of personal responsibility, and decision-making in complex and unpredictable circumstances.”

The methods of learning and teaching on the programme are activity-based and recurring in order to support the development of the required attributes and skills for the discipline and to meet the threshold benchmarks. They enable students: to become independent learners; to take responsibility for their learning as well as support the learning of their peers; to help students understand what is needed in order to improve their practice; and, to offer a variety of learner experiences that help students to develop skills in research, analysis, evaluation, making informed judgements, reflection and communication.

Generally, students will explore projects cooperatively within a studio/workshop environment. This may involve students working in teams presenting their work to their peer group and academic staff at various points. Generally teaching and learning methods will reflect the module subject matter and its associated learning styles. Taught sessions will aim to integrate practice and theory through an interactive studio/workshop setting. Lecturers, technical demonstrators, mentors, practicing designers, researchers and industry-relevant practitioners will have varying involvement in the delivery of module content where appropriate.

Learning opportunities will take place in both large and small group settings via lectures, seminars, tutorials, tutor and/or student-led discussions and critiques, demonstration workshops, individual and/or group tasks-activities, individually directed and structured reading and study, self and peer review and assessment, self-directed learning and work based learning. Site visits to design studios, production facilities, relevant related industry environments and study trips may take place where appropriate. To accommodate this complex delivery, teaching and learning will take place in a variety of environments that may include: specialist studios, lecture rooms, seminar rooms, workshops, computer rooms and offsite locations.

A range of formative and summative assessment modes are employed which may include some or all of the following: in-studio drawing and visualising sessions, writing exercises, project rationales, strategic planning documents such as production plans, rationales, project presentations (written, visual and oral), producing essays and reports, individual creative projects, project/research journals, production notebooks, sketchbooks, individual and group practical projects and personal development planning.

Dependent on the credit weighting of individual modules weekly academic contact may vary as students progress through the levels of the programme. Academic staff, technician/demonstrator staff and student mentors, where appropriate, will be assigned to a module under the oversight of a Module Leader and/or the Programme Leader.

It is important students’ recognise that a significant amount of the learning time will involve them in identifying and managing the essential tasks as well as effectively managing their time and their own as well as the University’s resources. To this end they will be supported in their development of project and time management skills particularly during their first year of study.

As students are “learning by doing” they will be expected to: regularly undertake practical work; read essential and some recommended texts, journals and periodicals; investigate primary and secondary sources in their research; prepare so that they can offer input in taught sessions, presentations and any small group collaborations/seminars; and, carry out, complete and submit on-time all the required assessment tasks/activities related to their modules.

In addition to the scheduled timetabled feedback sessions, students will be able to arrange additional individual academic tutorials through the departmental system of advertised appointment slots, subject to staff availability.

The Product Design programme will primarily prepare students for progression into careers in product design and production. Employment opportunities exist in a variety of roles related to research, design and production of a wide range of goods and devices that enhance contemporary life. Product designers also become engaged with retail and marketing/ communication of product concepts and development strategy. The Department for Culture Media and Sport 2014 statistics identified that employment within the creative industries grew by 6% between 2011 and 2012. More recently in 2014 Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller commented, “…the Creative Industries consistently punch well above their weight, outperforming all the other main industry sectors, and are a powerhouse within the UK economy.”

British Product Design has an international profile as the skills and abilities developed in the course of study qualifies graduates of the discipline for employment in highly regarded design studios across the world. The discipline also encourages innovative design and manufacture through Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SME) and could be seen as a contributor to the wider region’s developing cultural economy agenda. Many product designers are entrepreneurial and develop their own products to take to market contributing to economic growth and employment. The study of the discipline also develops excellent communication and management skills which enable graduates to secure positions in a wide range of related environments such as consultancy, marketing and economic policy.

Product Design graduates with a strong academic profile may pursue postgraduate study through an articulated route into the MA Design or MRes programmes within the Department. Additional postgraduate options include MBA in Business Consultancy and Marketing and the MSc in Creative Industries Management also offered at the University.

Careers' Advisors have been allocated to the Faculty of Arts & Media and students of product design are able to access information concerning both vocational and educational opportunities during their programme and following graduation.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.


Research scholarship and professional practice are vital components of the programmes within the department of Art and Design. The department contributed to the recent Research Excellence Framework REF assessment of research outputs and was the highest scoring department in the University with 93% of the research graded as being of a quality recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour. 14% ranked as world leading 4* work and 33% was deemed internationally excellent 3* work. Some of the key contributors to this result are involved in research on narrative drawing and the department‘s Centre for Narrative Drawing. This new development supports department connections made between, art, design, cultural economy and participatory practice and this is reflected in the public realm cultural economy research with augmented and virtual reality interests in design. Work in materiality and embodied knowledge further enhances the interdisciplinary opportunities offered.

The department also provides taught and research based postgraduate work with MA programmes in Design and Fine art and a Masters by Research (MRes) programme that facilitates individual research projects. There are a number of PhD students undertaking research in sound art, painting and the production of sculpture through CNC technology. Recent research projects in collaboration with the Cheshire West and Chester council included the use of light as infrastructure and members of staff work with the council on its cultural strategy and lead artists scheme.

Induction for New Students

A one-week induction period is provided. Sessions typically encompass familiarisation with the structure of the programme and introductory lectures and/or practical workshops. Students are also made familiar with life as an undergraduate and have opportunities to meet fellow students from across the programmes in the Department. Learning Resource Centre inductions will occur and Departmental staff are introduced.

Personal Academic Tutors

The Department fully endorses and adheres to the University's established Personal Academic Tutor system.  All students on degree programmes are allocated a personal academic tutor, (PAT) and students are advised to see their personal academic tutor regularly and particularly during their first year of study. The personal academic tutor will usually remain with the student throughout their studies, providing advice on academic development and progress and on matters non-academic in nature.

Academic/Learning Support

In addition to the personal tutor system, academic members of the Department of Art & Design operate a system of ‘surgery hours'. Students who wish to discuss matters with a member of staff may do so during the advertised surgery hours or by personal arrangement. Although students will receive written feedback on their work, they may also make an appointment to see the relevant lecturer regarding any work submitted.

The Learning Resources Department offers a wide range of IT and library services available to students. Student Support & Guidance provides dedicated support for students who may encounter difficulties with their learning or personal problems that impact on their learning.

Programme Information and University Regulations

Students will have access to a student handbook detailing the structure of the programme and relevant information concerning the University's regulations and how to access them. Each module within the programme has a dedicated Moodle page including module information and links to relevant information. All such information is widely available through SharePoint.

Contemporary Art Space Chester

The department is home to Contemporary Art Space Chester, (CASC) a contemporary gallery space that exhibits the creative output of students and staff. CASC also hosts external and touring exhibitions by artists and makers of national and international standing.

Guest Speakers, Visiting Lecturers Guest Lecturers

The Department as a whole invites a range of guest and visiting lecturers of national and international standing and with specialist interests and concerns to deliver lecture and workshop sessions to students across all levels. Such sessions compliment timetabled sessions and serve to further enhance the student experience.

Study Trips

The Department of Art & Design organises and runs a variety of study trips for its students. These have included visits to significant UK destinations and study abroad trips to, for example, Berlin, Paris, New York, Barcelona and Florence.

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