Foundation Degree (FdA) Graphic Communication

Course overview

This course will allow you to develop your own style and engage your personal creativity in the areas of motion graphics, digital design and typography.

This graphic design course focuses mainly on commercial outcomes and equips you with the skills to think, challenge conventional ideas, explore and experiment with creative ideas and to design in a way that maximises the impact of your communication.

Your design work will excite, challenge and persuade target audiences. The work will be varied and will involve designing anything from corporate graphics, logos and marks, branding and corporate identity, brochures, annual reports, promotional items, web, mobile apps, packaging, typography, layout design, advertising and many other graphic outcomes.

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Year one

  • Design Theory Foundation I (20 Credits)
  • Introducing Visual Communication (60 Credits)
  • Essentials of Motion Graphics (20 Credits)
  • Communicating Visually (20 Credits)

Year two

  • Design Theory Foundation II (20 Credits)
  • Integrated Design (20 Credits)
  • Beyond Design and Typographic Principles (20 Credits)
  • Motion Graphics Techniques (40 Credits)
  • Work-based Final Major Project (40 Credits)

Entry requirements

  • 56 UCAS points from a minimum of two GCSEs / A Levels or equivalent. We will also accept PPP at BTEC Extended Diploma level. We accept a maximum of 20 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications
  • GCSE grade C or above (or equivalent qualifications) in Mathematics and English. If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

Applicants will be asked to prepare a portfolio of work, which should be simply mounted and accompanied by preparatory work.

Applicants without formal qualifications may qualify for entry through relevant work-based experience. You will be expected to provide a portfolio of work and experience.

If English is not your first language, please refer to the University of Sunderland English Language requirements:

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL, you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course.

Portfolio requirements

We ask applicants to prepare a portfolio of work, which should be simply mounted and accompanied by preparatory work. Sketchbooks are an important feature of your preparatory work and should be included. Where possible, 3D and large 2D work should be photographed. Digital and screen-based work should be saved on a CD or memory stick.

Suitable items for a portfolio include:

  • Drawing: examples of observed drawing and exploratory drawing
  • Projects: evidence of project work in the area of fine art, together with your sketchbooks and development work
  • Self-initiated work: that you have done out of personal interest
  • Research: examples of various forms of investigation undertaken for projects
  • Writing: examples of reports, essays or journals

Teaching and assessment

You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, demonstrations, tutorials, sketchbooks, independent study, field trips and work based learning. The majority of your work will be practical studio based design work, and will develop the kinds of techniques that are most widely used in the creative industries.

The emphasis of the programme develops from a combination of conceptual and technical basis at year one, through to more creative and independent learning and work-based practice at year two. All of the modules in design have a research element, which is both taught and assessed.

The course is delivered through studio sessions with feedback and constructive critique, as well as through practical workshops, demonstrations, formal lectures, seminars, visits, and individual and group projects.

Teaching is almost entirely practical and studio-based, supported by lectures, workshops and independent learning. There is on-going feedback as well as one-to-one contact between staff and students. Assessment takes place through a series of assignment briefs.

Progression & Careers

This two-year course helps to develop your core skills and critical thinking and gives you experience of the possible routes within the creative industries.

Most students progress from our foundation course to an honours degree. If you wish to continue to study at the University of Sunderland, you can choose from our range of courses in:

  • Fine Art
  • Fashion
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Multimedia
  • Animation

Our graduates have gone on to work in the creative industries of publishing, design consultancies and advertising design. Some graduates prefer self-employment. Other options include postgraduate study and teaching.

Throughout the course, you will receive valuable advice on a variety of work-related topics. These range from costing, cash flow and business plans to going freelance, self-promotion and copyright issues.

Awarding body

This programme is offered by Tyne Coast College working in partnership with the University of Sunderland. The award that you will receive will be from the University of Sunderland.

Download course specification

Student numbers

In order to help ensure that the student experience is maintained at a high level across the life of partnership programmes, there is a minimum of 12 students required to enrol in year 1 of each programme offered by TyneMet College in partnership with the University of Sunderland in order for it to run. In the event that this minimum is not reached, the University reserves the right to either close this programme and withdraw offers made on it or, if appropriate to the programme, apply conditions to the programme in order to allow it to run with reduced student numbers. If the programme is closed, the University will use reasonable endeavours to help affected students switch to a suitable alternative programme or alternative HE provider if they wish to do so. If a decision is taken to apply conditions to the programme in order to allow it to run with reduced student numbers, consultation will take place with affected students. Conditions may include things like studying some of the programme at a different venue or merging study with other similar programmes where there is overlap. If these conditions are not acceptable to all students, the programme will close.


You can apply to study this course via the web site.

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