South Thames College

Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificate Art and Design (Graphic Design) - Level 4

The course incorporates a wide range of design practices with an emphasis on graphics and is designed to reflect an experimental approach to creative design practice, although all the assignment briefs are very open. Some projects are carried out in small groups but you are given the opportunity to develop your individual creativity whilst learning a range of technical skills. There is a contextual studies element to the course to provide theory and history to support your practice.

  • Introductory Course Information

    Award: Pearson BTEC Higher National Certificate Art and Design (Graphic Design)

    Awarding body: Pearson

    UCAS Code: W909

    Location of study: South Thames College Campus

    Course duration: 1 year full time

    Academic year: September 2019 – July 2020  

    Days of the week: You will be expected to attend for 3 days a week, Tues, Weds and Thurs

    Part time study: N/A

    Work placements: 

    If you would like to undertake a work placement during your course, our placement staff will work with you to try to identify a suitable opportunity and location for your work placement in the UK. Please refer to our placements map for further details and note that you are responsible for any costs incurred in travelling to and from your work placement, and for any accommodation costs. Further information on the likelihood of securing a placement, its impact on your course duration, and whether or not it will be paid are available from our placements staff.

    Timetables: Timetables are normally available one month before registration. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week. 

    Course leader: James Reynolds, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 02089187104

  • Module Information

    Students will study the following units/modules:

    • Unit 1: Professional Development (15 credits at level 4): Through this unit, you will explore the development of the professions within the creative industries and the roles that make up those professions. As creative practitioners it is important to schedule time, both to reflect and plan for personal development needs. This can help those working in creative industries to find inspiration and innovate, as well as prepare for external factors, such as keeping up with trends and new developments in their specialist field. The aim of this unit is for students to begin to define areas for personal professional development, in the context of a growing awareness of the broad scope of the creative industries.
    • Unit 2: Contextual Studies (15 credits at level 4): Contextual Studies provides an historical, cultural and theoretical framework to allow us to make sense of art and design, as well as to consider how they may help us to understand the wider world. This unit is designed to introduce students to key cultural developments, practices and movements related to the history of art, design, visual and popular culture since 1900. Emphasis will be placed upon developing a broad knowledge of art and design contexts, considering the technological, economic, social and aesthetic causes which have, and continue to, inform our understanding of art and design within the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. On successful completion of this unit students will have developed their contextual knowledge and their conceptual tool kit by undertaking a contextual investigation of their own, linked to their subject specialism.
    • Unit 3: Individual Project (Pearson Set) (15 credits at level 4): The main purpose of this unit is to provide students with the opportunity to discover personal strengths and inform independent practice. This unit is designed to develop the skills to apply creative practice in response to a theme and topics set by Pearson. Students will carry out and apply the knowledge and skills, developed through other areas of their studies, to complete and present an individual project. Wherever possible the unit will simulate working studio conditions, which will enhance and develop professional industry skills and practice. The ability to define, plan and undertake a project is a critical set of skills throughout the various roles within the creative industries. Identifying appropriate information and analysing this, to formulate clear solutions, is required to underpin many of the processes that inform creative practice.
    • Unit 4: Techniques & Processes (15 credits at level 4): Through this unit you will explore the critical facets of art and design practice that will enable any project. Through the development of skills associated with brief analysis and writing, research, experimentation and testing, and presentation students will begin the process of establishing the grounding for future development of their own practice and further their study. One successful completion of this unit students will have an awareness of a standard approach to the development and execution of work in the creative industries. In addition, they will have the basis upon which to develop their own approach to future projects.
    • Unit 13: Typography (15 credits at level 4): The aim of this unit is to raise awareness of techniques and processes of typography in both print and digital forms, to understand the current terminology and to creatively explore skills within graphic design, which are then applied within a typography brief. On successful completion of this unit students will appreciate some of the subtleties in creating and applying typography successfully and will have experienced and developed knowledge of fundamental skills necessary to progress to higher level study and commercial practice.
    • Unit 14: Graphic Design Practices (15 Credits at level 4): Topics included in this unit are the contextual awareness of graphic design practices, appreciation and exploitation of design constraints, working with a broad spectrum of materials and technology, applying reflection and testing within the development stage, efficient graphic design practices and delivering a graphic solution to a client. On successful completion of this unit students will recognise and practice the individual steps required to efficiently produce a graphic design outcome.
    • Unit 22: Printmaking (15 credits at level 4): This unit will allow students to explore a wide range of processes and practices in printmaking, as well as applying these practices to realise personal outcomes through an experimental approach. On successful completion of this unit students will be able to understand the historical and contemporary practices associated with printmaking, and through contextualised visits to professional studios and commercial workshops, be able to apply printmaking processes to their specific area of study.
    • Unit 28: Communication in Art & Design (15 credits at level 4): This unit aims to support students in exploring communications techniques and methodologies relevant to a specific field of study. The ability to communicate visually is a fundamental skill for all specialist fields within the creative industries. Potential audiences, clients and customers are looking for increasingly sophisticated visual stimuli and creative industry practitioners are continually challenged to come up with innovative ways to communicate their creative intentions.

  • Teaching and Learning


    You are taught through a combination of lectures and practicals. In addition, you have timetabled meetings with your personal tutor. You will use top of the range industry-standard equipment and have access to labs and library facilities throughout your course.

    Independent learning

    When not attending lectures, seminars and other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, preparing coursework assignments and presentations. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities, including the library, specialist art rooms such as the mac suite and print room.


    The course provides you with opportunities to test your understanding of the subject informally before you complete the formal assessments that count towards your final mark. Assessment methods include a range of coursework assessments such as essays, reports, portfolios, presentations and your final year major project. The grades from formal assessments count towards your module mark;

    All assessments are spread across the year to make the workload manageable. The course work will be based on practical demonstration of skills as delivered by the lecturers.

    Overall workload

    Your overall workload consists of class contact hours, independent learning, and assessment activity, While your actual contact hours may depend on the optional modules you select, the following information gives an indication of how much time you will need to allocate to different activities at each level of the course.

    Academic support

    Our Academic Support Team provides help in the following areas:

    • study skills (including reading, note-taking and presentation skills)
    • written English (including punctuation and grammatical accuracy)
    • academic writing (including how to reference)
    • research skills (in conjunction with the library)
    • critical thinking and understanding arguments
    • revision, assessment and examination skills (including time management).

    Our Student Support Services help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

    Teaching staff

    You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes senior academics, professional practitioners with industry experience, demonstrators and technical officers.

Entry Requirements

GCSE maths and English grade A*-C/9-4 or equivalent; AND

A related Level 3 qualification, which could be an Access to Higher Education Certificate; OR

At least one A-level in a relevant subject at grade A*-C OR more than one A-level at grades A*-E; OR

Related work experience – please see accreditation of prior learning or experience 

Portfolio of recent artwork

For international students, you will need an IELTS score of 5.5 (minimum 5.0 in each section) or equivalent.

Maths and English GCSEs at grade C or above are also required

Additional requirements

References from an official email address (ie. NOT Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) This can be from your previous institution if you were a student in the last 4 years or from a line manager if you are currently working.

Suitable applicants will be invited to interview, where they will be required to further demonstrate their suitability for the course by presentation of a suitable and relevant portfolio of artwork.

Credit transfer and accreditation of prior learning or experience: Other qualifications and relevant work experience may also count for academic credit. For this course we may be able take into account your paid and unpaid experience, professional qualifications and life experience. This is particularly applicable for mature students.

Further information is available at our Accreditation of Prior Learning page.

International Student Entry Requirements

Not currently offered to students requiring a Tier 4 visa – the courses available for Tier 4 students are


The course provides you with opportunities to test your understanding of the subject informally before you complete the formal assessments that count towards your final mark. Assessment methods include a range of coursework assessments such as essays, reports, portfolios, presentations and your final year major project. The grades from formal assessments count towards your module mark;

All assessments are spread across the year to make the workload manageable. The course work will be based on practical demonstration of skills as delivered by the lecturers.

Course Costs and Financial Support

The following course-related costs are included in the fees:

  • Annual printing allowance
  • BTEC registration fee (if applicable)

The following course-related costs are not included in the fees:

  • Additional printing over and above the annual allowance
  • The cost of books and equipment that you might wish to purchase

Careers and Progression

  • HND Art and Design
  • Progress into employment within graphic design studios or ability to work in a freelance capacity

Apply for this course

Where and when
1 Year
Study mode:?
Part Time Day
What do I need to pay?
16-18 year olds:
£ 5,001
19 and older: ?
£ 5,001
Materials fees: ?
£ 75

Course and General Enquiries 020 8918 7777