frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply to BA(Hons) Product Design  @ the School of Art, Design & Performance?

like all other degree programmes, you have to apply through UCAS – go to the UCAS website to find out how.

What is product design?

Put simply, product design looks to consider the creative aspects of products that are mass manufactured. this fact differentiates it from, for example, a 3D course in the sense that a product designer deals with technologies, materials and manufacturing processes that look to produce things in the thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, whereas a 3D designer places more emphasis on material and its working characteristics and may only produce a ‘one off’ or become involved in limited batch production.

What sort of things will I design?

Literally anything. at level 1 you will be given projects areas – these are used to take you through the design process and let you understand the different stages of product definition. At level 2, you will be exposed to briefs written by other people – designers, or companies. By level 3 you can pick areas of your own choice – these will not only reflect your personal interests but also possibly be shaping your graduate portfolio regarding areas you wish to work in.

 the only thing we don’t let you do are vehicles – these are too specialist – if you want to do cars, you should look for automotive design courses.

What sort of things will I study?

Basically everything you will need to know to become a successful graduate designer. you will be introduced to the ‘design process’, taught how to communicate your thoughts and intentions through drawing, both manually and digitally. You will learn industry standard 3D modelling software and learn to use the data you create to produce prototype components using our rapid prototyping systems. You will pull products apart and learn what has to go into a product to make it work. you will be shown the tricks of the trade regarding product styling – how do you make your ideas look ‘cool’. You will find about the historical routes of your profession, who are the movers and shakers within the contemporary environment and be allowed to pause to say ‘what if?’ regarding the future. You will spend your time with enthusiastic staff, with industry experience, graduates who are now real designers and designers and managers from the industry.

 Will i get a job at the end of it?

We hope so! ultimately that’s down to you – but we will make sure we prepare you as well as we can for your future in product design. If you want to get a feel for the sorts of directions our graduates have taken after they have left us, click here.

Are there any exams?

no! – there are no exams. experience has taught us that people like you do not respond well to exam situations. instead you are assessed 100% by course work. granted, this does mean you have to work hard all the time, but it also means that if you are struggling with a particular area of your studies, we can see this and step in and help – a lot better than finding out after an exam at the end of the year!

What are the costs of things like art material?

Inevitably, for a design course, there are costs associated with your activities, however, we try to keep them to a minimum. You will do a lot of drawing, so layout pads and pens/ pencils are used at a fair rate. During level 1 you are also taught to use marker pens – these are expensive, but the syllabus has been written to show you how to get the most out of a limited set of pens – having a load of marker pens doesn’t necessarily make you a good designer ! You will be expected to make models while you are with us – whilst the workshops are well equipped, we do advise you to get a basic model making toolkit together for your arrival. The list of recommended equipment is here.

 Should i buy a computer before i come?

No! we have a large number of computers in the northern school of design, both PC and Mac. you will have access to these computers during taught classes and they are freely available out of timetabled hours. once you have some experience of the software packages we teach and you have a better feel for how computers aid your design activity, we are happy to provide advice on what and when to buy.

Are there studio fees?

Currently there are no additional set fees attached to your studies at the School of Art, Design & Performance.

Do I have to pay for workshop materials?

Through normal usage, no. All basic workshop materials are provided to you. however we operate a common sense policy. If you require a large amount of raw materials, or a number of specialist components, we will make a ‘value charge’ – this is simply to ensure you don’t go away, waste all the material we have just given you and then come back wanting more. At level 2, you will have access to the rapid prototyping equipment the school owns, for set projects, you can make things for free. however, when you get to your final year, you will be advised as to what methods are appropriate for your project needs. If  you need rapid prototyping output, you are charged per cubic centimeter of material used – we only charge at material cost, so what you use, can be replaced.

Do I have to be in all week?

Just about, yes! you have a lot of things to learn and that takes time and contact with staff –  over the 5 day week, you should expect to be in for about 4 of those. we expect punctuality and a willingness to stay to the end of taught sessions. If we feel your attendance is having a negative effect on your studies we will let you know and do everything we can to help.

How will I be taught?

Mostly, teaching will take place in one of our design studios – the good thing about this method is staff can teach on various levels of contact, from talking to the class as a whole, to a group around a table, down to one to one. You will find as you progress through the course, teaching will become steadily more personalised. From time to time, or depending on the module, you will also get lectures, but even these provide more than ample opportunity to ask questions or to get things explained again to you.

We place a lot of emphasis on feedback. this comes in different forms. When staff sit with you and discuss your project work, they are giving you verbal feedback – likewise if you are presenting your project in a crit. Additionally, whenever you submit a piece of work, you will receive written feedback on your performance, this will normally not only identify the good aspects of your work, but also identify things you need to improve – this is called formative feedback. At the end of a module, you will receive more feedback about your overall performance – this is called summative feedback.

On top of this you will have a year tutor and a personal tutor – sometime they are the same person, sometimes they are not. Your year tutor is there to help you with anything you want to discuss regarding your studies. Your personal tutor is always available if life gets a bit on top of you, or there are problems outside of your studies that you might need help or advice on.

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