Design is about investigating and developing an idea through to physical realisation – whether it’s an installation, a product or an architectural component.
In Year 1 you will explore principles of design. You will break, make and create through a series of practical exercises in and out of the studio. Engaging in the city of Oxford, identifying design solutions which contribute to Sustainable Development Goals. You will engage in collaborative working through drawing, sketching and making 3D propositions. By the end of the year you would have developed your own designs into physical objects, informed by your research activity. Your focus will be on fabricating objects at 1:1, exploring, making, utilising tools and testing materials.
You will be in the designated Design and Make Studio, working in the Fabrication Workshop developing your ideas. We will support you with practical and theoretical lectures and seminars to help you develop your academic skills.
In Year 2, we help you prepare for your placement. You will search for the type of experience which best suits your development. This live experience can be locally, nationally or internationally. You have a minimum of 10 weeks but can be extended over the summer break expanding your professional experience. Our students find the placement module invaluable to their development not only professionally but personally, taking back into the studio a wide variety of new skills and ideas.
On your return in Year 3 you will expand your academic experience through your own research. We will encourage you to look beyond contemporary practice and speculate on the future of design and making. The focus will be to apply your creativity and technical ability in a rigorous research project where you design, speculate, make and test.
Culminating in writing a theoretical research paper in your own area of interest. This year brings together all of your ideas and the skills learnt during your placement to make your future as a designer-maker a reality.
The unique modules within the course combine architecture, product design and fine art along with developing strong employability skills through a placement module and the schools connection with industry.
As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules available may vary from those listed here.
The modules are:
- Design and Make: creativity and innovation
- Materials Tools and Processes: communication and representation
- Professional Practice: collaboration and project management
- Design Thinking: social life of materials
Years 2 and 3
The modules are:
- Design and Make: material emergence
- Design Thinking: the future of making
- Professional Practice: business and entrepreneurship (online) Professional Practice: placement experience and engagement
- Design and Make: speculative resolution
- Materials Tools and Processes: post digital
- Design Thinking: dissertation
In Year 2 and Semester 2 there is an opportunity for you to complete a 10-week (minimum) placement in industry. Previous student feedback from those students who complete the module is that it has added invaluably to their studies often supplying them with a final year project from their placement company.
Field trips abroad are offered each year in addition to site and factory visits. Recent field trips in the school have included such places as Hungary, Portugal, Italy and Spain. Field trips are a very popular option because they offer the opportunity to experience design and culture first hand with your tutors.
Field trips, site visits and factory visits are optional and an additional cost to the course fees. Typical costs of overseas field trips range from £300 to £600. Local and UK field trips, site visits and factory visits typically cost between £1 and £300.
Students wishing to study abroad can apply to do so in year two of their studies. This is not a mandatory part of the course.
Great opportunities to study or work abroad
You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange facilitated by the University. Most exchanges take place in the second year.
Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:
- increasing your employability within an international market
- boosting your language skills
- building your confidence in adapting to new situations
- improving your knowledge of different cultures.
While on exchange you will gain credits which count towards your degree.
We have more than 100 partner universities around the world. Funding is available through the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander Student Awards. Travel costs, accommodation and subsistence are not included in this funding.
There is also a European work placement programme which gives you the chance to work abroad as part of your studies.
For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges.
Free language courses for students - the Open Module
Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.
Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:
- studying at a Brookes partner college
- studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.
Design studio with your design studio tutor is held for two full days a week. Teaching in the design studio includes one-to-one tutorials, group tutorials, workshops, presentations and lectures. Design studio forms 50% of the curriculum. The remaining academic subjects are taught through various series of lectures, workshops, tutorials and seminars.
As an architecture student you will produce many drawings and models, which can
be quite expensive so you are encouraged to recycle used materials where possible,
particularly for sketch models. Some students tend to work digitally, spending
more on printing and some by hand, spending more on materials so these costs
vary widely between students.
You should expect to spend approximately £500 - £700 on materials in your first
year. You will be expected to keep a sketchbook, produce specific drawings, make
models, mostly out of recycled and inexpensive materials, but consumables such
as glue, knives etc will be needed. As you progress into your 2nd and 3rd year
you will be expected to produce more finished presentation models using more
expensive materials. You can expect to spend approximately £500 - £1500 on materials
in years 2 and 3.
You will also produce drawings and models using a variety of media, including computer
drawing software. The cost of materials and computer print-outs are kept as low
as possible by the university. Printing is charged at no profit and there is
no charge for laser cutting beyond your own material costs. You can expect to
spend approximately £300 - £500 on printing in year 1 and approximately £500
- £1500 in years 2 and 3.
PCs with the programmes needed for your course are available in the studios 24
hours a day, 7 days a week. Some students choose to buy a lap top and software
when they begin to draw digitally but this is not mandatory and free student
licences are available for much of the software. An optional laptop and software
would cost approximately £500-£1200.
There are no compulsory books to purchase because the library is very well stocked
and the direction of your reading is very individual due to the diverse nature
of the course. Some students choose to purchase specific books to support their
interests so you can expect to spend £25 - £150 on books each year.
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published
on the website. For more information, please visit our
Changes to programmes