On the BA (Hons) Visual Communication course our aim is to educate the professional, visual communicators of the future, those who have something to say, and those who aim to help others express their ideas effectively. The tools you will explore are broad: photography, video, illustration, typography, animation, graphic design, 3D design, social media, and events management. The core skills you learn will be universal: research, collaboration, project management, problem solving, and critical thinking. If you wish to broaden your career options by developing multi-disciplinary skills, BA (Hons) Visual Communication is the course for you.

We take a highly student-centred approach, allowing each student to negotiate their own route through the course. Some students maintain a broad multi-disciplinary approach throughout the course while others choose to specialise in one practice.

The early part of the first year will introduce you to a wide range of technical skills and theoretical ideas, and from then on all your briefs will be live. There will always be a real audience for your work. We believe in the importance of people-centred design and you will be encouraged to develop your ideas in dialogue with your potential audience or user group. We ask you to use your creativity to communicate to that audience before critically assessing how well you have achieved your aims.

External engagement through work-related learning is central to our approach, with all students working on live projects and many working regularly with businesses and external partners. Every year the majority of our graduates secure employment, work experience or freelance work in their chosen field as a direct result of connections established during the course and have developed a clear understanding of their professional aims and values, and their place in the world.

The BA (Hons) Visual Communication degree has delivered a highly successful diagnostic visual design course for the past 15 years. Our alumni work in a huge variety of fields including graphic design, television, photography, film, illustration, visual merchandising, teaching, computer games design and animation. Graduate employers include industry leaders in all areas of the creative sector. In addition many alumni are now established freelance practitioners working for clients across the UK and overseas.

A core theme within the course is building your understanding of the broader context within which communication design is practiced. We study the context of visual communication practice throughout all three years, teaching you to research many of the pressing concerns relating to contemporary visual communication, including issues such as sustainability, globalisation, identity theory, and the social media explosion. This is supported by staff engagement with research in design practice and education. The staff team are all active creative practitioners, publishing, exhibiting and showing their work nationally and internationally. We are located in purpose built air-conditioned studios located at the heart of the University allowing easy access to our award-winning workshop facilities.

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course details

What You'll Study

Year One — You’ll be introduced to the core principals of design and communication. You’ll develop technical skills in filmmaking, typography, photography, graphic design, printmaking, illustration and book-making. You will also receive thorough inductions into the University’s award-winning workshop facilities. Through practical briefs you will be introduced to a range of communication processes including persuasion, narrative, documentary and reportage, where your own interests will inform the content of your work. You will have the opportunity to collaborate with other students, work with businesses and communities in the city, exhibit your work and move towards independent learning and self- directed projects which form the foundation of your second year.

Year Two — You will begin to specialise in one or more specific forms of practice, focusing on the skills you require. You’ll identify the skills you need to develop to a professional standard, and apply them to real life-projects (whether self-directed, client-based or competitions). During the year you will start to investigate the professional world that relates to your emerging practice and develop a portfolio of work to help secure work experience.

Year Three — You’ll develop professional and entrepreneurial skills in an area of practice to which you feel passionately committed, supported by a research project and facilitated through external links, exhibitions and conferences. On graduating, you’ll be ready
to make a positive contribution to your chosen profession and to society, leaving us with a bespoke skill set and a clear strategy for moving on to employment, self-employment or further study.


Work Experience

Alongside your core study you are encouraged to negotiate work experience with businesses, charities, voluntary and community organisations and individuals which will enhance your overall experience and give you a clearer understanding of your proposed professional working environment. Regular Skype interviews with alumni are organised where they talk about their professional experience and provide guidance and opportunities for work experience and progression into the creative industries.


Students have a strong track record in winning design awards.

Recent successes include:

  • Nine Creative Conscience Awards 2014-16
  • Leeds Transformer Volunteering Award 2012
  • Wool Gather Art Prize 2011
  • 2.8 Days Later Film Award 2011

Course Specification

Contact Hours & Teaching/Learning Methods

Undergraduate degree programmes at Leeds Arts University are delivered and supported through a range of teaching and learning strategies. Programmes are made up of modules, these are elements of study that are taught and assessed separately. Each module carries a clearly identified credit value, the accumulation of which will allow you to progress to the next level of the programme. 100 hours of learning are expected for every ten credits of the programme. Each level (year) of the programme is made up of 120 credits and therefore requires 1200 hours of learning. This equates to 40 hours of study per week throughout the academic year.

For every 100 hours of learning, approximately 25 hours are delivered as taught or supported sessions and remaining hours are allocated for studio/workshop access and independent learning. Individual programmes have their own learning cultures based on their specific use of the teaching and learning methods listed here. These methods feature differently depending on the programme, level, aims of module, content of the sessions and progress through an academic year.

For further information see our Undergraduate teaching & learning at Leeds Arts University document.

Destination Careers

Our alumni work in a huge variety of fields including graphic design, television, photography, film, illustration, visual merchandising, teaching, journalism, community arts, computer games design and animation.

Graduate employers include:

Aardman Animations, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Topshop, VICE Magazine (New York), Wallpaper Magazine, Saatchi & Saatchi, Tate Modern, Design Museum, the White Company, We Are Fallon, Liberal Democratic Party, Marks & Spencers, Ilkley Literature Festival, David Oldham Photography, Bloomsbury Publishing, Sonar Festival, LBi London, Glastonbury Festival, I-am Associates, ASDA Marketing, Dubit Ltd, Red Star 3D, East Africa Playgrounds, Omobono, Kontra Oslo, Rapha Racing Ltd, Opera North, Left Bank Leeds, TNR Communications, OMD UK, 10 Associates, Haaretz, New Era Cap.

In addition many alumni are now established freelance practitioners working for clients throughout the creative industries across the UK and overseas.

Entry Requirements

We’re looking for students with the best potential to succeed - irrespective of their background. That’s why we welcome a wide range of qualifications and experience.

Click here to view our entry requirements

Portfolio Guide

A well presented portfolio says a lot about an applicant and their work. Our guidance is not meant to limit your creative statement.

  • Examples of drawings
  • Examples of design/idea development
  • Sketchbooks/notebooks
  • Critical diary, notebook, essay etc.
  • Examples of personal/work interests

We do not need to see all the work you have produced – around 15-20 samples in your main portfolio would be ideal.

In general terms however we regard the portfolio as a means to discuss with you your ideas and where you see yourself going.

Be prepared to talk about yourself.

We also run a range of daytime and evening portfolio development courses specialising in preparation for further and higher art and design education. For more information on current courses please click here.

Interview Guide

When you arrive at reception you will be met by a student from the course who will take you to the studio where you will be asked to lay out your work.

You will be shown around the department and have the opportunity to ask questions. We will explain the interview process and give you a copy of our year book. You will then be given a brief written exercise (it is not a test) that you can do in our studio. Whilst you have been doing this the course staff will have been looking at your work. You will then have a 15 minute personal interview with two members of staff and one of our current students with your work.

Since we interview several students in one half day session, you should be prepared to be in the University for up to three hours. If you have had to travel long distances and have a train pre-booked, please let us know in advance and we will try to arrange the timing of your interview so you can get away in time.


This is identified from one or more of the following:

Good use of visual and technical skills

  • Samples of work

Demonstrate the ability to generate and develop a range of strong ideas

  • Samples of work

Skill and inventiveness in the use of a variety of media and techniques

  • Samples of work

A good understanding and use of visual and verbal language

  • Samples of work
  • Interview

An interest in working on real projects which engage with contemporary issues

  • Samples of work
  • And/or interview

Enthusiasm for studying at a specialist Art & Design University

  • Interview

Tuition Fees and Other Costs

Tuition Fees

Our current fees are listed here.

Other Costs:

Equipment & Materials

You do not need to purchase any equipment or materials prior to starting. You may wish to purchase a laptop and/or hard drive later on, but we can advise you about this so that you purchase the appropriate type after you have enrolled. You will also receive a pack from us that will include key equipment you will need.

During levels 5 and 6 (second and third year) you will need to produce practical work within your modules. The costs involved in production will vary dependent upon the nature of the work you choose to do. For example digital photography can sometimes incur very little cost whereas jewellery making can be rather expensive. On average students report they spend around £200 in each year. You will also need to backup your digital work in some way to keep it secure, either on external hard drives or cloud storage, this will cost around £50-100 each year.

There is no requirement to purchase equipment but many students choose to buy items such as cameras, video cameras and digital drawing tablets once they decide on a specialist form, or forms, of practice.                


We organise two residential trips for first year students to attend. The first is an overnight study visit within the UK and the cost of the trip is subsided by the course and will leave you with £25 to pay. This includes your return travel, accommodation and breakfast.

The second is an overseas study trip in spring. The cost of the trip is approximately £360 and includes your airfare; return travel to the airport, accommodation and breakfast for the duration of the trip.

Both visits are integral to your programme of studies and are a great opportunity to get to know your peers.

Each year level 5 students take part in the GIDE (Group for International Design Education) workshop. This year Leeds Arts University are hosting the event so we are not travelling abroad and there are no costs to students. We may run a small level 5 trip later in the year with a cost of up to £200.

Terms & Conditions and Key Information

Our Terms & Conditions are here.

If you would like to download the Key Information on this programme click here.

International Opportunities / Visiting and exchange students

We are delighted to welcome undergraduate visiting and exchange students from Europe and around the world who would like to spend a semester or a full academic year taking credits from our exciting range of courses. You will be fully integrated into the academic and social life of the University during a period of full-time supervised study and your credits transferred back to your home institution.

You can join us through programmes such as Erasmus+, individual university partnerships or as an independent applicant. Please see here for more information and how to apply.

Leeds Arts University students interested in spending some time overseas can find information on the international opportunities available during your course here.

Questions? Contact international@leeds-art.ac.uk

3 Years
Study Mode
Full Time
Term Starts
Institution Name
Leeds Arts University
Institution Code
Awarded by
Leeds Arts University


BA (Hons) Visual Communication

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"We're looking for dynamic students who want to have creative working lives which make a positive impact on society."
Graham Tansley, Programme Leader
BA (Hons) Visual Communication