UCAS code: W240
Duration: 4 years
School: Edinburgh College of Art
College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Product design is about understanding people, questioning existing ways of doing things and seeing opportunities for innovative products that will enrich quality of life. You will explore cutting-edge research, design and practical methods used at the discipline's forefront.
Our mission is to ensure that you develop the necessary creative, technical, thinking and interpersonal skills to become a highly employable graduate, entrepreneur or thought leader.
We believe in cultivating empathic, experimental and provocative designers with strong interpersonal and communication skills; flexible design thinkers, able to explore social, economic and environmental contexts and opportunities for the design of original, useful and thought-provoking products.
Across a suite of courses you will explore making, thinking and designing through a variety of materials and technologies, informed by thought provoking briefs.
Themes engage with contemporary issues such as the circular economy and sustainability, as well as near future challenges including synthetic biology and the internet of things.
Our lecturers and technicians are highly skilled as makers and researchers, and together we support students to develop new ways of manipulating materials while understanding the needs of people and the environment.
The professional skills and abilities developed on the programme prepare our graduates for a rewarding career in the creative industries, in which many of our alumni are leading practitioners.
Through a combination of compulsory product design courses and options from within ECA and across the wider University, you will be introduced to fundamental skills required to develop successful designs.
These include methods of secondary research, creative idea generation techniques, design sketching, model making, workshop prototyping, problem solving, product assembly, creative electronics, manufacturing materials, computer presentation software and graphic presentation techniques.
Through group projects you will develop team-working skills and have the opportunity to meet and learn from students in other year groups in product design and across the wider School.
Through lectures, seminars and critical debate you will learn about design history, visual and cultural theory and contemporary design practice, developing your understanding of design in a wider context.
Compulsory courses further extend knowledge and expertise in product design, while options allow you to gain further skills from across ECA and the wider University.
Project briefs will introduce more complex knowledge and skills including methods of design ethnography, critical thinking, materials and manufacturing processes, computer-aided design and prototyping, advanced workshop prototyping and making, sustainability, brand awareness, design for manufacture, rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing.
A series of design projects enable you to practice and develop your skills, introducing a variety of approaches to product design and associated commercial considerations.
Further lectures, seminars and critical debates will enable you to learn more about visual and cultural theory and contemporary design research and design practice. Your understanding of design in a wider context and the ability to plan and structure design writing will be further developed.
This year’s projects extend the sophistication of the project briefs, with courses beginning to expect you to develop your identity as a designer. Projects delve deeper into smart products and how software and hardware is changing what we know about the internet of things, while subjects such as synthetic biology offer a rich context to explore moral and ethical questions for designing with living things.
You will also have the opportunity to apply for an optional semester-long or year-long industry placement or to travel abroad to one of our four exchange partner product design programmes in universities in Europe and North America. Study abroad can help you to learn about new cultures, meet new people, develop international networks, and develop an understanding of design from a new perspective. Support with applying for either industry internships or exchange study is provided by the School.
Whether on internship, exchange study or undertaking industry-led design projects at ECA, you will continue to build your design portfolio and are provided with guidance and support from staff to help refine your CV, prepare for interviews and make applications for a summer internship.
Aligned with a thorough understanding of product design, you will define your approaches to self-generated major projects.
Projects will enable you to demonstrate to potential employers an ability to use research to recognise unique design opportunities, an ability to define a design brief and a design specification, critical thinking skills, the ability to plan and manage concurrent projects, and essential knowledge of the product design process.
A written dissertation enables you to undertake research into a topic of personal interest, to learn more about planning and structuring design writing and to further enhance written communication skills.
To help you achieve your goals, you will receive one-to-one teaching, guidance, support and advice from experienced and dedicated practicing product designers and researchers.
Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.
We publish the latest available information for this programme. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year.
Design students benefit from studio-based learning at our Lauriston Place campus, along with the exhibitions and events associated with a vibrant art college. Option courses are usually taught outside the School across the wider university campus. You will also have access to the University's extensive libraries and computer facilities.
The University is investing in the ECA estate and facilities to further develop our flexible, stimulating, supportive and sustainable learning and research environment for students and staff.
Further information is available on the ECA website.
There will be opportunities for credited work-based learning during Year 3 although students from each year group often explore internships during their holiday period.
Study abroad is optional in Year 3.
The majority of design teaching and learning is through involvement in a range of experiential projects situated in a studio environment. Conceptual, material and technical issues are explored through seminars, workshops, lectures, tutorials and critiques.
Research, critical thinking and study of the visual, intellectual, social and professional contexts that shape creative design practice are regarded as essential to your development. This often involves participation in exhibitions, competitions, collaborations and live industry projects.
Formative assessment is continuous throughout the year, aiming to give you meaningful feedback and to encourage experimentation in the studio and beyond. Formative assessment for compulsory courses is through a mix of verbal and written modes such as portfolio, presentations and essays.
There is a mid-session review, usually at the mid-point of any given course you study. Summative assessment at the end of all the courses you take is informed by your academic and creative progress and performance throughout.
Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.
We publish the latest available information for this programme. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year.
We are committed to providing you with enhanced career prospects and the ability to achieve at the highest level. Graduates are professionally vital and well-informed, and are able to enter the design industry with a freshness of approach and the flexibility and adaptability to be able to respond to change. A range of career opportunities enable graduates to apply their knowledge and experience of the design process and their considerable skills.
Graduates typically join a design consultancy or a product development team within a company, however the wide range of skills developed on the programme enable graduates to work in diverse careers such as user interface design, user experience design, interaction design, service design, colour-material-finish design, design research, 3D printing, computer-aided design, model making, packaging design, marketing, retail design, exhibition design, multimedia or design management. Graduates with a particular interest in designing and making often establish their own practice.
Through project work students will build the project planning, project management and design development skills needed to work independently in industry. Our strong industry links mean that students have the opportunity each year to gain valuable experience working as part of a team on a collaborative, industry-led, 'live' project brief. You are encouraged to undertake industry placements, which further build upon knowledge and understanding of the professional practice of design. Through these industry project and placement experiences you will develop the professional and collaborative skills required to gain positions in industry.
Our graduates have a strong track record of employment in design jobs within six months of completing their studies. Some graduates choose to expand their knowledge and application of design research through postgraduate study.
Our links with industry, built through industry-linked projects and staff research, and our range of visiting speakers, ensure that graduates are aware of the full range of career possibilities and are provided with a strong footing from which to develop their chosen career. The professional skills and abilities developed on the programme prepare our graduates for a rewarding career path in the creative industries in which many of our alumni are leading practitioners.
Graduates of the programme can be found working in a wide range of companies including Philips, Herman Miller, Starck, Habitat, Zara Home, Viaduct, Isu, Blue Marmalade, MOO, Bodo Sperlein, Optoplast Actman Eyewear, SGS International, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, In the Design Lab, PeeblesCAN, 4S Technologies, Martha Stewart Living, Sirona Event and Promotions, Tayburn, HSBC, Unilever, 1508 London, RHA Furniture, Lakeland, Paula Rosa Manhattan Furniture, OB Sports, Me:Mo Interactive, IKEA, Halstock Cabinet Makers, Kardorff Ingenieure, Mike Stone Lighting, and many more.
The typical offer is likely to be:
Applicants will be asked to submit a digital mini-portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process. Applicants applying to enter Year 2 of our programmes, who pass the first stage of selection, will be invited to bring a full portfolio to an Applicant Day. (Revised 08/03/2017 to provide more accurate information.)
Applicants studying the Pearson BTEC Diploma in Art and Design will be considered for entry with the following:
Applicants studying the University of the Arts London Level 3 Extended Diploma in Arts and Design will be considered with Merit.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.
Entry to the second year is available. Successful completion of a Foundation Diploma (at Merit Grade), a relevant HND or equivalent is required. Applicants will normally be expected to have undertaken these qualifications in addition to having met the minimum entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB etc). In some of our less competitive programmes it may be possible to consider applicants presenting ABC (or equivalent) or above at A-level. These grades must have been achieved in a single first sitting.
You must provide evidence that your written and spoken English is at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.
If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:
For SQA and GCSE students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:
Key Information Sets (KIS) are part of a government initiative to enhance the information that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.
KIS are available for most undergraduate programmes and are intended to make it easier for you to find information about the programmes you are interested in studying. It is one of many sources of information available that will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.
You can also use this website to find more information on our programmes and the learning environment you will experience at the University of Edinburgh.
Please note that some programmes do not have data available and will not display a KIS.
There are likely to be additional costs for materials.
In addition, some programmes offer study trips and individual field-based projects. You will usually be required to cover accommodation, subsistence and travel costs.
Your actual contribution will depend on the programme and courses selected and on the nature of each trip.
For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.