Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

BA Product Design

UCAS code: W240

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing BA Product Design

Product design is about:

  • understanding people and society by questioning and reflecting on existing systems
  • exploring opportunities for innovative products

Through practical experience, you will learn design research methods used at the forefront of the discipline. These will allow you to explore and understand:

  • cutting-edge materials
  • technologies
  • society

How we teach

Our mission is to ensure that you develop your own approach to design. You will develop the skills needed to become a highly employable graduate, entrepreneur or thought leader. These include:

  • creative skills
  • technical skills
  • critical thinking
  • interpersonal skills

We aim to produce:

  • empathetic, experimental and provocative designers with strong communication skills
  • flexible design thinkers who can explore social, economic and environmental contexts and opportunities to design original, useful and thought-provoking products

What you will learn

Across a group of courses, you will explore making, critical thinking and designing using a variety of materials and technologies. These are informed by thought-provoking briefs.

You will engage with a range of contemporary issues and future challenges, including:

  • the circular economy and sustainability
  • product semantics
  • speculative design
  • the internet of things

Design and Screen Cultures courses are integrated with your practical studio work. These provide a contextual and theoretical understanding of contemporary design.

Why Edinburgh?

Our lecturers and technicians are highly skilled as makers and researchers.

We support our students to:

  • develop their own ways of exploring the world through design
  • understand the needs of people and the environment

The professional skills and abilities developed in the programme prepare our graduates for a rewarding career in the creative industries. Many of our alumni are now leading practitioners.

Year 1

Compulsory courses

You will take compulsory courses in:

  • Product Design
  • Design and Screen Cultures

These will introduce you to the fundamental skills required to develop successful designs.

For product design courses, you will attend lectures, seminars, workshops, and tutorials. You will learn about and apply:

  • sketching in 2D and 3D
  • value and sustainability
  • product semantics and communicating meaning
  • design thinking

Through Design and Screen Cultures lectures, seminars and critical debate you will learn about:

  • design history
  • visual and cultural theory
  • contemporary design practice

Optional courses

You will be able to take up to 40 credits of optional courses across the year.

Year 2

Compulsory courses

Product design core courses will introduce you to design projects, allowing you to practise and develop your skills.

We will introduce you to a variety of approaches to product design and associated commercial considerations, including:

  • advanced workshop prototyping and making
  • computer-aided design and rapid prototyping
  • additive manufacturing
  • materials and manufacturing processes
  • product assembly
  • methods of design ethnography
  • sustainability
  • brand awareness
  • critical thinking
  • speculative design
  • electronics and interaction

Your Design and Screen Cultures lectures, seminars and critical debates will enable you to learn more about:

  • visual and cultural theory
  • contemporary design research and practice

These will further develop your:

  • understanding of design in a wider context
  • ability to plan and structure design writing

Optional courses

Alongside Design and Screen Cultures courses, you will be able to choose optional courses from across the wider University, subject to availability.

Year 3

Projects and courses

This year you will:

  • develop your identity as a designer
  • work on more sophisticated project briefs
  • work with live clients

Projects explore:

  • value creation and mediation, considering multiple stakeholders
  • products and services in the context of the internet of things and beyond
  • the role design has to play in activism and politics

Optional courses are more limited this year but still available from within design and the wider University.

Exchanges and internships

This year you can apply for optional study abroad. We have exchange partner design programmes at universities in Europe and North America.

Whether on exchange study in Semester 2 or undertaking industry-led design projects at ECA, you will continue to build your design portfolio.

Our staff will provide guidance and support to help you:

  • refine your portfolio and CV
  • prepare for interviews
  • make applications for a summer internship

Year 4

Projects

Aligned with a thorough understanding of product design, you will define your approaches to develop a self-directed project.

Projects will enable you to show potential employers your ability to:

  • use research to recognise unique design opportunities
  • define a design brief and a design specification
  • plan and manage concurrent projects
  • employ critical thinking skills and essential knowledge of the product design process

Dissertation

You will complete a written dissertation, enabling you to:

  • research a topic of personal interest
  • learn more about planning and structuring design writing
  • further enhance your written communication skills

To help you achieve your goals, experienced and dedicated practising product designers and researchers will provide:

  • teaching
  • guidance
  • support
  • advice

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

You will benefit from studio-based learning along with the exhibitions and events associated with a vibrant art college at our Lauriston Place campus.

Studios and workshops

Within the product design studio there is a student-managed space. This allows you to quickly realise your ideas using:

  • light workshop facilities and hand tools
  • electronics and soldering station

Most of your teaching in product design takes place at the Lauriston campus, close to the students' studio. You will have access to a range of workshops, including facilities for:

  • electronics and digital fabrication
  • wood and metalwork
  • glass blowing

Other facilities

Throughout your degree, you will take optional courses. Depending on your choices these may be taught in the school or the wider University campus.

You will also have access to the University's:

  • extensive libraries
  • computing facilities
  • technical facilities

Investing in our learning environment

The University is investing in Edinburgh College of Art's estate and facilities. This will further develop our supportive, stimulating and sustainable learning and research environment.

You can find out more on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA

Study abroad

You will have the option to study abroad in Year 3.

This can help you to:

  • learn about new cultures
  • meet new people
  • develop international networks
  • develop an understanding of design from a new perspective

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most design teaching and learning involves experiential courses situated in a studio environment.

Conceptual, material and technical issues are explored through:

  • seminars
  • workshops
  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • critiques
  • student presentations

Your development is influenced by research and critical thinking, as well as the following contexts that shape creative design practice:

  • visual context
  • intellectual context
  • social context
  • professional context

These elements are taught through core product design courses and the Design and Screen Cultures courses and involve participation in:

  • studio culture and community
  • taught sessions and independent learning
  • exhibitions
  • competitions
  • collaborations
  • live industry projects

How will I be assessed?

We use continuous formative assessment throughout your study. This helps us give meaningful feedback and encourages experimentation in the studio and beyond.

Formative assessment for compulsory courses can include:

  • portfolio
  • presentations
  • essays against course learning outcomes

There is a mid-session review, usually at the mid-point of any course you study.

Summative assessment at the end of all courses is informed by your:

  • academic and creative progress
  • performance throughout
  • demonstration of your learning in your submitted work

Your course grades are calculated through this summative assessment plus a moderation process.

We are committed to providing you with enhanced career prospects and the ability to achieve at the highest level.

Our graduates enter the job market with a fresh approach and the flexibility and adaptability to respond to modern challenges. The huge range of career opportunities enables graduates to apply their:

  • knowledge
  • experience in the design process
  • considerable skills

Design jobs

Our graduates have a strong track record of employment in the creative industries within six months of completing their studies.

Our graduates typically join a:

  • design consultancy
  • product development team within a company

Graduates with a particular interest in designing and making often establish their own practice or start-up.

A range of skills

The wide range of skills you will develop opens up a diverse range of career options.

For example, our graduates have gone on to work in:

  • product design
  • user interface and user experience design
  • interaction design
  • service design
  • design research
  • design ethnography
  • design management
  • model making
  • packaging design

Other examples include:

  • marketing
  • retail design
  • exhibition design
  • multimedia
  • 3D printing
  • computer aided design

Some graduates choose to expand their knowledge and application of design research through postgraduate study.

Connections with industry

Through self-directed and industry-led project work you will build skills in:

  • project planning
  • project management
  • working as part of a team

We have built strong contacts with the industry through:

  • industry-linked projects
  • staff research
  • our range of visiting speakers

These ensure our graduates are aware of the full range of career possibilities and are provided with a strong footing from which to develop their chosen careers.

Where our graduates work

Our graduates can be found working in a range of companies, including:

  • Microsoft
  • SusTrans
  • NCR
  • Philips
  • RBS
  • NMS
  • Herman Miller
  • Habitat
  • Zara Home
  • Viaduct
  • Isu
  • Blue Marmalade
  • MOO
  • Bodo Sperlein
  • Optoplast Actman Eyewear
  • Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design
  • In the Design Lab
  • Peebles CAN
  • 4S Technologies
  • Martha Stewart Living
  • Sirona Event and Promotions
  • Tayburn
  • HSBC
  • Unilever
  • 1508 London
  • Lakeland
  • IKEA

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements

Portfolio

Applicants will be asked to submit a digital portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process.

For more information about the portfolio, visit the Edinburgh College of Art website at the link below and scroll to the section titled ‘Application Process’.

Product Design application process

Portfolio technical support and specification

Important dates

  • 1 December 2024: portfolio submission site opens.
  • 29 January 2025: deadline for all applicants (including international applicants).
  • 4 February 2025 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: portfolio submission deadline.

BTEC/UAL Diplomas

Applicants studying Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Art and Design will be considered for entry with the following:

  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma with DMM.
  • Pearson BTEC Diploma with MM plus one A Level at A (or DM plus B at A Level).
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Certificate / Subsidiary Diploma with D plus two A Levels at B (or M plus AB at A Level).

Applicants studying the University of the Arts London Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design will be considered with Merit.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

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.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Entry to the second year is available. Successful completion of a Foundation Diploma (at Merit grade), a relevant HND or equivalent is required. Applicants with a Foundation Diploma will normally be expected to have undertaken these qualifications in addition to having met the first year entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB, relevant HNC, etc). In some of our less competitive degrees it may be possible to consider applicants presenting ABC (or equivalent) or above at A Level. These must have been achieved in one set of exams, at first attempt.

A list of accepted HNDs, along with further information for adult returners, can be found on our adult returner page:

Adult returner applicants

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BA Product Design

Additional costs

The University provides some basic materials for you to use. However, in the later years of your degree, we encourage you to explore your own specific interests within briefs.

You will need to pay the additional costs for any specialist materials you use in these projects. Costs vary depending on your:

  • interests
  • year of study

We estimate annual costs will be no greater than £150.

Study trip

Each year we aim to offer a design-focused trip in the second semester. You can apply for a subsidy to help with these costs. However, you will usually be required to pay for:

  • accommodation
  • subsistence
  • travel costs

The amount you will actually pay will depend on the programme and courses you have selected, and the nature of each trip.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding