Design Crafts BA (Hons) module details

Year one | Year two | Year three

Year one

Block 1: Craft Skills

The module introduces you to craft materials and processes and will induct you in the practical workshops, these include core material areas for Craft: fine metals, ceramics, glass, plaster and an introduction to subsidiary materials areas in wood, plastics, textiles paper, fibre and digital making. The induction is followed by the introduction to basic craft processes, which typically include hand, machine and digital techniques such as construction, cutting, joining, model and mould making, casting, colouring, printing, forming, surface patination and additive and subtractive techniques across materials. You will begin to develop their awareness of the circular economy, ethical material culture and material waste reduction.

You are introduced to the scarcity and abundance of materials and will begin to consider the impacts of how ethical material choice can make a difference on the changing environment.  You will also become aware of the longevity of craft product/artefacts and the potential of reuse or re purposing in response.

Assessment: Materials samples, 60%. Technical logbook, 40%.

Block 2: Design and Make

This module introduces you to the design and making process through your individual response to a brief, technical demonstrations and builds on the basic inductions and craft knowledge gained in the previous module. You will explore and learn the use of basic methods of communication within the design process and experiment with media and approaches to drawing in 2D and 3D. Creative ideas are generated in both studio and craft workshops. Ideas are developed through drawing approaches which include collage, use of colour, surface treatment, texture, mark making, expression, CAD, digital drawing and technical drawing. You will continue to think about materials, reuse, ethical material culture /waste reduction, longevity of craft products and artefacts.

Assessment: Craft making, 80%. Drawing and design portfolio, 20%.

Block 3: Craft Projects

On this module you will explore the relationship between users, objects and environments and the design and making process. Through your individual response to a brief, you will build on the basic design and craft skills knowledge gained in the previous module. You will consider how objects are constructed and how they support different kinds of user interaction in terms of decorative or functional use whilst bearing in mind sustainable material production and sourcing. You will explore and evaluate the existence, meanings and purposes of those objects in relation to the individual to develop and make a series of material prototypes that test your understanding of the user. You will explore the aesthetics and ergonomics of craft objects and become mindful of your audience through detailed observations of everyday use.

Assessment: Design and artefacts project, 80%. Presentation/ display, 20%.

Block 4: Craft in Context

This module consolidates previous learning to begin to make choices in materials and test contexts. You will research a particular design craft context of your choice and produce a finished artefact, design or product in response. You are encouraged to use digital technologies and/ or traditional craft processes to produce concepts and conclusions for relevant independently defined contexts. With an increasingly independent approach, your project work will demonstrate your individual practice.

The practical content is further underpinned by theoretical content delivered by the Design Cultures department to contextualise current practice within an historical framework. You will consider origins and influences - how traditions develop and evolve in response to social and political contexts - as well as research methods, visual literacy and the skills for academic writing. Typical contextual content will include the birth and later rediscoveries of the Classical tradition, the changing status of makers/craftspeople over place and time, the impact of industrialisation and the division of labour and the relationship between contemporary practice and craft and design movements.

Assessment: Craft project, 50%. Essay, 50%.

Year two

Block 1: Live Projects

The Design Crafts subject is broad and facilitates a range of approaches to creative practice in the field. A design approach, a process-led approach or an artistic approach. On this module you will interpret and respond to an external brief, taking full account of any drivers that have influence on the design activity included within it. You will experience what it is to be a Designer. Competitions, commissions and commercial ‘live’ briefs will be considered.

You will identify two appropriate briefs and demonstrate an ability to design an artefact or product which fulfils the requirements of the selected brief. You will be able to work collaboratively (in small groups or pairs) or individually.

A series of seminars on market research, design, CAD and visual communication will build confidence in communication skills. Market and trends research will be undertaken and potential methods of production will be explored and identified. Mood boards, Design boards, CAD, sketchbooks, models, maquettes, samples and visualisations will communicate a concept and its development though to a resolved design.

Assessment: Project 1, 50%. Project 2, 50%.

Block 2: Craft Skills 2

As 3D printing or rapid-prototyping has become more accessible it has infiltrated into almost all areas of craft, design and manufacture. From fashion to medicine, 3D modelling and rapid prototyping are used as tools to produce objects which would have otherwise been inconceivable. Individual artists, designers and makers have also been pushing the boundaries within this field and developing ways of employing this technology to further their practice. Exploring a hybrid of hand and digital making will offer you interesting opportunities to be innovative and stand out within a contemporary design craft arena.

This module introduces you to a range of basic processes and practices associated with the digital design, development and rapid proto-typing of three-dimensional artefacts. You will gain an understanding of the role of 3D computer modelling and rapid-prototyping within the design process and explore how this can relate to your own practice, whether that be as: a vehicle to communicate your ideas; a time and cost-efficient means of conveying your ideas to clients; a way to subvert the traditional limits of design craft practice or; as part of the tool making process that could be used for batch production methods or standalone items.

You will design artefacts or products for the market that have integrity and a distinctive design aesthetic. You will develop ideas and concepts that reflect current trends and attempt toanticipate emerging new trends and sustainability issues within the marketplace too.

Assessment: Portfolio of drawing, design and research, 50%. Consolidation, 50%.

Block 3: Craft Cultures

This module engages you with contemporary debates and research in the craft and design. This module is designed to complement the consolidation of material skills by introducing a broad knowledge of historical and contemporary design practice in a wider global context. It develops research methods, vocabulary and the necessary skills to become critically aware and confident in engaging in debate within and beyond the discipline. Key designers, thinkers and writers in the field will be introduced to embed a working knowledge of key concepts in discussions about the discipline, including sustainability, gender and cross-cultural awareness.

Typical content will include contemporary discourse and debate about ethical and sustainable craft practice, globalisation and the role of craft in development, the role of gender in making, mediating and consuming, contemporary curatorial practices, the relationship between design and technology and contemporary craft and design practice.

Assessment: Literature review, 30%. Essay, 70%.

Block 4: Creative Practice

In this module you will take ownership of your personal design direction as an emerging creative practice. Through the exploration and refinement of practical skills and conceptual investigation you will produce refined artefact/s and present them in a professional public exhibition display. You will write your own brief through negotiation with tutors. The brief will consider the materials choice, context and methods of making and sets parameters for the project.  

You will collaboratively organise, finance, publicise and professionally present your work at a public exhibition. Alongside costing and pricing your work, you will research E-marketing and be encouraged to look at related websites and blogs in order to understand how to utilise the marketing potential for your exhibition.  

You will develop the knowledge and understanding of professional Design Crafts contexts through a series of lectures, seminars and study visits. These will show you the different career pathways open to you and explore relationships with your own emerging practice, ambition and transferable skills acquired. You will also write a creative CV, and compose an enquiry for a placement.

Practical lectures and workshops include portfolio building, creating design boards and other professional presentation methods, digital photography and printing.

Assessment: Craft project, 80%. Presentation/ exhibition, 20%.

Year three

Blocks 1 and 2: Craft Practice

This practical module runs parallel to the theoretical module ‘Craft Contexts’ in Blocks 1 & 2. Practical, creative ideas are developed with consideration of wider, cultural, political and social issues. In depth research into trends, environments & sustainability, communities and lifestyles supports the development of both practical and design work. You will develop a deeper understanding of the contexts for your practice through the theoretical content delivered by the Design Cultures department delivered alongside this module.

The experience gained from previous live project work is developed to respond in a more personal direction, reflecting your preferred craft materials or craft discipline and to test creative ideas in a more commercial context, mindful of a user and professional requirements. You will produce refined design work for submission to national competitions.

Assessment: Live project, 50%. Investigation, 50%.

Blocks 1 and 2: Craft Connections

You will consolidate your skills of research, organisation, critical analysis and communication in order to develop and agree a self-directed title for a written assignment. You will be able to choose between an extended essay or a personal design statement of 4,000 words. A link between the assignment and studio projects is encouraged to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between theory and practice.

There are two stages to the assessment for this module: a detailed plan, for which you will receive feedback from the tutor, and the final written assignment. Sessions on time management, planning, record-keeping and presentation take place throughout the module.

Assessment: Essay plan, 20%. Essay, 80%.

Block 3: Design Crafts Projects

This module is designed to encourage you to develop and explore your ideas in depth and to demonstrate your professional skills as a designer maker. This is in preparation for the final personal project. Research and sketchbook work support progress and is utilised in the communication of ideas/ concepts. Prototypes, maquettes and samples will be developed into final pieces, which may not be fully resolved.

By the end of the module you will have documented a deeper knowledge of technical and material aspects in a technical log book. This includes references to other makers appropriate to your craft practice and research into material suppliers and resources. The logbook becomes a valuable resource for you as a Design Craft graduate. You will also write a draft project proposal for the final module.

Assessment: Portfolio of 2D drawing and design, 20%. Craft project, 80%.

Block 4: Personal Projects

This module is the culmination of the studio aspects of the course, where a body of finished work is produced for public exhibition. Your work will exemplify fully developed abilities of concept finalisation and of application of materials and processes which is the coherent realisation and expression of a personal creative direction. The module encourages autonomous activity in making, drawing, presenting, organising and developing images, designs and other outcomes in physical or digital formats, whilst applying knowledge and understanding about the growing issues around the scarcity of particular materials and the longevity of product/artefact and their reuse.

You will undertake in-depth research, including primary research at appropriate sites, to develop knowledge and understanding of the contemporary professional context and location of your work and its public reception. You will design your own marketing materials, including business card, look books/ press packs, a price list, CV and artists statement to accompany the public exhibition of your work.

You will research potential employers, potential stockists such as gallery owners, curators, museums, organisations and companies etc. Lectures will discuss methods of costing and current trends, branding and market research that will inform your practice and enable you to succeed in the marketplace. You will deepen your knowledge of relevant professional networks, self-employment, structures and support agencies. This knowledge, together with identified skills, will be presented through a developing career portfolio.

Assessment: Personal final project, 80%. Exhibition/ presentation of final collection, 20%.