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Graphic Design – HND Diploma (2 Years)

The BTEC Level 4 Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Graphic Design offers those who hold a passion for design the opportunity to explore graphic design through a range of digital and traditional methods. This course is ideal for individuals who have decided that graphic design is the area of work for them. Developed in consultation with the Chartered Society of Designers and the Creative and Cultural Skills Organisation, the HNC is a specialist work-related programme of study, covering the key knowledge, understanding and practical skills required in today’s graphic design industry. This nationally recognised qualification offers direct progression onto the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Graphic Design following the successful completion of Year 1, or direct entry into employment. After completion of the HNC/HND in Graphic Design, students can apply for official ‘Chartered Society of Designers’ status.

Entry Requirements

Along with a passion for art, media or design, you will require one of the following qualifications to enrol on this Level 4 HNC course:

• 3 GCE A Levels (A* – C grades) including an art, design or media subject
• BTEC Level 3 qualification in a design, art or media subject
• Access to Higher Education Certificate

All applicants will require a portfolio interview with a member of the lecturing team. The portfolio should include work produced on the student’s A level or BTEC Level 3 course.

If you currently do not hold any of the above qualifications, the College may be able to offer you an alternative full-time course or Apprenticeship, to support future progression onto this HNC programme.

Course Content

As a South Downs College HNC student studying graphic design you will participate in undertaking formal work placements and/or part-time employment to develop your professional experience. You will also have the opportunity and access to live briefs, competitions and design industry connections, alongside utilising the latest industry standard equipment and software to support you in your learning. If you choose to progress to a second year of study (HND), you will participate in undertaking formal work placements and/or part-time employment to develop your professional experience.

The HNC in Graphic Design comprises of four core course units as follows:

HNC core units (Year 1):

• Visual Communication – to develop the essential skills for artists and designers to communicate their ideas across specialist applications, both traditional and alternative.

• Ideas Generation and Development – the ability to generate free flowing ideas and think creatively are vital skills for all artists and designers. This core unit aims to develop your skills in forming and communicating ideas visually.

• Contextual and Cultural Referencing – to encourage an understanding of the social, psychological, cultural, historical and commercial factors which underpin all visual arts theory and practice across the spectrum of subject specialisms.

• Professional Practice – to extend students’ knowledge of professional practices within their specialist area and to relate these to your individual aspirations and potential career path opportunities.

HNC specialist units (Year 1):

• Design Principles – enabling learners to develop knowledge and understanding of the issues that have informed debate on the purposes and processes of design.

• Advertising Campaigns – to develop learners’ understanding of the function of graphic design within advertising campaigns and to develop skills in using graphic design as part of an advertising campaign.

• Typographic Skills – to develop learners’ understanding and skills in the application of typography.

• Visual Communication in Graphic Design – to develop learners’ skills and understanding of how meaning, messages and information can be communicated visually in graphic design products.

Together with undertaking the four core course units, you will develop your skills to a high level, both personal and technical, including:

• Focusing on the development of higher-level skills in a graphic design context
• Developing a range of skills, techniques and attributes essential for successful performance in working life
• An opportunity to gain critical awareness and the ability to research, synthesise and handle complex information
• Cultivating skills in verbal, written and visual communication and presentation
• The ability to manage yourself and gain real working experience

Following successful completion of the Level 4 HNC in Graphic Design (Year 1) you can choose to progress onto the Level 5 HND in Graphic Design (Year 2) which will develop your skills to a higher level through a range of specialist units as follows:

HND specialist units (Year 2):

• Advertising
• Illustration
• Typography
• Working in the Digital Environment

For both levels of qualification, each unit is developed in consultation with a range of colleges/universities, subject sector employers, the Chartered Society of Designers and the Creative and Cultural Skills Organisation.

How will I be taught?

You will attend 15 hours of workshops, lectures and tutorials each week over a period of 32 weeks per academic year. The course will be taught with an approach that delivers:

• A balance between practical skills development and knowledge acquirement
• Links made between theory and practice in the workplace
• Utilisation of industry knowledgeable staff
• Constant links and work with industry employers
• Opportunities to apply learning to actual events within the sector through working upon live creative briefs

How will I be assessed?

The HNC in Graphic Design is assessed continuously through a range of assignments, projects, group projects, lectures, workshops and formative tasks.

Will I need any extra equipment?

All specialist equipment for this course is provided

What qualifications will I get?

BTEC Level 5 Higher National Certificate (HND) in Graphic Design

What will it allow me to do in the future?

The HNC in Graphic Design is a one-year full-time higher education course, providing natural progression onto the HND, or alternatively direct entry into employment.

Following successful completion of the HNC qualification, students can choose to enrol for a second year (full-time) and upgrade their qualification to the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Graphic Design.

The HND in Graphic Design can be advanced to a full degree (Level 6) by undertaking a second or third year degree (or honours degree) at university, depending on the match of the HND units to the degree course and each institution’s entry criteria.

Direct entry into employment offers both diverse and highly fulfilling opportunities for talented designers in areas such as web design, photography, multi-media design, flash design, illustration, creative direction, brand identity design, packaging design, computer games design and freelance work.

Course Information

Formed in 1974, South Downs College has a long heritage in delivering specialist art, media and design courses to around 700 full-time students per year.

The course will provide exciting opportunities for South Downs College HNC students to participate in design related visits in the UK, America and Europe.

The College has no residential student accommodation and students normally make their own arrangements as regards to where currently they live.

This course information is accurate at the time of printing but is subject to change.

Further Information

Confused about student loans and anxious about getting into debt? Read the Government Student Loans guidance for clear explanations on how the student loan can benefit you.

HNC/HND/Foundation Degree

If you would like to apply for a Higher Education course, you will be required to pay the advertised fees in full. To help pay for these fees you may be entitled to a government approved Student Loan. You would need to apply to Student Finance England directly to receive this.

Whether you qualify for student finance depends on:

  • Your course of study (if you’ve studied a higher education course before)
  • Your age
  • Your nationality or residency status.

Generally, you’ll only get student finance if you’re doing your first higher education qualification. This is true even if your previous course was self-funded. To receive Tuition Fee Loans or grants, you will have to be under the age of 60 years at the start of the course.

The course must be one of the following to be eligible for the loan:

  • a Foundation Degree (FdA)
  • a Certificate of Higher Education (Cert Ed)
  • a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • a Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • a Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
  • Initial Teacher Training

Most full-time and part-time students can apply online to Student Finance England as follows:

  1. Set up a student finance account online.
  2. Log in and complete the online application.
  3. Include details of your household income and ask your parents (or partner) to support your application, if needed.
  4. Send in proof of identity, if required.
  5. Sign and return the loan declaration, which you should receive within six weeks.

For more information on courses or the Student Loan please contact our Admissions Team on 023 9279 4662 or 023 9279 7910.


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