Graduate profiles can be viewed further down this page (click here).
The structure and content of our course, has been devised predominantly to equip our students with skills, knowledge and understanding relating to careers as design professionals. With much emphasis on thinking clearly, on organising information, on researching and explaining research findings to individuals and wider groups, working independently and working collaboratively, our students also develop skills that are common, and valuable to modern professional life in areas beyond design.
Graduate destinations are varied and include: branding, editorial design, digital/web design, broadcast design, advertising design, information design, packaging design as well as teacher training and post-graduate study.
Professional practice and work experience opportunities
The provision of professional skills and experience of the workplace is integrated and embedded throughout the three year programme. As in other fields within Cardiff School of Art & Design many of the staff have had experience of industry or indeed continue to work as designers or illustrators.
D&AD Membership (Design & Art Direction)
The staff take seriously their responsibility to refresh their knowledge of the current design industry in a number of ways. The course has Education Network membership of the D&AD (Design and Art Direction) which provides a vital link to award winning design companies in a number of ways. The D&AD also run student competitions in which our students take part in the third year. These competition briefs are industry set and judged.
After the completion of the course graduating students are accompanied to the D&AD New Blood Exhibition in London where they are encouraged to exhibit their work to industry and their peers. There are a number of seminars and lectures at this event aimed at enabling these students to find employment.
The local design community
The relationship with the local design community is very good. The School has initiated and co-ordinated the Cardiff Design Festival for eight years, which has brought the design community together. In addition the School has hosted public lectures for students and industry alike, providing an opportunity for networking. Many local companies employ our graduates and also participate in supporting the course in other ways, offering placements and setting ‘live’ briefs.
In addition to the external links and networks the course has embedded within it opportunities to replicate realistic industry experiences.
Year 1 In the first year the students are introduced to professional skills and attitudes which are specific to the design industry and the course. These ‘working method’ skills are then utilized and exercised during first year modules. A trip to ‘4 Designers’ – a national lecture event for design students in London, is organised during the first year. This is supplemented by a design studio visit.
Year 2 Second year students are asked to consider the role of the designer in society; firstly by taking the role of a client, understanding audiences and examining the role of the designer. They gain experience of writing a brief and presenting work to ‘clients’. Their professional and communication skills are further tested by the ‘Persuasion’ brief which asks them to contact an organization involved in an issue that interests them, and with that organization identify a communication problem to solve. Understanding the role of suppliers is introduced and visits to printers are arranged for students during the year.
Further opportunities are offered to choose to have a work placement during the spring term or to study an enterprise or business focused project.
At the conclusion of the second year the students hold an exhibition to which design companies are invited and a number of work placements are awarded from both local and London agencies. We are one of four courses nationwide that are invited to participate in London based studio Brand Union’s placement programme. The University’s design department also offer work placements to competitively selected students over the summer of the 2nd year.
Students are encouraged to seek work placements during the holidays and to attend external lectures and events. Our visiting lectures are either professionals from industry both locally and nationally or provided by the D&AD Education Network. This has proved an invaluable resource which has brought external examiners, work placements and employment for our students. We are supported by the Cardiff Metropolitan Careers Service and have many links with the Creative and Cultural Skills Council both locally and nationally.
Year 3 Third year students participate in competition briefs as mentioned previously. In addition to D&AD briefs they are also offered YCN (Young Creatives Network), ISTD and others. They also have the opportunity to undertake a ’Real World’; live brief which asks them to work on a real brief with either a charity or community group, with a design company mentor. They work in groups of five or six and have the opportunity to write a brief in response to a verbal briefing, practice presentation skills in addition to design skills.
Throughout the third year students focus on ‘Professional Practice’ which, in addition to lectures from staff and visiting speakers on a range of topics aims to support their transition from student to the world of work. Students prepare a Reflective Journal comprising a CV, a promotional Item, seminar notes and a number of self reflective written pieces which helps to develop an individual exit strategy on graduation.
Cardiff Metropolitan University has a thriving Alumni Network made up of former students opening up a wealth of opportunities. Cardiff School of Art & Design offers a number of continuous professional development courses for graduates and those in industry.
Many graduates stay in contact with the course often asking for advice or sharing with us their successes. Graduates are encouraged and invited to return to the course to share experiences with current students, discussing the transition from studentship to the workplace.
Below is a small selection of the career paths our graduates choose after completing the course.
Career since graduation: During the last year of University, I had an interview with Sky Sports News in London which resulted in a four week work experience opportunity during the Easter break. I gained a lot of experience during the placement and was extremely fortunate to be offered a permanent role as a ‘Junior Broadcast Graphic Designer’ at the end of the placement and to start shortly after graduating.
Working in Sky Sports is very busy, but very rewarding and have I already been given a lot of responsibility/opportunities.
How did the course prepare you for your career? The course has taught me:
1. How to manage my time.
2. Be a team player but be confident and self-motivated.
3. Jumble more than one brief at a time.
4. Use the people and the resources around you. If you don’t ask you won’t learn!
Career since graduation: To begin with, having left CSAD I started establishing relationships with some Cardiff design agencies that I aspired to be part of – embarking on several periods of work placement. A period of ruthless self promotion and reluctant own-trumpet-blowing was to follow.
Now specialising in sustainable design as a Middleweight designer at bwa – a design and communications agency working with clients across the social, environmental and development sectors to help deliver positive change. With experience working for clients including the National Trust, the Telegraph Hay Festival, the Welsh Assembly Government, The °Climate Group, Christian Aid, Save the Children and the Environment Agency. Producing creative conceptual solutions across disciplines including Branding, Campaigns, Online, Motion, Print and strategic Communications. Having responsibilities at each stage of the design process – from pricing, sourcing suppliers and briefing to handling clients, presentations, artworking and evaluation. The multidisciplinary nature of the agency has also allowed the development of an added niche role – having had photography commissioned and published by organisations including Greenpeace, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the National Trust.
How did the course prepare you for your career? The Graphic Communication course – combining professional practice and strong theoretical foundation with personal discovery, innovation and encouraged exploration – proved great preparation for a career in the ever-changing design industry.
The course became a melting pot of some exceptional upcoming creative talent – at such a level that it pushed each participant to achieve their best. It was an invaluable opportunity for peer learning, with the potential to share ideas, to bounce concepts against like-minded sounding-boards and to benefit from both giving and receiving constructive criticism. For the first time confronted with creative talents from across the world – each with varying perspectives, backgrounds and interests – it was an enviable opportunity for creative collaboration. Learning to work with other creatives is a must – you can’t be too precious with your ideas or your perspective in the commercial world of design. It was the perfect environment to learn that ‘failure isn’t bad, and collaboration isn’t cheating’.
The course did not end with graduation, it has instead allowed me a support network that I have been able to rely on continuously throughout my burgeoning professional career. I still miss the freedom to exercise unrestrained creativity and experimentation in a supporting, encouraging and care-free learning environment.
Awards: Shortlisted – Best of Welsh Design Awards 2011 – Graphic Design
Shortlisted – Best of Welsh Design Awards 2010 – Graphic Design
Shortlisted – Dba Inclusive Design Challenge 2010
Winner – Best of Welsh Design Awards 2009 – Motion Design
Winner – Best of Welsh Design Awards 2009 – Multidisciplinary (Misc.)
Shortlisted – Dba Inclusive Design Challenge 2009
Career since graduation: After graduation I did a bit of freelancing via contacts from working behind the bar in Chapter Arts Centre. I also did work placements at 6721 and Nelmes Design.
In February 2007 I got a job at branding agency Stills in Cardiff where I have been working as a Designer ever since. I still do some freelance design and illustration the side of this full-time job.
I have also become involved with the local social design group thinkARK, a group of different types of creative people wanting to collaborate on projects that explore our everyday life and surroundings. With thinkARK I have had a chance to learn and practice new skills such as group and visual facilitation in workshops. Projects I have been heavily involved with include ARKADE Empty Shops Project, Cardiff Council Cycling Consultation, Cardiff Anti Pub Quiz, Inspiring Women, playARK Games Festival and Everwake, a pervasive ghost chase game.
I run a collaborative, ongoing mapping project called Come To Your Senses with Emily Wilkinson, whom I met on the Graphic Communication degree. Our project explores emotional and sensory experiences of places and how this information can uncover underlying collective perceptions, feelings and issues of a place whether it be a neighbourhood, street, organisation or workplace. We have been testing our methods and are in the process of taking the project forward for funding opportunities.
How did the course prepare you for your career? During the third year I made a deliberate choice to explore and experiment with projects. Even if I wasn’t as commercially prepared to enter the world of design out there, it didn’t matter as I learned that side during work placements. Looking back now that time of creative exploration was crucial as without that process I don’t think I would have had the same ideation skills and confidence to look beyond the obvious. Another benefit was experience in interactive media – this gave me readiness for freelance work which at the time was mostly websites and animation.
Awards: Winner in Graphic Design (For Tales & Trails, at Stills with illustrator Suzanne Carpenter) Cardiff Design Festival 2011
Career since graduation: I found an internship for a company called Made-By, an incredible organisation that are trying to make fashion sustainable. Through this time as well I picked up a few freelance jobs designing websites and book covers bringing in a bit of money on the side doing my style of work.
Five months into being in London I then found an internship at Manchester United for 3 months, and I have now been with Man Utd for 9 months working on the design team producing all kinds of material, from brochures to presentations, to model mock-ups to ipad apps. I’m still learning so much about the way a company works – as long as I’m still learning then I’m happy!
How did the course prepare you for your career? How to organise time positively. I think the main part of university was to meet people and become a more independent person and feel comfortable in your work, which then comes across to potential employers. Feeling as though I could possibly do graphic design as a career not just a passion.
Career since graduation: Since graduating have been in full-time employment at howies clothing company as a Graphic Designer. In my evenings and weekends I work as a freelance designer and illustrator and I am also in the process of starting my own clothing company.
How did the course prepare you for your career? It pretty much taught me all I needed to know about design. I saw the course as a solid foundation upon which to build. I’ve learned a lot of things on the way to where I am now, but it’s the course that enabled me to do so.
Career since graduation: 4 month internship at creative agency Fst in Marlow followed by a 2 month placement at Syndicut in oxford resulting in a permanent role as a junior designer.
How did the course prepare you for your career? The course taught me how to approach briefs conceptually, allowed me to continuously explore design and visual culture, and gave me a bedrock of knowledge, skill and confidence on which to enter the professional world with.The course gave me a lot of professional contacts/ work placement opportunities which helped hugely in my development and ultimately finding a job
Career since graduation: My professional career started after graduating in July 2011. I went back to Germany over the Summer to earn some money doing a holiday job, and I also set up my own business. I always planned to come back to Cardiff, and I was lucky enough to be offered freelance work for ‘SeeWhatYouMean’, a visual communication studio in Cardiff Bay, where I did a placement just before I left for Germany.
How did the course prepare you for your career? I’ve constantly received useful feedback from group tutorials and personal tutorials with my tutors throughout ongoing projects. One particular piece of advice that will stick with me is that by integrating original design and concepts with existing brand values makes a good piece of communication. Production, transportation and post-use aspects are also a consideration and, taking these into account, will give a design momentum and context.
I also learnt to ask! If you don’t ask you will never receive. Especially if what you receive is criticism. I have found that criticism is helpful in making you push yourself further to do better, to surpass your own expectations.
Awards: – Yellow Pencil, Student Award, D&AD London, 2011 – Best Dissertation Prize, BAGC, CSAD, 2011 – Course Contribution Prize, BAGC, CSAD, 2011 – Best of Welsh Graduate Design Award, Cardiff Design Festival, 2011