Graphic design

Choose graphic design to help you transform ordinary ideas into extraordinary visual stories, shaping the way we perceive and interact with the world.

Studying graphic design is about honing your artistic skills and delving into the strategic use of visuals to convey powerful messages. From learning about design software to understanding the principles of colour theory and composition, you learn to craft compelling visual stories.

It leads to exciting career paths, including roles as a graphic designer, art director, UX/UI designer, or brand strategist. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, graphic designers create impactful visual content for websites, products, apps, social media, and marketing campaigns.

With the ability to shape perceptions and trigger emotions through design, you’ll be well-equipped for a world where visual communication is crucial to success across industries. 

The impact you could make
  • Create engaging educational materials that enhance learning.
  • Advocate for inclusivity by creating visually accessible designs that consider diverse audiences.
  • Create sustainable and eco-friendly designs.
What you could study
  • Web design
  • UI and interactive design
  • UX design
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Motion graphics and animation
  • Packaging design
  • Game design
  • Illustration
  • Publication and typographic design

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

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Example module
"When we get to do exhibitons of our work, and put it out to be trialed in a public setting is always a pretty exciting feeling."
Second year graphic design student at University of Brighton
Example project
“We did a project for a fake exhibition at the Barbican which explored typography and texture, which have always been favourites of mine.”
Second year graphic design student at University of Lincoln

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some graphic design courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects.
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Learn industry-standard design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
  • Understand colour principles, including the colour wheel and colour harmony
  • Knowledge of print design principles
  • Digital design for online platforms, including web design, social media graphics, and interactive user interfaces
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Analyse design problems and evaluate potential solutions
  • Attention to detail
  • Adaptability to evolving design trends
  • Collaboration and communication skills

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying graphic design. The following information is based on a typical graphic design professional role.
Available jobs
75,239 vacancies in the past year
4.89% growth over next eight years
Average salary
Up to £44,566

What is a… virtual reality experience designer?

Imagine letting your creativity run wild outside of the real world… That’s exactly what a VR experience designer can do. With conventional rules null and void their creativity knows no bounds, creating environments where users can not only witness but actively engage with the stories they’re in. Whether designing educational material, thrilling entertainment experiences, or innovative training modules, these designers love to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of VR.

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study graphic design at university or as an apprenticeship.

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from graphic design applicants.

A levels
Scottish Highers
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma or SQCF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:
  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits!

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.

What things do you love most about graphic design?

Second year graphic design and illustration student at Teeside University
"I'm a fan of puzzles and I feel being able to design and answer a problem and represent it visually is something that keeps me entertained and motivated"

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around graphic design with the following.
  1. Canva

    You can explore your graphic design skills by designing templates for both academic projects and for fun.
  2. Abstract: The Art of Design

    A Netflix series that steps inside the minds of the most innovative designers in a variety of disciplines and learn how design impacts every aspect of life.
  3. Keep up to date with the latest news

    You'll find all the latest news on the Chartered Society of Designers website.
66% of students
studying graphic design would recommend the subject to others
(UCAS subject guide survey 2023)

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your graphic design journey.
Skills, experiences, and interests to mention
  • What artistic qualities do you have? Maybe it’s proficiency in design software (Adobe Creative Suite, for example), drawing, illustration, or any other relevant techniques that demonstrate your ability to create visually compelling designs.
  • Mention your understanding of typography and layout principles, emphasising your ability to arrange visual elements to create balanced and aesthetically pleasing designs.
  • Do you have skills in both digital and print design that you can mention?
  • Talk about your interest in technology and its impact on design, showing awareness of emerging trends.
  • Share any unique perspectives, cultural influences, or personal experiences that contribute to your individual approach to design.

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