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Furniture and Product Design BA (Hons)

  • Level(s) of Study: Undergraduate
  • UCAS Code(s): W242 (full-time) / W240 (sandwich)
  • Start Date(s): September 2021
  • Duration: Three years full-time, four years with sandwich route
  • Study Mode(s): Full-time / Sandwich
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    More information

Introduction:

Our BA (Hons) Furniture and Product Design course is focused on creating innovative items for both the domestic and contract markets, from furniture to interior products and homeware. Work varies from the commercial to the more conceptual, with experimentation of material and process strongly encouraged.

We take a user-centred approach to the course, encouraging you to develop your own individual style, vision and philosophy. The focus of the course is on design through making, helping you to develop a hands-on empirical approach through drawing, model-making, computer-aided design (CAD), testing and prototyping. Throughout the course you will work on a diverse range of design projects, acquiring a broad range of new skills and continually developing your professional portfolio.

Why study this course?

  • Professional accreditation | Our course is accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD), recognising the quality and relevance of our course content. It also means you can become a student member of the CSD for free whilst studying.
  • Inspiring spaces | Work with our industry-standard facilities and studios, including a dedicated model making studio, 3D printing space and wood, metal and concrete workshops.
  • Live projects | Work on project briefs from industry clients. Previously our students have worked with John Lewis, Umbra, Isokon, Pearson Lloyd, Vitsoe, SCP and Morgan Contract furniture.
  • Placement year | Acquire vital skills and experience in the workplace by undertaking a one-year placement on our sandwich route. Our students have spent their placements at companies such as Hasbro, Roundhouse Design and Philip Watts Design.
  • Exhibitions and shows | Exhibit your work at our final year Degree Show and nationally at events including New Designers in London.
  • Outstanding employability | 100% of our BA (Hons) Furniture and Product Design Sandwich graduates who entered employment are in a 'High Skilled' role 15 months after finishing their degrees (latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017-18).

Discover the NTU Design Industries Virtual Student Showcase, an online exhibition celebrating the work of our Class of 2021 Product Design graduates.

Keep up to date with our current Final Year Product Design student work on Instagram @NTUDI!

How does the course differ from our BA (Hons) Product Design and BSc (Hons) Product Design courses?

  • Our BA (Hons) Product Design course concentrates on the design of products, systems and services including consumer goods, electronic gadgets, sustainable products, sports and healthcare equipment, packaging, and transportation.
  • Our BSc (Hons) Product Design course is a technology-centred programme that places the requirements of manufacture, technology and scientific advancement at the core of the product development process.

Main image: Left to right Steven Chick, Bryony Hancock, Amy Buchanan, Richard Blizzard, Jamie Humberstone, Emric John-Sawyer

What you’ll study

Our course will actively encourage you to develop your own creative practice and realise your ideas into highly desirable products and furniture.

Through a range of diverse and stimulating projects, you'll explore many aspects of furniture and product design. You'll explore the design process from conception to completion, understanding user needs through research and developing a range of key communication skills in areas including sketching, CAD, woodworking, metalworking, model-making and prototyping.

Design Fundamentals (40 credit points)

  • This module provides the fundamental skills and knowledge that you'll need as design professionals, focusing on your development as a designer. This module is largely based on individual design project activity, with some elements of collaborative work with other students. It contains three elements: design projects, design communication, and design process and practice.
  • You'll undertake a number of exciting product-inspired design projects, involving the expression of your creative and technical talents. You'll be expected to undertake research to inform and support your design activity.
  • You'll learn how to use a range of techniques to communicate your ideas effectively, including computer-aided design (CAD); sketching; modelling; presentation drawings, images and rendering, and verbal, electronic and written presentations.
  • You'll develop your knowledge and awareness of a range of material properties and production processes, introducing you to to the principles and applications of technology. You'll also develop your awareness of environmental issues, sustainability, ethical sourcing, and critically explore the historic, contemporary and future influences in art and design.

The Developing Furniture and Product Designer (40 credit points)

  • This module builds on the Design Fundamentals module, continuing the practical design culture through studio-based activities and lectures.
  • You'll further your knowledge of and skills in design communication, through digital tools including 3D CAD modelling, and sketch modelling, as well as develop your skills through presenting this information in front of your tutors and peers.
  • You'll broaden your project portfolio by undertaking a range of design projects individually or as part of a team. The design activities will develop your understanding of how to frame appropriate solutions through a variety of different processes and approaches.
  • You'll explore the importance of the commercial context of design, users and markets, which are integral to, and for, designers. You'll examine aspects related to design for the future to widen your understanding of contemporary issues that influence culture and society and their relationship with design.

Applied Furniture and Product Design Practice (40 credit points)

  • This module focuses specifically on context and identity of design, and how to apply these alongside design processes and relevant design methodologies that are attributed to the creative perspective of product design.
  • You'll expand your understanding of the subject beyond the traditional remit of product design, as a 3D field, to consider services, systems design, and digital prototyping, and explore and apply these within your work. Research will inform and support this design activity.
  • You'll consider your own position as a future designer, the opportunities available for designers, and develop your own identity within this field. Building on your design communication skills, you'll explore design for production, and technical report writing skills.

Professional Practice (60 credit points)

  • This module is designed to prepare you, as a designer, for industry. By the end of the module you'll have developed a professional portfolio and CV that represents your design capability and awareness. The module is broken down into three elements: professional projects, professional context, and professional communications.
  • You'll work on a range of different live briefs from industry, and competition work, focusing on user needs and characteristics, the market, product manufacturing, and commercial awareness.
  • You'll develop and utilise advanced communication techniques to produce sketches, renderings, models, test rigs, prototypes, simulations, and virtual solutions for real industry scenarios.
  • You'll contextualise your design studies, in terms of the future of the industry and your place in it. You'll learn about key design management techniques, and how to effectively manage your projects and time, working as an individual and part of a team.

Furniture and Product Design: Context and Identity (60 credit points)

  • This module will build on the knowledge, skills and attributes learnt in the first year of your studies, and develops them to give you confidence to progress as a furniture and product designer. The module is broken down into three elements: product design projects, global contexts, and contemporary design practice.
  • Your efforts will focus on making. You'll work on design briefs, some from industry clients, to real time deadlines. You'll consider significant issues designers face in practice such as user centred design, ergonomics, digital design, and changing culture and commercial markets.
  • You'll explore the global impact of sustainability, cultural challenges, resources, and material usage, and examine different perspectives on the design profession through your project work.
  • You'll gain an understanding of the relationships between the designer, clients, and users, and further your creative problem solving skills through project work. You'll consider various environmental factors that influence design, including economic, social, and aesthetic elements.

The course operates a 'soft semester' approach in Year Two meaning you also have the opportunity to undertake an international exchange opportunity to study abroad for 15 weeks (one semester).

In your third year, you'll have the opportunity to take a year-long, full-time placement. This year in industry will offer you hands-on experience, adding invaluable knowledge and skills to your CV. Many students return to their placement company after graduation, having developed a useful network of contacts within the industry.

Recent placement destinations have included Fritz Fryer Lighting, Spiral Product Design, Sawaya & Mironi (Milan), Modus Furniture, Object Design and more, working in roles such as trainee designer, CAD/CAM technician, junior designer and planner, amongst more. The majority of their roles include salaries, with some students earning up to £18,000 for their year.

Successful completion of the placement year leads to an extra qualification – the Diploma in Professional Practice.

You'll also have the opportunity to undertake a European Project Semester during your third year with one of our partner universities. This option allows you to spend half a year studying abroad, and the other half gaining work experience on placement. We've got links with Universities in Spain, France, Austria, The Netherlands and Germany.

Design in Practice (80 credit points)

  • Within this module you’ll complete a minor project and major project. Your proposal of work will focus your thoughts and plans for what you intend to learn, develop and produce during the module. The minor content of this module is formally taught, but the major – your own negotiated activity – is not formally taught.
  • You'll develop the application of your skills, knowledge and understanding of design methodologies to the creative realisation of products, and develop an understanding your own practice in a professional context.

Design in Context (40 credit points)

  • This module gives you the opportunity to explore a subject of your personal interest and choice. It challenges you to source and research information, be critical and reflective, and present findings on a range of topical, relevant subjects of significance.
  • You'll either do this through a dissertation - a critically reflective piece independent from the rest of your studies, or as a thesis - a critically reflective piece directly linked to your self-directed project in the Design in Practice module. Whichever route you choose, your topics are individually negotiated and agreed with tutors through a learning agreement.

Exhibiting as part of the Degree Shows

In your final year, you'll be invited to display your work as part of NTU's Degree Shows. The events are an opportunity for all final year students studying across NTU's Art and Design-based courses to showcase their work to our network of industry professionals and prospective employers, invited specifically for this purpose.

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from our students themselves

Studying Product Design at NTU

Head of Product Design James Dale shares how studying at NTU prepares you for industry and how we support you in discovering what kind of designer you are.

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Hear from our students themselves

How you’re taught

  • Course content is delivered through lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and studio design sessions. You will also be involved in self-directed project work with the support of NOW, our virtual learning environment.
  • Outside of timetabled sessions, you will need to undertake self-directed independent study. This will include preparing for lectures, researching, completing coursework, developing a portfolio, and directed reading to expand your knowledge.
  • This course is supported by external professional practitioners, ensuring that your learning is continuously enhanced through exposure to real-world perspective.

Study trips

Field trips and study visits are an important part of your learning. Trips may include site visits and visits to practices, museums, exhibitions and events. Where a trip is mandatory it will be aligned to your modules and inform project work, and substantive costs – including travel and accommodation – will be paid for by the school. Optional trips may also be organised which can provide additional opportunities to enhance your knowledge and experience. Optional trips may incur a cost to the student. A valid passport and any associated visas will be required for trips outside of the UK.

Contact hours

Year One Lectures/seminars/workshops 46% Independent study 54%
Year Two Lectures/seminars/workshops 43% Independent study 57%
Year Three Optional placement year
Year Four Lectures/seminars/workshops 20% Independent study 80%

Staff Profiles

Fiona Davidson

Senior Lecturer

School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

Simon Cahill

Senior Lecturer

School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

George Riding

Senior Lecturer

School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

James Dale

Head of Department

School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

James Dale is the Head of Product Design in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment.

Chris Lamerton

Principal Lecturer

School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

Chris is a Course Leader and Senior Lecturer. This entails running and managing the Furniture and Product Design module and product design courses. Chris also teaches on all levels of

Phillipa Marsh

Principal Lecturer

School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

Senior Lecturer in 3D Design and Course Leader for the BA (hons) Product Design course.

Rebecca Gamble

Principal Lecturer

School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

Rebecca Gamble is a Principal Lecturer in Product Design, in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University.

Hui-Ying Kerr

Senior Lecturer

School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

Dr Hui-Ying Kerr is a design practitioner turned design historian. Completing her PhD in History of Design at the Royal College of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum, her…

How you’re assessed

You’ll be assessed through coursework, which will consist of projects, reports, presentations, essays and a portfolio.

Year One Coursework 100%
Year Two Coursework 100%
Year Three Optional placement year
Year Four Coursework 100%

Careers and employability

Our course is designed to prepare you to succeed in the design industry, through work placements, working on real projects from industry, input from industry professionals, and regularly updated course content.

Where do Product Design graduates from NTU work?

NTU has a strong product design alumni community, with many graduates working in senior positions in leading national and international companies.

Recent graduate destinations include:

  • G-Plan
  • John Lewis
  • Benchmark
  • Nestlé
  • FBC London
  • Object Design
  • DFS
  • Roundhouse Design
  • Kitchen Architecture.

Our Employability team

Our expert Employability team will work closely with you at every stage of your career planning, providing personal support and advice. You can benefit from this service at any time during your studies, and for up to three years after completing your course.

Competitions and awards

Our students are consistently recognised in national awards. Recent award wins include the Wood Awards, the Made.com TalentLab prize presented at New Designers and the Design Fresh: Product of the Year at the 100% Design Awards.

Nav Bains, BA (Hons) Furniture and Product Design, displaying her work at New Designers


Excellent placement opportunities

NTU is ranked fourth in the UK for the number of year-long placement undergraduates, studying design-related courses (HESA 2018/19).

By choosing our sandwich (four year) route, you’ll have the opportunity to take a year-long work placement during your studies, giving you the opportunity to gain real experience in industry. The majority of our placement students receive a salary.

Where can I work on placement?

Students typically gain placements in product design companies across the UK and abroad. Recent destinations have included Disney, Hasbro, Nestlé, Tesco and Philip Watts Design.

There are a wide variety of placement roles available within the industry, and the majority of our students have worked as packaging and design interns and product development roles.

Professional qualification

Successful completion of the 36 weeks leads to an extra qualification – the Diploma in Professional Practice, which will further enhance your CV.

NTU Enterprise

You'll also have the opportunity to turn your ideas into a viable business with help from NTU Enterprise, NTU's purpose-built Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, a support centre to help students create, develop and grow their own businesses.

Campus and facilities

Facilities for Product Design students

From dedicated studio spaces, to IT and CAD suites, to prototyping labs that include 3D printing, CNC manufacture, woodwork and metal workshops, we've built the perfect spaces for you to create in.

Specialised equipment includes the following.

  • Rapid prototyping modellers: these machines quickly create a 3D object from a virtual computer model using a highly advanced laser process.
  • Waterjet cutter: the latest generation precision technology capable of cutting up to 150mm in almost any sold material such as glass, steel, granite, marble, aluminium and rubber.
  • You will have access to a CNC (computer-numerical control) router and a brand new laser cutter.

Take a look at our comprehensive gallery of the facilities, equipment and workshop spaces used by our Product Design students.

Access to our workshops and labs

  • You will have timetabled access to the workshops and labs in Year One, and project-specific access in Years Two and your final year. There is also access to studio spaces, which can be booked on a daily basis. Some machinery will be available outside timetabled hours. Timetabled students have priority, but other students can access the workshops at any time, provided there is space available.
  • In normal circumstances, the Maudslay workshops are open Monday to Friday, from 9.00 am to 4.45 pm, closing on Wednesday afternoons.
  • The workshops are normally closed for lunch from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm. However, during busy periods the workshops do not close for lunch.

Joe Parker

Dedicated resource centre

Students in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment have access to a dedicated resource centre. This centre, based in the Maudslay building, enables students to undertake private study in a facility equipped with computers, large format plotters and desk space, together with the latest, and archived, journals and publications.

IT resources

Our IT resource rooms and PC clusters are distributed across the City Campus, with PCs providing access to Microsoft Office, email, web browsing, networked file storage and high-speed online printing services (with a free printing allowance for each student).

Books and library resources

In our modern library, you will have access to an extensive and diverse range of books and periodicals that focus on specialist areas within Product Design. The library's OneSearch system provides access to all our electronic resources, journals and books.

Within the library there is a liaison librarian who has specialist subject knowledge. They can offer detailed help in finding and using print and electronic resources and support on things such as Harvard referencing and research skills.

Bonington Art Shop

Our specialist in-house art shop is based in the Bonington building. Run by experienced and friendly University staff, the shop stocks a wide variety of arts and crafts materials to support your project work.

Entry requirements

What are we looking for?

  • A-levels – BBC; or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM; or
  • 112 UCAS Tariff points from three A-levels or equivalent qualifications; and
  • GCSEs – English and Maths grade C / 4.

Other requirements

Other qualifications and experience

We consider equivalent qualifications and combinations, please see UCAS course search for details and use our calculator to help you work out how many UCAS points your qualifications relate to.

We may also consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for Year One entry, or beyond the beginning of a course where applicable, for example, into Year Two. Our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy outlines the process and options available for this route.

Contextual offers

As well as assessing your application and qualifications, we use contextual data and information to make offers for this course. Depending on your circumstances, we may make you an offer up to two grades below the standard entry criteria. Find out how we assess your application.

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please email our Admissions and Enquiries Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

What are we looking for?

We accept qualifications from schools, colleges and universities all over the world for entry onto our courses. If you’re not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements, please visit our international qualifications page.

Other requirements

Foundation courses

If you need to complete a foundation course to meet our course requirements please visit Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). If you’re already studying in the UK at a school or college and would like to know if we can accept your qualification please visit our foundation courses page.

English language requirements

If English isn't your first language, you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study.

  • For a list of our language requirements please visit our English language requirements page. Your British Council office can tell you where you can take an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test locally.
  • If you need to do a pre-sessional English language course to meet the English requirements please visit our pre-sessional English course page.

Next steps

Please also take a look at our international students page and our application guide for international students, which includes advice on how to apply to the University and visa information.

If you need any more help or information, please contact our International team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200. Alternatively, you can speak to one of our official NTU representatives for your country.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, that's why we're here to help. Take a look at our fees and funding pages for lots of handy advice and guidance.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service by calling +44 (0)115 848 2494.

Additional costs

Your course fees cover the cost of studies, and include loads of great benefits, such as the use of our modern library, industry-standard workshops and study spaces, support from our expert Employability team, and free use of the IT equipment across our campuses.

Here at NTU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Boots Library, specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs, which for this programme could include the following:

  • Year 1: Layout pads, geometry set, portfolio case, rendering pens, materials £250 (minimum) and printing £100 (minimum)
  • Year 2: Layout pads and materials £160 (minimum) and printing £100 (minimum)
  • Final Year: Layout pads and materials £700 (minimum) and printing £80 (minimum)

Please note that material costs may vary depending on what material you choose to work in. All other mandatory costs for the course are paid for by the University.

Our Students’ Union shop and Bonington art shop are great places to pick up drawing and writing equipment at reasonable prices and are located right in the centre of our City Campus.

Library books

Most study modules will recommend one or more core text books, which most students choose to purchase. Book costs vary and further information is available in the University’s bookshop. Our libraries provide a good supply of essential text books, journals and materials (many of which you can access online) – meaning you may not need to purchase as many books as you might think! There may also be a supply of second-hand books available for purchase from previous year students.

Placements

If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

Degree Show

In Final Year, the School will provide infrastructure costs for your Degree Show, including course catalogue and exhibition set-up costs. If you’re selected to exhibit your work at a graduate show in London, the School will cover the cost of transporting your work, the exhibition stand and event set-up.

Our Building Blocks financial package: supporting you throughout your studies

As a student at the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, you’ll also benefit from our Building Blocks financial package, which aims to help minimise the additional costs of study, while you’re here at NTU.

What you’ll receive

  • £100 print and materials credit for each year of your course (for a maximum of three years). You’ll be able to spend this at our Bonington art shop, fully stocked with a wide range of art and design materials at student-friendly prices, and at our School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment workshops and print facilities.
  • All of the materials needed for induction workshops and activities, working within our workshops and laboratories.
  • Free personal protective equipment (PPE), which usually includes hard-wearing boots, goggles and high-vis vests, to keep you safe on site visits and while working in our workshops.
  • Access to the free professional body accreditation, as appropriate for your course.
  • £20 pre-paid printing allowance for use at the NTU Print Shops, and library photocopiers. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

We offer prestigious scholarships to new international students holding offers to study at the University.

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, that's why we're here to help. Take a look at our fees and funding pages for lots of handy advice and guidance.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service by calling +44 (0)115 848 2494.

Additional costs

Your course fees cover the cost of studies, and include loads of great benefits, such as the use of our modern library, industry-standard workshops and study spaces, support from our expert Employability team, and free use of the IT equipment across our campuses.

Here at NTU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Boots Library, specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs, which for this programme could include the following:

  • Year 1: Layout pads, geometry set, portfolio case, rendering pens, materials £250 (minimum) and printing £100 (minimum)
  • Year 2: Layout pads and materials £160 (minimum) and printing £100 (minimum)
  • Final Year: Layout pads and materials £700 (minimum) and printing £80 (minimum)

Please note that material costs may vary depending on what material you choose to work in. All other mandatory costs for the course are paid for by the University.

Our Students’ Union shop and Bonington art shop are great places to pick up drawing and writing equipment at reasonable prices and are located right in the centre of our City Campus.

Library books

Most study modules will recommend one or more core text books, which most students choose to purchase. Book costs vary and further information is available in the University’s bookshop. Our libraries provide a good supply of essential text books, journals and materials (many of which you can access online) – meaning you may not need to purchase as many books as you might think! There may also be a supply of second-hand books available for purchase from previous year students.

Placements

If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

Degree Show

In Final Year, the School will provide infrastructure costs for your Degree Show, including course catalogue and exhibition set-up costs. If you’re selected to exhibit your work at a graduate show in London, the School will cover the cost of transporting your work, the exhibition stand and event set-up.

Our Building Blocks financial package: supporting you throughout your studies

As a student at the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, you’ll also benefit from our Building Blocks financial package, which aims to help minimise the additional costs of study, while you’re here at NTU.

What you’ll receive

  • £100 print and materials credit for each year of your course (for a maximum of three years). You’ll be able to spend this at our Bonington art shop, fully stocked with a wide range of art and design materials at student-friendly prices, and at our School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment workshops and print facilities.
  • All of the materials needed for induction workshops and activities, working within our workshops and laboratories.
  • Free personal protective equipment (PPE), which usually includes hard-wearing boots, goggles and high-vis vests, to keep you safe on site visits and while working in our workshops.
  • Access to the free professional body accreditation, as appropriate for your course.
  • £20 pre-paid printing allowance for use at the NTU Print Shops, and library photocopiers. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS.

As part of your application, you’ll submit a personal statement. Tell us about your ambitions, skills and experience. You have 4,000 characters to impress us – here’s how to make your words count.

If successful, you'll be invited to an interview where you'll need to bring with you your portfolio. This is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your potential as a designer. Take a look at our interview and portfolio advice.

Keeping up to date

After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU on our Your Application page.

Apply through UCAS (if applying to more than one university in the UK), or through our NTU Applicant Portal if you're not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

If successful, you'll be asked to submit a digital portfolio. Take a look at our digital portfolio advice.

  • For a step-by-step guide on making an application to the University, please visit our how to apply page.
  • For advice on applying for a visa, please visit our visa information page.

Keeping up to date

After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Please also take a look at our international students pages and our application guide for international students, which are full of advice and information about the University.

If you need any more help or information, please contact our International team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200. Alternatively, you can speak to one of our official NTU representatives for your country.