BA (Hons) Communication Design

The course

UCAS code
4 years
Scottish Borders
Delivery type

The Communication Design programme develops three key areas of conceptual, applied and entrepreneurial forms of communicating information through a variety of media. It promotes sustainable and life-centred communication design, development and research.


Got questions about this programme?

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The Communication Design programme develops three key areas of conceptual, applied and entrepreneurial forms of communicating information through a variety of media. The evolving technological components, growing ease of social media, and globalisation of communication require the design and interpretation of information to go beyond existing industrial and capitalistic formats.

This new type of communication design deals within collaborative experiences, socially dynamic and inclusive agendas, and provides key forms of critical informational research. This programme enables studio cooperative learning within a life-centred design approach in four evolving areas: moving image/animation, photography, graphic design (inclusive illustration), and interaction design (UX/UI).

This is further supported by elective courses in entrepreneurship, design management, art direction,and fashion communication which will prepare students for a variety of roles within the design industry and beyond including film, media, and social enterprise. In the end, it promotes a new type of student for a new type of world, where the disciplinary divisions are erased to promote a transdisciplinary approach to design.

The course is taught in our Scottish Borders Campus. This is your chance to study in an area that's home to some of the UK's top design and production facilities for textiles and fashion. Find out more about what this hippest of courses has to offer on our School pages.

Course content

Year 1

The first year focuses on initial design and visualisation skills setting up the student with the fundamentals in overall photography, visual development, design thinking, and introductions into illustration.

Semester 1

  • Rethinking Design 1: Discover and Define
  • Rethinking Design 2: Develop and Deliver

Semester 2

  • Introduction to Creative Media
  • Introduction to Photography
  • Introduction to Communication Design

Year 2

The second year builds upon the fundamentals taught in first year, by introducing specialist topics such as typography, videography, and advertising. This is supplemented with courses in creative writing, professional practice, and graphics.

Semester 1

  • Creative Digital Technologies
  • Intermediate Photography

Semester 2 

  • Graphic Design, Typography & Illustration
  • Promotion & Advertising

Year 3

The third year develops a unique series of four themed elective specialisations in design management, fashion communication, interaction design, and graphics and illustration. However, we will initially be introducing just one pathway in graphics and Illustration. These third year courses include events management, visual merchandising and fashion styling.

Semester 1

  • Design Branding
  • Art Direction and Storytelling

Semester 2 

  • Advanced Graphic Design, Typography & Illustration
  • Collaborative Studio

Year 4

The final honours year will entail a two semester developed honours project using supervisory pedagogies, being supplemented by advanced evaluative practice and review.

Semester 1

  • Final Project 1

Optional Modules

  • Global Fashion Management
  • CCS Essay

Semester 2

  • Final Project 2
  • Advanced Practice and Evaluation

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Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements

  • Highers ABBB (including English)
  • A-Levels BCC
  • Int. Baccalaureate 29 points
  • BTEC DMM (in a relevant area

Minimum entry requirements*

  • Highers BBBC (including English)
  • A-Levels BCC

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for some Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

  • live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20), or
  • are care experienced.

We can also make exceptions for some Scottish students with grades above minimum but below standard. Read more about our Minimum and standard entry requirements

Year 2

  • HNC B in graded unit (in a relevant HNC)
  • BTEC DMM (in relevant subject)

Additional information

The digital portfolio

Selection is by application and submission of a portfolio, which will demonstrate your aptitude to textiles through use of colour, texture, rhythmic pattern-making and a logical design process. The ability to produce observational work in the form of both controlled and gestural drawing, painting and relief work should also be shown.

Applicants are invited to submit a digital portfolio by Friday 23rd February 2024. Late submissions may be accepted, please contact for more information. If upon review of a portfolio it is deemed appropriate we will contact an applicant for interview.

Online portfolio feedback sessions with an academic will be offered following your submission.

What to include in your digital portfolio:

Your application must include a portfolio of 10 to 15 carefully curated pages in PDF format. Please ensure that the images used in your submission are high resolution and of good quality. These images should include examples of past work and must include evidence of the following:

Research and investigation:

To show the level of your engagement in visual investigation and research and how well you apply and integrate it within a design project. This could be through the medium of notetaking, sketches, photographs, painting, collages and so on.

Design development:

To show your ability to explore and develop ideas in a creative and critical way; and your level of skill and ability in the use of different visual methods and techniques to express development. We want you to show a strong evolution of your work and ideas.

Visual communication and presentation:

To clearly communicate and visually express a few of your most successful design projects from start to finish in a professional way.

English language requirements

  • If English is not your first language, you have to show that your English is good enough to succeed on your course. Please see our English language requirements.


Tuition fees for 2024 entry
Status* Scotland England / Wales / N Ireland / Rep of Ireland International**
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £18,704

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.

** 'International' includes applicants from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in UK. (This does not include students from the Republic of Ireland - see above). Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your studies at Heriot-Watt over and above tuition fees in an academic year. Depending on your programme of study, these may include: protective equipment, field trips, professional memberships, studio fees, required course texts or other study resources.

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible undergraduate students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

  • Heriot-Watt University Bursary (up to £3,100 per year)
View details about the Heriot-Watt University Bursary

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.