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Developing Graphic Design (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course aims to consolidate and build upon existing skills in Graphic Design to develop new ones, enabling students to produce outcomes that consider the audience and application within a professional context. The course content will be driven by the interests of individual students within the framework of a given brief, and will broaden their practical and professional understanding of the discipline.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

It is recommended that students have passed Introduction to Graphic Design. Students should have a basic working knowledge of Adobe software, specifically Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.

Special Information

In addition to the course fee, students are expected to provide the following list of indicative tools, materials and equipment:

  • A4 or A3 layout pad
  • Sketchbook (at least A4)
  • Drawing materials: pencils, pens, coloured pencils / pens with varying tip sizes, rubber, sharpener
  • Scissors or scalpel / craft knife
  • Ruler (metal or plastic, up to 30cm) 
  • Pritt stick, masking and scotch tape
  • USB or external hard drive

Content of Course

Over the class sessions the course will cover:


Presentation and group discussion: Graphic Design and Audience. A look at different forms of communication in relation to their audience. Short brief: Visualising a phrase/idiom according to an assigned audience.

Research and Documentation.

Group discussion: What is research? A look at ‘the sketchbook’, and different visual research / documentation methods. Drawing and collage based sketchbook warm-up exercise.

What’s the Big Idea?

Students begin determining the project idea they would like to focus on in the coming weeks and the elements their project will be made up of. (One-to-one discussion.) The following weeks will be structured as ‘modules’ focusing on graphic design subject areas and experimenting with ideas that will feed into each student’s on-going individual project.

Process of Design.

Thinking about the practical processes a designer goes through while working from a brief to a final outcome. A selection of case studies will be presented. Finalisation of individual project plans with one-to-one discussion.

Sense of Order.

Considering the importance of ‘composition’ in contemporary graphic design. How do elements fit together and how does that shape the message. A presentation of a selection of book covers, magazine designs and posters where the composition and message will be given.

Designing with Type.

Following on from the previous week, introducing the importance of typography within design, and exploring ways of using it effectively, on its own, as well as combined with other media. A presentation of relevant works and approaches will take place.


Looking at ways of utilising colour in design. Developing colour schemes according to relevant meanings and connotations. A presentation of examples will take place.

Interlude / Peer Feedback.

This will be an opportunity for all students to talk about their work up to date and receive critical feedback from each other.

Presentation of Work.

Group crit where students will present their finalised work and critically reflect on the research, development and design processes they have been on during the course.

Teaching method(s)

The teaching will be based and delivered in specialist art and design studios or workshops and will typically include a range of practical exercises, introductions to techniques, processes and concepts, and set projects which lead to more focused and personal exploration. Over the course, students’ progress will be monitored and supported by the tutor.  Teaching will include practical demonstrations, one to one tuition, group discussions and critiques.

For work required to be undertaken after the class hours are complete, the course tutor will set students a ‘directed study plan’ which can be undertaken without the need for specialist workshops or access to models.

Directed study will include research into a range of suggested artists and their associated movements to engender a contextual awareness. Students are expected to demonstrate how their research has informed their work through annotated sketchbooks, a visual digital journal and practical outcomes. 

The Directed Study Plan will include preparing evidence of research and practical work to form an appropriate presentation for assessment.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a range of creative ideas and thinking processes for visual communication, supported by contextual references and practical research.

  • Show a confidence in utilising a range of graphic design methods, approaches and processes that are appropriate to the ideas and concepts which considers the audience.

  • Evidence appropriate judgement to document, select, edit and present a coherent body of graphic design work.


Core Readings


  • BRINGHURST, R., 1992, The Elements of Typographic Style, Canada: Hartley & Marks
  • BALDWIN, J., & ROBERTS, L., 2006, Visual Communication: from Theory to Practice, Lausanne: AVA Publishing
  • le COTRE, M. & Purvis, A., 2002, A Century of Posters, Aldershot: Lund Humphries
  • HOLLIS, R., 2005, Graphic Design: A Concise History, New York: Thames & Hudson
  • LUPTON, E., 2010, Thinking With Type, New York: Princeton Architectural Press
  • LUPTON, E., 2008, Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book, New York: Princeton Architectural Press 
  • R JARRETT M.S., 2019. Ray Gun: The Bible of Music and Style. Rizzoli International Publications, 2019
  • OLIVER, V., BROOK, T., SHAUGHNESSY, A., 2020. Archive ('Materials And Fragments') Unit Editions

Class Handouts





Details of the Art and Design assessment requirements can be found on the short course website. Please click on the following link for more information: Submission and Assessment Information

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.