BA (Hons) Visual Communication


Program Description

Study a Visual Communications degree with OCA

Our BA (Hons) Visual Communications degree encourages you to explore the most creative and original ways to communicate a message to any given audience. It provides an opportunity for you to experiment with multiple creative disciplines and topics so that you gain a more comprehensive understanding of meaning, purpose, interpretation and design.

You’ll learn how to communicate your ideas effectively across various media and practices, equipping you with new thought processes and reasoning behind your methods. This will help you produce an interdisciplinary portfolio of artwork that can span a range of areas including graphic design, illustration, web, moving image, comics, infographics, packaging and beyond.

Throughout your course of study, your specialist tutor will support you and your work, enabling you to work both independently, ready for the world of visual creativity. So if you’re looking to create meaningful communications for a client base or for yourself, our BA (Hons) Visual Communications degree is for you.

Course Structure

The degree is split into eight units; three at Level 1 (HE4), two at Level 2 (HE5), and three at Level 3 (HE6). There are some core units that all students take, many more optional units, and some prerequisites for units at higher levels.

As a flexible degree, you can complete the programme in 4–9 years, with a maximum of three years to complete each level of the course.

Core Units

When starting the degree at Level 1, you can choose to study either the Graphic Design 1: Core Concepts unit, and/or Illustration 1: Key Steps in Illustration unit.

Graphic Design 1: Core Concepts provides an introduction to the use of basic visual language and the application of practices and processes of graphic design. The unit offers you the opportunity to develop practical competencies, explore your creative potential, and appreciate how to communicate effectively.

Illustration 1: Key Steps in Illustration introduces you to the practice of illustration through the creative use of drawing and image-making in developing ideas, content and visual outcomes.

The choice of which unit to start with at Level 1 is yours. Depending on your developing interests in the area of Visual Communications, you can choose to study a second unit as well before selecting an elective unit, or you can go on to choose two elective units (see below).

Once you have completed the first level of study, you’ll progress onto Level 2, where your choice of two elective units will be, in part, determined by the choices you make at Level 1 (see below).

At the final level of study, Level 3 (HE6), there is a shared structure of core course units that provide a framework for you to contextualise your practice, develop a specialist understanding of visual communications, synthesise critical ideas and visual work through a body of written and visual research (Visual Communications 3: Visual Research), and undertake a self-directed major project (Visual Communications 3: Advanced Practice) culminating in an exhibition and/or publication (Visual Communications 3: Sustaining your Practice).

Optional Units

You can choose from a range of disciplines including book design, graphic fiction, illustration, drawing, photography, printmaking and visual studies:

  • Book Design 1: Creative Book Design
  • Visual Communication 1: Graphic Fiction
  • Illustration 1: Illustration Sketchbooks
  • Visual Skills 1: Visual Dynamics
  • Drawing 1: Drawing skills
  • Photography 1: Expressing your Vision
  • Printmaking 1: Introduction to Printmaking
  • Visual Studies 1: Understanding of Visual Culture

Your choice of two elective units at Level 2 will be, in part, determined by the choices you make at Level 1. The available units and prerequisites are as follows:

  • Graphic Design 2: Working with a Client (prerequisite Graphic Design 1)
  • Illustration 2: Responding to a Brief (prerequisite Illustration 1)
  • Drawing 2: Investigating drawing (prerequisite Drawing 1)
  • Printmaking 2: Developing your Style (prerequisite Printmaking 1)

Should your choice of unit/s at Level 1 not have a specifically named unit at Level 2, then your choice of unit for progression will be Visual Skills 2: Visual Exploration. This unit will encourage you to undertake self-initiated projects that enable you to develop the skills and innovation needed to provide technically compelling content.

This unit supports an increasingly self-directed approach to exploring and articulating your personal interests. The unit supports you on how you generate your ideas, continued development of your visual and technical skills across a choice of media and technologies and establishes new ways of working by encouraging you to undertake self-initiated projects and reflect on the creative processes of other practitioners.


UK 2019/20 Fees

  • Foundations: £900 Per course
  • Level 1 (HE4): £4,050 For the level
  • Level 2 (HE5): £3,340 For the level
  • Level 3 (HE6): £3,340 For the level

Outside of the UK 2019/20 Fees

  • Foundations: £1,050 Per course
  • Level 1 (HE4): £4,500 For the level
  • Level 2 (HE5): £3,690 For the level
  • Level 3 (HE6): £3,690 For the level

Fees, Funding & Other Costs

OCA degrees are paid for on a unit-by-unit basis and are around a third of the cost of a degree at a campus university. Unit costs depend on the level of the unit, and also whether you live in the UK or the rest of the world.

If you started studying with OCA before 01 August 2017, please contact as different fees may apply.

If you are funding your course yourself you can either pay for units in full or you can spread the cost by taking advantage of our deposit and instalment facility for which a £50 fee is included in the deposit you pay.

All OCA courses are listed with Student Finance England, Wales, and Northern Ireland allowing eligible students to apply for a Student Loan to cover the cost of fees. You may also be able to apply for a maintenance loan and/or Disabled Students Allowance to assist you with the cost of study.

We’ve made this helpful guide to take you through the application process, making applying for Student Finance simple and straightforward.

The OCA Learner Support Scheme can provide partial bursaries towards course fees for students who are not eligible for funding via Student Finance, based on financial hardship.

Other sources of funding may include employer contributions, Enhanced Learning Credits (for Armed Forces Serving Personnel and Service Leavers) and Prisoner Education Trust.

As a student with OCA, most reading materials can be accessed through the digital library services and eBooks, or sent to you in the post.

Other costs you may find on your degree include purchasing software (i.e. Adobe Suite)/materials/books/texts to assist in your practice and research. These can be around £400-700 at Levels 1 and 2, and £550-1000 at Level 3 depending on which units you choose. Costs will vary depending on students’ choice of medium and whether books are bought or loaned from the library. Work is largely submitted to tutors and for assessment via email, however, postal costs are expected to be around £40 per assessment for sending materials depending on the quantity and weight of materials. Rates for overseas students will be higher.

Entry Requirements

  • Visual Communications is an open access degree; this means that there are no formal qualifications or experience required to join the course. All you need is a passion for the arts, and a willingness to learn.
  • All OCA courses require students to be IT literate, have a good internet connection, and have a good standard of English equivalent to CEFR B2. 

Careers & Employability

  • Upon completing the BA (Hons) Visual Communications degree, you’ll be set with skills to help you navigate the workplace. You could use your practice as a professional illustrator, digital designer, artist, brand or content specialist, the possibilities are endless.
  • In 2017 the Department for Culture, Media, & Sport estimated there were some 3.12 million jobs in the UK creative economy, and 80,000 new jobs were created in 2017 alone. The creative industries are growing faster than any other sector in the UK.
Last updated May 2020

About the School

Oscar-winning filmmakers, world-renowned fashion designers, television presenters, celebrity jewellers and Turner Prize nominees are just some of the high-profile graduates from the University for the ... Read More

Oscar-winning filmmakers, world-renowned fashion designers, television presenters, celebrity jewellers and Turner Prize nominees are just some of the high-profile graduates from the University for the Creative Arts. As a specialist creative arts university, we have created a unique community for our students, where like-minded people can share in the creative process and inspire one another. Collaboration between courses is encouraged, with fine artists studying with budding filmmakers and fashion designers working alongside architects. In this way, our students benefit from exposure to a range of disciplines. Choosing to study with us will give you the freedom to discover your own personal style through a winning combination of industry-focused courses, state-of-the-art facilities, and inspirational expert staff. Read less
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