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About the course

Are you pursuing a career in graphic design? Hoping to top-up your existing qualifications into a full degree? Solent University’s graphic design top-up programme is ideally suited to students who come from a graphic design background, having already studied at HND level or equivalent.

Portfolio and skill development lies at the heart of Solent University’s graphic design programme. Students will explore a range of professional techniques as they develop their own unique visual style and create design products for printed and digital mediums. The curriculum also explores academic theories and visual culture, ensuring that students have a thorough understanding of graphic design contexts.

Students benefit from free access to a range of high-end printing and design facilities. These include two Vandercook letterpresses, three screen print beds and three Intaglio/etching presses for calligraphy and etching work. Students also have access to photographic studios and darkrooms; a fully equipped workshop for metal and wood-working, and Apple Macs with the latest Adobe Creative Suite software.

The academics who teach on the graphic design top-up programme come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds – many are still active in the industry. The team’s close links with practising professionals have enabled past students to take part in a variety of work-based opportunities, live briefs and placements.

Graphic design students are encouraged to submit their best work to design competitions, securing valuable exposure. Past students have found success at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Student Design Awards, the Design and Art Direction (D&AD) Awards, and the Young Creative Network (YCN) Awards.

This course has access to Solent's specialist facilities.
Specialist facilities
After successfully completing your studies, there's an opportunity to continue your studies at Solent.
Further studies
If you have an appropriate Level 5 qualification, you can top it up to a degree in just a year.
Top-up degree

Students work with industry experts to develop a range of skills that are relevant to employers.

What does this course lead to?

Graduates have found work with Sagmeister Associates, Kessels Kramer, Emap, Future Publishing, Time magazine, GQ magazine, Pentagram, Fri Flyt magazine, Virgin Records, Addict Clothing, Traffic, EMI Records, D&AD, Smooth and Imagination.

Who is this course for?

Solent’s graphic design top-up programme is the perfect way for students who have studied at HND level to upgrade their qualification to a full undergraduate degree in just one year.

Facts and figures

UCAS codes icon

UCAS codes

Full Time

  • 1 Year Standard Entry WF10
Fees icon

Fees and costs

Tuition fees

The tuition fees for the 2019/20 academic year are:
UK, EU and Channel Island full-time fees: £9,250 per year
International full-time fees: £12,875 per year

For further information, please visit our tuition fees page.

Other costs

The 2019/20 other costs are not yet available. For guidance the 2017/18 costs were:

Compulsory printing, binding, mounting, competition entry, equipment, hand tools and research travel costs: £400 
Optional printing, binding, mounting, competition entry, equipment, hand tools and research travel costs: £400

Bursaries and scholarships

Solent University offers a range of bursaries and scholarships that provide financial assistance or waive fees for tuition or accommodation. Each bursary or scholarship has specific eligibility criteria. Check out our bursaries and scholarships pages to find out more.

Key entry requirements icon

Key entry requirements

Relevant HND/foundation degree pass with merit overall (55 per cent)

  • or 240 CATS points from a relevant three-year degree.
  • UK applicants are required to attend a portfolio viewing.
  • Applicants resident outside the UK will be required to send an electronic portfolio.
  • If you are applying from outside the UK, find information about entry requirements, visas and agents for your country here.

English language requirements

Applicants who do not have English as their first language will be required to demonstrate an approved level of proficiency in the use of the English language. The agreed minimum requirements for this course are:

  • IELTS minimum 6.0 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each individual component
  • TOEFL IBT minimum 80 with a minimum of 19 in each individual component
  • or equivalent.

Qualifications are checked before enrolment, and international students must bring their original certificates or certified copies when coming to study at the University.

The University also offers a pre-sessional English programme for international students who wish to improve their level of English before starting a degree course.

Study location

East Park Terrace

Got a question about this course?

Contact our Ask Solent team: 023 8201 5066

How to apply

Any student applying for the first year of a full-time/sandwich undergraduate course must apply through UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service). This includes mature, overseas and EU students.

Nearly all schools and colleges offer their students the facility of applying electronically through the UCAS website using 'Apply'; it may also be used by those applying independently in the UK and overseas. This facility and all course information can be found on the UCAS website:

Your application should reach UCAS by 15 January if you hope to enter a course the following autumn. Early application is advised for the most popular subject areas. Late applications may be made until the end of June. The UCAS Code for the University is S30, code name SOLNT.

Please click the link below to apply through UCAS:

Mode of study
Full-time 1 year Apply
How to apply

What you'll study

Year one

Core units
  • Professional Context
  • Final Major Project
  • Visual Communication Industry Research Project


Web-based learning

Solent's virtual learning environment provides quick online access to assignments, lecture notes, suggested reading and other course information.

The Student Hub

The Student Hub is a central space where you can access all of the information and support you need during your time at University.

Professional and experienced staff can help resolve any query, and if they cannot answer the question themselves they will find the person who can.

Career support

Key figures


Assessment by coursework


Practical exams

Meet the course team

Brent Meheux academic profile Brent Meheux Course Leader View profile
Steve Lannin academic profile Steve Lannin Senior Lecturer View profile
Benjamin Lower academic profile Benjamin Lower Technical Instructor View profile

The university cannot guarantee any particular members of staff will teach specific aspects of the course in the future, but will endeavour to ensure the teaching team maintains their balance of experience and qualifications.


Specialist facilities that you’ll have access to include two Vandercook letterpresses, three screen print beds and three Intaglio/etching presses for collagraphy and etching work.

You’ll also have access to modern IT suites with full Adobe Creative suite, specialist photographic studios and darkrooms, and a fully equipped workshop for metal- and wood-working, including a Hobart laser cutter/engraver.

The intensive curriculum focuses on portfolio and skill development. Students are encouraged to push the boundaries of graphic design through experiment, exploration and the development of a personal visual language.

Your future

The course enables you to find work across a wide variety of visual communication disciplines, and gives you an opportunity to build the professional portfolio that will help you get a position in the visual communication industry. Job prospects are wide and varied, ranging from publishing or corporate business to television, film or advertising. 

Suitable roles for graduates include:

  • Design consultancy
  • Publishing industry
  • Advertising
  • Multidisciplinary design
  • Web design
  • Television
  • Film
  • Multimedia
  • Freelance practice.

Industry links

The course has a long history of producing award-winning students and graduates, and you’ll gain industry experience on live briefs from advertising and design organisations such as D&AD, the RSA and YCN. The course team will encourage you to enter industry competitions, and you’ll have access to guest speakers such as illustrator Holly Wales, Matt Curtis from the Sunday Times Magazine and Hamish Muir, editor of Octavo and co-founder of Outcast Editions and MuirMcNeil.

Our in-house design agency, Solent Creatives, provide students with the chance to pitch for paid work with commercial clients – past Solent Creative clients include Bear Grylls, Southampton Airport and Southampton City Council.

Further study

Enhance your career prospects by continuing your study at Solent.

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