Interior Design BA (Hons)
Course code: W250
This course offers strong industry links with a programme of exciting ‘live’ projects and opportunities for work placements which often result in job offers at the end of the programme.
Why study this degree at University Centre South Essex?
- Professional Interior designers to act as a year mentors
The programme has a strong industry focus providing the students with an educational and industry experience. One of the main distinctive features for the programme is working with local, London and international design companies to support your academic studies
- Interior Design competition projects and additional design work opportunities
You will have the opportunity to take part in additional design work opportunities alongside the programme to help boost your design and academic experience which could result in a greater chance of successful employability.
- Skills-based certificate
The programme delivers sessions on industry software such as AutoCAD
- Partnership with Creative Recruitment agencies
By working with a London-based creative recruitment agency RGB Network in years 2 and 3 you will be exposed to specialists who connect designers to employers
- Personalised career advice tutorials
You will be provided with 1 x 20 minute career’s advice tutorial per semester.
- Alumni Network
The programme leader has created a network of all graduated students from the programme to meet once a year and remain in contact.
Important: Please note that this course is undergoing revalidation. This is the process by which we ensure the course continues to provide a high quality academic experience. During revalidation there may be some changes to the course content displayed on this page. Please contact us if you have any questions about the course.
Interior design is an extremely exciting and rewarding career and there are a huge range of career opportunities within the industry. From year one of the course you will be introduced to industry CAD software and industry processes which will include using Photoshop, sketch up, AutoCAD, InDesign, working on live projects, undertaking work experience opportunities and taking part in interesting visits to design studios, exhibitions and educational workshops.
You will be able to explore these job opportunities and find your place within the industry whilst working on projects of your own choice. The course covers a range of interior design such as residential, hospitality design and commercial interiors.
By joining the course, you will become part of our interiors team, which is a unique and supportive learning environment. We have a maximum of 20 student places available per year group, which allows more contact time with all students. Our course team are industry professionals who practise as freelance interior designers, which provides extensive industry involvement to the course with additional opportunities for you to work on live industry projects alongside the course.
To see what the Interior design team get up to and the projects they work on follow our course Instagram.
You will need a minimum of 64 UCAS points from one or more of the following:
- At least two A-levels
- BTEC/UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma/Diploma/Subsidiary Diploma/Certificate
- BTEC National Award/Certificate/Diploma
- Access to Higher Education Diploma (minimum 15 credits at merit or above)
- International Baccalaureate
- AQA Baccalaureate
- Progression Diploma
- Advanced Diploma
You will also need GCSE English at grade C (old specification) or Grade 4 (new specification) or above OR a Level 2 equivalent such as functional skills qualification.
You will also be required to undertake a portfolio-based interview. Portfolios should include examples of recent project work and may reference a variety of media.
Applications from mature students who do not possess the entry requirements as listed above, but who possess related professional experience or professional qualifications are welcome to apply.
You will need to demonstrate by interview, exceptional entry portfolio (this is likely to include evidence of paid or unpaid work experience) and/or written assessment that you are suitable for the course.
Year one units
The subjects studied in the first year form a firm foundation for the specialist subjects studied during years two and three. You will learn core skills in technical drawing, visual research and CAD software.
The projects you will undertake during year one teach the desired skills in a variety of creative contexts and allow you to gain confidence in the development, fabrication, communication of your design ideas, AutoCAD, Photoshop, InDesign and sketch up. You will develop technical drawing skills using CAD and practise image manipulation using Photoshop. You will also study observational drawing, model making, report writing and conduct industry research.
Interior Design Process
This unit aims to introduce a diverse range of design processes. Along with research, alternative and experimental processes, approaches and techniques will be used to support innovative ideas generation. Visual exploration of ideas and concepts, experimental interiors, and the encouragement to reflect will enable students to refine concepts and aid the production and presentation of personal work throughout the programme.
Underpinning research into historical and contemporary examples will be required to support practice and personal design ideas. The unit provides the necessary skills and knowledge, through practical workshops and demonstrations, to enable you to appreciate the importance of experimentation and both traditional and digital approaches to interior design.
Historical and Contextual Studies
This unit offers a broad introduction to contemporary cultural studies, and its link into more traditional art and design history. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive review of the subject but to introduce you to sufficient themes and discourse within this area of study for you to explore areas of personal interest which fall outside of the indicative unit content.
This unit will explore the use of visual language to communicate with a range of target audiences. Visual sensibility is basic to the work of a designer, not only to the look of the project but also to the ability of the designer to explore, express and communicate ideas. The creative and imaginative use of imagery in 2D and 3D will form the basis of your response.
This unit will concentrate on hand-rendered drawing. It will provide you with the creative and technical skills to use drawing both as a tool for collecting and developing visual research, for ideas generation and representation as well as in its own right as a means of innovation and creative expression. The main methods of enquiry involve visual research, reflection and skills practice and development.
Technical Drawing/CAD (1)
This unit is will introduce both technical drawing by hand and using industry-standard software to create drawings. As a designer, you will need to obtain a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the technical methods of detailing in order to allow your creations to be realised, understood and ultimately built. This unit will be revisited in year two in the Technical Drawing/ CAD (2) unit.
This unit underpins the core principles of construction technologies and the regulatory conventions required to design spaces and objects. Understanding construction methods, both architectural and product-related, is vital if professional designers are to realise the creative potential and limitations of any given situation. Emphasis on the environmental implications of the construction methods, materials and technologies employed by the designer is crucial if a concept is to be realised to a plausible and ethical conclusion.
Interior Design Studies
This unit will to introduce you to the role of the designer, the constraints and considerations that are an essential part of that role and the balance that must be identified between idealism and pragmatism. It also aims to awaken your visual communication, perception and design potential by developing your drawing and digital design skills. Carrying through a design project entails highly complex processes.
Typically, designers have to apply their existing knowledge and experience, augmented with new information and insights gleaned from research, in a fresh and innovative manner to generate proposals that are, at least, technically and ergonomically sound but which, may at best, be technically and ergonomically brilliant. In addition, there are aesthetic and philosophical considerations, which require the designer to be culturally and socially aware, and, since they are charged with the creation of future human environments, to be socially responsible. The handling and integration of these disparate rational and intuitive aspects is difficult but essential to the work of designers. You will be encouraged to demonstrate your knowledge and formulate independent and analytical approaches to working relating to the design process. You will explore the visual language and the structure of communication through both manual and digital design experimentation.
Year two units
This year refines the skills learnt in year one and covers a range of subject specific projects including retail and exhibition. Model-making underpins the practical processes, whilst a strong emphasis is placed on the use of CAD drawing and visualisation software. Industry awareness is a focus for year two and provides opportunities to gain first-hand industry experiences. 'Live' projects with industry contacts enrich the curriculum. You will also consider your dissertation proposal.
This unit focuses on the development of exhibition design. You will be expected to research exhibition and audience theories, methodologies and practices that will then drive the development of your own specific exhibition design proposals. Many subjects and disciplines are involved in the exhibition process. These include; displayed objects, exhibition systems, interior spaces, graphic images, story and text, exhibit environments, lighting and audio-visual media.
Technical Drawing/CAD (2)
This unit builds upon the basic core CAD skills learnt in year one in the Technical Drawing/CAD (1) unit. This unit will encourage you to select appropriate software and drafting techniques dependent on the parameters and limitations of the current projects. You will need to be working and producing work with a more professional focus and within the required industry standards.
This unit gives you the opportunity to carry out specialist research into the Interior Design industry, and to identify specific areas of work of interest. It will allow you to investigate career opportunities currently available, and to consider your own employability by weighing up your own skills against the requirements of particular jobs within the Interior Design industry.
This unit provides you with the practical experience of the use of conventions relating to the planning of interior space for retail. It introduces knowledge of pertinent materials and the processes commonly used to form and manipulate them, which will lead to a curiosity about new materials or methods and an inventive approach to their application. It also considers the need for professional designers to specify technologies for the control of various environmental parameters.
Cultural Contexts and Dissertation Proposal
The purpose of this unit is to assist you in developing appropriate research, statistical and critical methodologies to support your dissertation, and construct an appropriate proposal for your dissertation. You will be required to engage with a range of critical and analytical methods; to consider your underlying assumptions and to assess your limitations.
This unit will provide the opportunity to develop an understanding of the interior designer in a commercial setting. The placement will give awareness to the business of interior design and allow you to analyse the roles, responsibilities and the necessities of communication, teamwork and the development of your own personal skills within the industry and you should complete a minimum of 60 hours.
The specific content of this module is therefore defined primarily by you, but it will also provide a clear framework within which a research timetable supports a period of self-directed study, followed by a phase of conceptual, technical and aesthetic exploration that will lead towards development of an independent process. If unsuccessful in obtaining a work placement, this unit will be linked to a live project brief to attain the credits required. (The live project brief will require a similar time commitment to a placement and will run alongside other on- going projects).
Year three units
This is the most challenging year as you showcase your individual creative skills in a final major project that aligns with your interests on the course. This comprises a feasibility report outlining initial research and planning, a design portfolio, presentation portfolio which culminates in the degree show in which you present your work in an exhibition and a detail package of your technical drawings. Through the planning and production of this final project, you have the opportunity to focus your academic skills prior to entering the workplace.
This unit allows for the opportunity to develop a critical awareness, in-depth research, and to form a sustainable argument for an area of investigation. You will negotiate with a supervisor, a line of enquiry that is relevant to your chosen field of study and undertake an avenue of research that could, but is not limited to, interior design.
The aim of this unit is to identify a subject of personal significance and a working process that has the potential for sustained investigation. You will review and examine work produced in year two of the programme and address your choice of media and working process through discussion and exploration of alternative practices and media. By establishing a critical statement of intent, you will form an intellectual and creative foundation for their final major project. As well as presenting a feasibility report and statement of intent, you will, in the design development stage, use architectural models as a simulation vehicle to provide an advanced view of what a building or interior will look like when it is constructed. Modelling provides security of knowledge, for validation of intent, for consensual agreement, for the purposes of refining details and ideas and for deeper speculation and contemplation.
This unit is primarily concerned with the professional relationships between members of multi-disciplinary teams e.g. colleagues, clients, contractors, users and the community at large. It explores the work of design-makers, freelance designers, design consultants and in-house designers and the standards and frameworks of practice for each of these modes of employment. You will also have to consider the importance and impact of your End of Year Show, establish the exhibition space, prepare and install your work for exhibition, explain and evaluate the exhibited work and make an effective contribution to the management of the exhibition process.
Work placements are encouraged throughout the duration of the course. However there is particular emphasis on this aspect during year two in relation to the Work Placement unit. On this unit you will work towards securing a work placement either locally or nationally* for 60 hours over the year. Some students take this in one block others over a number of weeks, both in term time and during the holiday period; this is usually negotiated with the placement provider. You will be assisted in gaining a placement, however the emphasis is on you to secure it as part of this Unit. Should you not be able to secure a placement a suitable live or competition brief may be taken on to fulfil the requirements of the Unit. This live brief will be negotiated with your Unit Leader.
Timetables are normally available one month before registration, though we endeavour to let you know an outline as soon as possible. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week. Typically year groups are expected to attend for 13 hours a week spread over two and a half days. We expect you to build on this learning through Independent Study for at least a similar period. For this time we usually have space available within the campus or at the Forum in Southend.
Live projects and industry involvement
We promote industry awareness as much as possible on the course to enable students to be completely prepared for starting their career in the industry. Live projects are organised to allow students to practise and learn how to become a professional interior designer and work through the industry process of designing. We work with industry suppliers on all projects and visit current design exhibitions to ensure the currency of the programme. Live projects often result in students work being chosen to take forward to the next stage and eventually is turned into a reality.
Students benefit from a wide range of trips including:
- Exhibitions in London
- Visits to design studios in London
- Presentations on job roles and projects, including Chelsea Harbour Design Centre
- Design workshops
The course is timetabled for 13 hours per week, which includes an hour tutorial. Independent study is expected outside timetabled hours to work on projects set and is a full time course.
- G1 Architecture
- Howden Kitchens
- Fiducia interiors, London
Teaching & Learning
Teaching and Learning
You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops, which enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of the discipline of Interior Design. You will use industry-standard programs and have access to various facilities including the 3D, Fashion, Printmaking & Photography studio. You also have access to hardware such as the laser & vinyl cutters, 3D Printer and scanners.
At Level 4 you typically have around 13 hours contact time per week, typically consisting of:
- Four hours of lectures/seminars
- Six hours of workshops (including dedicated one-to-one tutorials when necessary)
- Two hours of Contextual Studies (either lecture or one-to-one tutorial)
- One hour group tutorials
Units are delivered through a variety of methods of teaching and learning. These will include:
- Technical demonstrations - designed to provide essential inductions for interior design tasks and resources to support the acquisition of essential skills
- Small group teaching - studio based group sessions which are led by a tutor
- Group critiques - will usually occur towards the end of a unit before assessment
- Individual tutorials - The tutor will ask key questions regarding your project and offer advice and suggestions regarding future development
- Independent research and studio practice - during the unit students are expected to follow up on suggested directions regarding project direction
When not attending lectures, seminars and workshops or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, preparing coursework assignments and presentations. A range of excellent facilities, including the library, the Learning Resource Centre and the Forum, supports your independent learning.
Assessment & Feedback
You will create a range of individual and group projects to provide you with relevant experiences of work and help you build an impressive professional portfolio to help you secure graduate employment. There are no exams.
You will receive formative feedback as part of your one-to-one sessions with your unit teachers. You will also receive summative feedback on all formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your unit leader tutor. Feedback can be given in a range of different ways in order to accommodate a variety of learning styles and aptitudes including group critiques, recorded verbal feedback and written feedback.
We aim to provide you with feedback within 20 working days of hand-in (for al formal studio based
coursework assessment). For the third year Dissertation Unit you will receive feedback and grades at
the same time as your Final Creative Output Unit.
£8000 per year
Fees are per academic year for home and EU students.
The following course-related costs are included in the fees:
- As this course may incur more than the normal printing costs, the University currently gives students a yearly amount of free printing at time of writing this is £20.00 per year
- Third Year students will show their work at an industry event such as New Designers or Free Range, this will be covered by the Faculty of HE but may incur additional costs (ie: printing) depending on the work you produce
You will be expected to buy materials on programme. You will also be expected to contribute to your end of programme show.
You can progress to postgraduate study including:
- MA Interior Design
- MA Interior and Spatial Design
- MA Architectural Interior Design
The great majority of students progress into industry following graduation, including:
- Junior designers progressing to midweight designers in a range of industries including residential, retail and leisure
- Prestigious international design companies