The design courses blog for BA (Hons)
and HND Vis Comm at Edinburgh College

HND Visual Communication : Graphic Design

Graphic design is the central discipline in the broader practice of visual communication, and requires designers to produce creative solutions in advertising, corporate identity, branding, publishing, and a wide range of increasingly digitally-led information media.

Studio work in R310

Based at the Granton Campus, the HND Visual Communication in Graphic Design is an award-winning studio-driven course with a substantial amount of employer engagement and industry collaboration. The aim is to produce industry-ready graduates who can think and execute across the contemporary range of print and digital formats.

Assessment is through practical projects where students tackle a range of client-initiated briefs, design competitions, and studio collaborations.  The curriculum encourages research, problem-solving and teamwork skills, as well as covering theory and practice in areas such as design production, typography, colour, layout, digital and print publishing, and design-in-context.  In the lab the core production tools are Adobe Creative Suite, specifically InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, AfterEffects, and XD, as well as collaborative tools such as Mural and Miro.

Student Awards

We have an Education Network Membership with D&AD, and our students regularly enter and win national and international design awards, competing directly with final year degree-level students at some of the world's leading Universities and Art Schools.  Recent Awards have included:

Star Creative Student (Marketing Society) - Winner 2012-14, 2016, 2017, 2018
Star Creative Student (Marketing Society) - Finalists 2011-14, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
DMA Breakthrough Award 2015, 2017, 2019
D&AD 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2020
YCN - 1 Commendation 2021
YCN - 3 Commendations 2020 - including Student of the Year
YCN - 2 Commendations 2019
YCN - 1 Commendation 2018
YCN - 2 Commendations 2017
YCN - 2 Commendations 2016
YCN - 2 Commendations 2015
YCN - 3 Commendations 2013
YCN - 1- Commendation 2012
YCN - 3 Commendations 2011
YCN - 2 Commendations 2009
YCN - 1- Commendation 2008
Scottish Digital Business Awards 2014 - Winner, Student Category
GameChanger Award for Student Achievement 2014
IPA Creative Student Runner-up 2017
MPA Roses Commendation 2010
Show Racism the Red Card Creative Award FE - 2011, '12, '13, '14, '15 '19, '20


During their studies, our students get to grips with live briefs, and this involves pitching to clients and tackling a broad range of commercial projects. To support this, we run a groundbreaking and sector-leading Mentoring Programme, where the students get to work closely with a select group of industry professionals.  The programme helps develop collaborative and presentation skills, and encourages a high degree of initiative and critical self-appraisal. In 2013 the design team picked up a Highly Commended Award at the SQA Star Awards in the Innovation category for this employer engagement strategy.

Mentoring Session, R310.

Final Year students also undertake a work placement during February. In recent years the Scottish agencies involved have included Whitespace, Skyscanner, Lewis, Deloitte, Emperor, Heedi, Hype, Bloomfield, MadeBrave and many others, large and small.

Shows and Exhibitions

The course hosts a hugely successful dedicated Industry Night and Show each year, where industry professionals from many of Scotland's top agencies come along to see the work and network with our graduates. We've exhibited at the Traverse, The Drillhall, The Dovecot and the Fruitmnarket Gallery. The 2014 show 'Say:2014' won Best Educational Event at the Scottish Events Awards , and the 2013 show 'One Night Stand' at the Traverse Theatre, was commended at the SEA 2013 in the same category.

Industry Night at the Dovecot Show 2012.

Teaching & Learning

The Design Team tutors bring with them a wealth of academic and industry experience, invaluable industry contacts, and a passion for creative thinking.  As well as an impressive haul of student award wins, our teaching has been recognised with shortlist nominations at the College Development Network Annual Awards (Learning & Teaching, 2014) and the TESFE Awards (Employer Engagement, 2016).

Our facilities include three state-of-the-art Mac labs with the latest versions of the Adobe Suite, a large Studio - R310 - and a well-stocked design section in the college Library.

A range of high-profile industry practitioners provide regular guest talks and exciting one day briefs, and we also organise an annual study trip to Berlin to the Transmediale Digital Festival during the last week of January.


Our courses are very competitive, with a limited intake each year, despite an ever-increasing number of applications. There are a limited number of places at Introductory (NC), where we run a class of up to 20 students. The NC acts as a foundation year leading into the HND in either Graphic Design or User Experience Design.  Application includes an interview, where a portfolio will be required as well as appropriate entry qualifications. Generally, there will be less than 10 external places available on the HNC in any given year, with 10 progression places from the NC.

On graduating, a substantial number of our graduates go straight into industry roles as junior designers, art directors and artworkers  at many of Scotland's best agencies. Others can choose to go directly into second or third year at Art School or University, including DJCAD, Napier, ECA and GSA, where they can complete their degree in Graphic Design, or a related subject.

For further information on applying, you can download the Creative Industries Prospectus, and visit the college website at www.edinburghcollege.ac.uk.