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Undergraduate study

Course overview

Join over half a century of successful product design graduates by studying this renowned degree course at Teesside University and learn how to develop and make your designs across the full breadth of industries from transportation to film.

Product design at Teesside University

Alan Milburn talks about his experiences of studying product design

About the course
Product design is about making your imagination a reality and our product design course provides you with the skills and knowledge for careers across the design industry in roles from consultant to in-house designer, from small independent businesses to large-scale manufacturers. Graduates of this degree have broad career options with many successful alumni from major companies and consultancies such as Dyson, Philips, E3 Design and Seymour Powell returning to share their experiences from the automotive, aerospace, consumer electronics, furniture, packaging and film industries.

What you learn
Build your practice as a product designer from drawing to computer-aided design (CAD), model-making to 3D scanning, rapid prototyping to desktop routing. You develop your understanding of aesthetics, form, function, ergonomics, manufacturing, usability, interaction, inclusive and sustainable design. While training to become a product designer, you learn to be a creative problem-solver, progress your design ideas and cultivate critical thinking individually and through teamwork. This makes for a very hands-on, dynamic culture developing both traditional and digital skills through drawing, modelling and experimentation.

At Teesside University we offer a hands-on approach to developing professional practice in our superbly equipped workshops and open plan design studios, where you learn the traditional and digital skills to work in the design field. In this dynamic setting, you apply your learning to a range of commercial design projects and develop your professional, business and marketing skills. Recent industry-focused live projects include furniture, consumer goods, disability aids and playground equipment.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
You study at MIMA School of Art & Design, an art school led by Teesside University and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), an international contemporary museum and gallery. You gain a full artistic experience, learning in a social space that inspires dynamic ideas, fuels collaboration and allows you to build local, national and international networks with industry professionals for your future product design career.

Top three reasons to study product design at Teesside University
1. Teesside University has been actively engaged in creative education for over 50 years with a special focus on the connection between art and industry.
2. Our successful alumni work for major companies and consultancies such as Dyson, Philips, E3 Design and Seymour Powell.
3. Benefit from the close proximity of our studios and workshops which are open access across your full course.

An optional work placement year is included, at no extra cost. Alongside this, you can gain valuable experience and engagement with the sector through our shorter work placements, internships and work experience opportunities.
Find out more


Course details

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Design Projects: Consumer Products

You are introduced to product development techniques and creative principles as art of a consumer-led approach to design. You learn how to bring any consumer product, brand or service to market. You integrate marketing and research principles into your design project work, and prototype and test aspects of your design development work.

Design Projects: Form and Function

As a 3D designer you explore the form of a product, looking at materials, manufacture, ergonomics and visual criteria. You are encouraged to experiment, innovate and take risks within your working practice. A series of facilitated workshops introduce you to traditional and emerging skills and techniques that you can utilise and refine throughout your studies and professional life.

Design Skills: CAD and Digital Illustration

You gain a foundation in using industry-standard software to visualise and communicate your ideas in both 2D and 3D. You learn how to use computers as presentation tools and to help you identify the correct software for specific tasks. You learn in our IT studios, bringing your ideas to life in a workshop environment.

Drawing and Printmaking

You explore and expand your approaches to visual investigation and representation through drawing, image and printmaking. You create visual language through observation, response, emotive expression and visual enquiry, experimenting with ideas generation and establishing new ways of looking and thinking.

Materials and Manufacturing

You develop your knowledge of materials and manufacturing, considering properties of materials used in constructing products. You also explore the sustainability of materials and manufacturing and consider how your professional choices have a global impact. New technologies such as rapid manufacturing are changing the way products are made, you are introduced to this technology with hands on experience.

MIMA History of Art, Design & Architecture

You are introduced to key art, design, architectural and cultural histories that are central to studying a creative subject. You explore a range of contexts and influences including art historical, ecological, critical theory, industrial, technological change, social and political movements, examining the changing face of art and design and informing your future research.


Year 2 core modules

Career Context

You develop your understanding of building a career in the creative industries through key skills in creative leadership, collaborative entrepreneurship and sustainability. You start with a theoretical introduction to these concepts and then work collaboratively on a group project to establish a creative business. You present your project and submit an individual reflective portfolio on your research and project experiences.

Design Projects: Design for Industry

You develop your knowledge and understanding of the activities undertaken by product designers, looking at project management, research methods, the design process, manufacturing and understanding the end-user. You undertake a new product development project with someone in industry. You communicate your proposals and project rationale for them using appropriate models, illustrations, CAD, rapid prototypes and a verbal presentation.

Design Projects: New Product Development

You develop a knowledge and understanding of the activities undertaken by professional product designers, including enhanced skills in project management, research methods, the design process, manufacturing, and the technical aspects of new product development. You focus on the ways in which designers work with external clients and as part of teams, looking at understanding the marketplace, consumer interactions, behaviours and expectations.

Design Skills: Advanced CAD

You learn how to produce detailed drawings of parts and assemblies and to visualise /animate in context. Surface modelling introduces you to the skills you need to design and build freeform shapes.

The communication of design concepts is a fundamental skill for product designers. Digital technologies are an important tool in achieving this effectively, particularly in terms of generating 3D geometry that can be manipulated to show what an object looks like, how it is assembled and what individual parts look like.

Future Design

You look at the responsibility designers have to their audiences and how to improve your own practice. You explore postmodernism, emotional design, sustainability, interaction, product-service systems, maker spaces, speculative design and the impacts of new technologies and materials.

Global Future Contexts

You investigate a range of contemporary social, environmental, technological and ethical issues that inform all types of art and design practice. You broaden your awareness of using creativity as a form of contemporary social discussion – exploring issues through the development, production and presentation of potential future scenarios.


Optional work placement year

Work placement

You have the option to spend one year in industry learning and developing your skills. We encourage and support you with applying for a placement, job hunting and networking.

You gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment, including communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure, and commercial awareness.

Many employers view a placement as a year-long interview, therefore placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process. Benefits include:

· improved job prospects
· enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
· a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
· a better degree classification
· a richer CV
· a year's salary before completing your degree
· experience of workplace culture
· the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.

If you are unable to secure a work placement with an employer, then you simply continue on a course without the work placement.


Final-year core modules

Contextual Writing for Product Design

You undertake extended independent research on a topic of personal interest within the field of product design, developing your understanding through research and critical analysis. You also develop your ability to construct and present logical, balanced and supported arguments and information in a negotiated final format such as a long essay (dissertation), a related series of magazine articles, screen-based presentation or technical authoring.

Live Projects and Competitions

You explore your own fields of interest through a personal programme of study, developing a questioning, creative and innovative approach to your design project work and focusing on conceptual and experimental exploration. You could also undertake appropriate external or live projects.

You expand your capacity to deal with proactive and self-directed independent study. You are expected to initiate, develop and expand a brief and carry out effective and focused research. The project culminates with the presentation of completed design utilising appropriate method and media.

Major Research Project: Product Design

You focus on the design and prototyping of your product and service solutions including those suitable for hand, batch or mass manufacture. Your project is underpinned by a sound understanding of the user, business and technical issues that relate to it. The choice of project and associated brief comes from you, with advice from staff, to be pertinent to your interests and/or career aspirations. The realisation of the project is through physical and digital models, animations and associated visual material.

Major Research Project: Product Design (Report)

Your ability to communicate the creation and production of your final design project solution is evidenced through a written technical report. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills and knowledge of the design process and project management, the market, context, technical, testing and the aesthetic in a manner that evidences your professional communication skills.

Report writing is a key transferable skill which is applicable to any work setting. This document becomes part of your portfolio to show your depth of understanding and the breadth of your knowledge base to potential employers

Professional Skills: Portfolio

You develop the skills required to make the transition from university to employment including how to present work and yourself in a variety of situations, from trade shows to formal interviews. You create and develop visual material, both in the physical and digital space, that can be used in a variety of contexts when looking for employment.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

The curriculum is supplemented by opportunities to engage with live projects, internships and national competitions. Visits are organised to manufacturers and trade exhibitions as well as an annual international trip to the likes of Milan, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. Visiting lectures by industry experts and alumni strengthen the professional feel of the course.

The physical environment of the course is fundamental to your success. Studios are open 24 hours. As a first year student you have dedicated work-spaces within an open-plan studio, with CAD labs and workshops on the floors above and below. This encourages a seamless work-like routine where you can move between spaces to design, test, prototype and experiment on your design projects. Rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printing, plasma-cutting and CNC routing sit alongside traditional model making tools to offer a fully rounded making experience.

How you are assessed

You learn through 100% in-course assessments which are carried out through hands-on design-and-make projects.

Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Year 1 entry
96-112 points, including a creative subject, from any combination of recognised Level 3 qualifications. Consideration will also be given to students without formal qualifications but with evidence of practical art and design experience at an appropriate level. Students are invited to bring portfolios along on applicant days to show creative skills in art and design.

Eligible applicants are normally invited for interview. The interview helps us determine your potential to succeed and to set appropriate entry conditions matched to your personal circumstances and the demands of the course. The interview also enables you to see our excellent facilities, meet staff and students, and to learn more about studying at Teesside University.

If you are unable to attend an interview at the university, we can organise a virtual interview over the telephone or internet. If you have a portfolio of work to submit in support of your application, this can be sent to us electronically.

English language and maths requirement
Normally GCSE English language and maths at grade C, or 4 under the new grading system. Alternative equivalent qualifications may be considered.

Non-EU international students who need a student visa to study in the UK should check our web pages on UKVI-compliant English language requirements. The University also provides pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements.

Helping you meet the entry requirements
We may be able to help you meet the requirements for admission by offering you the opportunity to study one or more Summer University modules, some of which can be studied by distance learning.

Alternative degree with integrated foundation year
If you are unable to achieve the minimum admission requirements for Year 1 entry you could, subject to eligibility, join one of our degree courses with an integrated foundation year.

Direct entry to later years
If you have previously studied at higher education level (for example, a foundation degree, HNC, HND or one or more years at degree level at another institution) you may request direct entry to Year 2 or year 3 of this degree.

Mature applicants
We welcome applications from mature students (aged over 21) who can demonstrate, through portfolio/written work and relevant experience, that they have developed cognitive and technical skills through their life experiences.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country

You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL



Career opportunities

Graduates from this programme are versatile creatives who pursue careers in solo, small enterprise or more corporate set-ups across the world. Typical destinations are in furniture and lighting design, domestic and household products, fashion accessories, electronics and gadgets, cars and transportation. You could work at all levels as designer, maker, retailer, manager or prototyper.

Product Design at Teesside has a long tradition of educating leading designers who have been employed by national and international companies, including Aston Martin, Philips, Seymourpowell, Jaguar Land Rover, Teague and Dyson.

Work placement

A work placement officer and the University's award-winning careers service help you with applying for a placement. Advice is also available on job hunting and networking.

By taking a work placement year you gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment. Transferable skills include communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure, and commercial awareness.

An increasing number of employers view a placement as a year-long interview and, as a result, placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process.

Potential benefits from completing a work placement year include:

  • improved job prospects
  • enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
  • a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
  • a better degree classification
  • a richer CV
  • a year's salary before completing your degree
  • experience of workplace culture
  • the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.


Information for international applicants


International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

Talk to us

Talk to an international student enrolment adviser



Entry to 2021/22 academic year

Fee for UK applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£13,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: W240 BA/PD
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 96-112 tariff points

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS



2021/22 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£4,500 (120 credits)

More details about our fees

  • Length: Up to 6 years
  • Attendance: Daytime
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates

Apply online (part-time)


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UK students


Telephone: 01642 335008

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International students


Telephone: +44 (0) 1642 738900

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