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Product Design

BA (Hons)
Product Design
3 years (full-time)
4 years (with placement year and/or overseas study)

Product designers at Manchester Met explore why, examine how, and ask ‘what if?’ We are investigative and critically responsive to human and global needs, developing innovative design-led solutions that connect the consumer experience of products, systems and services. As a product design student, you will be creative with purpose, gaining critical understanding of the emergent issues affecting design across society and culture, learning how to be a designer of products that enhance functionality, interactions and relationships with people and the places we inhabit.

You will develop essential skills in creative methods, research, design thinking, prototyping and design strategy, applying design intelligence to the creation of new product opportunities and solutions. You will discover how to design products that embrace both traditional and contemporary approaches to production and manufacturing, generating value through the application of materials, processes, and technologies. This course will enable you to produce innovative crafted design solutions and develop the creative and professional skills required to support a sustainable career in product design. 

Product Design at Manchester Met builds on the success of our previous programme, BA Three Dimensional Design, which has produced influential and award-winning graduates including designer and architect Thomas Heatherwick, jeweller Ruth Tomlinson and ceramicist Joe Hartley.

What’s the difference between Product Design, and the Product Design & Craft course?

The two courses run alongside each other and have been developed to look at the reasoning for objects that surround us, from the cherished personal possessions to the functional items that facilitate our daily life. In recognising the diversity of creative opportunities across the area of three-dimensional design, it is not the category of object that determines it as a piece of product design or a piece of craft, but how it has been arrived at through a creative process, underpinned by the factors that have informed and driven its creation.

The Product Design course provides a human-centered focus, designing products that respond to external factors, identified needs and new market opportunities that aim to enhance experience, utility and value.

The Product Design & Craft course provides a designer/maker focus, pursuing experimental approaches that are often driven by individual responses to social, political and environmental issues in the creation of the designed object.

Special Features

  • This course is supported by a comprehensive range of workshops for hand and machine making in ceramics, glass, metal, wood and plastics, digital making facilities for CNC routing, 3D printing and laser cutting.

  • You will be taught by a range of academic and technical experts across the School of Art who are practicing designers, makers and artists.

Course Content

Year 1

In Year 1 you will study the following core units: 

Unit X

At Level 4, this unit encourages some collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and shared experience. There are lectures and talks from key research staff, students and external experts. Teaching will be in the form of tutorial groups, weekly meetings and presentations. The set projects will vary from year to year and are designed to be responsive to current creative opportunities. 

Line Plane Form

This unit will engage you in the investigation of fundamental three-dimensional geometry; line, plane, and form. Through a series of tasks these elements will be explored using 2D drawing techniques and 3D making approaches, to arrive at a collection of pieces that explore three-dimensional visual language.

Contextualising Practice 1: Critical Reflection

This unit is delivered and assessed by individual programmes and relate directly to students’ personal practice and the contexts that inform making in professional art, design and/or craft practices. The unit asks students to begin to form a critical understanding of their own practice.

Contextualising Practice 1: Critical Analysis

Students are allocated to a pathway according to their programme to introduce ideas relevant to their studies. The unit introduces some of the broad over-arching themes and concepts – historical, cultural, social, political, and economic – that affect and inform the production of art, design and/or craft.

Principles and Approaches to Product Design

This unit introduces the principles of product design. As such it engages students in core practical activities in the communication of ideas, design process, thinking, and making. Projects introduce fundamental design methods used for designing products, providing an opportunity to explore and investigate approaches to design practice, and creatively respond to these discoveries.

Year 2

In Year 2 you will study the following core units: 

Contextualising Practice 2: Critical Analysis A

For ‘Contextualising Practice 2: Critical Analysis A’, students can choose to study up to two thematic sub-units to develop their contextual studies in new directions. The CP2 Critical Analysis units encourage students to develop their critical analysis skills gained in Level 4 to further investigate the broad over-arching themes and concepts – historical, cultural, social, political, and economic – that affect and inform the production of art, design and/or craft.

Understanding Context 1

In supporting the development of personal and professional practice, these units (part 1&2) require students to respond to a professional facing project brief. The choices for this could include applications for competitions, residencies, exhibitions, or research project applications, providing a variety of opportunities to explore across both craft and product-led approaches. Part 1 defines the project opportunity and establish creative parameters.

Unit X

This unit explores collaborative and interdisciplinary art and design practice. You will have the opportunity to engage in a range of external-facing learning opportunities which will encourage collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and shared experience; this may take the form of spending time outside of the University and working within the creative community and the public domain. 

Product Design and Innovation

This unit introduces approaches to design innovation, further extending students depth of knowledge in applying research and people-centred approaches to the creation of design responses. The examination of contemporary issues enables the development of design proposals aligned with personal interests or agendas. Design research methods will explore and further expand your understanding of issues via the investigation of design precedents and the use of other secondary & primary sources. A personal design identity or ‘design vision’ will also be informed by the examination and reinterpretation of existing design contexts and practice.

Year 3

In Year 3 you will study the following core units: 

Product Design Practice

This unit will focus on developing, refining and resolving a major design project. The unit enables each student to pursue areas of personal interest aligned to professional practice ambitions. As such, it draws together all the skills, knowledge and understanding that has been built through the first two years of study. This project may engage external partners, collaborators and key industry contacts to support the development of design projects resolved to a professional practice standard.   

Contextualising Practice 3: Critical Reflection

Students are allocated to a pathway according to their programme. The unit asks students to draw upon key ideas and methods encountered in their Contextualising Practice studies, as well as other aspects of their programme teaching and individual research, to support the development and critical understanding of their own practice as they approach graduation. 

Unit X

On the third year Unit X, there is a student authored final project leading to a showcase of finished work. The unit includes a brief generated by the student, which leads to the presentation of a significant body of final work. Collaborative and interdisciplinary work can be incorporated into the project in relation to the professional context and ambition of the student.

Assessment Weightings & Contact Hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A three year degree qualification typically comprises 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be—

  • Year 1 50% lectures, seminars or similar; 50% independent study
  • Year 2 50% lectures, seminars or similar; 50% independent study
  • Year 3 50% lectures, seminars or similar; 50% independent study
  • Year 1 100% coursework
  • Year 2 100% coursework
  • Year 3 100% coursework

Student Work

Our Degree Show online galleries show work by final year Product Design and Three Dimensional Design students, the previous name of the course


Winners of student awards announced

Winners of student awards announced

3DDesignMMU     msoa_3ddesign


Graduates of this course go on to establish their own creative businesses as self-employed practitioners, or pursue careers as product designers, furniture designers, ceramicists, jewellers, retailers, gallery owners, retail buyers, design managers, design consultants, teachers and lecturers.

Making an Application

How to Apply

Apply through UCAS.

We will ask you to provide a Digital Portfolio to support your application.

You will be notified of our decision through UCAS.

Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff Points/Grades Required


GCE A levels - grades BCC or equivalent

Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma - grade DMM

Access to HE Diploma - Pass overall with a minimum 106 UCAS Tariff points

UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma - grade of Merit overall

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - grade DMM

T level - We welcome applications from students undertaking T level qualifications. Eligible applicants will be asked to achieve a minimum overall grade of Merit as a condition of offer

IB Diploma - Pass overall with a minimum overall score of 26 or minimum 104 UCAS Tariff points from three Higher Level subjects

Other Level 3 qualifications equivalent to GCE A level are also considered. 

A maximum of three A level-equivalent qualifications will be accepted towards meeting the UCAS tariff requirement. 

AS levels, or qualifications equivalent to AS level, are not accepted. The Extended Project qualification (EPQ) may be accepted towards entry, in conjunction with two A-level equivalent qualifications.

Please contact the University directly if you are unsure whether you meet the minimum entry requirements for the course.

Specific GCSE Requirements

GCSE grade C/4 in English Language or equivalent, e.g. Pass in Level 2 Functional Skills English

International BaccalaureateIB Diploma with minimum 26 points overall or 104 UCAS Tariff points from three Higher Level subjects. If you plan to meet the Level 2 course requirements through your IB Diploma you will need to achieve Higher Level 4 or Standard Level 5 in English Points

International Students

A minimum IELTS score of 6.0 overall with no individual element below 5.5 is required.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

Tuition Fees 2024 Entry

UK and Channel Island Students

Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

EU and Non-EU International Students

Full-time fee: £20,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A degree typically comprises 360 credits, a DipHE 240 credits, a CertHE 120 credits, and an integrated masters 480 credits. The tuition fee for the placement year for those courses that offer this option is £1,850, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study). The tuition fee for the study year abroad for those courses that offer this option is £1,385, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

See Funding your studies for further information and advice.