1st year product designer in London... a little disheartened

this is my 1st post for the forum, although i have been reading it for a couple of months now. But only just got around to making a post.

I’m currently a 1st year, coming to end of my first semester at Middlesex uni, London. Although as most ppl seem to only talk about Brunel and Loughtbrough, i was offered a place at both. Although took Middlesex, on a general feeling of there department and commercial based direction. Just had a good feeling about the course and the syabus.

though now i am coming to end of my 1st semester and it hasn’t really inspired me, if any thing it has seemed like a large step back from my A-level’s. IN our first semester we have done 3 modules,

Communicating design proposals, that has been unless, it is all about “key skills” and really was about making PowerPoint presentations and skills needed for design, nothing really new. The other was communicating design ideas, which was the most intersstering to start, as it had some sketching work, but no real idea based, then we had a basic AutoCAD module. We have only been in for 10hrs a week, and for 3 days a week. We haven’t designed anything yet, or been in the workshops. (i could of done this semester in my free time!)

Just wondering how this compares to other people 1st semester, as a result i have been having some amazing parties, and wild nights out in London. But even a flat mate on a applied arts course is in 5 days a week.

Is this normal for Product design courses?
how is everyone else finding there degree?


That does seem really light.

The first year at my school was more art and design bootcamp. 8 hrs each weak figure drawing, another 8 studying 2 dimensional composition and color theory, a third 8 hrs a week doing three dimensional work. In adition to these three studio courses we had 1 hour lectures on art and architectural history 2 times a week, a three hour discussion class on art history, and a 4 hour english class.

It wasn’t until the third semester we got into designing products, so don’t wory about that. You’ve got to build a strong foundation before you sart building the rest of the house and all that.

Did you take any courses outside the three modules you listed?

My first year of college was much the same as you have outlined. However the main difference was that I wasn’t sitting around waiting to be told to design. Just do it boy. It always make me laugh to think of those kids at the end of our course who faced with empty portfolios started to blame it all on how the course was managed / run. Don’t expect to be guided by the hand through three years of stale lectures and a full timetable. Self-motivational study is the key and is far more rewarding. Use those facilities…create & enjoy.

I don’t think I would have got any joy from studying as “Yo” describes. But that’s horses for courses ( I could never have coped with “colour theory”….and English classes !!!..one year design practice….!!!).

Remember that all this is subjective….decide whats best for you.

This may be the only time you ever get to be true to yourself and tastes…don’t waste it by moaning.

I agree with Yo…sounds light.

My first year in design school was STRAIGHT bootcamp…lots of work that revolved around design- but very little actual design…At the time I was slammed with work, stressed about failure (self-imposted) etc…really chomping at the bit for more ‘studio’ work…

Looking back on it, I was most energized and creative then- but I needed that tool box of skills/ideas/art history etc…

if you aren’t getting that I’d start to worry.

if you’re just wanting more action- you’ll be ready to explode out of the gates when the studios begin…when you’ll need the juice to stay up all night long sanding/sketching

Hi thanks for the reply’s.; its great to see how evey one else works.

I hope that i wasn’t moaning too much, i was just wondering what the transition between a levels and degree. I would also like to say that i have been undertaking a lot of extra design activity, I have been visiting the design museum, several art exhitions in the London area. I have also been teaching myself to use UGS NX3, Alias Studio tools, and also been trying to improve my basic website and computer graphics skills. I have joined the gym, socialising a lot, and partying, and in a way this is what your first year at uni is all about. The thing is that i find it all a little to simple, while other class mates struggle to even turn up to lectures on time

Thanks for posts, and i really guess uni is what you make it. I just need to keep on working and with the creative thinking.

Just wondering even though i went to the ucas grade highest uni, asking for 330 Ucas points.Dose any one else get the feeling that there are people on the course because its all course work, and they think they can get a “easy” degree??


Im at Brunel, also in my first year.

My course here (Bsc Product Design) is in theory evenly split between the technological and the ‘designy’ aspects of industrial design. however, my strengths lie much more in the art/designy direction than the maths and electronics we are also taking, so i am having to spend much more time on those.

we have 6 modules, but 2 of them are split:
Design Process
Graphic Communication
Technological Design evolution
maths and electronics
mechanics and materials

we have over 20hrs a week (sometimes up to about 30), so it is a pretty heavy course (some other courses here have 5-10hrs/wk)… and its allot of work outside of the lecture centre too. the expected standards are high… however the number of Ds and fails is quite impressive. despite this final year work looks good, so i guess this is rectified somewhere in the 3yrs.

I am feeling oversteched in the sciency modules; to be honest i havent felt all that pushed in the more creative ones, but again, i think this chages in the 2nd and final years.
we havent really done any ‘proper’ design, so far we have been focussed much more on picking up skills, getting everyone on the same level (maths, sketching, etc). some projects are inspiring; on the whole its not really yet (maybe just becase i find maths and mechanics boring). second years i have spoken to says this gets much better in the second year.

most people are finding the level (better: the volume) of work to be a step up from their a-levels.

the problem with having such a heavy programme is that we dont have time to do what you are doing… learning extra things on our own. i am trying to read as much as poss in addition to keeping up with the workload, and i have managed a couple of exhibitions and general culture in london itself

good luck with your studies - if you supplement the set work im sure youll be fine… it would be great to hear how you get on