About Northumbria

I am a highschool senior getting ready to apply to schools

My schools choices are based on the school’s Product and automotive design programs

here is my list so far

maybe Central saint martins too
maybe parsons

The thing is Im pretty sure I want to go to the UK
Northumbria is currently my top choice for product design

Ive read other posts and have seen student work and I understand its one of the best design schools in the UK, but I wanted some “real” feedback or insight from anybody who knows the school well.

I wish I could attach some of my work from my current portfolio to give you an idea what level im at…not sure how to…perhaps you can also give me some insight on what schools that I could apply to, and schools that I shouldnt.

Hey, I go to Northumbria studying BA Design For industry (N’bria also offer product design and 3d design but DFI is where you want to be, just say if you need any clarifcation).
I technically should be in my 3rd year but i’m taking a year out interning. I think this is what seperates Northumbria from the others in your list, its emphasis on real world experience. In the 2nd and 3rd year you finish uni about march/april and are required to intern for the summer. From what I’ve seen Northumbria seem to have a very similar mentality to Cinnicinati when it comes to work placements.

So yeh, you can’t really go wrong with Northumbria. Brand new design building, in the heart of the North of England, UK’s party city, do very well at New Designers (thats a national graduates exhibition you’re involved in in your final year), great connections with industry, classes are small, around 30 people so good lecturer to student ratio.

One thing I’d say is that not everyone graduates with the perfect job. You have to work your ass off. Though Northumbria is very friendly, it’s a competitive course, you’re constantly in competition with fellow students for the best placement, this prepare you for the real world, pushes you as a designer, and makes everything that bit more exciting. Design has to be your passion to exceed.

As for your work, DFI doesn’t expect you to be a star designer on your first day. They like to see passion, personaility, speak confidently about your work. This is what they look for in the interview. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a good portfolio but before Northumbria my portfolio was mostly full of fine art stuff.

Hope this helps, need any more info on anything feel free to PM me or post here.

Thank you for your reply

I do not know what DFI is…what is it?

are there many international students at nbria?

My portfolio is also mainly fine art.(pretty obvious for a highschool student)

I understand Northumbira’s strengths…do you know maybe some strengths that other schools have over Northumbria?

Thank you so much

Ok this is how it works at Northumbria:
BA Design for Industry - Basically it’s industrial design. Focuses on user and innovation. Think IDEO.
BA 3D Design - 3D design is focused more on furniture, one of products, etc. Think Droog/Karim Rashid
BsC Product Design - Focuses on the engineering side of things. A bachelor of science compared to a bach. of art.

If you’re on this core77, then DFI is for you and is the course you want to be applying for. I admit they don’t make it easy, and it differs from uni to uni, so make sure your 100% on what your course entails.

Yeh there is quite a fair few of international students at Northumbria. In DFI there’s a handful, korea, china, usa, germany… 1-4 in each class maybe?
The design master degree is near enough all international students, most from asia.

Where are you from? I’m assuming America? If it’s international students your after check out St.Martins, its bag in the center of London, which attracts international students.

I’m bias I know, I’d say that Northumbria is probably top of its game. It’s always hard to compare universities, but Northumbria, Brunel and Loughborough always seem to get brought up. Though I see Brunel and Loughborough as offering a different aspect of design, more a Dyson/BSc way of thinking, as opposed to Northumbria which is very focused on the user focused design.

So since you bought up universities that are more BA based, this is what I’m assuming you’re looking for. I don’t know much about Coventry, other than I’ve heard it great for transport.
St.Martins I’ve heard mixed reviews, it seems to have a great reputation outside of the UK but seems to get a lot of hate from people in the UK. But I’ve spoken to people at CSM and it’s not as bad as its made out and it’s London, may be expensive but if you’re studying design London is a great place to be.

What are you looking for in a design school/education?

Thought this might come in useful. It’s work of Northumbria and Central St Martins recent graduates:

Northumbria - http://www.thirtystories.co.uk/
CSM - Projects | Flickr

if you want to do trans, Parsons is not the school for you…

Im at lboro, i’m always impressed by Northumbria’s stuff,love the user innvation bit but what i will say…

you get what you put in. at lboro its up to you, you want to a stylist user centered designer… go for it. Want to be techy go the Bsc its up to you. I would say that lboro is in between northumbria and brunel. Northumbria very user centered… not so much wheter it could be made. Lboro smack in the middle user centered and manufacturing constraints, Brunel… the dyson way make it work.

The degree shows are evidence of this.

I would say any “top univeristy” for product design is roughly the same, you get what you put in. It’s your choice.

One thing that is attractive about northumbria is the small class size, here in lboro there are 120 of us in our final year.

I’m just going to quickly butt in too…

It may be a good idea to analyse where product design is going in reference to when you graduate (3-5 years) - in the UK industry over the past year (and plans in place for the future) product design consultancies are merging with large ‘all-in-ones’ - take Seymour Powells merger with the Loewy group, also Vibrandt are (or have?anyone?) creating a product design team also so they can take a client through the whole creative process - from strategy, graphic design, advertising, product design etc etc etc - to create a less fragmented client experience which allows internal teams to all sing the same song. So basically, a good course in traditional product design training with good user focus as Boogey suggests, that will also let you (or you could of course implement this yourself) play nicely with others (graphic designers/packaging designers/artists).

Thank you for your replies


and special thanks to boogeyman for the student work and other valuable insight!

I am a korean studying currently in america, at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.

May I bother you with one more question?

quite honestly, I am not too worried about getting accepted in the American schools - my current school have ties with most of the NASAD accredited (most reliable artschools or art programs in north america) schools.

However, I know nothing about the UK, and to cut to the point,I want to talk about academics.

my grades are not impressive, not bad though. I spent half my life in the US so I have the english proficiency(high TOEFL score), but I also currently have no SAT scores (I mailed Nbria admissions and they told me that they are not “mandatory”)

so this would be my question…

how strict are the acceptance standards in terms of academics?

Thank you so much again to everybody
hope you guys have a nice day.

how strict are the acceptance standards in terms of academics?

At Northumbria, not so tough. It’s a new uni (compared to more prestigous unis - Durham, Birmingham etc.), it’s ex-polytechnic, it’s one of the easier in the country to get into across the board, though there’s easier, and out of the ‘new’ universitys Northumbira is one of the better ones, if that makes sense?

So I guess this is good news for you.

But The Design school has a much better rep than the rest of the uni though. And gets a lot of applicants, and i imagine a lot turned down due to the small class size, can only imagine its grown in popularity too with the new building…

…as long as you meet the requirements you should be alright… I think more stress is put on the interview, since you’re abroad i take it you won’t be interviewed, so i dont know how it works, but setting up a website/blog with your work, opinions etc wouldnt hurt.

What are you looking for in a design school/education?

Sorry, I haven’t answered this…I must’ve passed by

first of all, I guess, the reason I chose Product design is because Its the art form that best describes my philosophy, or my view of ideal art, which is,simply said, art that can be appreciated by anyone and everyone at an emotional level, without necessarily getting into deep meaning kind of shit.

Although I have started out with fine art, and I have respect for it, it is not what truly drives me

I guess what I want most out of a design school/education is

-ability to guide me in the right direction for the real world
-many internships, preferably with big(as in famous) companies or firms

I picked northumbira because…

first, to get out of my comfort zone and to get new experience in a different country.

second, european art schools had a higher average student work level than the US(In my viewpoint…)

Third, Many of the best design companies are located in Europe, and I figured experience in Europe would distinguish me from many of the students who have US art school experience.(of course im not entirely relying on it)

fourth, this may seem silly, but among the many notable alumni northumbria has, the fact that Jonathan Ive graduated from northumbria, worked as a positive magnet for me. I cant help it, this is just a minor thing…Im sure you understand.

Fifth, Im hoping the living cost will be lower than staying in London.

Speaking of costs, I cant figure out how much I would end up paying for a year if I attend Northumbria as an international student…bit confusing just reading all the numbers on the website. can you give me an estimate?

Thank you for your help…


those links to the thesis pics were very interesting. Do you have the links to other recent graduation shows?

always cool to see what the competition is up to…

Sorry not sure of any others, only know Northumbria’s because i go there and St.Martins marketed theres pretty well…

As for international students check the website, I found this pretty quickly - http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/brochure/international/fees/?view=Standard ,

So your looking at 8700 GBP a year. In terms of living your looking at about 60-100 GBP per week for accomadation, depending on area etc. You’re right though, Newcastle is a cheap city.

Just a quickie on the internships bit you mentioned.

Most medium sized companies which are any good will only take from brunel, lboro, northumbria.

Big name’s such as tangerine, ideo, PDD get applicants from every university

I would just say that dont be fooled by a universities links with industry… because tbh those 3 have pretty much the same links and same reputation across the board in this country ( as a huge general statement) and you will be facing competition from all 3 and brunel and lboro have large intakes each year.

You will find that yes some firms only recruit from specific ones i.e here at lboro we send people of to nokia, companies such as therfore will only take northumbria etc… but there aren’t many that are that specific.

So yes i would say dont let that be a big factor, anyone of those 3 can offer you great links, but end of the day its up to you to go out and fight for those internships.

Most medium sized companies which are any good will only take from brunel, lboro, northumbria.

I’m not sure about this, if your portfolio is strong enough I don’t think it matters where it comes from.

Sure those unis you mentioned have a connection with the companys and send an envelope full of CV’s/portfolios every year, but I don’t think its exclusive to that university, if you can impress then it won’t matter.

Northumbria have some good connections with Therefore, Gro design, Phillips, Native etc but a quick coroflot search will show they don’t exclusively take interns from Northumbria. It’s more a foot in the door, there’s no garuntee. I got my last 2 internships after following up connections myself, I don’t think the end result would be any different if i was at another university.

I agree with you that you’re at an advantage being at Northumbria, Brunel, L’boro, but I don’t agree with the quoted statement above^^

The above statement was based upon applyng myself, my defination of medium sized is 7+ people.

I am not going to put a list name names of companies that reject other universities but phone up and see for yourself, it was allright for me cause i was from lboro but the reason they do it is because they get inundated with folios in large batches from 2nd year students. Narrowing down the universites limits the amount they receive and consequently the amount of time it takes to sift through them all. At the place i was at it took 1 whole day to sort through and that was just from the above 3 univiersities.

I’m not saying it cant be done if your from another university, but it is harder.

Yeh I see what you mean. It’s different with L’boro/Brunel since you guys do a year placement right? Instead of summer? I always imagined that would be harder to find than a 3-6months placement. I’m just saying at the end of the day your grade/university is irrelevant when somebody has a better portfolio than you.

Totally agree with you after graduation its not the name its the portfolio and the work.

Prior to the degree, the name certaintly helps but it wont be the reason your hired, you will hired based on your portfolio.

I would say that at the end of the day xf11sapphire you need to go where is right for you - not just what looks good on paper. I trekked around the uk when I was deciding on which uni to go to and it is only really when you get there that you get to know whether the place ‘feels’ right.

I would say this though:

  • Central St. Martins has a great rep. but no year in-industry and being in London you will probably end up living miles away from where you are studying - from friends who have been there this means a serious lack of community feel and not really much going on in terms of sports etc.
  • Northumbria also has a great rep. I seriously considered it myself - its got a good campus and Newcastle is a great city.
  • Brunel - stuck on the outskirts of London, good campus atmosphere but I’m not convinced that the design courses are as good there as they used to be… personal opinion only though

I ended up going to Nottingham Trent - thought that the course was great, loved the city and loved the social life. The most important bit for me was the year in-industry which probably taught me more than the other three combined and means that now I have graduated I have over a year of experience already - a step up on most people.

Good luck searching!

I’m considering studying abroad at Northumbria, but through my emails with them, it seems that study abroad students are separated from the normal students? It seems like I can’t even take the studio courses? Is this true? I really wanted to study there for Design For Industry or Transportation Design at a Junior Level next fall.