which university to choose in the uk

hi everyone

I have finished high school last year and am now just about to finish civilian service in germany. I always did like design and use rhino for modeling / rendering stuff and some months ago i figured this is really what I want to do for a living. Till then I had been a bit cautious as to “this only works for other people” and I did not like how I felt design was handled at german universities (though i did not get deep insight, I must admit). At an education fair I came across Middlesex University and flicked through their prospectus. Their descripttion of the “Engineering Product Design” sounded much what I was hoping for, combining art with engineering. That was what actutally convinced me so I applied to several universities in the uk, mostly i selected them just by picking names that I came across in this forum. I did not go through all the work of picking a favorite because I did not know which unis would offer me a place anyway.
I had to take interviews at Middlesex and Northumbria to show some examples of my work. turned out I got unconditional offers from all I applied at:

Aston University: Engineering Product Design
Brunel University: Product Design Engineering
University of Glasgow: Product Design Engineering
Loughborough University: Product Design and Manufacture
Middlesex University: Engineering Product Design
Northumbria University: Product Design and Technology

Now this does not make the next step of deciding any easier so I come here to ask you for help. I have not visited the Aston, Brunel, Glasgow and Lboro yet, but I will do that in May. What I like about Middlesex in particular is that they focus a lot on real work for industry, which is what most of the other courses do also, at least to some extent. However Glasgow I like for the fact that you do the arts stuff at the College of Arts in Glasgow and the technical part is taught at Glasgow University. But they do not offer Thick Sandwich courses which to me feels not so good.
What is your opinion on doing “real” prectical work, including things like a placement in industry.

It’s important to me that I get to use the equipment they offer myself and not just give data to some guy that does it and returns me the result.

I do not care so much if it’s a big city or not I’ll be living in, but it should provide a fair amount of social life opportunities, so for example Newcastle (Northumbria) was nice since it is a real student city…

Thanks for the time you took to read this (and contribute to my decision)!


i’ve heard northumbria is good, see website.

if you can try to attend new designers exhibition, london in july, it will give you some idea for the work done at those places.

I am currently studying at northumbria. How did you find the uni and equipment, I visited most of the course/ universities on your list… think I made the right choice!

Who interviewed you at Northumbria???

im studying at the glasgow school of arts in product design.
the PDE course is well known, the students do win competitions , and its definitely better than the PD course here which really needs some facelift. But since the PD and PDE course is intertwined, i would not recommend it.
if u want some more info , ping me.


thanks for your replies. I will go to the New Designers in July but unfortunately it is after the UCAS deadline so I will only see what uni I should have chosen…
I was quite impressed by the equipment they have at Northumbria though some of it is quite old that isn’t necessarily bad (proven technologoy =).
Bill Fleming was supposed to interview me but he had an important doctors appointment that interfered so someone else did the interview and show me around. Can’t remember his name, but he was alot younger (maybe mid-40ies). The atmosphere at the uni and in Newcastle I liked alot, seems like a very active community.

Siddarth, I’m glad someone from Glasgow is in the forums! I’m really having difficulties on deciding. Only thing I know for sure is that Aston I won’t choose, simply because they don’t have such a good reputation (from what I know, anyway) and for my UK tour in May I only have time to visit three unis. I’m not sure about Brunel because they have not answered yet to my request for a guided tour, I take that as an indication for what student service will be like. With Middlesex I’m not quite sure either. I liked the uni and the interview and from what I can tell they have better equipment than Northumbria (for example, they have a woodbending machine (if that’s what it is called). But somehow it does not feel right…

So three unis remain, Northumbria, Loughborough and Glasgow. Glasgow the only thing I did not like after doing some research is that they seem to lack real projects. I was hoping that they would explain to me with a good reasoning as to why they choose to do their course like this because I have a good impression of them. So Siddarth, it would be really helpful if you could give me information as to why the PD needs a facelift and how much it affects the PDE. Also, is the concept of having the GSA and uni be combined for the course good / seamless? What ´do you think about the lack in real world projects (they don’t offer a Sandwich year…)? If you prefer not to post here, please mail me: johann [at] dugge [dot] de,

Thanks everyone!


Out of those three I would choose Northumbria.

Or possibly consider DMU in Leicester. We never seem to get regognised tho many Inustry Pro’s rate us in the top three in the UK (Norhtumbria, Loughborough and DMU). We have both a BA and BEng course. The BA course is well known to be one of the best in the UK, backed up by national awards (4 last year, 8 the year before consisting of RSA’s, New Desigenrs and Audi Awards), and graduates getting good jobs (habitat, lego, phillips, sony, dyson).

Glasgow (where I studied at HND level), is a lovely city to live in. LOTS to do. As for education the Meng seems good, but the BA at GSA seems to be slipping. I’ve heard some of the large organisations don’t stop there for recruitment interviews now.

I have considered Middlesex for a MA. They publicise they’re course A LOT, however when I met the course leader at New Designer last year he was arrogant, aggressive and generally very negative of our work.

Hope thats of some use

Thanks paulk. I’m actually going for something a bit technical, so a BA is not for me. Still this helps so I’m really starting to feel I made some right decisions about where to apply at. I was very afraid of making a decision about unis but as it looks I’ll go with Northumbria, because it is so well regarded and the town is nice and full of life. However, I’m going to Glasgow and Lboro next week, to see what they are like.

Thanks again everyone for their help!


Hi there

I’m a first year at brunel, and i remember the choices very well. interessting what you said about brunel, they answered all my questions very quickly and in greater depth than any other uni, that being one of the main reasons I chose it. The lecturers are on the whole really nice (and generally good, too), and certainly approachable in case of any questions or problems.

From what I remember the courses at brunel and at lbroro are very similar (talking to a friend at lbroro now, they are essentially the same, although we seem to have done more in depth electronics and mechanics so far). Although there is the BA (less technical), the BSc (all 5 have a joint first year) is certainly quite in depth - more than I was expecting, anyway. I presume the PDE is even more so. The creative and more ‘art’ side is together with the BA course, whihc is great - there is very little separation (on a human level) between the courses, and we all know each other.

ratings for design courses are definately to be taken with a large grain of salt - so much of it is what type of course you want, and the rankings are comparing apples to oranges- I fond that everyone would give me different lists, and recommend different places. I applied to brunel, lbroro, and glasgow school of art - the first two being very similar courses, the gsa quite different. on the whole I’m glad with where i’ve ended up, although of course i wonder how different things would be.

do a search for brunel/lougborough, there was a quite long (And very useful) discussion resulting from my question at this time last year.

f you have any furhter questions (or you want to visit here, or anything else), feel free to PM or email me, I’ll be glad to help

good luck


Hi Mayo

First I would like to say I really like your portfolio page for the simple layout and especially your tiles are great!
About Brunel not answering my requests, I mailed two people from the design departments list, one being design.information@ and the other one being from the administration. I mailed them thrice, the first mail 3 weeks ago. Unfortunately I now cannot visit them anymore because everything’s booked already. I had read through the Brunel thread aswell and their prospectus looks very good, too. Maybe I have had just a bit of bad luck with Brunel, but in the end I’m glad (as it reduces my choice to 3 or 4).
I guess one will never know how things would be different had one made other decisions…

Thanks for your input and offer and enjoy your studies!


Hi Johann,

I have just finished my first year doing BA product design at Middlesex uni. Sorry i didn’t see ur post sooner… but i have been busy handing in course work.

and i do have to agree what Mayo says,

ratings for design courses are definitely to be taken with a large grain of salt - so much of it is what type of course you want, and the rankings are comparing apples to oranges

well, i was first surprised at Middlesex. I know there are lots of things to take in… so i built a short list… so maybe other ppl can compare it, also good to ask these questions to people.

1. Student events:- well, u might not be a party person but this is a important one! Well, to be honest its a lil crap! They are actually trying to privatise the Uni bars at the moment. There are 2 good (small) student bars, one at Enfield campus and one at Trent park. The main student night is on Wednesday, its normally really crap, but its really student and good because u know every one., but then most student places are like this. ( although we are 30min - 45min from central London)

3. Beer price:- Beer is pricey, its London! The cheapest is on a wed night, costing £1.50, but on rare occasion is can be £1. Although if u go into central, be prepared to pay between £3 - £6 a pint!!!.. depending how hip u are feeling!

2. Accommodation:- Ted Lewis halls, are new ish, and quite nice that we have flats, although most ppl stick to there flat so unless u really try u don’t get to meet many other ppl. but do get to know ur 7 flat mates really well.

The Trent park ones, the ones (where the Product design course is based.) the rooms are big, the kitchens are simple, but u can walk 100 meters to u lecture. the bus journey from Ted Lewis halls, has taken me up to 1hr, I now cycle it in 25 min!

**3. Stuff around the area:-**London! well its not as close as u might think, the tube journey take about 30min. (from Oakwood station). or 35min, if u get the overland train and change at seven sisters. if u are at the Enfiled campus.

4. First year:-
Well, to be honest its been great, It has been a LOT easier than I thought, but not trying to sound smug, i am one of the harder working, and clever person on my course. So i can do most the work quite easily. (i was well prepared)
4a. First year Modules:-
to be honest, the course seems to be changing every year. Which is a good thing! but i had 7 modules, (for my BA) basically 2 drawing and Photoshop modules, design history, 2 CAD modules, Managing ur own learning (crap!) module and one called Ideas, innovation and ideas, which was a module that we had a live project, working with a local company. (very good thing!, there are even cash prizes but we don’t know yet as we are seeing it at the presentation evening. ) (Its different for the BSC, I can find out 4 u!)

5. How often are u in (in the first year)? this surprised me…

First semester, September - December 10th.
Only in uni for 3 days a week, no more than 10 hours! (but a lot of drinking!)
2nd semester, Feb (yeap 1 1/2 month holiday!!!)
In uni Monday 1hr (only until Easter, which was a 2 week holiday!) for design history. Tuesday 6hrs, Wednesday 4hr, Thursday 4hrs, Fridays off. Break up now… May 16th, (getting drunk tmw!)

6. the other students…
Well, this can be a tricky one. Some are interesting, there are about 12 hard working, 4 that don’t know what there doing and 6 that don’t really care! (but that can be said for lot of design as ppl see it as a easy option!)
7. The Tutors
All pretty good, one even brought us a pint when we finished our last module!
8. The facilities
good, I think the IT room is being updated this summer I think.,. its all on contract. And I think we are changing to Solid works instead of autocad. As its crap, IMO!,

I think the laser cutter is being updates, I mean u have seen it… all good.

9. Women!
There is one plus, (dam I got a GF) but if u are single, u got good picking! There are lots of Drama and dance students on the same campus… there must be a 70 /40 girl to boy ratio.

10. Sport.
there are some good teams, let me know what ur into and i can let u know better.

If u got any more questions just ask me… I have been spending too long on this now! But at least ppl can reference it in the future. Also take these questions and try to find out about other unis. (rember these are often things that u forgest about) but its come down to personal peferane.

Also, Brunel is in a really good position, the area is nicer than the one of Middlesex. The do have a better reputation… as design can be a little chum-ey. I know they have moved there campus, so i think that this year they will be better settleed in. if i was u i would just turn up, and look around!!!

I got a mate at Loughborough, its really good for the BSC engineering and really good for sport!


Thanks Ben for your comprehensive collection of points to take into account! Beer ain’t that important to me, but social life is, so I’m very curious to visit Lboro (as it must be a really small town, I take from the Brunel / Lboro thread).
About sport, I’m really into cycling and running. Not that special I guess but so I hope there’s more people to share it with.
When I was at Msex for the interview in March the guy was talking about the change to SWorks and the new machines also. And he said they were selling one of their 3d scanners because it didn’t get used alot and if it was required it wasn’t a big deal to outsource it.
About the 30min tube ride, I nearly missed the interview because of that =)
Thanks also for the hint about the flats, usually you don’t know what it’s like until you live either way.

Thanks again and please excuse if my reply is a somewhat unstructured…


quite interestin wt sum ppl think is more imp…burp… 2 tell u (no offence meant watsoever) d most imp thing that cums 2 ones mind is d reason for enduring 3 yrs of hard work??? so as 2 be able 2 fulfil our need, eat out in funcy restauants, buy expensive utilities, thus i feel that wat comes 1st is how much 1 cn earn wen we get out of d univ, for dat we need good work experience n need 2 be backed by a gud company… i d end… finally jus chek out d job placements and d companies dat d univ has tie ups wid… gud companies shall only go 2 d best institutes, n d companies only make up d industry, y do u ponder, let d industry decide…
hope dis helps u

if your looking at the product design and manufacture course at loughbourgh id also check out the Industrial Design BSC course, im on the BA route and on my sandwich yr placement now. I know a few ppl who were on the product design mfg course and switched to the industrial design because there was very little actual design work. not that i know a huge amount about the product design mfg content but from what ive gleaned from others in my opinion you will learn alot more on IDT and if you do the BSC ul get a decent mix of the technical and arty (think thats what u said you were lookin for?)
so far as the town goes yeah it is small, but cos of its majority student population its got a pretty good atmosphere although it does feel like a bit of a bubble at times! and theres always nottingham and leciester close by and londons bout 1.30hrs away.
anyways just thought it might be worth a look if you hadnt already seen/considered it