Professor Andrew Kulman who teaches on this undergraduate course offers his thoughts.

As a lecturer often given to impromptu tours around and presentations about my School, I have found it useful to think of viable and appropriate answers to the many questions I am asked. Some are to be expected from the wannabe graphic designer, the budding illustrator and the amateur photographer. Several questions might suggest the potential applicant needs further pre Higher Education study prior to applying and usually my answers confirm this. Others simply want to talk employability and with a 27k debt after three years hanging above their heads, have every right to clear answers.

So why study Visual Communication? Is it the promise of untold riches, the possibility of a freelance career working from home or simply the ill-informed advice of a careers advisor who bunches everything that’s not Fine Art into a commercial art bundle and ties it with a promise of a career?

There are many and varied reasons to study this generically titled degree but the staff teaching at Birmingham City University, have identified half a dozen key arguments to commend Visual Communication as an ideal course to study.

A student taking up Visual Communication would be offered the widest choice of specialist subjects under one collective course; Film and Animation, Graphic Communication, Illustration and Photography. They would work alongside an undergraduate course team which is made up of specialist tutors and visiting professionals from industry. The result of this means students are exposed to both well-established pedagogic practice and industry up-to-date knowledge.

It’s hardly surprising, given our enviable success rate, to see that every year students from all four specialist subjects are presented with industry sponsored awards. Past sponsors include Trevor Beattie, Dave McKean and Vaughan Oliver. This is a mark in itself of how well regarded the course is seen both regionally and on both the national and international stage.

Whilst it’s not always easy to attribute reasons for this it may in no small part be attributed to the resources, which are first class. The Visual Communication course is now located in a state-of-the-art building, ten minutes from the city centre. Within this new space are excellent printmaking studios, photographic darkrooms and spacious communal studios. Why wouldn’t a student want to come into our college to study?

The well considered design of the modules has meant our students are well equipped and prepared for entering the ‘market place’. There are modules that are specially conceived to allow breadth of knowledge and experience, which is increasingly what employers are looking for. Visual Communication also is able to promote inter-disciplinary practice, this means students are encouraged to work across the specialist areas so photographers collaborate with graphic designers, illustrators with animators. It’s the way forward and it’s already happening on the course.

When faced with the question, “where do I go from here?” we can suggest many destinations for graduating students, publishing, design groups, photographic studios and web companies to name just a few are credible areas of employment.

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Andrew Kulman

Andrew Kulman

Professor Andrew Kulman works in the School of Visual Communication at the University. An award winning Illustrator, writer and educator since 1987, he is also a graduate of the Royal College of Art. His teaching career began as a Visiting Tutor at University of Westminster, Kingston University and Brighton University. In 1997 he joined BCU, running Illustration, since then he has been Director of both Undergraduate and Postgraduate studies in Visual Communication and has been a Course Director on several MA courses in the School of Art, a position which has allowed him to work with a range of different disciplines. He was conferred as a Professor of Graphic Art in April 2006 following an application under the criterion of recognition in Practice and Industry.
Andrew Kulman

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