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Graphic Design

Stuart Miller

Introduction to Graphic Design programmes

We offer full-time Undergraduate Diploma and Bachelor Degree qualifications within the Graphic Design programme, as well as Postgraduate Master's degrees. In order to obtain a degree you must first complete the Diploma programme (3 years) or already hold a similar qualification.

NB! All students wishing to study Graphic Design at the NMMU must complete a compulsory first year programme which is known as Introductory Studies.

What is Introductory Studies?

Introductory Studies is a first year programme that must be successfully completed in order to access the Graphic Design programme.

The number of seats in the Graphic Design diploma programme are limited and therefore access from Introductory Studies (first year) is not automatic. All first year students who apply for enrolment into Graphic Design are required to present a portfolio, at the end of the first year, showcasing all their first year work to an interview panel. Students who have not passed ALL first year subjects will not be considered. Students from other institutions who wish to study Graphic Design at the NMMU are interviewed in the same way.

YEAR 1: Introductory Studies - Full-time

Introductory Studies subjects:

  • Drawing I
  • Art Theory I
  • Communication I
  • Two-dimensional Studies I
  • Three-dimensional Studies I

View Introductory Studies.

YEAR 2: Graphic Design - Full-time

Students who successfully gain entry to the Graphic Design programme may choose to study Graphic Design as single major (you focus only on Graphic Design) or you may split your major into two, in which case you will major in both Photography and Graphic Design (see below).

Subjects include:

  • Professional Graphic Design Practice II
  • History and Theory of Graphic Design II
  • Communication Design II
  • Communication Design II Module I
  • Communication Design II Module II OR
  • Graphic Design Photography II Module IV
  • Design Techniques II
  • Graphic Design Drawing II

In year two you will be taught Communication Design (Graphic Design) - the fundamentals of Graphic Design and typography (letters), and how to apply them in the context of a brief (set requirements from the client). The primary goal of this subject is to teach you how to create visuals that communicate. In Professional Practice you will learn how to administrate design work, learn about the different printing processes and how to prepare computer work for commercial printing. In the second semester, you will be introduced to basic marketing concepts, how and why markets are broken down into segments, and how to develop marketing plans.

History of Graphic Design is vitaly important because it places Graphic Design styles into context and this, in turn, will allow you to place and create work that fits a particular context. History, as we teach it, deals not only with historic design styles, but also with current styles, approaches and philosophies.

Drawing for Graphic Design requires you to develop a directly applied drawing style that allows you to convey your ideas in a concise and clear manner. This subject is closely tied to Design Techniques, where you are exposed to methods of presenting work, constructing models and working with unfamiliar materials. Important note: Design Techniques includes Photography - this means that students who have enroled for Graphic Design only are also taught the basics of Photography and Art Direction in studio environments.

In many instances you will find thata single design project will also contain mini-projects from other subjects such as Professional Practice. In other words all of the Graphic Design subjects are not separate from one another, but are closely intertwined.

You will be required to produce a portfolio of the years work for examination at the end of the year.

YEAR 3: Graphic Design Undergraduate Diploma - Full-time


Year three is the final year for students who want to obtain a National Diploma in Graphic Design. Students who wish to continue their studies after year three will have to achieve an average of at least 65% for all third year subjects combined. The subjects in year three are the same as those in year two, but the complexity and depth are increased.

Subjects include:

  • Professional Graphic Design Practice III
  • History and Theory of Graphic Design III
  • Communication Design III
  • Communication Design III Module I
  • Communication Design III Module II OR
  • Graphic Design Photography III Module IV
  • Design Techniques III
  • Graphic Design Drawing III

Web design is covered in the second semester of the third year. It is important to note that split major students (Photography and Graphic Design) do not participate in the web design module.

In Professional Practice the focus falls on understanding marketing segments and related cultures and sub-cultures. During the second semester you are taught how to write a business plan and related skills.

You will be required to produce a portfolio of the years work for examination at the end of the year.

YEAR 4: Graphic Design Undergraduate Degree
- Full-time 1 year; Part-time 2 years


In order to enrol in this programme must have completed the Diploma programme. The Degree programme is known as BTech (Bachelor of Technology) and is an additional 1 year of study following the three year diploma. Entry to the programme is subject to a 65% third year aggregate (all third year subjects combined). You have the option of two qualifications depending on your area of skill and/or research namely:

  • BTech Graphic Design
  • BTech Multimedia

BTech is a combination of compulsory design projects, research essays and a self directed projects (you select a topic or design area to specialise in).

Subjects include:

  • Theory of Graphic Design and Academic Report IV (written research documents)
  • Communication Design IV (Graphic Design - books, posters, websites etc.)

You will be required to produce a portfolio of the years work for examination at the end of the year.

Nicole Thomson

Contact information
Admissions Office
Tel: 27 41 504 2593 or 27 41 504 3911