Sustainable Product Design BA(Hons)

Penryn Campus
3 years full-time
Direct line
01326 213730

This course is open for applications through Clearing. Please contact our Admissions Team on 01326 213730.

Sustainable Product Design at Falmouth is unique. Our course teaches you how design is a powerful tool for change that can be ethical and profitable at the same time.

Our students are driven by creativity and innovation, focusing on the important environmental, community and social needs of humanity, while engaging with leading-edge design methods and equipment. Using design probes and concept visioning, you'll explore contextual issues and live briefs in a holistic way. You'll become equipped with the professional skills to communicate your ideas with confidence to live industry partners and peers through powerful visuals, prototypes and verbal presentations.


  • Live projects with local and national organisations
  • 3D CAD and digital prototyping skills
  • Material and manufacturing process knowledge
  • Professional Practice skills to promote and protect your designs
  • Career planning and business skills workshops

How the course is taught

This full-time, modular course is delivered through project work and supported by lectures, demonstrations, seminars and tutorials. Small groups called learning teams are created in the first week of study to help you foster close working relationships and encourage focused peer-to-peer evaluation of design project work.

What you'll do

Year 1

You'll explore the major issues of our time using design probes and visioning tools. You'll also be introduced to the critical and theoretical processes and visual language of sustainable design as a holistic process, encouraging the development and application of critical, conceptual and creative skills.

You'll develop technical skills in drawing, model-making and 3D CAD, and be introduced to digital Rapid Manufacturing technologies, which will help you to communicate your ideas in a professional way. National and international excursions are timetabled to coincide with major exhibitions and events, such as the Milan Furniture Fair.

Semester 1 (15 weeks)

  • SPD101: Design in Context
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module introduces how a professional design studio operates, including design roles, principles and practices of working collaboratively and independently. Design probes are used to explore ideas and global issues such as health, climate change and environmental impact.
  • SPD102: Materials, Form & Aesthetics
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module explores the relationship between material, form and aesthetics in design through visualisation and model-making projects. A series of technical workshops introduce making processes and using the extensive equipment in the Design Centre workshops.
  • SPD103: Sustainable Design Concepts
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module integrates sustainable design practice with critical and theoretical knowledge and ideas. Topics connect social, economic and cultural influences on design. Studio and IT based workshops support design networks, methods and tools.

Semester 2 (15 weeks)

  • SPD104: Designing for the Real World
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module explores the importance of designing to meet human needs. Design briefs challenge students to engage with real world issues such as shelter, water, economy and health.
  • SPD105: Digital Manufacturing
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module develops skills in computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacture. Complex forms and innovative prototypes are created using extensive digital prototyping facilities including rapid prototyping, laser cutting and digital milling.
  • SPD106: Sustainable Design Practice
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module investigates design theory, from the rise of consumerism to environmental issues and globalisation. Workshops apply life-cycle analysis and explore multiple sustainable design strategies.

Year 2

Through a range of lectures, seminars, tutorials and professional experience, you'll learn the principles of inclusive design and how to apply user-centred research methods. These skills will be developed through collaborating on specific projects with a diverse range of industry partners, leading to meaningful and realistic design solutions. You'll become confident in working in multidisciplinary teams and start to discover interesting career pathways.

You'll continue to develop CAD techniques and engage in contextual, conceptual and ethical debates that inform the practice of sustainable product design. You'll also develop an understanding of the business of design, exploring the professional practice areas in taking a product to production, such as intellectual property and the costs and profitability of design. Our students get the opportunity to study abroad – previous students have studied in Finland, Iceland and the Netherlands.

Semester 1 (15 weeks)

  • SPD 201: Inclusive Design
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module introduces principles of inclusive design and an understanding of human interaction. Research methods and strategies explore identity and needs of particular groups, communities and individuals.
  • SPD202: Community
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module considers the role of design in communities and develops professional partnerships with regional and national groups and people. Design projects focus on educational and environmental needs related to organisations, companies and NGOs.
  • SPD203: The Business of Design
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    Design to Production takes a concept to a marketable prototype and liaises with external sub-contractors. Contextual studies develop a wider theoretical discourse in design with topics such as trend forecasting, crafting communities, design and emotion, and cultural identity.

Semester 2 (15 weeks)

  • SPD204: Networks
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module develops project partnerships and mentoring with external organisations. Students enter national competitions and negotiate projects within an individual design framework.
  • SPD205: Personal Project
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module synthesises your individual design research and writing practices through contextual theoretical study. Professional project management skills are integrated with studio practice and illustrated through compiling design project reports.
  • SPD206: Design Portfolio
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module introduces a range of career pathways related to sustainable product design and future career directions. Graphic and IT communication skills are developed further to produce a professional digital portfolio/website.

Year 3

You'll become an expert in the field of sustainable product design by applying a sophisticated understanding of research tools and methodologies. You will complete a concentrated design probe stage that identifies current, innovative areas for sustainable design opportunities. Regular tutorials and learning team discussion forums will provide guidance and help you to progress the development of design visions. Masterclasses and access to digital manufacturing workshops will enable you to transform your design concepts into convincing prototypes.

Emphasis is placed on professional practice, management and initiative and this is reinforced through one-to-one and group presentations. There will be opportunities to work directly with external project partners, providing a professional context to your work and developing your ideas in a real-world scenario. Employment and entrepreneurial opportunities are nurtured by engaging with relevant external networks, project partners and graduate business start-ups.

Semester 1 (15 weeks)

  • SPD301: Design Vision
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    Students negotiate individual projects to support sustainable design practice. Design probes scope project areas and critically frame individual interests. Establishing project partners provides valuable links with the design profession.
  • SPD302: Designing Change
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    This module develops individual design directions to support your unique skills, interests and career pathways. Working with external partners assists the research and development of concepts and products.
  • SPD303: Dissertation Project
    (20 credits ECTS 10)
    The dissertation provides an opportunity to explore your individual design interests through an in-depth research and enquiry into a chosen topic relating to sustainable design.

Semester 2 (15 weeks)

  • SPD304: Change Maker
    (60 credits ECTS 30)
    This module prepares you for the professional world of design. A self-directed complex project encompasses research, concept development, production and communication of a design solution. A final exhibition facilitates an effective transition to design related careers.


The groundbreaking Design Centre includes:

  • High-spec workshops and exhibition space
  • Rapid prototyping equipment
  • CAD/CAM equipment including laser cutters, CNC milling and routing machines
  • A range of digital printing capabilities, plus industry-standard 2D and 3D software
  • Sustainable auditing and lifecycle design (LCD) software


Our staff are practising designers, researchers, journalists and academics. They use their research and experience to inform their teaching, ensuring students are at the forefront of sustainable product design. You'll also benefit from and be inspired by our Visiting Professors, such as Sir Kenneth Grange.


Assessment is a supportive two-way process that actively rewards learning and provides feedback to define your areas of strength, as well as opportunities for improvement. You'll be marked through:

  • Continuous assessment with no formal examinations
  • Visual, verbal and written assignments, and your final year projects


  • Work in product, toy, lighting and furniture design, service or sustainable design companies and agencies
  • Career as a design consultant
  • Work as a self-employed designer-maker
  • Portfolio career including teaching and postgraduate study

Graduate destinations

  • Surfboard designer: Driftwood Surfboards
  • In-house toy designer: Hamleys
  • Design researcher: DCA international, PDR :The National Centre for Product Design and Development Research, MedIQ Medical
  • Product designer: Tangerine, Lowe Alpine, Design Wright
  • Consultant: Brand Union, Root, Environmental Resources Management
  • Project Managers: Thomas Reuters

Student Mentor Scheme

Falmouth's Student Mentor Scheme matches new starters with a second year student, to help you settle in and find your feet. Our student mentors are now on Facebook. To chat to a mentor about the course, living in Cornwall or what to expect at Falmouth, check out the Sustainable Product Design group. You'll need to join the group before you can post.

If you don't have access to Facebook please email your name and proposed course to:

For more information about the application process, portfolios, interviews and selection days, please contact our admissions team using our enquiry form