Bachelor of Arts Honours in Visual Communication
Bachelor of Arts Honours in Visual Communication majoring in:
Graphic Design, Photography, Multimedia, Illustration and Art Direction
1 year - full time - NQF 8
There has never been a better time to be a creative practitioner. With a world that is changing at unprecedented speed, the creative industries are both core drivers and respondents to these changes. The ability to think laterally and creatively is fast becoming a vital differentiating factor in people’s careers. Much like society, the creative industries are also in a constant state of flux and improvement, and creative practitioners need to have the right mind-set and skills to create truly impactful work. It is this flexibility and comfort with the unknown that allows people to excel in unfamiliar situations and apply their skills and knowledge in new ways. They need to be cognizant of the interrelatedness of theory, context and creative practice in order to make a meaningful contribution not only to the creative industry but society as a whole.
The Stellenbosch Academy’s year-long BA Honours in Visual Communications is designed to produce industry-ready innovative critical thinkers who are able to create work that is at once meaningful and of the highest standard, which can challenge conventional visual communication thinking. This degree is built on three components: Creative Practice (which incorporates practice-led research), Visual Studies (incorporating critical theory) and Contextual Studies (which delivers contextual theory). With interrelatedness as a core tenet of this degree, students work with a team of highly-qualified lecturers in an open plan studio environment, with all specialisations working alongside each other. This cross-pollination of opinions, viewpoints and ways of thinking allows for unprecedented collaboration. To this end, feedback is delivered from individual lecturers as well as an interdisciplinary panel of lecturing staff. With presentations, seminars, group discussions and natural interactions between students and lecturers, this co-creating learning environment is geared for shared experiences; creating the perfect ground in which great ideas can grow.
Students are required to produce a body of work within their chosen area of visual communication, namely: Graphic Design, Photography, Art Direction, Illustration or Multimedia. In this subject, practice-led research is the overarching method, with the creative production cycle used to structure and guide the process.
Visual Studies works in tandem with Contextual Studies to provide the underlying theoretical dimension of the degree. By drawing on Critical Theory to provide the concepts, research tools and vocabulary to facilitate theoretical research and the production of visual communication, Visual Studies enables students to develop their critical thinking skills and substantiate their analysis of visual culture. A particular focus is paid to emergent theories and practices relevant to the visual communications industry, while African creativity and theory is both acknowledge and celebrated. This results in students who are empowered to critically engage with the field of visual communication while informing their own practice.
To communicate effectively, visual communicators must grasp the complex contexts in which they work, as well as their responsibilities when designing and communicating solutions. This applies to both industry and non-industry related challenges. We believe that visual communicators have both the potential and responsibility to actively promote socially and environmentally responsible messages and practice. In order to do so they need to understand a range of contextual, conceptual and thematic issues related to sustainable and responsible practice. This subject provides the basis to question the fundamental point of departure and final result of visual communication practice.
Class presentations are designed to broaden students’ known context, allowing them to explore the interrelations between political economics, ethics, power relations, technology, democracy, activism and design. Complexity, uncertainty and design activism are examined and discussed when analysing situations and design challenges. This results in students who are able to look for solutions to design problems in unexpected ways. Because we pride ourselves in facilitating students who have interdisciplinary knowledge and skills as well as social awareness, students are assigned to project teams during the year, and tasked to engage with a societal problem that requires a visual communication solution. This puts all of their learning into practice, bringing the theory and practical components of this degree full-circle.