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Surface Pattern Design and Textiles (MDes, BA)

Our Surface Pattern Design and Textiles degree course at Swansea College of Art UWTSD is a vibrant, multidisciplinary programme where we explore textiles, materiality, pattern and making.  We do this through the far-reaching contexts of fashion, interiors and for design-led brands and galleries.

The programme is academically challenging, contemporary in outlook, and students are taught a wealth of practical and technical skills, enjoying the design potential of our extensive digital and more traditional facilities.

Our students graduate as designers and makers ready to flourish in a wide range of creative employment, having had several significant live projects, exhibition experiences and industry liaisons embedded in their studies.

100% of UWTSD’s Surface Pattern Design - Textiles for Interiors students were satisfied with their course (2019 NSS)


Pathway Options

Surface Pattern Design (Maker) (BA)
UCAS Code: W790 
Apply via UCAS 

SURFACE PATTERN Design has materiality at the core, meeting the needs of students who wish to specialise as Designer Makers of the future. You will make innovative work suitable for far-reaching bespoke, or batch production outcomes, relating to design, craft, gallery, object, body or space - you decide!

Surface Pattern Design (Textiles for Fashion) (BA)
UCAS Code: W234 
Apply via UCAS

FOR THOSE students wishing to design for the far-reaching and everchanging needs of the fashion industry – from high street to high end.

Surface Pattern Design (Textiles for Interiors) (BA)
UCAS Code: W235 
Apply via UCAS 

SUITABLE for students wishing to design and enhance interior spaces with innovative textiles and wallcoverings –from commercial to conceptual.

Surface Pattern Design (Fashion Object) (BA)
UCAS Code: W230 
Apply via UCAS

AIMS to produce designers and makers who can create cutting edge objects for the body, questioning function, form and decoration, influencing the way we look, feel and wear fashion.

MDes (4 year option) 

The MDes gives students the opportunity to progress from undergraduate to master's level within an integrated programme structure. The fourth-year modules focus on the application and transfer of conceptual design thinking to real-world engagement with an in-depth project. It aims to educate creative individuals to meet the needs of contemporary and future demand. The programme is underpinned by the Research and Knowledge Transfer activities of the faculty as a whole.

Surface Pattern Design (Maker) (MDes)

UCAS Code: T5F3
Apply via UCAS

Surface Pattern Design (Textiles for Fashion) (MDes) 
UCAS Code: 8V7C
Apply via UCAS

Surface Pattern Design (Textile for Interiors) (MDes) 
UCAS Code: 5RC2
Apply via UCAS

Surface Pattern Design (Fashion Object) (MDes)
UCAS Code: Y28U
Apply via UCAS

How to apply

All applications to study for a full-time undergraduate degree programme are made through UCAS - Swansea College of Art UWTSD is part of University of Wales Trinity Saint David

All our course come under the institution code T80

Visit the University's apply section to find out more.

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Tuition Fees 2020/21:
£9000 (Home/EU)
£11500 (Overseas)

5 reasons to study this course

  1. You will have a vibrant and inspiring student experience where you will enjoy an excellent staff-student ratio with generous contact time.
  2. You will have your own dedicated studio space and access to our excellently equipped workshops with a wide range of facilities.
  3. You will engage with exciting live projects and our industry links throughout the programme.
  4. You will be a valued member of a forward thinking, design focussed team where hard work and fun come in equal measure.
  5. You will be joining one of the best! – Here in Surface Pattern Design, Swansea College of Art are 1st in Wales for fashion and textiles, 8th overall in the UK, as ranked by the Guardian League Tables 2019.

Take a look at our ratings and rankings page here

What you will learn

Course Overview

The Surface Pattern Design portfolio is all about exciting and innovative surfaces and structures, which consider colour, texture, image and concept within a contemporary design practice. 

The programme is structured so our learners experience a breadth of processes and practices that are applied to their chosen specialism whilst maintaining an approach that is relevant to modern design practice. 

From the outset you will participate in a range of working methods supported by a dedicated team: study visits, research, drawing, designing, making, digital and analogue printing methods, tutorials, contextual practice, live projects, competitions, industry experience, exhibitions, self-promotion and portfolio preparation. When you leave us, you are workplace ready!


Level 4

Semester 1

  • Major Studies A1
  • Digital and Material Process B1
  • Visual Studies 1
  • Ways of Thinking

Semester 2

  • Major Studies A2
  • Digital and Material Process B2
  • Visual Studies 2
  • Ways of Perceiving

Level 4 is teaching intensive, introducing you to ways of learning, material processes, visual studies, and research methods, with pathway-specific projects and contextual practices, taught through an exciting range of working methods.

From the outset, you will experience a rich and varied programme, designed around the four pathways, addressing Textiles for Fashion, Textiles for Interiors, Fashion Object and Maker - enabling you to gain and develop skills in surface treatment and construction methods.  

You are encouraged to develop your work in a highly individual manner, to push the boundaries and to take these ideas in unusual directions. Introductory sessions in printed textiles, colouration and Adobe creative cloud deliver the skills needed to apply pattern and image to surfaces.  Whilst workshops designed for making give you the opportunity to explore harder materials and methods that allow manipulation of a surface enabling you to work both two and three dimensionally.

Study visits are arranged across the year with study trips to national and local museums, galleries and gardens.  These visits are an inspirational addition to the modules in contextual practices, visual and major studies, allowing for discussion in historical and contemporary art and design.

During your 1st year of study, you will partake in weekly Lectures and seminars in contextual practices (ways of thinking & ways of perceiving) which are designed to underpin your studio practice. The sessions will enhance your personal research methods and ability to analyse your own practice.

By the end of the first year, you will be ready to embark upon your chosen pathway.

Level 5

Semester 1

  • Major Studies A3 
  • Digital and Material Process B3 
  • Visual Enquiry 1
  • Creative Research

Semester 2

  • Major Studies A4 
  • Enterprise and Employability for Designers B4 
  • Visual Enquiry 2
  • Research Practices

Level 5 builds upon the experiences gained at Level 4 and consolidates your skills. You will be encouraged to take risks, to analyse, to challenge conventions and to evaluate your individual approach.  You are supported in the development of your ideas with an emphasis on pushing towards innovation and expansion of your own creative voice.

You will continue to advance your practice through a significant live project in semester 1, through ad hoc competitions, and extended practical workshop based activities and advanced working methods in digital and material process.

As you progress through the year you will begin to write your own briefs, these will relate to your developing context and chosen pathway.  Research and visual enquiry methods continue to be fed by study trips, to galleries, museums and places of interest with an emphasis on self-direction, purpose and targeted research. 

Contextual practices continues to develop your understanding of historical and contemporary art and design theories and prepares you for the dissertation module in level 6.

The Enterprise and Employability for Designers module addresses the professional context that you are working in and offers practical workshops in building a professional web and social media presence. 

Presentations discuss proposals and direction of practice in readiness for final major studies at level 6.  An External Project will be carried out between level 5 and level 6 which gives you the opportunity to make contacts, build networks take research trips or go on placement, giving you a flavour of future possibilities.

Level 6

Semester 1 

  • Major Project and External Liaison
  • Advanced Creative Enquiry
  • Dissertation

Semester 2

  • Major Project and External Liaison continued.
  • Marketing and Self Promotion

Year 3 will involve contextualising your work in response to your External Liaison Project – a self-directed initiative undertaken in the break between 2nd and 3rd year.  This will help you to develop a clear direction for your major practice.

Your programme of study within the Major Project includes a live brief but is largely self-directed through your Personal Major Project.  A Dissertation contextualises your practice and offers you the opportunity to delve deeper into the ideas and concepts that you are investigating.  Level 6 culminates in a body of work that fully expresses your creative journey as a designer or maker.  This work is exhibited in a public space and is known as the Degree Show.  The module in Marketing and Self Promotion is key to giving you the final confidence boost to launch yourself into the working world with your substantial, highly creative and resolved portfolio of work.

Level 7 (MDes Only)

Semester 1

  • Research Methods and Communication
  • Creative Enterprise and Practice
  • The Design Experiment

Semester 2

  • Creative Venture

This is an option for our undergraduate students who wish to continue working in surface pattern design to an integrated master level (MDes).  The year is student-led, focusing on further enhancing the creative identity of the individual through material research and innovation as well as targeted employment or enterprise strategy for their future.

The integrated Masters allows those students who are truly pioneering and innovating in the context of the traditional three-year programme to see these discoveries through to a more advanced level, enabling our most capable and ambitious students to achieve at a higher level.


Assessment is carried out through coursework, both written and practical. There are no exams on this course. Students are formatively assessed throughout a module, summative assessment takes place at the end of a module. A variety of teaching and learning methods are used throughout the course which include amongst others;

Informal Tutorials  
These tutorials are held on a regular basis, across all levels. In Year 1 each student sees and discusses his / her work with a member of staff at each studio session, likewise in Year 2. Third and fourth-year students tend to work more independently and sign up for a tutorial when she/he feels the need arises. However, as a team we ensure that every student in Year 3 is seen by at least one member of the academic staff each week.  We pride ourselves on the fact that there is the opportunity to see staff as regularly as you may require.

Formal Tutorials 
These are held twice a term at the student’s desk with two members of staff. The work is discussed, practical and conceptual development, future intentions of the student etc. It is an opportunity for any issues/concerns by either party, to be raised. A written account of the tutorial is duplicated, one copy kept by the student the other stored in his / her records file.

Group critiques 
These are held on a regular basis, across all levels, with one member of staff. They provide an excellent opportunity for students to share and exchange ideas with their peers in a structured manner in addition to valuable input from staff.

Informal & Formal presentations 
The nature of the presentations varies according to the level: in Year 1 informal presentations are introduced halfway through the first semester in order to help students gain confidence in talking about their work to their peers and staff it is also usually part of the assessment at the end of each project. 2nd Year students are expected to give a Formal Presentation as part of their Professional Studies Module and at the end of the year as part of their Major project.  In Year 3 a Formal Presentation is part of the final assessment at the Degree Show.

Exhibiting work 
Again, the nature of this varies within the context of the projects, the work to be assessed and the stage of the programme – it can range in formality from a public venue to the individual student’s desk space.

Our Facilities, Graduates and Industry Links

Student and Swansea Life

Key Information

Entry Criteria

We are interested in creative people that demonstrate a strong commitment to art and/or design and therefore we welcome applications from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. To assess student suitability for their chosen course we arrange interviews for all applicants at which your skills, achievements and life experience will be considered as well as your portfolio of work.

Our standard offer for a degree course is 120 UCAS tariff points. We expect applicants to have a grade C or above in English Language (or Welsh) at GCSE level, together with passes in another four subjects. Plus we accept a range of Level 3 qualifications including:

  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, plus one GCE A-Level in a relevant academic subject
  • Three GCE A-Levels or equivalent
  • BTEC Extended Diploma in a relevant subject, with minimum grades of Merit
  • International Baccalaureate score of 32
  • Other relevant qualifications can be considered on an individual basis

Qualifications are important, however our offers are not solely based on academic results. If you don’t have the required UCAS points then please contact the courses admissions tutor or email artanddesign@uwtsd.ac.uk as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.

See our Interview Guide for more information.

Career Opportunities

Graduate Prospects


  • Textile designers
  • Wallpaper designers
  • Screen printers
  • Designer makers
  • Pattern designers
  • Interior stylists
  • Lifestyle product designer
  • In house roles for interior brands
  • Freelance for interior brands and clients trend predictions and interior forecasting
  • Editorial – magazines, blogging, websites, illustration


  • Textile designers
  • Pattern designers
  • Screen printers
  • Digital textile designers
  • Designer makers
  • Design assistants
  • Lifestyle and accessory designer
  • Graduate trainee positions
  • Fashion stylists
  • In house roles for brands
  • Freelance for brands
  • Design studio roles
  • Trend predictions and fashion forecasting
  • Editorial - magazines, blogging, websites, illustration


  • Illustrators
  • Giftware design – wraps, and associated accessories and ranges
  • Stationery design – cards, books, lifestyle ranges

Arts Bodies

  • Gallery Management
  • Project Management
  • Exhibiting makers
  • Stocking and selling through curated gallery shops
  • Community projects
  • Volunteering
  • Workshops
  • Artists in Residence


  • Visual Merchandising – design and installation  
  • Buying
  • Styling
  • Personal stylist
  • Selling through retail outlets


  • PGCE – Secondary, Primary, FE
  • Visiting Lecturers
  • University Lecturers
  • Workshop, Freelance
  • Community Workshops and Arts groups

Work modes

  • Employment
  • Self-Employment
  • Freelance
  • Enterprise
  • Voluntary

Example List of Companies Students are Currently Working for:

  • Monsoon
  • Hallmark Creative UK
  • Tigerprint
  • Misfit Fashion
  • Nobody’s Child
  • Humbug Design Ltd
  • Lush
  • In the Style
  • H&M, Sweden
  • Cubus, Norway
  • Talking Tables
  • IG International Greetings
  • The Silk Bureau
  • The National Trust
  • Emma Bridgewater
  • Tenn Ltd
  • John Lewis

Example List of Students who have gone on to run successful Creative Enterprises

Jo Ashburner – Red Dragon Flags, The Roof Project

Stephanie Cole

Nia Rist Prints

Hannah Davies

Harriet Popham

Rebecca O’Grady - Righteous Raven

Additional Costs

Our students have access to a diverse range of equipment and resources, which in most cases are sufficient to complete their programme of study. We provide the basic materials necessary for students to develop their practical work within our extensive workshop and studio facilities.

However, it is likely that art and design students will incur some additional costs to extend their investigation of their personal practice. For example, purchasing their own specialised materials and equipment, joining in optional study trips, and printing. 

Students are expected to bring their own personal art and design equipment with them when they commence the course.  We can advise on the correct equipment needed for your programme of studies and signpost appropriate suppliers if you wish to purchase essential items before or during your studies.  

A basic ‘art and design kit’ will cost approximately £100 but you may well already have much of the equipment required so check with us first.  Also, although we have extensive dedicated digital design studios (PC and MAC) for you to undertake your coursework you may wish to bring your own digital devices, again check with us first before making a purchase.

Student Quotes

Harriet Popham
How would you describe the BA(Hons) Surface Pattern Design programme here at SCA?
“Surface Pattern is an exciting, challenging and diverse course. Being taught so many techniques gives you the opportunity to really find your specialism and run with it. The Tutors are incredibly supportive in helping you to reach your full potential and enjoy doing so and the studio becomes a 2nd home - full of colour, pattern & laughter. I found it immensely inspiring.”  

Ciara Long
What was your favorite part of the Surface Pattern course at Swansea?
“The community atmosphere of working in the studio - I didn't see this at any other University.  
The broad variety of workshops and skills to be learnt.  
Working on live briefs with external companies as it gave the course that realistic element to how life could be post uni.”

Charlotte Field
“Everything that’s taught on the undergraduate course lays the foundation for the industry. You learn skills that you will use for the rest of your career.” 
What did you learn during your degree that has been the most useful in your career?
“The traditional textile workshops give such a good grounding knowledge in the printing processes that are still used in modern mass manufacturing. Working as a commercial print designer you have to be aware of the limitations of production so you can achieve best from your designs.”

Fran Dixon
Why did you choose to study Surface Pattern Design in Swansea?
“I chose to study at UWTSD because of the wide range of facilities available within the faculty, the studio space in the Surface Pattern Design department for each student, and the amount of contact tutor time students received every week.”

What was the most useful things you learned on your course that helps you now?
“One of the most useful things I think I learnt whilst being on the course is time management.  A design degree has so many aspects to it that I am now able to juggle many different tasks at once. Also, an appreciation of teamwork and the support from course mates is vital. It’s a team effort pulling a show together at the end of the year!”

What was the best part of the course for you?
“My favourite aspect of the course was being able to experiment in a wide range of materials and combining these together to create interesting products. However, the degree show is always a memory that sticks in your mind because it shows the journey that the whole year group has been on together.”

Nicole De Haviland
What were the most important things you learnt whilst studying on Surface Pattern Design at Swansea?
The most important thing I learned in terms of personal development was time management. Throughout the third year it was key for this to be a priority. There were many projects to keep on top of and maintain these at a consistent standard. With regard to practical development, working with Creative Suite was the most beneficial. Learning shortcuts and how to use the software effectively and confidently was an advantage when looking for a job after graduating as I wanted to enter the commercial side of Surface Pattern. 

Mark Eley Professor of Practice
“The quality and standard of the work by the Surface Pattern students at UWTSD is so professionally executed.  The collaborative effort of the whole programme team should be commended.  Every students' submitted design work would compete in the market they were intended.”

Bursary / Scholarship Information

Swansea College of Art at UWTSD offers two Academic awards:  

  • Swansea College of Art 1853 Scholarship
  • Cert HE Foundation Bursary

Information on these as well as University wide offers can be found here.

Study Abroad Opportunities

During your time with us, you will have the opportunity to study abroad with the Erasmus exchange programmes currently running with Universities in Norway, Barcelona and Sweden.

Study Abroad 
Students can also take up the opportunity to study a semester in the USA and Canada.

For more information please click here


In addition to our University Accommodation at Llys Glas, Swansea also benefits from a number of private student halls, all within a short walk, including:

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