Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

BA Interior Design

UCAS code: W250

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing BA Interior Design

Our discipline

The experience of interior space and its inhabitation by people can be considered both the primary driver and the ultimate test of successful building design. When buildings change from the inside out, the external envelope becomes compliant to the inhabited room and the activities it contains.

When we adapt, conserve, re-use and re-appropriate existing buildings, interior designers delicately balance a need to preserve with the desire to renew. They are navigating the blurred boundaries between real and artifice, place and time, from room to city.

Key to our discipline is a responsive attitude to the diversity of peoples’ social issues. This ensures that the interiors created positively impact the lives of those who use and inhabit them.

The studio

Our programme will introduce you to the study of interior design in our dedicated studio space.

Experienced permanent staff are joined by visiting industry experts who will support and challenge you to experiment and take risks as you explore the design process. You will be encouraged to:

  • bring your own themes and agendas to the table
  • share and learn from our combined diversity

Projects

A variety of design projects will offer you experience across many sectors including:

  • retail and hospitality
  • exhibition
  • the wider public realm

A focus on human activity and user experience is embedded in each project.

We consider the moral obligations of the designer in responding to the diversity of the individual and wider social issues.

Conceptual ideas evolve into spatial strategies which are tested through multiple lenses of:

  • accessibility and inclusivity
  • introducing statutory legislation and technical requirements
  • debate and consideration of environmental impact

Our approach

Your design education at ECA will include:

  • studies in material selection
  • interior construction detailing
  • lighting design

You will also focus in on the finer details of:

  • surfaces
  • finishes
  • junctions

We encourage thinking through making and a hands-on approach to enhance your understanding of how things go together.

An explicit focus on the fabric of the built interior will equip you with specialist technical knowledge and enhanced professional skills, which you will articulate through critical and reflective discourse. This will provide a platform for further intellectual debate.

Year 1

In Year 1 we explore interior design using project briefs in real and imagined spaces through:

  • physical hand drawings
  • sketchbooks
  • model-making

Core and compulsory interior design courses will make up 80 credits of your study. These are complemented by:

  • a 20-credit compulsory theory course
  • a 20-credit optional course of your choice (this can be a course from within ECA or across the wider University)

The optional course will be subject to availability and discussion with the relevant course organiser.

Projects and activities will:

  • support you to develop an understanding of creative interior design thinking
  • show you how various approaches can serve as a driver for interior design solutions

You are encouraged to experiment with a range of approaches to drawing, to develop fundamental skills in free-hand drawing and orthographic projection. Sessions include local field trips to analyse and draw interior spaces.

Year 2

By Year 2 you will engage with increasingly complex sites and material investigations as you develop CAD skills.

Core and compulsory interior design courses will make up 80 or 100 credits of your study in Year 2.

Alongside a 20-credit compulsory theory course, you may select one alternative 20-credit optional course instead of one interior compulsory course if you wish. This can be from within ECA or across the wider University. Your choice will be subject to availability and discussion with the relevant course organiser.

In Year 2 you will start to apply design approaches to your work and will expand your critical thinking through:

  • precedent study analysis
  • inclusive design principles
  • socially contextual projects

You will develop your digital presentation and CAD skills further through projects on multiple levels. Themes include:

  • change of use
  • sustainable approaches
  • material understanding

Year 3

In Year 3 you will engage with:

  • advanced interior 3D CAD visualisation
  • detailing
  • branding
  • lighting

You will complete a challenging design brief that involves re-using an existing building to develop a new design purpose and narrative.

At this stage in your academic career, you will begin to position your own practice by developing considered strategic approaches to interior intervention. Areas of focus include:

  • spatial layout
  • the section
  • material specification and assembly
  • analytical skills
  • autonomy

Core and compulsory interior design courses will make up 100 credits of your Year 3 studies.

You will select one 20-credit compulsory theory course of your choice.

In Year 3 you may have the opportunity to study abroad, enabling you to broaden your experience and understanding of the discipline. Alternatively, you may have the opportunity to complete an appropriate work-based placement instead of your Semester 2 core courses. You must discuss and agree these options with the Programme Director in advance.

Year 4

During Year 4, you will use your design skills and individual creative ambition to define and complete an interior design project and brief aligned to:

  • your own specific interests
  • personal position
  • practice

Towards the end of the year, you will participate in the graduate show and will have a portfolio of work for application to industry or further postgraduate study.

Core and compulsory interior design courses will make up 100 credits of your Year 4 studies.

Your studio practice will take place alongside a 20-credit theory course, supporting your contextual and theoretical learning. You will communicate your learning through a piece of academic writing and critical reflection.

We encourage a rigorous contextual and sustainable approach to your work on the existing built environment. We will challenge you to address current design agendas within your chosen site. Projects focus on:

  • the needs and aspirations of the relevant user group
  • demonstrating the positive impact interior design can play in enhancing of peoples’ lives
  • the significant role of interior design in wider society

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

For your studio-based learning, you will benefit from our dedicated interior design studios, based at ECA's Lauriston campus. The art college environment provides a creative and dynamic community where ideas can be shared, and wider friendships can be made.

You will have access to all libraries, technical workshops, and computer labs on site. Some optional courses may be taught outside the school across the wider University campus.

You will also have access to the University’s:

  • libraries
  • bookable studio spaces
  • computing hardware and software
  • technical facilities

Investing in our learning environment

The University is investing in Edinburgh College of Art's estate and facilities. This will further develop our supportive, stimulating and sustainable learning and research environment.

You can find out more on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA

Study abroad

You may have the option to study abroad in Year 3, during Semester 2.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

For all core courses, your teaching and learning will be mainly studio based. Our interior design staff will support you in developing:

  • visual abilities
  • conceptual abilities
  • critical abilities
  • intellectual abilities

You will acquire the necessary skills to communicate your ideas.

Studio sessions with tutors and peers will involve a combination of:

  • seminars
  • workshops
  • tutorials
  • reviews

Additional site visits and field trips are organised at key stages. In between timetabled teaching, you will be encouraged to:

  • work together with other students in the studio
  • utilise the wealth of technical workshop facilities available

Key to your learning journey will be oral presentations to staff and peers in the studio during interim reviews. Learning how to articulate your work is a fundamental part of any design education. Presenting will provide you with essential practice in this industry-standard set of professional skills.

How will I be assessed?

Regular interim tutorials and reviews offer continual formative assessment throughout your studies.

At the mid-point of each semester, you will have a more formal opportunity to present or submit work in progress and to discuss your achievements. Formative assessment is designed to provide you with feedback on your progress and development, but does not contribute to your final grade.

Summative (final) assessments take place at the end of each semester in Years 1 to 3 (and at the end of the academic year for some Year 4 courses). You will be required to submit a body of work as outlined for each course.

Assessment and grading are directly aligned to course learning outcomes. You will be able to identify what you have achieved concerning a particular project, course, and/or level of study. You will receive a grade for each learning outcome (typically, three for each course).

Grades are confirmed at the end-of-semester examination boards and are subject to a rigorous internal and external moderation process. You will need to pass all core and compulsory courses to progress into the next year of study.

A degree in Interior Design provides opportunities not only in interior design practice, but also in the broader associated fields of:

  • lighting
  • architectural design
  • exhibition
  • brand
  • experiential and interactive experiences
  • environments

Our programme includes a focus on the specialist professional skills of the designer, alongside key transferable skills desirable in many allied disciplines and beyond.

We have a proven track record of employability, with former students taking on influential roles in design studios around the world. Recent graduates have, for example, gained employment at:

  • Heatherwick Studio
  • 74
  • Form Design Consultants
  • Prada
  • Kengo Kuma
  • ICA
  • Soho House

Interior design is a well-established profession within the creative industries, which offers an exciting array of career opportunities across the globe.

Our graduates possess many transferable skills that allow them to diversify career paths across a wide range of associated fields, including:

  • interior design practice
  • multi-disciplinary design agencies
  • architecture
  • lighting design
  • exhibition and interpretation
  • brand and experiential
  • other related roles such as:
  • furniture
  • specification
  • product and materials (sales and manufacture)

In recent years, other career destinations included:

  • film and TV (production and set design)
  • computer game design
  • theatre set design

Many of our graduates also opt to continue into postgraduate design education and teaching.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Additional requirements

Portfolio

Applicants will be asked to submit a digital portfolio to provide evidence of artistic aptitude and potential, this will form an important part of the selection process.

For more information about the portfolio, visit the Edinburgh College of Art website at the link below and scroll to the section titled ‘Application Process’.

Interior Design application process

Portfolio technical support and specification

Important dates

  • 1 December 2024: portfolio submission site opens.
  • 29 January 2025: deadline for all applicants (including international applicants).
  • 4 February 2025 at 12 pm (midday) GMT: portfolio submission deadline.

BTEC/UAL Diplomas

Applicants studying Pearson BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Art and Design will be considered for entry with the following:

  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma with DMM.
  • Pearson BTEC Diploma with MM plus one A Level at A (or DM plus B at A Level).
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Certificate / Subsidiary Diploma with D plus two A Levels at B (or M plus AB at A Level).

Applicants studying the University of the Arts London Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design will be considered with Merit.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Entry to the second year is available. Successful completion of a Foundation Diploma (at Merit grade), a relevant HND or equivalent is required. Applicants with a Foundation Diploma will normally be expected to have undertaken these qualifications in addition to having met the first year entry requirements (Highers, A Levels, IB, relevant HNC, etc). In some of our less competitive degrees it may be possible to consider applicants presenting ABC (or equivalent) or above at A Level. These must have been achieved in one set of exams, at first attempt.

A list of accepted HNDs, along with further information for adult returners, can be found on our adult returner page:

Adult returner applicants

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for BA Interior Design

Additional costs

Materials for compulsory courses

For compulsory interior design courses in Years 1 - 3, you need to print out architectural drawings, as well as presentation and submission information.

We will also ask you to buy:

  • sketchbooks
  • tracing and layout paper for draft drawings

All projects require basic card model-making materials. While we encourage reusable material, we estimate that model-making and drawing equipment will cost £150 per semester.

Other materials

In Year 1 you will need to purchase basic drawing equipment and model-making materials. These items will be used throughout the programme and cost around £70.

In Year 4 you may, as part of your final submission, produce large-scale prints for exhibition and a design book. We estimate your Year 4 physical printing will cost at least £600.

Laptop

Computing facilities are available on campus. However, you may wish to buy a laptop to use for:

  • coursework presentations
  • watching lecture recordings
  • uploading submissions

Study trips

We offer opportunities for a study trip to a European city when possible. This is usually for three or four days in February.

We estimate an additional cost of around £500 to pay for your:

  • travel costs
  • accommodation
  • entrance fees
  • subsistence costs

Exhibiting your work

In Year 4 you have opportunities to participate in design student exhibitions in the UK.

For these, you must pay for your:

  • travel costs
  • accommodation
  • subsistence

The University may cover the entry ticket price.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding