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Visual Communication:

Design, Society, Nature

A one-year, part-time programme exploring the fundamental principles of visual communication.

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Image by Claire-Beth, 2021 - 2022 Student

Design, Society, Nature is unique in its collaborative and hands-on approach to design education. The course aims to instill independent thinking and creative confidence by developing critically-minded designers who are socially and environmentally engaged.

By joining you will be part of an intimate cohort, studying in a busy, dynamic, and sociable environment. 

Students are an integral part of our community, comprising of students across 3 courses, academics, support staff, studio holders, local creatives, and Margate's surrounding communities / general public.

We welcome applicants who will embrace learning in this collaborative context and will work in a way that benefits the world around us.

Term Dates

29 September, 2022 - 13 July, 2023

Deadline To Apply

29 August, 2022

Interview Dates

w/c 01 August, 2022

Students will study practical design modules, supported by contextual sessions, regular one to one tutorials and a programme of workshops and guest lectures.

The last portion of the course will be spent on refining your portfolio for assessment and developing your input to Margate Festival of Design.

Teaching methods include:


- Hands on workshops

- Seminar discussions and group critiques

- Group and individual tutorials 

- Collaborative work, including with the wider community


Lessons are on Thursdays with the majority taking place at TMS or in close proximity, eg the local beaches. 

The Design Society Nature coordinator and tutors are all practicing designers and will work with you to build and develop your practice.

"Designing is not a solitary activity. It is a part of a larger social community of discourse" Drew Margolin.


These practice-based modules run throughout the year, supported by critical studies and design history

Practice Module


Visual Language

Visual language takes you back to the very basics of graphic design - using dots, lines, form, placement and colour. These sessions will be hands on and off the computer and are a fun, interactive introduction or reminder of the fundamental principles of visual communication. 

Practice Module



You’ll explore image making through photography and illustration, investigating how constructed imagery can be used to tell powerful stories in a single image ‘inside the frame’.

Practice Module



Focusing on film making, this module takes you from a basic introduction to creating your own short film. We take your stories on a journey into moving image and sound.

Practice Module



In these sessions you’ll explore typographic anatomy and structure as well as how to lay out text in a way which is attractive and legible. These sessions will be hands on, fun and collaborative, giving you a grounding in the fundamental principles of typography.

Practice Module



You’ll start to develop your own identity as a designer, moving into a more self-directed stage of the course, and building towards your end of year show or contribution towards the Margate Festival of Design. 

Practice Module


Human Centred Design

Human Centred Design is a method that empowers an individual or team to design products, services, systems, and experiences that address the core needs of those who experience a problem. You’ll work as a team to find a solution to a local issue close to your hearts. 

Core Module

Critical Studies + Design History


This subject will run alongside all of the practice-led modules and support your learning by developing critical thinking and exploration through design theory and historical context.

Students are encouraged to discuss the subjects as a group and to use the research to inform their project work. 



Margate Festival of Design


The final portion of the course will be spent refining your project work in time for assessment and working with the course co-ordinator to develop your contribution to Margate Festival of Design:

Additional Support

  • Guest Lectures from industry experts 

  • Workshops in screenprinting, letterpress, laser cutting, and darkroom developing

  • Sample session with a paper manufacturer

  • Visit to a local printer

  • 9 tutor tutorials

  • 1 to 1 support from the course co-ordinator 

  • Course Slack board

  •  Feedback via a self-managed course blog

Term Dates

29 September, 2022 - 13 July, 2023

Deadline To Apply

29 August, 2022

Interview Dates

Ist round: w/c 01 August, 2022


Course Facilities

  • Desk in a shared studio space with evening
    and weekend access

  • Communal project space

  • Research library

  • Digital suite with full Adobe suite and Ableton music production software

  • Screenprinting

  • Small letterpress

  • Print station

  • Screening space

  • Photography Studio

  • 3D Printing

  • Laser cutter

  • Photographic Darkroom

  • Sewing Facilities

  • Kiln and Potters wheel 

  • Woodwork

Our Design, Society, Nature Co-ordinator and all tutors are practicing designers.


The programme is supported by guest lecturers and workshop facilitators.



Entry Requirements

  • An Honours degree / experiential learning / work experience equivalent (which doesn’t have to be in an arts related subject)

  • A working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite

  • Visual ability - an ability to express ideas through visual means

  • Critical thinking - an interest in the subject area and an eagerness to learn more

  • Social and environmental engagement

  • Self-initiation - evidence of working towards a solution alone or leading others

  • Attitude - the ability approach learning in a mature, independent and responsible way

Candidates will present a portfolio of their work at interview.

You will need to be able to commit to one day a week at the School, plus 15 hours per week minimum independent study. 

For me, this last year at TMS on the Design, Society, Nature course has been a transformative experience. Already being a visual artist but feeling stuck in my practice, I felt like I needed a boost onto the next part of my creative journey. This course has given me that boost. It has helped me connect with local creatives; experiment with new mediums using the fabulous Fablab; as well as refining my design and research skills in an undeniably awesome environment.   

Claire-Beth Gibson, 2021 — 2022 Student


Course Fees

  • £3,500 per academic year includes studio and access to TMS resources.

Students will get discounts to TMS' programme of workshops, events and facilities.

Design students in TMS attic


Design Society Nature will support you to develop as a critically-minded designer, equipped to contribute positively to your community. You will leave the course with a completed portfolio to take to work or further study in fields such as:

•  Graphic design

•  Illustration

•  Moving image 

•  Identity design

•  Human Centred, collaborative design


The transferable skills you will gain from undertaking the course will include:

• An understanding of the fundamental elements of visual communication

• The ability to develop individual ideas and collaborate with others

• Strong observational, research and analytical skills

• Creative problem solving

• The ability to learn from criticism and be objective about your work

• An openness to new influences and concepts

• Business and client-facing skills

• Event planning


Why study with us?

• The schedule allows you to work part time alongside study​

• The course can open up new career paths, step you up to Masters study or provide visual communication skills to further your existing practice​

• Small student numbers means more individual attention​

• Ideal course to build your portfolio ​

• Outstanding roster of visiting professionals

• Stunning location, a stones throw from the beach​

• Promotes sustainable practice 

• A pioneering liberal art school

• TMS community events

• Monthly Fablunches with our community

• Film Club

• Workshops + Inductions

• Community Garden

• Discounts to public workshops, facilities and local businesses

Rebecca Thomas

Visual Communication Coordinator

Becky is the School's Visual Communication Programme coordinator and an established graphic designer and illustrator working with local and national clients. Becky has over 20 years experience working across local government, private practice as a design manager and now runs her own graphic design business. Becky has excellent links within the graphic design community, which she has used to establish the Design, Society, Nature programme at TMS, and the Margate Festival of Design.

See Becky's work:


Photo credit: Jasper’s Creative

Term Dates

29 September, 2022 - 13 July, 2023

Deadline To Apply

29 August, 2022

Interview Dates

Ist round: w/c 01 August, 2022

Student Work