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Product Design

Product Design at NCAD is about shaping the world around us. It is about designing beautiful and functional products that help make the world a fairer, more inclusive, and sustainable place. Product Designers from NCAD are celebrated by many of the world's leading design accolades, and our graduates have shaped the direction of healthcare, gaming peripherals, automotive design and many other iconic fields. If you are bold and ambitious, come meet us.

What will I study?

Our program is built around a core belief in design as a potential force for good; the design we teach is human-centred, functional, inclusive, sustainable and, most importantly, fun! We’ll equip you with hands-on skills like design sketching, model-making and prototyping, as well as materials and manufacturing processes, 3D CAD, and how to present your work professionally. You’ll have full access to advanced woodwork and metalwork facilities, a digital editing suite, 3D scanning, SLS and SLA 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machines that will allow you to build, test, and showcase your designs. You’ll collaborate with leading design consultancies, take part in global student competitions and visit European design fairs. Throughout the programme, you’ll be supported to research, experiment and create, and in doing so, forge your own unique path as a Product Designer.

Year 1

The first year experience for BA students at NCAD begins with a foundational semester of interdisciplinary Art and Design creative practice and research. In the second semester all Design students undertake projects spent within selected design programmes. This is to give you a working taste of your chosen discipline and/or those that you are interested in and would benefit from experiencing. The second half of Semester 2 introduces students to key processes and practices in your chosen design discipline, encouraging the creative and critical development of a personal practice and introducing fundamental disciplinary design and technical methods.

Year 2

You’ll develop key skills and knowledge, including 2D and 3D sketching, computer-aided design, presentation techniques, model-making and rapid prototyping, design research methods, ergonomics, material science, and manufacturing technology. You’ll apply this learning through a range of projects focused on themes like human-centred design, inclusive design, sustainability, design for manufacture, and design for social impact.

Year 3: Studio+ & International

Studio+ is an optional year open to all Design students allowing you to engage with the world beyond NCAD by gaining practical work experience in the form of working within the NCAD Design Bureau on live commercial, social or community projects and/or undertaking approved internships and industry placements. Studio+ can also include a work placement abroad or a study abroad experience through the Erasmus programme with internationally recognised art and design faculties partnered with NCAD. Students who choose Studio+ will complete a 4 year BA in Product Design or a 4 year BA Product Design (International).
Our partnership with UCD Engineering allows for technically-minded Product Designers to undertake a Design Engineering focused Trimester. Alongside this you can take part in live projects in collaboration with leading design agencies in Ireland, such as Accenture and PA Consulting.

Final Year:

In final year, you’ll develop your own self-directed design projects, based on your individual skills and interests in Product Design. You will gain valuable experience with leading global organisations tackling real challenges, allowing you to create a substantial portfolio of work. At the end of the academic year, your projects will be ready to exhibit in the NCAD Graduate Showcase. You’ll also be supported to gain employment as a Product Designer through a series of professional practice and portfolio classes.

How will I be assessed?

Coursework, essays, practical design projects and assessments take place at key points throughout the year. Formal assessment results are issued at the end of each academic year.

Critical Cultures

A key component of your curriculum in every year is the study of Critical Cultures. This is where you study the connections between history, theory and practice in modern and contemporary contexts in order to become a critically engaged, reflective and effective practitioner.
Find out more on the Find out more

Opportunities after graduation

Product Design graduates have a wide range of local and global opportunities open to them. As a graduate of Product Design at NCAD, you may choose to specialise in a particular area, such as consumer electronics, furniture, or medical devices, but many of the skills acquired are transferable between projects and products. Many graduates find employment with manufacturers or design consultancies. Some graduates have strong entrepreneurial skills, enabling them to strike out on their own, designing and making their own products or providing design services for others.
Increasingly, graduates progress to further study at postgraduate level to refine their creative abilities and approach. As a Product Design graduate, you can apply to a range of innovative masters programmes at NCAD, including Medical Device Design, Interaction and Service Design.

Student & Graduate Stories


Sabhín O’Sullivan, BA Product Design 2020
Overall winner of the Design for Social Good category in the ARTSTHREAD i-D Global Graduate Awards 2020.

Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?
I visited the NCAD campus at one of the open days and instantly felt at home - this was the kind of environment I belonged in. I didn’t even know what I wanted to study, but I knew I would enjoy it as long as I was here.

Design Competition Awards

  • Overall winner of the Design for Social Good category in the ARTSTHREAD i-D Global Graduate Awards 2020.
  • Shortlisted for Royal Society of Arts Student Design Awards 2020 with ‘Ardú’
  • Winner of the NCAD Staff Choice Award 2020
  • Finalist in the Engineers Without Borders Challenge 2018 with ‘Culture Kits’
  • Shortlisted for the design of ESB’s Free Electrons Trophy 2018 with ‘Path’

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Moses Rowen, BDes Industrial Design (Product Design) 2013
Current Career - Innovation Designer

Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?
When I realised that there wasn’t a course that taught you how to design things from scratch (I also wanted to design robots and flying machines), I had to make a decision. Learn the creative part, then the technical part or vice versa. I decided on the latter. I initially studied mechanical engineering at DIT and then industrial design at NCAD. I’m glad I did it in this order. The frustration I felt from the focused practicality of engineering was alleviated by the creative freedom I found in design. I was lucky enough to be offered a job straight out of NCAD. The job was in architecture - West 8 in Rotterdam. They threw me in the deep end! It was an incredible learning experience. I got to work on world-class projects. I designed a lot of furniture, but I also designed bridges in Russia, sculptures in Columbia, and towers in China.

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Product Design

BA Product Design
NFQ Level 8

Duration:
3 or 4 Years

Places:
20

Application:
Course code/s:
AD212 Product Design

Entry Requirements:
Leaving Cert: 6 subjects, 2xH5 and 4xO6/H7
Subjects must include Irish, English, Maths (06/H7) and one of the following: A 3rd Language or Art or Design Communication Graphics (DCG)

QQI/FETAC: Level 5 or Level 6:
5 Distinctions, Full Award

A Level/GCSE: 2x A Levels at C+ and 4x GCSE Ordinary or AS level
Subjects to include English and Art or a second language, Maths or Science/Tech subject

Portfolio Requirement:
Portfolio submission by Friday 10th February 2023 in line with NCAD Portfolio Submission Guidelines. For further details please go to: ncad.ie/study-at-ncad

Degree awarded:
BA Product Design/BA Product Design (with Critical Cultures)
BA Product Design (International)

Find out more on the Critical Cultures Pathway
Find out more about Studio+