Higher National Diploma
Graphic Design Course
Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE)
Course Code: AGH - Duration: 2 years full-time
The Higher National Diploma (HND) in Graphic Design at Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE) is an intense, rigorous and professional programme, which has been producing outstanding, industry-ready graduates since 2000. Our programme provides students with a balanced combination of both soft and hard technical skills designed to enable graduates to either attain advanced entry to a Honours BA level programme or to gain meaningful employment in the graphic design sector. The BTEC Higher National Diploma is an internationally recognised qualification and is an equivalent to a level six on the QQI National Framework. The HND in Graphic Design punches well above its weight and offers students a stepping stone to a real and meaningful design career. The programme continually produces award-winning graduates, such as Gerard Dwyer who was selected as an ICAD Upstart 2016.
All too often when candidates are applying for courses, they fail to ask a few fundamental questions:
What happens when I finish the programme?
Will I have the realistic option of advanced entry to a degree programme?
Will I gain the correct skill set to go straight into graphic design employment?
The HND in Graphic Design at Ballyfermot College of Further Education provides students with a skill set that is both practical and current, clearly demonstrated through an innovative and sophisticated portfolio of design work. Please take the time to read through some of the graduate testimonials below and checkout some samples of student work in the gallery section.
The HND in Graphic Design at Ballyfermot College of Further Education is the best two year programme of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. Don’t take our word for it - our students’ work and our graduates’ achievements speak for themselves.
"I could not recommend the BCFE Graphics programme highly enough. The quality & dedication of the teachers is stellar and the course really focuses on preparing students for industry. It's a great time to be in digital arts and within weeks of graduating, I was working full-time as a graphic designer earning a decent wage. Thankfully my training in BCFE meant there was no need to do an internship. My BCFE portfolio was very well received at interviews and great praise was given to its relevance in teaching areas such as infographics and packaging. Within 18 months of graduating I got a job in one of the country's top design studios and I still can't believe my luck. I owe my sucess to BCFE and all the teachers on the Graphics course. " - Edel Quinn, Art Director with Chemistry, Dublin. 2018
"Deciding to go back to college was the difficult step, once that decision was made picking which college I wanted to attend was a bit simpler. Just mention Ballyfermot and instantly people in the know say ‘Oh that college has a great reputation!!’ After some research I quickly figured out that not only their reputation was an attraction but also the course content. Covering all the programs, like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, that I was interested in learning, the course also seemed to offer in-depth training in areas like Art Direction, Research Techniques and Advanced Computer Graphics that I definitely needed some extensive knowledge of if I wanted to progress in the Visual Communications industry. After two amazing years I learned much more than I could possibly have imagined. But most of all I came away with a passion for Graphic Design and design thinking that is so evident in BCFE. The tutors level of skill and expertise of this area is at a level that I hadn’t experienced in any other course I had ever done. I was offered one of the first jobs I went for as a Graphic and Web Designer, my employers being totally amazed by the portfolio I had produced in 2 short years at Ballyfermot." - Adrienne Fanning, Graphic Designer with Intercake, Wicklow. 2018
"My motivation for choosing the two year HND in Graphic Design at BCFE was that the skill set taught there provided the opportunity to go straight into the industry after college." - Gabriella Makrai, Design Monks, Amsterdam. 2018
"I cannot recommend this course enough. Whether you are pursuing further education or, like I was, looking for a job in the creative industry, this course is invaluable. I went straight into employment after finishing the course and I found that I was able to apply to a wide range of jobs because of the versatile set of skills I had learned. The entire staff were always friendly and encouraging and always wanted the students to do the best they could. Above all, the course taught me how to think like a designer and how to work efficiently and effectively. It was a challenge, but I cannot say how worthwhile it was. It changed my life." - Graham Moynes, Designer with O’Neills Irish International Sports Co. Ltd. Dublin. 2018
There are no tuition fees for Irish or EU citizens undertaking PLC Courses. However all students are required to pay a Resource Fee, which covers registration by certifying bodies, student services, books and equipment where the item purchased becomes your personal property. Non-EU citizens will be required to pay a more substantial fee, as laid down by the Department of Education.
A list of fees is available from the General Office, telephone: (01) 6269421 or by email from
A deposit of 40 euro will be required to secure a place on a course. This will not be refunded if you do not avail of the course. If you do enrol on the course, the amount will be held as a down payment on the charges outlined above.
The charges for certification/registration with certifying bodies may vary, depending on the certification authority involved.
Employment and Advanced Entry to Third Level:
The HND in Graphic Design in BCFE has been facilitating our graduates to gain access to advanced entry to second and third year of Visual Communications BA programmes at IADT, DIT and NCAD.
Those who have chosen to go straight into employment as graphic designers and illustrators have found their skillset more than up to the task, thanks to the quality of education and training they have received at BCFE.
Our graduate alumni are employed in leading design agencies and as in-house designers all over the world – from Ireland, to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States of America.
Students are taught all the fundamentals of good graphic design - from developing innovative and sophisticated concepts for design problems, to the subtleties of good typography and editorial layout.
We pride ourselves on teaching students how to use and apply software to a professional standard. This software and design training extends from traditional print media to motion and interactive graphics, including HTML and CSS as part of the web design aspect of the programme.
Illustration, both traditional and digital, is at the heart of this Visual Communications programme. Graduates of this programme find themselves in the enviable position of being able to pursue a career in the highly competitive field of illustration as well as design, thanks to the rigorous training they get in both illustration techniques and graphic design.
"I did the Graphics course a few years ago and I am so grateful I did it. Before I was an artist using traditional mediums but wanted a new challenge and to learn digital art techniques. I had no computer knowledge with applications like Illustrator and Photoshop, but after the two years I became so confident in using them that I now use these programmes in my everyday work process, I would be lost without them. I learned more than I could imagine on this course, from thinking like a designer, viewing art and design with a new set of eyes, and finding who I am as a designer and illustrator. I now work as a designer and illustrator, and having the knowledge and skills of both disciplines has proven invaluable to my work ethic, style and career." - Rachel Corcoran, Illustrator & Designer, Dublin. 2018
While many illustrators find it difficult to make a living from illustration alone, our students’ additional graphic and web design skills makes them very versatile and employable.
Check out our students' digital illustrations, which were featured in the November 2013 edition of the internationally renowned fantasy and digital painting magazine ImagineFX.
When our graduates apply for design positions, employers are not only impressed by the quality of their portfolio, but also the technical skill set they have acquired, making them incredibly versatile and sought after designers.
Graduates who decide to further their education to degree level can apply for advanced entry to the second or third year of the BA in Visual Communications at IADT, DIT and NCAD, an option our graduates have been successfully utilising for many years now.
We accept a broad spectrum of candidates onto the programme every year, from students who have just completed a portfolio preparation course to those who have already acquired an undergraduate qualification.
Candidates who already have an undergraduate degree in Fine Art, Architecture or any other degree and who are looking for a comprehensive design skill set that will allow them gain meaningful employment in the graphic design sector, should consider applying for this programme. Such candidates have always found that this programme offers them everything they need to accomplish this goal in a short two year period.