London subject guide: Design

A young woman is going through colourful tops on a high clothes rack.
Do you have a creative mind, an eye for detail and good drawing skills? Then design could be the subject for you. Whether you’re interested in art, graphic design or fashion, London is one of the world’s most creative cities.

Find out why and where you should study design in London with this handy subject guide.

About design

Design encompasses a wide range of subjects, from animation and graphics to fashion and web design.

Why London

As well as being home to the world’s most highly regarded art and design university, London’s design schools and universities are famous for producing high-quality and cutting-edge design graduates. Alumni such as James Dyson, Terence Conran and Stella McCartney are among some of the talented designers who studied in London.

Design is one of the most popular subjects for international students in London. In 2017/18, there were 44,685 students studying creative arts and design, 34% of which were international students.

Everywhere you look, London is alive with inspiration and top talent. Design students enjoy working closely with some of the world's best professors and there are thousands of opportunities to get a design internship or work placement with one of the city's many creative agencies.

The interior of the Design Museum in London showing the angular ceiling and large multicoloured Designer mural at the top of the main staircase

You can choose from hundreds of design courses in London. Popular subjects include graphic design, multimedia design, computer games design, product design and digital design.

London universities also allow you to specialise by offering focused and highly respected courses such as vehicle design, interior design, website design and many others.

Great London universities for design studies

Many universities in London offer a range of design courses including undergraduate degrees, postgraduate master’s and PhD programmes. To help you pick the right course for you, here are 10 of the most highly ranked universities:

Royal College of Art

The Royal College of Art is the world’s leading art and design university – named as the world’s number one for five years running . There are six integral schools which focus on architecture, design, fine art, humanities, communication and material.

University of the Arts London

Home to six art schools including Central Saint Martins, the University of the Arts London is a world-leading university for teaching and research in art, design, fashion, communication and performance art. It’s consistently ranked as one of the best in the world for art and design courses.

Goldsmiths, University of London

Recognised as one of the UK's top creative universities by students and ranked in the world's top 100 universities for arts and humanities courses, Goldsmiths is known for its academic excellence.

Loughborough University London

The Institute for Design Innovation at Loughborough University in London has been established to bring the excellence and reputation of Loughborough’s Design School to the creative and cultural area of east London. The institute has collaborative relationships with industry investigating real-life problems.

Kingston University London

Kingston University London is a centre of teaching excellence in the UK. The Kingston School of Art combines traditional disciplines such as printmaking, sculpture and bronze casting with new, cutting-edge facilities and resources.

University of Westminster

The University of Westminster's Faculty of Media, Arts and Design has a strong reputation for professional and practice-based education. It provides students with a work-based learning environment which includes industry-standard studios, workshops and laboratories.

Brunel University London

Brunel is a forward-looking university that combines academic rigour with an entrepreneurial approach. Brunel’s design degrees are some of the most renowned and respected in Europe, and their students and graduates have won many national and international design awards.

Ravensbourne University London

Specialising in digital media and design, Ravensbourne's excellent reputation is enhanced by the many industry awards its students win and its strong track record in graduate employability.

Middlesex University

Middlesex University is a leader in the development of today’s creative industries. Art, design and media students train in industry-standard studios and digital workshops using state-of-the-art equipment and software.

University of East London

The University of East London’s School of Arts and Digital Industries is a progressive school in the thriving artistic, cultural hotbed of east London. The university has excellent engagement with industry and cultural and community organisations across London.

More courses and university rankings

A number of other London universities also offer excellent design courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Browse this list to find design courses across the capital.

After university? Stay and work in London!

Two young women walk passed a bright and colourful street art mural on a street in east London

London's creative industry is the city's second largest sector with hundreds of design agencies – great for work placements during and after your studies. When it comes to work opportunities, there are close to a million jobs in London’s creative economy, up a quarter since 2012.

London is famous for its art and fashion scenes but it’s also home to award-winning production and visual effects studios, as well as hugely successful games companies – 137,340 people are employed in the screen sector in the UK, while the UK video games industry is the second largest in Europe.

But London’s success story doesn’t stop there. The city’s history of expertise in tech, design and fashion merge to produce cutting-edge new sectors: from fashion came fashtech, from games was born esports, from advertising came adtech.

Whether you’re passionate about graphics design or fashion, interior design or video games, London is the place to be.

The UK Government’s Graduate immigration route also enables international students to apply for a two-year post-study work visa after they graduate. Find more information on the Study London’s visa page or visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) and the UK Visa and Immigration websites.