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The Graphic Design course in Arnhem will challenge you to break prevailing conventions around the subject and develop your own vision.

Graphic design used to be about graphics and design for print. Nowadays, the professional field is broader and less bound to a single medium. Today, we understand graphic design to mean everything that concerns surfaces and systems used to transfer information, be it image or text: from print media to spatial installations and interactive applications.

The bachelor Graphic Design Arnhem has a strong tradition in typography. In addition, in recent years our focus has mainly been on exploring and pushing back the boundaries of the subject by means of 'Design Research' (research through making). We use this design methodology to explore social issues and tackle them in innovative ways. This means that during your course you will be experimenting a lot with language and images, and with media and design techniques. In this way, you will arrive at new forms of information transfer. A few examples:

  • A final exam student discovered that through Airbnb, you could book apartments in "Israel" that were actually on occupied Palestinian territory. She bought a ticket, stayed in the apartments and used her phone to film the conversations with the people letting out the apartments and their families. This resulted in a new type of investigative journalism, driven by a design mentality.
  • A few students examined to what extent the principles of permaculture (small-scale organic agriculture) could be translated to contemporary design practice. This resulted in a series of "tarot cards" that can inspire and structure design processes. A good example of how you can translate methods from other disciplines to the world of design.
  • One of our fourth-year students made an animated film about her relationship with her computer. She did this as a kind of 'Alice in Wonderland', without using animation software, using only her computer as a tool. The result: digital design cinema, a whole new film genre.

Our course curriculum is ‘non-medium, non-format’. It's about developing strong ideas and learning to translate them into every conceivable medium.

Hendrik Jan Grievink, head of course

Course structure

The bachelor Graphic Design is a four-year course in graphic design at higher vocational (HBO) level. The course curriculum consists of four basic subjects: typography, design based research, digital media and media theory & philosophy. These four subjects represent a connecting thread through the first three years of the course. In addition, you will take courses that change every year and there are project weeks, workshops and excursions. In the fourth year, you will do an internship and graduate with your own research project.

On this course, we provide a solid connection between making and thinking. Subjects such as media & design theory give you an insight into the concepts that underlie particular design visions and ideologies. In this way, you will learn to better support your choices with arguments and give shape to your own vision.

  • In the first year, you will learn the basics of graphic design. Along with about twenty fellow students, you will follow the four basic subjects typography, design research, digital media and media & design theory. You will also follow subjects such as visual language, prototyping, computer skills and spatial design. In addition, you will take part in courses in, for example, screen printing, bookbinding, metal and woodworking and ceramics.

    In Open Lab, you will be given the opportunity to shape the content of your studies as you see fit – for example, by doing materials research, visiting exhibitions or developing your creative writing skills. Some students choose to work together; an example of this is the TypeClub, where students organise experimental typography workshops for each other. In Open Lab, you will work with students from the second and third years of the Graphic Design programme so that you can learn from one another.

    Studying at ArtEZ in Arnhem means studying in an environment with all kinds of art courses. The encounters with students from other art disciplines will change your perspective and hone your vision.

    Do you want to go into your subject in greater depth? In the first year, you can also apply for the Honours Programme as a supplement to the theoretical programme of your own bachelor course.

  • The course curriculum in the second year of the bachelor Graphic Design Arnhem is in-depth and research-oriented. The emphasis is on experimentation. Besides the four basic subjects, you will take subjects such as Open Lab, time-based media (audiovisual) and lens-based media (photography).

    Alongside the regular programme, you will attend a series of lectures on media theory. We also encourage you to get to know the cultural life and professional field outside the academy as much as possible; in this way, you will build a network for your future career during the course. Students who make a visible contribution to the culture within (and outside!) the department receive credits for that. Examples of such contributions are:

    • The Tuesday Talks, a series of online lectures/discussions set up by students with guests from outside the academy;
    • TypeClub: experimental workshops organised by students themselves on an ongoing basis. In addition, via TypeClub students attend lectures and establish contacts with designers and design students abroad.
  • The education in the third year is all about developing personal design methods. Besides the four basic subjects mentioned above, you will work on complex projects such as large book projects (over 300 pages) with many layers of information, footnotes, captions, and so on, using IT in smart ways and learning to think systemically. Such projects help you to develop your personal perspective on the design profession.

    In the Research Lab, we challenge you to work based on your own research or design question. As a result, you will be well prepared for your final exam. For example, one student made a series of images of fictitious minerals originating from future disasters (design fiction), while an experimental writing method resulted in a bizarre story. That story was translated to a website in chunks, where visitors can take in the story bit by bit.

    In addition to the Research Lab, you will follow courses such as typography, digital media, design research, theory of media and design and Open Lab.

  • The fourth academic year is all about graduation. You no longer take classes but do an internship in the Netherlands or abroad or go on an exchange. You will write a thesis (which you will also design) and carry out a practical assignment. In addition, you will set up a personal research project. In your fourth year, you will be supervised by a team of lecturers. This supervision consists of one-on-one conversations, supplemented by short workshops such as: ‘How do I pitch my project?’ Meetings to discuss work take place by appointment.

    • Narratives by students about their internship or exchange experience (chase up Hendrik-Jan)
    • Personal research project of a fourth-year student (Airbnb narrative?)

    All fourth-year students of the Graphic Design bachelor show their work at the ArtEZ finals in Arnhem.

Workshops and excursions

  • Once a semester, you will do a so-called 'Sprint’. This is a one-week workshop given by a guest lecturer from the Netherlands or abroad. Examples are the workshop "Reverse Engineer Utopia" by political activist Diana Arce and the workshop "Arabic Type Design" by Lara Captan.

  • Until recently, we organised biennial excursions to New York City. We have since shifted our focus by also going to Seoul. In addition, lecturers organise occasional excursions.


As a student on the Graphic Design course, you can make use of the labs and workshops of ArtEZ Arnhem, with facilities for woodworking, metalworking, ceramics, vacuum plastic, printing, screen printing, textiles and leather. You can also carry out prototyping, scanning and milling there. The workshops also serve as a meeting place for students and lecturers. Because the other ArtEZ art courses in Arnhem also use the labs and workshops, collaboration with other disciplines is very easy.

There are also a library and rooms for photography and video editing at your disposal, and our course has its own Risograph printer.

Fourth-year students have their own work area in a designated classroom.

Course supervision

We have two study coaches who will closely monitor your study progress and are there to assist you should any problems arise. Of course, you can always go and see the lecturers or the head of course if you have any questions or problems.

Working for yourself

To prepare you for working as an independent designer, you will take a basic entrepreneurship course in the third year. This will give you a basic knowledge of matters such as registering with the Chamber of Commerce, invoicing and drawing up quotations.

Studying in Arnhem

You can find more information about studying in Arnhem here.