Bucks New Uni adds BA option to kitchen design course

Students of the Foundation Degree (FdA) in Kitchen Design at Buckinghamshire New University can now take on an extra year to obtain a full BA degree.

The extra year to the course will be offered to all students of the foundation degree or to other students of other relevant courses who wish to specialise in kitchen design. The FdA is run for three years part-time, and to graduate with a BA, students must take an extra fourth year, which is said to be more in-depth and intensive.

The foundation degree has been running for six years and starts its seventh in September. The original plan was for the BA top-up to start with the 2022/23 academic year, however, because of growing demand, the course may start running for the next academic year.

 Course leader Jayne Hall Cunnick said: “Rather than develop a new BA degree, which if it is part-time would be a five-year course – and that’s a big investment – we decided to maintain the FdA. So someone could come and do three years part-time and leave with a foundation degree – or they can opt in for another, quite an intensive year, and they get a top-up to make it into a BA.”

University credits towards a BA or Foundation Degree are earned at various levels. An FdA has credits towards Levels 4 and 5, the equivalent of the first and second year at university in a full-time course. A BA has credits in Levels 4, 5 and 6. For example, the BA in Kitchen Design will have credits from the three years studying part-time at the foundation level, and then there will be an intensive fourth year that will give the Level 6 credits towards the degree.

Because of how most universities count credits, a student who has done a first and second year in a related field, such as cabinet making or interior design, can then switch to focus on kitchen design. The student will have enough credits to pass and get a BA in Kitchen Design.

Hall Cunnick explained the effect this course has had on its students and the wider kitchen industry: “We are starting to get traction with people in the industry realising that our graduates are the people whose thinking is elevated above the norm and can apply a creative approach to solving problems for those people trying to buy kitchens.

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“On a smaller scale, one of our third-year students who has a showroom said that she had a customer come in in a wheelchair wanting a new kitchen. Because she could speak so confidently and knowledgeably about accessible products on the market, that person immediately signed up and said they felt confident in her ability. Now she is finding she is the go-to showroom for any access needs, which is fantastic.”

The course covers a range of topics, from materials to project management to the principles of design. Other key modules are kitchen contracts, done in collaboration with Symphony, marketing and communications and theory, including the history of kitchens.

The BA’s final year has a variety of projects, such as a dissertation and a design project, with modules including professional industry context, which looks at the industry’s business side. Then there is speculative and critical design futures – a module about challenging the industry and looking at the end goals in terms of business, materials and design principles.

The course is part-time, and most of the students will also be working at a kitchen retailer while they take part. The course is remote, and there is an emphasis on team learning with residential weekends where the whole course comes together to learn as one group in person.

The course has lecturers from all across the kitchen industry, chosen, says Hall Cunnick, for their enthusiasm and knowledge. She said: “We do try to make sure that the team is positive. My rationale is that I want people to teach what they are most excited about. I do team teaching and the admin side, leaving the lecturers excited about ergonomics. That’s the least students deserve from their studies, and we have to make sure that each of the modules is exciting.”

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