Full description

The full-time Bachelor Graphic Design at the Royal Academy of Art, the Hague (KABK), is built around four main courses: design, interaction, image and typography. In the four-year programme, you will also have the opportunity to follow additional electives such as PlayLab, Letterstudio and Design Office, where you can investigate all the nuances of type design and typography, become familiar with interdisciplinary research, or work on projects for real clients. During your studies, you will explore all the aspects of visual communication and experience the work process from formulating a business plan to creating the final result.

Programme structure

The first year is an adventurous exploration of your qualities in various aspects of graphic design. These qualities are explored with challenging assignments that appeal to the student’s curiosity and creativity. Considerable emphasis is placed on open-mindedness and the joy of working. You will try out different ways of working and acquire an initial indication of your visual abilities and the value of your ideas.

You will gradually move towards the development of your own visual language and visions. In the first year, it is important to create a large body of work that provides confidence and creates resilience that will be useful during the rest of the programme.

In the final assessment, you must answer the question of whether graphic design is suitable for you, and if you are suitable for the profession. You should be able to specify clearly the elements of the profession that are of primary interest to you.

Points of departure

  • The introduction to the field is both practical and theoretical.
  • The creative and intellectual development of the student is central.
  • Scheduled courses are offered parallel to each other. They focus on particular aspects of the profession and the culture, both substantively and technically, and they broaden the frame of reference. In addition to scheduled courses, two project weeks take place in the propaedeutic year: a department-wide week for all years, an Academy-wide course for all first-year groups and an excursion week.

Study programme components

• Design

• Image

• Typography and Letters

• Interaction

• Drawing

• Theory: Current Visual Culture

• Academy-wide: Art Theory and Introduction to Science

In the second year, you will work on a series of challenging design assignments. The emphasis is on expanding understanding of the profession and strengthening qualities as designers. Ample space is reserved for research. The assignments address a variety of issues, including the concepts of public space and audience groups. There are realistic and fictional, optional and compulsory assignments. During the year, the courses taught are replaced by supervision by different teachers in joint assignments. Each teacher covers a specific area of expertise: Design, Image, Typography or Interaction. 

Students have the opportunity to discuss their work with different teachers. You will also take the Letterstudio, Playlab or Design Office course, and formulate your own Individual Study Trajectories. The theory programme is devoted to the history of graphic design within its cultural and social contexts, establishing a relationship with the work of the students. You will also focus on the presentation and exhibition of your work.

Points of departure

  • Expanding the understanding of the discipline
  • Strengthening the students’ personal qualities as designer
  • Greater focus on research
  • Supervision by teachers with different specialisations in joint assignments
  • Choice between Letterstudio, Playlab and Design Office
  • Individual Study Track as a tool to add breathing space or depth to the study programme
  • Career preparation projects, in the context of classes, as well as the Individual Study Track
  • Organisation of exhibitions and presentations

Study programme components

Design assignments with supervision in

  • Design
  • Image
  • Typography
  • Interaction
  • Design Theory
  • Elective: Letterstudio, Playlab or Design Office
  • Technique: Coding
  • Individual Study Track

The third year also focuses on complex design assignments. In this year, the emphasis is placed on the relationship between graphic designers and society. This is reflected in the theory programme, the assignments and the internship. One of the points of departure for the course is that you will gain increasing control over your tracks as the programme progresses, and much will be expected of you in the third year. You are largely responsible for organising your own supervision, and will have considerable freedom in how you approach the assignments. For example, you can decide to increase your focus on designing for new media, to centralise the unification of text and image, or to approach assignments typographically. The curriculum emphasises interdisciplinary collaboration and multidisciplinary knowledge. By making optimal use of Playlab, Design Office, the Letterstudio and the Individual Study Track, you can broaden their knowledge, specialise and acquire additional skills and techniques. The third year theory programme teaches philosophy, and it is devoted to reflection on current social themes. Its aim is to help students develop a vision on their personal responsibility as a designer and to support their ideas of designing according to their social visions. 

Points of departure

  • After the first year’s emphasis on the discovery of student’s qualities, and the second year’s focus on deepening their understanding of the discipline, the third year concentrates on the relationship with society.
  • The courses continue to fuse together. In the second semester, the assignment teachers supervise a large assignment with a socially relevant theme.
  • The students choose Letterstudio, Playlab or Design Office.
  • The Individual Study Track serves as a tool for adding breathing space or depth to the study programme, and career preparation projects take place within the framework of the Individual Study Track.

Study programme components

Design assignments with supervision in +

  • Design
  • Image
  • Typography
  • Interaction
  • Theory: Philosophy
  • Elective: Letterstudio, Playlab or Design Office
  • Technique: Coding
  • Individual Study Track

This year is entirely focused on the final examination and the internship. The first semester is exploratory in nature, with students working on various design assignments involving both visual and content-based elements, which could serve as precursors for the central theme of the graduation project. The final phase commences in the second semester. You will be motivated by deadlines, and must work hard to be able to present enough work of a sufficient level to pass to the final phase. The theoretical part of the final year comprises the thesis, which provides the theoretical preparation for the graduation project. You will also prepare for the final examination and your future professional practice, and will be assisted in constructing your portfolio.

Points of departure

  • The focus of the final year is on the position and positioning of students as graphic designers within their disciplines and society.
  • The entire year is devoted to the final examination; from the start of the year, students work on projects with which they can graduate.
  • The Individual Study Track serves as a tool for adding breathing space or depth to the study programme.
  • Students graduating with letter projects make use of supervision from the Letterstudio.

Study programme components

Graduation projects with supervision in

  • Design
  • Image
  • Typography
  • Interaction
  • Theory: Thesis
  • Career Preparation
  • Technique: Coding
  • Individual Study Track

Final qualifications

The final qualifications have been summarised in seven competencies. The KABK has established these competencies according to the national final qualifications for Educational Profiles for Fine Art and Design programmes.

Graduates are expected to meet the following final qualifications:

You are able to develop an innovative concept arising from your artistic ambition and research, elaborate it into a distinctive image, product, means of communication or spatial design, and to contextualise it in a meaningful way

You are able to consider, analyse, interpret and assess your own and others' work, and are capable of constructively considering your findings in relation to your own work

You are able to further develop your vision, work and working methods in breadth and depth through an ongoing process of research, and in this way, contribute to your discipline and to society

You are able to establish and maintain an inspirational and functional working environment and to organize your research, work and practice

You are able to effectively present your vision, research and work and engage in a dialogue with clients and other interested parties

You are able to relate your artistic practice to the artistic and social context

You are able to make an independent contribution to a collaborative product or process

Further Education

After completing their Bachelor’s degrees, graduates may enrol in a Master programme in design (MA Design) or art (MA Fine Arts), or in other Master programmes at other art academies. In addition to our own Master programme in Type and Media, graduates have gone on to pursue Master’s degrees at many renowned institutions, including the Royal College in London, the Yale School of Art in New Haven, ECAL – Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne, the Typography Workshop at ArtEZ in Arnhem, the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam and the University of Leiden.

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