Job at MAC Clinical Research

Andrew McAlinney

Achievements: 1st Class BA Honours, placement at Kin + Carta Connect & Freelance with Bearded Fellows
Progression to: Employment @ MAC Clinical Research

In joining our course Andrew had his sights set pretty high. He jumped onto our top BA (hons) with an impressive portfolio (and qualifications to match), but as a self-supporting mature student, recently settled in Manchester from Belfast, he desperately needed a job to quickly follow his graduation.

Andrew’s fist unit was Professional Practice, an industry-supported unit, centred around motion graphics. The unit is designed to be challenging and demanding conceived through consultation with international digital design experts Kin + Carta, the project being run my alumni Lisa Dale. Students benefit from visiting their premises for a briefing, campus visits from Kin + Carta for lectures and skills sessions. The unit concludes in final pitches at their board room in competition for placement opportunities.

During these sessions’ students get a chance to make an impression on Lisa’s team, which Andrew did – thoroughly answering the brief and taking it further than Kin + Carta had expected… he went on to pick up a month’s placement with them before the national Lockdown in April 2020. During Lockdown Andrew secured himself several interviews, collaborated with Bearded Fellow’s on two freelance projects (with one of his graduating peers) and was afforded the unusual position of weighing up two job offers, before achieve his goal of working and living in Manchester as a graphic designer with MAC Clinical Research.

“Honestly I’m gutted I haven’t been on the course since YR 1. The working environment’s been so much more personal, I’ve felt so much more encouragement here to do my best than I ever did on my previous course. You can really tell the difference going from being a number on a screen to a person.”

Andrew McAlinney

Final Major Project – Data Diner / Walkthrough Video

Kin + Carta Connect Project Below:

Kin + Carta Project – Saucy Fish / 15 Sec Advert
Kin + Carta Project – Saucy Fish / Instagram Marketing Concept

Job at The Genius Group

Aleksandra Wantuch

Achievements: 1st Class BA Honours, placement at Kin + Carta Connect & LTE Group placement
Progression to: Employment @

Alekandra studied Photography at The Manchester College before coming to UCEN Manchester to study Graphic Design & Advertising with us, in which she graduated with a 1st Class BA Honours. As a Polish student she wanted to study and work in the UK and had one of the most focused work ethics the course has seen in a student.

“I really appreciate the effort and dedication from the tutors on this course. I thoroughly enjoyed all hours spent in sessions and tutors always motivating me to push harder in my projects. Studying on this course has made me confident and ready to work in the industry. This course gets my recommendation!”

Aleksandra Wantuch

Managing the transition from photography to Graphic Design & Advertising Alekandra achieved everything she set out too, gaining high 60’s throughout the first year and going on the maintain 70+ in all units but one throughout the next two years. Holding down a graphics job with The Claims Guys for most of her study, Alek moved on to win placements at Kin + Carta Connect and the LTE Group due to her interview skills and strong portfolio; demonstrating confidence in strategy and her mastery of application skills across print and screen design.

Final Major Project – Social Media Advert
Final Major Project – Qube App / Presentation Video
Final Major Project – Qube App / Qube Animations
Final Major Project – Social Media Advert

Job at LTE Group

Michael Hawkins

Achievements: Placements at SuperUnion, Brand Union & LTE Group
Progression to: Job @ LTG Group

Alumni Michael Hawkins applied to UCEN Manchester to study a Creative Media and Visual Communication BA (Hons) Top-up and pursue a design career. After gaining the latest industry skills in demand for the design world, Michael didn’t have to wait long to see his ambitions realised. Michael secured work placement with education and training provider LTE Group, which led to a full time lead designer position with MTC Works. He now works on key design briefs for the leading probation and custody provider.

“When I came to UCEN Manchester, the tutors were really interested in my work and why I wanted to come here, and spoke to me as an equal. That made me feel really comfortable and I knew it was going to be a really interactive, engaging course.
“My tutors have been 100 per cent supportive and welcoming. I knew the smaller class sizes would benefit me more than learning in large lecture theatres. It gives you a better understanding of your studies and almost feels like one-to-one tuition.

Michael Hawkins

“The course structure itself has a real focus on networking and establishing your career once you leave. Your work improves to industry standard, and there is a real focus on establishing industry contacts and getting yourself and your work out there. In addition, there are lots of professional designers who come to speak to us, which is great.
“The course really pushes you to do your best, which in turn means you’re more equipped to go into a full time job. In my third year, I felt ready to produce industry standard work and that really propelled me to get job alongside my studies.”

Michael Hawkins

Michael & other students with Malcolm Garrett

Liverpool Exhibitions

Trip: Liverpool
Purpose: Gallery Visits

Today the Foundation Degree Courses – Graphic Design & Advertising, Contemporary Photographic Practices and Contemporary Art Practice took a day trip to Liverpool as part of the Induction activities, to visit major exhibition centres in Liverpool including FACT, The Open Eye, The Bluecoat Gallery and TATE Liverpool to see a range of inspirational and socially important exhibitions.

“It was a great experience and my first time to an exhibition in this country … I loved the use Keith Haring’s colours, lines and negative shapes.” – Soraya Eghbali

The Open Eye had an exhibition addressing the topic of ‘the portrait’ with responses from 16 years olds’. Students were privy to a talk from a member of the curatorial team who discussed the current exhibition & gave a tour of the Gallery. FACT’s exhibition ‘In Real Life’ focused on the ‘gig sector’ with stories from a Graphic Designer in India to a beautician Vlogger in the UK. Bluecoat had an exhibition from Shezad Dawood and a wonderful exhibition of promotional posters from their previous exhibitions spanning decades. This was especially interesting to the first year Graphics students, who will be designing exhibition posters as part of their first unit.  And the TATE held one of the most powerful and diverse exhibitions ever of Keith Haring’s work starting with his early work on the streets of New York through to his socially profound work on the AIDS epidemic.

“Visiting the Keith Haring exhibition was like visiting a time capsule – it resonates today because of the LGBT community – I liked that he wasn’t limited at all by any materials, he was like a stream of consciousness, he reminded me of Barney Ibbotson’s work. It makes me want to buy some ink and tarpaulin – it’s made me think about how I can work in my sketchbook.” – Clare Marshall

“I liked seeing pieces of work carried out in different ways to the way I would approach something – such as the work by Shezad Dawood with her bright and unique pieces using neon lights; creating various objects and animals.” – Peter Bergin

In addition to their engagement with these cultural institutions it was an opportunity for all courses to meet each other informally. Freshers got to meet their peers across divers course programmes.

London Trip

Renwick Studios / 4Designers Conference

Trip: 4Designers Conference
Studios: Renwick Studios

UCEN Manchester students across three courses enjoyed an inspirational trip to London.

A total of 20 students from the Graphic Design and Advertising FdA, Creative Media and Visual Communication – BA Hons Top-Up, and Contemporary Photographic Practices FdA travelled to the capital to network with industry professionals and explore career progression.

The graphic design and creative media students attended the 4Designers Conference, a gathering of hundreds of UK and international students, where four speakers explained their different approaches to graphic design, and their route into industry.

Conference speakers included boutique creative agency Renwick Studios; the world’s largest independently-owned design studio Pentagram; digital based agency C3UK; and advertising-based agency Mr President.

During the visit, the students networked with the four speakers, attended a talk for industry professionals at Pentogram by graphic designer Jim Sutherland, visited Renwick studios, and met with UCEN Manchester alumni Cameron Scott, who works as a senior designer at Publicis Sapient on brands such as Nissan, RBS, Nestle and Audi.

Tutor Alex Komlosy said: “This annual visit is important because the four speakers are carefully chosen from high profile names within the industry and with an aim to demonstrate a wide range of approaches. Students leave having identified with a specific speaker, which in turn helps them choose a direction to their work and career path.

“The conference also shows students career possibilities that they may not have been exposed to in an education setting. Not only does it open their eyes as to what they can achieve, but it also helps to bring an extra level of understanding to their work.

“At UCEN Manchester, we know some of the biggest names in the London industry and knowing people can make things happen. Students can see that doors will open for them if they ask – something which some did when they asked Renwick to be their mentor – and that tutors will support them if they do.”

Student Michael Hawkins, who is in his final year of the Creative Media and Visual Communication course said: “The visit was really interesting and 100 per cent worthwhile.

“Establishing industry links and making contacts has been really helpful, as has understanding where they come from as a designer and listening to their experiences of getting into the industry.”

Kin + Carta Connect Cutting Edge Design

Digital Advertising & Design
With Kin + Carta Connect

Year: 2nd Years
Subject: Digital Advertising & Website Build

Cutting edge design and real life projects were in order for UCEN Manchester students who linked with leading digital agency Kin + Carta Connect as part of their studies.

Second year Fda Graphic Design and Advertising students worked with the national agency to build a website and create a digital advertising campaign for a client. They learned to use Sketch, the latest design industry toolkit, and pitched their work to the company director. In addition, they were taught by alumni Lisa Dale, who now works at the agency, and freelance designer Ian Renfrew.

The project was created in conjunction with tutor Alex Komlosy and Kin + Carta Connect, and was designed to give the students real world industry practice, cutting edge skills, and work for their portfolio.

Alex said: “The digital industry is constantly changing so you have to stay connected with what is cutting edge. The focus of this course is real life briefs, industry experience and the latest technology, which is great for the students. Live projects are the way forward and the software and practice used is new to me too.

“The students did so well working with Kin + Carta Connect. Two of our students even asked if the agency staff would be their mentors, which they agreed to.

“The project is superb for their portfolio and also for when they look at securing placements. There can’t be many graduates who can put Sketch on their CV as it has only recently become industry standard.”

Paul Normington, Senior Creative Director at Kin + Carta Connect, said: “We’ve had a long standing relationship with Alex Komlosy and also hold relationships elsewhere in the college from a technical development skills perspective.

“We’ve also recruited a number of UCEN Manchester alumni over the past decade, including Lisa who is currently a creative at Kin + Carta Connect. From her personal experience as a student, we knew that engaging with students at this stage in their development really helps open their eyes to the possibilities and give guidance on what they can achieve professionally.

“The students were full of confidence, you could tell they believed in their ideas and their work once developed.

It’s promising to see such great energy. We feel proud to be working with them and helping them to develop.

He added:  “As a business we are keen to help develop local talent. The creative/digital industries have suffered in recent years from a skills gap, and we feel if we can help nurture the next wave of creatives into the industry, while develop working relationships with this talent, the whole creative industry will benefit.”

Link to UCEN news article >

Self-Directed Brief & Placement @ MingFeng Packaging

Jack Eke

Achievements: BA Top-up
Progression to: Self-Directed Brief on Speak Impediments / Placement @ MingFeng Packaging

Having lived with a life-long speech impediment Jack was inspired by the work he saw at the 4Designers conference and coached by his personal tutor to tackle a very reflective Self-Directed Project. He created a clothing brand called ‘Overt’ (being one of the symptoms of a stutter, the other being ‘covert’) with a strong message to directly address peoples’ inconsiderate behaviour towards those with a stutter. “It annoys me the way people respond to my stutter, I wanted to bring an awareness to the cause and show how people with a stutter feel.”

His is now approaching The McGuire Programme a charity who teach people to manage their speech impediment, with the intention of using his project. “They broke down my previous speech training and taught me to speak again, to control my stutter”.

Tackling the project and gaining a 1st gave Jack the confidence to pursue a placement at MingFeng Packaging in Switzerland. He had developed a packaging project through the personalisation of his studies on the Practice-Based Research Unit. During his placement he shadowed Senior Vice President Scott Birtwistle learning about packaging design, business meetings, client handling and the interview processes.


Design Manchester

Design Manchester

Trip: Multiple events across Manchester
Purpose: Employer Engagement

Design Manchester is a not-for-profit organisation celebrating creativity, collaboration and inclusivity in the world’s of art, design, illustration, fashion, music, animation and photography. As part of this, student’s attended various events including:

REVOLT18 workshop with Swifty and Malcolm Garrett
University of Salford

Workshop held at University of Salford Graphic’s Department open to all students around the North West. Our 3rd year students attended and got involved with the workshop to create powerful messages through stencilling, hand made typography.

Alice Rawsthorn: Design as an Attitude book launch
Anthony Burgess Foundation

Students attended this inspiring event hosted by Cornerhouse Publications. Q&A with Alice Rawsthorn, award winning design critic and Malcolm Garrett, high profile designer. Students chatted with Alice and also Malcolm at the end of the event.

Conference: D(isrupt)M
Bridgewater Hall

Celebrating the noise makers, the pioneers and inspirational creators. Now in it’s sixth year, this day long conference of of ideas and inspiration featured internationally celebrated speakers showcasing their work that included branding, illustration, film, architecture, typography and much more. Various workshops also took place throughout the day.

Main speakers included: Morag Myerscough, Anthony Burrill, Matt Ipcar, Kate Dawkins, Ben Wright, Liza Enebeis, Michael Wolff, Madeline Kay, Kaye Dunnings.

Manchester Print Fair
Whitworth Gallery

The Manchester Print Fair is an independent arts event celebrating the best of design, illustration and independent publishing in the North West. With over 50 stalls, the event offers visitors the chance to take home hand crafted gifts from independent makers.

The People Are Revolting
Manchester Art Gallery

Building on the theme of disruption, attendees were asked to make a statement using stencils/slogans and create their own protest. Led by Berlin based artist Patrick Thomas.

Craft talks at LEAF Portland Street

Front row seats for our students at this inspiring event with talks from artist Mr Bingo, Illustrator Tash Willcocks and Jenna Campbell.

Paula Scher
Sheffield Hallam University

Some of our 3rd years ventured over to Sheffield to see the creative icon, Pentagram partner, Paula Scher talk about her life’s work. Hosted by the Graphic Design department at Sheffield Hallam University.

WeJoinTheDots / LadiesWhoDesignMCR
The Hive

A collaboration to bring a workshop session to Manchester, ‘Communicating Feminism Through Semiotics’ Not just for ladies, our 3rd years attended this event, getting involved in various tasks.

London Trip at 4Designers Conference


Trip: 4Designers Conference
Purpose: Employer Engagement

This year’s trip to the 4Designers Conference turnout out to be quite a special one. Guest speakers included Jim Sutherland Founder Studio Sutherl&, Katherina Tudball Design Director The Partners (now SuperUnion), Bryan Edmondson Founder SEA Design and Jonathan Barnbrook Founder of Barnbrook. Jim Sutherland showed his designs for the D&AD annual, Katherina Tudball showed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and SuperUnion’s new branding, Bryan Edmondson had a message from Rakin to the conference and branding for Monotype, Jonathan Barnbrook showed work with David Bowie including album art for The Next Day and Blackstar. We also got to chat with Katherina before and after the conference, Lucy gained her as a mentor and we visited SuperUnion the following day.

“Reflecting on #4D2018 on the way into uni today and I’d just like to give a huge thanks to @andSutherland, @Tudballistic, @SEA_London and @barnbrook for 4 amazing talks and a massive thanks to the man that made it possible @mrbaglee”
Alex Crange (Tweet)

Visit to SuperUnion


Trip: 4Designers Conference
Purpose: Employer Engagement

Having met & watched Katherina Tudball’s lecture at 4Designers in London we were lucky enough to visit her agency SuperUnion the following day. SuperUnion is the name of the new WPP branding agency network that has brought together five agencies, Brand Union, The Partners, Lambie-Nairn, Addison and VBAT. The creatives we met (and introductions that were made) were with people recognised as leaders in the creative field, including Stuart Radford, Katherina Tudball with presentations given by Jonathan Brodie and Becki Sewell. Explanations regarding, process and design were given on the following award winning or globally celebrated projects – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London Symphony Orchestra and Argos Simply Value Range, plus they gifted us two copies of ‘A Smile In The Mind 2’ the revised and updated copy of the original creative bible ‘A Smile In The Mind’.

“I have found this whole experience  inspiring and very moving.”
Jessica Leite