Introducing the new department brochures

One of our biggest projects during the past year has been the introduction of a new undergraduate brochure for each academic department.

The brochures, which are slightly larger than A5, replace the double-sided A4 quick guides which were previously used at Open Days and other student recruitment events.

With new requests for department brochures, as well as a raft of existing brochures to update, we knew we’d need to move towards a standard format to be able to meet the demand.

We worked closely with three departments to pilot a new template for the June 2019 Open Days, which we’ve since developed and rolled out to the remaining departments.

We’re really pleased with how they’ve turned out so, in true Buzzfeed fashion (minus the gifs), here are…

Our five favourite things about the brochures

1. These beautiful covers

We’re very lucky to have such talented illustrators in our Design team. Whenever possible, they’d come along to the kick-off meetings to get a feel for the main themes and unique selling points of each department.

The result? These striking covers which bring each subject to life in a way that we’d struggle to do with a photo.

The brochures also have a very lovely soft touch laminate on the cover which makes them a joy to hold.

2. The big brags

We took the ‘key facts’ box of the quick guides a step further with our new giant brag boxes. Dotted strategically throughout the brochure, they give us a chance to really shout about the big successes of each department.

We can also spot them at a glance, so there’s no risk of us missing out-of-date league tables or NSS stats hidden in lengthy body copy.

3. The introductions

Weighing in at just under 150 words, our brochure intros pack quite a punch.

This example from the Sociology brochure is a particular favourite, but we’d be surprised if you could read them all without wanting to start studying at least three new subjects.

Develop a new way of looking at the world as you delve into a creative and far-reaching discipline.

Get ready to explore how societies shape people, opinions and social interactions. As a student of sociology, you’ll learn to challenge the status quo.

Join our community of thinkers and examine important issues in subjects as varied as religion, health, science and language. Thanks to our diverse expertise and flexible courses, you’ll be able to focus your studies on whatever you are passionate about, making the subject feel like yours to master.

Studying with us will transform the way you think, enabling you to ask the right questions and giving you the research skills you need to find answers. A degree from our Department will enable you to take on a career in a range of sectors.

4. Module pages

They’re one of the most fiddly tasks and they took a while to refine, but we’ve had great feedback on how useful Open Day visitors find the module pages.

The majority of brochures have a module page per course, which looks a bit like this:

As we’ve worked with different departments, we’ve been able to adjust our approach to work to reflect their different course structures.

For example, Chemistry has a set of modules shared across all four of their courses (displayed on the left-hand page) and then some specialist modules per course (displayed on the right):

And instead of including module lists for Computer Science, we were able to replicate a tried-and-tested flowchart from their existing brochure:

5. The consistent back section

Although the majority of the brochure is specifically focused on the department and its courses, we wanted to touch on some information which applies to students from any department. This includes:

  • The campus and facilities
  • York approach to teaching and learning (the pedagogy)
  • Placements and studying abroad
  • York Futures

In most cases, these topics were already being covered in existing department brochures but they were written in a slightly different way each time.

The new template neatly brings together brags, quotes and photos from the department with standard text which is broadly the same in every brochure.

The photos and the text marked in pink is about Computer Science, while the text highlighted in blue is the same in every brochure

With this new standard approach we can easily update this section of every brochure all in one go, freeing up department time so they can focus on checking and providing updates for their subject-specific content.

What next?

We’ll be updating the brochures again in time for the June 2020 Open Days.

We have some ideas about improvements we could make, but we’d really welcome your thoughts too – get in touch on

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