Interior Design Course - Higher National Diploma (Home Study)
Home Study

Home Studycourse

Start Date:  Can be started at any time
Price:  € 2,395 (easy-pay plan available)
Duration:  Approximately 18 months
Assessment:  30 practical assignments
Course Type:  Home Study
Level:  Level 7 on the NFQ
Accreditation:  BTEC
Entry Requirements:  Must be 18 years of age or older.

If English is not your first language, you must have at least level 5.5 IELTS or equivalent. Or, have completed your last two years of schooling through English.
Work Placements:  Graduates of this course are eligible for a one month work placement at an interior design company. All placements are in the Dublin area.

Higher National Diploma course


Learn everything you need to start your own successful business or gain advanced entry to a university degree with a fully-accredited Higher National Diploma.

The course covers such subjects as: setting up your business; managing an interior design project; building essentials and all the technical information you will need to keep up to date with the latest developments in the industry.

Throughout the course you will complete thirty practical assignments designed to give you the skills you need to succeed as an interior design professional. Assignments can be completed at any time within a maximum time frame of three years. Most students complete the course in approximately eighteen months.

Can be studied as a stand-alone course.

See below for a full list of topics covered »

Higher National Diploma Course Study Contents:

  • Welcome Letter - from the course director
  • Recommended Materials & Supplementary Reading List
  • Initial Assignments and Submission Requirements
  • All Course Content & Instructional Videos

The Interior Design Academy of Ireland has teamed up with global educational experts Pearson Education to offer BTEC accredited courses to our interior design students.

These courses are a recognised route to university, leading to the final year of a degree course or progression on to other professional qualifications.

Visual Communication

Unit One

In this unit we start to develop the skills that enable the Interior Designer to communicate their ideas visually. We often have wonderful ideas but no idea how to express them. This unit is the perfect place to start. We will teach and cover topics such as:

  • An introduction to colour rendering plans and elevations
  • Creating a sample board
  • Room layouts
  • Drawing an elevation
  • Drawing a floor plan
  • Working to Scale
  • Learning to survey or measure a room

Design Method

Unit Two

In this unit we focus closely on the design develop cycle which gives students the understanding they need to develop new products or services within the industry. We will cover:

  • Window treatments and quotations
  • Imagination and innovation
  • Production processes
  • Problem solving
  • Ergonomics
  • Project planning
  • The design development cycle

Furnishings & Fittings (3D Materials)

Unit Three

The focus of this unit is to look at and research all the various materials that Interior Designers use and come across throughout a project. We look at internal as well as external materials. This unit helps students with the development of their own personal database of suppliers. We will cover the following:

  • Axonometric drawing
  • Health and Safety
  • Compiling specifications
  • Environmentally friendly materials
  • Accessories
  • Furnishings
  • Fabrics
  • Wallcoverings
  • Paint
  • Flooring

Contextual & Cultural Referencing

Unit Four

This unit looks at the History of Interior Design. It examines how we have come to be where we are from an Interior Design perspective, in order to give the student a complete and well rounded education on the subject. We cover the following periods:

  • Modernist
  • Bauhaus
  • Arts & Crafts Movement
  • 20th Century Design
  • Victorian
  • Georgian
  • Italian Baroque & Rococo
  • Renaissance
  • Gothic Architecture
  • Ancient Greece and Rome

Interior Design

Unit Five

We focus on a specific domestic design brief in this unit. We aim to expose learners to the various processes and order involved in an Interior Design project. They will learn the basics of managing a complete Interior Design project. We will cover the following:

  • Colour specification
  • Lighting and electrical specification
  • Presentation Sample boards
  • Drawing - Colour rendered drawings
  • Drawing - 3D representations
  • Drawing - Elevations
  • Drawing - Plans
  • Furnishings, Furniture and Equipment
  • Space planning
  • Room layouts
  • Design decoration of specific rooms

Design Principles

Unit Six

This unit looks at Design through form, function, culture and context. learners will start to gain an understanding of how the end user, designer and cultural context all influence the final design. We will consider the following areas in this unit:

  • Concept/Mood Boards
  • Analysis of the client - end user
  • Exploration of materials, processes and techniques
  • Principles of cultural and contextual association
  • The structure of design
  • Relationship between form and function

Ideas Generation

Unit Seven

The ability to generate an idea and to think creatively is at the core of any design, so in this unit we focus on getting those creative juices flowing. The tasks in this unit should be fun and inspiring while challenging the learner to think outside of their comfort zone. We will cover elements such as:

  • Technical drawing with prepared specifications
  • Bespoke furniture / product design
  • Recycling / 'upcycling' of materials
  • Sustainable materials
  • Sketching
  • Various idea generating techniques

Professional Practice

Unit Eight

This unit covers the aspects necessary for an aspiring Interior Designer to set up their own business or work within an established practise. It encourages learners to analyse the strengths and weaknesses within their own work and to develop a career plan with the help of their tutors. learners will be aware of what is required from a personal and professional presentation point of view. In this unit we will cover the following:

  • Personal Interview Presentation
  • Business promotional material
  • Business Structures
  • Legal Awareness
  • Portfolio presentation
  • Career Paths
  • Database Compilation
  • Career Guidance / Plan
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Interview techniques

Digital Media

Unit Nine

In this unit we aim to expose learners to the potential use of digital media as a means of presentation in their own work. There is tremendous scope for the application of various software packages. While we look at specific products we encourage learners to experiment and test a range of products to see what suits their needs and enhances their particular strengths. In this unit we look at:

  • Different software packages
  • AutoCAD
  • Google SketchUp
  • 2D floor plans and elevations using software
  • Creating 3D models
  • Colour rendering digitally
  • Annotation
  • Presentation
  • Digital Sample boards

Specialist 3D Materials

Unit Ten

This unit expands on Properties of 3D materials studied in the HNC, further developing the learner's awareness and knowledge of materials used in the design industry. They expand their database of products and suppliers as well as looking at materials in a new and creative manner.

  • Characteristics of materials
  • Suitability of materials for different purposes
  • Cost analysis of using different materials
  • Creative and functional use of selected materials
  • What do consumers think of these materials?
  • Design qualities and effectiveness

Business Practice

Unit Eleven

This unit focuses on giving students an in depth look at business models, setting up a small business and various other components that may be required after completion of the course. This gives learners a good understanding of the various principles behind setting up their own business and we will look at:

  • Business start-up
  • Business practice
  • Intellectual property
  • Financial controls
  • Costing
  • Resource planning
  • Marketing and PR
  • Legalities

Visual and Personal presentation

Unit Twelve

Interior Design is a very visual subject and as a result visual presentation is a required consideration throughout every project. In this unit we encourage learners to refine their presentation skills and to develop their own distinctive approach to presenting designs. Learners will:

  • Understand visual and personal presentation formats in Interior Design
  • Plan a presentation
  • Use a variety of materials and media to convey design work
  • Evaluate own visual and personal presentation style

Critical Study in Art and Design

Unit Thirteen

Personal initiative and an inquisitive mind are key factors in this unit. Learners are encouraged to investigate a period or designer that has been influential in their development as an Interior Designer. The overview of the historical periods in the Contextual and Cultural referencing unit completed earlier in the course will underpin their knowledge. Learners will research and analyse their chosen period or designer to reflect the historical, social and commercial issues that are relevant. Key skills that will be mastered are:

  • Ability to research a chosen topic
  • Undertake primary and secondary research
  • Synthesis of research and information gathered
  • Analysis of research

Exhibition and Retail design

Unit Fourteen

Commercial design is a lucrative area within the Interior Designer's remit and in this unit learners will gain an understanding of the various elements that need to be considered when engaging in this area of design. They will focus on:

  • 2D and 3D presentation drawings
  • Use of materials in the commercial context
  • Creativity and design generation
  • Aesthetic considerations such as detailing and finishes
  • Ergonomics
  • Health and safety
  • Developing an awareness of construction and installation processes
  • Legislation surrounding the commercial design sector
  • Ethical and environmental considerations

Project Design Implementation and Evaluation

Unit Fifteen

The unit deals specifically with project management. We will consider the various techniques and methodologies required to take a project from conception through to implementation and finally to completion. The techniques and structures surrounding this unit will give learners valuable skills that can be used in all aspects of their work in multiple industries. We will cover:

  • Project selection, project specifications, procedures, project plan
  • Implementation of the project
  • Proper use of resources, problem solving, working to a specific timescale, monitoring and recording progress
  • Evaluation of the project outcomes, applying project evaluation and review techniques (PERT)
  • Record keeping throughout the project
  • Presenting the outcomes

Research Project

Unit Sixteen

The research project undertaken in this unit has the ability to form the basis of a dissertation should learners decide to complete a further year of study for their degree. They will choose their own topic, formulate a research proposal and undertake the relevant primary and secondary research required to complete it. Learners will gain invaluable skills during this unit that will complete a well rounded education in the subject of design:

  • Research formulation
  • Hypothesis
  • Action Plan
  • Research design and implementation
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Evaluation of research outcomes