Postgraduate study
Design

MA Design (with Advanced Practice)*

The MA Design has design thinking and innovation at its centre. You develop key research methodologies exploring research and practice-based design solutions that respond to the changing needs of society. Students across all design disciplines and those from other disciplines are challenged in developing innovative solutions to real-world scenarios.

Course information

Full-time

  • 2 years

More full-time details

2019 entry

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information

 

This interdisciplinary, intertextual course enables you to explore the skills you need right across design – you direct your own higher level study in your chosen field, from fashion to industrial design, through your own major project. The programme embeds your development through live projects or internships with optional modules in specific design areas.

You learn through initiatives and activities that stimulate and develop creative practice, problem-solving, manufacture and distribution. Thinking, making and observation are applied to practical and social contexts. Your playful and fictional approaches are encouraged through workshops and connections with international events and research projects. 

The course is delivered by a diverse range of staff with internationally recognised profiles in research and practice. You take an interdisciplinary approach to creative problem solving by sharing creative solutions with experienced practitioners across our School of Science, Engineering & Design – from wearable tech in garments to growing fabrics – pushing the boundaries in design thinking. You consider the many opportunities to create impact though design, learning to mix contemporary practice and thinking to solve real-world problems.

The programme is an opportunity to enhance your qualification by spending one semester completing a vocational internship, research internship or by studying abroad. Although we can’t guarantee an internship, we can provide you with practical support and advice on how to find and secure your own internship position. A vocational internship is a great way to gain work experience and give your CV a competitive edge. Alternatively, a research internship develops your research and academic skills as you work as part of a research team in an academic setting – ideal if you are interested in a career in research or academia. A third option is to study abroad in an academic exchange with one of our partner universities. This option does incur additional costs such as travel and accommodation. You must also take responsibility for ensuring you have the appropriate visa to study outside the UK, where relevant.

The programme begins with a group research project, sharing information and references from diverse sources. Collecting and analysing information from a theme of common interest helps to develop your awareness of the subject from multiple perspectives. Stage 1 involves developing professional skills, ideas, research, project work and the opportunity for co-working, partnerships and collaborations. Your interests are evaluated for their enterprise potential and innovative outputs are proposed. 

In stage 1, you also develop your professional skills to build your digital expertise and skills in research. Stage 2 culminates in a feasibility study for a negotiated research project. Stage 3 enhances your learning through practice with the potential to spend one semester working full time in industry, on a major research project, or studying or working abroad. Finally, stage 4 enables you to complete major project work, supported by regular tutorial contact and studio interaction.

Course structure

Core modules

Critical Thinking and Theoretical Contexts

This module explores and interrogates key concepts and critical thinking in the 21st century. It promotes debate on developing themes within culture and the creative arts in theory and practice.

Through lectures you explore critical thinking and cultural philosophical approaches. Key issues are explored through talking and debating in seminars.

There are two assessments; a 20 minute presentation focusing on cultural theory in relation to your design practice and field of specialism, and a critical report that recognises design practice with respect to cultural and critical theory.

Design Integration

As a designer you engage with all disciplines, applying critical thinking and research to tackle creative problems.

You focus on process, method and structure in the context of the economical, psychological, societal, environmental and material aspects of modern global communities.

You work across multiple disciplines to explore contemporary approaches to problem solving through co-design.

You are assessed through a 15 minute presentation to an industry expert.

Design Practice

You focus on design processes and emerging design studio practice, applying solutions to real-world problems that require high skill and professional approaches.

You learn through portfolio, studio sessions and seminars – engaging in critical debate with your fellow students.

You are assessed through a portfolio of work that critically reflects and analyses all aspects of the design problem-solving process from ideas to development to solutions. The portfolio includes a critical journal that records decision making and actions throughout the design process. Example portfolios are available to guide you.

Design Research Methods

You learn a number of research methods and practices in order to carry out primary design research to identify solutions to real-world problems.

You cover investigations into practical design applications, strategic planning and theoretical speculations.

Through seminars you debate and discuss case studies and the practical application of research methods.

You are assessed on your research plan (20%) and a critical analysis of research methods appropriate to your own design practice, identifying how these are implemented within a design problem solving context (80%).

Enterprising Leadership and Project Management

You learn through seminars and student-led group work, with guest speakers providing real-world perspectives and expertise. You are assessed by a group portfolio, demonstrating innovation, inventiveness, an entrepreneurial mindset, leadership, creativity and project management. The portfolio contains a product development report and a group presentation detailing the process and findings.

Innovation by Design

This module gets you to think about approaches to design and develop solutions to design problems using creative and innovative strategies.

Through problem-solving workshops you gain an understanding of the design process and learn new skills and methods.

You are assessed through a portfolio of work, displaying a critical and methodological approach to problem solving with a supporting critical reflective report. Example portfolios are available to guide you.

MA Design Major Project

You develop and direct you own design project, taking into account your learnings from previous modules. You are encouraged to demonstrate a high level of professional competence and to have a deep understanding of the social and philosophical context in which you are practising. You are also expected to demonstrate the enterprise potential of your ideas and to understand the future possibilities and contexts in which your ideas will exist. Your project work gives an indication of potential for further study or implementation in professional design contexts. You critically reflect upon your own learning and become prepared for continuous professional development.

You are assessed through a portfolio of design work accompanied by a critical report that details the process, research, data collection, critical thinking and issues as well as solutions and outcomes. Example portfolios are available to guide you.

 

Advanced Practice options

Research Internship

Develop your research and academic skills by undertaking a research internship within the University. Experience working as part of a research team in an academic setting – ideal if you are interested in a career in research or academia.

Study Abroad

Take part in an academic exchange with one of our partner universities and experience study, student life and culture in a different environment. This option offers a valuable life experience and enhances your ability to adapt to working and living internationally. This option does incur additional costs such as travel and accommodation. You must also take responsibility for ensuring you have the appropriate visa to study outside the UK, where relevant.

Vocational Internship

Spend one semester working full-time in industry. We have close links with a variety of local companies who can offer you the chance to develop your knowledge and professional skills in the workplace through an internship. Although we can’t guarantee you an internship, we will provide you with practical support and advice on how to find and secure your own internship position. A vocational internship is a great way to gain work experience and give your CV a competitive edge.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

This programme enables you to build progressively on your knowledge and experience. At MA level it is vital that you take an active role in structuring your own learning, and engage with the relevant methods and underpinning theories of your discipline.

Teaching and learning is a student-centred, activity-based process which integrates the content, sequence and development of student learning. You develop your knowledge, skills and practice with the support of appropriate teaching and learning strategies. The methods we use, and the philosophy behind them, are under constant review and appraisal to ensure they remain relevant, rigorous and progressive. 

We use a variety of methods including tutorials, seminars and workshops – this enables key learning principles to be applied to your day-to-day interactions. Individual support, provided by a personal tutor, is an integral feature of the learning and teaching strategy. An intrinsic aspect of your main study area and its supporting subjects is research. 
Approaches to teaching and learning tend to have the following underlying principles.

  • You develop professional responsibility and autonomy in learning to integrate theory and practice.
  • We enable active and co-operative learning.
  • We provide flexible and negotiated assessment opportunities directly related to the individual learning context
  • Our resources match programme outcomes and needs.
  • Practical workshops introduce specific skills, followed by independent learning, project work, tutorials and critiques.

How you are assessed

We use a variety of assessment methods throughout the modules, as specified in the module handbooks. These are primarily in-course assessments, where you submit work during the module rather than sit timed exams at the end.

The modules are generally project based and primarily assessed through appraising a portfolio of work, often accompanied by a verbal presentation. Design work is largely developmental – you are assessed on the process you use to achieve your solutions as well as the result, so it is essential that you provide clear evidence of your development work.

Work placement

There may be short-term placement opportunities for some students, particularly during the project phase of the course. 

Career opportunities

As a graduate you have the opportunity to go on to a range of design-related employment, develop new enterprise propositions or receive project funding to take your ideas to market. 

You can work across a broad range of design-related employment requiring specialist digital knowledge and skills. Further study at doctoral level is also an option.

Entry requirements

You must have a second class (2.2) honours degree or higher in an arts, design or other creative discipline. We also consider relevant experience or equivalent qualifications. Applicants are normally interviewed and required to present a portfolio of work.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country

Health conditions requiring adjustments

For this particular course, you may need to undertake an occupational health or work-based risk assessment check. If you have a disability, specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism spectrum condition, sensory impairment or medical condition that may require reasonable adjustments during an external placement, in the university or in a clinical practice area, this must be declared as part of the enrolment process. If you are unsure you can contact the relevant admissions or course tutor for guidance.

* Subject to University approval

Course information

Full-time

  • 2 years

More full-time details

2019 entry

Part-time

  • Not available part-time

Contact details

Further information