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Postgraduate study
Design (with Advanced Practice)

Design (with Advanced Practice) MA

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 overview

Venuka Wickramaarachchi, MA Design (with Advanced Practice)

Hear from Venuka as he talks about his experience showcasing his designs at the Ferrari fashion show in Milan.

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 – 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 one-year programme is a great option if you want to gain a traditional master's qualification. The two-year master’s degree with advanced practice enhances your qualification by adding a vocational or research based internship to the one-year master’s programme. A vocational internship is a great way to gain work experience and give your CV a competitive edge. A research internship provides you with the opportunity to develop your analytical, team-working, research and academic skills by working alongside a research team in an academic setting. We guarantee a research internship, but cannot guarantee a vocational internship. We will, however, provide you with practical support and advice on how to find and secure your own vocational internship position should you prefer this type of internship.

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Course details

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

Advanced Practice in Science, Engineering and Design

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.

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.

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.

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.

Research Methods

You gain a grounding in research approaches and processes in the creative arts disciplines in areas such as animation, visual effects, games and concept art.

You learn how to construct a rigorous critical framework to generate evidence based material to justify and inform your conceptual investigation through creative practice. You also critically evaluate and source appropriate academic research and relevant outputs from the creative arts disciplines.
Your assessment is 100% ICA, a written critical discourse/research proposal that contextualizes and theorizes the accompanying practice element, this may form the basis of your master’s project.


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.


Entry requirements

Applicants are normally expected to have at least a 2.2 UK honours degree, or equivalent qualification. A range of degree subjects are acceptable including subjects related to arts, design or other creative discipline.

We also consider relevant experience or equivalent qualifications. Applicants are normally required to present a portfolio of work.

Students with a degree awarded outside the UK must also meet the University's minimum English language requirements.

Non-EU international students who need a student visa to study in the UK should check our web pages on UKVI-compliant English language requirements. The University also provides pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet the minimum English language requirement.

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

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



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.


Information for international applicants


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Useful information

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2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£4,770 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£10,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

  • Length: September enrolment: 20 months. January enrolment: 2 years.
  • Start date: September or January
  • Semester dates

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  • Student and graduate profiles
    Ata Poku Aaare

    Ata Poku Aaare

    MA Design (with Advanced Practice)

    I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of studying here – come and have a great experience. There is no better place than Teesside for the campus and student satisfaction.

    Meet Ata


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