The course offers opportunities for work experience or mentoring that helps you make industry contacts, build your CV and prepare you for work in a creative agency or studio, as well as freelance design. Our collaboration with industry partners including Hearst Magazines UK sets our programme apart. You can apply for an internship with one of their design-led brands to experience editorial design in print and online and gain understanding of the importance of visual communication and illustrated and animated digital content production in reaching audiences worldwide.
In addition, you will gain insight into industry through competitions, projects and live briefs. These have included a speculative futures design project set by award-winning creative agency The District, a fashion editorial story set by ELLE, live branding brief set by new fashion launch Sosandar, and a digital content/social media project from Digital Spy. Our programme of Visiting Lecturers has included innovative professionals working across the contemporary design industry, including Elana Jeeaoo, Senior Visual Designer at ustwo, Buzzfeed illustrator Rebecca Hendin, David Tang, lead motion graphics designer at NBC Universal, as well as leading Creative Directors Suzanne Sykes (Sunday Times) and Tom Meredith (ELLE).
The course provides students with the experience and expert skills for careers in the expanding creative industries in the UK and worldwide across the field of graphic and communication design, including editorial and publishing, UX/UI design, advertising and art direction, digital media and interactive design, branding, motion graphics and animation, experience design, visual marketing and digital content production. Previous graduates have gone on to careers in freelance graphic design; branding and marketing; graphic designer at Esquire.
Study Block 1 invites you to build your knowledge of the essential skills in graphic communication design. After a diagnostic and exploratory induction, in the module:
Visual Grammar - 40 credits
Semester 1 invites you to build your knowledge of the essential skills in graphic communication design. After a diagnostic and exploratory induction, in the module Visual Grammar you will undertake a series of individual and collaborative projects that help you strengthen your knowledge of the fundamental principles of graphic design. You will develop your own creative visual language and explore new methods and materials both traditional and digital, through projects that explore existing specialisms across typography, editorial design (print and digital), branding and motion graphics. You will make connections to the history and theory of graphic communication to reflect on the critical importance of visual communication in the 21st century.
Research Practice - 20 credits
In this module you will learn alongside artists, designers and visual communicators from across our MA programmes. You will develop advanced research skills and methods, understand the importance of primary and secondary research, analysis of objects, images and texts, develop your critical thinking, and build confidence with academic study skills and conventions needed for successful study at postgraduate level.
You will go on to apply these skills to research projects that explore the theoretical landscape of contemporary creative practice. You will examine case studies from a variety of different disciplines that make use of current critical methodologies—including archives and collections, design activism, institutional critique, collaboration, participation and co-design, material and object studies, culture jamming, hacking and disruptive design, and identity, ethnography and auto-ethnography as the dynamic research tools through which concepts are created, analysed and critiqued.
Study Block 2 looks ahead, and is designed to prepare you for your future in professional practice.
Design Practice - 40 credits
In Design Practice, you will explore new directions, platforms and design situations. You will be supported to respond to professional and live briefs, building confidence to identify your own area of focus and the development of your own self-initiated project that deepens expertise and maps an area of future interest.
You will be encouraged to explore the expanded field of graphic communication design in a contemporary and global context, perhaps applying design thinking to critical and socially-oriented MA projects that challenge established conventions. Building on social engagement projects at the start of the course, through reflection on professional responsibilities and the ethics of visual communication in the digital and post-digital world you may move on to explore the possibilities offered by immersive, 3D or multi-platform digital and/or experiential environments in which graphic design is encountered by diverse audiences and users today.
Creative Futures - 20 credits
Your position as an emerging designer will be strengthened through Creative Futures, in which you will work with other MA students to explore design in social context, exploring the critical, technological, environmental, geopolitical and ethical issues that impact on contemporary creative practice—and the ways in which artists and designers today are responding to the challenges we face today, while speculating about what tomorrow may bring.
As part of this module you will have the opportunity apply for an internship (including competitive internships offered by our partner Hearst Magazines UK). Alternatively, you will identify and approach an industry mentor, or design and develop a professional or industry-facing project around your own emerging practice. By building on your engagement with the contemporary professional practice of your discipline and the exploratory projects you have completed, you will have the confidence to develop a proposal for your final MA project to be realised in Semester 3.
Independent Major Project - 60 credits
In your final semester you will focus on your Independent Major Project.
Over the summer term you will focus on an independent research-based project that gives you the freedom to take your practice in your own individual direction. You will lead the project—but you will be guided and supported every step of the journey, with regular group seminars, 1:1 tutorials and technical support to deliver your final outcome.
You will also be supported in perfecting a professional and industry-ready portfolio.
The MA culminates in a group show where you will consider the professional and public presentation of your MA project, working together to design and promote an event that celebrates the end of your studies—and marks the next step into an exciting creative future.
Previous graphic design projects have included: participatory installations and social campaigns; interactive design including apps for self-help, mental health, charity campaigning, fashion retail using motion detection, and language learning using geo-location technology; digital holographic and augmented reality fashion experience; artificial learning; and the launch of a new gender-neutral fashion magazine.