Programme Structure


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The discipline of Design is evolving and responding to rapid commercial and technological advances whilst attempting to optimise use of precious resources. We want to enable our students to be part of a new evolution of design and respond to the challenges facing the twenty first century.

MA Design whilst being distinctive, contemporary and informed by industry also offers an intensive, practice-focused programme unique in the South West. This practicality will enable you to appreciate the functions of the many points of difference and application design has in the professional world. You will acquire a positive attitude to the applications of new technology (product design now includes service and interaction design) within the industry and its future markets. The course focuses on skills; training and an intellectual underpinning that will enhance the understanding of the task of design and its relationship to business and the professional world.

You will be required to adopt a reflective, analytical and evaluative approach towards design in order to have a greater understanding of the dynamic relationships between design, industry and the public.
MA Design will offer you the opportunity for collaborative and interdisciplinary working with students from all backgrounds undertaking three core modules before specialising and completing the final major project.

Available specialisms / exit awards are:

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Specialisms can be selected from the start or during the course of the programme

Detailed programme structure

MA Design (core award)

MA Design: Design Products

Design Products offers a world-class design-innovation that is focused, comprehensive and relevant to industry. It is a compact, fast paced exit award run by experienced professional designers and educationalists. All learning is done ‘by doing’ in a collegial studio environment. Students undertake a series of assignments to develop an area of interest or particular direction they wish their careers to follow. Social, cultural, environmental and economic issues, product desirability, viability and feasibility issues are integrated into the programme to encourage a comprehensive and more holistic approach to the design experience. Design Products also includes interactive design outcomes that define and build customer experiences thse reach people through many different touch-points. This experience can be both tangible and intangible, and can involve artefacts and other things including communication, environment and behaviours.

MA Design: Spatial Practice Design

Spatial Design Practice addresses the critical understanding of spatial design by examining progressive space/place (re)generation strategies. The pathway advances pioneering ways of spatial innovation, through the synthesis of immersive & interactive spatial design methodologies. The curriculum crosses the boundaries between architecture, public realm design, interior design & urban planning. The course philosophy includes creative engagement within community spaces & cultural projects to provide a challenging context in relation to professional practice. The framework investigates the relationship between spatial design & theory, place making, regeneration, reflexive technologies, user experience and critical practice. Spatial Design Practice also addresses global & local space issues: focusing on real world relevance, environmental, economic, social, cultural, aesthetic, and ethical spatial concerns.

MA Design: Maker and Materials

Maker and Materials provides an opportunity for individuals to explore design ideas and develop them through an intimate knowledge of materials and making processes. Material and craft skills are not seen as an end in themselves, but where process and content are interdependent and mutually enriching. Students may be interested in new applications for established methods or wish to exploit the opportunities that technology makes available. The teaching teams’ interests and research extend from traditional designer maker fields such as ceramics, lighting and furniture, to experimental areas that question the role, place or function of designed objects.

The philosophy of the programme is based on (learning through doing) practice and making, fostering high standards of debate, reflective practice and professional development. The this exist award provides the context and stimulus to enable students to gain relevant skills, technical, critical and professional, which then underpin and provide a foundation for the major MA project.

MA Design: Sustainable Futures

The discipline of Design is evolving and responding to rapid commercial and technological advances as well as responding to resources. We want to be part of that evolution and contribute responses to one of the challenges facing the twenty first century. This pathway allows us to spearhead these opportunities as it connects to new knowledge bases in Design through a range of social enterprises, communities, services and design outputs. These opportunities reflect the current needs of design activities, while addressing the multi-disciplinary nature of design. The pathway benefits from the close connection to The Centre for Sustainability at Plymouth University that has a growing reputation in sustainable issues and concerns

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Students will have the opportunity to research, design and engage across three modules, Creative Processes, Design Thinking and Design and Business, before selecting a specialist module and completing the final major project.

Creative Processes (30 credits)

Through a short series of fast-paced mini projects you experience and complete a comprehensive design cycle, from inspiration to innovation. This will provide you with an understanding and appreciation of creative design processes that puts ‘users’ at the centre of design.

Design thinking (30 credits)

This module explores contemporary critical contexts of applied design research, with an emphasis on the way design is described, shaped and influential. This will include the examination of artefacts and products as well as their broader, social, cultural, economic and technical implications, such as consumption and sustainability with the process of design.

Design and business (30 credits)

Project management and communication skills are essential for successful outcomes. You will follow and undertake an industry-led design assignment that helps you understand and develop different design management techniques and behaviours. These will include planning for different types of projects, stakeholder management, and more importantly learning how to apply business factors as a creative design tool.

Major project (60 credits)

This independent study module provides the opportunity to develop an MA project or a combined project and dissertation. The practice-based project encourages innovation in addition to refinement of practice and skills and will result in a body of work on a selected topic, which will be underpinned by relevant research, analysis, critical reflection and professional preparation. Assessment is based on an evaluation of the level of achievement for each module, in relation to the aims and learning outcomes and demonstrates that you have achieved these learning outcomes. Each module descriptor has sections showing the assessment mode and criteria used, learning outcomes and assessed skills elements. In addition to providing evidence that the learning outcomes have been achieved, you will be expected to complete a self-evaluation and assessment profile. The programme is supported by visiting lecturers and practitioners from our comprehensive range of design and business partners Faculty of Arts Masters Show - annual event This exhibition and event at Plymouth University showcases Masters work created by studennts across the Faculty of Arts. It features a range of diverse, exciting approaches and projects from: Architecture; Photography; Fine Art; Digital Arts and Technology; Communication Design; Creative Writing and Three Dimensional Design. The Show reflects the breadth of postgraduate masters level work that is undertaken within the faculty. Exhibiting students draw together ideas, methods and approaches in their design and artworks, which range from projections, sculpture and photographs to book works, installations, design led initiatives and 3D design.

Link to MA Desgin page at University of Plymouth.