This course is concerned with the advanced exploration and application of principles of graphic design within the contexts of research and professional development. Engagement with digital and making technologies is central to discovering and harnessing new thinking in design.
This course is of particular relevance to those interested in effective visual communication and developing innovative concepts and approaches in publication design, illustration, motion graphics, corporate identity, photography, design for digital media and graphic design for advertising.
- 1 year: full-time
- 2 years: part-time
Features and Benefits
Based in the heart of the School of Art, MA Design: Graphic Design and Art Direction is part of an innovative design network — a community of staff and students exploring design ideas in a discursive, cross-disciplinary studio environment. Critically informed practical designers, the group works experimentally, inspired by new insights and possibilities.
While studying towards a particular qualification at MA level, students experience their subject in the broader context of contemporary design practice.
Dedicated spaces for the postgraduate community have been developed to enable the postgraduate community to flourish. These spaces, for thinking and practice, are located centrally within the School of Art, allowing easy access to an extensive range of workshops where the combination of traditional and state of the art equipment opens up a world of exciting possibilities.
We cultivate highly motivated, independent and creative thinkers who can transfer their skills into the creative marketplace, as entrepreneurial innovators, freelance practitioners and innovative team players. Past graduates predominantly achieve graduate-level positions or practise as sole traders, design studio artists, exhibiting artists, museum curators, archivists, researchers, academics, community practitioners, specialist technicians and filmmakers at national and international levels.
You will have a minimum of 2.2 undergraduate UK honours degree or international equivalent or a degree-equivalent postgraduate diploma or a professional qualification. Alternatively, you may be admitted if you can demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills at honours degree standard. In addition, you also need to submit a Digital Portfolio.
Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification.
Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.
The MA Design: Graphic Design and Art Direction is made up of four units totalling 180 credits.
The programme is designed to help you acclimatise to the challenges of MA level research and practice, enabling you to identify and describe a clear direction for your postgraduate design study.
You will be encouraged to develop design propositions that encompass key design issues and have complexity and ambition, taking full consideration of the relative contextual drivers.
You will also be encouraged and supported to extend your experience in the professional sphere either through a practical project, research context, exchange, work experience, or other negotiated professional set of interactions with an external partner, groups of students and creative industry.
Towards the end of the programme, you will undertake a major project to consolidate your past research and practice into fully realised collections, pieces, proposals, business plans, or exhibitions – whatever means is appropriate to the work. You will also have developed a strategy for the continuation of your practice located and contextualised to the profession or discipline.
The MA Design: Graphic Design and Art Direction is made up of four units totalling 180 credits.
This unit extends your experience into the professional sphere, either through a practical project, research context, exchange, work experience or other negotiated professional set of interactions with an external partner, groups of students and creative industry. Projects and placements take place in a set network of art, design and media organisations in the region, but can also be arranged by individual students if based on similar frameworks of professional development and experience. The PDP also takes place in this unit.
Design Practice 1: Intention Method Synthesis
The first part of this unit is intended to acclimatise you to the challenges of MA level research and practice, enabling you to identify and describe a clear direction for your postgraduate design study. The second involves developing your individual design proposals, developing a platform for your Design Practice 2.
Design Practice 2 (Graphic Design and Art Direction)
This unit is concerned with the development and production of a body of work realising your individual creative ambition within Graphic Design and Art Direction. The work will synthesise the research and development undertaken during previous units. You will be encouraged to collaborate with peers, external partners and virtual communities and expose your work to critical appraisal.
Likely Optional Units
Commercial Aspects of Design
This unit includes topics such as market research and service design; consumer behaviour – needs and attitudes; diffusion of innovation; commercial aspects of product design including bringing the product to market eg production and distribution channels, costing and pricing, and advertising and promotion.
This unit will address the contested nature of the conceptual and material territories upon which human identities and cultures are developed.
This unit offers a focused opportunity for students to extend and enhance their practice by including, exploring and developing digital content in a wider research community.
Health and Wellbeing
This unit focuses on public health and wellbeing with an emphasis on Inequalities; Prevention; Promotion and Protection. By building on the strong legacy of art/design in clinical environments, this unit will expand your understanding of theory and practice in the emerging public health agenda and through real-life research opportunities, will offer exploration of individual practice in diverse contexts: eg mental health, long-term conditions, healthy ageing and proactive wellbeing.
The Museum and the City - The City as a Museum
The unit explores the relationship between the museum and the city and the city as a museum. Attention shifts between theoretical and historical models, as well as making use of specific locations and institutions within the city.
This unit offers you an individual focused opportunity to extend and enhance your practice by including a self-negotiated study. This will enable students to:
- Extend ideas and proposals developed in Practice 1
- Facilitate a deeper level of learning in a particular workshop or subject discipline, or conceptual paradigm
- Pursue an external project or competition brief appropriate to your practice.
Writing Research and Funding Proposals
An introduction to writing proposals to funding bodies such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Arts Council England (ACE). This unit will cover such topics as: generating fundable ideas; developing critical and conceptual frameworks; establishing credible methodologies and approaches; awareness of the the parameters of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, AHRC and ACE; the importance of collaboration; working in groups, public engagement and impact; presenting ideas to the group, giving and receiving informed criticism; developing an effective writing style; structuring proposals and writing to length; writing a budget and the importance of cost-effectiveness and match-funding; time management; familiarity with Je-S.
Images and Archives
This unit explores theoretical, critical and practical perspectives on art, photography and the archive.
Assessment Weightings and Contact Hours
10 credits equate to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A Masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:
- Full-time: 25% lectures, seminars or similar; 0% placement; 75% independent study
- Part-time: 25% lectures, seminars or similar; 0% placement; 75% independent study
- Full-time: 100% coursework; 0% practical; 0% examination
- Part-time: 100% coursework; 0% practical; 0% examination
Manchester School of Art
Our School of Art is the second oldest design school in Britain, offering courses designed to serve specialist industry needs and give students the tools for their chosen career.
Like the city of Manchester, the school prides itself on being creative, unconventional and professional, providing a broad range of architecture, art, design, media and theatre undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a unique creative environment that encourages creative collaboration across the disciplines.
UK and EU Students
- UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £1542 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
- UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1542 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Non-EU and Channel Island Students
- Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £2750 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
- Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2750 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Part-time students may take a maximum of 90 credits each academic year.
Students follow an individualised programme of study in relation to their practice interests. Costs of materials will be dependant on the development of these personal practices and will vary dependant of materials necessary to realise ideas. There may also be some travel costs involved in pursuing personal lines of research. Students are not required to build a working toolbox from scratch, or to bring a camera or buy a laptop. The costs of materials may vary from expensive glass blowing to costless digital programming it depends on individual practice.
The professional platforms unit may require some travel/subsistence costs should the student choose to take a placement that requires travel.
There are no additional professional membership fees required for the full qualification.
Some students may prefer to print and bind their written assessment material and would incur a cost of up to £100. Many students choose to submit written work and some portfolio work electronically at no cost.