The Visual Communication Institute HGK FHNW, in Basel offers internationally accredited curricula on the Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. level reflecting the rich tradition of the Basel School of Design in particular and Swiss Graphic Design in general.
The City of Basel, located in the tri-national Rhine river valley, is a unique cultural environment with easy access to France and Germany.
While our Bachelor course focuses on the students’ ability to conduct a creative process, our Master programs strive to extend the students’ individual design vocabulary and to reach a higher level of reflection through the students’ ability to include knowledge and methodologies of scientific disciplines into the creative process. We offer a Master of Arts in Visual Communication and Iconic Research and an International Master of Design, which we conduct in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Both Master programs are based on the following assessment: In the context of the digital flood of images, expanded qualifications are required. A design practice based purely on craftsmanship or technical skills no longer meets the demands of visual communication, nor does a reflection on visual messages entirely derived from theory. Connecting design practice with iconic- and media theory, generates new qualifications in the conception and design of visual messages for the context of a current, digitalized, iconic communication.
Master of Arts in Visual Communication and Iconic Research
At the center of our MA program "Visual Communication and Iconic Research" stands the interrelationship of practice-oriented design with Image/Media Research. The program is for students with a bachelor's degree in Art, Design, or Cultural Studies. Graduates with a design-oriented background, major in complex issues of design in combination with Image/Media Research and Image/Media Theory.
Graduates with a Cultural Studies background, major in the strategic and conceptual issues of Visual Communication. Practical and analytical “image competence” is developed through collaborations in interdisciplinary project teams. The degree prepares graduates for work in various areas of visual communication, cultural fields, as well as teaching or research at a college level.
The degree program is a collaboration of The University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Academy of Art and Design (FHNW/HGK), Visual Communication Institute and "eikones," The National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR), at the University of Basel.
Connecting Iconic Practice, Iconic Theory, and Iconic Research
In the context of the digital flood of images, expanded qualifications are required. A design practice based purely on craftsmanship or technical skills no longer meets the demands of visual communication, nor does a reflection on visual messages entirely derived from iconic theory. Connecting design practice with iconic- and media theory generates new qualifications in the conception and design of visual messages for the context of a current, digitalized iconic communication.
For students with a fine art background, these qualifications consist of the expansion of practical design skills to include models from theory and research. Conversely, students with a university degree will augment their analytical skills with knowledge of design and the creative process. The combination of iconic practice, iconic theory, and iconic research forms the profile of the MA in Visual Communication and Iconic Research.
Interdisciplinarity: Design Practice and Culture Studies
According to our governing principle, the deepening of practical and theoretical knowledge in the field of the image is central to the master’s program. In light of the range of disciplines that take part in reflecting on images, a close exchange between students with practical and theoretical backgrounds is a primary goal.
The master’s program is a collaboration between the following partner institutions:
- eikones, National Centre for Competence in Research Iconic Criticism
- The University of Basel, Department of Art History
- Academy of Art and Design of the University of Applied Sciences
The master’s program occupies an international position and incorporates the network of the Basel School of Design, eikones, and the University of Basel in its activities.
Duration of Study /Costs
4 semesters/120 ECTS /60 US Credit Points. The master’s thesis is integrated into the fourth semester.
Language of instruction: English
Tuition MA: Students from Switzerland/Europe: CHF 700.– per semester. Students from other countries: CHF 5000.– per semester.
Accredited by the British Skill Funding Agency (PCDL listed institution).
Application Dead Line
The Master’s Program in Visual Communication and Iconic Research and the International Master in Design begin in September. The application deadline for our MA is June 30th. Submitting applications in advance of this deadline is encouraged.
Goals for Students with a Bachelor of Fine Arts
- Intensive experience with reflective design processes and methods in the context of complex projects.
- Augmented theoretical-analytical skills through knowledge acquisition in the field of iconic- and media theory.
- Increased aptitude for the methods of scholarship.
- Theoretically supported, practical research experience (inquiry by design) in iconic and design research.
- Heightened facility for the discussion of images.
This school offers programs in:
Last updated May 15, 2018