Communication Design MA

MA Communication Design image
Location
Falmouth Campus
Length
1 year full-time
Direct line
01326 213730

Carve your path in a rapidly changing media world, where the ability to create meaningful and effective ideas is paramount.

MA Communication Design at Falmouth is a transformative 45-week intensive studio based course, enabling you to develop an individual critical voice in communication design through a continuous collision with political, cultural and ethical catalysts that affront design and culture today.

Engagement with projects and insights from leading global 'provocateurs' ensures a contemporary currency to the learning experience, from within and beyond the subject (e.g. writers, scientists, artists, curators and designers). This creates a rich space for interdisciplinary collaboration, and through our international cohort of students, triggers new connections and ideas at the boundaries between research and personal practice.

Benefits

  • Teaching from leading global design provocateurs, practitioners and critics
  • Commercial experience through industry-focused engagements, supported by national and international study trips
  • A multi-million pound studio environment that mirrors leading contemporary design studios
  • Specialist skills and facilities relevant to your project interests
  • Final semester showcase in London

How the course is taught

The course is structured over 45 weeks, across three semesters: deconstruction, reconstruction and reinvention.

You'll be in the studio most weekdays working on outcomes rooted in design process and the development of meaningful and innovative ideas. The experience is designed to be supportive yet provocative, so you can take your ideas and practice into new and exciting realms, that challenge you and the wider communications world.

Your learning is delivered across a mixture of set lectures, tutorials, workshops, and peer and tutor review.

Contact hours vary across the course, being most intensive during the first two semesters, with more self directed study as you develop your final project in the third semester. We expect some students to be away at points during the final semester, either working on research and project feedback, or attending internships.

Course outline

Study block 1: Deconstruction

MACD 101: Process
(20 credits)
This module introduces the components of design process in relation to your own personal practice. Through provocation and critical debate you'll reflect on and challenge what you do, seeing how global, experiential and experimental insights can generate the most appropriate process models for contemporary communications problems.

MACD 102: Intersections
(20 credits)
This module examines fundamental components to the production of design: human interaction and collaboration. Whether this interaction is between client and designer, object and user, or experience and emotion, it allows you to experience provocative challenges that hone your own standpoint. You'll learn how social engagement, polar tension or friction can inspire new thinking.

MACD 103: Boundaries
(20 credits)
This module allows you to take more radical entry points into your understanding of practice; taking project interest into new forms or creating critical design response from more theorised or experimental catalysts. Provocateurs will continue to challenge and stretch the limits of your enquiry, exploring new theoretical models and examining the debate of 'designer as author'; how works are translated or used; and how they or their work become the provocateur.

Study block 2: Reconstruction

MACD 104: Curate and build
(40 credits)
You'll deep dive into your emergent interests, exploring how technology and an increasingly complex consumer and cultural landscape may affect your enquiry. Thinking by doing, you'll elect and develop skill sets and a depth of study in both practice and theory. With the module running across the whole semester, it allows you to prepare and test ideas and craft, sectors and media as you begin to prepare your main MA project.

MACD 105: Compete
(20 credits)
Ahead of the final semester, you'll begin to look at avenues and insights for your own practice and from a business or funding perspective. You'll build professional skills relevant to individual need and examine components of design development including publishing, presentations, production and IP. The module will also examine other methodologies of delivering work around the world, whether through commission or employment, working in known fields of the creative industries or with museums, arts organisations or universities and research bodies. Student will also engage in competitive projects set by external bodies.

Study block 3: Reinvention

MACD 106, MA project
(60 credits)
This module allows you to realise your final major project, in a largely self-directed semester, bringing together practice, theory and an evaluation phase that provides reflection and potential industry or funding opportunities to be negotiated ahead of graduating. The first phase leads to exhibiting at a key industry or cultural event, with an interim show. The second sees you gather insights, industry or critical feedback, or undertake an internship, or preparing for the launch of your project. This final phase sees the production of an essay or strategic report, depending on future plans.

What you'll do

This three study-block format allows students to unpack and lay bare their existing skills and interests, before exploring and building with new insights towards the final MA project.

Within the above, the following themes and structures shape and define the course's identity:

Provocation is a continuous theme and a unique aspect to the course's design. Our annually selected 'provocateurs' contribute through seminar sessions, critiques, lectures and project work. These include leading figures from design and the broader arts fields; international and award winning studios which set-up debate around the similarities and differences in global practice; and interdisciplinary practitioners (such as writers, musicians, architects, artists and scientists) who feed reflection on process, collaboration and where 'ideas can come from'.

Modules have been written to deliver the core building blocks and skillsets of the subject. Foundations are strengthened through process, collaboration and human centred interactions and new boundaries are explored through theorised and critical design practice. In the penultimate module, the reality of competition is brought into focus. This allows students to develop informed business, academic, entrepreneurial or funding insights for next steps beyond the course.

Student year groups are recruited to provide a global and interdisciplinary mix to the year group. Most will hold first degrees in subjects of more traditional lineage (graphic design, visual communication, illustration, and interaction design). Applicants may also be drawn from those with particular professional experience, or broader areas of arts practice, media, performance, or sciences (where subject interest can be clearly identified). The aim is to create an environment where a broad-minded, international spirit is prevalent; a characteristic of the contemporary studios that many students may go on to join (or set-up).

Human interaction is examined so as to understand the context in which design is used and consumed. Whilst this principle is at the heart of many design outputs today, the course purposefully encourages students to look beyond their immediate points of reference; to be critically engaged with the world and current affairs around them. As the course progresses, this will equip students to examine their own social conscience in light of political and cultural change and the impact this may have on their work. As a key pillar of the subject, students also investigate supporting theories, behavioural science and analysis that will facilitate the creation of meaningful ideas and an
in-depth understanding human need today.

Sustainability and aspects of ethical and environmental responsibility are examined holistically across the modules and learning experiences of the student journey. 'Built in' rather than 'bolted on', students are encouraged to question and seek viable approaches to sustainable process and practice outcomes.
Thinking by doing tests and explores the interrelationship between theory and practice. Set challenges build skills as students tackle potentially complex design questions with the need to explore completely new forms of building, making or visualisation – whether analogue or digital. Overall, they will aim to build skills pertinent to their enquiry and to support professional practice.

Studio culture is central to the life of the student experience and is delivered via our multi-million pound School of Communication Design centre. The subject, and thus personal design practice do not exist in a vacuum, so students are encouraged to work together and engage with the vibrant studio culture that exists within the school. There is also a designated digital and traditional printing lab, lecture theatre and photography and sound studio for students to use on site. Further 3D printing, prototyping, and other media facilities are available by negotiation across the two campuses.

Critical theory is a fundamental backbone to the course and equips students to develop a progressive understanding and context to their practice and writing. Opportunities also exist to explore more applied and business orientated writing, enabling different individual or project perspectives to be met.

Study visits are run for students to either studios in London, or potentially abroad. Falmouth's reputation and alumni allow for connection with many of the country's leading consultancies and agencies to provide insight and reflection on the varying cultures and models of practice. Visits may also be arranged around conferences or other design festivals (e.g. Breda Graphic Design Festival in Holland).

A Research Symposium brings together students shortly after their final assessment to celebrate and share their MA success. Students will present their work in the first few weeks of both the undergraduate and new postgraduate courses starting, using the School's atrium and lecture theatre. Importantly this symposium will be a key event in the School's calendar, serving to centre stage advanced study and research.

Facilities

  • Dedicated MA studio space
  • Lecture theatres, design lab, break out spaces and meeting rooms
  • Digital printing facilities, Risograph machine, woodblock printing and presses, workshop and negotiated access to screen-printing studios
  • Apple suite, with Adobe CS and full collection of Monotype typefaces
  • Extensive library facilities and digital collections
  • Negotiated use of other facilities such as film, photographic, textiles and product design studios

Staff

You'll be taught by staff with backgrounds spanning design, academic, writing and research careers. They offer decades of experience teaching and working for leading studios, working with international clients, arts and cultural organisations, exhibiting and publishing work and research. They are engaged with many of the world's top creative universities and organisations as keynote speakers, external examiners and consultants. Overall they are all inspired by design, teaching, nurturing and encouraging great and motivated students.

Assessment 

  • Individual project briefs
  • Design research journal
  • Essay
  • Oral presentations, individually and in groups
  • Critical review or business plan

Careers

Communication design is a broad field of study, with career choices depending largely on your own personal project focus.

Options include:

  • Graphic design (packaging, book cover design, identity design, type design, editorial design, etc.)
  • Branding
  • Service design
  • Design for social impact
  • Exhibition and curatorial design
  • Information or UX design
  • Design criticism and writing
  • Teaching, research or PhD study
  • Design Consultancy
  • Allied fields: television, advertising, the heritage and/or cultural sector

Interview and selection process

Please apply via submission of an application form. 

Interviews are held in-person at the school, online via Skype or by phone. You'll be asked to present an outline of your key interest or masters proposal and/or a portfolio of work.