MA Graphic Design

This course approaches all forms of graphic design as triggers for thinking and feeling. By interrogating your practice at the cognitive level, you’ll explore how such things as a metaphor, and the framing and blending of ideas, drive communication.

Through self-initiated research and experimentation, you’ll be encouraged to engage with the world, and find insights that generate understanding and guide positive action.


Course info

Course duration

1 year (full-time, 45 weeks)
2 years (part-time, 90 weeks)

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Head shot of Phil Jones

Phil Jones - Course Leader

Dean of the Graduate School and Research Doctor of Philosophy (UAL), MA Graphic Design (UAL), BA(Hons) Graphic Design (LCP)

Phil has over 25 years’ experience designing for major national and international clients. He has worked across many different design disciplines, from publishing to corporate design to branding and new media.

Before becoming Dean of Graduate School and Research 2019, Phil had lectured at the University full-time for 16 years, and previous to that was a visiting lecturer since the mid-1980s.


Course Philosophy

Students apply to the course predominantly from graphic design courses but are welcomed from a variety of backgrounds (if they can show an aptitude for typography). Students may have studied photography, architecture, illustration, interaction design, three-dimensional design, fine art, or, subjects such as journalism, philosophy, psychology, anthropology or sociology.

Whatever your background, you’ll be required to reflect on your worldview; the underlying assumptions and understanding that guides and constrains your practice, and to use this reflection as a starting point from which to further develop. Your practice can take many forms: it can be self-expressive, or socially orientated; print, screen-based or three-dimensional.

It can focus on an aspect of a well-defined area of design, such as branding, experimental typography, publishing, and user-centred design, or on something more unconventional defined as part of your study.

Graphic designers often work in groups, sometimes comprising members from different disciplines. MA Graphic Design provides many opportunities to work in interdisciplinary ways as it sits alongside the courses of other disciplines. Many of the taught sessions such as the introduction to research methods and processes occur in these interdisciplinary groups. At other times however you’ll be developing your project with your supervisor and other students on your course. This will require you to develop a theoretical framework, methodology and research methods that support your research focus.

As a graphic designer you should anticipate the possible consequences of your design interventions, including the meanings constructed through your practice, in relation to ethical and sustainability issues as well as to other relevant contexts. Creative approaches are required that respond to complex situations in which many problems reside. Outcomes are not constrained by media or by limited interpretations of what it is to be a graphic designer.

Consequently, an outcome might involve the design of an experience or service, as much as it might concern more conventional forms of graphic production.


Course outline

MA Graphic Design represents an exciting opportunity for you to challenge and build on your previous achievements and to study at an advanced level. The course provides specific discipline-focused project work aimed at enabling you to take the right path towards your chosen career in industry or progress to further study at doctorate level.

The course provides specific discipline-focused project work aimed at enabling you to take the right path towards your chosen career in industry or progress to further study at doctorate level.

Unit 1, Strategies for practice: Materials, methods, contexts

This unit encourages you to dismantle practice and to identify the assumptions on which your practice is based.

It’s designed to help you develop a keen intellectual understanding in the application of critical reasoning to your existing practice – introducing you to theoretical frameworks appropriate to your discipline and to a range of methods used in practice-based experimentation and research.

Innovation, collaboration and communication are key skills taught by professionals and academics in this unit, along with an understanding of the trans-disciplinary nature of contemporary creative practices.

Unit 2, The Master’s project 1: Investigate, propose, experiment

This unit marks a shift from a predominantly taught, toward a supervisory mode of study. You’ll engage in experimentation and primary and secondary research around a focus of study. This exploration is directed toward the development of a Study Plan which defines the project that will be refined and implemented in the final unit.

Unit 3, Master’s project 2: Resolution, presentation and evaluation

The final unit sustains and fuses your engagement with theory, research methods, experimentation and the context of your focus of study through practice and presentations to students and staff.

Throughout the course, you’ll produce a Professional Development Portfolio providing a means to gather evidence in support of your career aspirations and as a way of documenting your practice.

We’re highly aware of and very responsive to, the needs and professional aspirations of graduates as they progress to meet the future demands of the professional work-related environment. In this respect we’re committed to keeping up with new trends within graphic design and its allied fields.

Part-time pathway
The part-time pathway is carried out over a period of 90 weeks – rather than 45 weeks as in the full–time pathway.

You can download the programme specification.

You can find out more about any course costs.


What students are doing

Looking to be inspired? Browse our gallery of student work to find out more about the kinds of projects that our students get involved with.

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Your interview and portfolio

As part of your application to this course, we’d like to see your portfolio. To find out more about what to include in your portfolio, you can download our portfolio guidelines here.

You can find out more by downloading our Portfolio Guidelines.


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