MA Design Future Society is an 18-month programme, leading to a joint award with Mannheim University of Applied Sciences. The programme includes study at both universities. If you start the programme at Leeds your first semester will be at Leeds, your second semester will be at Mannheim and then you will return to Leeds for your third semester.
All students registered on the programme may apply for Erasmus+ funding which will contribute to travel and living expenses during the five month exchange. The School of Design and Leeds University's International Office and Language Centre will provide support for applications for funding, visas and pre-sessional language tuition.
This future orientated programme provides opportunities to integrate research from philosophy, social science and digital technology with design thinking in addressing social issues; realigning design as a discipline with social and cultural value. You will be encouraged to employ design as a catalyst for change; articulating new perceptions, developing appropriate strategies and implementing future-oriented solutions, which affect our society, culture and economy.
Traditionally designers applied their skills post problem identification - we will address that imbalance by positioning the designer at the point of problem identification and need analysis, extending the function and purpose of design beyond fulfilling commercial objectives by developing new and relevant products and implementing sustainable solutions for public, private and third sectors. This unique educational experience embraces collaboration, teamwork and internationalism and we encourage applications from all disciplines.
At the School of Design and Fakultät für Gestaltung, Mannheim University of Applied Sciences you will be able to develop your practice in well-equipped studios and purpose-built computer clusters so you can build your skills on both PC and Mac. There are computer-aided design (CAD) suites with access to the latest design software and some of the latest design technology, such as digital printing and laser cutting facilities, and colour analysis/prediction labs, eye-tracking technology and digital photography.
At Leeds there is also an impressive range of resources you can use for research. We house the M&S Company Archive including documents, advertising, photos, films, clothing and merchandise from throughout Marks & Spencer's history, offering a fascinating insight into the changing nature of our culture over time.
Fundamentally multi-disciplinary and collaborative, course content encourages innovation and autonomy in response to set briefs and self initiated study supported by expertise in research, strategic thinking and practical implementation of communication design. Traditional academic study in the form of essays, literature reviews and reports, combines with social projects requiring, empathy, team working, concept realisation and execution. Students are required to provide evidence of effective decision-making, objective self-reflection and critical evaluation through visual and oral presentations, critiques, reflective logs and reports, visual diaries, poster presentations and portfolio development.
In the first semester students undertake theoretical and practical study in integrated media, semiotics, philosophy, sociology and research methodology in order to identify and manage complex social issues and communicate insights and design proposals by effectively employing advocacy skills and presentation techniques. Team work and collaboration are essential to the successful generation and implementation of creative solutions, therefore students are required, within this context, to demonstrate independent judgement, decision-making and personal responsibility.
In Semester 2 there is a five-month exchange programme to Mannheim which involves the application of design thinking within a different cultural environment through independent and group social projects; presenting significant challenges in comprehension, interpretation, empathy and communication. Students are encouraged to develop entrepreneurial attitudes in seeking opportunities for collaboration; contributing to professional development by operating in new areas of influence and articulating complex information into a coherent creative proposal.
In the third semester you will return from Mannheim and the programme concludes with a major research dissertation or innovation project, independently conceived and managed, demonstrating abilities in research, holistic understanding and applying contemporary knowledge to solving future problems. The knowledge, skills and qualities acquired through this postgraduate programme are transferable for employment in a variety of sectors.
These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.
- Integrated Communication (Design Future Society) 15 credits
- Social Aesthetics 15 credits
- Design and Society 15 credits
- Research Methodology 15 credits
- Social Design Projects 30 credits
- Design Futures 30 credits
- Dissertation - Digital Social and Mobile Design 60 credits
- Digital Innovation Project 60 credits
For more information on typical modules, read Design Future Society MA in the course catalogue
Learning and teaching
Lectures, seminars, tutorials, creative and technical workshops, creative studio sessions, group learning, group critiques and peer assessment. There will be an emphasis on social and situated learning where dialogue, reflection, intuition, critical analysis and judgement are exercised within the context of group learning and group assignments, supported by utilising social media networks and content sharing to connect students from both institutions.
By employing social media and digital technology we aim to develop a user-centric information infrastructure and self-organisational system of information sharing in order to encourage the following:
- Participation, through focused discussion/conversation
- Responsible, self motivated, intrinsically motivated thesis to demonstrate understanding
- Exploration, by identifying relevant questions and autonomy in decision-making
- Experimentation, acknowledging risk, failure, evaluation and reflection
- Understanding, through action, experiential engagement, observation and analysis
You'll also be assessed by a variety of methods. Your own creative work will be assessed via portfolios and projects, reports, presentations and literature reviews. Formal examinations do not contribute to assessment. Full details of assessment for each module can be found via the programme catalogue.
Applying, fees and funding
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or equivalent qualification.
In exceptional circumstances we may also consider people who don't have a degree, but do have relevant work experience.
Documents and information you need
A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts, or a partial transcript if you're still studying (please submit an official English translation if necessary)
Two academic references (in certain circumstances a professional reference may be considered)
Evidence of your English language qualifications, if English is not your first language
A personal statement, including evidence of your motivation and interest to study this particular programme and an indication to your future career plans. Non-design students should demonstrate how they can transfer their knowledge/skills to a different discipline, as well as their understanding about the field of advertising.
An electronic link or pdf to your digital portfolio. Your portfolio should show evidence of successfully generating and articulating concepts.
Applicants from non-design backgrounds must also have a portfolio showing evidence of your understanding of visual language and/or creative writing ability.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.
Improve your English
If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:
- don't meet the English language requirements for your course or
- want to improve your understanding of academic language and practices in your area of study.
Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).
How to apply
Applicants may be invited to attend an interview with the programme manager either by phone, Skype or in person.
Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.
UK/EU: £7,500 (total)
International: £18,000 (total)
Read more about paying fees and charges.
For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.
Additional cost information
Students enrolled on the MA Design Future Society will be eligible to apply for Erasmus+ funding to cover the costs of travel and accommodation during the 5 month exchange programme with Mannheim University of Applied Science.
There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs
Scholarships and financial support
If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more at Masters funding overview.
If you have the talent and drive, we want to make sure you can study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help available for UK, EU and international students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.
The School offers the School of Design Taught Postgraduate Award, which are 5 awards of £3,000.
MA Design Future Society is a response to the growing interest for interdisciplinary design practice both from individuals and organisations that value creative ideas and effective communication. Demand is growing across Europe and the USA and in particular in the emerging BRIC economies where systemic design is influential in addressing social need and political and business enterprise value creation.
Employment opportunities are broad and varied as there is growing demand for communication professionals with social enterprise skills in design and innovation with a clear focus on social and cultural interaction and collaboration. Therefore employment prospects extend beyond the traditional agency model into research, strategy and planning roles within a broad range of companies and organisations. In addition graduates could also consider academic research and take advantage of the significant number of calls for research proposals that currently identify social need.
We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That's one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.
The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.
5 month Erasmus+ funded exchange at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences.
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