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Design, MA

University of Leeds, the United Kingdom

University of Leeds

Study options for this course

The award How you will study Study duration Course start Domestic course fees International course fees
MAFull-time12 monthsSeptemberGBP 7500 per totalGBP 18000 per total
MAPart-time24 monthsSeptemberGBP 7500 per totalGBP 18000 per total

About Design, MA - at University of Leeds

Great design ideas can change the world. With human and user-centred design at the heart of this internationally regarded Masters programme, you'll develop research and practice-based design solutions to respond to a demanding industry and rapidly changing society.

Whether your background is in design or in another discipline, you'll develop, test and evaluate innovative design solutions in real-life scenarios. You'll gain first-hand experience of current needs and trends across a range of sectors, and focus on a large-scale design project within one of the specialisms offered (see the ‘Specialisms' tab).

Taught by diverse staff with internationally recognised profiles in research and practice, you'll build an interdisciplinary approach to design in a stimulating environment, while being exposed to and involved in cutting-edge research. You'll gain practical and research skills to prepare you for a wide range of careers.

Specialist facilities

We have plenty of facilities to help you make the most of your time at Leeds. We have an impressive range of resources that you can use to develop your projects.

At the top of our research facilities we have the world's most sophisticated mobile eye-tracking glasses, which are used to understand how users interact with design (see more information at Other excellent research facilities are our EEG equipment (electroencephalography) to understand how users interact with the world, and our colour analysis/prediction lab.

We also house the M&S Company Archive including documents, advertising, photos, films, clothing and merchandise from throughout Marks & Spencer's history. ULITA, an archive of international textiles, is also housed on campus and collects, preserves and documents textiles and related areas from around the world. You can make appointments to view items, but it also has an online catalogue where you can explore the major collections.

You'll also be able to develop your practice in well-equipped studios and purpose-built computer clusters so that you can build your skills on both PC and Mac. There is also a computer-aided design (CAD) suite with access to the latest design software, and some of the latest design technology, such as digital printing, screen printing, 3D printing, and laser cutting.

  • Course content

    In Semester 1 you'll study a set of compulsory modules that will allow you to develop a range of research, conceptual and practical design skills and tools to lay the foundations for the rest of the programme. You'll have the chance to learn through case studies, practical exercises and work on briefs encompassing all specialisms offered.

    In Semester 2 you'll have a choice of optional modules that focus on current trends in design practice and research. These optional modules will give you the opportunity to work on live projects from industry and/or live research projects being conducted in the School of Design. You'll work on group and/or individual projects to explore more specific and advanced skills and tools in your areas of interest.

    In Semester 2 you'll also choose and develop a specialist project in which the tools and skills learnt in Semester 1 are applied. Projects are interdisciplinary and can be developed in a wide range of topics that suit your interests and career ambitions. These include: Colour Design, Digital and Interactive Design, Information Design, Instructional Design, Graphic and Visual Communication Design, Service Design, and Typographic Design.

    In Semester 3 you can choose one of two pathways: 1) Continue with your specialist design project, develop it at a professional level and apply it in a real-life context (with suitable users) for evaluation; 2) Produce an independent research dissertation based around a relevant field or topic within the specialisms offered.

    Course structure

    These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

    Year 1

    Compulsory modules

    In addition to the compulsory modules listed below, for your final project you will choose to do either:- Design Prototyping and Evaluation (40 credits) or - Design Dissertation (40 credits).

    • Digital Design Practice 20 credits
    • Research Methods for Design 20 credits
    • Design Thinking 20 credits
    • Design Principles and Applications 10 credits
    • Design Research and Integration 40 credits

    Optional modules

    You will select two modules from the list of optional modules below.

    • Information and Instructional Design 15 credits
    • Digital and Interactive Design Solutions 15 credits
    • Service Design Innovation 15 credits
    • Graphic and Typographic Design 15 credits

    For more information on typical modules, read Design MA Full Time in the course catalogue

    For more information on typical modules, read Design MA Part Time in the course catalogue

    Learning and teaching

    You'll be taught and guided by a diverse team of staff who are leaders in their fields, with a wide variety of research interests and years of experience as design practitioners.

    We use a range of teaching and learning methods so you can benefit from their expertise. These may include lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, group learning and meetings with your tutor or supervisor. However, independent study is crucial to this degree, as it allows you to develop your skills and explore your own ideas.


    Depending on the modules you choose you'll be assessed by different methods. They'll include individual and group projects, project proposals and reports, presentations and reflective reports.

  • Applying, fees and funding

    Entry requirements

    A bachelor undergraduate degree with a 2:1 (hons) or higher. Candidates with industry experience or a strong portfolio may be considered with a lower classification.

    • In a relevant Design subject. You are required to submit a portfolio of recent practical work.
    • In a Non-Design subject. We will consider your application as long as you can demonstrate a real interest, enthusiasm and flair for design. You will need to submit a portfolio or demonstrate research on a relevant topic.

    International qualifications

    We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information contact the School of Design admissions team.

    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

    • Apply (Full time)
    • Apply (Part time)

    This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
    If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

    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.
    • An electronic link or pdf to your digital portfolio. The portfolio will demonstrate research, idea development and presentation of final concepts for each project. If any group work is included, the candidate must clearly state this and indicate what their individual role in the project was.
    • Applicants from non-design backgrounds must also have a portfolio – this can include a variety of materials which you feel best evidences your creative ability.

    Next steps

    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.

    Admissions policy

    School of Design Taught Postgraduate Admissions Policy


    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

    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.

  • Career opportunities

    This programme will equip you with a range of design skills using different media, as well as allowing you to hone your specialist skills in an area of your choice. It will also equip you with advanced skills in research, analysis, teamwork, presentation and communication that will be valuable in a range of careers.

    You'll be well prepared for a career in design practice. You can set up your own freelance business or take up a key position in a design studio, agency or organisation.

    You can also work in cross-disciplinary fields applying your design skills to business, marketing, applied psychology, healthcare communication, retail, government, the public or private sector, etc.

    Many of our students also choose to continue benefiting from our cutting-edge and frontier research by doing a PhD and following a research and/or academic career.

    Careers support

    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.

  • Specialisms


    You can develop projects in a wide range of topics. These fall into specialisms that reflect the research and expertise of School staff and are increasingly in demand from both industry and research bodies:

    • Colour Design: creative and effective communication of ideas and solutions to problems within the context of colour design, including colour in marketing, branding, packaging, websites and apps, motion, infographics, wayfinding, storytelling, etc. Learn more about colour design on the Colourchat website, by Prof Stephen Westland.
    • Digital and Interactive Design: creative and effective communication of ideas and solutions to problems within the context of digital and interactive design, including UI and UX Design, as well as online, social and mobile media channels. Learn more about digital and interactive design on the Design Council website.
    • Information Design: creative and effective communication of information in order to make it easy to access and simple to use, such as healthcare and financial information, maps and transport routes, signage and wayfinding, data graphics, etc.; and by exploring techniques such as information visualisation, infographics, motion graphics, etc. Learn more about information design on the Information Design Association website.
    • Instructional Design: creative and effective communication of actionable information in order to help people process, understand, learn and use it in specific situations associated with teaching and learing (e.g. learning a subject or language via textbooks, online courses, educational apps), health information (e.g. taking medicine, preparing for a medical exam), day-to-day tasks (e.g. paying utility bills, filling-in a form), use of products or services (e.g. assemble a produce, use a service efficiently, etc. Learn more about instructional design through the work of Prof James Hartley and on the Instructional Design Organisation website.
    • Graphic and Visual Communication Design: creative and effective communication of ideas and solutions using graphic design language and methods in areas such as editorial design, book design, experimental typography, branding, packaging, poster design, advertising, illustration, photography etc. Learn more about Graphic and Visual Communication Design on the Design Council website.
    • Service Design: creation or improvement of services to make them useful, usable and desirable for people as well as being effective for organisations within business, healthcare, retail, banking, transportation, utilities and other sectors. Some examples of successful cases are: Airbnb, Virgin Atlantic, GOV.UK, Spotify, etc. Service Design is a new and growing field of study and research. Learn more about service design on the Design Council website.
    • Typographic Design: creative and effective communication of ideas and solutions using typography as the main design element and as an inherent part of the design process. Typographic design and legibility are vital in numerous design contexts: design for reading, design for inclusivity (to include people with special needs, with low literacy, older people and children, etc.), as well as design to communicate, to inform, to instruct, to persuade, etc. Learn more about typographic design on the International Society of Typographic Designers website.
  • Related courses

    Advertising and Design MA
    Design Future Society MA
    Fashion, Enterprise and Society MA
    Textiles MSc
  • Entry requirements

    A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant design subject.

    Language requirements
    IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component

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