Study interaction design at an advanced level and explore new approaches to design creating dynamic proposals that respond to the needs of our rapidly changing society.
At Sheffield Institute of Arts interaction design is cross-disciplinary and investigates human-technological futures via design related interactions that lie between the digital and the physical. Using a practice based approach you explore the designing of interactive digital products, environments services and systems.
Interaction design is most often studied by graduates from a variety of backgrounds including • interaction design • digital media • fine art • product design • graphic design • furniture design • architecture • computer science. Your projects are supported by lecturers who are design specialists, researchers and practitioners. Modules are supported by lecturers who are design specialists in areas as diverse as • exhibition design • HCI • medical products • materials development • design thinking • social design • design anthropology.
During the course you work with experts in other departments as well as outside of the University.
As a postgraduate design student you join an established network of creative people that encourage and support you to drive your studies to the next level. Our postgraduate framework of design courses has been designed to allow you to come together with students from different disciplines, backgrounds and cultures to share teaching and learning experiences and explore your creative identities through dialogue and practice.
The primary intention of the programme is to allow you to achieve your personal employment ambitions, whether as a design professional in the creative industries, or in related areas such as marketing or research. You are also well placed to go onto further study at PhD level.
The course has a strong vocational focus to prepare, encourage and develop your confidence for employment.
The MA/MFA programme has a strong relationship with the University’s Art and Design Research Centre (ADRC), who take an active part in engaging MA Design students in research, knowledge transfer and live projects. You are also encouraged to seek industrial sponsors or collaborators for your individual project work and are given advice and support in doing this. This long established link with our Research Department supports a continuing tradition of graduates from the MA/MFA working as research assistants and/or continuing their studies to PhD.
If you are a part-time student in relevant employment or on sabbatical, you have the opportunity to plan course projects based in your workplace and relevant to your own and your employer's aims. This brings real-world experience to the course. You may go on to work as a professionally employed designer or design manager, work independently as a designer/producer or work as a researcher in design or new product development. You may also wish to go into teaching design in further and higher education.
You choose your own project content and this is supported by lectures and seminars dealing with professional practice issues and reviewing your progress. You also take part in regular group and individual tutorials.
Your final major project is the culmination of your research and studio-based design practice. It demonstrates that you can deal with difficult contemporary questions and take a leading role as a design professional.
We are one of the oldest established art and design institutions in the UK, renowned for producing internationally recognised research. Your projects are supported by lecturers who are design specialists in areas as diverse as medical products, materials development, furniture and sustainability.
Vibrant and supportive learning environment
During the course you regularly take part in constructive critical debates about your own work and that of your peers. You need to communicate your research, ideas and designs in ways that are appropriate to professional leadership.
You study alongside MA and MFA Design students for part of your course and benefit from a vibrant, international, collaborative and supportive postgraduate environment.
Excellent facilities and creative resources
You have access to a huge range of creative resources to experiment and engage with including • 3D printing for rapid prototyping • state-of-the-art hardware and software • photography studios • a creative media centre • a gallery • well-equipped workshops.
You also have access to our award-winning learning centre featuring a specialist art, design and media library and extensive online resources.
MA and MFA study
MA and MFA students complete the same modules during the course except that MFA students complete an extra project module. The MFA project encourages you to develop professional skills that help you to identify, instigate, and deliver projects with external partners, such as communities, galleries or businesses. You find a project partner, agree a brief and then deliver the project to a professional standard.
This course is part of the Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA), an amazing, diverse community of makers – where staff, students and partners work as equals to deliver real innovation and creativity. SIA opened in 1843 and is one of the UK's oldest Art and Design Schools. We have recently moved into the Head Post Office, a redesigned Grade II listed building. It includes state-of-the-art workshops which provide you with a unique studio-based learning environment in the heart of the creative community.
• project 1 • theory supporting practice
• project 2 • negotiated project
• major project
Semester four – MFA students only
• MFA project
Semester one (year 1)
• theory supporting practice • negotiated project
Semester two (year 2)
• project 1 • project 2
Semester three (year 3)
• major project
Semester four – MFA students only (year 4)
• MFA project
Assessment and feedback are vital parts of the learning process in creative disciplines. Most assessment is through individual project work which combines research and creative practice. Assessment calls for both excellent creative work and well-documented research.
As a graduate from this course you might become a • creative technologist • experiential marketer • interaction designer • artist • designer • maker • product designer • design researcher • interface designer • systems designer • UX designer • design academic • PhD student.
Design Informatics combines Data Science with Design Thinking in a context of critical enquiry and speculation. We build a value-aware, reflective practice at the interface between data and society by combining theory and research with an open-ended process of making and hacking.
Human activity is being constantly shaped by the flow of data and the intelligences that process it, moving towards an algorithmically mediated society. Design Informatics asks how we can create products and services within this world, that learn and evolve, that are contextualised and humane. Beyond that, it asks questions about what things we should create, speculating about the different futures we might be building and the values behind them.
The central premise is that data is a medium for design: by shaping data, we shape the world around us. Data Science provides the groundwork for this, with Design Thinking underpinning reflective research through design. You will use this in working with the internet of things and physical computing, machine learning, speech and language technology, usable privacy and security, data ethics, blockchain technologies. You will connect technology with society, health, architecture, fashion, bio-design, craft, finance, tourism, and a host of other real world contexts, through case studies, individual, and collaborative projects. You will understand user experience in the wider socio-cultural context, through an agile programme of hacking, making and materialising new products and services.
Please be aware that the structure of the programme may change.
Throughout the programme, you will be working both individually and in teams of designers and computer scientists. Everyone will have to write code during the course, and everyone will have to make physical objects. Several courses, including the dissertation, will involve presenting the artefact, product, service, or interactive experience that you have created to the general public in a show.
In the first year, you will study:
In Design with Data and Design Informatics Project, you are likely to work with an external partner, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Amazon, Edinburgh City Council, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh or the National Museum of Scotland.
MSc and MA students then undertake a dissertation in the summer before graduation.
MFA and Advanced MSc students take a summer placement with a relevant digital organisation then return for a second year of study, comprising:
Elective courses are drawn from the Masters Programmes of the School of Informatics, Edinburgh College of Art, and Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences. Courses are typically 10 or 20 credits.
This degree will put you at the cutting edge of the intersection between data science, design, and information technology, opening a host of opportunities in working with companies, charities, and the public sector. We encourage entrepreneurship. For those who wish to stay in academia, the course provides a solid foundation for a PhD in related areas.
Product Design at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) centres on the exploration of problem spaces, understanding that much of what designers do is re-define and re-interpret products and their contexts enabling people to lead engaged, productive and meaningful lives.
Product design is a broad discipline, and at the University of Edinburgh we understand our discipline through a ethnomethodological lens. At the heart of our research programme is people; particularly those who currently struggle with existing objects in identified circumstances. We embrace a variety of approaches to people-centred design practice including participatory action research; affective design; design for disruption and inclusive design. The core to our approach is to speculate and build preferred futures, based on design-led evidence constructed through observation and engagement with others. Our aim is to understand the agency of objects and configure intended impacts on communities of people moving through and across various services and systems.
As a student on programme, you will join a vibrant, international community of creative practitioners and researchers. Members of the academic team are involved in a variety of research interests relevant to design production, maintaining strong partnerships with academics from across the University in allied disciplines such as engineering, informatics, anthropology, sociology, health and business.
There are two semesters in your first year, each providing the opportunity to engage three courses: one core requirement, and two elective options from supporting programmes relevant to the ethos of the programme.
Core courses foster exploration and development of ethnomethodological approaches to product design research and development, with a strong emphasis on action research, ethnographic observation, participation and prototyping, driven through a strong iterative approach to practice.
One-year MA degree
If you choose to pursue the one year MA degree, you will engage your dissertation in the summer period following the first year of study, focusing on the development of an individual project which emphasises product theory in context.
Emphasis on the MA degree pathway is to prepare students with interests in design management, policy or direction, or pursuing further academic research programmes such as the PhD.
Two-year MFA degree (Under review for 2018 entry)
Students enrolled on the two year MFA degree demonstrate interest in pursuing a career as autonomous designers, often establishing their own studios of practice.
In Year 2 of the MFA, you will undertake an additional four courses, with a core component in semester 1 entitled "Incubator", which is designed to help develop your skills in researching, developing and delivering a practice-led thesis.
The MFA dissertation takes place in your final semester, and culminates in the presentation of a significant body of work presented in exhibition format, showcasing exceptional skills in making, prototyping and manufacturing of high-quality, proof of concept models which articulate your understanding of theory in practice through artefacts, images and text relevant to people-centred design.
The professional knowledge, skills and abilities developed on this programme will prepare you for a rewarding career as a product/industrial designer, designer-maker, user-experience designer, user-interface designer, design manager, production manager, or a variety of other related roles within design-related industries.
Our graduates have an excellent track record moving into employment in a variety of sectors following graduation.