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.
Explore the potential of performance design with this wide-ranging programme.
You’ll develop an awareness of the performance events and experiences that can be created with the aid of lighting, projection, settings and objects, puppetry, props, costume, sound as well as newer technologies such as digital and pervasive media. You’ll have space to experiment and come up with innovative and creative ideas for performance, while learning more about the theories and concepts that are shaping emergent forms of theatre, art and performance practice.
As you build up your MA portfolio you’ll engage with contemporary performance and arts practices – including immersive and participatory forms of performance, as well as those outside of the theatre – while considering the role they play in their wider social, cultural and economic landscape. This is the only research-orientated programme in the UK tailored towards academic and practical engagement with performance design.
You’ll be based in our purpose-built landmark building [email protected], with two professional-standard and publicly licensed theatres that regularly host works by students and visiting theatre companies. One of these is a technically advanced research facility, and both are fully equipped with the latest technology. A dance studio, dressing rooms and box office are also in the building, and our School includes rehearsal rooms, two black-box studios, costume construction and wardrobe stores, a design studio and scenic workshop, video editing and sound recording suits as well as computer aided design.
But our biggest strength is our links with external organisations, which give you the chance to get outside the theatre and explore performance in different environments. Our partners include Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the National Media Museum, Leeds City Council, Red Ladder Theatre Company, Limehouse Productions, Phoenix Dance Theatre, the National Coal Mining Museum for England, HMP New Hall, Blah BlahBlah Theatre Company, the BBC and HMP Wetherby.
Throughout the programme, you’ll develop an awareness of research methods and approaches in performance and the cultural industries. In Semester One, you’ll also take a core module which introduces you to key concepts, theories and ideas in performance design, exploring ideas such as visuality and the theatre, spectacle, audience experience and multi-sensorial performance.
This foundation will inform the rest of your studies, including your practice. In Semester One you’ll also work with a range of scenographic materials to develop your own creative practice, spending time in practical workshops alongside lectures where you’ll consider current issues and debates in performance design and the role of practice-led research.
In Semester Two you’ll apply all the knowledge and skills you’ve gained to an independent research project, which could be practice-led or a written dissertation on a topic of your choice. You’ll also be able to spend more time on your practice – you’ll have the chance to complete an individual project, or to collaborate with fellow students from across the School, or work on another small-scale research project based on a two-week placement in an external organisation. Alternatively you could choose from optional modules on topics such as audience engagement or debates on culture and place.
If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.
We use different teaching and learning methods to help you develop your skills and make the most of our tutors’ expertise, including, practicals, seminars, tutorials, lectures and group learning. Independent study is also integral to the programme, since it helps you to form your own ideas and build skills in research and analysis.
The assessment methods you experience will vary depending on the module. However, to allow you to develop skills in a range of areas they will include essays, performances, visual documentation, verbal presentations, critical evaluations and reports.
This programme will give you the knowledge and skills to become an articulate and creative performance design practitioner. This could include; working as a designer or director in theatre, live performance, festivals or the events industry (either within a company or freelance), creating your own performance events or performance company, or working in community arts.
You’ll also gain a range of transferable skills in research, analysis, interpretation and communication, as well as imagination, independence and cultural awareness. This will equip you to work for a variety of roles across the cultural and creative industries, for example, in administration, marketing and management.
Because of the emphasis on research, it’s also good preparation for PhD-level study and teaching.
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.
Visual Communication as a discipline is undergoing a major shift in both its vocational positioning and intellectual relevance. At the Royal College of Art, the programme has a long history that has radically examined the place of visual communication in relation to culture and society, while championing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. The programme offers three pathways of study: Experimental Communication, Graphic Design and Illustration.
The pathways are interrelated and structured around the discipline of visual communication to facilitate well-informed risk-taking and experimentation from a grounded position of subject knowledge and understanding. Pathways are delivered in subject clusters (critical thinking) supported by shared workshops (critical making) and delivered by staff who are either advanced practitioners, or active researchers engaged in both the core and margins of communication practice.
As noted by our students, the necessary critical discourse around what it means to be a ‘visual communicator’ today opens up possibilities about the process and contexts of communication; and in doing so shows that our skillset is transferable beyond the confines of the purely visual. The programme provides an environment within which students aim to expand and explore new notions of traditional subjects – graphic design and illustration – and question existing practice, while doing so from a position of being well informed.
We recognise that ensuring that our graduates are at the forefront of our subject means considering new technologies alongside traditional ones, understanding the changing relationship between the creative practitioner and society, and balancing critical and strategic thinking with making.
Areas of staff practice and research range from, and beyond, archeoacoustics, cultural practices, design criticism, design for society, design history, design writing, drawing, education design, feminism, free/associate discussion, graphic design, graphic information design, group learning, expanded cinema, independent publishing, intercultural communication, illustration, memory, moving image, narrative, participatory practice, sound, structural film, non-Latin and Latin typography, visible language, visual identity and visual research.
Noted strengths of the programme as viewed by graduates, students, commentators and critics are its interdisciplinary nature, quality of advanced and specialist practice, exposure to alternative modes of practice, opportunities for collaboration, cross-subject studio culture, peer-learning and the opportunity to experiment while supported by access to College technical resources.
The programme has a network of successful practitioners including a long list of notable alumni who have gone onto transform communication praxis and include Åbäke, Brave New Alps, Daniel Eatock, FUEL, Graphic Thought Facility, James Goggin, James Jarvis, JULIA, Le Gun, Tom Gauld, Sara Fanelli, Troika, Jonathan Barnbrook, Phil Baines, Morag Myerscough and Why Not Associates.
The programme has a long-standing reputation for providing students with the foundation and thinking in order to initiate, reframe, expand and advance their individual practice. We welcome applicants from different and diverse contexts and backgrounds; this enriches and enlivens our community. We genuinely believe and evidence that it is the people that make a place.