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Product Design - MA


Course Description

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.

Programme structure

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.

Career opportunities

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.


Visit the Product Design - MA page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a subject relevant to designing products with an emphasis on people, such as: product design, 3d design interior design and/or architecture.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

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Recipient: University of Edinburgh

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