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Course content

As a cultivated form of invention, design shapes, modifies and alters the world around us for better or worse, and the need for modern design to be more sustainable and ethically responsible has never been more important.

Many multinational companies, research centres, governments and individuals acknowledge that a change in attitude to the way we design products, spaces, communications and communities is a positive step and long overdue. Indeed, over the last 10 years, commercial understanding of sustainable design has transformed, shifting from being about risk and compliance to a dynamic leadership issue.

Our Sustainable Design MA helps you to rethink the parameters of good design in an unsustainable age. Working alongside experts in ecology, psychology, design and business, you will gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to focus your practice and become a more effective agent of change.

Why study with us?

• Interdisciplinary approach to sustainable design that incorporates ideas from ecology, psychology and business with a balance of theory and practice
• Campus in one of Europe's most progressive and creative cities
• World-renowned staff, including sustainable design expert Professor Jonathan Chapman
• Guest lecturers from industry including Louis Joseph (head of global strategy at Puma), Richard Gilbert (director of The Agency for Design) and Oliver Heath (founder of OH Designs)
• Diverse student body with backgrounds in graphic design, illustration, architecture, fashion, education, politics and product design

Areas of study

• Sustainable Design: Present(s)
Semester one, 20 credits

You start with a foundation in sustainable design principles, theories and methodologies. Themes include cradle to cradle, low-carbon building and production, design for recycling, biodegradability, biomimicry, alternative energy, ecological thinking, permaculture, and disassembly.

• Research Methods
Semester one, 20 credits

This module gives you an overview of design research methods and how they are used in professional practice. It enables you to construct the kind of research questions, hypotheses and methodologies that underpin innovative design, as you develop a more autonomous position in the process of critical inquiry.

• Studio
Semesters one and two, 60 credits

The Studio module spans two projects – ‘Behaviours’ and ’Matters’. The Behaviours project takes place in semester one and provides you with a theoretical context for the studio-based investigation, analysis and generation of essential design criteria that shape patterns of consumption.

In semester two, you undertake the Matters project, a studio-based experience that places emphasis on materiality and the nature of physical experience as mediated through the design, production and physical manifestation of things.

• Sustainable Design: Future(s)
Semester two, 20 credits

This module takes the form of a series of seminars, workshops and discussion groups where specialist practitioners, writers, researchers, manufacturers and theorists present their work on sustainability. It covers themes including consumer motivation, behaviour, phenomenology, deep ecology, temporality, consciousness, emotional durability, materiality, defuturing and experience-authoring.

• Master
Semester three, 60 credits

The Master project represents the culmination of your work throughout the course. It allows you to apply all of the experiences and skills that you have accumulated, as you choose an area of sustainable design that you want to pursue in detail.

You work is structured by an individually defined 'statement of intent' that provides the framework through which you will be assessed. This process enables you to explore distinctive areas of expertise with a unique approach to the ubiquitous issues of sustainability and design.

The final body of master work must be developed through practices relevant to you and your statement of intent. These might include the development and production of design proposals, a written thesis, a documentary, an ad campaign, an article for a leading publication, a touring exhibition or a combination of the above.

Our studio

From 2016, students will work in the new Masters Centre, which provides studio, seminar and tutorial space for all postgraduate students in the School of Architecture and Design.

Students on MA Sustainable Design will have dedicated studio space with access to workshop and digital model making facilities. More specialised materials and making requirements can be supported on an individual basis with colleagues in engineering, crafts and arts.

Careers and employability

After graduation, many students secure influential positions within major global businesses, charities and NGOs.

A number of our students establish independent design agencies, social innovation labs and research centres. Many decide to continue their research in the form of a PhD, and have a particularly strong record of achieving fully funded studentships, both here at Brighton and internationally.

Visit the Sustainable Design - MA page on the University of Brighton website for more details!

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