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Design Critical Practice (MA)

Course Description

At the crux of this studio-based programme is an understanding that we shape design and, in turn, design shapes us. Who and what are we? And how do we engage with the world around us?

We are produced by our own artifice; our contemporary existence is fashioned by what we have designed - chairs, cars, roads, buildings, books, political systems, business organisations, computers, the internet – in short, everything- http://www.gold.ac.uk/pg/ma-design-critical-practice/

So, in designing, whether it is a service, system, organisation, space, object, communication, we are designing not only the design ‘thing’ but also who and what we are, and how we engage with the world around us.

This MA focuses on developing design practice based upon 'critique', even providing the space to produce 'design' as 'critique' (critical design).

On the MA in Design Critical Practice programme, you will work through a series of challenging projects to find a critical purchase on your own practice and circumstances in which, and for which, we design.

We'll ask you to examine the 'liquid times' we are living in: a landscape of practices (from everyday to specialised) that are no longer solid but are being made fluid by rapid technological, social, political, economic developments and environmental change.

The Masters helps equip you to critically and imaginatively face the challenges of our contemporary world and future prospects.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact the Department of Design.

The degree is structured around three strands of study with a final project in the last two terms.

Studio Practice (what you do)

Studio is where you get to design. In the first two terms, you are required to do four modules where, as part of them, you are required to design in response to a project brief that tutors set. The briefs rather than designate a specific project, raise a pressing concern, issue or concept that we think important in thinking through the way design ‘shapes’ the way we inhabit the world.

The project(s) of the second term are sponsored by a company or organisation (eg JWT, BBC, BT, Microsoft, Kodak, TalkTalk, LG).

Context Studies (why you do what you do)

Context Studies, linked to Studio, provides theoretical foundation for critical examination of the key issues we are facing in the development of our 'being-in-the-world'. It also raises questions about the responsibilities we have as designers in shaping our being.

Methods and Processes (how you do what you do)

The course reviews and introduces research methods, ideational strategies and looks at the way different forms of representation are used to capture the world around us, and to explore, develop and present ideas.

Major Project and Context Essay (self-initiated project)

From April to September, you will spend your time on a major project that you initiate, develop and evolve with our support. You will also work on an attendant essay that supports and helps in evolving the ideas of the major project.


Submissions include: essays, design work assignments, and a major project. These are assessed through tutor appraisal, peer review, self-evaluation and student-tutor consultation.


The programme will help you develop strong conceptual and critical design skills.

You'll also develop a broad range of transferable skills in project management, creative facilitation, research methods, and also a working understanding of a number of communication, material and production technologies (eg electronic tagging, RFID, rapid prototyping), which are useful in various workplace settings.


Most of our graduates find employment in the creative and cultural industries, some in prestigious leading-edge companies, including:

Coleman Planet
Medium Rare
Thomas Heatherwick
Some have set up their own studios (Kin, Uscreates, ReDesign, Saint-H, BFDesign). Other possible career routes include practice development, further study, freelancing, senior designer/manager, teaching and lecturing (a number of graduates have taken up academic positions in various institutions throughout the world).

Other requirements

We expect a high standard of achievement in design or other creative practice, and competencies in the use of equipment used to produce design work (IT and/or manufacture workshop skills).

You need to present, in portfolio and at interview, evidence of evolved critical and creative thinking in design.


Please visit http://www.gold.ac.uk/pg/fees-funding/ for details.

Visit the Design Critical Practice (MA) page on the Goldsmiths, University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Nicholas Hughes

115.gif I’m a graphic designer with 11 years of experience – designing for clubs, music, magazines, fashion, art, corporate and retail. I have always maintained a level of ambivalence towards my chosen career. No matter how interesting your client is, inevitably you’re in the game of shifting units. Basically, certain expressions of design cannot be explored within a commercial context. No client is going to fund an all-out attack on themselves, their product, or their culture!

Last year I packed it all in to pursue a full-time MA – the time split between this and childcare. The MA at Goldsmiths explores the relationships between theory and practice and how one informs the other. Yet more importantly it is about design’s ability to generate questions and stimulate critical debate. For me, the programme offers a space to explore through design many of the areas that commercially lie off-limits.

I looked around and there were lots of universities offering similar courses, but Goldsmiths stood out for me because of its reputation, location and the space that it would provide for me to achieve my goals. For example, my self-directed project, ‘a manual for disappearance and reappearance,’ allowed me to balance theory and practice in a way that suited me. It is important to have a dialogue between the two and the course gives you a lot of freedom to do so, as long as you can rationalise what you are doing.

After I graduated from the MA I got an agent and went freelance. I felt comfortable with that because I had already been employed in the industry; I wouldn’t advise anyone to freelance if they haven’t worked in the game before. It’s important to find an employer when you start out to get some industry experience and further your knowledge. Nokia recently employed me, partly because the self-directed project I did on the Master's course was relevant to brand research; personal contacts and previous knowledge of the work also helped me to win the contract.

The course helped me to develop both in terms of work and from a personal perspective. Professionally, I hugely increased my skill base and knowledge, while personally I gained a new trajectory and direction. Postgraduate study got me excited about what design could be and where it could go; in industry you can get myopic and it was really great to have my vision opened again.


Banco Santander Scholarships - 7 Awards

In partnership with Banco Santander, Goldsmiths will be awarding seven scholarships to outstanding candidates from within the Santander Universidades network. Each scholarship provides a £5,000 fee waiver and is tenable for one year only.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Scholarships will be open to students applying to study a taught masters degree (excludes MRes and Masters by Research) in any discipline starting in September 2016. The countries targeted (although not exclusively, should exceptional candidates apply from other eligible countries*) will be:Mexico
* The Santander Universidades scheme covers institutions in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, United Arab Emirates, UK, Uruguay and USA.

Application Procedure

Your scholarship application should be completed online through your myGoldsmiths account. This is the online account that you created in order to apply for a course at Goldsmiths.

As part of the application, you'll be asked to answer three questions relevant to the award that you are applying for.

For more information, please see the Banco Santander Scholarships page.

Further Information



Goldsmiths Masters Scholarships - 20+ Awards

Please note that scholarship schemes and awards are subject to the availability of funds, and the details given here are subject to change at any time. we therefore encourage you to check this information regularly

Value of Scholarship(s)



Home and EU students (full-time and part-time).

Application Procedure

Applications for 2015 entry are now closed.

Further Information



The Goldsmiths' Company Postgraduate Bursaries - 4 Awards

Please see website for more details

Value of Scholarship(s)



Students on taught postgraduate programmes (not including MA Filmmaking or PGCEs) starting October 2015. You must be: a UK student; new to postgraduate study; experiencing financial difficulties. You should also demonstrate academic potential and you must not be in receipt of any Goldsmiths, AHRC or ESRC funding.

Application Procedure

Applications for 2015 entry are now closed.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a relevant/related subject. If you don't have a related undergraduate degree we also welcome those who have significant practical experience in a design-related field: you will be judged on the relevance of your previous work experience, and on your art and/or design work. We will also consider applicants who do not have a design-related background but who have engaged in research either in academia (as students or academics) or at work. IELTS 7.0 (including 7.0 in the written test).

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