MA Design Studies is concerned with the collaboration of business and creative practice. It aims to push the boundaries of the working relationship between business and creativity; altering perceptions of how the two work together. It provides a particular approach to the study and application of creative innovation, and gives you the confidence to question convention, anticipate the future and experiment with new forms and content. You are especially encouraged to make imaginative leaps into the future and to speculate on its shape through the interrelationship of design theory, models of creativity, management, marketing and business. To help you to do this, the course draws together creative and business talent from a deliberately eclectic range of backgrounds, for example entrepreneurs, musicians and designers. The interaction between different disciplines is a key factor in promoting an ethos of innovation. Students draw on each other’s professional and diverse cultural experience to provide critical and constructive insights that open up new ways of thinking and doing. The interplay between responsible economic and responsible social contribution is a key agenda at the heart of this course. We celebrate and encourage the application of the imagination but are not in the business of producing empty style. Ultimately this course offers a place where you have the opportunity to question yourself and your assumptions and evolve the beginning of whole new direction or develop a deeper understanding of your passion and potential. We aim to have fun and to encourage collaboration but the burden of responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the individual. Serious research, soul-searching questions and the application of your imagination are the elements of our version of productive change. Our former students have changed their lives through entrepreneurial endeavour, career redefinition and social concern enterprise.
The course is structured to support you through a journey from the challenges of interdisciplinary and multicultural interaction in the seminars and open discussions of Unit 1 to the identification and realisation of your own MA research project in Unit 3. You will be exposed to questions which are designed to stretch and develop your ability to identify and solve beyond the comfort zone of tradition.
While the course promotes future thinking, it is concerned with supporting a wide variety of student research interests and typically enables students to define and research what is personally important to them. Artefacts act as an illustrated hypothesis and are constructed using your existing practical skills or those of others on the course or in your own working environment outside college, enabling those of you without a background in practical design to engage in, understand and use the creative process as part of research.
The point of departure, Unit One, 'Feeding the Imagination', emphasises collaborative and multidisciplinary learning and explores the relationship between locating sources of useful data* and applying the information to define and achieve a given end. The Unit is designed to broaden and deepen your understanding of the nature, practice and potential of research and provides you with research tools that will enable you to survive and maximise the discovery and reorientation potential of the journey.
During this Unit of the course you travel together in teams, working together to match, challenge and extend your individual and collective abilities to source, analyse and articulate a position.
The Unit begins with the distribution of a range of indicative reading and/or viewing materials, that relate to the theory and practice of management, marketing, branding, social, cultural and technical contexts and analytical technique, framed by specific or general questions. It concludes with the assessment of a team presentation based on the completion of a research task. This task requires you to locate and invite speakers to contribute to the Wednesday evening Visiting Speaker programme, facilitate a discussion and then prepare and lead a related session the following week offering an alternative or opposite view to your invited speaker's presentation. This programme runs throughout the Unit, and underpins your learning, offering an opportunity for you to raise questions to inform your research.
* Data is used to mean information, often in the form of both facts and figures obtained from experiments or surveys, used as a basis for making calculations or drawing conclusions
Unit Two, 'Applying the Imagination', emphasises diagnostic and negotiated learning. It works in synergy with Unit One and has two priorities: applying your imagination and enabling you to discover more about your personal agendas. Through a series of short projects based on contemporary reality that enable you to develop external relationships with business/cultural groupings/professional organisations, the Unit encourages you to apply your research skills to identify and evolve a creative resolution to a business and /or social opportunity.
The projects develop three key themes:
mixing and contrasting cultural and professional differences
challenging conventional wisdom and practises in project management and presentation
extending your conceptual and theoretical landscape by presenting you with new things to think about and new ways of thinking about what youalready know.
You work collectively in teams to evolve a conceptual response to a scenario of your own choosing, informed by criteria revealed in the project brief, but verify your personal potential individually and in pairs. Your personal agendas are questioned and evolved, enabling you to step outside of your own experience and confirm your contemporary passions, priorities, skills set and portfolio strengths and weaknesses. Outcomes are considered at a one-day symposium, in which you have the opportunity to both make an oral presentation and be involved in open-debate.
The final stage of the journey, Unit Three: 'Testing the Imagination', emphasises independent learning and takes on the metaphor of a personal odyssey. It is concerned with facilitating, extending and evaluating your ability to manage and achieve a major independent project, based on your personal research interests and learning agenda. Having identified personal aspirations, motivations and methodologies, you draw a route map of the terrain you intend to investigate and potentially consolidate. You are given freedom to identify your choice of project against a set of criteria that stress the need for evidence of the clarification of motive, method and anticipated outcomes. You keep a diary that informs, charts and analyses this part of your journey, and which contributes to your assessment evidence and exhibition at the end of the Unit. While this final stage of the journey is about independent goals, the culture of the course is designed to be supportive with group and individual tutorials happening on a regular basis.
The strengths of the course are being continually demonstrated and promoted by the success of its graduates. Career change, promotion, business start-up success and new product innovation are examples of some of the achievements made by our graduates.
Course Length 2 years part time, 1 year full time