Design for Communication MA

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  • Course description
    This Masters reflects the multidisciplinary nature of contemporary communications, bringing together key subject disciplines in visual communication including graphic design, moving image, digital media and illustration. The course will help you to develop the analytical skills and generate conceptual thinking needed to prepare for high-level professional practice.

    We are committed to having a broad scope of activities on the course, from traditional graphic skills to future communication delivery methods. The course offers strong links to new media industries, and we work in collaboration with them, and use their advice and expertise, in the ongoing development of the course content.

    This is an ambitious programme for students who want to realise their creative potential and self-reliance, working as a freelance or small business operators in the challenging and changing world of the creative communication industries.

    Course content:

    The content of the course is industry focused, and encompasses issues central to contemporary design practice through a process of analysis, experimentation and the practical testing and implementation of creative ideas.


    The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.

    Core modules:


    In this module you will examine the professional context for design business, management and enterprise. Through a series of lectures and seminars the module will focus on practices appropriate to freelance and small businesses. You will examine key elements of professional practice, and gain insights into the design business through site visits and guest lectures from industry professionals. The module will give practical advice for starting up in business, covering topics including forming and naming your business, choosing and setting up premises, creative thinking and project management, copyright and intellectual property rights, and marketing and managing your business.


    You will address and review current visual, social and technological debates in design, and develop informed views on contemporary topics in design. The module will explore the role of the designer’s responsibilities in a social, cultural and economic sense, the role of the designer in communicating to audiences, and the construction of meaning in verbal and visual language. You will increase your awareness of debates and issues in the design field and hone your incisive thinking skills alongside technical abilities. You will develop an engaged reflective practice to make more effective use of your perceptions and discoveries, and work practically and creatively with reference to a wider cultural context.


    During this module you will focus on visual identity and how an entity declares itself within an environment. Visual identity is one of the central tasks of design. Organisations previously described their identities as their ‘house style’, then their ‘corporate identity’; more recently the term ‘branding’ has been preferred. The module encourages the development of distinctive graphic and typographic visual language through visual identity for specific target audiences. You will develop a range of graphic and image-based solutions, through collaboration, group working and presentations of case studies, while building contacts with industry.


    Building on the experience you gain in Project A, in this module you will focus on publishing and design authorship, acquiring skills in areas such as editorial, magazine, book design, e-book, interactive and website design. You will examine the traditional role of the designer as facilitator, the use of design to communicate other peoples’ messages, and the notion of ‘designer as author’. You can work on competitions, external projects, collaborative cross-course projects, and self-defined projects, as appropriate, and wherever possible we will run training sessions and workshops, to give you the chance to improve your existing visual communication skills and develop new ones.


    This module enables you to develop your research skills and methods at a deeper level, in preparation for further study at doctorate level and for professional practice. It introduces the field of design research as an analytical and practical tool for designers, and establishes the role of critical thinking as a support to the development of an engaged design practice. Theoretical models of design analysis covered include semiotics, communication theory, systematic approaches, semantics and discourse theory. The emphasis will be on why we do what we do and how we can ensure it is effective, through research testing, feedback and a rigorous approach to design.


    This module enables individual students and student teams to initiate, produce, manage and present a comprehensive design project. The major project is a summation of experience in which you focus your interests, skills and aspirations as designers, and express them in a substantial project. The intended target audience, design strategy, design exploration, research testing, concept development and the chosen mode of presentation of the finished concepts, are among the key issues you will cover and implement. This project will showcase your potential as a visual communication designer and demonstrate your ability to work at a high level of professional practice.

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